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  Contra Costa County Sewer Director Refuses to Step Down Over Racist Comments
November 5, 2013

Contra Costa County sewer director refuses to step down over racist comments
By Thomas Peele tpeele@bayareanewsgroup.com
Posted:   11/05/2013 10:40:45 AM PST | Updated:   85 min. ago

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RICHMOND -- Embattled sewer director Leonard Battaglia refused to resign Tuesday even as other members of the West County Wastewater District voted for him to step down.
The board voted 4-0 to reprimand Battaglia for racist comments he made during an interview last month with this newspaper in a story that revealed his pay and benefits for his part-time service for the Contra Costa County district last year added up to $592 an hour. Fellow board members also stripped him of committee assignments and demanded his resignation.
'"He has brought shame on this district that is almost impossible to mend," said Director Michael Caine who brought the resignation motion because of remarks Battaglia made about African
Leonard Battaglia at a meeting of the West County Wastewater District board in Richmond, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. (Dan Honda, Bay Area News Group)
Americans and Asians in an interview with this newspaper.
Without addressing the resignation demand directly, Battaglia, 85, said he wanted to "forge a path forward," adding that he showed "a serious lack of judgment" when he used a slur to describe Asians and said African Americans "think slower" than other races because "that's the way God made them."
He refused to comment Tuesday as he left the meeting. The board has no authority to force Battaglia's resignation over his remarks, according to the board's president.Battaglia, 85, has served more than three decades on the board, one of many special districts in California that often net elected board members big pay and benefits for limited work and little scrutiny.
Tuesday's calls for Battaglia to step down followed a resolution from the Richmond City Council for the Korean War fighter pilot to "rethink" his racially insensitive statements. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and two others called for Battaglia to step down and two residents likened him to the iconic television bigot Archie Bunker.
Staff writer Robert Rogers contributed to this story. Contact Thomas Peele at tpeele@bayareanewsgroup.com and follow him twitter.com/thomas_peele
Contact Thomas Peele at tpeele@bayareanewsgroup.com and follow him twitter.com/thomas_peele