BIGOTRY: Assessor send racist e-mail to Sheriff’s Office about workmen
By SELWYN H. HARRIS – Pahrump Valley Times
An elected Nye County official says that the brown skinned men who are building the county’s new detention facility near her office scare her. She’s threatening to call federal immigration officers, even.
Nye County Assessor Shirley Matson sent an e-mail to Sheriff Tony DeMeo and Nye County Manager Rick Osborne on March 11 regarding the physical appearance of workers building the jail near the Nye County Government Complex on East Basin Avenue.
The e-mail, sent from Matson’s official e-mail address, is nothing short of racist, says Sheriff Tony DeMeo.
In the e-mail, Matson writes, “My staff, me, taxpayers coming to our offices can plainly see that the construction employees are all Mexican/Latino, non-English speaking and I’m getting complaints. I have several concerns: Did the county do its due diligence and have their citizenship checked on E-verify? Isn’t that a required federal law? The safety of my staff. Are Nye County residents being employed? I have no problem contacting ICE Immigration Customs Enforcement .”
Some of the duties of the assessor include providing tax assessments of real property, such as houses and commercial buildings. Enforcing immigration laws is not among her duties.
In a tersely-worded response to Matson’s e-mail, DeMeo calls the assessor’s message “disheartening.”
“The comments sent are racist, pure and simple,” he wrote. “Your comments are totally unreasonable. Fear is because the workers are not white, that makes them a danger to the community? The workers are sub-contractors. Finally, call ICE if it makes you feel better. I will point out to you that many non-U.S. citizens are part of our military fighting for your rights.”
Sheriff’s Captain Bill Becht said that as a private citizen, Matson has every right to have any viewpoint she wants so long as it does not harm anyone else. But he has his own concerns when that viewpoint comes from an elected official.
“Her viewpoint as a public official elected by the citizens of Nye County to represent all citizens of Nye County, that bothers me that she would espouse that; because if someone is a non-English speaking Mexican or Hispanic, they pose a threat to her and her employees’ safety. That’s not appropriate for a public official,” he said.
Matson says it’s her responsibility as a public official to answer questions from taxpayers.
“If they’re not documented and they haven’t gone through E-verify, we don’t know who is working there; we don’t know if they have criminal records; we don’t know if they’re even American citizens,” she said. E-verify is a an Internet system that allows businesses to check the eligibility of employees to work in the U.S.
DeMeo, who manages the county’s detention facilities, says the majority of workers on the new jail are from local companies, including Wulfenstein Construction, Floyd Construction and Morales Construction. DeMeo says all of the workers at the site are in fact legal to work in the United States.
In an e-mail from DeMeo to Matson and other county officials sent Monday, the sheriff suggests her comments were beyond insensitive.
“The statements made are racially biased and are considered racial profiling. You want the NCSO to break the law to start inquiring whether or not they are here legally because of skin color, or because they don’t look like what you and/or others believe an American or legal immigrant should look like. Because they look Mexican or Latin or from another country, speak a different language than English. Additionally, because they are different from you, they are criminals, again racial profiling.” Demeo said.
Matson’s initial e-mail isn’t the first time she has displayed a bigoted attitude toward local people of color. In separate messages sent on Oct. 29, including to some surprising recipients, the assessor made her feelings about Latinos particularly clear.
In a message sent to a Frank Smith and Donna Cox, president of the local Concerned Citizens for a Safe Community, Matson writes, “Couple other things the dirty filthy Mexican/Latino illegals do is steal social security numbers, they used mine until the IRS sent a letter to me asking why I didn’t claim income from a job 200 miles away reported as earnings by this illegal.”
She also writes that “They are like locusts crossing our great country destroying everything in sight. And I would never have a uneducated illegal hater of Americans watch my children or clean my house.”
In another e-mail, this one sent to a much wider audience, including to former county commissioners, a former sheriff’s candidate, a PVT reporter, current town board members and many others, Matson writes that pregnant Latinas are among the country’s worst enemies.
“These young girls will spread their legs to anyone to get an anchor baby growing in their bellies so they can illegally cross the border and suck up the U.S. citizen tax paid resource everywhere they go in the U.S.” the e-mail stated.
When confronted to comment on the e-mail, Matson stands by her words.
“I would say it’s not inflammatory, it’s my experience that that’s what goes on. I’m from a border town. Dirty, filthy, they’re lazy, the illegal immigrants that come over, they want to suck up all the resources. Absolutely, it’s a mess absolutely,” she said.
Though Matson claims in her e-mail to DeMeo that the workers on the site cannot speak English, she says she has never spoken to them nor the contractor. “I would think it would be just very simple just to ask the other official Tony. He could tell me yeah, they’re here fine no problem,” she said.
Becht counters Matson’s argument by saying her claims are not legitimate.
“She’s given us no crimes. They’ve committed nothing other than in her book, they are suspected of being non-English speaking Mexican, Latin, Hispanic males period. And that’s not a crime last time I checked,” he said.
Local resident Andy Alberti, who has in the past run for public office and has received e-mails from Matson says the language she used would not be something he would say. “I can see why she’s upset, but I think the verbiage that she is using is unfortunate,” he said.
When asked if any of the workers at the site had made threats to her or any of her staff, Matson replied, “not yet, no,” she said.