COMMENTARY | Let’s get something straight — eating tacos for dinner is not a way to show support or understanding for a segment of your community. Apparently, Joseph Maturo, Jr., who is Mayor of East New Haven, Conn., needs to learn that lesson.
The town of East Haven has been struggling with some pretty weighty issues — its police force has been accused of racially discriminating against minorities, namely the Hispanic community. In November 2010, then-mayor April Capone suspended Leonard Gallo, chief of police, while the Department of Justice continued their year-long investigation of his department. The DOJ has since ordered the FBI into the case to determine if any actions by police officers of the Officer Gallo were criminal. In November 2011, after defeating the incumbent, Mayor Maturo issued orders that re-instated Gallo to his post as chief of police. During his absence, Mr. Gallo was receiving his full salary and benefits, so should not consider personal economic hardship as a motive for his re-instatement.
On Tuesday, Jan. 24, the FBI did arrest four police officers, charging them with deprivation of rights and obstruction of justice. The FBI has also referred to someone as co-conspirator 1, and while speculation is that it is the chief of police, no formal charges have been filed.
Mario Diaz, a reporter for WPIX-TV, asked Mayor Maturo “What are you going to do for the Latino community today?” and the Mayor responded, “I might have tacos when I go home, I am not quite sure yet.” That remark should provoke a series of emotions ranging from anger to disappointment. The Governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, called them “repugnant.” Mayor Segarra of Hartford said that he was “disgusted.”
It needs to be understood that Maturo is an experienced politician of a reasonably large town. East New Haven has just under 30,000 people in it and each and every one of them needs to be able to conduct their everyday business without fear of being harassed by the law solely because of the color of their skin, the way that the spell their surname or perhaps the way that they speak. This is fundamental.
When we elect someone to office, we need him or her to understand that. Maybe 50 years ago it was great to have an old-boy network in place, but times have changed. We are a population with people of all colors, heritages, religions and incomes. We all deserve to be treated with the same respect.
Mayor Maturo just does not seem to get that. East Haven’s Democrat Committee Chairman, Gene Ruocco, has called for the mayor to resign. In a statement he said, “Everyone knows the seriousness of this matter and for him, as the leader of our community, to say something so utterly insensitive is a complete disgrace.”
I have to agree with those sentiments and I can only think back to Marie Antoinette who made the mistake of attempting to appease the populous by saying “Let them eat cake.” Marie wound up losing her head, Maturo should simply lose his job.