Stuart, Florida - City Commissioners are taking action to oust Stuart Mayor Eula Clarke after she openly insulted an officer in her town.
The City Commission met on Monday and all four of the other Commission members called for Eula Clarke's resignation. They scheduled what they are calling a 're-organization' meeting for 5 PM Wednesday when it's expected they will vote to remove her as mayor.
According to the commission, the only way for her to be removed then as a commissioner is to be removed by Governor Rick Scott, resign, or have 10% of the city voters sign to have her removed.
The comment that sparked outrage came on January 11th. According to the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association, Officer Ed Fitzgerald was in Taylor's Grocery speaking to the store clerk when Mayor Clarke walked in. Upon entering and seeing the officer she said, "I didn't know we were serving pig tonight." Officer Fitzgerald left the store, very upset at the offensive comment made by Mayor Clarke.
Eula Clarke came under sharp scrutiny for the incident. She tried to avoid questions on whether it actually happened during a recent interview with WPTV.
When a local reporter tried to interview Eula Clarke about the incident, she begun by trying to skirt the details. “So what happened on January the 11 involving a Stuart police officer?,” he asked.
“Andrew, I told you I want to make a short statement to the public,” she said.
He tries again by asking her, “Did you make a reference to a pig in reference to a Stuart police officer?”
“Again, I’m telling you that I support law enforcement,” she replied. She scrambled to dodge the direct questions but later backtracked and said, “It happened. That was something that happened. It’s done with. I want to move on. I want the officers to work for our community. I want them to believe in what I do as mayor. To believe in what they do for their jobs. I just want to make sure that they know I have their backs,” she said.
Eula Clarke continued to say that she had met with the officer and “expressed to him how sorry it is that this unfortunate event happened.”
Clarke has since issued further statements, claiming that "pig" was being used to refer to meat, not a derogatory term. "The words have been said. I use that word when referring to certain meat products. It's one of those things," she said at Monday's commission meeting, as some in the audience heckled. "I hear you, I am telling you. I'm sorry. That's not the instance that that was used."
City Commissioner Troy McDonald did not receive her apology well and called her on it by saying, "At the same time you were apologizing, you started to try to back off and say, 'Well I was talking about pork products' or 'meat products,' which makes me question your sincerity at this point. That's troubling."
Vice Mayor Tom Campenni and commissioners Kelli Glass Leighton, Jeffrey Krauskopf and McDonald have all called for her resignation. Under city policy, her comments would also constitute employee harassment, according to City Attorney Mike Mortell. This would enable the City Commission to open an internal investigation on Clarke.
Officer Fitzgerald has been on the force about seven years and was strategically placed in the East Stuart neighborhood to build relationships with the citizens, according to TCPalm. Strained relationships after a surge of gun violence in 2015 prompted more police presence in some of the areas stifled with crime, areas that Fitzgerald focused on.
No matter how much she apologizes, Eula Clarke let her real attitude towards police be shown on the day she made her comment. She has no business working at the head of city government. We'd like to thank the other commissioners for taking action on this.
If the only practical way to get rid Eula Clarke off of the commission is for Rick Scott to do it, then be sure to spread the word so the Governor can hear us. Please spread this story and be sure to comment expressing your desire for Clarke to be removed from city government.