Mayors Flatter, Insult Latinos

“Mayor of all the people.” Is there a mayor of any city, upstate or down, who hasn’t said that’s what he or she wants to be?

There are sharp contrasts, in a pair of Associated Press stories today, about how a pair of mayors are treating their Hispanic populations. New York City’s Michael Bloomberg, after an embarrassing but determined struggle to learn Spanish, has come close to mastering the language:

bloomberg.jpg When he was in Mexico last week to study an anti-poverty program, he gave a 10-minute speech in Spanish, and afterward held a news conference where he answered questions in both languages, without any help from a translator. And the gains he showed there are just the latest example of his noticeable advancement in recent months after years of struggling to grasp the language.

“Congratulations for your Spanish- I was very impressed,” a bilingual reporter told him in Mexico before asking a question. “We’ve been covering you for many years now, and it’s very good.”

Then there’s the mayor of Manorhaven, on Long Island, where the problem is what Mayor Nicholas Capozzi says- in English- about Latinos, who make up 20 percent of the small community’s population:

mayor-nicholas-capozzi.jpg The mayor was heard speaking with a local contractor in a news report aired Monday night by WCBS-TV- a tirade that contained several bleeped-out slurs, saying, “The Spaniolis are rolling all over the … place. They rent out the place and put locks on every door. It’s gotta stop.

In a reference to a particular neighborhood where many Hispanics live, Capozzi was heard saying, “Do you drive down that … block? It looks like … Harlem. It looks worse than Harlem. It’s a … hole over there.”

Mayor Capozzi might be looking for work when the next election rolls around. He could try Spanish lessons, but that probably wouldn’t help.

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