1970. Kent State University. Four students are shot dead by police, and mayhem breaks out on campuses across the nation, including Syracuse University College of Law, where, amidst the chaos, a quiet young man named Carl Paladino stepped in to free the school's chancellor after he'd been taken hostage by a faction of student radicals who had occupied the administration building:
According to Paladino, the students wouldn’t let SU Chancellor John Corbally out of the building.
“When the riots came, I was the one who negotiated for Chief Sardino to take the place of the chancellor, who the students had locked down in the administration building...,” he said. “Sardino had the idea that he would come up and they would let the chancellor leave and take him as their hostage, if you wanted to call it. ... So when Sardino came up with this idea I negotiated with these guys, who agreed to let the chancellor go and take Sardino in his place ...
“Sardino asked me if I would do it, and I said sure. So I went out and found them and I said, you know, ‘Take the police commissioner and let the chancellor go home. The guy’s got to take a shower, I mean for God sakes ...’ So they said, ‘Yeah, OK’.”
An early glimpse of the coolheaded leadership skills of the possible future governor of New York, no doubt. But nobody else remembers it happening. Nobody even remembers the chancellor being held hostage.
David Bennett, an SU history professor who visited the administration building during the protest, scoffed at Paladino’s account.
“That’s completely wrong,” he said. “He’s either living in Cloud Cuckooland or, shall we say, his historical memory is clouded by whatever it is.”
Bennett said no one was held hostage during the protests. That is confirmed by several others who were there and by news accounts from the time.
According to a Post-Standard report from May 8, 1970, Corbally wasn’t in the building when the students entered and demanded to see him. He arrived about 15 minutes later and entered the building with Sardino. The two emerged two hours later. Corbally left and set up a temporary office elsewhere. Sardino went back into the building and spent the night talking with the protesters. His presence in the building was completely voluntary, said John A. Beach, an attorney for the university at the time who was working closely with Sardino. The protest ended peacefully the next day.
Nevertheless, Paladino's spokesman "said Paladino stood by his assertions." Presumably, he will release the evidence corroborating his version of events at the "appropriate time."