Monroe councilman faces more criticism for comments about masks

A comment made last month by Monroe Councilman Tom Callahan is the target of a new citizen comment seeking his resignation from City Council.

At the July 14 council meeting, Callahan said he had yet to wear a mask in public and has never felt threatened to do so. He said people should have the right to wear a mask or not wear one.

Callahan then said, “I disagree with telling people to wear masks. The next thing you do, you’ll be telling people to wear scarves around their head.”

Emilio Spinoza, a city resident, requested his emailed comments be read into the record at Tuesday’s meeting.

Spinosa said he was “one of the Monroe residents who was offended by Councilman Callahan’s remarks regarding the mask-wearing ordinance discussed at the July 14th meeting. In my email to council, I suggested he sincerely apologize for his racially/culturally insensitive remark, or resign. His comments in the Journal-News (July 31, 2020) do not constitute an apology.”

Spinosa said he did not take Callahan’s remarks out of context as you claimed in the Journal-News article.

“Your remarks were made in the context of the council vote on the mask ordinance. I understand as well that you were trying to make a point,” Spinosa said. “Nevertheless, the example you used to make that point was offensive. I believe in second chances, so I have not signed the petition requesting your resignation. You will again have an opportunity to put your sincere apology (and I emphasize sincere) into the public record at the next council meeting.”

Spinosa said if Callahan admits his error and sincerely shows remorse for it without qualification, then Monroe’s residents will be able to leave your unfortunate remarks in the past.

“Only then can you continue your public service with renewed spirit and understanding,” Spinosa said.

When asked by a Councilwoman Christina McElfresh if he had anything to say, Callahan said, “No.”

Councilman Robert Routson questioned if anyone verified if Spinosa was a Monroe resident. He asked for verification of Monroe residency before reading email letters into the record at future meetings.

The Journal-News confirmed Spinosa is a Monroe resident.

Law Director Phil Callahan told council that there is no identification requirement for people commenting at a public meeting nor can council require it under Ohio’s open meeting law that was amended last spring due to COVID-19 pandemic.

A petition that is seeking Councilman Callahan’s resignation from council as nearly 800 signatures as of mid-day Thursday.

About the Author