Unsatisfied with his non-apology apology and expecting insufficient action from the city council, outraged community activists are gearing up to start a recall effort of Councilor Stephen Simonelli. Simonelli has displayed a pattern of racist and bigoted social media writings that led to a protest at city hall two weeks ago. A similar protest and a packed council meeting are expected again this Monday night.
Community groups and activist plan to launch the recall effort after Simonelli refused to resign and some council members either downplayed his comments or were silent in the wake Simonelli’s Facebook posts. The history of the councilor’s actions can be found here and the latest on the most recent controversy is here.
The invitation to the protest is here.
To say Simonelli’s apology fell short is an understatement. He said, “First of all, I want to apologize if I offended anyone with my comment on social media. It’s not in my character to hurt, harm or upset anyone. I was expressing an opinion on a Facebook post; something I now regret. However, I never said, nor would I ever say anything racist, bigoted or hateful. I was simply commenting on a post. Any insinuation that my comments were racist are an attack on me and the work I’ve done for our community,” he wrote.
In other words, he’s sorry people took what he said the wrong way but that what he said was not racist and if anyone says it is, they are attacking him. Wonderful.
People need to conclude for themselves whether saying, “Our new neighbors” should “stop crying at our council meetings,” telling people to “go back to where you came from” and that “they should just be happy to be there” is racist or not.
People can decide for themselves whether posting “Halleluiah” in response to a blatantly racist Facebook rant is in itself racist.
In response to the January incident, the council circled the wagons and changed the rules for public participation at council meetings so no one could speak out about Simonelli’s racism. There was no condemnation of his comments, there was no apology.
The city charter does layout a process for recalling elected officials. It’s in section 8-5.