“When I see candidates who are always angry and wanting to “fight” on every issue I say look for a more positive and collaborative person – one who will work well with neighbours and colleagues. That’s how our level of government works best and obtains positive results!”
The above is a tweet made by Mayor Jim Watson over the weekend, and frankly, it’s driving me crazy and I just can’t let it go – for so many reasons.
Positive results? Let me decipher for you. That’s code for approving what Watson wants. If councillors are fighting the mayor from time to time, it’s because they’re frustrated with Watson trying to force decisions on them instead of having an open and honest debate. This nonsense from a mayor who said it would be totally inappropriate to encourage women candidates over others. That doing so was just not the role of the city.
Fascinating stuff. So now it’s okay for our city’s mayor to use falsehoods, essentially urging residents to turf out people who disagree with him? At the top of his hit list is College Coun. Rick Chiarelli. Watson has not made a secret of his feelings for Chiarelli. He despises him and doesn’t pretend otherwise.
When the city unveiled its last budget, Chiarelli left his seat to talk to reporters. Chiarelli told reporters the spending plan was a “fake budget.” It was a great line, reporters ate it up and used it. Chiarelli certainly wasn’t the only councillor concerned about the budget numbers – just the funniest. And you could almost watch Watson’s blood boil. He was just incensed.
“I’d encourage members of council to read the budget before they criticize it,” said Watson at the time. I know that Councillor Chiarelli missed the presentation…because he was doing a press conference up in the press area.” Well, I have no idea if Chiarelli had read the budget, but I do know he’d read enough to be concerned there was a bit of smoke and mirrors being used with some of the numbers.
At the end of a news conference following the budget, in an exchange between myself and Watson, I questioned why the mayor let Chiarelli get to him so much, why he hated him so much. “And I don’t understand why you like him,” Watson lashed back.
If the likes of Chiarelli, Gloucester-Southgate Diane Deans or Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney don’t always fall in line with Watson’s vision, isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that we why elect our councillors and our mayor – to study the issues and debate them? Honestly, it’s Watson who creates the dissension by doing his best to shut out his dissenters. Would you seriously vote for a candidate who vowed to follow Watson’s lead? Who promised to be collaborative, even if it meant hurting the interest of his or her ward? If that’s what you’re looking for, why bother?
If you’ve taken the time to watch a council meeting, you likely have seen Watson scold a councillor for asking too many detailed questions, directing them to attend at the committee level. Ridiculous. Watson admits he’s a control freak, but this is supposed to be a democracy. The meetings are so controlled, there are meetings where a stream of ceremonial events takes longer than the actual council meeting.
It surely can’t just be a coincidence that Chiarelli received several emails recently in quick succession from people he hasn’t had any contact with telling him they weren’t going to be voting because he wasn’t collaborative. I’ve joined the dots for you here!
At the same referenced budget meeting, Watson got personal, saying Chiarelli didn’t do any work.
So who’s not being collaborative?