Fritzler Should Apologize
I’m sure everyone in Carbondale knows that the annual Polar Bear party took place on Saturday. And everyone has probably heard that a nineteen year old male (who was not a student at SIUC) lost his leg in a train accident early Saturday morning. And if you’ve heard about all that, you’ve probably heard about the comments Carbondale mayor Joel Fritzler posted to his campaign Facebook account. In case you haven’t, this is what our mayor thought was an appropriate response to the accident:
First Polar Bear casualty took place this morning just after the bars closed when a 19 year old male with a .273 BAC tried to jump onto a freight train. Human bones between metal train wheels and train tracks usually doesn’t end well. Was it worth it?
There are a few problems with this. First and most obvious is that the remark shows no trace of sensitivity to the person who was injured or to his family. That would be bad enough if the statement came from a private citizen speaking for himself. But Fritzler is the mayor and when he speaks, he speaks for Carbondale.
But it’s not even clear that Fritzler has the facts right. Polar Bear started at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. According to the police department’s press release, the accident happened around 2:50 a.m on Saturday – over seven hours before Polar Bear started. So why is Fritzler claiming the accident is a Polar Bear casualty?
In his Facebook post, Fritzler claims the victim had a .273 BAC. But the Daily Egyptian reports that police are still waiting for results of the victim’s blood test to determine if he was intoxicated. So why is Fritzler claiming the victim had a .273 BAC?
Let’s think about this. A young man, a visitor to our town, was in the hospital with life threatening injuries after a horrible accident. It wasn’t yet clear that he would survive. And our mayor thinks the correct response is to make a sneering, insensitive, inaccurate post on his Facebook page. This is a serious lapse of judgement on Fritzler’s part, and he owes an apology to the victim, his family, and the people of Carbondale.
Fritzler must know he made a mistake, because he’s removed the post from his Facebook page. Unfortunately, it looks like Fritzler isn’t going to apologize. KFVS 12 asked him about his comments, and here was his response:
“When I said is it worth it, it was basically out to everybody,” said Fritzler. “Is something like this worth it? Where you have a party and the purpose is to get as drunk as possible. That doesn’t sound like responsible behavior on anybody’s part no matter how old you are. And, that is what I was trying to get at, this is not responsible behavior.”
That doesn’t sound like an apology to me. That sounds like a defense of remarks that are indefensible. Fritzler only has one good option. He needs to issue an apology, and he needs to do it immediately. Judging by his comment to KFVS 12, it looks like he isn’t going to do it.
I voted for Fritzler in the general election. Since he’s taken office, he’s made a series of mistakes. I’ve criticized him when I thought he was wrong, but I haven’t regretted my vote until now. But his response to this accident has given me buyer’s remorse. It’s clear now that Fritzler is not up to the job we’ve given him. If Fritzler cannot swallow his pride and apologize, that shows serious weakness as a leader.
I’m posting a screenshot of Frizler’s Facebook page below. I’ll also post a second screenshot showing the comments on his post up to about 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. I’ve blacked out the names of the people commenting and the photos next to their names. Click the photos to see a larger version.
Comments are welcome.