City manager apologizes for controversial Facebook posts

One of Calvin Burke's shared Facebook posts

LIBERAL, Kan. (KSNW) — A city leader in Liberal is apologizing for some social media posts made that have upset some in the community.

Earlier this month, Calvin Burke was named interim city manager. He had served as water department director for several years before that.

Since his appointment, the city has been made aware of some posts made last year on his personal Facebook page that are concerning some in the community.

Residents reached out to KSN and shared 15 screenshots of the posts, most of which we are not showing on TV.

“I apologize,” he said. “It was in poor taste, but nothing was meant to offend anybody.”

One post referenced grabbing women’s breasts while others using the slang version of the “n-word” and made racial stereotypes.

Burke did not write the posts himself. He shared other posts or memes that he saw online.

“It’s probably not appropriate at all,” he said, “and I get hit with a lot of racial stuff, but I have been in an interracial marriage for over 20 years. My grandsons that I was talking about, both of them are black.”

Burke says when he posted some of those comments, he didn’t expect them to be seen by the public.

“Quite honestly, some of them were just meant to be shared with friends, you know because I was working in a different industry.”

At the time of the postings, he managed Liberal’s water department and was not the city manager.

“When I’m out there working with the crew in the field, my language was completely different with those guys than it would be at a city commission meeting,” he said. “My plan going forward is to keep it clean. You know if somebody sends me something, hey, okay, they sent it to me. I don’t need to share it.”

Liberal’s vice mayor Taylor Harden said the commission learned about the posts shortly after Burke’s appointment to the position. Harden said the commission chose not to take official action.

“It’s just so hard with the way memes are and everything is on Facebook to gain context out of what somebody shares in today’s world,” said Harden, “so I definitely don’t feel like he embodies any of the things that he posted on there from talking to him.”

Harden says it will take six to 12 months to find a permanent city manager, but that person will not be Burke.