Posted: Aug 30, 2013 4:11 PM by Victoria Fregoso - MTN News
BILLINGS - Headlines are splattered across the internet and airwaves on Judge G. Todd Baugh's decision and comments.
With this comes some backlash directed at the city of Billings. "I personally have received numerous calls from other mayors, from other cities, and so forth, and very irate citizens," said Billings Mayor Tom Hanel. "But I'm quick to say that I am the mayor, I am not the person in charge of any of the county departments. This is an elected official. I cannot be responsible for their comments."
The Billings Chamber of Commerce is also getting harsh feedback from across the state and country. "I think one of the things that's important for people to remember is that 20 years ago, Billings launched an initiative against hate, "Not in our Town." And I think that defines who we are as people," said John Brewer with the Billings Chamber of Commerce. "When you look at an entire community standing up for people that have been wronged and hurt in a horrible way, I think that defines who we are more than anything."
This isn't the first time in recent history a Judge in Montana made national headlines. In February 2012 Federal Judge Richard Cebull forwarded racist e-mail about President Barak Obama, creating a storm of reaction from across the country. Cebull retired May 3rd of this year.
Billings leaders say these statements made by local judges should not reflect the community as a whole. "They both have probably made statements they most likely regret as everyone may at one time or another. But it's just the same, no reflection on them as an individual. However, as they say, statements can be very damaging and need to be discarded and that Billings is a very wonderful community, a great place to live."
When asked how the city will handle this negative spotlight, Mayor Tom Hanel's answer is simple. "Mistakes can be made. We are human, we'll just make the best of it and we'll move on."