It is hard to fend off a political scandal when your critics attach the word “gate” to it—even if you’ve only become embroiled in “Poopgate.”
So, on Tuesday, San Marino Mayor Dennis Kneier did the honorable thing and resigned his post, although he will remain on the City Council.
Kneier was caught on a security videotape strolling down the sidewalk with his wife in the wealthy Southern California town on June 7, glancing briefly to his right before tossing a bag of dog crap into his neighbor’s yard and continuing on his way. The surveillance video went viral and Kneier’s reputation went in the toilet.
The neighbor, Philip Lao, reported the incident to the San Marino police, who then cited the mayor for littering. When first confronted, Kneier did not take full responsibility for his action.
“It’s embarrassing to me to make a mistake,” he told the KTLA television station. Kneier said he had picked the bag up a short distance away to properly dispose of it, before tossing it in his neighbor’s yard. After getting caught, he sent a letter to Lao that said, “This was a mistake, for which I apologize. It won’t happen again.”
The two-term mayor has served on the City Council for seven years. His council term expires in November 2015. Vice Mayor Eugene Sun will serve as acting-mayor until the council selects a new mayor from its ranks at its June 27 meeting.
Lao said he suspected Kneier’s action was politically motivated because of his opposition to a proposed dog park and his posting of a “No Poop Zone” sign outside his home. The Los Angeles Times reported that Lao said he planned to sue the city and Kneier.
The incident generated a storm of emails protesting Kneier’s action and 100 people jammed the council chambers, designed to hold half that many people, on June 11 to protest. Some of the letter writers suggested that Kneier and his wife, who can be seen in the video gesturing toward the yard just before the toss, get out of town. Others seemed more perturbed by the gesture’s stupidity rather than rudeness.
John Brennan wrote from Wisconsin: “Caught on camera you fool! Cameras are everywhere, you should know that. Thanks for the entertainment.”