February 20, 2008

Explosive Racial Charge Against Larry Soos

Some of you may recall the 2006 Election for U.S. Senate in Virginia. Former popular governor George Allen, a Republican, was considered the heavy favorite for much of the race. Then, at a little attended campaign event, he saw an African-American staffer of his opponent and referred to him as "macaca" which is a racial slur.

Now, no one believed Allen to be an old school racist, but throwing this term around called into question his judgment, his sensitivity to others and quite frankly his intelligence. Allen lost the race.

Fast forward to North Tonawanda in 2008 and Mayor Larry Soos. Now we've been critical on this page of Soos for his handling of the concert series and other missteps. But this is well beyond any discussion of policy.

From what we understand and have confirmed, a harassment seminar was held last week at North Tonawanda City Hall for city employees. The seminar was to cover all forms of harassment.

During the seminar, the woman who was running it was looking for "jurors" for a fun mock trial exercise, which is pretty typical for these kinds of events. The facilitator had the list of employees involved in the seminar, including long-time City Accountant David R. Jakubaszek.

For those of us who grew up in WNY, perhaps there is nothing more frightening than realizing you have to call out one of those long ethnic surnames with which you have no idea how to pronounce.

So too was the case with this facilitator as she attempted to call forward Mr. Jakubaszek to participate in this mock jury.

Leave it to Mayor Larry Soos to ride to the rescue. As the facilitator struggled to properly pronounce the name, Soos shouted out "Don't worry, he's just a Polack".

Now regardless of the intent of Soos' words, which we doubt were meant intentinonally to offend, is this what we can expect from an elected leader? And lest anyone jump to Soos' defense too fast, just think if this were an African American or Latino surname...would it be OK for Soos to insert an ethnic slur in that case?

Much like the Allen comment, this raises a whole bunch of questions about Soos' intelligence, judgment and really whether he's fit to be mayor of the Lumberjack City.

We've already heard some grumblings from the Polish Community, and I wouldn't be surprised to see this whole thing blow up in short order. These types of comments have a way of simmering for a bit before they explode.

As for Soos, it's time he learn that he is Mayor and as such it expected to exude a certain amount of decorum....he's not just the local barkeep making off-color comments to his buddies any more.


Oliver said...

Once again the Mayor of North Tonawanda proves to be a public embarrassment. More than anything else this is an indictment of his judgment or lack there of.

Really, the guy should resign

Fawn Leibowitz said...

Wow, if this is true, he needs to step down. This is not Alabama in the 1950's, and this type of "commentary" cannot be tolerated. Hobbes, I think you hit the nail on the head with the thought process of Soos. he thinks he's sitting in a bar lobbing his racial and ethnic insensitivities to his buddies across the bar. It's time he realize that with power goes responsibility. If he can't handle that, get out.

Big Daddy said...

Once again, Larry Soos does NT proud. He owes not only the Polish community an apology, but all of NT for once again embarassing us. Words matter Larry, especially when you're the Mayor.

Frank DeGeorge said...

My initial reaction to this was going to be blah, blah...the politically correct police are out again.

But your point about how people would react if this were a different ethnicity really rang true. Plus, I don't think its appropriate for a community's top executive to being using such language...especially at an harassment seminar.

Anonymous said...

The Polish community is going to go nuts if this hits the mainstream.

Call'em as I see'em said...

I know this page tends to lean right, but is really earth shattering? No one can believe Soos is "anti-Polish" and if he made one of hand comment, no matter how inappropriate it may be, does it really make him a terrible exectuive. Seems like we may have takent this one a bit too far, kids.

Generation Next said...


I don't know your ethnic background, but this type of language is just not acceptable. Soos' words show a complete lack of appreciation for diversity and inclusiveness.

And trust me, these are no longer mere buzzwords. My generation isn't bogged down by the stereotypes and prejudices of past generations. We look for inclusive work and social environments. Companies realizes that diversity isn't just doing the right thing any more, it's a sound business strategy.

But Soos' North Tonawanda looks like it's stuck in the dark ages. No wonder young people don't live there.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how Barack Obama feels about having a guy like Soos under the same political banner.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, Larry Soos should be drawn and quartered and fed to the crocs! Please, you are rediculous, it was meant in jest and I'm sure that was the way it was taken. Get down off your high horse and comment on things that are important. Larry Soos has been called a lot worse things to his face by his constituents.

Gee, you can't go anywhere without seeing Barack Obama's name invoked to condemn someone's actions. Could anyone tell me of his experience in running anything and you want him to lead the US, please! He's wet behind the ears and full of rhetoric with no substance. The naively of his cultlike followers.

Anonymous said...

Barack Obama is Polish? Regardless right or wrong or totally in jest, when you're a political leader you have to keep your personal comments to yourself and be a politically correct puppet.

Oliver said...

Anon (NTSoothsayer from the Ton News boards), at what point did you miss that this occurred at a mandatory sexual harassment seminar that was imposed on the city as a settlement for a previous lawsuit. This dis not occur while Larry was tending bar. What this issue shows is the Mayor Soos' absolute lack of judgment when it comes to his mouth, again. Hey, wile he was joking around at the harassment seminar he probably should have called the presenter "sweet cheeks" and patted her on the rump.

Sweaterman said...

Soos is a terrible leader. Not only does he say stupid things, but he has not accomplished anything since he has been in office.

Maybe he should be more like Obama. Great Speaker no substance. At least he could fool a lot of people.

pirate's code said...

Sadly, I'm not surprised at any of this. Spend more than five minutes in Soos' bar with him and you might be dismayed at what comes out of his mouth. But, this wasn't at his bar, it was at a seminar designed to educate and (presumably) prevent the very sort of comment his is alleged to have made. Does this make him a bad executive? Frankly, yes. Not in and of itself, but it is an example of what you see and get from Larry Soos when he isn't being managed by someone else.

I continue to marvel that he ever got elected in the first place, but you'd think by now some of the rough edges he was known to have might have been smoothed a bit.

That such an epithet could come out of his mouth at all, but especially in such a setting, speaks volume about both his judgment and his character.

North Tonawanda hasn't been, nor will it be, famous for its diversity. This sort of idiocy will keep the city firmly rooted in the 1950s.

Why he continues to get a free pass from the mainstream media is simply baffling.

Anonymous said...

funny how a bunch of right wing nuts suddenly are politically correct.

Anonymous said...

it was an ethnic not racial remark

nor was it made in public, although Hobbs found it necessary to publicize

I'm not defending the use of the term, but its not the worse thing I've heard out of a politician's mouth

pirate's code said...

Anonymous, you ARE defending the remark, and doing it in such typical fashion -- deflection.

The state of my wing nuts has nothing to do with political correctness. This has everything to do with Mayor Soos being what he is -- a barely literate fool.

Does the fact that he didn't make the statement during a council meeting, or at a press conference, make it any less insensitive?

The fact that he said it at all speaks to his character. The fact that he apparently said it in front of more than one person speaks to his judgment.

One of these days NT will elect a mayor that can string words together into actual, coherent sentences -- you know, verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and so on. And, maybe that same mayor will know when to say nothing.

In the meantime, stop defending the indefensible.

GOP Shill said...

Danny Rivera using the anonymous moniker to defend the embarassment he helped elect. Much like NT voters made up for past mistakes by spanking Danny's henchmen...Pappas and Burgio...this past election we will right the wrong of electing Soos in short order.

Mr. Green Jeans said...

Let's not make this about politics. This should be about a supposed community leader showing he doesn't have the intelligence to keep stupid things from pouring out his pie hole. Since I don't live in NT, I love Soos as mayor because everyone enjoys a good train wreck.

Personally, they should put him on stage at open mike night at the Riv and let him say all the un-PC stuff he wants.

Proud Democrat said...

Right, wrong, or whatever. This was a closed class to the public. If it was a "big issue" than something would have come from this already. Did you ever think that maybe Soos made that comment because the two of them are friends. And he did not take offense to the comment at hand. Or was there a cooment shot back that we are unaware of.( I`m willing to bet there was )

I love the fact that there are never any attacks on GOP elected officails on this page. You mean to tell me that they don`t make mistakes, or say anything what so ever inappropiate. Have you ever had a conversation with Danny Sklarski, or Updegrove. Imean come on now. I get the fact that Soos isn`t one of the better spoken politicains. It`s not in his nature to be. He hasn`t changed one bit since being elected to office. And poeple love him for it. It also doesn`t help one bit that his every move is challenged by the NT Common council to a point that anything good or bad that he bring to the table will get accomplished.

One more thing, maybe you should do some digging for once on something else other than slamming Soos. You whould see that the concert series was run by a woman who was connected deeply to the county GOP. (Remember Soos is a Democrat)I guess it didn`t matter if it wasn`t being run per the contact demands She also runs the weekly show at the Summit Park Mall. The one with the burn out pit that was shut down because of possible health problems. Until her "political friends " told the county health dept. to let her run it or else.

Anonymous said...

Proud, I think the simple fact of the matter is that Dems aren't dishing to Hobbes on the good stuff the way the GOP is and it's obvious they are missng the boat to get stuff that happens behind closed doors out there.

And I'm getting tired of people making up excuses for Soos. Friend or not, public meeting or not, can't we all agree that when a Mayor is acting in his official capacity, especially at an harassment seminar, calling someone a pollack is disgraceful.

Anonymous said...

I can not defend the remark, but I do know that it was said in jest behind closed doors, about a long-time friend. I also would be willing to guess the only reason it came out from behind those doors is because somebody had issues with Soos for something other than his use of the term.

What I know for sure is that Larry Soos is a good man that speaks his mind (often to his own determinent) and follows his heart. He is a champion for a dying commercial corridor that needs a champion (Oliver Street) and he cares more about NT than anybody I can think of. Those qualities alone make him somebody I would be proud to vote for re-election.

I also think that the attacks on Mayor Soos' character, intelligence and demeanor that started long before word got out of an ill-chosen expression on his part, are more personally hurtful than anything he would ever do or say. If there was ever a region that should celebrate a politician that wears their heart on their sleeve - it is western New York. I imagine half the people that criticize Larry Soos are the people that bemoan a lack of conviction in the many polished politicians out there that say nothing and do nothing, so that they will not offend anybody and will get re-elected because they look and talk the part.

Fawn Leibowitz said...

I love the repeated defense that the comment was "made in jest behind closed doors". So it would be okay to say "Its okay, he's just a nigger/a spic/a gook/a mic/ a pick-your-own racial or ethnic/racial slur" because it was made in jest behind closed doors.

It's amazing that some people can justify bigotry as a joke made in private.

Senator Blutarski said...

What Larry Soos says in the privacy of his own home, to a friend or otherwise, is his own business.

But what Mayor Soos says outside his home, and especially at city hall, is another matter.

Yes, Larry Soos often wears his heart on his sleeve. I'm sure he thinks he has NT's best interests at heart.

But, I would prefer a mayor that uses his brain at least as often as his heart, especially when he is about to open his mouth. You simply can't say whatever pops into your head and laugh it off as being colorful.

When you become a laughingstock, the community you represents becomes a laughingstock.

Besides, it is painfully apparent to anyone who has spent five minutes in NT that, much of the time, when Larry opens his mouth on an issue, it is someone else's words that are coming out (Rivera, Burgio, Alverson).

Pete M said...

Character is what you do when no one is looking. If Soos, as a leader in this community, can say or do anything he wants behind closed doors, and this is how he conducts himself behind those closed doors, he has defined his character.