California city official issues apology for racist e-mails

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Sun-Star repeats language in this story used in some of the e-mails that are its focus. The language is offensive to many and is not allowed, for example, in public comments on our Web site. We reprint the exact language — without asterisks or euphemism — so that our readers will understand just why the content and context of the e-mails are the focus of our story, as well as why they are widely viewed as offensive.

Gary Frago, an Atwater city councilman, has apologized after forwarding at least seven racist e-mails to city officials and others aimed at President Barack Obama, the first lady and black people.

"I made a mistake," he said of the e-mails, circulated from October 2008 to February 2009. "It was a mistake I shouldn't have made and I apologize for it. I wasn't being racist, I was just passing on e-mails."

However, Frago added: "I didn't think it would go nationwide, to tell you the truth. If it would have stayed local, we would have been able to handle it a lot easier."

Despite his apology, the councilman may still be in hot water.

Some residents have called for his resignation, while several City Council members have distanced themselves from him.

Despite the uproar, the city still refuses to provide additional e-mails sent by Frago, which first amendment advocates say the city has little legal standing to do.

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