- Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 August 2009 17:25
- Published on Wednesday, 19 August 2009 17:25
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The Colonial Beach Regular Council Meeting held on August 13th was charged with emotions as the town welcomed the School Board's new superintendent Donna Power just in time for the new school year.
First off, esidents fought Ordinance #571 which as to rezone all C-1 parcels of land south of Boundary Street to Maritime Commercial, and they defeated it.
Next, residents on Santa Maria, located in the area between 205 and Stratford Street, saw the last step on the paper trail to the paving of Phase I.
Residents located past Stratford Street learned that the money from the county and state has been given to another locality due to a lack of financial commitment from the council.
After that, School Board Chairman Tim Trivett responded to negative comments made by council at the July 30 economic meeting.
Then Mayor Fred Rummage used the council's decision to revise the bylaws as an opportunity to revisit his accusations that the council is trying to take away his ability to perform his duties.
Rummage began his comments by establishing that the bylaws were not visited by any committee, that Town Attorney Andrea Erard drafted them and that members of council proposed some of the changes. “You do know that the bylaws themselves and the revisions reduce the role of the Mayor,” Rummage said.
Erard disagreed. “That’s exactly what I understand them to do,” Rummage said. “And if that’s the case and if that’s the desire of the Council, then why not eliminate the position of Mayor? Prepare a statutory change and allow the council to appoint a chairman.”
The mayor stated that the people of the town elected him under different circumstances, but he felt the law should be changed right before a new mayor is voted in "so that the new mayor and the people understand what is happening.”
When councilman "Sparkey" Ridgely attempted to inform the mayor that the bylaws where passed last year, the mayor rapped his gavel and said he had the floor.
Rummage charged Attorney Erard with acting alone on the drafting of the bylaws and stated that the pubic has not had a chance to react or respond to them.
Then the mayor insisted on going through the amendments one by one.
Erard broke in saying, “Mayor I don’t mean to interrupt you, but this is not my document; this is for the council and I’m a little uncomfortable with the tenor and the direction that is being focused on me. I work for the council, I draft the changes, this is not something I’m putting forth as a member of council.”
Rummage suggested the bylaws be referred to a committee.
“We have in this state open meeting laws; we have the Freedom of Information Act," Rummage said. "Both of these are designed by the legislature to do away with hidden agendas and the ‘good ole boy' networks.
“Actions that have been taken by this Council, starting in January of 2009; closed the mayor’s office; restricted the mayor’s use of Town Hall; restricted the contact with employees for the mayor; eliminated weekly meetings with the town manager, which I had established. Work sessions have been eliminated, restricting the mayor to only one regular meeting a month. Of course I attend all the committee meetings and will.”
Mayor Rummage claims the bylaws were created in secret and that he didn’t see them until January.
He reminded the audience that there is an election next year and asked the citizens to keep in mind what he has said. Since the mayor’s position is not due for re-election till 2012, one can only take this comment to be directed toward the voting of other members of council.
In response, the audience witnessed Councilman Burkett Lyburn's first ever loss of patience in a town meeting and his insistence that mayor owe the council an apology.
“I’m not going to sit here and be ridiculed or talk about what we did or didn’t do," Lyburn said. "We have carried ourselves in a respectful manner from the time we were elected in office to present day. I will not sit here and take any abuse for any member of this council from you, Mr. Mayor, and you should give us an apology. 'Cause we have never done anything to upset you or hurt you. We tried to do the business of this town. And that the only thing we’re going to do, is the business of this town.”
Council member David Coombes responded to the mayor by informing the town that the mayor has threatened the council with a lawsuit. Under the threat of a lawsuit the council members have been advised by the town attorney not to engage in unnecessary conversation with the mayor. Coombes revealed that lifting the threat of lawsuit would be a good step in the right direction toward repairing the relationship between the mayor and the council.
With the roller coaster of emotions present at last week's meeting, and the mayor’s threat of lawsuit against the very group he is a part of, it is not surprising that a confrontational exchange between Councilman Steve Kennedy and School Board Chairman Tim Trivett, witnessed by the Journal Press as well as one citizen, and the rest of the Council took place shortly after the meeting.
A few words of frustration were exchanged; then the men parted as if to leave. More words were exchanged when the two men circled back to face each other. Both men faced off within inches of each other.
At this point, the rest of the council and Police Chief Christopher Hawkins had exited the building to witness the confrontation. After assuring no blows were exchanged, Hawkins announced one of the two had to leave. Kennedy chose to leave the premises.
Although none of the conversation was clearly audible, it was obvious that months of pentup frustration was exchanged by both men. However, no blows were exchanged and no tires were spun as each man exited the scene.