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Apology Following Accusation Of Anti-Semitism

February 28th, 2018 · 42 Comments · City Council, News and Events

At a December 27 meeting of the City Council’s Ordinance Committee, Eneida Martinez criticized the role of two lawyers Russell Liskov and Juda Epstein in the collection practice of the Water Pollution Control Authority. “Both men are Jews and buddies and they go to the same synagogue and they are buying up these properties,” she declared, according to minutes of the meeting. A council colleague has apologized for not reprimanding her.

More on this from Brian Lockhart, CT Post:

A freshman City Councilman has apologized for not reprimanding a colleague for her inflammatory comments about a two Jewish attorneys.

“It was a lapse on my part and, although no excuse, it stemmed partially from the shock of hearing such inappropriate comments from another council person. Lesson learned,” Peter Spain wrote Tuesday to Hearst Connecticut Media. “I hope I never hear such inexcusable comments again; but if I do, I will not be shy about immediately responding and objecting.”

Spain’s letter followed a complaint, filed by Russell Liskov, a municipal attorney, with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), accusing Spain and seven of his council colleagues of anti-Semitism.

The council’s ordinance committee is probing what critics call a too-aggressive sewer fee collection process, overseen by Liskov, who often sends delinquent bills of $2,000 or more to collections lawyer Juda Epstein to pursue. Sometimes homeowners who cannot clear their debt–including legal fees charged by Epstein or other collections attorneys–lose their homes to foreclosure.

Full story here.

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42 Comments so far ↓

  • Grin Ripper

    Better Late Than Never. Suit Yourself.

  • Ethan Book

    My first question to Pete Spain is why Eneida Martinez’ comments were inexcusable? The Ordinance Committee is in an investigative mode. In such a mode, it is proper to consider all that might be relevant. Because of combined serious errors of Liskov and Epstein, the point of their close religious association could be relevant. It was a Jewish man who, in early 2016 told me that Liskov and Espstein are both Jewish and they attend the same synogogue. Liskov, well knowing that Epstein has had a serious tendency at legal extremes and abuses, assigns about 90% of the WPCA cases to Epstein. He also assigns about 10% of the cases to the Ed Marcus law firm (I understand that Marcus is Jewish, does not attend the same synogogue as Liskov, and has not been known for legal abuses.). In addition, at the last City Council meeting, I reviewed an appraisal made by Susan Shapiro, an appraisal requested by Epstein for the Benchmark case against Steve Scholz. I was told that she also attends the same synogogue as Liskov and Epstein. For all, there is relevance to Eneida’s comments. In addition, considering a long-term pattern of negligence of Liskov in assigning cases as he does, her comments were reasonably expected. Second, if Pete Spain deems that her comments were so inexcusable, and that he didn’t speak up at the December Committee hearing, then why did he delay for a month and only come out with his statement the day after there was a bogus threat of legal action?

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Mr Spain stated the following ” “I hope I never hear such inexcusable comments again; but if I do, I will not be shy about immediately responding and objecting.” Why didnt you saay something when the comments were made? Were you waiting to see which way the wind was blowing. Not a good start

  • Ron Mackey

    What is the apology for? Jew or Jewish, which word is wrong, what about Zion or Zionist?

    • DC Faber

      Hi Ron, It sounds like he is apologizing for remaining silent when he heard something that sounded like an ethnic slur. What Martinez said is akin to old school anti-Semitism. Now I do not know her and will give her the benefit of the doubt that she did not mean it to be racist.
      As to your question, none of the words are bad, albeit Zionist is very old school. It was the context that Martinez used “Jew” that made it sound racist.

  • Jimfox

    It was Obvious that Pete was apologizing for the whole Committee.
    Thanks Pete!

  • Donald Day

    Like Ethan why Eneida Martinez’ comments were inexcusable? Enida like a myriad of Blacks and Latinos probably had no idea that referring to two men as Jews who attend the same synagogue would possibly be anti-Semitic.

    Like Ethan if Peter Spain felt her comments were so vile then why was his outrage placed on hold for two months. As a reasonably intelligent college educated man it defies credulity to think that Peter needed two months to realize a statement was anti-Semitic, racist or discriminatory or did it take him two months to realize exactly what is anti-Semitism just like Enida. Peter Spain is arrogantly believing himself superior to Enida by putting down her while riding to the rescue of his high horse.

    Peter, take this as a learning experience which I’m sure Enida did rather than an opportunity to berate and ostracize your fellow city Council person.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Pete Spain, You are a class act. an apology is better late than never. I have already given my support to Eneida, believing she was unaware of the comments. Ethan Brooks, I am surprised at your diatribe. I believe that many people in this city that have a very very limited social circle which to me is very sad. I was raised to respect all people and all nationalities. Some people just were never taught social grace and others just have a problem making an apology. Most educated people found the comments reprehensible. People that listen to Farrackhan don’t understand and in the end, I do not think Eneida had any bad intentions. You know like Archie Bunkers comments about blacks. I know many on the council and I find it hard to believe they are anti-semetic. Well, lets not get carried away. Some people just do not understand Norweigans! :-)

  • Grin Ripper

    There was no malice in Eneida’s heart. The teachable moment is one where we are not aware of cultural differences.

    Many years ago, I said to a couple of color about an issue of service when I said; ” you people”. They chewed my ass out, I immediately understood and apologized.

    ” Experience is a tough teacher. First it gives you the test, then it teaches you the lesson.”

    • Bob Walsh

      A few years ago I said to a couple of people ‘you people’.
      They were both terribly offended.
      They were both white men who were business partners. They were not black, they were not gay, they were not of the same religion.
      Please explain.

  • Donald Day

    How could most who aren’t Jewish know that the statement Enida made was anti-Semitic? There is much to be learned by this dialogue, just exactly what is anti-Semitism, is it like racism, like discrimination or something all together different? I know that there are symbols of anti-Semitism, but exactly where is the line drawn with respect to language?

    For Peter Spain to get on this self righteous high horse I find exhaustively petty and without merit. I’m sure that Enida, me and others learned a great deal from this and the grandstanding of a politician doesn’t move the dialogue forward.

  • Ron Mackey

    Don, I’ve asked the question above about that and the apology but I’ve gotten no response. I would think that a statement about why Pete apologize and spell out what harm was done so that it’s clear but I don’t see that, again, why the apology?

  • Tom White

    The comment by Eneida Martinez was anti-semitic. She needs to make a formal apology to the Jewish community and to the city council members at a council meeting. Hopefully she will express her remorse for her inappropriate comment. The council president should insist on an apology.

  • Ron Mackey

    Tom White, what is a Jew? What does Jewish mean?

  • John Marshall Lee

    At least one person saw harm (in the rear view mirror, perhaps, also?) enough to COMPLAIN to the CHRO. One person made the comment that was offensive. One other person was offended and complained. Not every person who was in the room was complained about, so the complainant may be able to differentiate among those in the room. But did he carry his research as far as necessary? Back in the good old days of last year, the Council President, would point to the red line that is not to be crossed. Even then the line might be crossed. Is this a case where the Tom McCarthy handbook of Council behavior needs some more paragraphs? Time will tell.

    • Ron Mackey

      JML, what was said that was so bad and why is it bad?

      • John Marshall Lee

        Ron,
        Notice that I related the story in the sense that “one person” said, “one person” took exception, etc.?
        Perhaps the person had heard the references previously in negative encounters and was prepared to respond publicly in this way? Perhaps they recognized a tone of voice that was not respectful, which when coupled with the words were grounds for reporting the offense?
        Ron, you rarely appear at a CC meeting but that has been my ballfield for seeing such public displays vented. The most frequent pushing of the public appropriateness of a word perhaps surrounds the “n” word. On more than one occasion it was used by a person of color, to portray what he felt was a sign of disrespect by most City Council members for his plight. Council President Tom McCarthy was quick to call out such speech, ask that it be curbed as it was not welcome, and on occasion would wade into the middle of the muddle!!
        If a person is a professional, such as an attorney, and one who has spent a career working for the City Attorney office, with other attorneys and many who show respect throughout the City, he might be taken off guard if he is suddenly considered by a name for his faith tradition or the place of a house of worship? Is it out of bounds? I can see why in the instant at least it may be considered that for more than one reason.
        I observe insensitivity to other citizens daily in the form of “white supremacy”, an example of racism. I have also observed racial bias in the school where some in power feel able to ignore the Board of Education policy rules on bullying when it would call hispanic bullying of black students to have consequences. Perhaps it is necessary to call such behavior out right away, just as it is to rise when an anthem is sung, a flag passes in review, or any other solid symbol of overall American values is present? Maybe that is another way to build community respect? Time will tell.

  • Donald Day

    Tom White is amazing that you could see anti-Semitism in an innocuous statement made by Enida, but probably not in when Trump came to the defense of nationalist and right-wing protesters in Charlottesville, Va., who had chanted anti-Semitic slogans and demeaned the president’s Jewish son-in-law.

    • Gary Tobin

      D Day, If someone says, you black scum bag or that freaking Puerto Rica stole my candy bar or you white bitch don’t cut in front of me. For you do any of these sound racist or ill willed?

      • Ron Mackey

        Gary, Ron Mackey is black, Ron Mackey you are a Baptist, Ron Mackey you are a Christian, Ron Mackey you’re black, ok, no problem but Joe Smith is a Jew is wrong, why?

        • Gary Tobin

          R Mack everything you wrote sounds fine. When when there is ill will or a connection to ill will is not right. Such as, Mr. Epstein, $3000 is too much stop being a jew and sell the car for $2500.

          • Ron Mackey

            Where was the City Attorney’s outrage when he got embarrass by the comment made at the meeting, did he object to the comment that he believed was insulting and why didn’t any of the other City Attorney’s say something? They are upset because they have been caught with their dealings.

    • Ron Mackey

      Don, at what point and time did the city attorney get offended at that meeting and what did he say and do at that meeting? City attorney said he was embarrassed.

      By Brian Lockhart Updated 5:58 pm, Monday, February 26, 2018

      Liskov in his CHRO complaint further alleged that the ordinance committee harassed and embarrassed him when that group voted last month to order the municipal law department to subpoena Liskov, Epstein and others involved in collecting late sewer bills.

      Martinez in a late January statement said she bears “no animosity toward anyone based on his or her race, ethnicity or religious tradition, (and) as a person of faith, and a minority woman, I respect all religious traditions and detest bigotry in any form.”

  • Ron Mackey

    What is a Jew

    Jew
    jo͞o/
    noun
    noun: Jew; plural noun: Jews
    1.
    a member of the people and cultural community whose traditional religion is Judaism and who trace their origins through the ancient Hebrew people of Israel to Abraham.

  • Donald Day

    Gary, “you black scum bag or that freaking Puerto Rica stole my candy bar or you white bitch don’t cut in front of me,” are all derogatory comments using an ethnicity or gender which makes it an easily understood racist comment. Two Jews that go to the same synagogue is not easily understood to be racist or anti-Semitism.

    It’s like I posted earlier, “There is much to be learned by this dialogue, just exactly what is anti-Semitism, is it like racism, like discrimination or something all together different? I know that there are symbols of anti-Semitism, but exactly where is the line drawn with respect to language?

    Again, where is line drawn with respect to language and anti-Semitism because it appears that the standard of racism and anti-Semitism are different based on what you used as an example.

    • Gary Tobin

      Reading the article and minutes of the meeting we all have to agree Co-chair Martinez is pissed at these guys. So put the article and minutes together.
      1) doesn’t like these guys
      2) has proved she has an ax to grind with these men, insinuating they are running a get rich “scheme”
      3) Co-chair Martinez said that she was going to tell it like it is because Economic Development staff have friends that they call when properties come up for sale.
      4) these developers come from all over the State and different towns to buy these properties. ——-“these developers”——–
      5) THE SAME THING IS TRUE OF Atty. Epstein and Atty. Liskov. Both men are Jews and buddies and they go to the same synagogue and they are buying up these properties.

      If she skipped: Both men are Jews and buddies and they go to the same synagogue —-then it would have been the same thing is true of Atty. Epstein and Atty. Liskov.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      Good question- hard to answer. I will argue that Anti-semitism is a specific form of racism, but it is racism regardless. The argument that it is not comes with the suggestion that the Jewish people are not a race or ethnicity and simply a religion, making anti-semitism a more specific form of bigotry, but since anti-semitism even crosses over to non-practicing Jews, racism seems as accurate a term as any.
      Report Post

  • Gary Tobin

    D Day, as you know, Jews are stereotyped with money.

  • Donald Day

    Gary, had Enida said they are Jews who for to the same synagogue and Jews are greedy, nit-picky, stingy misers then I could understand your position on anti-Semitism and stereotyping. The innuendo that you allude to was your take on what she meant and not necessarily what she meant other than two Jews who go to the same synagogue. Sometimes it’s just what it is and doesn’t contain some subliminal anti-Semitic remark.

  • Gary Tobin

    D. Day and what you are saying is that your take?

    • Ron Mackey

      Gary, let me ask you again, when did City Attorney Liskov get upset and outrage during that meeting? What did Liskov say to Martinez and the council members about the comment that was so outages? Gary did you read Martinez’s statement that I posted above and what her position was on the event? The council was looking into why City residents were losing their homes because of being late in paying their (WPCA) water bill and while doing that they came across some interesting and very troubling facts thereby causing them to explore and to investigate every angle on how residents were losing their homes. Liskov gets pissed because it discovered that he was apart of the problem and he didn’t like that. Gary, just answer those questions, thanks.

  • Donald Day

    No Gary it’s not my take, it’s my realization from the eyes of a Black man who like I said earlier, “what is anti-Semitism, is it like racism, like discrimination or something all together different? I know that there are symbols of anti-Semitism, but exactly where is the line drawn with respect to language?

    You see the difference between you, me and Enida we genuinely dont understand exactly what is anti-Semitic, why her characterization that two men are Jews who go to the same synagogue is anti-Semitic and not just a statement of facts.

  • Gary Tobin

    Silly me… now that you said your view is from the eyes of a black man and it’s the realization of a black man’s view. Geez Mr. Donald Day I’m so sorry I shared my rundown of the comments made. How could anyone conclude it was Anti-Semitic especially not having your credentials mentioned above.

    Anti-Semitic- being hostile to –or- prejudiced against Jews.

    • Ron Mackey

      Gary, so what did Councilwoman Martinez say that Anti-Semitic- being hostile to –or- prejudiced against Jews? Of course you wouldn’t understand the view point of any women of color because you are a white male.

  • Gary Tobin

    These auto dealers come from all over the State and different towns to buy these cars
    The same thing is true of John Jones and Kenny Rogers. Both these men are Black, they’re buddies and they go to the same church and they are buying up these cars.

    What is wrong with this statement?

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