Black Maryland Delegate Melony Griffith felt she waited too long to get seated.  She got cranky.   Waiter Jeb Bello got cranky back.  She trumped him with the Race Card, and ruined his young career.  The case was "settled" in January 2001.

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Update June 21, 2006:  Jeb Bello's troubles with Del. Melony Griffith are over.  He is dead.  He apparently drowned while swimming with friends in a creek near Annapolis around 2:00 AM Tues., June 20.  An autopsy is to be performed by the state medical examiner.  See Details >>


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Case 17 - Black, Female Legislator Gets Italian Waiter Fired!
Updated Feb. 16, 2001

Racial Preferences Cost!

Bello v. Griffith
Anne Arundel Circuit Court:
Waiter Bello seeks $3.1 for defamation by black legislator

GO:  Details of Italian Bello v. Black Griffith Bello v. Griffith:  Maryland Del. Melony Griffith is ticked off that she didn't get faster and more subservient service from Jeb Bello.  So she got all of Maryland's black leadership to condemn him as a racist!

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Case Settled?!   See:  Update Jan. 20, 2001 (below)
(Lawsuit Reinstituted Against Griffith Feb. 15, 2001)
See Also:  Who IS Melony Griffith? (new page)

Jeb Bello is a young Italian American; His customer was a member of the black political elite in Annapolis, Maryland.
She and the MD Black Caucus Ruined His Career!

Summary:  Jeb Bello was the maiter d' at the prestigious Treaty of Paris restaurant in Annapolis, MD.  But he didn't wait on black Maryland delegate Melony Griffith fast enough for her taste!  Two fellow restaurant workers had called in sick; the restaurant service was slow, and Jeb was attempting to cope.  

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          When a harried Jeb Bello eventually got around to the guests waiting to be seated he asked the couple who happened to be standing closest to the reservation book if he could help them.

          Unfortunately for Jeb Bello, that couple happened to be white!  Four people were waiting.  The first arrivals (20 min. late for their reservation) were black freshman Maryland legislator Delegate Melony Griffith and her woman companion, Sherma Brisseau, also black.

          Bello first spoke to the two closest to the reservation book.  He told them they'd have to wait because no tables were ready, then he turned his attention to the other two waiting customers -- Del. Griffith and her friend Ms. Brisseau.

           At that point, according to Ms. Brisseau, Del. Griffith said "We've been waiting for about 15 minutes, can we be seated?"  Bello took her name, looked in the reservation book, and -- perhaps because he'd been having a very bad day -- commented that they were 20 minutes late.

          Both Griffith's companion, Ms. Brisseau, and waiter Bello himself recall virtually the identical conversation:

Griffith:  "Am I to be punished for being late?"

Bello:  "No."

Sub-Plot:  Moments earlier, another member of Annapolis' political elite, well-heeled lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano, was also dining at the Treaty of Paris restaurant at that moment, and he attempted to intercede on Ms. Griffith's behalf.   Bereano had noticed that poor Ms. Griffith was having to wait 7 - 10 minutes.  (Oh, my!)  Ever eager to curry favor with his lobbying targets, Bereano had directed a restaurant chef to go get menus for the important political VIP and her friend.  "She should be seated promptly", Bereano is quoted as having told the chef.

          The chef showed up at the reservations desk, with menus in hand, just as waiter Bello and Delegate Griffith had finished their terse conversation.  Without knowing the situation, the chef overrode Bello's role as maitre d' and spoke directly to the politicos:  "I'll fix up the table now". 

What happened next:  No one really knows what was running through Jeb Bello's mind at that point.  But he told the chef "No" (as in "No, you are not going to fix up a table for Ms. Brisseau and Del. Griffith").  Perhaps he was thinking the chef had stepped on his toes as maitre d'.  Perhaps he was thinking he would handle the tense situation with these two grouchy customers himself.  But nonetheless, he said "No" to the chef's offer to seat the two seething guests.

          A careful reading of the Washington Post's account seems to indicate that waiter Bello did not intend to seat the white couple ahead of Brisseau and Griffith.  The Post's account indicates that Bello told the white couple that they would have to wait about 15 minutes for a table.  After his conversation with the white couple, he turned his attention to Brisseau and Griffith.  All parties have attested to that conversation.

          If this is so then Griffith cannot possibly assert that Bello was going to seat the white couple first.  Nonetheless, Griffith's friend, Ms. Brisseau, recounts the subsequent conversation between Griffith and Bello this way:  "Griffith asked why they had to wait if others were being seated."  Of course, this question made no sense at all since Bello had not said that he was going to seat anyone else ahead of Griffith and Brisseau.

          Bello's reported response to Griffith's nonsensical question was that there were no tables ready, which is the same thing he had just told the white couple.  All parties attest to and agree that is what was said.

          According to Brisseau, Del. Melony Griffith at that point said they didn't have to eat there, and that she was going to make sure all her friends and colleagues know what happened here.  (Whatever that was!)   And Brisseau and Griffith left in a huff. 

          On the record there was no apparent racism; no foul language; no racial epithets; and no attempt to treat white customers better than black customers!  There was only a tense exchange with an apparently cranky maitre d' and an equally cranky freshman politician.

What Happened Next:  Griffith went back to her office and commenced an immense, racially-motivated smear campaign against the 24 year old Italian American waiter!   The Washington Post writes:

          "We were both furious," [Griffith's companion] Brisseau said. "I said I can't believe this is happening in this day and age.  It was either poor service or a racial thing."

          "When Griffith returned to her office, she told colleagues in the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus what had happened.  Leaders of the caucus, whose 38 members account for more than a quarter of the Democratic majority in the Assembly, called the restaurant to complain.  So did [black] Baltimore Mayor Schmoke, who heard the story from a member of the Baltimore delegation to the assembly.

          "By the end of the day, Bello's supervisor told him to call the two women and apologize.  Bello [couldn't reach Brisseau, so he] left a message for Brisseau saying he was sorry.  He [did manage to reach Griffith on the phone].

          "'I kept saying [to Griffith] that I hadn't meant to give offense, that if I was abrupt or curt, I apologized,' Bello recalled.   He said [Griffith] thanked him for the apology but said that as long as he was working at the restaurant, she would never eat there.

          "Eight days later, he was fired from his job for 'rudeness.' ... by then the issue had become larger than a quibble over degrees of civility.  In the week between the incident and his firing, Bello was called a racist, the mayor of Baltimore called restaurant management to complain, and the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus threatened to boycott the restaurant, which is just a block from the State House and serves as a virtual annex of the General Assembly, a place where legislators and lobbyists gather to schmooze and politic.

          "For Griffith's allies--including Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Alleghany), Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and the leaders of the black caucus -- the incident dramatized the persistence of racism in the daily lives of African Americans.  'We are committed to find a reason why in nineteen hundred and ninety nine racial injustice still exists in any of our public facilities,' Del. Carolyn J.B. Howard (D-Prince George's), chairman of the black caucus, wrote in a letter to the restaurant's manager shortly after the incident."

[Editor's Note:  The incident dramatized the persistence of racism?  Wait a minute!  None of waiter Bello's actions or language were racist, according to accounts by both parties in this disagreement!  Therefore, one must ask: How did all of these politicians conclude that Jeb Bello was a racist, unless they had been told so through an inaccurate account by Del. Melony Griffith, or by her friend Ms. Brisseau, both of whom were feeling very much like they had suffered a personal affront?]

Aftermath:  It is very clear that Jeb Bello has been black-listed among the restaurants in Annapolis as a result of this vendetta by Del. Griffith.  Bello has had a great deal of difficulty finding work in Annapolis.  The restaurant manager that eventually hired him -- for a much less prestigious job -- said he hadn't wanted to hire a racist either, clearly indicating that he had heard the same malicious allegations as the other potential Annapolis employers that Bello was a racist.  This restaurant owner said that after checking around he became convinced that Bello was definitely not a racist.

          Jeb Bello's friends concur that he is not a racist, and that he has devoted time to anti-racist activities.  This is a matter of record, according to the Washington Post.

          Bello has filed a defamation law suit against Maryland Delegate Melony Griffith, seeking over $3 million in damages.  Bello's suit alleges (seemingly accurately) that Griffith deliberately portrayed him as a racist, and that her "race-card tantrum" has deliberately and maliciously deprived him of his livelihood. 

          The case might be heard next year in Anne Arundel Circuit Court (Annapolis, Maryland is in Anne Arundel County) -- unless Griffith does the right thing and publicly apologizes to Bello, intervenes to get Bello his old job back, and pays him a significant sum of money for the pain and suffering she has maliciously inflicted on him.

          But it appears that Griffith's ace in the hole might be that her friend Sherma Brisseau, is the one who has made many of the public statements to the Washington Post.  Del. Melony Griffith may have thus insulated herself from the press and from making any statements on the record -- instead, her companion, Ms. Brisseau, has been allowed to make most of the public statements to date.   This obviously gives Griffith an out:  she could thus claim that she did not personally publicly defame waiter Bello.

          Will Bello and his attorney be able to prove in the civil suit that it was Griffith's apparent malice that resulted in the outpouring of myriad uninformed charges of racism and threats of boycotts by the black power structure in Maryland? 

          Can Bello prove in court that it was Griffith who triggered the smear campaign from black Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, and from the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus?  Or was it Del. Griffith's companion Sherma Brisseau who will take the blame?  Can Bello tie his inability to find comparable employment directly to the willful actions of Del. Melony Griffith?   Or, will Maryland's black political elite close ranks and, if deposed in the suit, get a collective case of amnesia? 

          It is significant that Del. Melony Griffith has not made any public statements denying her culpability in defaming waiter Jeb Bello. 

Postscript:  Maryland Democratic Delegate Melony Griffith has severely damaged the credibility of both herself, the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, and the larger cause of civil rights by viciously playing the race card and by her wild, unfounded, personal vendetta against a waiter who was at worst "cranky" to her.  She can repair some of the damage, and earn some respect back from non-blacks, if she makes a sincere effort to make amends.

What You Can Do:  Whether you live in Maryland or not, call or write all of the key players!  Let them know how disgusted you are with Ms. Griffith's actions, and with the subsequent actions of Maryland's black leadership!  The names, phone numbers, and addresses of the Maryland Black Leadership who have conspired to destroy Jeb Bello's career are listed below:

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Melony Ghee Griffith
Maryland Democrat
District 25, Prince George's County, MD

See Also:  WHO is Melony Griffith?

Maryland Del. Melony Griffith
Lowe House Ofc. Bldg., Rm. 203A
84 College Ave.
Annapolis, MD 21401 - 1991
(301) 858-3076
(410) 841-3076
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3076 (toll free)
fax: (301) 858-3850, (410) 841-3850

District office:
(301) 967-9052
Complaint:  Del. Griffith assumed that waiter Jeb Bello was being racist, when no such evidence or testimony has been offered. 

In fact, according to the Post account, both Griffith and Bello are in complete agreement on the exact words spoken during the exchange.

Maryland House Speaker Casper R.
Taylor, Jr.
Maryland Democrat
District 1C, Alleghany County

Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates

Maryland Del. Casper R. Taylor, Jr.
101 State House
State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401 - 1991
(301) 858-3800
(410) 841-3800
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3800 (toll free)
fax: (410) 841-1138

District office:
72 Pershing St.
Cumberland, MD 21502
(301) 724-9234
fax: (301) 724-7635
Complaint:  Upon hearing that waiter Bello had been fired, Maryland Speaker Taylor publicly stated that justice had been done!

Speaker Taylor has no evidence supporting his claim, and he thereby tacitly supports playing of the race card by anyone who feels they have been treated badly.

Howard, Carolyn J.B.

Chairman of the Maryland Legislature's Black Caucus
Maryland Democrat (D-Prince George's County)
District 24, Prince George's County

Maryland Del. Carolyn J. B. Howard
Lowe House Ofc. Bldg., Rm. 204
84 College Ave.
Annapolis, MD 21401 - 1991
(301) 858-3065
(410) 841-3065
1-800-492-7122, ext. 3065 (toll free)
fax: (301) 858-3070, (410) 841-3070

District office:
1891 Brightseat Road
Landover, MD 20785
(301) 772-2803
fax: (301) 925-2399
Complaint:  Delegate Carolyn J.B. Howard used the power of her position as chair of the Maryland Congressional Black Caucus to get an innocent "white" waiter fired. 

Del. Howard had no direct knowledge of the facts, and seems to assume that any rude or brusque behavior is automatically based on racism!

Such cynical use of the race card only serves to make race relations worse, not better.

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke
Baltimore, Maryland
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke
City Hall
Room 250
100 N. Holliday Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Complaint:  Maryland's Baltimore Mayor Schmoke supported the firing of waiter Jeb Bello without the benefit of any supporting evidence. 

Therefore, it appears that Mayor Schmoke supported firing Bello simply because of his race!

Treaty of Paris restaurant in the Historic Inns of Maryland. Treaty of Paris
c/o Historic Inns of Maryland
58 State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 263-2641
Baltimore (410) 269-0990
FAX (410) 268-3813
Complaint:  Annapolis' Treaty of Paris restaurant completely caved in to racially-motivated demands that waiter Jeb Bello be fired based solely on the allegations of an irate, spoiled freshman black legislator who perceives that every slight she experiences is racially motivated!

Boycott Treaty of Paris in Annapolis until Bello is re-instated, and Treaty of Paris publicly apologizes for incorrectly firing him.


Update Jan. 20, 2001:
And Feb. 16, 2001

Case Settled, Anger Lingers (01/20/01)

Washington Post Sub-Head:  "Lawmaker Alleged Discrimination; Waiter Sued"

Washington Post Jan. 20, 2001:  "He was a white maitre d' at a popular Annapolis restaurant, and she was a black Maryland lawmaker who accused him of discrimination.

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          "Nearly two years later, Del. Melony Griffith (D-Prince George's) has reached an out-of-court settlement with Jeb Bello, who was fired after Griffith complained that he had seated a white couple before her and a black companion.

          "But their bitterness over the incident remains unabated, partly because Griffith has refused to apologize to Bello and because she says she never meant to portray him as engaging in racist behavior. Their animosity is a reminder of how differently whites and blacks can view the same event."  [Recall that black Maryland Delegate Melony Griffith avoided all public comment on this issue, and relied upon her companion, Sherma Brisseau, to make all the defamatory, racist accusations toward the young waiter Jeb Bello.]

SIDE BAR:  On Feb. 15, 2001 Waiter Jeb Bellow "reinstituted a lawsuit against Del. Melony Griffith (D-Prince George's, MD), saying she has failed to abide by a court settlement and apologize for publicly campaigning for his dismissal," according to the Washington Post 2/16/01.

"[Griffith's attorney] said she was not apoligizing for her behavior."

          In an attempt to distance herself from having played the "race card", Maryland Delegate Melony Griffity told the Washington Post "I don't know why the man did that.  It could've been that I'm fat, that I'm short, that I wear glasses, that I'm a woman. And it could have been that I'm black."

          The young Italian-American waiter whose career Ms. Griffith virtually destroyed, Jeb Bello,  now makes $7 an hour serving at an Annapolis coffee bar (one of the few places in Annapolis which would hire him after Ms. Griffith accused him of racism).  According to the Post, Mr. Bello said he has learned his lesson: "Bow down . . . if [legislators] walk into your restaurant."

          Bello had filed a $3.2 million lawsuit against black Maryland lawmaker Melony Griffith after she got him fired March 11, 1999, from the Treaty of Paris restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland.  The restaurant is a popular gathering place for lobbyists and Maryland legislators located near Maryland's legislature.

          In his lawsuit, Bello, who was earning little more than minimum wage as a Maitre d at the Treaty of Paris at the time of Ms. Griffith's racial vendetta, alleged that black Maryland legislator Melony Griffith took deliberate actions to portray him as "a bigot and a racist" and that Ms. Griffith's public campaign against him had prevented him from finding another job in Annapolis. He later included the Treaty of Paris restaurant in his suit.

          According to the Post, recently young waiter Bello won what he described as relatively little compensation as part of the settlement from Ms. Griffith.  Bello's attorney, Thomas McCarthy Jr., said the settlement agreement prohibits him from saying how much compensation Bello received, and whether the compensation came from Melony Griffith or from the Treaty of Paris restaurant which fired him based upon Ms. Griffith's "race card" allegations.

          The Washington Post story strongly infers that the settlement to Mr. Bellow was paid by the Treaty of Paris restaurant.  

          Lawyers for black Maryland legislator Melony Griffith were careful to point out that Ms. Griffith "does not apologize for what she said" against waiter Bello, and that Griffith "regrets that Mr. Bello suffered any negative effects to the extent that some people jumped to the conclusion that he was a racist."

          For his part, young Italian-American waiter Jeb Bello, who is now 26, said that he agreed to accept the small settlement for his pain and suffering because Melony Griffith's attorneys had falsely led him to believe that she was issuing a public apology.

          According to the Washington Post, Bellow said "It wasn't the greatest apology, but at least it was something I could hold up," he said.  "[But] now I don't have [the apology from Griffith.]   It's like having a deed to swampland."

          During the days immediately following Ms. Griffith's complaint about the service she received from Jeb Bello at the Treaty of Paris restaurant, she reportedly spread allegations far and wide within the Maryland legislature that a waiter at one of their most popular watering holes had refused to seat her because she is black.  Griffith's race-card pronouncements found VERY friendly ears among then-Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Allegany), as well as among the Maryland Black Caucus.

          One of the Maryland delegates, Ms. Carolyn J.B. Howard, who was then-chairman of the Maryland black caucus, wrote to waiter Bello's then-employer "We [blacks] are committed to find a reason why in nineteen hundred and ninety nine racial injustice still exists in any of our public facilities."   Ms. Howard failed to cite any objective evidence of racism in waiter Bello's treatment of the overly-sensitive Black Delegate Melony Griffith.

          But Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Alleghany County) said in a deposition, delivered as part of Bello's lawsuit, that he (Taylor) concluded from talking to Melony Griffith after the incident that "there was a thought in her mind that her color had something to do with it."

          According to the Washingon Post, Speaker Taylor said "The inference was there, that there were racial implications.   Otherwise, I'm not sure why she [Griffith] would have gone to the Black Caucus to begin with."

          In the statement Ms. Griffith released last week [as a stipulation of the settlement] she insisted that she never meant to portray young waiter Bello as a racist.

          According to the Post, Ms. Griffith said "I have never accused Mr. Bello of engaging in racial discrimination, nor did I ever intend to imply that his conduct was, in fact, racially motivated.  I regret the negative effects of this publicity on Mr. Bello."

          In her statement to the Washington Post, Ms. Griffith failed to mention that her companion at the Treaty of Paris restaurant that day, Ms. Sherma Brisseau, subsequently issued all of the public statements regarding waiter Bello's alleged racist behavior, and thereby Ms. Griffith has what the politicians (and the racial lobby) call "plausible deniability" regarding Griffith's playing of the race card simply because she didn't like the service at the Treaty of Paris restaurant that day.

          According to the Washington Post, an unrepentant Griffith said her only regret over the Jeb Bello incident is that "I wish I had eaten lunch at my hotel that day. ... "I will never apologize for my vocabulary.  I wish people had a broader understanding of the word [discriminatory].   My definition of 'discriminatory' is when you talk about one entity and another, and you can identify the difference in the way the two are treated."

          That is a VERY WEIRD statement from Ms. Griffith:  Griffith, who is black, thus tried to re-define the term "discriminatory" in a way that avoids the issue of her third-party accusation that waiter Jeb Bello refused to give her the humble servitude that she, as a black woman, felt was her due at the Treaty of Paris restaurant that day.

           For his part, waiter Jeb Bello said he is trying to forget the incident, although it's difficult when friends and strangers always talk about it.  "It's a bad thing, and it happened to me," he said. "But I can't let it dictate the way I feel. I have to move on." -30-

Excerpted from the Washingon Post story by Paul Schwartzman which was published by the Post on Page B01 Jan. 20, 2001.

[link ]


References and News Sources:

Waiter's Case Puts Race on the Table (07/20/99)
          Washington Post, Tues. Jul. 20, 1999, Page B01, by Jefferson Morley

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[Last known link: ]
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Case Settled, Anger Lingers  (01/20/01)
          Washington Post, January 20, 2001, Page B01 by Paul Schwartzman

[Last known link ]


End Case 17:  Black Legislator Gets Italian Waiter Fired!

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