Fitchburg Mayor Jason Gonzalez refused to speak with the press for three days, but when he finally broke the silence, he came out swinging.
On Friday, he published a budget that cuts all funding for nonprofit services — including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County which has received $50,000 to transport and feed Fitchburg kids after school.
Friday afternoon he sent Madison365 a Facebook message inviting a reporter to call him, but then went silent and has not returned multiple Facebook and text messages sent over the weekend. He finally called Channel 3 on Monday afternoon.
First, he defended the cuts.
“This is money I would raise your taxes on your house,” he told Madison365’s news partner Channel 3. “Take the money from you and decide this nonprofit is more worthy than the tens of dozens of other nonprofits in our community.”
Then he turned on Johnson.
“If $50,000 from Fitchburg is so necessary for [Johnson’s] business to continue, he can gladly donate $50,000 from his salary and still make a significant amount more than the vast majority of residents in Dane County make,” Gonzalez said. “I think what we have here is a bit of an ego problem with Mr. Johnson here, in trying to bully myself, other elected officials and my council.”
The war of words comes after Gonzalez promised to making club funding a line item in his budget during his bid for mayor.
“He came to my house and asked for a photo op and made a commitment to the Boys and Girls Club – and this is how he do our kids in this community?” Johnson asked.
“I hoped as well to do that, but then I got the numbers,” Gonzalez said of the promise.
The city’s Finance Committee meets October 3.