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It gets personal between Rumore, Paladino

   We've all witnessed the schoolyard brawls that erupt when some kid blurts out: "Oh, yeah? Well, your momma wears army boots!"

   The head of the Buffalo teachers' union claims he was subjected to a similar personal attack. But it wasn't a playground bully doing the heckling, according to Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore. It was Carl P. Paladino, a prominent developer and crusader for educational reforms.

   In a long-festering dispute over health insurance for teachers, the two community leaders exchanged biting letters Wednesday. Rumore was incensed that Paladino made mention of Rumore's mother -- who died recently -- in what he called a "vicious and ugly letter."

   Rubbish, said Paladino (although he used more colorful words), claiming there wasn't a single sentence in his letter that disparaged Rumore's mom. If anything, said Paladino, he gave Rumore's parents credit for raising him right.

   But Paladino insists something went wrong later in Rumore's life. He faults the union chief for short-changing students and "sucking the taxpayers dry."

   Rumore dismisses the claims, insisting he has only tried to get the school district to live up to its obligation to negotiate a shift to a single-carrier health insurer with the union.

   We've posted the letters written by Paladino and Rumore. Read the letters and the accompanying article, and tell us what you think.

   -- Brian Meyer

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