Editorial: Conn. mayor likes tacos with side of racism

When your town’s mayor can’t come up with a serious answer as to how he will help a discriminated group in his community, you know you’ve got a problem.

When his answer is nothing more than a simple-minded stereotypical, racist comment, you know the problem is even more substantial than it first seemed.

On Jan. 24, WPIX television reporter Mario Diaz asked East Haven, Conn. mayor Joseph Maturo Jr., “What are you doing for the Latino community today?” He responded with a flippant, “I might have tacos when I go home; I’m not quite sure yet.”

The exchange with Diaz occurred the same day four members of the local police department were arrested, according to a WPIX article. The FBI accused these men of intimidating both their colleagues and Latino community members. Maturo has since apologized and blamed his insensitivity on “the stress of the situation,” according to a CNN report.

But as a public figure, Maturo’s job is to deal gracefully with stressful situations. If he cannot do so, he has no business being the town’s mayor. Further, if he cannot respect every racial and ethnic group in his constituency, he had no business seeking the job in the first place.

And it does indeed seem that this is the case.

In his interview with Diaz, Maturo was unable to grasp why it might be an important point that in the 10 percent Latino town, there are no Latino police officers, and only one Spanish-speaking officer, despite all of the tension between the two groups. As Diaz seemed to be trying to tell Maturo, having at least one Latino officer might help to ease those tensions and provide a bridge between the two groups.

Another example of Maturo’s ineptitude came after his apology, when speaking of the police department’s predicament. According to CNN, he did not acknowledge those who may have been victimized by the arrested policemen, but instead called the public to reflect on the “devastation” the officers and their families are facing.

To completely ignore this group of his constituents in favor of supporting a disgraced police department shows exactly where Maturo’s loyalties lie.

He is a disgrace to representative government and to American decency. He has no place in public office.

Fortunately, some have already spoken out against Maturo, including Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy.

He said Maturo’s Jan. 24 statements had shown “either a horrible lack of judgment or worse, an underlying insensitivity to our Latino community that is unacceptable,” and called on Maturo to apologize and remedy the situation immediately, according to CNN.

The group Junta for Progressive Action has spoken out as well, bombarding the mayor’s office with hundreds of tacos, CNN said. After the initial barrage, Maturo’s office arranged for the tacos to be donated to local pantries.

So it seems that Maturo didn’t really want those tacos after all, or maybe he doesn’t really want his job either. That’s certainly the message he seems to be sending. Either way, it’s clear he doesn’t deserve it.