Mayor Joe Fontana’s fraud trial began this morning, just in case you haven’t already heard already *yes, I’m sorry for being sarcastic, once again ; p*
Along with tales from the provincial crypt of lies, promises and good old politicking, our mayor’s alleged abuse of public trust is a lead story on every major news outlet – all eyes will be on our city this week, for better or for worse (unfortunately, my bets are on the ‘worse’ part of it); it’s the kind of negative attention we all can do without. If Fontana is convicted he’ll possibly face up to 10 years in prison which would strike a serious blow to the city.
Of course, we also have the option of turning things around by electing people of integrity and maintaining checks and balances through a number of initiatives I am proposing.
None of us are perfect but when you run for public office there is an expectation that one will act ethically and with a sense of integrity, regardless of the circumstances. I have come to understand how trust and progress proceed from loyalty and accountability. This has become abundantly clear to me from my interpersonal relationships and, of course, through my business dealings with customers in the London area and across North America. The Fortune 500 company I work for sponsors a culture of professionalism which really represents what I stand for.
We are often presented with situations in life where we can’t help but feel that we are at a crossroads between what is easy and what is ethical. Sometimes the right decision may not be popular nor politically correct, but as people who are blessed with the “freedom of conscience” we often know what must be done.
As a board member at my synagogue, I was recently presented with a situation where I had to stand up to one of the main authority figures of London’s Orthodox Jewish community. It was incumbent upon me to announce to the board that the fanatical religious cult, Lev Tahor, had requested to use our synagogue’s facilities – I would have preferred never to have mentioned it to the board, but like I said, doing a job often requires us to do what is right even if we’d rather do something else.
Although the group’s leader was fleeing justice in Quebec – he is implicated in child abuse – our rabbi wanted to welcome Lev Tahor to London because he said we had an obligation to help other Jews. But I contested his decision and said that engaging with such a group would bring negative attention on the wider London Jewish community – besides, and more importantly, I felt that if the charges against Lev Tahor were true, myself and everyone else at the synagogue would be complicit in child abuse and religious fanaticism.
I proceeded to bring the matter before the board and brought a motion to discuss the issue. Thankfully, it turned out that Lev Tahor eventually rescinded their original request to use our facilities.
Having integrity compelled me to look out for the interests of the wider Jewish community (this includes Reform, Conservative and unafiliated Jews) and not just go along with the leader’s directions.
What is true for a Jewish-specific issue carries over to Ward 4 and all of the possible conflicts that arise during the course of political life. My experiences provide me with a well of insight and integrity needed to remain accountable and honest in my political life.
This brings me to the next point regarding Ward 4 incumbent Steven Orser. Being part of the Fontana 8, i.e. costing taxpayers $97,000 says to me that he doesn’t care about the interests of the wider community of Ward 4. He’s aligned himself with a mayor whose integrity is under serious scrutiny, even as you are reading this post.
As my mother always said to me when she saw untrustworthy people in cahoots with one another:“birds of a feather flock together.” That certainly rings true from what I’ve seen so far in the current situation concerning Joe Fontana and his loyal gaggle of eight council members.
It’s time to vote for vision and leave the shady, “unseen” deals back in the past where they belong.