You expect your representatives in city government to know a few things, bare minimum. Basic addition and subtraction. How to propose an ordinance. Where city hall is.
How babies are made.
This last one so rarely comes into play, but suddenly seems important in Duluth, where council member Jay Fosle's ill-informed and uncaring statements to a citizen of that town have many pissed off.
The woman, Christina St. Germaine, had attended a recent council hearing on the topic of "earned sick and safe time," a contentious issue that often pits rank-and-file workers against their employers. St. Germaine, 50, told the council a deeply personal story about getting pregnant at age 19, and miscarrying, as local TV station KBJR reports.
"I wasn't able to take time off to care for myself to prevent the miscarriage, nor post-miscarriage," St. Germaine testified.
Regardless of one's position on sick leave, this is a sad story. Unless you're Jay Fosle. Then it's a lesson in personal accountability, or the lack thereof, and a tragedy Ms. St. Germaine could have avoided if only she'd made better decisions.
"People make choices in life," Fosle said. "If you got pregnant at 19, you did that on your own."
Attendees at the hearing groaned, audibly, while outside city hall, sex ed teachers and mothers everywhere spit out their drinks and cursed.
Fosle was unmoved by the audience's reaction -- "too bad," he said, and "sorry you feel that way," like a beer-buzzed dad shrugging off shutting the car door on his daughter's fingers -- and reiterated that St. Germaine's miscarriage was her fault.
"You made those choices," he said, adding: "Apparently, with what I just heard, the choices they're making are, they want things for free, just like the lady said that was up here earlier."
Let's see: a total lack of empathy, absolving men of responsibilty for pregnancy, victim blaming, poor-shaming, mansplaining, calling a public testifier "the lady" -- Fosle's response was a near-miracle in man-dom, and set a regional record for fastest hole-digging in a public forum since the steroid era.
In an email response to KBJR, Fosle proved he doesn't just think and speak like a 12-year-old boy, he writes like one, too:
"I was trying to make a comparison that a citizen had a event in their life and had to make a choice and the outcome was bad and the fact that the Council will have to make a choice that could be bad and possibly hurt businesses in the City. I was interrupted by the group and didn't finish the statement which was then taken out of text."
We'd try explaining that he means "an event," and "out of context," and about, just, commas in general. But Jay Fosle has so much more to learn. Why start with grammar?
Fosle is getting a lot of blowback for his stupid, insensitive statement -- the one at the council meeting, not the one he sent to the TV station -- and we're suddenly reminded of something we once heard. It didn't fit the situation it was used in originally, but matches up with this one pretty well.
People make choices in life, Jay. If you got called out for being a jackass in your mid-to-late-50s, you did that on your own.
Watch KBJR's report below.
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