New Port Richey Mayor Scott McPherson was right to apologize for his behavior Monday when his drunken belligerence sparked a confrontation with Pasco sheriff's deputies and the arrest of his wife on a domestic violence charge.
But the contrition is not enough. McPherson needs to resign his public position as the elected leader of the New Port Richey municipal government, even though he has said previously he will not seek a second three-year term next April. He abused his office, tried to intimidate law officers, threatened their jobs, made repeated accusations of a deputy assaulting his wife sexually, promised civil litigation and blamed the whole episode on a deputy.
McPherson embarrassed the city and himself. His alcohol-impaired judgment, documented in written reports from seven deputies and recorded in 911 telephone calls, insults the front-line public servants charged with keeping the peace — law enforcement officers. McPherson referred to different deputies as "idiot'' and "Keystone Kops" and characterized another as "dangerous to society.'' He denigrated a neighborhood of the county saying deputies were treating his wife like a "Moon Lake bitch'' and even tried clumsy humor. At one point, after learning a female deputy was single, McPherson asked her, "What are you doing Friday night?''
The most egregious act, however, was McPherson's attempt to throw around his weight. He told deputies he was the mayor of New Port Richey, that Sheriff Bob White was a friend and that he was a lawyer, and he ordered deputies to release his wife from custody. Kimberly McPherson was charged with domestic battery after she was accused of slapping the mayor during his abusive rant toward a deputy outside a Trinity bar and grill. McPherson even confused perjury with chivalry, telling a deputy to arrest him instead by saying he had struck his wife.
If McPherson believes the criminal charge is unwarranted and that retribution is due his wife, the family has the opportunity to pursue justice. But let there be no mistake that it is a private citizen — not the mayor of New Port Richey — that is seeking a remedy via the courts.
Despite his apology (the text of which is below), McPherson has lost his credibility to lead the city. The mayor, one of five voting council members, runs the council meetings, and McPherson has used the position's bully pulpit to lobby for state and federal aid for the city and to raise public awareness about swine flu.
The office of mayor should be one of dignity that commands public respect. McPherson's actions have diminished both qualities. He can best serve the public by allowing someone else to be New Port Richey mayor.