Anti-Defamation League questions Harrisburg mayor

Chris Cekot
abc27 News

Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson is now being questioned by the Anti-Defamation League after accusations she made derogatory remarks.

Meanwhile, Thompson's former communications director, Joyce Davis, believes there's a real leadership crisis in Harrisburg.

“If we can get support, get the mayor to change, accept a team, accept a strong team, hat may go a long way to solving our problems,” Davis said. “If not, then people have to move in and convince the mayor that she should step aside.”

Davis had plenty to say about her tenure in Thompson's inner circle, but could not speak to what her successor told us last week.

Spokesman Chuck Ardo, after walking off the job, said Thompson called openly gay city controller Dan Miller “an evil homosexual” and said she remarked that a developer was “bringing that Israel money into town.”

“If she made the comments, then by all means she should acknowledge she made them and apologize for having done so,” Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Barry Morrison said.

The Anti-Defamation League sent Thompson a letter, demanding an explanation.

“We've asked her whether she recognizes that her alleged remarks are demeaning and offensive both feeding homophobia and negative stereotypes of Jews,” Morrison said. “If we don't hear from her, we might think of other ways to try to get her attention.”

Thompson has neither admitted nor denied making the comments. She released a statement saying, “I have a passion for all people and have surrounded myself with a diverse group of people, both in my personal and professional life. Chuck Ardo may say what he wants, but the people elected me as mayor and I will faithfully discharge my duties and let the people decide.”

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission is following the situation, but has not opened an investigation because the agency said no city workers have filed a complaint.

“There's a difference in being offended by something and that being illegal discrimination,” PHRC spokeswoman Shannon Powers said. “I do have to have been harmed personally.”

The city had its own human relations commission and was charged with investigating issues in the workplace. That department is defunct, apparently a casualty of budget cuts.

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