As of this date:
1. Pauline Basso has offered NO apology to the public for her actions and a half-hearted two paragraph to NAACP President Rev. Ivon Pitts.
2. Pauline Basso has only offered this flippant statement to the press."I really have nothing to say...I sent an apology and that's it."
3. "Cowboy" Urice thinks the whole thing is a "joke" and offered this boneheaded response to the News-Times Brian Koonz that only inflamed the level of outrage.I just thought that it was funny," said Urice, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration. "There was nothing intended about anything.
"I am definitely a believer in law and order," he said. "Once again, these people are a burden on our tax system and we're forced to pay for them. It was in no way a racial slur."
Of course, Urice's "these people" remark speaks louder than any denial.
4. Our mayor, the last honest man in Danbury and leader of the seventh largest city in Connecticut, was too afraid to take questions from the networks, refuse to return calls from the networks, didn't give the impression that he took the matter seriously when first informed, didn't make a public statement condemning Basso's actions at this month's Common Council meeting, AND is attempting to distance himself from the matter by playing the role of "The Mediator."
and most importantly...
5. The OTHER COMMON COUNCIL MEMBER WHO'S RECEIVED THE EMAILS HASN'T COME FORWARD AND OFFERED AN EXPLANATION IN REGARDS TO HER/HIS ROLE IN THE MATTER. You know who you are, I know you read this blog and your silence on this matter speaks volumes and will not be forgotten.
Thankfully, I can take a small break from blasting Danbury's symbol of hatred and sit back and enjoy the popcorn while The News-Times take another swipe at the disgraceful bigoted-laced nature of those who're suppose to be leaders of the Republican Party.
The first karate chop comes from the fired up Brian Koonz.
Ahmad Noori, a U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, makes his living as a real estate expert for Cartus Corp. in Danbury.
But he also knows a thing or two about teaching.
Like many Danbury residents, Noori was shocked by last week's news that Common Council majority leader Pauline Basso and Planning Commission member Joel Urice had circulated racist e-mails about African women, Latinos and Muslims.
He saw the e-mailed photos of masked Muslim extremists holding up signs that read, "Behead Those Who Insult Islam" and "Be Prepared For The Real Holocaust."
And yet, tangled among the choking images of hatred and bigotry, Noori saw a lesson to be learned. Others in Danbury's ethnic community saw it, too.
Together, they're trying to undo the damage caused by Basso and Urice.
"I don't agree with suicide bombings. I don't agree with the hateful and extremist views that were shown in those pictures," Noori said Friday. "But I do want (Basso) and other people to know there's a big difference.
"For the majority of Muslims in America, particularly in Danbury, we are a peaceful people. We contribute to the community," he said. "For me, what hurts the most is that she's a public official. She knows better."
Noori was a teen-ager when he immigrated to Danbury in 1990. The city never used to be this way, he'll tell you. It was always a welcoming place, a palette where the colors complemented each other.
Hamid Raza, who owns Dollar Discount in Bethel, was also offended by the e-mails. Raza stood behind the counter Friday and shook his head.
"It's a very bad thing. It's not right," said Raza, a Danbury resident whose brother, Ahmed, leads the mosque in Monroe.
"You can't judge people on the basis of their color, or their religion, or their race," he said. "We are all God's children.
"Politicians are supposed to be the bridge that brings communities together," he went on. "They're not supposed to divide them and break them up and create more hate in the world."
"These kinds of things -- racist e-mails and photos, nooses -- they're symbolic of things that are usually swept under the rug in our society," said Dr. Carina Bandhauer, an associate professor of sociology at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
"But these particular symbols indicate there are bigger, unresolved issues with race and power and understanding," she observed.
Bandhauer said the situation becomes more intolerable when elected officials violate the public's trust. The professor also said she doubts Basso's two-paragraph apology to Pitts was sufficient to heal the city's wounds.
"It's particularly offensive when political figures are responsible," Bandhauer said. "(Basso) couldn't possibly have come to terms with what she did, just by writing one brief letter, to understand the issues affecting all of these groups and communities."
Willie Knight, who served as president of the Greater Danbury NAACP from 1984-94, agreed.
"Some of these things, the e-mails and the like, have become too permissible," Knight said. "But collectively, I still believe we have a very good community here in Danbury.
"But when something like this happens, I think it's even more reason to encourage people to take part in the voting process," he added. "You can make a difference. Your vote does count."
It's no different in the Islamic community or the Latino community. The pain might come in different colors, you see, but the votes still count the same.
If enough people keep Basso and Urice out of office Nov. 6, the healing can finally begin in Danbury.
"You can't hide behind the excuse of saying, 'Oh, well. It's just a joke.' This isn't humorous. It's not humorous at all," Knight said.
"When you're an elected official, you have to maintain a higher standard," he said. "Everybody in the city, especially our children, looks up to these people as role models. Martin Luther King said we shall overcome. Well, we're not there yet."
Sunday's editorial gives Boughton an off-handed shot it the head (read between thelines) while BLASTING Basso and Urice to pieces.
The controversy swirling around Danbury officials who forwarded offensive e-mails about ethnic groups has brightened the already glaring spotlight on the insensitivity with which many minorities are still treated in this city and, indeed, this country.
It is truly a sad commentary that such intolerance and bigotry continue to exist in 2007 Danbury and America.
The controversy also highlights the need for community leaders to encourage residents to be more tolerant -- and certainly to refrain from behavior that perpetuates bigoted stereotypes.
We are saddened and concerned that two Danbury officials -- Common Council majority leader Pauline Basso and Planning Commission member Joel Urice -- forwarded tasteless, offensive e-mails targeting Mexicans, African women and Muslims.
We don't have a clue why anyone would find humor in these ugly e-mails, or why they would want to share them with others.
And we certainly can't comprehend how or why two elected officials -- one of them the Republican leader of the Common Council -- would participate in spreading around such hateful material.
Criticism of those officials' behavior is not a matter of political correctness run wild, as some defenders of Basso and Urice contend.
This is not a matter of Basso's and Urice's critics failing to have a sense of humor, since it is difficult to find any humor in the e-mails.
Rather, this is a matter of two public officials viewing bigoted, offensive material, apparently finding it amusing, and forwarding it on to others.
It is a matter of two elected officials -- and most notably Basso -- who displayed very poor judgment in spreading incendiary material in a city where emotions already run high over the immigration issue.
Basso's and Urice's behavior raises serious questions about their suitability to serve the city of Danbury.
In Basso's case in particular, it is disturbing to know that an individual in such a key position -- and one who should be spearheading efforts to heal the ethnic divisions in Danbury -- apparently finds offensive ethnic e-mails funny.
And all of this is especially disturbing against the backdrop of racial conflict in Louisiana and the appearance of symbols of hatred like the noose and swastika signs at Columbia University and elsewhere.
What Danbury needs, what America needs are leaders who can heal, not those who exacerbate the divisiveness by perpetuating stereotypes.
We also call on Mayor Boughton to take greater advantage of his bully pulpit to work aggressively to increase tolerance and sensitivity, reduce bigotry and hostility, and create a more harmonious atmosphere in Danbury.
As for Basso and Urice, at the very least they both owe the community at large a sincere apology for their insensitive behavior.
And all Danbury residents -- leaders and ordinary citizens alike -- need to learn from this unfortunate scenario and make sure they act in a tolerant, sensitive, open-minded manner.
Yes, we need to learn from this and DEMAND THAT PAULINE BASSO RESIGN ASAP. As for Urice, he can kiss that dream of being on the zoning Commission good-bye.
Boughton's isn't off the hook and holding the mayor accountable for his role in this matter is also critical. Remember, Boughton KNEW about this matter back at the END OF SEPTEMBER. Not only did he fail to show any sense of leadership until the crap hit the fan on Tuesday, and he ran away from the networks who were demanding an explanation from him.
In other words, when under pressure, the mayor of the seventh largest city in Connecticut runs away from his responsibilities.
TO THIS DATE, BOUGHTON HAS NOT ANSWERED ONE QUESTION REGARDING WHEN HE KNEW ABOUT THE LETTERS, WHAT HE SAID TO BASSO, AND HOW DID HE THINK BASSO'S LETTER WAS SUFFICIENT. He didn't bring up the issue during this month's Common Council meeting when a apology on the record could have diffused a good portion of the anger now in Danbury.
Basso: A failure of intelligence.
Urice: An utter disgrace.
THE OTHER COMMON COUNCIL PERSON: Shameless.
Do you want a Republican Party that would defend these people while ignoring people who don't have the same skin color as them in control of YOUR City Hall?
Now, the choice is easier than ever...