ELIZABETH—A city councilwoman is under fire for refusing to salute the flag and making racist remarks that have been compared to inflammatory statements by the controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who became an issue in the presidential campaign when he angrily said in sermons, “God damn America.”
Council President Patricia Perkins-Auguste has been a controversial figure in her 16 years on the governing body.
Rafael Fajardo recalled that when former Councilwomen Iris Brown and Betty Kotarski asked why a city heart disease program was directed only at women of color, Perkins-Auguste responded by saying, “white women don’t have hearts.”
Perkins-Auguste was a plaintiff in a lawsuit that sought to invalidate a state law that deny criminals on probation and parole the right to vote on the ground that it denied African-Americans and Hispanics equal protection of the law.
Perkins-Auguste was guilty of violating the rights of former Councilman Tony Monteiro, who was arrested by her orders and dragged out of a city council meeting at which he opposed a Bollwage administration tax increase.
Monteiro was vindicated by the US Supreme Court, which upheld a lower court order requiring Perkins-Auguste to pay for her transgressions. That case cost taxpayers at least $650,000 in legal fees.
Some black leaders are also questioning Perkins-Auguste for her commitment to ending racial strife. The councilwoman has never spoken out against the mayor’s use of such derogatory terms as ‘spooks’ to describe African-Americans.
Perkins-Auguste is running for another term on a ticket led by Mayor J. Christian Bollwage.
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