By Diana McFarland and Abby Proch
Two Isle of Wight officials on two different boards are being asked to resign from their posts this week.
Last Monday, Newport District Supervisor Buzz Bailey made comments about the South rising again. The comment touched off a furor over whether it was racially-tinged, but what prompted Chairman Jo Ann Hall to ask for his resignation during a Monday morning work session was a series of racist and off-color emails from School Board member Herb DeGroft that were sent to and forwarded by Bailey.
DeGroft’s Board is also asking for his resignation.
Neither has resigned as of Monday afternoon.
Bailey said he would not resign, and DeGroft has yet to make a decision.
One of the emails sent by both officials included a photo of topless black tribal women with spears, and it was titled, “Michelle Obama’s high school reunion.”
DeGroft’s subject line said, “The devil made me send this.”
Bailey received the email and then sent it on to a number of other recipients.
Bailey told his email list, “this is just too funny.”
Most of the emails were racist or included derogatory photos and items about President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
They were sent from and to personal email accounts.
DeGroft said there was no racist intent when he sent the emails, nor did he think they were racist. He had received it from a former colleague and forwarded it on.
Initially, DeGroft described the emails as “funny and interesting.”
On second thought, he said, “I thought they were interesting.”
Being racist is when someone called someone else a name that is not appropriate, DeGroft said.
“If my forwarding that hurt someone’s feelings, I would humbly apologize.”
In a press release issued Monday, remaining School Board members asked DeGroft to step down immediately because of his “actions,” though it did not say what those actions were.
“Mr. DeGroft’s actions are not supported by the remaining School Board members and we have given him the opportunity to resign on his own,” said School Board Chairman Robert Eley in the release.
According to DeGroft, the Board did not hold a meeting prior to releasing its statement.
DeGroft said he understands the Board members’ attempt to distance themselves from his comments. ...(Subscribe!)