Everett City Council Stephen Simonelli decided a couple of weeks ago to applaud a racist Facebook rant with a unambiguous “Halleluiah.” To their great credit, many Everett resident organized, protested and spoke out about it at the April 9th city council meeting. Many councilors treated the issue as an isolated lapse in judgment on the part of Simonelli. It wasn’t. It was just the latest in a pattern of bigotry by councilor.
In early January, I had a very telling exchange with Councilor Simonelli on his own Facebook page. In it, he wrote that “our new neighbors, should stop crying at our Council meetings…learn English and laws & ways of city take the test easy enough said [sic].” He was talking about immigrants covered by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protective Status (TPS). Of course, they aren’t eligible to take any test. Their presence here is by definition, temporary. It should be noted the rest of the council unanimously passed a resolution supporting Everett residents covered by DACA and TPS.
When I questioned him, he told me to “go back to where you came from.” I’m still not sure what he meant. I grew up in the Berkshires, went to school at Syracuse, lived in Connecticut for 20 years and returned to Greater Boston six years ago. My grandparents came here from Ireland. Where exactly should I go? I chose Everett as my home. I’m not going anywhere.
I spoke out at the next city council meeting following the exchange and repeated Simonelli’s own words to the council. All hell broke loose with some councilors claiming I was disparaging Simonelli—by quoting him. The council subsequently and arbitrarily changed the rules for public participation at its meetings, adding new rules that go beyond what is in the council rules (rule. 10, “public participation)”.
I was the lone voice objecting to that incidence of Simonelli’s bigotry. There was no other media other than The Everett Stimulus. to cover the issue (the Everett Independent did publish an op-ed I wrote). There were no Boston TV stations present and therefore no apology from Simonelli, not even a lame and insulting one like he issued last week.
It just goes to show you that unless the heat is red hot, the Everett city council will not speak ill of one of its own, even if it involves rank bigotry and racism.