New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell is preparing for a tough political battle ahead. In doing so, he is attempting to establish himself as a victim.

Mitchell wants you to believe that you are all victims too and that he is "protecting the people of New Bedford" by refusing to continue with his weekly appearance on my radio program. According to Mitchell, I am just a big, mean bully trying to push him around.

The truth of the matter is that Mitchell is thin-skinned. He hates to be questioned and surrounds himself with only those folks who will stroke his massive ego. Oh yeah, he is arrogant, patronizing, and condescending, too.

The heat is searing Mitchell's backside, and he can no longer take the pressure. He detests that someone has dared to challenge his narrative and hopes to avoid more tough questions by painting me as a bully and himself as a victim. The leader of a city of 100,000 people, the guy who chased Whitey Bulger, is intimidated by a 63-year-old talk radio host with a bad heart who dares to call him out.

The so-called transparent mayor is now invisible.

Mitchell has launched an all-out assault on public safety in New Bedford by closing Station 11 and threatening to decommission Engine 8. Mitchell is unilaterally defunding the police department by closing the downtown police station and leaving as many as 10 positions unfunded.

This is dangerous and irresponsible behavior, but when called out, Mitchell accuses his critics of "political grandstanding." When firefighters in neighboring communities say Mitchell has become too dependent on mutual aid agreements, he accuses them of involving themselves in local contract negotiations. God forbid they might be right.

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Meanwhile, Mitchell has been unable to negotiate new contracts with the police and fire unions. The police contract expired in June of 2018, and the fire contract a year later. Hang on, the teachers' contract expires next year.

Mitchell defended Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro when the chief withheld important information about a shooting at an officer's home from other officers, placing their safety at risk. Cordeiro attempted to hide the incident from the public, and Mitchell defended that decision as well.

Cordeiro also neglected to inform the public about a drive-by shooting in heavy traffic in broad daylight on Rockdale Avenue. Mitchell claimed he knew nothing of the incident but again defended Cordeiro's decision to conceal information from the public.

Mitchell has refused to address open and lewd criminal behavior at several of the city's pocket parks. His administration fails annually to meet minimum net school spending requirements. He has failed to stop zoning changes on Church Street, allowing the valuable Regal House property to be sold to a non-profit, thus removing it from the tax rolls. Mitchell also failed to call out our U.S. Senate delegation for its inaction on the fishing industry crisis.

If I were Jon Mitchell, I wouldn't want to have to answer questions, either. Come on, Mayor Mitchell, you are not a victim. Pull up your big boy pants and get back in the ring to defend this mess you have made. Stop trying to pretend that you are being bullied and unfairly picked on.

It's time to cowboy up or ride on out of town.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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