My hometown, Tonganoxie, KS, made national news this week. Or at the very least, Tonganoxie’s mayor, Mike Vestal made national news.
I have a friend from college in DC who receives “Hotline,” which as she explains it to me is, “one of those DC insider publications – they put 4-5 “Top News” bullet points on the front page.” Apparently yesterday one of them was “Tonganoxious.”
The Hotline piece:
NEWS BAZAAR: “Just Because Somebody Makes A Mistake, Everybody Makes Mistakes”
Tonganoxie , KS , Mayor Mike Vestal admitted “to sending an e-mail containing the picture of a naked woman and a racist joke.” Vestal, after a Lawrence Journal-World reporter showed him a copy of the email: “Oh my God, oh my God. You’ve got to be kidding me. Oh, Lord have mercy.” The email said: “Next Monday is National Female Breast Appreciation Day.” Then, under a picture of “a woman and her naked breasts,” it said: “Beats the (expletive) out of Martin Luther King Day! Doesn’t It?” Vestal admitted sending the email to a “couple of guys.” He “inadvertently sent it to a 6News reporter,” which is how the Journal-World obtained it. Vestal said “I should have just deleted it” and “I apologize.” He also said: “If the citizens want me to resign, I will resign.” Vestal “works for an answering service that is owned by his wife” (Lawhorn, Lawrence Journal-World, 9/8).
That was on 9/7. By 9/8, Vestal said “he has received nothing but support.” Vestal, on ex-Mayor Dave Taylor : “Mayor Taylor said do not resign.” Tonganoxie City Council member Steve Gumm noted: “He’s done a good job since he’s started; obviously there’s a learning curve for everyone when you get started.” Said Vestal: “It makes me feel good they respect me that much.” He added: “Just because somebody makes a mistake, everybody makes mistakes.” Tonganoxie resident Phyllis Shilling: “It’s no big deal; (at the same time) it is a big deal and it was in poor taste.” More Shilling, in an apparent reference to the name of her town: “I think Tongie is facing so many other things that are more newsworthy than this” (Linenberger, Lawrence Journal-World, 9/9).
You can also read more detail in some stories from the Lawrence Journal World (In Chronological Order):
Saturday – Mayor Admits Risque Email
Sunday – Mayor Says He’ll Keep Job
Tuesday – Mayor Apologizes For Risque Email
Yes, he actually forwarded the email to a television news reporter! But, that’s not even the worst part of this whole thing. The tragic irony of this whole story? Mayor Vestal sends out a racist email that is degrading to women when, less than a week before the Journal World had run a story about the fact that he is a quadrapalegic striving to make the community more accessible for a particular minority group, the only one of which he is a member.
Maybe after this blunder on his part, the Mayor will find ways to work for increased accesibility for all people! Or at the very least, maybe he’ll think twice before sending out forwards!