Johnny Khamis apologizes for ‘lower-income’ remark, clarifies his intent
San Jose Councilmember Johnny Khamis is pictured in this file photo. Photo by Katie Lauer.

San Jose Councilmember Johnny Khamis raised eyebrows — and garnered a chuckle from Mayor Sam Liccardo — when he complained that his WiFi is spotty even though he doesn’t live in a low-income neighborhood.

The comment came during Tuesday’s virtual City Council meeting after Khamis experienced technical problems. Liccardo asked him to turn off his video to help improve the connection.

“I’ve been having trouble off and on all day. I apologize for my lack of WiFi services out here,” Khamis explained after shutting off his video. “We don’t have much of service coverage even though we’re not in a lower-income neighborhood.”

Liccardo is seen leaning back and smiling. None of the other councilmembers reacted. Khamis immediately caught heat from residents, many of whom called him out for seemingly taking a shot at people on the wrong side of the digital divide.

“It seemed a little rude,” said Anna, a public speaker who only provided her first name. “… and you were laughing, too, Liccardo. Is it a joke that my nieces don’t have access to internet to catch up with their school work when they can’t go to school?”

But Khamis told San José Spotlight on Wednesday that he meant that WiFi service is lacking across San Jose — regardless of where you live. The city is plagued with “equal opportunity bad WiFi” no matter your ZIP code, he said.

“I apologize for the way it sounded,” Khamis said. “But I just wanted people to know no one has good WiFi service — bad WiFi has no racial or socio-economic preference. I might have chosen some poor words, but what I meant to say is bad WiFi doesn’t discriminate.”

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