Just a “passport photo man.” A “disgruntled” campaign adviser. A “self-proclaimed” pundit with an “infantile” petition.
Here’s the finale: “GET OVER IT and do what you do best — click your passport photos.”
Oh my. Political discourse in Windsor plunged with that ugly Facebook post by Coun. Paul Borrelli about critic Paul Synnott.
Passport photo man? Synnott shoots passport photos for MacLaren’s Photo Lab. What’s wrong with that? Is Borrelli suggesting people with ordinary jobs aren’t worth listening to? Pretty hypocritical coming from a council that touts hundreds of minimum wage call centre jobs. By the way, Synnott was also a naval communicator and reserve officer in the Sea Cadets for 15 years. He does freelance writing, graphics and video. And he’s starting a community radio station in Ford City.
You don’t make fun of a person who works for a living. Period.
But Borrelli was only warming up.
He dismissed Synnott, who helped get Borrelli elected, as a “disgruntled” former campaign adviser. And he didn’t stop there. He pointed out that Synnott worked for candidates in other wards, too, and “failed … them miserably” because they lost. “So much for his political acuity!” he wrote.
He accused Synnott of costing the city thousands of dollars for a failed investigation into Ward 3 candidate Gabe Maggio’s election expenses. Actually, an audit found Maggio broke every Ontario Municipal Elections Act rule that Synnott alleged he broke plus several others — but the investigating committee concluded that no action was warranted.
Synnott is on a “vindictive mission,” Borrelli wrote, and that’s why he’s responding. “Usually, I don’t lower myself to such levels,” he wrote.
It’s true that Synnott — who understands city issues better than some councillors — has hammered Borrelli’s every misstep (there have been many) for a year. It’s true, as Borrelli wrote, that it started when he voted against hiring a municipal auditor general. But Borrelli’s account is revisionist history. Synnott wanted him to vote for an AG, Borrelli wrote. He never mentions that he himself promised to fight for an auditor general. Borrelli followed his vote with this now infamous quote: “Campaigning is campaigning. Reality is reality.”
The latest salvo is over Borrelli’s vote on the Pelissier Street parking garage. Last year, he posed for a photo with Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association chairman Larry Horwitz for a campaign to save the storefronts on the ground floor. This week, he voted to rip them out and replace them with more parking.
So Synnott started a satirical petition demanding Borrelli return the money he spent on a conference in Rome on vibrant cities. Borrelli called the petition “infantile.”
Politicians can change their minds, he said. They can. Sometimes, it’s a good thing. Though this decision will go down as one of council’s most dismal, with an urban planner saying few cities in North America make such “archaic” decisions.
But Borrelli can’t simply agree to disagree. Instead, again, he resorted to smack talk.
Remember his stunning smackdown when the Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator asked council for money? Their numbers “look great, but I have no verification. I’m very suspect about what’s being done. I feel something’s lacking. Where is their resourcefulness?” Ask your relatives for money, he said.
Another time, he threw all downtown businesses under the bus: “Unfortunately, the downtown is sorely lacking the visionaries and quality management and business acumen to bring about revitalization,” he wrote on Facebook.
He told downtown restaurants owners, “If you can’t afford patio fees, you shouldn’t have a patio.”
He was particularly nasty when Jon Liedke, owner of the cannabis lounge Higher Limits, who uses medical marijuana, criticized the councillors who voted for more parking.
“Not one tokes or vapes!” Borrelli wrote of his colleagues. “Our cerebral neurons are fully intact.”
Here’s some advice: elected officials don’t do cheap shots. They listen to dissent — even frank, hard dissent —because constituents deserve to be heard.
Borrelli “lowered” himself all right. And it was unbecoming.
Show some respect — before voters show you the door.
Read the article on the waybackmachine HERE because it’s not available on The Windsor Star anymore