OLDSMAR — Before City Council member Janice Miller reeled off stereotypes about undocumented workers at a July 6 meeting, she alarmed guests at a 2007 luncheon featuring former Pinellas superintendent Clayton Wilcox with another off-color remark.
Those who were at the March 14, 2007, function, hosted by the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, can't remember what Miller said verbatim.
But they remember "that Janice did engage in comment from the floor that did raise some eyebrows," said Jerry Custin, the chamber's president and CEO. "It was one of those things. Where did that come from?"
Wilcox talked, among other things, about how to reach out to minorities, said Michael Kallaugher, president of Anchor Archives Document Storage Corp. in Oldsmar.
Miller was one of the first to comment after Wilcox's talk, said Sara Normandeau, who will resign from Oldsmar's planning board next week as a result of Miller's latest comments about illegal workers.
Old e-mails the city released Wednesday fill in what happened next at the 2007 luncheon, in Miller's own words.
"I said that the parents should be teaching their children that they must have an education instead of selling crack on street corners," Miller wrote. "I'm sure that most everyone realized that I was NOT talking about the black and Hispanic kids who are trying their best in school. Some of them are wonderful students.
"I was NOT being racist. I only repeated what Dr. Wilcox stated. I may shoot from the hip, but that's my style and I'm not going to apologize for it."
Miller, who was in her second term as a council member, was replying to an e-mail from Normandeau. She was at the luncheon when Miller allegedly made the statement. Normandeau said she was so offended, she fired off a message to Miller that day.
"How can you possibly justify your broad and racial judgments?" Normandeau asked in the e-mail. "We cannot as a society tolerate or even consider that kind of racially charged statement coming from our elected officials."
Miller could not be reached for comment Wednesday. She told Safety Harbor resident Rene Hogarth in an e-mail that "what you read in the paper were the words of the editorial staff, not mine. They twisted everything that I said and I'll never speak to the Times again, ever."
Rodney Thrash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4167.