Paterson councilman criticized for ‘Jew’ phrase
PATERSON — A city councilman who used a controversial phrase during a meeting on Tuesday was rebuked by the Passaic County Democrat Committee which called for his censure.
During a debate on the rebuilding of the city's Hinchliffe Stadium, the 1st Ward councilman used the phrase as he recreated a conversation between himself and a developer.
“I said, ‘Mr. Developer, I respect you, I appreciate you for valuing our city, for offering the best price possible and not trying to go backwards to Jew us down,’” Paterson councilman Michael Jackson said.
During the meeting, Business Administrator Vaughn L. McKoy, seated next to Mayor Andre Sayegh, took a deep breath before requesting an apology from Jackson.
"You said something I think is totally inappropriate for a councilperson, for any person, to utter what you said in referring to how a certain group of people bargain. I heard it and I think everyone in this council chamber heard it and I was offended by it that I have to walk outside the room. But I cannot allow myself to let that comment go without apologizing to the community and the group that may have been offended by Councilman Jackson's statement," McKoy said.
A few minutes later, Jackson said he considered McKoy a mentor and explained that he meant no malice by the remark.
"It was a statement indicative of my upbringing, where it was a term that was often used as we in our community use other terms of endearment that have now become unforsaken," Jackson said.
Sayegh told Jackson that his "highly insensitive" comment offended a lot of people.
The mayor also noted that Jackson was "smirking" as he spoke, which added "insult to injury." He also admonished Jackson for not apologizing.
Jackson responded by saying he was disrespected by the other officials and offered what he called a second apology.
"I clearly talked about it being an insensitive comment and I'll do it again. And I smirk because the objective of the mayor to make it a bigger issue than it is. But when the family of Jameek Lowery came to the podium night after night you sat there with a stupid smirk on your face and didn't say a damn word," Jackson said, adding sarcastically that Sayegh never used the "N word."
In a joint statement released with legislative representatives, Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie called for Jackson's censure.
“Councilman Jackson’s comments are inexcusable; members of Paterson’s City Council should stand together and censure him immediately," Currie said.
Jackson told NBC 4 New York that he acknowledged the comment as being in poor taste but declined to comment when asked to react to the mayor' criticism for not apologizing.