Talk about a city brawl.
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti and Councillor Gord Perks went toe-to-toe at City Hall Wednesday and seemed seconds away from fisticuffs.
The confrontation was sparked after Mammoliti accused the city’s ombudsman of creating a “politically driven” report. It culminated in a face-off between the two councillors that included Perks calling Mammoliti a “bully” and accusing him of wanting to destroy the public service.
After the dust-up, Mammoliti apologized to council. However, the outspoken councillor insisted there were interviews in the report that were “politically driven”. He then asked Perks to say he was sorry for the run-in in front of the media — or face an integrity commissioner investigation.
After Perks apologized, Mammoliti urged his colleague to get professional help.
“He has a track record of anger management issues and I seriously would consider or have him consider going to anger management kind of counselling,” he said.
The kerfuffle centred around a controversial report by Ombudsman Fiona Crean which includes a scathing rebuke of the last round of the city’s appointment process and interference from Mayor Rob Ford’s office in that selection process.
Councillors will debate the report at city council on Thursday.
When Mammoliti called Crean's report "politically driven" on Wednesday councillors — and even Speaker Frances Nunziata — demanded he apologize. He refused and ended up storming out of the council chamber.
When Mammoliti walked back into the chamber and started speaking to reporters, Perks confronted him, standing just inches from his face as they argued.
“Shame on you, shame on you, get out of this chamber,” Perks told Mammoliti.
“Get out of this chamber. You’re a bully, you’re trying to destroy the public service in this city. Get out of here. You said you were leaving the chamber, leave the chamber.”
Mammoliti kept asking Perks to “get away from my space.” Perks eventually walked away.
After the showdown with Mammoliti, Perks said for the last 18 months, there has been a constant and unyielding attack on the professional public service in this city.”
"People like (former TTC chief general manager) Gary Webster who have dedicated their adult lives to making Toronto a better place to live in have been driven out of their jobs," Perks said. "That pattern is continuing now as some councillors attempt to bully members of the public service for bringing their reports forward to us. We can't stand for it."
Crean insisted her report isn’t politically driven and said it makes no findings and no recommendations about political conduct.
She stressed her report was not "hearsay" and was based on evidence taken under oath from more than 40 witnesses that were subpoenaed.
Asked if she feels bullied, Crean said no but she did agree Wednesday's events were meant to intimidate her.
"But I'm not intimidated by this," she said.
The war of words between Mammoliti and Perks came a few hours after Cam Weldon, the city's CFO, gave his retirement speech to council and urged them to work harder at getting along.
"You need to be nicer to each other when I’m gone — you’ll accomplish more, you’ll live longer and you’ll retire happy like me," Weldon said.