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Misogyny, Maddie Di Muccio and John Blommestyn

Having sat through today's committee of the whole I have concluded that John Blommestyn and Maddie Di Muccio are made for each other. He is angry, argumentative and belligerent. He expects special treatment. 

Maddie Di Muccio, is away at a funeral and, in her place, we hear from a deputation led by her husband, John Blommestyn, and their two young sons. He demands twenty minutes to say what he has to say.

He tells us he can't do it in less time. He had a dry run in front of the mirror this morning.

He also demands five minutes each for their two young sons who, deplorably, have been brought along to Council and told what to say.

Blommestyn says that when the children have made their contributions he wants to hear a round of applause for them.

The effrontery is spectacular. Councillors are expected to set aside their musty old rules and conventions. The booming barrel chested Blommestyn demands to be heard, but only on his terms. I feel sorry for the children, forced to play a part in this ridiculous melodrama. They read the script prepared for them well. But the research done by their parents is second rate.

Newmarket councillors deserve a collective pat on the back for the way they handled the report by the Integrity Commissioner into the behaviour of the increasingly mercurial Maddie Di Muccio who, in September, at a meeting of the Committee of the Whole, branded the Mayor a misogynist.

The Mayor refused to accept this label and, with council support, called in the independent Integrity Commissioner, Suzanne Craig who found in his favour.

Her measured report makes compelling reading. She approached Maddie Di Muccio on three separate occasions and was at first rebuffed and then ignored. Di Muccio refused to co-operate, saying she did not recognise Craig's status.

Blommestyn absurdly complains that Craig never asked Maddie Di Muccio a single question.

He says the Integrity Commissioner had gone “definition shopping” to secure a meaning for the word misogynist that suited.

He refers to an email circulated amongst senior staff cautioning them to avoid meeting Councillor Di Muccio on their own.

As I am listening to this, it occurs to me that Maddie Di Muccio is like a virulent strain of botulism infecting the body politic. People can innoculate themselves only by having a third party present at all times to ensure she doesn't invent stories about what happened.

We are asked to believe that this astonishing state of affairs is not Di Muccio's fault, but rather arises from the animus that the Town's Directors and senior managers harbour against her.

Blommestyn clearly sees himself and his wife as victims. Everyone is conspiring against them. There are two standards applied. A demanding one for the heroic but embattled Maddie Di Muccio and another, less stringent, for every one else.

Joe Sponga bravely tries to pull the threads together. He accepts the Integrity Commissioner's recommendations but wants to defer a final decision until January. He has some support from Chris Emanuel who, outrageously, is heckled by Blommestyn from the public gallery.

I hear groans from people around me who fear that this soap opera could drag on into the New Year.

The Integrity Commissioner tells councillors her preference is for an “expeditious decision”.

On cue, we hear from a resolute Dave Kerwin who gets the “Man of the Match Award” for plain speaking. He wants the matter dealt with today. He says councillors have known this was coming for months, maybe years.

Tom Vegh, in a crisp and telling contribution, tells us the matter is festering and needs to be dealt with now.

Jane Twinney confesses this has not been a fun situation to go through. She too supports the Integrity Commissioner but, inexplicably, does not support the recommended sanction against Di Muccio – loss of pay for one month.

Throughout the meeting, Tom Hempen says nothing. How on earth is it possible to sit there like a dumpling, not expressing a view?

Now John Taylor weighs in, arguing against any postponement.

Taylor tells us that he has heard people say politicians should get a thicker skin and learn to live with the rough and tumble of politics. But he warns that if we let things get out of control no business would get done.

He also takes us back to an earlier claim made by the elder boy that his Mom had tabled 21 motions for debate at Council while the indolent Mayor was responsible for just one – the one calling in the Integrity Commissioner.

Taylor gently explains the Mayor cannot move motions while chairing Council. He vacated the chair to propose the one bringing in the Integrity Commissioner.

Now it is back to Dave Kerwin who is determined to make his point.

He says it is time to move on and deal with the Town's business. Glenway. Slessor Square. He reels off a long list. He slams the way in which social media can be used to destroy reputations built up over decades.

He calls for an end to negativity. This is Maddie Di Muccio's stock in trade.

They vote to impose a one month suspension of pay (over $3,000) . But this will be set aside if Di Muccio apologises in writing to the Mayor before 13 December.

Fat chance.

Her minor celebrity status would vanish overnight if she were to capitulate.

That would be too high a price to pay.



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