What did City Council President Marc Laredo do in response to Councilor Jay Ciccone’s remarks comparing higher parking meter rates to Jim Crow laws? Publicly, nothing.
Councilor Laredo did not respond to an email to Councilor Ciccone and him calling for Councilor Ciccone to do something publicly to remedy his insensitive comments.
In person, Councilor Laredo made three points:
- He considers the matter a private matter, has addressed the issue privately, and will not be sharing any details of those private conversations.
- He will not be removing Councilor Ciccone as chair of the City Council’s Public Safety & Transportation (PS&T) committee or taking any other public action.
- He will not be told how to run, in his words, “my City Council.”
To be clear, Councilor Ciccone’s comments are not the most egregious example of racial bigotry or insensitivity. The question, though, is whether they are insensitive enough to warrant some follow up. By his own admission, Councilor Laredo felt they were. So, why conduct that follow-up in private?
Councilor Ciccone made what to some are racially insensitive public comments that minimize the horrific injustice of the Jim Crow era. This is not a private matter, it’s a matter of Councilor Ciccone’s public conduct as a public official acting in an important leadership role, a role conferred on him by Councilor Laredo. It is a matter that demands a public accounting. Without a public accounting, it’s a back-room deal with one powerful white guy looking out for another powerful white guy.
Councilor Ciccone has given Councilor Laredo plenty of reason to end Councilor Ciccone’s tenure as the PS&T chair. Besides being racially insensitive, Councilor Ciccone’s comments demonstrated that he had not even done minimal preparation and that he lacked a basic understanding of Newton’s existing meter rate structure, which is directly under the jurisdiction of the very committee Councilor Ciccone chairs. In one comment he showed that he has neither the temperament nor the subject-matter expertise to justify Councilor Laredo maintaining him as PS&T chair.
As for Councilor Laredo’s comment that it is “his” City Council, …