Elaine Murray writes, "What is true is that after Joanne’s outburst last week on the balcony of the Pickled Onion, many people will forget her hard work and good intentions." *File photo
Elaine Murray writes, "What is true is that after Joanne’s outburst last week on the balcony of the Pickled Onion, many people will forget her hard work and good intentions." *File photo

I like Joanne MacPhee.  I do. She is smart, hard working and clever. She has enormous energy and possesses one of my favourite traits in a man or woman:  the ability to roll up her sleeves and get things done.  I would say that Joanne MacPhee can do the heavy lifting with the best of them. 

If you were thinking that she was just another middle-aged, middle class, buttoned-down executive who sat at the dais of every Chamber function, then you would only be partly right. 

You probably missed watching her carry trestle tables off the back of a truck to ensure that vendors at Harbour Nights had a table to display their wares. You would have missed the endless number of phone calls and meetings with retailers, vendors, restaurateurs, real estate professionals, Corporation of Hamilton professionals, police and Government officials with the express purpose of making Bermuda successful.  

You would no doubt be unaware that Joanne MacPhee’s phone was often ringing off the hook, with many industry professionals looking to get her point of view, her advice on matters great and small.

What is true is that after Joanne’s outburst last week on the balcony of the Pickled Onion, many people will forget her hard work and good intentions.  Many will forget the times they picked up the phone to her and sought her good counsel and still many will revel at the thought of her eating humble pie. They’ll only see her image in that one i-Phone moment and their judgment will be sealed.

Unintended consequences

I learned a long time ago to never try to do other people’s thinking for them.  It’s a waste of time. But I have a pretty good idea that Joanne has played over and over in her head the events as they unfolded on that sunny day and has despaired at her own behaviour. 

I think that she would agree that it had to be the most singularly magnificent mistake of her life.  Do you think that she isn’t cringing every time she looks at the photo of herself with her arm raised shouting to the marchers below?  Do you think that she can’t appreciate the unintended consequences of her Marie Antoinette moment? Oh yes, she most certainly does.  

Her behaviour was inexplicable, shocking and, I believe, completely out of character. Ironically, she now shares the plight of the hotel workers that were made redundant at the Fairmont Princess Hotel and it is now she who is unemployed. I think that when the dust settles, and it will, she will agree that her dismissal was the only right decision for the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce to make. The BCC exists as an advocacy organization for the business community and it could not afford the distraction of defending the actions of their executive director.  

Joanne was compensated for representing the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce in the best possible way for its members and last week she failed. 

Good people are not immune to making stupid mistakes. Sometimes we fail to grasp how our actions can propel us in the opposite direction of where we want to go and what we want to accomplish.  Who among us hasn’t wished that we could take our words or our actions back during an unfortunate episode in our lives? We’ve all been there — but just maybe not on camera.

Joanne has apologized for her actions to the community and to BIU leader Christopher Furbert and he has accepted her apology. The rest of us should follow suit and get back to making Bermuda work for all Bermudians.  

As I said before, I like Joanne.  I know it will take time and a lot of work but I look forward to hearing about her fresh start.