'Racist' comment in HOA newsletter offends residents

Article and Video Courtesy of Local 10 News Tampa Bay

By Eric Glasser

Published January 2, 2015

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Citrus Park, FL -- Some neighbors in a small Citrus Park community are offended by what they call racist, offensive comments made in their quarterly newsletter.

Gina Ceglio and her partner Nicole Owen have complained about it to their homeowners association.

The two have been living happily in the Logan Gate community for about four years now. But this month both were offended by a particular article written by neighbor Don Hardy, urging residents to keep the noise level down in their Citrus Park community.

"It was the fact that he brought ethnicity into the newspaper that made me upset," said Ceglio, "because there was no need for it. Everybody makes noise. Anybody can make noise."

Hardy's article talks about inconsiderate neighbors loudly slapping down dominoes. He also targets barking dogs. Squawking birds and blaring music like hip-hop, country and jazz.

But when Hardy mentioned Salsa music, he specifically singled-out Hispanics.

"He didn't need to say 'are you the Hispanic'. Are you the person. That's all he had to say."

Hardy was not home to offer his take on the topic. Neighbors think he may have one out of town for the holidays.

But HOA President Elaine Ross defended Hardy's right to say what's on his mind.

"Everybody can have their opinion," said Ross, "And I think this resident took it the wrong way."

While Ross, doesn't apologize for Hardy's comments, she does apologize for allowing Hardy's unedited article to make its way into the newsletter. Especially if anyone found it offensive.

"We got like a rough draft of what all was going into that newsletter, but I guess we just skimmed over it and didn't read the entire thing," said Ross.

"I would like an apology just to acknowledge what they did was inappropriate. That's all," said Ceglio.

Ross says Ceglio and anyone else in the community offended by Hardy's statements will get that apology from the board at its upcoming meeting Jan. 5.

Ross further promised that they will be more careful about editing what goes into the community newsletter in the future.