Three Pima County supervisors want to know if the board has the authority to punish, including censure, Supervisor Ally Miller for her recent Facebook post about being proud to be white.
Supervisors Sharon Bronson, Richard Elías and Steve Christy asked during the board’s meeting Monday if the county attorney could formally answer the question on what, if anything, the board could do. Miller did not attend the meeting, sending an email to staff saying she was unable to attend, but giving no specific reason.
A large number of people were expected at the meeting to address the board about Miller’s comments, with the county setting up chairs in the lobby to accommodate an overflow crowd.
The county received 30 requests to speak at the meeting and more than dozen people voiced their concerns about Miller — with some suggesting she should either resign or face a recall for her comments.
Hours after violence at a white nationalist rally rocked Charlottesville, Virginia, Miller posted from her personal Facebook account that she is “sick and tired of being hit for being white.”
“It is all about making us feel like we need to apologize. I am WHITE — and proud of it! No apologies necessary,” she wrote.
Miller was responding to a Politico article shared by former Tucson mayoral candidate Shaun McClusky that detailed President Trump’s response to the violence.
Tom Prezelski, a former Democratic state legislator, believes Miller was trying to show solidarity with one single group of people in her Facebook post. He said Miller should take a closer look around to see there are examples everywhere of how many different cultures helped build this country.
One those examples of the multiculturalism exists on the Pima County seal, which depicts San Xavier Mission, he said.
“On one of the buildings we have on the county seal also shows that America was not built by and for white people exclusively,” he said.
“The history of this county, and the present reality of this county, puts the lie to the very premise of this notion of a monolingual, monocultural that some people like to spout.”
Najima Rainey, with Black Lives Matter Tucson, said everyone should reject Miller and also those supporting her. She said she couldn’t believe Miller could, hours after the tragedy in Charlottesville, make such a remark.
“How on Earth do we have a representative who is that tone deaf?” she asked.
A few people came to Miller’s defense, albeit indirectly, at the meeting.
Geri Ottoboni-Gilmore, a frequent critic of the Democratic majority on board, said race is a complex issue. She suggested that during the next Census the only box to check is “other” when it comes to racial identity.
Following public calls last week for the board to act against Miller, Bronson said she doesn’t know whether they have the authority to punish an elected official.
But she and fellow Democrat Elías vowed to make the confidential legal analysis from the county attorney public at the next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 5.
Supervisor Christy, a Republican, sought to widen the scope of the requested legal opinion.
He said if the board is going to consider action against Miller, then he wanted to revisit the actions made by Pima County employee Jason Ground, who works in the communications department.
In a post in a private Facebook group, Ground suggested members attend and criticize Miller for her opposition to a county ban on sexual orientation conversion therapy for minors.
Christy argued if the board was going to discuss comments made by Miller on a weekend, it should discuss what county employees are doing on the clock.
Ground received a letter of reprimand for his comments and has apologized to Miller.
Supervisor Ramon Valadez, who was out of town, called in for a portion of the meeting but was not present for a discussion on Miller’s comments.
Meanwhile, Miller made a massive public records request Friday to the county seeking any documents, emails and other communications made to or by county employees related to the controversial post.
While the county has not formally responded to the request, Miller’s call for records would ask county officials to search more than 7,000 county employees’ phones, computers, and social media accounts for any communications made that deal with Miller’s comments.
Miller has not responded to repeated requests from the Star to discuss her post.
However, last week on the James T. Harris radio show on 104.1 KQTH, Miller said her post was meant to criticize “the simple-minded identity politics that defines us based on nothing more than the color of our skin.
“And I was expressing my frustration with the identity politics. And I think the American people are rejecting those politics, and I certainly will not be ashamed for the color of my skin.”