Tag Archives: Bill Bishop

Rothesay mayor finds crow perfectly digestible

 

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Everyone deserves a second chance or, at least, a second helping of one’s own words, refried, re-seasoned and finally made palatable, if only just.

So it was last week when Rothesay, New Brunswick, Mayor Bill Bishop all but retracted his comments about the dreaded Funky Monkey Sandwich Shop, a food truck from nearby Quispamsis. 

Lest we forget, the Bishop of Rothesay characterized his community thusly: “You have to know Rothesay, it is not your regular community. We people here have been here for decades and they (I, perchance?) have very firm beliefs, and needs and wants and the word change in Rothesay is not a welcome word.”

As the CBC reported, “Bishop said he has nothing against Dan Landry, the Funky Monkey’s owner, but a mobile restaurant is ‘not the type of enterprise that we welcome in Rothesay.’”

What a difference a day and social media makes. No sooner had hizzoner expressed his inner thoughts with his outer voice, the chocolate mousse hit the fan. Facebook and Twitter (themselves, vectors of dreaded “change”) erupted with heaping doses of ridicule, topped with thick dollops of derision. 

Apparently, this inspired the following mea culpa from Rothesay’s first citizen (again, on Facebook and Twitter):

“I have received many calls and emails regarding my comments on the Funky Monkey Food Truck and I have also seen the considerable debate this has generated in social media. Clearly, I chose my words poorly and I apologize to those I offended, and in particular to the owners of the Funky Monkey. . .My concern was ensuring that mobile food establishments fit appropriately within municipal regulations and operate fairly with other restaurants. We welcome entrepreneurs to our community and we are grateful to any business, such as the Funky Monkey, that enhances the quality of life in Rothesay.”

Still, I can’t help wonder if Mr. Bishop would have been as effusive in his praise for an establishment that, only 24 hours before, he effectively derided had instant electronic communications never been invented. 

Indeed, the phrase, “It’s too late, now, pal,” comes to mind. 

Four years ago, Darren Cahr, a partner in the Chicago law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP observed on his blog, Legally Social, “We are entering a new age of transparency – for you. Everyone will know more about you, and your secrets, and every detail of your private existence.”

In fact, he wrote, “Nearly every technological development over the past several years has been devoted to capturing data. Document management systems and data mining, e-mail archives and browser cookies – all of these things and so many more are devoted to finding and maintaining data. But if the growth of electronic media has resulted in the dawn of an age where nothing is ever forgotten, it is suddenly becoming apparent that a lot of folks miss that option. People want to have their mistakes erased, they want to be able to step away from that drunk moment on Twitter. But they can’t.  Individuals are becoming like flies caught in amber, a series of embarrassing moments frozen in time forever.”

 All of which is just one way of saying that the social media – the realm where nothing is ever forgotten – is also a place where nothing is ever forgiven.  

According to a CBC report, various Facebookers were having none of what the mayor offered to serve. 

“I should like to hear the mayor comment on what he actually said, instead of eating crow and commenting on something he did not say,” posted one Thomas Littlewood. “His Worship’s original statement suggests that Rothesay is too elitist to support something like a food truck; now he just wants to make sure that it fits with municipal by-laws? Which is it?”

Added Marlyn Isaac in her post: “The horse is already out of the barn.”

As for Funky Monkey’s tireless proprietor Dan Landry, he’s holding up. Reports from the front lines of the food truck skirmish suggest that he’s having to turn thronging admirers away.  

“At this time, we’re not as worried as we were a couple of days ago,” he told the CBC. “But, yes, there is still a concern that there’s a negative force working against us.” 

Oh, puh-leeze! With enemies like Mayor Bishop, who needs friends?

 

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Narrow-mindedness: A dish best served to go

 

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I have no personal beef with Rothesay, New Brunswick, Mayor Bill Bishop. I don’t know the man. But I am exquisitely acquainted with his particular brand of parochialism.

It is the sort of mean-minded, distrustful fear-mongering that undermines diversity, shuts down business opportunities before they have a chance to bloom and gives small, semi-urban communities a bad name from coast to coast to shining coast.

Food trucks. Really, Mr. Mayor? That’s the current and urgent threat to the good people of your Saint John bedroom neighbourhood?

To be clear, hizzoner’s britches are bunched over the Funky Monkey Sandwich Shop – a Traveling Willbury of grilled paninis, which has been operating for several months in the vicinity of Mr. Bishop’s municipal back door.

As this enterprise comes from the foreign country of Quispamsis, about 11 minutes distance from noble Rothesay by car ride, you might (or might not) understand the good fellow’s objection:

“You have to know Rothesay, it is not your regular community,” he rather lamely told the CBC this week. “We people here have been here for decades and they have very firm beliefs, and needs and wants and the word change in Rothesay is not a welcome word.”

Indeed, according to the CBC report, “Bishop said he has nothing against Dan Landry, the Funky Monkey’s owner, but a mobile restaurant is ‘not the type of enterprise that we welcome in Rothesay.’”

Meanwhile, Mr. Landry can’t figure out what the mayor is talking about.

“We’ve had a great summer so far and the community is, very much so, coming out and supporting us. So we don’t have any fears of about whether the community wants us here,” he told the CBC. “I think the people are looking for new food trends, I think the people are looking for new food options and they are looking for real food instead of processed food. I think that these small businesses give people the opportunity to get out there in the market and sell that product without having the costs involved with the brick and mortar investments.”

In fact, the very requirement to defend himself in the court of public opinion, against a fossilized notion of community values, is not the shame of Funky Monkey’s main man; it’s ours. We let this garbage happen all the time, everywhere in this benighted region of ours. We have for years, for decades.

Halifax doesn’t pit itself against Moncton for concerts and sporting events. It fights cage matches for such opportunities against Dartmouth, Bedford and Sackville. 

Sydney would rather witness Cape Breton become a theme park for Chinese technocrats fascinated by the possibilities of a coal-fired, mag-lev monorail than see Glace Bay obtain one, new, pathetic store opening.

We are, in this sea-bound region, our own worst enemies; forever imagining that the town just down the pot-holed road is waiting to pounce, preparing to storm the gates  of our own, oh so very special, burg. After all, don’t you know, Anytown, Atlantic Canada, is “not your regular community.” 

Indeed, “We people here have been here for decades” and we “have very firm beliefs, and needs and wants and the word change”. . .well, friend, it’s just not a welcome word at all.

Parochialism, thy name is Atlantic Canada. 

From our inter-provincial trade barriers to ancient regulations governing skills qualifications and labour mobility – from restrictions on provincial exports of wine to sign posts about honey bee imports – we are a lonely, miserly, short-sighted lot fated, it seems, to suffer all the consequences of our provincialism, insularity and localism.

I have known far too many men and women in this region who have closed their fists, when they might have opened their hands. I have seen them shut their eyes from seeing and block their ears from hearing.

I have also seen and heard these same patriarchs and matriarchs make appalling, disingenuous speeches about the inestimable value of the East Coast way of life, about the incomparable standard this region provides to those lucky enough to have a way to make a living. 

Unless, of course, they happen to run a food truck into a burgermeister’s territory, just down the road from economic perdition.

 

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