Ex-Piedmont mayor resigns from council after "offensive" Facebook posts

- The former mayor of Piedmont, Calif., who was stripped of his power last week after his controversial posts that disparaged African-Americans, women and transgender people, officially resigned this week from the city council altogether.

Jeff Wieler's resignation will officially take place on Tuesday, which is posted on the city's website. He had been on and off the the council since 2002, and credited by his colleagues for his work on many financial matters for the affluent city, located next to Oakland.

Wieler did not immediately respond to KTVU for comment on Thursday.

However in his resignation letter, Wieler wrote: "The City Council and staff have important issues to deal with, from cell towers to labor negotiations to garbage service. It would be unfair to the City and a personal betrayal of my principles and past efforts if I allowed this circus to continue distracting residents, the Council, and City Staff. I also don’t need any more obscene hate mail or veiled threats of violence. I apologize for helping create this situation. Continuing to fight the situation might make me feel better, but will not help our community.

The current mayor, Bob McBain, told KTVU on Thursday that he had asked Wieler to step down earlier this week because his longtime colleague was becoming an "enormous distraction." McBain said that despite the nature of the call, the conversation was not uncomfortable. "I told him it was in the best interest of the city," McBain said. "We have always worked well together."

Wieler has been under fire the past two weeks after posts he made on Facebook that said: "The left is dangerous and un-American," "Black Lives Matter encourages cop killing," and "transgenders are mentally ill."

Wieler has since made his posts private. But McBain, other council members and many others, had seen the posts, including one on the question-and-answer site, Quora. And McBain confirmed the contents of all the posts to KTVU.

For example, in the Quora post, Wieler answered someone's question about why Hillary Clinton underestimated Donald Trump with this answer: “If its (sic) a choice between “Make America Great again” and “I’m with her” the choice is clear, Having a vagina is not a vision that inspires.”

McBain said he found the Quora post especially "offensive." He added that even though he's known Wieler for a long time, he didn't realize that he held those thoughts and beliefs.

Barry Barnes, a political consultant and longtime resident of Piedmont, said while Wieler's comments were "putrid, the real story here is that he thought he could get away with it because in the glory days of the old Piedmont he is used to, 'liberal' was a dirty word."

Today, Barnes noted, Piedmont is 17 percent Republican and 59 percent Democratic. "Our neighborhoods are much more diverse than they were decades ago, and this community is chock-full of good, creative, committed, tolerant, and yes, liberal voters."

Here is the text of Wieler's resignation letter:

It is with great sadness that I announce my resignation from the Piedmont City Council effective Tuesday, September 5, 2017. I will provide the City Administrator with a formal letter of resignation, which I will ask him to read at that meeting.

Throughout my service on Council, I strived to do what was best for Piedmont, and tried to be
fair and open to everybody's opinions. I challenge people to find a single instance where my
personal opinions affected any vote or action I’ve taken Piedmont.

In closing, I want to say I’m proud of the contributions I’ve made to Piedmont. I helped reform
Piedmont’s parcel taxes to provide funding for our high quality municipal services and to help
retain the skilled people who provide them. As a Chair of the Municipal Tax Review
Committee, I successfully fought for a Charter amendment that allowed Piedmont to maintain an
adequate General Fund reserve, and also helped structured a sewer tax that has allowed Piedmont
to lead the East Bay cities in upgrading our infrastructure to reduce pollution in San Francisco
Bay. I’ve contributed on at least seven civic committees, and spent nearly 12 years on the City
Council, missing sessions only when hospitalized.

I’ve written my "Piedmontage" column in the Piedmont Post for 14 years, with the aim of
providing a clear, easily read, discussion of significant issues facing Piedmont. Nobody has ever
accused me of inserting personal political biases into any of my hundreds of columns about
Piedmont’s civic issues.

In closing, I want to say that I have a deep love for our beautiful city, and think it has been an
honor to work with so many fine civic volunteers. I especially want to say how much I
appreciate our city employees. It has been my privilege to spend time with our police, fire
fighters, and public works employees. Our employees and our skilled management team make
Piedmont the superb city it is.

The City Council and staff have important issues to deal with, from cell towers to labor
negotiations to garbage service. It would be unfair to the City and a personal betrayal of my
principles and past efforts if I allowed this circus to continue distracting residents, the Council,
and City Staff. I also don’t need any more obscene hate mail or veiled threats of violence.
I apologize for helping create this situation. Continuing to fight the situation might make me feel
better, but will not help our community.

Therefore, I am tendering my resignation from the City Council, effective as of Tuesday,
September 6, 2017. My best wishes to you and to my former colleagues on the Council. I am
grateful to the friends, former colleagues and everyday citizens who have reached out with their
support and understanding.

Jeffrey Wieler

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