A Democratic member of the New York City Council is under fire for comments that members of the council’s Italian Caucus say were bigoted.
Democrat Chi Ossé said during a Monday council meeting that a business should have been disqualified from getting a city contract because of its name, which is Italian. The council was discussing Dragonetti Brothers Landscaping, a contractor that had to pay more than $1 million in restitution last year for insurance fraud.
“I just want to say on Dragonetti, that name alone should have been the first red flag in terms of contracting with the city,” Ossé said during the budget meeting.
The city’s Italian Caucus issued a complaint over Ossé’s comment, alleging he was peddling anti-Italian stereotypes.
“The members of the Italian Caucus categorically condemn the comments Council member Chi Ossé made on the record during a budget hearing this week, in which he suggested that an Italian surname that branded a company should have led to its disqualification from ever getting a contract with the City of New York,” the caucus said in a statement.
Ossé said the comment “had nothing to do with Italians,” that it instead “had everything to do with the fact that the company has already been tarnished.”
But the Italian Caucus said that excuse doesn’t pass muster, because the business won the contract before it gained a reputation for fraudulent business practices.
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