'Joke' email by Norwalk councilman irks colleagues

Second ward councilman at first thought it was "humorous" but admitted it "can be interpreted as racist."
MCT Regional News
Jan 5, 2014

A long-time Norwalk councilman said he didn’t believe an email he sent to friends, former co-workers, and the city law director was racist and derogatory to minorities, but instead he interpreted its content as humorous.

The email, entitled “Spelling Bee Champ,” was forwarded Dec. 12 from the personal email account of Norwalk Councilman Robert Carleton to more than a dozen people, including Norwalk law director G. Stuart O’Hara.

Carleton, the second ward councilman, admitted during an interview with The Blade to sending the contents in an email.

“In hindsight, I can see how it can be interpreted as racist, ... but that wasn’t my intent when I sent it. I thought it was humorous,” Carleton said.

Through insensitive, and bigoted jargon, the email, with grammatical and spelling errors, cruelly mocks an African-Hispanic girl who received extra points in a school spelling contest for “being black,” “not bringin” drugs and guns to class and “not getting pregnut during the cemester.”

The email also attacked the Affordable Care Act and affirmative action.

Carleton, 71, was elected to city council in the 1990s. According to the Huron County Republican Party Web site, he is an endorsed member of the party.

A copy of the email, including the list of recipients who were forwarded the message, was sent on Friday to The Blade.

When contacted, Carleton confirmed that the email account belonged to him and that he had sent the message to other people. The Gmail account he used to send the email from also is listed online as an contact for him as councilman.

O’Hara recalled that after receiving the email from Carleton about a month ago he immediately shared its contents with Mayor Rob Duncan and Steve Euton, president of city council. “I was shocked,” he said. “I didn’t care for the joke, if that’s what it was suppose to be.”

Other recipients of the message included former and current employees of a company in Tiffin, where Carleton used to work.

Duncan said he referred the matter to Euton after he obtained the email from the law director. He said actions of council members are not under the control of the administration and any discipline, censure, or review is the responsibility of council.

“Bob is technically not part of the administration. He is part of city council so we really don’t have authority over council. But this is nothing that we would condone or endorse,” Duncan said. “I think I know Bob well enough and I don’t think he would do anything malicious and intentional. But I think the content is unacceptable.”

The email controversy didn’t come up at the Dec. 17 council meeting, the mayor said.

Duncan said the incident prompted the administration to issue a memo asking elected city officials to be careful of the content of emails.

“I can see where someone would do that without thinking about it. But in our positions we have to think,” Duncan said.

———

By Mark Reiter - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

Visit The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) at www.toledoblade.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Comments

Contango

@ CC:

And perhaps even worse IMO, is the local press stirring the pot.

It reflects poorly on the community.

Ever notice how the media seldom does an exposé on themselves?

There's probably a number of ethnic, religious and racial bigots that the NR, SR and the Blade could root out from their ranks if only they would begin turning over a few rocks.

The sanctimonious 'bouquet' of this whole affair is putrid.

Cliff Cannon

" The sanctimonious 'bouquet' of this whole affair is putrid. "

Amen. Then, I ask ; How would you like to be the person, who turned this into the " Blade " ? Not only, has him/her/it exposed themselves as being a sanctimoniously, vengeful person. They have also put Mr. Carleton's very life in danger,then put " Norwalk " on the map in a way that only promises trouble.


I ask this; How far across the internet, do you think the story of this email will go ? ( Ad infintium is my guess.) So who knows how many gang bangers, in particular will see it. Wouldn't that instantly make Mr. Carleton a possible target for retribution or a gang style 'initiation' hit ? Further, when does that danger ever pass, if it does at all ? Or am I over reacting ?


I am not attempting to turn drama into melodrama here. However, I do believe in this crazy world of daily random violence. That THE very last thing anyone should do is draw gang attention to themselves or their community, yet here we are. ( Can you imagine how livid Chief Light must be about this needlessly added potential danger ? )


No doubt, your correct about the number of bigots who find employment in the media, shrinking from turning the lights of public scrutiny onto themselves. After all who would want that ?


So it is what it is. Media people obviously know that not only everyone's fault's are more interesting than their virtues. But, better yet, from their perspective, folks are very willing to pay to read or watch those faults,( as long as it not theirs ) so there we have it.( Although, I must say the " Reflector " has been extremely classy in my view in handling this )


Here's hoping, praying and begging I am totally wrong about my safety concerns.

Contango

See: "Ebonics dictionary_ steve harvey " (YouTube)

For gawd's sake DON'T FORWARD this video!!!!

Some will have their "shorts up their crack" and think it offensive and racist.

Dr. Information

Agree. This is only fueled by those who want to fuel it. Don't forward any dumb blonde joke either. Wouldn't want to offend anyone.

Kottage Kat

Swiss,
I am black, I am a Kat, and Mr. Carlton has not offended me.
Sincerely Yours
Marvin Gaye Kelley

swiss family

Kat... or should I say Marvin.. I am sure that the kat did not choose his own name, so if he was named because ,of his color.............then I think I see the problem

nelly

since I'm a citizen of Norwalk ,should I report any questionable e-mails I receive to Mayor Duncan?

Contango

Re: "should I report any questionable e-mails I receive to Mayor Duncan?"

lol

Just what Norwalk needs; an email Czar.

At least this 'controversy" gets an important issue like "jobs, jobs, jobs" out of the local public consciousness albeit briefly and allows him to appear judicious.

@ NR:

We need a follow-up on that other 'non-story' from a couple wks ago regarding Mayor Duncan's rumored new local employer that he couldn't discuss.

See: "Mayor: Much interest in Norwalk lately" (Norwalk Reflector)

Dr. Information

Stuff like this has been going on over email since the start of email. You people are once again overreacting. I'd hate to see anyone of you go to a adult comedy show. Toughen up.

CoopersHawk72

I applaud your intellect. (insert golf clap, please)

Windy

Adult bullies!! LOL

Kottage Kat

Whaa whaaa. I'm gonna tells on youse.
Please grow up and find the delete button.

Contango

G. Stuart O’Hara's attitude reminds of the class "know-it-all" goody two shoes who felt the need to remind the teacher that a quiz was planned for the day after the teacher had seemingly forgotten.

Dr. Information

Eddie Murphy did skits on ebonics way back in the day. Oh the racism.

Truth2u

What a bunch of cr*p. Everyone now is politically correct and racially balanced. GET REAL PEOPLE, there ARE REAL differences in culture and it isn't going to change. All you so called non racists don't have a problem with jokes and movies depicting German's in National Lampoon movies, or Italians being sexually aggressive, or Swedes having hot and loose women, and lets not forget the Asian's women willing to become slaves to their men and the Italian women having bad tempers. But when it comes to blacks who refuse to shed their Ebonics and certain lifestyles its an automatic FOUL ! You bunch of hypocrites, including the politicians who are praying overtime that their own history is buried deep enough so this paper doesn't find it.. I bet those same politicians and cry babies here who are so distraught over this email watched Big Chucks Polish Kilbasi Kid shows and the "Certain Ethnic' polish family and you laughed as hard as I did. Whats next, all the cry babies going to Fox 8 and demand that Big Chuck apologizes for all his 'sins' and burn down the building if he doesn't? Your all a bunch of immature fools and cowards and agree with this rag paper and political correct followers instead of having the nerve to to just come out and say TOUGH, its LIFE, DEAL WITH IT. There are posters here that condemn this email and I KNOW you have insulted people by calling them Rednecks etc. Jas's post indicating that all Tea Baggers are bad people ISN'T ANY DIFFERENT than this event, you hypocrite! I HAVE 7 close black friends and they have as much fun talking about the culture of the one side of their race of fools who can't even pull up their pants. My daughter is married to a Mexican and we have a blast every family gathering. Only immature & childish fools would make this email into what it has become, Grow up you whiners and this includes the Register and Reflector, why is this even in the paper, this isn't news its nothing more than trash reporting to incite the public so you make sales. They must be having problems finding things to fill the pages.

jas

I, for one, hope we as a society have progressed to the point where we can appreciate our various cultural differences instead of using them as a basis for hatred and humor. Are we all stuck in the 1970's with Archie Bunker-type thinking or have we learned to accept, appreciate, and be glad we have a multi-cultural society? Instead of hating and poking fun at those who may be different from our own cultural background, why not learn from other cultures to make our lives better? For instance, many of us enjoy various foods from different cultures and not just the traditional "steak and potatoes" of the 1950's. There is much to learn from each other. Let's celebrate our differences instead hating and making jokes. Stop being stuck in the past and make the future better.

Contango

Re: "be glad we have a multi-cultural society"

Agree.

However, Ebonics is not a culture and even educated blacks distain its use.

I Can Read

It takes a racist to truly know a racist and furthermore, we need to identify every person who read this email, then we shall have Dr. Phil get his ex FBI lie detector expert to administer his test on them with only 1 question, "did you laugh when you read that email"? If they laughed or we even suspect they giggled or even smiled, then the Mayor has a duty to expose them for being racist!

FlowerMom

I guess the Reflector does not want a statment from individuals anymore. The Spam Filter is pretty tight.

norwalkresident

I realize this was done with no harshness or racists intentions. But, Now when a Norwalk councilman is thinking it is funny out in public after the whip lash this got is wrong. I personally heard a councilman laughing with a gentleman at a basketball game the other night thinking this was funny and he just wanted to know who turned him. Does this man think he made impression to the people around him. Not in my book. I thought OMG what an idiot for discussing this where people could hear him in a public place. They just seem not to learn when to keep their mouth shut.

Unique perspect...

Why is it that we tolerate such actions such as our councilman sending jokes to others that he works with? That should be something one does with others that have no professional relationship with. Shame on us for thinking this is somewhat normal and happens all the time. The professionalism is questionable here - whether the joke was racist or not.

swiss family

I do hope that this all settles down, and that no long term punishment is headed Mr Carelton's way.... I will say that I would feel much better if Mr Carelton, would just see that it really is racist, and understand what about it makes it so wrong.All I have heard from him is that he didn't see it as racist, just humorous.. I would have to ask him then, what it is about it that makes it so humorous??? If he were being honest he would say that the racial part of it and the stereo types about the different cultures, makes it so funny... again Racist...I am not trying to persecute him, I would just hope that he would think it all the way through, and ask himself if the "jokes" would be so funny if they were portraying " older, over weight, bald men with glasses'' if it would have hit home a little more... Sorry Mr Carelton, I actually like you, I am just trying to make a point, and really hope you understand.
On a slightly off topic rant, I am a little concerned and confused by the Mayors comment, that he is NOT over city council??? I never pictured it that way... I know the Mayors position is over the Police dept, and the Fire dept, and I guess I assumed that he is over ALL of the committees and councils, and commissions like planning and zoning??? I would bet that there are people that would agree with the Mayor, and many that would disagree... I wonder where the answer lies, just to clarify the boundaries and chain of command

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