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Local legislator's comment cause a national stir

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Farmington Rep. Pat Garofalo was sitting around the house watching NASCAR Sunday night — and sharing his thoughts on social networking site Twitter — when he decided to address a different topic. What he wrote got him more national attention than anything he’s done at the capitol.

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“Let’s be honest,” Garofalo wrote on the 140-characters-or-less site. “70% of teams in the NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime.”

The comment, which many viewed as racist because nearly 80 percent of NBA players are black, got an almost immediate response. As of 11 a.m. Monday morning it had been retweeted — shared by other Twitter users — 1,515 times. It has been the source of news stories from sports-focused sites like Deadspin as well as news sites like The Daily Beast.

A sampling of some of the reaction on Twitter:

“I don’t know if you’re equally as racist as you are lacking self-awareness,’ wrote a user who goes by the name @daniecal. “either way, it’s astonishing to watch.”

“Are you insane?” wrote Tim Montemayor. “What were you thinking here!”

Garofalo, who was first elected in 2005 and recently endorsed to run for another term in November, originally argued that he was talking about the high arrest rate among NBA players and the lax marijuana testing done by the league — points that have been refuted by multiple sites. He has since issued an official apology through the Minnesota House of Representatives. It reads:

“In the last 24 hours, I’ve had the opportunity to re-learn one of life’s lessons: whenever any of us are offering opinions, it is best to refer to people as individuals as opposed to groups. Last night, I publicly commented on the NBA and I sincerely apologize to those who I unfairly categorized. The NBA has many examples of players and owners who are role models for our communities and for our country. Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize. In addition, it’s been brought to my attention that I was mistaken and the NBA policy on drug enforcement is stronger than I previously believed.  Again, I offer my sincere apologies for my comments.”

He linked to the apology Monday morning from the same Twitter account with a message that read, “To those NBA players and others who are unfairly categorized by my comments, please accept my apologies.”

To see Garofalo’s original tweet as well as the Twitter reaction visit https://twitter.com/PatGarofalo/status/442805513697628160

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Nathan Hansen
Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.
(651) 460-6606
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