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New Port Richey mayor apologizes for outburst, but won't resign

NEW PORT RICHEY — A day after deputies accused him of flexing his political power to release his wife from custody, Mayor Scott McPherson apologized for his outbursts but said he will not resign.

He said Tuesday that he's still considering filing a complaint or lawsuit against the deputy who charged Kimberly McPherson with domestic battery. He said it would be for "vindication.''

"I've admitted what I did was wrong. I've asked for forgiveness from the community and my wife. But the individual who was out there and in a state of rage was the deputy," McPherson said. "There are reasons I made those 911 calls. I would not have made them but for the fact that I was genuinely concerned about her safety."

Mrs. McPherson, 44, was arrested early Monday outside Grille 54 in Trinity after Deputy Michael Shoup said she slapped McPherson, 45, in the face. Mrs. McPherson told a deputy later she only tapped her husband because he was acting like a "jerk."

But deputies wrote that Mrs. McPherson's arrest only aggravated him. Both McPhersons were "visibly impaired'' by alcohol, deputies said, and the mayor threatened to exert his influence to get them fired, demeaned them and told an emergency dispatcher he wanted to speak to his "friend," Sheriff Bob White. In a call he made to New Port Richey police, he said a deputy had committed "sexual assault."

McPherson, in a letter to news outlets and an interview with the Times, said he had "done a poor job" of taking responsibility for his actions and said the city deserved "far better." But he added that he would not give up his last 10 months of a three-year term in office due to his commitment to the city.

"I never claimed to be the messiah or to be perfect. I'm not. I make mistakes like everyone else. I sometimes make stupid decisions," McPherson said. "All that said, I think that I've worked very hard at being mayor. … It would be far easier for me to say, you know what, enough is enough. I don't need this. But if I resign right now, I'd be walking out on the city."

McPherson, a lifelong city resident and former paramedic now working as a personal injury attorney, was elected mayor in 2008, capturing more than two-thirds of the vote against two former City Council members. He is a leader on the council and serves in the New Port Richey Rotary Club and West Pasco Chamber of Commerce.

"He's an extremely intelligent young man. He has got a lot of good ideas," council member Rob Marlowe said. "The level of energy he has brought to the job has helped energize not just the rest of the council but the city as well."

McPherson said dozens of supporters had contacted him with encouraging words, though he remained upset that he was "essentially butchered in the press" — and determined, he said, to set the record straight.

"The media has portrayed me as a raving lunatic screaming, 'I'm mayor,' and that's just simply not accurate," McPherson said. "You can't just let something like this go unchecked. With what has been reported in the paper, I need the truth to come out."

Contact Drew Harwell at dharwell@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6244.

New Port Richey mayor apologizes for outburst, but won't resign 07/27/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 11:41pm]
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