- Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 May 2009 18:53
- Published on Wednesday, 06 May 2009 18:53
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At Thursday’s Town Council meeting Council members made a motion to suspend the rules in order to allow a vote on Resolution #33-09 seeking to impose restrictions to private office areas of Town Hall from Mayor Rummage.
The resolution stated that on April 27th 2009 and April 29, 2009, Mayor Fred Rummage had entered into the areas of Town Hall that are not designated for public use and has interfered with and interrupted the ability of staff to perform their work, this intrusion by Mayor Rummage into the private work areas of Town staff has caused some members of Town Staff to feel uncomfortable, fearful and intimidated.
This resolution takes matters concerning conflict with Town Hall staff members and Mayor Rummage one step further than a previous resolution passed just three weeks ago at the last Regular Town Meeting where the mayor was ordered to vacate his physical office and prohibited from interfering with the day to day duties and operations of Town Hall unless invited by Council as a whole or the Town Manager Val Foulds to participate in.
Councilman Ridgely commented that feelings of being uncomfortable, fearful and intimidated had been reported to continue going on in Town Hall. “This is one of the most unpleasant things I think the council has had to do. But we just feel it’s necessary. Town Employees are our assets; we’re going to protect the assets of the town and the people. The people truly feel fearful and intimidated by what’s going on and somehow it has to be brought to an end.”
Councilman Coombes at the previous meeting gave a very rough overview of the problems concerning the Mayors presence in Town Hall.
Thursday’s work session he was slightly more open about specific details of the problems by saying “Any reasonable person that has six elected people at odds with his activities or some of the activities in Town Hall and has the entire Town Hall upset, should come and sit down with us and have a reasonable, professional discussion of the problem. Instead I hear this business of ‘It’s war! Payback is hell!’ and that’s just not the kind of thing that the chief executive officer elected to this town should be doing.”
Coombes said, “I too said three weeks ago I was very sad about closing the Mayor’s office. Unfortunately tonight I also am convinced that this is necessary and it is very, very unfortunate. I want to, on behalf of myself and this council, apologize to the citizens of Colonial Beach and everyone, that we have to enter into this process. All of us would have preferred not to have to do this.”
The unpleasant action that Coombes referred to comes at the end of the Resolution instructing the Town Attorney to draft a No-Trespass Notice against the Mayor. Barring him from access to any private areas of Town Hall and instructing the Chief of Police to carry-out such Trespass papers with whatever action may become necessary.
Coombes made a plea to the Mayor to help resolve the issue saying, “I would hope that as a result of this, if it passes, that Mayor Rummage voluntarily would come to us and sit down with us. We all regret having to do this but the problems continue. The expressions of concern, fear and intimidation continue to come to us. We just don’t have any alternative, we are backed up against the wall we can not turn in any other direction.”
Coombes ended his comments by saying, “I say with all due respect Mr. Mayor, I hope you will take the initiative, I hope you will take a deep breath, I hope you will plant your feet in cement, I hope you will come to us and sit down with us as a group and have a discussion about the problem.”
Since the beginning of this year Council has put on their agenda items relating to defining the Councils role as well as the Mayors.
Vice Mayor Trish King who has remained silent in public spoke out about the previous resolution to vacate the physical office of the Mayor and the Resolution before them by saying, “I too am very troubled by having to participate in this action. It is very disheartening to know how hard everyone is working to put a professional foot forward.”
Kennedy reiterated that this was a necessary action to prevent a stressful work environment in Town Hall. He said, “This is not a head hunt for him, he created his own misery. We have done everything possible to resolve this and he would not hear of it. If it continues we will go to the next step.” When asked what was the next step, Kennedy replied, “We don’t know! That’s the problem.”
It was revealed and very obvious by the Mayor's lack of surprise when the Resolution was read, that the Council had presented Mayor Rummage with a copy of the Resolution before the meeting. However, he did show surprise when he questioned if it was to be put on the next meeting's agenda and was told no. Mayor Rummage had no comment.