Comprender? Complaint brings Huja confidence vote

It was business as usual during public comment at the July 18 City Council meeting, until one citizen veered from typical issues, such as the Meadowcreek Parkway and the water plan, to raise a new concern, one that stunned councilors and led to accusations of xenophobia, government stifling of free speech, and a parliamentary vote of confidence.

City Council regular Pat Napoleon had finished her comments about the Parkway and used the rest of her three minutes to address another matter:

"I must relay a serious concern relating to a sitting member of Council," said Napoleon. "Others and I have been unable to understand Mr. [Satyendra] Huja's comments at City Council meetings and forums for years. It is the right of citizens to hear and comprehend what is going on during official meetings."

Huja, former Charlottesville director of strategic planning, worked for the city for 27 years and was instrumental in creating the Charlottesville of today with its Downtown Mall, flowers, and trees. He was born in India 69 years ago, elected to City Council in 2007, and seeks a second term at the August 20 Democratic firehouse primary.

Napoleon suggests that any elected officials who could not be understood should hire a translator at their own expense.

"It is crucial citizens understand all that is discussed," said Napoleon, as she opened a floodgate of criticism.

Ten minutes later, former Nature Conservancy head Ridge Schuyler declared, "I was offended by the comments about Mr. Huja, and I do not share them, and I think a lot of people don't share them; and I find them offensive."

"I agree," said Mayor Dave Norris.

"We don't normally have such xenophobic comments," said Councilor Kristin Szakos, apologizing to a delegation of visiting Afghani women. "I'm embarrassed."

"I also do not support the sentiments expressed," echoed Councilor Holly Edwards, who called for a measure more usually seen in the British Parliament than in American local government: a vote of confidence for Huja. Council unanimously approved the vote, which was followed by applause.

That was not the end of the matter.

At the August 1 meeting, resident Richard Statman read the First Amendment and reminded councilors that citizen comments are protected speech and councilors "should never hint at a climate of restraining free speech or characterize public comments in a way that silences First Amendment protections," he said.

"The greatest threat to free speech," continued Statman, "is the government, whose representatives seek to impose, control, or guide the general discourse for what they believe is the public good."

Napoleon returned to the podium to complain that her concerns about not fully understanding Huja had been "inaccurately, improperly and unjustifiably" mischaracterized by Szakos as xenophobic– the fear or hatred of foreigners.

"I did not make any personal attacks, any type of reference to accent, etcetera," said Napoleon, who, a few days after the meeting, is still steamed about being labeled a xenophobe.

"I think she was trying to intimidate me," says Napoleon.

And Szakos' opinion?

"It was certainly rude," says Szakos, though she adds that she will be more mindful about remarks from the councilors' dais that could be seen as stifling free speech.

"I think the fact that someone has an accent shouldn't disqualify them from public office," says Szakos, while acknowledging that Huja can sometimes be hard to understand.

It turns out that Napoleon wasn't the first to point that out. Taped to the back of Huja's nameplate on the dais are three words in block letters, "SLOW AND CLEAR."

"I do have an accent," says Huja. "I'm trying to do better."

Huja says he regrets that Napoleon was unable to understand him, but he also felt an uncomfortable overtone in the remarks. "Her tone," he says, "was very unpleasant."

He also questions the timing, coming a month before the August 20 firehouse primary– and the Hook doing a story about the issue.

"I think it casts doubt on my ability to be a city councilor," he says. "Most people understand me fairly well. I've been doing public speaking the last 38 years in Charlottesville. I do the best I can."

Mayor Norris thinks it was Napoleon's suggestion to get a translator that made councilors see it as a reflection on Huja's ethnicity.

"In that moment, we all took Pat's comments in a way she didn't intend," says Norris, adding, "I've never questioned Mr. Huja's ability to serve this community."

The vote of confidence was a first in Norris' experience on Council. "I wasn't sure what it meant," says Norris, although he voted for it.

Norris says that he later asked Holly Edwards, who did not return a phone call from the Hook, about the vote of confidence, and she said she'd seen it done at a Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority meeting after its director, Tom Frederick, had been lambasted by a speaker.

"Misguided," is how another Council regular, Richard Lloyd, describes the vote of confidence. In a representative democracy, elected members don't affirm themselves, explains Lloyd. That's done by the voters."Huja represents the people; he doesn't represent the Council," says Lloyd.

Huja has improved his clarity, says Lloyd, who wonders what Council is going to do about this now-admitted comprehension situation.

"It would be nice," says Lloyd, "if they said 'If you don't understand, please raise your hand.'"

129 comments

I do not know Pat Napoleon personally, but I seriously question her judgment in making this statement during a Council meeting. I try not to read deeper motivations in her remarks - I even have a touch of sympathy with her issue, as I have also strained to understand Mr. Huja at times - but I truly believe that she could have accomplished more in a private meeting or even a simple note than to launch this controversial charge from a public podium.

Sean - Well done. I could not agree more.

I think this comment was long overdue. I, and others I know, have spoken directly to Mr. Huja about this problem and had even suggested he hire a voice coach, to no avail. He just said thank you and went right on speaking in an often totally incomprehensible manner.

This situation is not acceptable as an elected official.

I believe the Mayor should suggest that citizens raise their hands whenever Mr. Huja cannot be understood. Attendees of these meetings have been tolerant of this problem for far too long. Any honest observer of Council meetings would be lying if they did not agree.

We all owe Ms. Napolean a debt of gratitude for finally doing what many of us wish we had the courage to do, since private communications have not changed this situation.

Hopefully her comments will bring about a change that will benefit us all.

While she didn't "intend" to sound like a bigot, about 5 seconds of forethought should have been enough to figure out that her approach wasn't the right one. Hire a translator at HIS expense? Holy crap...

Nice to see Council stick up for Huja

A little class goes a long way.

I applaud the Hook's coverage of these events. I wish the councilors would apologize to Ms.Napoleon.

Mr. McCord I just read your website. The statement you gave for why you ran in the 2007 school board election, and what you have written here don't line up, would you care to comment.

" Finally, I stand for completely open government. The School Board is truly a citizen board, and as a member, it’s important to hear your ideas and your concerns."

http://citizenmccord.com/the-ex-candidate/

"At the August 1 meeting, resident Richard Statman read the First Amendment and reminded councilors that citizen comments are protected speech and councilors 'should never hint at a climate of restraining free speech or characterize public comments in a way that silences First Amendment protections,' he said."

If the First Amendment affords members of the public the right to say something so completely stupid, I would hope that it also allows members of Council the right to point out such stupidity.

Kudos to Council. And thank you, Mr. Huja, for your service.

I don't understand Councilor Szakos's position. If she believes that Mr. Huja "can sometimes be hard to understand," then why does she consider Ms. Napoleon's request for clarification to be xenophobic?

Was it xenophobic for Ms. Szakos to acknowledge to the Hook's reporter that Mr. Huja can be hard to understand?

There are likely to be more members of the general public that read the Hook's article than were present at the Council meeting, so if the standard for rudeness/inappropriateness/offensiveness/xenophobia (!) is criticizing someone in public rather than privately, isn't it more (not less) offensive to criticize Mr. Huja's accent to the Hook's reporter than to raise the issue at a Council meeting?

Certainly the August 20 primary can be seen as a time when Charlottesville can ask itself whether or not Huja should be on the council or whether voices like Ms. Napoleon's will carry the day.

There is a question of serving the public and there is a question of being understood. It is legitimate to ask; if an official cannot be understood, are they able to serve the public ?

I have never been able to understand Huja. But having been labeled the daddy of the downtown mall, I can't imagine him saying much of importance anyway.

I'm no expert in politics particularly local politics, however, I offer the following:

1) Citizens should not have to hold back from expressing themselves to our government. It seems as though the woman did not personally attack Huja.

2) This is a little disconcerting: "I wasn't sure what it meant," says Norris, although he voted for it." Don't vote if you don't understand. That's crap!

3) If Huja really did care about leading this community then he would take it upon himself to communicate clearly. The fact that most people cannot understand him is a serious problem! I like the idea of raising your hand if you can't understand him.

This pretty much should sum it up:

"citizen comments are protected speech and councilors "should never hint at a climate of restraining free speech or characterize public comments in a way that silences First Amendment protections."

Thank you, Mr. Huja, for volunteering your time and efforts to help the community.

He is a consummate pol. No one can understand what he does, or his explanations. I imagine Szakos would just nod in mutilcultural joy if he just went and spoke his native tongue. I mean, that would appear to be acceptable based on what I heard the Council say. They are more concerned with being PC than the public being able to follow their antics.

I am a relatively new-comer to this community. I have lived all over the USA, in cities/towns large and small...and I gotta say, the so-called "Liberal-Progressives" here literally disgust me. I am approaching my 7th decade on this earth, and I have never before witnessed such disrespect, and callous indignation, and snobby elitism, and constant objectionism to ANYTHING or ANYBODY that doesn't fit the mold of what the "smarter class" has decided is best for the rest of us. Forty years to build a 2 miles stretch of Meadowcreek Parkway? Another 12 years of fighting over a Western by-pass? Years of bickering and name-calling, and petty finger-pointing over the water plan(S), And I say PLANS, because how many studies and so-called experts are enough? Each of these matters has been "studied to death". But of course, that's what the opponents want to achieve... fight, and object, and stomp your feet, and pout loud enough or long enough until they get their way. It's childish, and self-serving, and downright destructive to the community, and to oun society in general. And now these most recent disparaging comments about Mr. Huja. Ms. Napoleon should be ASHAMED of herself. For a city that portrays itelf as the "ideal place to live", I say "what a crock". Charlottesville has become a laughing joke throughout the Commonwealth. The liberal "do-gooders" who pretend to "love everybody", and "care for our fellow-man". What hypocrosy! This story about our Councilman Huja just shows how cruel, and hateful, and miserable these people really are. I am an occasional observer to the City Council meetings, and I often engage in conversation with Mr. Huja outside of the Council Chambers. I have always found him to be open and sincere, and warm, and genuinely caring & receptive..and a DEDICATED public servant. And yes, I sometimes struggle to grasp every syllable that he says, but that has not prevented me from understanding his intentions and stance and position on city matters. Mr. Huja is an intelligent man. And also I dare say, far more gentlemanly and respectful than those self-proclaimed critics who would so freely throw darts. To all you, I say again... You should be ashamed of yourselves. Go soak your heads in some of your "cleansing herbs" and hum a few rounds of "Kumbaya". Perhaps then you'll all begin to feel better about yourselves, and others who are "different".

Cville Disgusted. You may have spoken with him, but you never had to work with him. That is clear. And the kyumbaya stuff, its for Szakos and her ilk, not those who actually pay the bills. Those people wear shoes to work.

Deleted by moderator,

C-ville Disgusted,

I agree that much of what goes on is very silly, but this has nothing to do with being liberal. I don't think Charlottesville, much less Albemarle County are liberal at all. At best you have Conservative Democrats with a few liberal tendencies when it comes to catering to the minority community.

The childishness however, is on both sides of the equation, from the developers who feel that the localities owe them instant access to taxpayer funds, to minorities who think they are owed free housing, to the 'scenes' that think the community should tolerate their disruptive shenanigans. All think they are owed, while the rest of us who just show up, do a job and build a home, are expected to shut up and pay the tax bill. Frankly some of us are tired of it, and are speaking up loudly now.

Perhaps if our appointed boards and our elected officials were doing their jobs, we wouldn't need to waste so much money on so many studies.Perhaps if there weren't so many conflicts of interest, we wouldn't face some of the bitter infighting. Better that energy was focused on creating real infrastructure and real jobs instead of piddly paying servant class jobs with part time service industry jobs. Only in Charlottesville/Albemarle do lawyers find themselves pretty hungry...

GSOE- well said.........

I don't understand the difficulty with bringing up this problem in a public forum. Over the years this has been an open conversation among democratic leaders, who have tried to ask Mr. Huja to do something about it. Perhaps the public reached a point where they needed to take action if the leadership was unwilling to do so.

The democratic leadership is a tight bunch and if their candidate is supporting their agenda they will do what it takes to protect them.

I wish instead of thinking about what Mr. Huja can do for them they would think more about the citizens who simply want to hear what is being said.

Mr. Huja is the nicest of people: kind, and considerate, but I think his loyalty to staff sometimes obscures his ability to look at the information the public brings to him.

His unwillingness to deal with such a heavy accent, that makes him difficult to understand, after so many years in the U.S., indicates more than just a problem with speech.

I have never understood a word the man said. Since, he is a politician I figured what the heck, a lie is a lie whether I understand it or not. Basically you have to have a trust fund, or a meaningless job to serve on city council anyway, so who cares what they have to say. As long as my toilet flushes, and my water and gas work. I could care less what goes on here as far as city government goes. I own a lot of guns so I don't need the police, and if my house burns to the ground I have insurance.

I too have rarely been able to understand Huja, whether he's speaking before a large audience or with a small group. I agree that Huja is to be lauded for his commitment and hard work for Charlottesville. But I have assumed that over the years he's been told by people who care about him that his speech is a problem. And I believe the lack of improvement in this matter detracts from his public service. Whether this difficulty is solely because of an accent is not clear to me; there may also be some sort of impediment. In any case, it is Huja's decision whether or not to engage a speech coach. And our decision whether or not to support him in the meantime.

Yet more Cvillians engaging in their favorite personal hobby of being offended by something. That's all anybody seems to do here in Cville. "I'm offended! I'm offended!"

I also find it hilarious that Kristin Szakos thinks it's "xenophobic" for one to complain that they can't understand somebody's accent. Knee jerk liberal political correctness has gotten out of control. One should be able to say "Hey, you know what? A lot of us out here can't understand what you're saying most of the time..." without having the Political Correct Brigade jump down their throat with hysterical exaggerated declarations of "xenophobia." The fact that she would knee jerk label such a comment as being in the realm of actual "xenophobia" and attempting to shut down free speech is what was truly embarrassing, and in need of apology to the Afghan delegation.

boooo!, I am offended by your remarks!!!!!! :)

OK, back to the subject at hand. So and so said this. So and so said that. The community voiced their opinions. Dainty little feelings were hurt on both sides of the fence. So, what's been accomplished? Is there a solution yet to hopefully someday soon being able to understand what Huja says?

Let that be a lesson for ya...if ya rock the C'ville P.C. pontoon boat in any way, shape, or form, you're pilloried posthaste.

Understanding Mr. Huja better should be addressed, but not in the manner Mrs. Napoleon addressed it. A conversation out of the public forum would be more effective. She is more interested in calling attention to herself and Mr. Huja's ethnicity leading into elections. Would she have made the same remarks about Cletus Hilljack when he couldn't be understood because of his deep, southern drawl and plug of tobacco? I don't think so. A hit dog will holler.

Truth is, the issue is now being addressed. No more back sliding for H man. He will be pressured to assume responsibility for his own lazy speech. About time. Smart residents want to know what he is saying.

BTW Henry, council members aren't volunteers. They get paid.

@ Napoleon Complex

You're right, it probably does in fact have everything to do with the upcoming elections. A nice little "friendly reminder" that "Hey, people are tired of not being able to understand you, and more importantly, tired of having you ignore the repeated requests over the years to rectify the issue, so, ya know.........think about that if you're planning to run for re-election. The general public is getting fed up and we have the power to vote you out of office." Nothing wrong with that. The public has a right to be able to understand what's being said, and to stand up and say something when they can't. Pointing out somebody's incomprehensible accent, when it's apparently been pointed out numerous times over the years with zero results, is more than reasonable. The public has gone *above and beyond* in terms of acceptance, tolerance, patience and reasonable-ness in this matter. Yet Kristin Szakos wants to hysterically cry "Xenophobia." Gotta love it. That's okay, she'll eventually be running for re-election too. ;)

I also love how there's a huge "free speech monument" in front of city hall that basically amounts to graffiti on a bathroom wall, and yet, how dare anybody question the incomprehensible speech of a city counsilor. Hmm, yes, that makes sense. It's okay for people to scrawl pictures of genitalia and ridiculous commentary and nasty gossip on a wall, as well as on the Mall bricks (if the liberal politically correct brigade wants to talk about "offensive" and "embarrassing" and losing face in front of the Afghan delegation maybe they should rethink that one a little more closely....) but you can't question something about a councilor in a public forum. riiiight.

I for one am glad the issue of the intelligibility of Councilor Huja's speech at council meetings and other city government functions is finally being addressed in an open and public fashion. Citizens have a right to understand the public remarks of their elected representatives, and when the remarks are unintelligible--or nearly so--they have a right to call attention to the issue without dissuasion or push-back from the elected representatives--either singly or as a body. Councilors, just ask your City Attorney if you are unclear about the First Amendment implications.

Please tell Mrs. Szakos that my vote is still available in return for free pizza.

I won't even ask to understand what she says.

It's the ultimate political currency in this town - no one cares what you say or think as long as you can provide free pizza ... or some equivalent.

Mr. Huja's problem is less that he doesn't speak good English, it's that he has a lazy speaking manner and makes no effort to articulate clearly while at the same time he doesn't look at people and mumbles in a low sing song. It's like trying to understand Marlon Brando.

Maybe a commission should be appointed to initiate a dialogue on this issue? Cletus Hilljack, Mr. Huja and every other barely intelligible local representing every conceivable drawl and or dialect will be appointed. Their findings will have to be presented orally. NO SUBTITLES!!!

The real-life King's Speech drama going on right here in C'ville. Wait...Huja isn't the king, Maurice Jones is.

@meanwhile

Better yet, I think an outside "Consultant" should be hired. This outside consulting firm can look at the issue, compile data, then submit their findings to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars. THEN the consulting firm's recommendation should be that a "Dialogue" needs to be initiated, where groups of concerned citizens get together to further discuss the issue in round and round circles, all the while charging the city for the thousands of dollars in food and supply costs incurred at their meetings.

Sounds like a plan!

If people would listen to the last Council meeting on Aug.1, 2011, they wouldsee that they can understand Mr. Huja a lot better.
@Scoop, I agree with you, it is lazy speech. I am glad Pat Napoleon brought it up in public because private conversations have not done the trick over the years.
I find it funny when Councilors express self-righteous indigination. I have heard each Councilor, with the exception of Holly Edwards, make offensive statements to people in Council chambers. Mr. Huja has been offending people ever since he worked for the City. If they can dish it, they ought to be able to take it.

You are right CvilleEye when he chooses he can speak clearly, I have thought for a long time he mumbles purposely so as not to be understood, to cover the fact he comes to meetings unprepared.

The only night I heard him speak clearly before the 1st is the night he came with a prepared statement, which he read; to overturn the previously unanimously approved plan NOT to build a new earthen dam. He can speak clearly when he wants to.

I agree with a previous poster that his unquestioning loyalty to staff ( such as Mr. Frederick) and his inability to process new information that may not agree with the staff reports, are what bothers me most about his service on Council, and leads to decisions that are unnecessarily detrimental for city residents.

His interest seems to be more with the development community along with fellow nominees Galvin and Beyer, all three seem willing to sacrifice city parks and other city owned assets for county growth with no compensation for the city .

Maybe that's why he doesn't want to be understood when he speaks at council meetings.

Cville Eye, private conversations have not done the trick over the years???

I am inclined to believe every word of that. Without viewing the video or audio of the August 1, 2011 meeting, I have never understood anything Huja says. And I doubt that somebody that really cares has never mentioned it behind closed doors. More power to Napoleon for making it a public issue now.

I noticed a few damaged blocks and bricks on the mall the other night. Somebody should tell Huja so we can get another $7+ million dollar makeover going on his monastery.

Mr. Huja is a wonderful man who has made valuable contributions to our community as a city employee, but he is not a good councilor. He would have done us all a favor to not seek re-election. It is amazing how the old guard of the Democratic Party will look away from issues of competence, in their steadfast support of his candidacy.

There is a need for hard working councilors who keep up with the complex decisions before them, he is not doing this.

I just hope those who want to see Charlottesville move in a more progressive direction will vote for those with that vision on August 20th in the democratic primary.

Unfortunately those with a grip on the party leadership will try to prevent this. And the ordinary tax payers will have to pay the bill .

I say we should put up a statue of him on the D.T. Mall. The pose? Standing I think, with an outstretched right arm in one of those Maoist visionary poses. The pidgeons would love it!

Comments from hometown girl, TJ and others here make it perfectly clear that those who have the biggest beef with Mr. Huja's dialect also seem to be the very same folks who have a beef with him politically. How convenient for them.

To those folks I say that just because someone does not share your point of view on matters of public policy is no excuse to question their integrity, competence or preparedness. You would be hard-pressed to find a more intelligent, diligent public servant than Satyendra Huja. Your efforts to capitalize on this episode to the advantage of your chosen Council candidates is both transparent and dispicable.

Furthermore, TJ's steadfast bogeymanning of the mythical "Democratic Old Guard" serves only to illustrate what a tenuous grasp he/she has on reality and how little he/she understands about Democratic politics in this town.

The Councilors were right to revile at the comment. I am glad they all took a moral stance on the issue and they have free speech rights as well and glad they exercised them.

For those of you who chose to pick on Szakos in this, look at what Holly Edwards said. The Councilors were all on the same page about the inappropriateness of the comments.

This will only bring out more people who support Mr. Huja and his years of wonderful service and I say this as one who has not always agreed with his position on some issues. I am definitely voting for him now!

American's are just lazy listeners, if its not a white, middle class diction its somehow inferior. We wonder why more minorities don't get involved in public And We have so far to go in terms of inter-ethnic relations in this town, this really is a sad story.

I thought the vote of confidence was a nice way of saying the comment was an inappropriate way to express one's free speech rights and that all the Councilors support Mr. Huja as a public servant.

In my opinion, The Hook has gone insane with its one-sided political advocacy. After reading Hawes yellow journalism on the water issue, it comes as no surprise to focus on a story attacking or presenting Mr. Huja in a bad light for electioneering purposes.

And of Course Mr. Llyod's comment criticizing the Council's vote of confidence for Mr. Huja is no big surprise after the last Hook article on water supply, Huja voted for the Earthen Dam after all and we know what's behind his comments.

Here are some questions I would love answered:

Was that woman who made the comment part of the CWSP or supporting the Norris/CWSP anti-dam ticket in any way? Was that the purpose? Some of the comments above indicate this was a possible motivation for the comment. If so for shame. Do we really want these type of people in office? If so will those ticket candidates disavow themselves publicly from such comments and tactics?

@ Cville Disgusted says:

"I have never before witnessed such disrespect, and callous indignation, and snobby elitism, and constant objectionism to ANYTHING or ANYBODY that doesn't fit the mold of what the "smarter class" has decided is best for the rest of us. Forty years to build a 2 miles stretch of Meadowcreek Parkway? Another 12 years of fighting over a Western by-pass? Years of bickering and name-calling, and petty finger-pointing over the water plan(S), And I say PLANS, because how many studies and so-called experts are enough? Each of these matters has been "studied to death". But of course, that's what the opponents want to achieve... fight, and object, and stomp your feet, and pout loud enough or long enough until they get their way. It's childish, and self-serving, and downright destructive to the community, and to oun society in general. And now these most recent disparaging comments about Mr. Huja."

Cville Disgusted is right on the money. These self proclaimed "progressives" on the water issue seem like self interested, mean-spirited people to me, I don't want them in power, they don't represent me.

What's next in this election, its going down-hilll with the level of discourse. It appears on the face of it like some factions will say whatever it takes to get elected, I hope its not true.

Galvin got it right with her press conference on the tone of this election.

I have always thought that Mr. Huja was one of the best of our local politicos, up there with some of the great Charlottesville mayors of the 1970's and Albemarle supervisors of the mid- to late- 1990's.

He has viewpoints, and he is not afraid to share them and stand up for them.

Many of these criticisms are offensive, racist, and xenophobic. I can only view them as a desperate attempt to influence the upcoming primary. Mr. Jefferson would be ashamed at the level to which our local discourse has fallen.

The truth hurts. Interesting, that the meanest, angriest comments come from those professing to deplore said manner of speaking

Jefferson, Amen indeed.
The Hook has provided very fair coverage here. Amazing how some are reacting, behaving badly in light of their collective toes having been stomped upon in a huge way.

Citizen Party says: "I thought the vote of confidence was a nice way of saying the comment [by Ms. Napoleon] was an inappropriate way to express one's free speech rights." This is PRECISELY what the First Amendment prohibits city council from doing-- in a nice way or not. City council is a governmental body, and First Amendment jurisprudence prohibits the government and its officials from discouraging, curtailing, or suppressing citizen speech at a public council meeting based on the content of the speech. The vote was council's expression of confidence in Mr. Huja, but it was also a repudiation of Ms. Napoleon's remarks based on their content (which, by the way, were not an ethnic attack but rather addressed a matter of legitimate public concern). The First Amendment absolutely forbids this sort of thing, and it is this aspect of the council meeting of July 18th that I find the most disturbing. I can only hope the City Attorney had a serious talk with members of council after the meeting.

Charlottesville is as Charlottesville does.

69 years old and involved in Ch'ville for 38 of them, you would think by this time he'd have been able to communicate so we all could understand him. With that said, even though I disagree with him politically and agree with Pat Napoleon, her public comments were quite inappropriate. After 20 some odd years of not being able to understand Mr. Huja, he really should have been asked to step down long ago. Oh, we so badly need term limits...

Random observations:
Did Marquis de Lafayette speak olde Virginian English to Gen. Washington?
Why is the european accented English "cute" while the south asian accent is "terrible"; do we just pay more attention when listening to the former?
If Mr. aHuja is incomprehensible, is it not an anomaly that he could hold a job/get promoted/get elected for so many years? He must be doing something right to keep a job in spite of incomprehensible accent. Why not beat him in the ballot instead?

Maybe all the councilors just realized at some root level it was a dirty trick and they have consciences like every normal person and reacted in a way they felt was best to repair despite the letter of the law if that is accurate.

And no, I think the meanest, angriest comments come from people who are pissed off about losing the dam and parkway votes, (we could do a content analysis of the blogs and figure this out) and will do or say anything to over turn those decisions and the the Hook just encourages the bad behavior. But people can disagree about these things. Why didn't the Cville Weekly cover it, the DP? CT? hmmmm, maybe because they don't wear their candidates on their sleeves. I bet Schiiling will be on it quick, Maybe the Hook and the Schiiling show should merge? They have the same outlook on the election it seems.

Maybe those critics would like there to be an English-only test for candidates, how American (in the sense of Jefferson's Notes on Virginia). "Yeah let's keep out every one who doesn't speak like us or think like us middle class white people. Would he have been berated had he been a spanish speaker of someone speaking a non-traditional dialect of American English?" Or "let's agree with what she said because we don't like the way Huja votes on issues and use the 1st amendment as a cloak"

If you think about her comment in terms of race and political discourse in this city and its history of race relations, it certainly doesn't promote folks from non standard-American language groups rushing to public forums to speak publicly, or engaging in public process if they are going to be berated. What is this Arizona? So in that sense it was a little like yelling fire in a theatre.

I hope someone has a serious talk with that woman who said it and if so whoever put her up to it.

Turns out Galvin was right about the discourse of this election.

valarie's posts about the first amendment are
on the mark ; and echo public comments in council
august 1.

the first amendment ; the protection it offers everyone;
a council vote of confidence; whatever that is...
as a response to a public comment is a matter for concern.

Citizen Party , Have a hunch that no one put Napoleon up to anything. She appears capable in speaking for herself. Guess She will return to City Council whenever she chooses. I listened to related podcasts. Don't hear any inappropriate remarks from citizens. It is Szakos who crossed over in a scary manner.

These people must have hired some quality translators: all foreign-born! How dare they succeed!

Deven Sharma: CEO S&P
Vikram Pandit: CEO Citigroup
Indra Nooyi:CEO PepsiCo
Preet Bharara: US Attorney Southern Dist NY

Why do we belabor to cover the underbelly of bigotry with the 1st amendment fig leaf?

Totally agree, I have never been able to understand Huja, not when he speaks to council, not when I have spoken to him on the phone, not when I have spoken to him in person one on one. That's a problem, and I'm really glad someone has raised the issue. It really matters that citizens understand what their elected officials are saying. It isn't racist, xenophobic, or anything other than good citizenship to ask for that.

He also has to have someone type his letters for him as he dictates.

A person needed to type for him? Doesn't it then cost the city taxpayers more to provide Huja with extra staff? Appears he is high maintainence.

In all fairness, that was a few years ago, so maybe his typing and computer skills have improved since then.

Because racism has been a genuine problem in this country, many liberal minded people nowadays have become *hyper vigilant* about things......to the point of swinging wildly in the other direction, going way overboard. It's resulted in the Politically Correct Brigade, making sure nobody ever says or does anything which isn't happy smiles and politeness at all times. Two extreme ends of the spectrum, neither one is good. To the Politically Correct Going Overboard Brigade, *any* mention of anything at all to do with anything about one's ethnicity is the same as racism, bigotry, xenophobia, etc. It all gets lumped together, no differentiations.

A reasonable balance needs to be struck here. Where somebody can address the issue of an unintelligible accent *without* hysterical, inaccurate accusations of bigotry and xenophobia.

He is frequently impossible to understand when I watch council on TV. Almost like a parody in a skit on SNL or the muppets. I know he is bright and certainly dedicated.

In absolutely no way whatsoever did Council's vote of confidence (or the remarks of individual Council members) inhibit the free speech rights of Ms. Napoleon. She is certainly welcome to return to future Council meetings and offer up all the boneheaded, insensitive comments she cares to make. Nobody will stop her.

Hopefully though, Council will react as appropriately as it did this last time.

H Guy, the consensus here appears to point to council itself "not" moving appropriately in responding or reacting. In fact, council crossed a line while inserting big foot in mouth. The obvious goal was to intimidate and control members of the audience. The body failed miserably with misguided actions. My view: those residents city council sought to silence, will only be more determined in the future. Council's lame goal wasn't achieved.

I'm getting veclemped. I'll give you a topic. If someone who spoke only Spanish and no English got elected to the City Council... would they have to hire a translator at their personal expense or would the City have to hire someone at the City's expense.

Consensus my a$$! What, did you take a poll of the other popinjays on the Hook message board? Get over yourself.

Councils' only goal was to challenge a thoughtless, malicious comment. That Pat Napoleon and others will certainly return to make more careless, lunkheaded comments before Council only serves to undermine your argument that she was in any way intimidated.

Take you ax and grind it somewhere else.

Why not have one of those sign language people up there doing the hand signals for the whole thing? I'm surprised they don't have one already. That's the hot new trending P.C. accessory for public meetings these days. Then they could also have "closed caption" on the Gov. Access TV video playbacks.

Is this not yet another example of how Charlottesville is not quite yet 'a world class city'? Does anyone know what the process is to petition for a new city tag line? Ms. Napoleon was not polite, but what she said was not xenophobic, it was merely accurate. It's embarassing what a tizzy the council members flew in to. Whoever was leading the meeting should have just noted that the issue of each council members' comments being clearly heard is a valid concern instead of turning it into something more than it was...yeeesh. But I have enjoyed the comments. With a little tweeking the comment stream is almost a play.

H Guy, the fact that council may not have actually succeeded in discouraging Ms. Napoleon or others from making further comments on this issue at future council meetings really doesn't matter. The point is that council TRIED, and by doing so it set a dangerous precedent. Therein lies the First Amendment transgression.

Log_in_the_eye- you forgot Barack Obama

perhaps they don't need a translator-

although getting in the brains line would help............

@Valerie:

And I suppose members of Council have no First Amendment rights?

Let's suppose that during the next matters from the public portion of a Council meeting, some clown gets up and launches into a verbal tirade against women, minorities, the disabled - you name it. He then proceeds to expound on why he thinks Joseph Goebbels was actually a really cool guy with lots of great ideas and how the City ought to adopt some of the tenets of National Socialism as expressed by Germany's Brownshirts in the early twentieth century, including eugenics and forced sterilization of minority groups.

By your logic, Council members would be prohibited from expressing any sort of opprobrium in response to such language. All five should just sit on their hands, lips zipped, nodding their heads in acknowledgement. Perhaps at the end, Dave Norris could politely thank the speaker for his contribution and invite him to speak again next week.

Because, Lord knows, we cannot have anyone feeling that their sentiments (no matter how out of bounds) are undeserving of validation by their elected leaders.

@hometown guy

That sort of thing (Hitler, but also Coinintelpro, fluoride, and probe-happy extraterrestrials) is so common as to be expected in a lot of city's "open mike" period before the elected representatives, and broadcast on open-access channels. It is standard fare. And, in all the cases I've seen, the elected representatives look bored, wait out the the time limit, and move on without comment.

Which is what they should have done here in Charlottesville.

(I, too, find Huja hard to understand. I also think after decades of life in Charlottesville, that the inability to be clearly understood is Huja's fault alone.)

If the Council's reaction inhibited Napolean's free speech rights, they enable the free speech rights of many non-standard English speakers rights to participate in public dialogue without fear of intimidation and ridicule by xenophobes, then I would say it was a good trade-off. I don't really want the Klan having 1st amendment rights.

Mayor Norris who was presiding could have done the opposite and fanned the flames of racial conflict and egged her on. We have seen that before by public officials and its not pretty or productive. I am proud of my City Councilors who may be having serious disagreements on matters of policy but on matters of principle and human dignity they were unified and did the right thing and maintained public civility.

I find when I pay attention and meet him halfway and listen I can understand Mr. Huja just fine. He made it through decades of stellar public service to the City and it was peculiar that the issue came up now when he's running for reelection with opponents who I wouldn't put past to engage in this type of behavior.

Way to go Councilors and Go Huja on August 20th.

I think it curious that those defending Huja including a rep from the nature conservancy are also in favor of the boondoggle disguised as a dam. Obviously there was no attempt to demean Hyja, I myself quit trying to understand him years ago, but as more and more of his votes get counted that do not represent the best interest of this community it becomes moot what he has to say anyway.

Oh, by the way, has anyone ever noticed that a vast majority of sewer covers in Charlottesville are from India? How and when did that happen? Can you imagine just the shipping cost of handling each of those things? I'd love to see an invoice for those.

Hometown Guy writes: "And I suppose members of Council have no First Amendment rights?"

You suppose correctly. The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution (known collectively as the "Bill of Rights") secure the rights of American citizens vis-a-vis the government. That is, the rights of citizens to peaceably assemble, to petition for redress of grievances, to engage in free speech, etc., etc. are protected from infringement *by the government.* When the members of council are sitting at a council meeting, they ARE the government. At that time, they are acting in their official capacities and they have no First Amendment rights. The government has no constitutional rights against itself.

And you might be surprised at the kinds of speech the First Amendment protects. Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protected the speech of anti-gay protesters at military funerals who carried signs saying things like "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "You Are Going to Hell." (Snyder v. Phelps, US 2011) Over 30 years ago the Court upheld the First Amendment right of a group of American Nazis, wearing swastikas on their uniforms, to march in the heavily Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois, which at the time had a significant population of Holocaust survivors. (National Social Party of America v. Village of Skokie, US 1977) You and I would find the messages conveyed by such speech objectionable and reprehensible, yet the First Amendment protects the rights of these citizens to convey such messages free from government infringement.

Citizen Party
You must have read the prior comments. Many people have expressed that they have not been able to understand Mr. Huja for years in many different venues. Frankly I have analyzed his speeches with the aid of audio equipment and it is often unintelligible.
So a citizen simply makes the point that this violates clear rights to understand what the man is saying and for that matter votes on. That citizen should be thanked! Instead a counselor, with absolutely no support in fact, labels the comment xenophobic? That councilor is unfit for public office. To introduce xenophobic labeling into a city council meeting without call does not serve the public and destroys the public forum. It is an affirmative attack upon the roots of our government and our community.
You may want to study the First Amendment a bit. You mention giving the Klan the right to disrupt public meetings. The First Amendment does not give anyone the right to disrupt a public meeting. Your reference to The Klan should directly address the introduction of claims of xenophobic speech. This is unacceptable under The First Amendment and the councilor who would even consider doing so is again unfit for public office.
A clear simple problem with the manner in which City Council conducted its business was raised. Instead of dealing with the clear and real problem as witnessed by many comments above, a councilor violated the First Amendment and disrupted the meeting with baseless claims. Unacceptable and not even an apology!

Citizen Party- Where Huja going to go on August 20th?

Hometown Guy- I don't think anyone has a problem with his dialect, we have a problem with him being clearly understood. Same thing happens in other areas of the US- some "southern" accents are tough too.. yawl.

Valerie- that is excellent information..........thank you.

It would be interesting to determine if during a closed session anyone on the council expresses difficulty in understanding any other member, and asks for a "repeat"....hum?

Ridiculous. Open up your ears and you will understand Huja just fine. If you don't understand him, go to an audiologist. He definitely speaks softly, but his English is perfect.

Open your ears to what Szakos says!

Really Charlotte!
Have you consumed too many bloody marys this AM?
Since you understand Huja's "perfect"
?English: I suggest he hire you to interpret for the rest if us.

@Valerie:

I am perfectly aware of the Bill of Rights and the purpose and contents of its First Amendment (condescend much?). Nor do I need a current events lesson.

Local, state, and national governments pass resolutions in favor of and opposed to all sorts of things all the time - often times AFTER vocal opposition from constituents. That does not mean that those constituents' speech rights were violated. To follow your reasoning would result in legislators never being able to disagree with anybody about anything.

The fact remains that Ms. Napoleon was NEVER prevented from speaking her mind. Nor will she be in the future. That Council unanimously told her that they disagreed with her point of view is no assault on the First Amendment.

For the record, to be clear and not surprisingly, This thread invoked Godwin's Law @ 6:37 PM on August 10th. That was later than I expected.

I'm sorry, Hunter. I should have written that he speaks softly, but his English is proper. Perhaps some get caught up on the lack of bad grammar, y'alls, and other vernacular gibberish along with his accent and give up on listening.

The man has been working for Charlottesville since 1998 and was elected in 2007, but this has never come up before in any public forum or in the media. Why are people being so vicious?

H guy
The real fact
Szakos made a stupid nonretractable error in illegally calling her xenophobic.
Entire board City Council supported Szakos as she clearly made a dumb move.
Will be veryinteresting to watch ongoing situation.
Has Szakos apologized to the woman?

"Perfect English"? What a joke.
Bad grammar along with the marble mouth delivery method.
The people of Charlottesville are negligent in accepting a poor performance.

@Richard:

Godwin's Law does not apply in this case because I never compared Valerie to Hitler or the Nazis. Sorry.

We shall what happens August 20th..........

We shall what happens August 20th..........pro or con, don't "talk" softly on that day.

@ hometown guy

From the "Godwin's Law" wikipedia page:

"Although in one of its early forms Godwin's law referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions,[5] the law is now often applied to any threaded online discussion, such as forums, chat rooms and blog comment threads, and has been invoked for the inappropriate use of Nazi analogies in articles or speeches.[6]"

You didn't compare Valerie to Hitler, but you definitely invoked a Nazi analogy to try to get your point across. So yeah, in a way, Godwin's Law indeed happened in this thread. :D I don't know if it was "inappropriate," as the definition clarifies, but I think in general it applies. Basically it's a case of, "How long until somebody mentions Hilter or the Nazis to make some sort of point about something????" :D

Someone above asked where will Huja go on August 20th?

Answer: back on Council.

For the people who can't understand Huja, go to India for a visit and try and relate to another culture other than your own. Feel what's its like to be a language minority. I can't tell if the nasty comments above are coming from conservative nativists like those who live in Arizona, or "liberal-dredgers" who just disagree with Huja on the Dam. The attacks on Szakos are peculiar as well-seems like a theme developing. I suppose David Brown is next, though he may be spared because he is not running again.

The 1st Amendment doesn't give everyone the right to say anything and there are interpretations of the first Amendment vis a vis public safety and other considerations. I see nothing wrong with what the Council did and thank them for standing up-no need for them t apologize the Napolean.

Its clear what we must do- more studies about 1st Amendment and speech competencies and diction. Maybe we should have a 3 year debate about the Council reversing this vote of confidence and then next election if we are still not satisfied that there has been enough discussion, debate, and facts presented, we can run a ticket of candidates to get rid of all the councilors who voted for the vote of confidence in Huja. Maybe someone will start a group Citizens for WASP Speech-only Please and then run one of their leaders on the ticket... yeah this is sounding better and better as a strategy to deal with this issue.

The woman said what she said, Council did the right thing,let's move on, unless there is more to the motivation of the comment than meets the eye.

Citizen Party
You should have studied The First Amendment in high school or college, if you attended. The reality is clear. Szakos broke the law. And Huja is often unintelligible to most everyone but you.
You may ignore these facts. But please don't speak for me! I believe in The Constitution, Bill of Rights, our Representative Democracy and the Rule of Law. You must be a tea party advocate trying to be politically correct.
I will vote for capable, intelligent and educated candidates who support these fundamental principles. It would be lovely if you would also.

Like we all have time to record an analyze Mr Huja's remarks. I don't think so. What I do know is My Huja actions and words speak to those of a devout politician with no shame. When asked what his stance was on the dam issue he had no reservations in replying that he is both for dredging and for the dam. If thats not a politician speaking out of both sides of his mouth I don't know what is. At best it represents a high degree of arrogant contempt for those he is purposed to serve.

@TJ: your comments were on the mark. All of this talk about Mr. Huja's accent has diverted attention from the real issue: He has not been an effective city councilor. He votes with the status quo. He doesn't study the issues very carefully. He doesn't offer creative solutions. I'm thinking that he is running for reelection because he wants to be our next mayor. We can do better.

MOW- I guess he was for both solutions before he was against them........

Truth is, Szakos hurled an illegal comment,label toward Napoleon. True Xenaphobia is a medical condition. Xenaphobia points to a mental illness. Szakos made the worst move of her career in casting Napoleon in such a manner. My guess, Szakos won't escape in that she has broken the rule of law in slamming a citizen's reputation. Szakos crossed over a dangerous line. Law Suit?

In a town, home to the University of Virginia, one would think our elected officials would govern with more intelligence. I hope the next crop we elect is able to do so. Already one of the candidates is trying to limit free speech, so there is not much hope for her if she is elected.

I would far prefer Mr. Huja's unintelligible speech to this woman's arrogance and lack of willingness to even listen to her citizens, if that is the choice.

http://www.readthehook.com/99790/bunker-mentality-galvin-decries-tone-wa...

And I would prefer both Huja and Galvin to this:

http://cvillenews.com/2005/02/10/purnells-letter-to-griffin/
http://www.readthehook.com/files/old/stories/2005/04/28/newsSueemPostgri...

http://cvillenews.com/2005/04/16/gibson-savages-griffin/

http://cvillenews.com/2005/02/10/purnells-letter-to-griffin/

The fact that she is even on the ballot would have any reasonable observer of Cville politics thinking:

"It's a madhouse."

The shrill reactions of some on this board convince me more than ever that this dust-up is a political ploy designed to malign a dedicated public servant in the run-up to a primary.

To listen to these nabobs, if someone does not completely share their outlook on public policy, the only possible explanations are that the culprit has not studied the issues carefully enough, has ulterior (power-hungry) ambitions, or is a jack-booted anti-democratic thug in the pocket of un-named special intrests. Apparently it is not possible for people of good conscience to to hold divergent opinions.

Kathy Galvin is right. The tenor of this debate hit rock bottom awhile ago, and you people have started digging deeper.

@boooo!:

From the "Godwin's Law" wikipedia page:
"'Although deliberately framed as if it were a law of nature or of mathematics, its purpose has always been rhetorical and pedagogical: I wanted folks who glibly compared someone else to Hitler or to Nazis to think a bit harder about the Holocaust,' Godwin has written."

Godwin's intent was clearly to caution people against comparing their DEBATE OPPONENTS to Nazis. Unfortunately, Godwin's Law is usually invoked as a means of undermining the credibility of anyone who mentions Nazis.

Also from the "Godwin's Law" wikipedia page:
"The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the likelihood of such a reference or comparison arising increases as the discussion progresses. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference MAY SOMETIMES BE APPROPRIATE..." (emphasis mine).

Finally, from the "Godwin's Law" wikipedia page:
"...Godwin's law itself can be abused as a distraction, diversion or even as censorship, fallaciously miscasting an opponent's argument as hyperbole when the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate."

I get a kick out of reading about Ms. Napolean making a fool out of herself. How can she stand up and make a remark about someone's speech/dialect/accent. This lady was an Albemarle County Teacher what has she taught our children???? Her whole life seems to be geared at attending ANY and ALL meeting with the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle. There are many more productive things one can do to make a difference other than attend these meetings with your 10-page speech.

Scoop, that is the most ridiculous argument made here. Let's just sue because her feelings got hurt. If you take a look at how Ms. Napolean presented her case it was clearly meant to point out how different Mr. Huja is from what she sees as the norm, asking him to pay for a translator. Setting aside that she lacks public speaking skills, she chose to come to Council and bring it up publicly rather than address it personally with him. It was just rude and innappropriate.

Well the politico elite have entered the room. They stink!

The public can not understand Huja. Fix it

Szakos broke the law. Enforce it

Your efforts to lay blame on candidares who have nothing to do with these problems is NOT WELCOMED! We will never have a happy community with you guys spreading this smelly stuff.

This blog is beginning to smell bad. The Old Guard Politicos have entered the space.
City Council has two challenges. Can they handle it?
Huja cannot be understood by the citizens – FIX IT
Szakos broke the law – ENFORCE IT
Charlottesville just wants peace! Blaming these issues on candidates who have nothing to do with them is out of line and entirely UNWELCOMED.

@Needs a life
As you criticize another's public speaking skill: Look in a mirror. You can't spell or write. Your sentence structure is terrible. You appear to have a personal beef with Napoleon. The truth in this situation: Your darling Democrat Szakos made an impulsive, illegal, and foolish move. Szakos did not have the good sense to zip her lips. Szakos fell into a trap and she has now smeared the the entire board. All of the old guard Dems should be angry with Szakos for behaving as the fool. I do know that Szakos received a tongue lashing behind closed doors for her stupidity! There are spies in city hall.

Szakos is to blame for a huge mess. She was easily lured into a trap. The word from the inside, Szakos received a tongue lashing behind closed doors for her foolish rant. The old guard is steamed at Szakos because SHE created more problems beyond Huja.

Oooh! "Spies in City Hall!" Sounds like a bad novel. Give me a friggin break.

Here's a tip for the wingnut conspiracy theorists on here. If there really is such a thing as an "old guard" in Charlottesville politics anymore, Kristin Szakos ain't part of it.

I doubt the City Council legal advisor approved of Kristen Szakos' remarks.

There's a City Council legal advisor?

I would think that since all of the procedings are indeed recorded, perhaps getting some of them and listening to them might and determine Mr. Huja's part in those procedings and whether or not he can be heard and understood by anyone.

They are for public consumption, aren't they?

If you're truly that interested in what goes on in the council meetings, you might be just the person from whom the council keeps minutes.

For whom...

HarryD, good idea to view previous podcasts. I 100% guarantee you will not understand much of what Huja has said. In the past, he has laughed it off. Not any more. I guess those complaining will return to city council as needed.

Heard Huja on WINA this AM. Could understand about every 10th word, if that. He apparently doesn't make much of an effort to enunciate. Ms. Napoleon has a valid point. His speech needs improvement.

I've known several Indian students at UVA over the years. All had greatly improved English by the time they graduated. That's only four years. Huja has been here for 30 plus years. So what's the diff?

Take any council meeting. Listen to the podcast, then read the minutes. You decide if the minutes are adequate. In my humble opinion the minutes are an embarasment.

@Gasbag, u said: "...as the daddy of the downtown mall, I..." This implies YOU are the daddy of the downtown mall! Then you lambaste HIM for having MADE the downtown mall. Umm...yeah! Charlottesville really HATES our downtown mall! That's why so many THOUSANDS of us pour down there every Friday evening. We're all with ya!
@Cville Disgusted: I guarantee you, Napoleon isn't a "liberal". No one that says 'foreigners should have to hire TRANSLATORS at their OWN EXPENSE if *I* can't understand them easily' is a liberal. I guess Napoleon feels she shouldn't HAVE to raise her hand and ask what was just said. It's like Napoleon is saying, "Come on...I'm what a REAL American is like, if you're not like me, then you're gonna have to pay to make yourself more similar to me if you want to be accepted in our American society which REQUIRES you to be like me." You know, all stemming from that part of the Constitution where it makes English the official language, and says that government should do what it can to promote the supremacy of Anglo Saxon culture by any means necessary. By the way, if you hate Charlottesville so much, why don't you move the hell out? The removal of your negativity would even further improve the environment that so many of us are actually quite happy with.
I, frankly, am embarassed on behalf of my town of Napoleon's comments. I truly believe she does not perceive herself as the slightest bit racist. But she IS. It's a very subtle racism, granted. And having it pointed out to her makes her ridiculously defensive, as is the right wing generally when racism is pointed out anywhere within its ranks. Here's what's racist about her comments: she feels that his different cultural or ethnic background makes him hard to understand so she feels that HE should have to pay his own money to make HER understand him. It's like saying that cultures other than Anglo Saxon have a responsibility to make us Anglo Saxons understand THEM. That the officially recognized description of an American is white and english speaking. We have NEVER made English the official language of the United States. Since our inception and through to today, anytime the issue has actually come close to coming to a vote, our governors have decided that locking in one language or one culture as "official" and "national" is actually the OPPOSITE of what this country is about, which allows fluidity, and mixing, and evolution. Napoleon is free to feel as she wants about our national identity and commendable or damnable failure to legislate in this area, but to take her frustration about that level of government out against Mr. Huja who has no more obligation to try even as hard as he does to make Ms. Napoleon understand him than she does to make him understand HER in Gujrati or Hindi, for example. Government is to be accessible to the American people...ALL American people...whether they are coming in as service users OR as people who wish to serve in its ranks. The government itself essentially contracted with us, the American People, to treat us equally, and therefore must be the entity that meshes the individuals together. If a translator were needed (and I think that's a ridiculous proposal anyway...she was proposing an English-With-An-Accent-to-English-Without-An-Accent translator!) it should be provided by the government. Suggesting that HE must provide it is simply saying that Ms. Napoleon's background IS what it is to be American, while Mr. Huja's background is some less important, obscure VARIATION of what it is to be an American.

RC in blowing a gasket, For G. sakes, Huja has been in this country for 40 years. Huja IS able to speak so that others Can understand. Huja does not carry through in the job of assuming personal responsibility. :::Arrogant Huja's own lazy choice as well as his fault. Huja should pay for assistance in affording the public understanding. WHY? Once again, RC, BECAUSE Huja mumbles by choice. Huja has publicly admitted he should improve. The taxpayers of Charlottesville shouldn't pay for an official's laziness by choice. You are reading your own wishes into citizen comment. As I read blog, more liberals don't detect racism in this citizen's request. I suggest you come out of the hidden woodwork and show you have a backbone in contacting Napoleon. Are you 100% sure she is racist?
Your pail of rant doesn't hold water. I hope Napoleon continues to hammer City Council. My guess she will do so. She doesn't appear to easily crawl into a corner as you have done, "Anonymous" RC.

Law suit? Szakos makes damaging move.
Listen to the podcast.

Interesting

Mr. Huja is not Indian- he is from Kohat, Pakastan. Not hat this has any bearing on anything, but those two Countries have been fight for years...........

Betty- good reporting!

J- huh? They keep minutes to cover themselves.

Hunter- thank you.

We shall see next saturday.

Mr. Huja is not Indian- he is from Kohat, Pakastan. Not hat this has any bearing on anything, but those two Countries have been fight for years...........

Betty- good reporting!

J- huh? They keep minutes to cover themselves.

Hunter- thank you.

We shall see next saturday.

HarryD: "They keep minutes to cover themselves."?? You mean they don't keep minutes so there's a written record of what transpired? Huh...glad you have the inside track on that.

Despite all the the self-righteousness and Constitutional claims here, there hasn't been much discourse demonstrating how, exactly, Mr. Huja's seeming abominable speech patterns have hindered the functioning of local government. Without actually pointing to something to that affect, it really does sound like political griping dressed up as thinly veiled bigotry. Kinda surprised no one's suggested a Limbaugh-loyalty-test...

HarryD: "They keep minutes to cover themselves."?? You mean they don't keep minutes so there's a written record of what transpired? Huh...glad you have the inside track on that.

Despite all the the self-righteousness and Constitutional claims here, there hasn't been much discourse demonstrating how, exactly, Mr. Huja's seeming abominable speech patterns have hindered the functioning of local government. Without actually pointing to something to that effect, it really does sound like political griping dressed up as thinly veiled bigotry. Kinda surprised no one's suggested a Limbaugh-loyalty-test...

Well, our local government doesn't function very well. Huja has done nothing to fix that. Does it matter much if he can be understood or not? Not really I guess. He's ineffective either way.

Huja's time is up. Let someone else have a try. There is really nowhere to go but up from the present situation.

The Huja, Brown, Szakos team has brought on too much discontent in Charlottesville. People are fed up. It is nuts to bring on more of the same with more Huja, Beyer, Galvin, etc. Time for real change so that citizen's voices are finally honored.

Huja and Kristin completely lost my trust when they voted to close the Belmont Bridge to pedestrians along one side. That and their earthen dam vote are good enough evidence for me not to support either one or any candidate they support.

Looks like Norris has confidence in Huja as expressed by his vote during the council meeting. Who knows maybe Norris is reconsidering and will vote for Huja on August 20th?

@Hunter - Who's criticizing now? It seems to me that you have the "BEEF" with Szakos. I personally can't stand when the same people show up at ALL the public meetings and complain. Hope I spelled everything wright - Oh well....

As both a Huja supporter and a person who believes Mrs Napoleon was seriously wronged by council - it might be informative for all to view Hujas Council statement on youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/user/cvilledems#p/u/5/Re6T_tHlZOc

and click on the cc button for the audio transcription - the initial statement reads, "my name is a tendency to agenda"...... and goes from there. Good luck following his statement based on the transcription.

Sorry to present my ideas this far into this ridiculous argument. However, as a normal every day citizen of this town, I see Mrs. Napoleon's comments as pure, genuine racism. It is unfortunate that Szakos made un-necessary comments about it, and only made it worse. I watched Huja's youtube videos, and i understood nearly every word he spoke. Speech problems and possible impediments, absolutely do not mean he is a bad politician. I think Pat should apologize to Huja and to us good citizens here, who are ashamed to see her say such mean things about an elected official, who works hard to help charlottesville.

I have met many many minorities in this town who feel this town is full of racism. And, from things I've witnessed (like this article), I think I know what they are talking about. I'm just wondering if this happened in another mostly liberal/democrat town, how would the people react? I'm pretty sure it would be on the cover of every local paper. However, here in racist cville, we feel it's ok. I think it's got something to due with the class structure and just how rich the white people are here.

@the winner

It's not racism you have detected. It's social elitism run amok with a huge dose of arrogance. If you didn't come down the right birth canal, regardless of race or color, you get treated a certain way by the powerful social elite in this town.

@ Betty and the winner, Well said :)