Mayor of small Pennsylvania borough censured for anti-Obama posts
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By David Ingram
(Reuters) - The mayor of a small borough in Pennsylvania has been censured by the local council and is facing calls to resign after he posted images on his Facebook page comparing President Barack Obama and his family to apes and referencing a noose.
Mayor Charles Wasko has so far declined to step down from his post in West York, about 100 miles (160 km) west of Philadelphia, despite being accused of racism for the images on his page.
At a meeting on Monday night, the West York Borough Council voted 7-0 to censure Wasko, a clerk said. The censure is a symbolic rebuke.
Wasko, who ran unopposed in 2013 and whose term ends in December 2017, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Wasko, whose Facebook page is filled with political commentary, posted an image in June of five orangutans in a wheelbarrow with the caption, "Aww ... moving day at the Whitehouse has finally arrived."
Another image, since removed but described and pictured in media reports, showed actor Clint Eastwood holding a noose in a scene from a Western movie. The image carried the caption, "Barry, this rope is for you. You wanna bring that empty chair over here!" Obama used Barry as a nickname when he was young.
The images began receiving media attention last week, leading to the censure.
The mayor is partly a ceremonial job and is not paid, Borough Council President Shawn Mauck said in a telephone interview. The council plans to ask the Pennsylvania legislature to impeach and remove Wasko, which would be a lengthy and difficult process, Mauck said.
"We are looking at every legal means to remove him from office, up to impeachment," Mauck said.
In West York, population 4,600, four council members are Republicans and three, including Mauck, are Democrats.
On Friday, Wasko told an ABC affiliate that he did not regret his posts and that the council was targeting him for unspecified, unrelated disagreements.
"The racist stuff? I admit, yeah, I did that, and I don't care what people label me as," Wasko told the television station.
There have been instances across the country of government officials spreading racist images and jokes since Obama took office in 2009 as the first black U.S. president. His second term will end in January 2017.
In 2013, a federal judge in Montana retired after acknowledging that he had used court email to circulate a racist joke about Obama.
(Reporting by David Ingram in New York; Editing by Scott Malone, Frances Kerry, Toni Reinhold)
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