NEWTON FALLS (WJW) – Newton Falls City Manager David Lynch said a comment he made about a resident “working on his green card, we think, folks,” was a bad joke.
Lynch made the remark Monday during a city council meeting when several residents were being recognized for their volunteer work. Resident Jose Morales Jr. had volunteered several hours working on a tunnel in the community. Morales did not attend the meeting and found out about the comments later.
“It was a dumb joke and I am sorry I made it,” Lynch told the I-Team. “Jose is a great guy I met him on July 13 when he was working on this tunnel.”
Lynch said he has spoken to Morales in the past and he thought the two were on friendly terms.
Morales says he doesn’t understand why the statement was made. He said he was born in Florida and has lived in Newton Falls for 28 years.
“There is no sorry about that, I grew up in that town, work for people in that town, I graduated from Newton Falls,” Morales said. “Why would he say that about me in a meeting in my home town?”
Newton Falls is about 60 miles east of Cleveland.
Several residents also upset about Lynch’s comments.
“It’s outrageous that he would even think that it was ok in that moment,” said Sarah Hawkins who attended Monday’s meeting.
Another resident, Brian Kropp, who started a private group called Newton Falls X on Facebook to share information about the community, says he thinks Lynch should find another job.
“I definitely think he owes an apology but at this point, I think it’s time for David to go on his way,” Kropp said.
Lynch, however, stressed he does regret the comments and wants to meet with Morales so he can apologize in person.
Morales says he doesn’t want to meet with the city manager.
“There is no apology for that ma’am,” Morales said. “That was not right, it was uncalled for.”
Lynch added that he did not know Jose’s last name when he made the comment at the meeting. He said the volunteer coordinator sent an email to him referring to “Jose the tunnel guy,” since Jose worked on the tunnel as part of the community project.