Mayor faces removal for comments about tribe

The mayor of Toppenish, Washington, is facing removal from office after blaming the city's budget shortfalls on the Yakama Nation.

Bill Rogers told a television station that the city didn't have funds to fight crime because the tribe and its members don't pay taxes. He later apologized for his comments.

But some city council members are upset with Rogers. They scheduled a closed-door session to talk about his future but it was made public at the request of Rogers, who has hired an attorney.

Tribal members are also angry. They say Rogers' comments are indicative of long-standing racism against Indians on the reservation.

"It seems that attitude toward the Yakama Indians hasn't changed," said Misty Smartlowit, The Yakima Herald-Republic reported. "It's going to keep going on and it should stop with you."

The only council member who apparently supports Rogers is Elaine Willman, who leads an anti-Indian group on the reservation. She says the TV interview was taken out of context.

The council tabled discussion of Rogers' removal due to the absence of one member.

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Toppenish mayor on the hot seat (The Yakima Herald-Republic 3/27)

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