Archive for Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Our View: Mayor’s resignation wouldn’t fit crime

September 12, 2007

There's been much discussion since last week when news broke about Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal disseminating an e-mail that included a sexist message and racist overtones.

Some thought the mayor had been set up as an easy target by the area media. Some wondered if all of the hullabaloo was much ado about nothing. A few expressed outrage and called for Vestal to resign.

The mayor, to his credit, quickly issued an apology to "all of those who were offended by my lack of judgment." Vowing that he was not a racist, Vestal promised to resign if Tonganoxie residents so desired.

Such action seems unlikely now.

Yet, should the mayor's mea culpa be the end of the matter?

We learn early on the pen is mightier than the sword. Language can be a piercing weapon and it can inflict great pain. In this day of e-mail and text-messaging, where pressing a simple forward button can spread a message through cyberspace in no time flat, judicious use of the written word becomes more and more necessary -- especially by a person in a public position.

Fairly or not, Tonganoxie is being cast in an unflattering light. It is not the fault of the media reporting a story. It has nothing to do with Vestal's abilities as mayor. It has everything to do with a questionable e-mail sent by the top-elected city official.

Should Vestal resign? We think such punishment far outweighs the crime. But the mayor should know his words (and e-mails) and actions are under scrutiny.

Proof that he is neither sexist nor racist lies in the pudding that will be the remainder of his tenure as mayor.

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