Editorial: Don't remove mayor over Yakama flap

"Words can indeed hurt and sometimes are best left unsaid.

Ask Toppenish Mayor Bill Rogers.

Last week in a televised interview, Rogers linked the city's budget woes (lack of enough money) with the fact that Yakama tribal members don't pay taxes; he later clarified to say he meant sales taxes. The subsequent outrage from some tribal members who saw it as an ethnic insult and digging up old stereotypes was predictable -- and understandable. The nation is, after all, a key component of the mid-Valley economy.

The incident was being blown out of all proportion. Some want Rogers to resign or even be recalled.

The mayor is a council member elected by fellow members to the largely ceremonial position of mayor. Rogers only has nine months left on his term in that position and his council seat is up in November 2009. At that time, voters can make the decision to retain or replace him -- if he even decides to run for re-election.

There has been talk of some tribal members boycotting Toppenish businesses as a protest of the remarks. What a misdirected effort that would be, penalizing innocent business people for the remarks -- since recanted -- of one public official.

It's time for all parties to put this incident behind them and move on to constructive dialogue. There are simply too many pressing issues that are more important for the city and the nation to address in a government-to-government spirit of mutual cooperation."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Heed advice -- Yakamas, Toppenish 'must co-exist in harmony' (The Yakama Herald-Republic 3/29)

Related Stories:
Mayor faces removal for comments about tribe (3/27)
Mayor blames budget shortfalls on Yakama Nation (3/23)