Did he say it? Probably not, but to many, it sounded like he did.
The question revolves around a comment Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo made at the Monroe City Council’s meeting Tuesday night that has been interpreted two ways, depending on whether the listener was “for him” or “Agin him.”
At that meeting, he reportedly referred to District 1 Councilman Doug Harvey as a “Dumb Ass.”
The exchange came when Harvey committed the unpardonable sin of questioning the Mayor’s proposed budget, especially portions that included raises for top-level employees in light of declining sales tax revenues.
Mayo, accustomed to Trump-style browbeating of critics, said he and Harvey were going to have a difficult time during the next term because Harvey didn’t understand the way city budgets work.
Harvey, a successful businessman himself, questioned the practicality of budgeting pay raises in the light of a financial report given at the meeting showing projections of declining sales tax revenue because of the virus pandemic.
As Harvey continued to ask questions, the Mayor made a seven-second response that raised eyebrows.
Answering Harvey, Mayo took off his glasses and said one of the following statements:
“I think I gave you my answer; apparently you are not listening, dumb ass, Mr. Harvey.
However, some listening to the audio heard it this way:
“I think I gave you my answer; apparently you are not listening, don’t ask, Mr. Harvey.
Mayo’s critics heard “dumb ass,” and his supporters heard “don’t ask.”
In his 19 years as Mayor, Mayo has used a variety of adjectives to describe council members who questioned his actions. The most recent was two years ago when he referred to councilman Micheal Echols as a “Piece of s-it.” He has never apologized.
Mayo’s unbridled temper is well known. It has prompted him to conduct witchhunt investigations of his critics and has often confronted them physically.
At the funeral service of the late B.D. Robinson, the Mayor engaged in a public one way shouting match with Rev. Van Brass outside the church in which Mayo shouted, “You ain’t nothing Van Brass, you ain’t got nothing, look at me I’m mayor.”
The incident happened in the aftermath of Mayor removing Brass from an economic development project. At the funeral, in public view, Mayo shook Brass’s hand. Outside, as they brought Robinson’s casket out of the Mt. Nebo Church, Brass told the Mayor, “I shook your hand, but we are not friends,” and Mayo went off. He lunged at Rev. Brass and shouted. City Judge James Garland Smith, who attended the funeral, held the Mayor back as he lunged at Rev. Brass.
When Nation of Islam minister Lawrence Muhammad came before the Monroe City Council and criticized the Mayor for his handling of the police murder of William Henderson, the Mayor was furious, especially when Muhammad accused the Mayor of being “disingenuous.”
The Mayor stepped down from his council seat and came within a few inches of Muhammad, pointing his finger in Muhammad’s face in anger. However, before he could do anything else, the minister’s elite bodyguard, known as the “Fruit of Islam,” snapped into place, and Mayo backed off.
He then looked at other pastors who came to the meeting to protest the murder and spotted his pastor, The Reverend James Johnson of the New Light Baptist Church, and yelled at him, “You are part of this too?” Johnson then left. The others sat quietly.
Once, at a meeting of the Empowerment committee, Mayo called out Perry Thomas, the head of the group, and the two faced-off with fists balled. Mayo never apologized, but later fired Thomas as city EEO director.
The late Ben Katz found out that the Mayor could be physical after Katz was critical of the Mayor’s budget at a council meeting. The next time Mayo saw Katz was at the dedication of the Council on Aging Center. Still angry, he grabbed Katz by the collar and yelled at him.
Katz said, “I can’t fight you mayor, I’m an old man with a heart condition,” and Mayor let him go. He never apologized.
The only city council members Mayo has not treated rudely were those who rubber-stamped his plans and asked few questions.
He has often mumbled comments about councilman Eddie Clark, who frequently questions Mayo’s actions. However, Clark has said publicly, “He won’t play that with me. I’m from the Southside. He won’t bully me.”
Those familiar with Mayo’s past actions heard his comments Tuesday night, heard the words, “dumb ass.”
Those who have never seen his “other side” heard the words, “don’t ask.”
Mayo is seeking re-election based on his record.