For most people, getting laid off or fired is an emotionally traumatic experience — one that can be so unexpected as to cause temporary shock and/or denial.
We don’t know the circumstances behind City Councilman-elect John Mootooveren losing his bookkeeping job with Turner Construction sometime during his council campaign, and we’re sympathetic — to a point — with his reluctance to go public with it. But lying about it was a mistake, and as Gazette columnist Sara Foss pointed out yesterday, no way to start a political career.
True, a seat on the Schenectady City Council is just a part-time gig, as Councilman Carl Erikson suggested in defending Mootooveren’s decision not to “call [the Gazette] and say ‘stop the presses’” when he and Turner parted ways. But there’s a difference between offering embarrassing information unsolicited and lying about it when asked directly — which is what Mootooveren did when asked where he worked.
He probably could have artfully dodged the question — as savvy politicians regularly do — without breaking any confidentiality agreements or embarrassing himself, and he certainly had ample time to ready an explanation. Instead, he stuck to a story that used to be true but was no longer — that he worked as an accountant for a large company — when he really was working as a part-time manager of a small West Indian produce wholesaler.
It’s a relatively small lie in the scheme of things, one that doesn’t warrant his stepping down (which at least one vanquished Republican called for). But it’s a lie nonetheless, one that is going to leave doubts among his constituents and force him to work extra hard to restore his credibility.