George Barich is one funky white boy.
In the 1970s, he strapped on platform shoes and played bass in a funk band. He settled in Cotati, a former hippie town with a proud tradition of funkiness.
So it made sense to the rookie city councilman to come up with a new city motto -- "the funky city" -- and to post it on his personal blog, which features a modified city logo.
Trouble is, Barich, who also uses the blog to criticize the Obama administration, accompanied the suggestion with a picture of himself in blackface.
The site also features a comedy music video of black rappers at the controls of a purple jetliner under the title, "Air Force One takes flight with soul."
Barich said it's an attempt at humor, but some residents see the blog as racist and want Barich silenced. Others said he's heaped embarrassment on the town.
"This man does not speak for our city," said Cynthia Nixon, who owns Friar Tuck's Pub. "For him to use our city logo, disgrace it with blackface and then make a mockery of the new president is outrageous."
Barich, 51, said the images are not a slur but he will take them down if someone can convince him they are offensive. The photo is of him in a Halloween costume, he said.
"It's a fun Web site," said Barich, an electrical contractor. "I don't know who would be offended by me in this costume or a duck suit. I don't have a white sheet over my head, for Christ's sake."
The controversy is the latest surrounding Barich, an outspoken City Hall gadfly who campaigned last fall as a moderate independent.
In January he was at odds with city management over his use of official letterhead to write to Obama to complain about the stimulus package, which he contends is wasteful.
When City Manager Dianne Thompson refused to give him stationery, he made his own and wrote anyway.
After the incident, the council considered adopting a code of ethics governing council member communication and other behavior. Barich has voiced opposition to the proposal, but the council approved it Wednesday with no discussion.
A handful of people stood before the council to criticize Barich's blog, and some demanded he step down.
"He is a complete embarrassment to the city," said John Moore, whose wife, Lisa, is a former councilwoman and has been the target of Barich's online handiwork.
"I really think it's time for Mr. Barich to resign," he said.
Councilman Robert Coleman-Senghor, the council's only black member, said he was proud of residents for bringing up the issue but said, "there are larger things for us to deal with."
Other council members either declined or would not respond to earlier requests for comment.
Barich, who has been a close follower of Cotati politics for more than a decade, said there is nothing wrong with his blog, www.gbarich.blogspot.com.
And he said he's not a racist, noting that he grew up in the East Bay city of Richmond and was a volunteer in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
Barich said he once was a member of the party band, North Bay Funk, and still goes to karaoke clubs for his musical kicks.
"I did a karaoke last week at the bowling alley," Barich said. "I had on a David Cassidy shag. No one took offense to that. Next week I'll wear my Afro. That's part of what I do."