BLOG #634: Mayor Joe Fontana had a few things to say in response to yesterday’s blog that he should renounce his pledge to create 10,000 jobs. Well said too. But a couple of points deserve further clarification.
Friday, March 30, 2012 – London
Mayor Joe Fontana took umbrage, as he is certainly entitled to do, with my writings yesterday that he should forget about his 10,000 jobs pledge and concentrate on the bigger picture of our economic need.
You can – and should – read his comments here.
Now I have no desire to get into a spitting match with the duly elected chief magistrate of our fair city. Suffice is to say I can agree to disagree and leave it at that.
Except for two little points.
Mayor Fontana’s final paragraph said this: “I want to speak to your comments regarding the lack of intellectual prowess of members of council and your penchant for portraying my enthusiasm as bullying. First, your derogatory remarks are extremely disrespectful and childish in in their nature.”
Quite frankly I think the media – myself included – are far too easy in reporting on the relaxed work habits and comparatively weak reasoning power of some members of this council. Mayor Fontana well knows who the lame ones are because he often helps extricate them from the verbal quick sand.
Most assuredly it is not childish to call attention to the ineffectualness of certain elected officials. Running this city is big, serious business that requires the full capacity of bright, serious people.
The unvarnished truth is we are not dealing with a full deck and while it might not be polite or politic for the mayor to acknowledge this in public, he should surely be paying more notice of it in private.
Mayor Fontana further wrote: “As for bullying – I don’t. I may not always agree with my colleagues and I may employ the passion of my heritage to convey my thoughts and feelings on an issue, but I do not bully. I do, however, stand up to bullies and will continue to do so.”
Technically I did not call the mayor a bully. I criticized “the bullying way in which he pushes his personal agenda.” Nevertheless other members of council have called him a bully and in public. Whether it’s simply a manifestation of his Italian heritage or not, the fact is his put downs and occasional verbal slap downs of opponents come across as bullying however he means it.
The inescapable fact is there are a few members of council who know far more about how all the pieces fit together than the mayor does. That’s hardly a big surprise given he has spent most of the past quarter century in Ottawa or Arva.
But it seems to rankle when someone who knows better calls him on his knowledge gap. That’s when he tends to resort to Commons behaviour – as in the juvenile nastiness that smears so much of Question Period in Ottawa.
He can deny it all he wants; that’s his right. He can insist his intentions have been misunderstood. But after nearly 20 years as a federal MP Mayor Fontana surely knows today perception is reality, so I don’t apologize for calling him on what I, and others, see as unbecoming behaviour.