The Mayor was on Fox 24's Fox Files last night (he's not taking our calls, which comes and goes) talking about his letter of solidarity to Hugo Chavez.
You can watch the interview here.
I didn't particularly like the questions, but one thing was clear: Ellis was not backing off, and he intended this letter for Chavez. That's at odds with what his spokesman, Ron Wildman, was saying while the mayor toured Africa and England. Wildman's spin had been that Ellis intended the letter for other mayors in Venezuela and that the controversial president co-opted it by reading it on his radio show.
But Ellis, in nearly 20 minutes on the subject, during which he basically had free reign, never even hinted toward that. So I was off base here.
Ellis said that the whole Chavez-called-Bush-the-devil thing was just about "personalities," and that it's nothing that should be keeping our two countries apart. Particularly, he said, when Chavez has donated heating oil to poor Americans, which was one of the things Ellis mentioned in his letter.
Ellis said Venezuela is not a Communist country, which I think some people would argue based on some of the nationalization going on there. But I gotta admit some ignorance in South American geo-politics.
Plus, we buy our clothes from China, Ellis noted. "Who controls the media there?" he said.
I think the answer on that one, at least the one he was going for, is a communist government. Again, I don't live in China.
Ellis said we "talk out of both sides of our mouth" in America. We get into an uproar about him sending Hugo Chavez a letter... then drive our SUVs to the gas station to fill up on the oil from Venezuela, Saudia Arabia and a whole host of other less-than-free places.
Kind of hard to argue with that. We can be quite hypocritical in this country, and I'm plenty guilty myself.
And then he turned attention to his critics, who held a rally to make sure the world knew Macon, Georgia, did not stand with its mayor on this.
"Where are they when our children are failing in school. ..." he said. "Have rallies for that."
I don't think it's fair to infer that the people at that rally aren't working to make Macon and Georgia better places across the board.
But if you were to hold a set of scales, and fill one side with outrage over Ellis' comments the past few weeks, and another with outrage over the inadequacies of health care, education and public safety in this community, which would be heavier?
UPDATE: Just checking my email. The Macon-Bibb County Fire Department will be hosting the CITGO/MDA Golf Challenge on Friday, August 31st at the Bowden Golf Course in Macon, Georgia. Firefighters will tee off once again to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Folks, CITGO is owned by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.