As reported in yesterday’s post, at a meeting of the Newton City Council Public Safety and Transportation committee (PS&T), committee chair Councilor Jay Ciccone compared a proposal to implement variable priced parking to Jim Crow laws. After he made his comment, Councilor Ciccone was gently rebuked, giving him an opportunity to acknowledge that his comment was inappropriate and take it back. Instead, he further committed himself to the comparison. His words were not a mistake or slip.
Below is a transcript of the exchange between Councilor Ciccone and Councilor Brenda Noel. The exchange follows staff and committee discussion of the parking proposal and then Councilor Ciccone expressing two misgivings. The first was his concern about the potential for law suits. Expressing his concern, he drew the analogy to Rosa Parks and Jim Crow laws. HIs second concern was about giving city staff, rather than City Council, authority to raise meter rates. His comments run from 1:45:38 to 1:46:49 of the official audio.
As Councilor Ciccone prepared to open comment to the public, Councilor Noel questioned his comparison and Councilor Ciccone reaffirmed it.
I have made every attempt to transcribe accurately. I did not transcribe “uhs” and “ums” and the like. If I have made an error or errors, please let me know in the comments and I will update. At one point, Councilors Noel and Ciccone speak over each other. This exchange begins at 1:46:50 of the official audio.
Those are just the two things that are concerning me about it. But, I’ll open it up to the public, again, one last time. If anybody’s got any questions, comments, concerns.
Brenda has her hand up.
Oh, Brenda. I’m sorry. Councilor Noel.
I appreciate the point. And, no disrespect, but please do not compare dynamic parking to Rosa Parks’ experience.
Well, what do you want … You give me a scenario then.
It has nothing to do with Rosa Parks. So, please, don’t make that comparison.
You could say big house, little house.
Yeah. I was comparing discrimination. And, I think that was a really good place to put it.
I would be really cautious. I would be very cautious with the comments.
Well that’s my preference and that’s what I’ve got on the record. So.
Anybody else want to speak on this?
There’s not much to add. Good for Councilor Noel for trying to hold Councilor Ciccone accountable for his comments. And, there should be no question that Councilor Ciccone’s words were intentional and reflect his (poor) understanding of parking regulations and the historical injustice of Jim Crow discrimination.
We’re left with just one question: why, given his racially insensitive (at best) comments and his refusal to disavow them, is Councilor Ciccone still Council President Marc Laredo’s choice for the honor and privilege to chair a council standing committee?