WARNING: Explicit language in the following:
At what point does Everett’s elected legislative body show some courage and act on the continued bigotry by one of its own? Councilor Stephen Simonelli is at it again. Just as he attacked immigrants in the city (and this journalist) in January, he has done again in a bigoted, racist Facebook thread on April 5.
The latest incident started when a poster, under the name “Noonan John,” ranted on the page about being cut off in traffic by a “nasty Haitian woman.” He went on to write, “Its [sic] crazy, some of these people come here with a bad attitude and think they can do and get away with whatever they want. They are rude assholes who don’t even know or care about the rules of the road. Some of these shitbags should be sent back to the filthy shithole they came from-fuck them!” Charming.
There were various comments following that both supported the writer and took him to task for being a vulgar bigot.
Then, Councilor Simonelli stepped in.
I personally pointed out that we all better hope immigrants aren’t held to an English proficiency standard exhibited by Mr. Simonelli because with his misspelled words, random capitalization and a complete lack of punctuation, he appears to be borderline illiterate. I invited him to “learn language.”
Simonelli responded by asking me if his problems with spelling reason were enough to insult him. I said, “I don’t know. Is struggling with some aspects of the English language any reason to insult immigrants?” He missed the irony completely.
For the record, Simonelli was elected to represent Ward Two on the city council. He no longer lives in Ward Two and there is question as to whether he even lives in Everett any longer.
This is not an isolated incident for Simonelli. Back in January, I wrote about another instance in which Simonelli displayed rank bigotry (and told me, curiously, to “go back where you came from.”) A reputable local newspaper published an op-ed I wrote and I spoke before the city council during the public participation segment of a subsequent council meeting.
What was the council response? Did they censure Simonelli for his attacks on immigrants? No. They changed the rules of public participation so no one could call out a councilor by name—a real profile in courage.
The city council can—and should—require Simonelli to explain himself. Under the city charter, section 2-7, the council can, “[R]equire any city officer, member of a city agency or city employee to appear before it to give any information that the city council may require in relation to the municipal services, functions, powers, or duties which are within the scope of responsibility of that person and within the jurisdiction of the city council.” There is no mechanism for expulsion unless there is a felony committed.
The Everett city council needs to show some courage or at least some common decency and censure Simonelli at the very least.
One councilman, Michael McLaughlin, has already spoken out and has called on Council President Peter Napolitano to take unspecified action. “I am disgusted and disappointed by the comments made on this post but more so by one of our City Councilors…At one time or another every one of our families came here from another country. We should never accept this behavior towards another resident…Everett should be a welcoming community for all not just some,” he wrote.
After Simonelli’s racist rant back in January, more people have been paying attention and several have taken to Facebook to call for him to step down. Good for them. He should.