Mountain View Voice

News - April 19, 2013

Arts committee chair resigns after comments

Parkinson avoids censure, possible removal by City Council

by Daniel DeBolt

Before City Council members could vote to remove or censure him Tuesday night, Chris Parkinson resigned his post as chair of the city's Visual Arts Committee.

Parkinson faced the council's ire for violating the city's code of conduct in comments made online March 20 on a Voice story about placing sections of the Berlin Wall in front of Mountain View's library — a decision he advised the council on as chair of the VAC.

"Council Member Ronit is from Israel," said the post the Voice removed for its offensive language. "That means she is a Rothschild mind and it shows. I am proud of her 25 percent of the time and think she is out of Rothschild whack 75 percent of the time."

In a portion called "misogynist" by council member Margaret Abe-Koga, he goes on to blame women in local government for what he called a "Rothschild ripoff."

"Our gas tax is better served fixing streets, instead, thanks to ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments), and some other transit related agencies with the Rothschild mindset in women on all these boards translates into developer giveaways and we see it," the comment said.

Parkinson's mention of the Rothschilds, a Jewish family which amassed significant wealth in the 1800s, is "an allusion to a notion that Jews control the world," said Seth Brysk of the Anti-Defamation League, in March, who called Parkinson's comments "bigoted, anti-Semitic (and) bizarre."

"This type of reasoning, if you can call it that, is exactly what the Nazis used to justify the attempt at genocide and to commit the crimes of the Holocaust," he said.

This week, Parkinson denied making the comments online and in emails via an email sent to local newspapers in which he claimed to be a victim of identity theft.

However, Parkinson had confirmed he made the original post in a phone conversation with a Voice reporter on the same day it posted, March 20.

Parkinson had been interviewed by the Voice in February about his efforts to save the Pearson House. When called for comment on Wednesday, he quickly hung up after saying,"I'm not interested in any comment, bye-bye."

The email disavowing the post came from "The Real Christopher Parkinson" via a different email address but written was in the distinctive style of Parkinson's previous emails.

"I have resigned from the VAC in disgrace but for these tort-filled articles I am mystified over," it reads. "I posted a two-line compliment of council on the selection of the Berlin wall, that compliment is missing, something else is in its place"

He threatened to sue the Voice and possibly the council over the furor.

"What incredible damage, and I am one heck of a victim of someone and something am having a hard time entirely grasping all of this," the email said.

Parkinson's comments

Back in March 20 when he was interviewed over the phone about the online comment, Parkinson likened Bryant to former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "His tone is very, very, very, very harsh against people."

He mentioned council member Jac Siegel, also of Jewish descent, saying that "between those two (Bryant and Siegel) they are the ones who drive the city of Mountain View."

At the end of the interview, when Parkinson realized that his comments had been removed from the Voice's website, he said, "Since you removed it, I'm just going to say that it never was said, there's no proof."

The Voice retains an archive of all online comments posted to its site.

However, the next day he reversed course and sent two more emails detailing his beliefs about the Rothchilds' "fact-based takeover of the world" and complaining that he had the right to post whatever he wants online.

The day after that, March 22, Parkinson sent an email to Bryant, the Voice and other city officials threatening a lawsuit, telling Bryant to "calm down."

"A Rothschild should be viewed as a compliment, and I meant it that way," the email says. "Rothschild's are prosperous and powerful." He adds that "So I beg of you to laugh about this otherwise, I will not only sue the city, I will sue every council member, the Voice, Mr. DeBolt, and some of the commenters in there and any staff that is part of your scheme to slander me."

Bryant hasn't publicly commented about Parkinson's post.

Council reaction

Mayor John Inks responded in a letter saying Parkinson's comments "were offensive and contrary to the Code of Conduct" which says officials must refrain from "abusive conduct, personal charges or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of the City Council, the boards, commissions, committees, staff and the public."

Council members were set to discuss various options for dealing with Parkinson Tuesday, including possibly voting him off the commission or censuring him. But his resignation made the situation "moot," Inks said, and the council forwarded the issue to the Council Procedures Committee for a larger discussion about the city's code of conduct.

Inks called it "a very unfortunate situation I was sorry to be involved in."

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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