Antisemitic comments phoned in during El Dorado County supervisors meeting

Eric Jaramishian / Mountain Democrat

PLACERVILLE, Calif. – Antisemitic comments engulfed the public forum segment of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday as individuals expressed their disapproval of the board’s action to rescind its proclamation recognizing July as American Christian Heritage Month. 

The board listened as commenters, all through Zoom, barraged the county leaders, stating the Holocaust was a “hoax,” calling Jewish people “vile” and “leeches” and saying “f-ck Jews.” 

The derogatory comments went on for about half an hour, but did not go without remarks from Board Chair Wendy Thomas, who asked County Counsel David Livingston nearly half way through the public forum if there were rules on such language being used during board meetings. 

“That’s just not acceptable,” Thomas said, before Livingston noted that while the comments made were offensive, the county has no rules of conduct regarding hate speech. 

“I suspect at the end of this discussion you’ll be directing me and other staff members to consider some policy regarding hate speech at board meetings,” Livingston said. 

The comments didn’t let up after that dialogue. 

One commenter out of nearly 10, who claimed to be an El Dorado County resident by the name of Ryan Mosano, stated Jewish people were “dirty kikes,” exclaiming “f-ck these kikes that run our government” and ending with the phrase “white power.” 

Others made offensive comments such as “seig heil,” “Heil Hitler” and “go back to Israel.” While most identified themselves by name, the commenters did not reveal if they lived in the county. 

Other callers looking to comment on topics on the board’s agenda felt the need to address the antisemitic sentiments.

Ken Greenwood, a resident of District 5, was going to comment on a cell tower matter but took the time to share his disappointment with the antisemitic commenters. 

“I’m ready to throw up,” Greenwood said to the board, noting his father was in Dachau during the Holocaust. “The Holocaust happened.”

Greenwood added, “I’m sad we all had to be subjected to this because that was outrageous.” 

El Dorado County GOP secretary Kelley Nalewaja, who was opposed to the board’s action to rescind the proclamation that sparked the antisemitic speech, said she was the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and was “appalled” by comments made. 

“I certainly would have applauded all of you if you had excused yourself,” Nalewaja told the board. “They can talk all they want … I don’t know if you are required to listen, (but) I suggest maybe that is an option to look into.” 

With District 4 Supervisor Lori Parlin the lone “no” vote, the board voted 4-1 in July to approve of the American Christian Heritage Month proclamation, which was proposed by District 1 Supervisor John Hidahl. The action proved to be controversial among residents of El Dorado County and outside groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation that urged the board to rescind the proclamation. 

The designation was rescinded Sept. 19 in a unanimous board vote that recognized the need to practice separation of church and state. That action brought on Tuesday’s antisemitic comments, leading to the board meeting going over the 30-minute time limit for public forum. 

Kim Dawson, clerk of the board, informed supervisors some of the individuals were looking to comment again and informed the commenters they were only allowed to speak once. 

When public forum ended, Thomas asked the board if they wanted to direct county counsel to look into creating a board policy on hate speech. 

There was about 10 seconds of silence before Parlin answered. 

“I don’t know if I really want to go there,” Parlin said. “We usually get through these things … why make ourselves more of a target?”

Hidahl also was unsure of making such an action. 

“I believe our First Amendment rights are the basic, fundamental right of every individual to express themselves,” Hidahl said. “That is what leads to good governance, is hearing the differences of opinion. I just wish that some of the language was cleaned up. I mean, the message is fine, but the derogatory language is hard to take.”

District 5 Supervisor Brooke Laine questioned if it is in the board chair’s power to mute those using such language.

Livingston responded by stating it would be a challenge to silence such speech, “Particularly if the conduct does not otherwise rise to the level of disruption or true threat,” he added. 

Livingston reassured the board that he and his staff would look into the policy on meeting conduct to see if anything can be done. 

No official action was taken. 

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