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City Official Apologizes for "Kenya" remark made to black reporter PDF Print E-mail
Written by Staff Report   
Friday, 25 January 2013

taisha_walker_and_bill_clayton.jpgRAPID CITY, S.D._ A Rapid City Council member accused of making racist comments to a black TV reporter has publicly apologized.

Bill Clayton said during his apology at Tuesday night's council meeting that he was not aware of Taisha Walker's race when he did a telephone interview about a tax increase proposal last August.

After five months of closed-door discussions and open bickering, Rapid City council members said they hoped they set the record straight by voting to release a report that details the investigation into alleged racists remarks made by one of their own.

Bill Clayton, the council member at the center of the investigation, spoke openly Tuesday night about the comments he made to Taisha Walker, a black reporter for KOTA television.

"I apologize to the KOTA reporter," Clayton said, before apologizing to the council, city staff and the citizens of Rapid City.

The 18-page report released after a 6-0 vote Tuesday night contains 10 pages of witness testimony and legal analysis compiled by the city attorney, four pages of the city council code of conduct, a one-page formal complaint detailing Clayton's alleged comments at a Wingnuts luncheon, Walker's two-page complaint and a cover page.

The report is available on the city's website and at rapidcityjournal.com.

But the report also accuses Clayton of making threatening comments toward a fellow council member during a conservative rally.

Three people, including two City officials lodged formal complaints against alderman Bill Clayton, accusing him of making threats about another council member, Charity Doyle.

"I didn't know them well.  They were not political supporters of mine, to put it mildly," Doyle said.

Clayton has denied the allegations, which include that he encouraged supporters to harass and drive Doyle from office. One complaint also alleged that Clayton put his hand to his head mimicking a gun when referencing Doyle during a luncheon speech.

Doyle, who is married to Tim Doyle a Rapid City police officer wounded in a shootout that killed two other officers, says she found that report especially upsetting.

"I've asked myself if it would've disturbed me as much had August second not happened, and I don't know," Doyle said.

Doyle, who's been on the council for the past year and a half says she expected some tension with Clayton even before he was sworn into office last July.

"I was taking numerous complaints from staff members and people around the community about how Clayton was coming in to put me in my place," Doyle said.

 

In the report, City Attorney Joel Landeen summarizes interviews with eight witnesses. The majority of the witness accounts are devoted to the Aug. 28, 2012, incident at a luncheon held by the Wingnuts, a local political group. Three co-signers of the complaint say Clayton spoke harshly about fellow council member Charity Doyle at the meeting.

Little of Landeen's analysis is devoted to Walker. According to the report, Walker never wanted the public to know that Clayton said to her, "Should we deport you back to Kenya with Obama?"

"Ms. Walker is not interested in Alderman Clayton performing a public mea culpa in front of the Council and she would prefer not to make this matter public," the report says.

Clayton ended up making a very public apology, though he denied using the phrase "back to Kenya" and said he was unaware Walker was black when he made the comments in a telephone interview. He said he had once believed "birther" positions about President Barack Obama but has since changed his mind about whether he is a citizen of the United States.

"I am not the same person I was five months ago in terms of my political know-how, what I bring to this dais," Clayton said.

Before the apology Tuesday, several citizens at the council meeting called for various council members to step down.

Ward 4 Council Member Amanda Scott read a statement from former Council Member Lloyd LaCroix, who called for Clayton to step down, saying Clayton's comments to Walker were "meant to be hurtful."

Walker said Clayton questioned her citizenship and suggested she be deported to Kenya.

Clayton questioned the accuracy of the quote and its context but took responsibility on Tuesday for causing the controversy.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 25 January 2013 )
 
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