To the editor: I eat out often and feel safe dining at Methuselah, because they follow the same safety protocols as everyone else.

Yet they have been repeatedly cited for minor COVID violations, in all cases submitted anonymously to Councilor Anthony Maffuccio. Amazingly, people stood outside Methuselah and photographed alleged violations. We all know a picture is worth a thousand words, but pictures lack context and therefore can be misleading.

For example, Methuselah’s owner Yuki Cohen was photographed with her mask off. But according to witnesses quoted in The Eagle, it was only off momentarily so she could sip a beverage. Is this a “violation” worth of a fine? Surely the photographer saw what the witnesses did. Why would someone submit a complaint based on a disingenuous photo? And why is Councilor Maffuccio the only recipient of these anonymous complaints?

For this and other trivial violations one could find happening at virtually any other business, Methuselah lost its liquor license for two days. Is this really just? Mask mandates require some latitude, just as speed limits do. National leaders such as Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein and Andrew Cuomo, among many others, have had well-publicized issues strictly adhering to mask mandates. Even President Joe Biden himself was photographed in violation of his federal mask mandate — mere hours after signing it.

The city lost credibility when they abruptly issued an “emergency” closure order on Nov. 12, only to reverse course on Dec. 2 in response to a petition from restaurant owners. Mayor Linda Tyer claims Pittsfield’s pandemic decisions are “based on science and data,” however these decisions appear to have been politically driven, not based on “science” or “data.”

Methuselah seems to be the victim of an organized smear campaign, and no doubt the negative publicity is hurting business. Ms. Cohen is an immigrant from Korea who has sunk roots in Pittsfield and invested in a business that creates jobs and is helping revitalize North Street. In 2019, she was elected to the City Council and she also sits on the board of Jacob’s Pillow. She’s the type of person we should be celebrating. So why are we allowing anonymous cowards to persecute her?

Rob Grien, West Stockbridge