ATWATER — Violent and racist e-mail jokes alluding to the assassination of President Barack Obama, the killing of Latinos and violence against blacks were forwarded by Atwater City Councilman Gary Frago during the past six months, according to more than 200 new e-mails obtained by the Merced Sun-Star newspaper from the city.
The councilman, who forwarded the newly obtained e-mails to city staff and a county supervisor, among others, has been under pressure to resign since it was learned in July that he forwarded other racist e-mails in late 2008 and early 2009.
One of the most troubling of the new Frago e-mails, forwarded in January, joked that Nokia had designed a new cell phone for "nervous white people" who want to make calls in a series of cities known for their large black populations, such as Oakland and New Orleans. The phone was a gun.
Merced County Supervisor Mike Nelson and Atwater Assistant City Manager Stan Feathers received the e-mail. Neither remembered the e-mail, they said.
Another e-mail, forwarded by Frago on Dec. 9, was in the form of a fictitious letter sent by Sen. John McCain to John Hinckley Jr., who developed an obsession with actress Jodie Foster and attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981. The letter said Hinckley would be released soon and he should know that Obama was sleeping with Foster.
Atwater City Manager Greg Wellman was the e-mail's only recipient. He said he doesn't recall receiving it.
A third e-mail joked about killing illegal immigrants and Obama delegates. The joke is about a man applying for a position with a police department. As a test, the chief tells the applicant: "Take this gun with 13 bullets and go out and shoot six illegal immigrants, six Obama delegates and a rabbit." The man asks, "Why the rabbit?"
"Fantastic attitude," says the chief. "When can you start?"
The Sun-Star obtained more than 200 e-mails sent or forwarded by Frago from October 2008 to July. The city had refused to release the e-mails. It relented after lawyers for The McClatchy Co., the Sun-Star's owner, sent Atwater a letter. Most of the e-mails contained sexist, racist or off-color jokes.
Frago said he is sorry. "I made a mistake in sending them. I want to move forward," he said Tuesday. "It's not going to be a fast process. I know that and I'm willing to work on that."
He would not comment on the new e-mails released to the Sun-Star. Frago has faced calls for his resignation since a July 17 Sun-Star story revealed that he forwarded a series of racist joke e-mails about the president, first lady and blacks. He has begun racial sensitivity classes.