Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The St. Petersburg Times says Pinellas County commissioner Norm Roche has been posting on their website making comments some consider racist, homophobic, and derogatory. However, the remarks have all been anonymous, under the screen name "Reality."
One comment from April links students' performance in school with race, saying: "When a white kid and a black kid sit in the same classroom and are given the same information, tasks, and assignments - and the black kid fails - it has nothing whatsoever to do with the teacher, the system, the unions, the funding, or the school. Start with a 70% out of wedlock birth rate."
Another comment responded to a topic about homosexuals in the military: "Or does it just mean benefits for your partners, forced societal acceptance of an unnatural lifestyle choice, and boatloads of lawsuits that will cost taxpayers billions?"
Monday night, 10 News caught up with Norm Roche at a Pinellas County meeting of neighborhood associations in East Lake.
After a couple of questions, Roche began to walk away, saying, "I appreciate it. We got things to do." 10 News Reporter Chase Cain pushed for further comment, "Sir, the meeting is not even starting yet. You represent the people of Pinellas County. Don't you have a responsibility to answer [these questions] for them?" Roche responded, "This is their meeting. Come on." However, the meeting didn't start for another 10 minutes.
The St. Petersburg Times first reported on Roche's anonymous comments last week, listing several posts written by "Reality":
- "Someone should have just shot the punks and been done with it... it is freaking pathetic example of how truly f-up this uber PC liberal society has become."
- "Indeed St. Pete is unique. I suspect it stands alone in Pinellas County for the highest number of thugs, drugs, drive-by shootings, cop killers, un-wed mothers, baby out the window tossers, tunnel (sic) vision elites, and social services recipients."
When pressed Commissioner Roche about the specific comments from "Reality," Roche did say, "Hear me clearly on this: I'm not a racist. I'm not a homophobe. That's the only straight-forward response I can give you."
10 News responded, "You say you're not a racist. One of these comments talks about white kids versus black kids. Why would you even bring race into that comment?" Roche dodged the direct question, responding with, "The blogosphere, I think as you guys know, has over some odd 8 years really has kind of manifested into different things."
Later in the exchange, Roche contradicted himself about who's responsible for the posts on tampabay.com. First, he told us, "No, I didn't say that." A few moments later, Roche changed his answer to "I don't know."
The Pinellas Commissioner did say that other people have also posted under the screen name "Reality," but Roche wouldn't give 10 News any names.