Ethnic joke spurs legislative condemnation

A planning commissioner’s joke about Sicilians and cash bribes has no one laughing.

The comedic attempt came during a hearing on a permit application by an owner of a North Beach Italian restaurant for an opera singer during dining hours.

Maybe it was a case of watching “The Godfather” too many times, but planning Commissioner Hisashi Sugaya said, “I’m supportive, but I was kind of waiting for my brown paper envelopes to come from the Sicilians. But I never got anything so, you know, I may vote against it.”

The statement did not strike the funny bone of many, and it prompted one attendee to send a letter to the Board of Supervisors and Planning Department requesting an apology.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, an Italian-American of Sicilian descent, introduced a resolution that would officially condemn the remarks “that deeply offended members of the Italian-American community.”

“It is one of the stereotypes our community has worked so hard to reverse,” Alioto-Pier said.

She said when her grandfather was mayor of San Francisco, Look magazine accused him of being a member of the Mafia.

“The federal government indicted him,” Alioto-Pier said. “They had no proof. Ultimately, he won his [libel] suit.”

“[Sugaya’s] statement, in addition to being derogatory, brings dishonor to The City and County of San Francisco by implying decision makers are waiting for envelopes of cash,” the resolution said.

The Board of Supervisors will vote on the resolution Tuesday. It also would urge members of city boards and commissions “to treat members of the public with the respect they deserve.”

Sugaya did not return requests for comment.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

 

Bay Area NewsBoard of SupervisorsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPoliticsSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Music venues around The City have largely been unable to reopen due to ongoing pandemic health orders. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF to cut $2.5M in fees to help 300 nightlife venues

San Francisco will cut $2.5 million in fees for hundreds of entertainment… Continue reading

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have taken different approaches to transit and infrastructure funding. <ins>(Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)</ins>
Bay Area transit has big hopes for a Biden administration

The best chance for local agencies to get relief may be a change in federal leadership

BART Ambassadors are being called on to assist riders in social situations that don’t require police force. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Unarmed BART ambassadors program formalized with a focus on community service

Public safety and police reform are key elements in campaigns of Board members Dufty and Simon

East Bay hills and Port of Oakland visible from Point San Bruno Park jetty. (Shutterstock)
East Bay agencies urge precautionary evacuations ahead of wind event

At least two East Bay jurisdictions suggested Sunday that residents in the… Continue reading

Nate Durand of Chug Pub created an election-themed cocktail which has several names: Biden Harris, Barris, Hiden, and/or Dem Juice. (Saul Sugarman/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Drink blue, no matter who

But bar parties aren’t planned for Election Day

Most Read