ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The owner of a Nob Hill bar and restaurant is getting hammered for a sign he put up. It compared the governor to the Nazis and blamed her for their staffing issues. Walden Minoli, the owner of Gecko’s, said he’s embarrassed and made a huge mistake and regrets posting the sign calling the governor a Nazi.

Minoli said he wants to apologize to the Jewish community. “I was angry, and it was stupid on my part,” said Minoli. “Very stupid on my part. I was stupid I was wrong.”  

Minoli said it’s been a frustrating year for restaurants and said he reached a boiling point this past weekend when he decided to put a sign up on the bar’s front door Saturday evening letting everyone know the kitchen was closing early because they were lacking staff. Minoli said he’s down three cooks.

The sign also said people should thank “our Nazi in Santa Fe” referring to the governor for extending unemployment benefits. He said within an hour and a half a customer tore the sign down.

Rob Lennick, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico, wants this to be a reminder to people to refrain from making comparisons to nazism. “Using Nazi language, symbols or images really detracts from the significance from the Holocaust itself,” said Lennick. “We discourage this kind of demonstration of opinions through the utilization of any references to Nazism or the Holocaust.” 

Of course, there have been other instances during the pandemic when the governor has been compared to Hitler or a Nazi. Minoli said when the state fully reopens on July 1, he’ll maintain capacity limits and cut down on business hours because he still doesn’t have enough workers.

Nora Meyers Sackett, the press secretary with the governor’s office sent the following response to the sign: 

“On the whole, we do not respond to people who choose to invoke that kind of language as if it doesn’t have actual, terrible meaning.

It’s important to note, and I hope your reporting does, that the Federal Reserve studied this specifically and found that the $300 benefit is not keeping people on unemployment longer the $300 benefit is not keeping people on unemployment longer than they would be otherwise – “the value of a job significantly outweighs the benefit of temporary additional UI income.” Additionally, we are not seeing dramatic swings in unemployment in the states that have cut the $300 benefit – while some may try to say otherwise, such an assertion is not based in the reality of the job market, which the NY Times also covered this weekend. The best thing the state can do to assist both employers and those workers who are not yet ready to return to work for health or family reasons is to end the pandemic quickly, which is exactly what we’re doing, in addition to supporting New Mexico small businesses with grants and funding, making over $1 billion available for reopening and rehiring.

I’ll also note that the $300 supplement expires on September 5th regardless and requires a one-month notice per the federal program, my point being that any action to end the supplement and provide that month notice would only minimally advance the program’s end date – a program that, again, is not incentivizing people to stay on unemployment at the expense of finding a job.”