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Is Harrisburg's Mayor Homophobic?

Is Harrisburg's Mayor Homophobic?

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Nbroverman

The mayor of Pennsylvania's capital, Harrisburg, is being accused of homophobia by her former press secretary, who quit last week.

Linda Thompson has not denied allegations by her former spokesman, Chuck Ardo, that she referred to Harrisburg's gay city controller as "that homosexual, evil little man." Ardo claims Thompson sees the controller, Dan Miller, as a political adversary and that she repeatedly called him "evil," according to a story in Harrisburg's Patriot-News newspaper. "And I can't help but believe that that has more to do with her failure to accept his lifestyle than it did her political differences with him."

Ardo says Thompson didn't participate in gay bashing, but her description of Miller made him uncomfortable. There are also accusations by Ardo of anti-Semitic rants from the mayor.

Reached in his office, Miller calls Thompson "mentally unstable" and says "she is under terrific stress" since the city of approximately 50,000 people is on the verge of bankruptcy. Miller says Thompson has seen six to seven of her top-level staffers exit since she took office in January 2010. Thompson's city solicitor quit on Tuesday, and her spokeswoman (who preceded Ardo) recently said the mayor needs mental help.

Miller and Thompson, both Democrats, served on the city council together before they were elected to their current positions. When Thompson ran for president of the council, Miller did not support her bid -- he says this led to Thompson's antipathy toward him.

"Ever since I didn't vote for her for council, she's been very hostile," says Miller, 54. "I'm the number 1 person she hates in politics and maybe in general. She's never said anything to me gay-bashing wise, but I know Chuck Ardo told me [her comments] had to do with me being gay and that she hates me so. I'm sure she said [those things] -- she probably said worse. She never said anything [homophobic] to me though she's an extremely rude person."

The city is fed up with Thompson's general ineptitude, Miller claims, adding that a group of people are planning a protest for Monday where they will ask her to resign.

Without denying Ardo's accusations, Thompson released a statement Tuesday saying she supports diversity: "I have a passion for all people and have surrounded myself with a diverse group of people, both in my personal and professional life."

Thompson didn't return a call for comment.

Nbroverman
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Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.