I grew up near Los Alamitos, where the lastest cartoon controversy has erupted … and on this one, the critics have a very good case.  While the cartoon at the New York Post has been blown way out of proportion, the Photoshopped picture of the White House sent out by the mayor to colleagues — including one very angry African-American council member — used obvious racial stereotypes to belittle Barack Obama.  Entitled “No Easter Egg hunt this year,” the picture showed the lawn covered in watermelons.

Hilarity did not ensue:

The mayor has sent an apology for an e-mail sent to a local businesswoman and community volunteer that she says is racist and offensive.

Keyanus Price, an African American, said she was appalled when she received an e-mail from Mayor Dean Grose’s personal account that showed a picture of the White House with a watermelon patch imposed as the White House garden.

“I was horrified when I read that e-mail,” Price said. “What I’m concerned about is how can this person send an e-mail out like this and think it is OK?” …

Grose’s e-mail included the picture with a heading that read, “No Easter Egg hunt this year.”

“I think he’s saying that since there’s a black president, there will be no need to hunt for eggs since they’re growing watermelons in the front yard this year,” Price wrote.

I’m sure many of us have older relatives, or did, who would tell such jokes while we cringed in embarrassment.  Sometimes we suffered them in silence, and on occasion, we’d reprimand them for their insensitivity.  Over the years, these jokes have almost disappeared from private discourse.

That’s why this is all the more gobsmackingly stupid.  Not only did this get sent out by e-mail, it got sent out by a public official to people he didn’t know very well.  Short of putting a sign on his back saying, “I’m Stupid,” it’s hard to think of a more career-ending move for a politician to make.

Not only that, but when Grose got a reply from Price objecting to the racism in the message while apparently trying to keep it a private rebuke, he sent this response:

“The way things are today, you gotta laugh every now and then. I wanna see the coloring contests.”

Which is when Price went public with the dispute. Now Grose offers a groveling public apology, and one hopes sincerely, but anyone this clueless doesn’t belong in public office on a brain-cell-count basis alone.  Let’s hope the voters of Los Alamitos do more than cringe with Grose.