Save Nonantum is at it again.

First, Commissioner of Inspectional Services John Lojeck made a comment about Spanish-speaking workers in last week’s Program and Services Committee that has no place in public or private discourse. The mayor should review the incident and take appropriate action.

Second, Save Nonantum has cynically spread lies connecting city councilors to Commissioner Lojeck’s comments.

SN is circulating an email with a laundry list of unsubstantiated grievances and smears, including a clip of Commissioner Lojeck from last week’s Program and Services Committee meeting (and no link to the full video) with the allegation:

The same city councilors that are working to silence us, are not only attacking the Save Nonantum committee, they are also attacking our entire immigrant working class community, including the non profit organizations that make up the very fabric of our community. They continue to make false claims, ironically call us racist, use unconscionable ethnic slurs, make disparaging remarks about immigrants, and use ugly ethnic stereotypes to attempt to publicly and privately demean and marginalize the members of our community.

Their evidence?

Just this week a member of the City Council Leadership suggested “landscapers don’t speak English very well.” This resulted in Newton’s Inspectional Services Department head clarifying the city’s thoughts on immigrant workers.

A 10-second video clip of the city’s Director of Inspectional Services followed. 

For far too long Newton’s working class immigrant community have been treated poorly with condescension and contempt by these so called leaders.

We at Village 14 are here to provide the omitted context and set the record straight.

For starters, here’s a link to the full video, so you can see for yourselves.

Here’s the specific context for the Save Nonantum clip, what immediately preceded and followed. The part included in the Save Nonantum clip is shown in bold.

Starting at about 1:12:55, Councilor Alison Leary expresses her enthusiasm for the hiring of a new code enforcement officer to step up enforcement of the leaf-blower ordinance. At about 1:13:20, she says:

I also wanted to ask if your new code enforcement officer would be bilingual, since so many of our leaf operators often speak only Spanish or don’t speak English very well. So, my question is: is he bilingual? Will he be handing out information? And, will you use registration stickers as a way to track violators?

To which Commissioner of Inspectional Services John Lojeck replied:

Well, I don’t know whether he’s bilingual or not. I doubt it. He’s a much older gentleman. And, you know, I mean, we find that even in our construction end that most of the people operating claim not to speak any English. Only don’t speak any English because they don’t want to be addressed about a violation.

Which prompted this exchange between City Councilor Brenda Noel, acting chair of the meeting, and Commissioner Lojeck.

Noel: Commissioner Lojeck, I’m going to ask you to be a little more thoughtful about those kind of comments.

Lojeck: Well we, the fact of the matter, …

Noel: That’s your opinion. Let’s move on.

Lojeck: … we witness it. All the time.

Here’s a link to the excerpt cued to the exchange. (I will continue to try to embed a clip of the excerpt directly.)

The whole exchange lasted about a minute, but pretty clearly doesn’t track with Save Nonantum’s allegation. Unquestionably, Commissioner Lojeck’s statement is objectionable. But, SN’s selective editing omits the parts that make it clear SN’s attempt to pin this on city councilors is completely baseless.

Far from demeaning immigrants, Councilor Leary asked a reasonable question about how prepared the city was to communicate in Spanish with landscapers who are generally known to speak Spanish. If there’s anything demeaning about, it’s how Save Nonantum considers it a slur to think someone speaks Spanish. I’ve never heard anyone consider the provision of bi- or multi-lingual services an insult. Exactly the opposite.

Most tellingly, SN’s selective editing omits the most damning evidence that they are just trying to whip up resentment with the clip. Councilor Noel immediately and unequivocally calling Commissioner Lojeck out doesn’t quite fit SN’s narrative that councilors “attempt to publicly and privately demean and marginalize the members of our community.” So they didn’t include it in the clip.

Taking a step back from the line-by-line exegesis, SN’s manipulative editing of this incident demonstrates just how cynical and baseless their unsourced, unspecific smears against unnamed councilors are. They don’t even attempt to give evidence. They don’t sign the letter. And, they don’t identify themselves on their web site.

This is ugly, ugly stuff.

Every councilor and candidate that Save Nonantum supports, particularly John Oliver and Tarik Lucas, who doesn’t unconditionally condemn Save Nonantum is complicit.