Passaic County freeholder Theodore “TJ” Best has taken down a Facebook post that called mayor Andre Sayegh a “slimy coward” and a “punk” who is “out of touch” with the plight of residents amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Best had put up the critical post after the mayor boasted about the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on national television.
No explanation was provided as to why the post was taken down. However, several people said other political leaders intervened in the fight between the freeholder and the mayor.
“We are at war with a virus and the last thing I will do is engage in a war of words with Freeholder Best. He deleted the incendiary post on his Facebook page and it is time to move on. We should all be fully focused on guiding Paterson through this pandemic,” said Sayegh on Friday morning.
Best has explained his reasons for deleting the post in an opinion piece.
Best put up two posts. His page no longer displays the second post that directly attacked the mayor. However, the first post that questioned the virus numbers the mayor used during the interview with Chris Hayes on MSNBC remains up.
“Did he really just say Paterson only has 2,500 positive cases of Covid19? Last time I checked it was 6,000 confirmed with an estimated true number of 15,000 using most models,” Best said in the first post that remains up.
Several people pointed out the freeholder may have misinterpreted the mayor’s comments. Sayegh was not speaking about current infection numbers which exceed 6,000 on the interview. He was speaking of the numbers from April 15 to make the argument that contact tracing conducted by the Paterson Strike Team helped to contain the spread of the virus in the city.
The city’s data officer projected Paterson would have 8,000 positive cases by April 15, but the city had 2,500 cases by that date, says the mayor in the interview. Sayegh’s rounded numbers are accurate. A Paterson Times news story from April 15 shows Paterson had 2,228 verified infections and 61 deaths.
“It could have been far worse,” Sayegh (pictured) says in the interview.
Best has been critical of the mayor’s response to the pandemic. Others, including City Council members, have also criticized the mayor for lack of enforcement and failing to set up testing sites early on in the pandemic.
“It’s almost like Covid 19 never hit the city. EVERYONE is out hanging in front of corner stores, liquor stores, chicken stores, apartment buildings and pocket parks without masks or social distancing,” Best, who lives in Paterson, says on May 16. Indeed, Paterson was largely open with groups of people hanging about the streets without masks and without observing social distancing over the previous weekend.
Police enforcement has been patchy in the city during the pandemic.
An exception to the city’s lackluster response to the virus has been the Paterson Strike Team, whose work led to the mayor’s appearance on the MSNBC program.
Sayegh credits the Strike Team for their hard work in curbing the spread of the virus. Number of new daily cases in Paterson has dropped since the start of May. On Thursday, Paterson had 50 new cases. In total the city has 6,087 infections with 307 deaths.
Email: [email protected]
Updated 11:50 a.m. with remarks from Sayegh and a link to the op-ed by Best.