Mayor Jim Watson has used his considerable power to force well-known Conservative Mike Patton out of city hall.
Patton was recently let go from the office of Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Carol Anne Meehan.
“Carol Anne felt I was doing more harm in her office than helping her, that I had become a lightning rod attracting attention from the mayor,” Patton told On the City, From the Burbs.
Patton made it clear he has absolutely no bad feelings toward his former boss and understands she felt she had no real alternative but to let him go, given the extraordinary pressure from Watson and his office.
So what exactly did Patton do to deserve the mayor’s wrath?
“Well, I don’t know of another person he dislikes more than me,” Patton said.
And sadly, it’s as simple as that.
Watson despises Patton and forced him out by putting undue pressure on Meehan.
“I feel terrible for Carol Anne. She’s trying to do the best for her community. That’s all she’s trying to do. She just wants to work in the best interests of her community. And I admire that,” Patton said. “She did the right thing and I don’t think there was any real alternative.”
He said Watson was just making Meehan’s life too difficult, putting up roadblocks at every turn, making it clear to her Patton had to go if things were ever going to go in her favour.
“Jim Watson wants to be totally in control. It’s very much his vision and his vision alone. And that’s what’s being enacted at city hall right now. And it will remain that way and most of council is willing to go along with him most of the time,” Patton said.
“He believes I was giving her advice that was causing her to be willingly defiant.”
This story might be difficult for city hall outsiders to understand. Clearly, the mayor isn’t Meehan’s boss. But at city hall, he wields a tremendous amount of power – and being the absolute control freak he is – he abuses it. He essentially controls the bureaucracy and controls the budget. Yes, he’s just one vote, but with the support of council – what he wants wins out.
This isn’t the first time Watson has worked against Patton. In 2010, Watson worked against Patton when he was running in River ward against then newcomer Riley Brockington.
Patton isn’t new to city hall. He worked for College Coun. Rick Chiarelli and also for former mayor Larry O’Brien.
He said under O’Brien, great and vigorous debate was encouraged.
“That’s not the way Jim Watson approaches the word,” Patton said.
“In his business model, he’s like a classic bully, he’s very much a bully. He held me responsible for any opposition to his agenda.”
Comparing O’Brien to Watson, Patton said major projects like Lansdowne Park wouldn’t have happened without the maverick mayor.
“But Jim Watson isn’t naturally a creative person. He doesn’t have new ideas and really is only interested in managing,” Patton continued.
Understandably, Meehan isn’t talking about the dismissal. She’s in the proverbial rock and a hard place.
But if you think she had a choice, you’re being naive.
She was elected to represent the residents of Gloucester-South Nepean – and with Watson fighting her at each and every turn – that simply wasn’t going to happen.
The mayor should be ashamed of himself. He won’t be.
And for the record, Watson does not return requests for interviews from this blog – and has made it clear there’s just no point in asking.