Sorry for apol­o­giz­ing

Har­bour Grace res­i­dent shocked by mayor’s re­ac­tion to apol­ogy

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DENISE PIKE

If Har­bour Grace res­i­dent Pauline Yet­man is ever again asked to apol­o­gize to mem­bers of the town coun­cil, she prob­a­bly won’t try it dur­ing a reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing. The apol­ogy Yet­man of­fered last Mon­day March 8 al­most got her thrown out of the town hall by po­lice es­cort.

“ I’m be­yond dumb­founded and shocked,” she said af­ter­wards. “ The mayor asked me to apol­o­gize and when I did he threat­ened to call the po­lice and have me re­moved from the cham­bers.”

Yet­man at­tended the coun­cil meet­ing hop­ing to speak to coun­cil about clean­ing up the town.

The Har­bour Grace na­tive, who moved back home from Mis­sis­sauga,

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On­tario last July where she resided for the past 22 years, says weeds, trees and garbage have taken over many ar­eas of her his­toric home­town.

Yet­man posted pho­tos of the run­down build­ings, scrap and garbage on her per­sonal Face­book ac­count (so­cial net­work web­site) and within days the Face­book group “Speak Loud and Let Your Voice be Heard in Har­bour Grace” was es­tab­lished.

On March 3 Yet­man dropped a let­ter off at the town coun­cil of­fice re­quest­ing to speak about the is­sue at the March 8 coun­cil meet­ing.

She also con­tacted The Com­pass and ex­pressed her con­cerns in last week’s is­sue

“ When I first moved here I was shocked at the con­di­tion of the town. It’s not the Har­bour Grace that I re­mem­ber as a child,” she said. “It makes me emo­tional to even talk about it,” she says. “I love his­tory and Har­bour Grace has so much of it. It’s one of the old­est towns in Con­cep­tion Bay and on the Avalon Penin­sula and should be kept up like Bri­gus or Cupids are. I feel in my heart that the towns­peo­ple have no pride or re­spect for where they live and I’m heart­bro­ken by what I see.”

Re­spond­ing to Yet­man’s com­ments, Mayor Coombs said:

“If she (Yet­man) wants to change things she should be meet­ing and work­ing with coun­cil - in­stead of that she is pub­licly in­sult­ing and bash­ing both us and the town. She made some pretty nasty re­marks about coun­cil mem­bers in­clud­ing call­ing us use­less. She won’t be get­ting the op­por­tu­nity to speak un­til she apol­o­gizes to coun­cil for some of the re­marks she made and has posted on Face­book.”

Un­jus­ti­fied

Coombs re­it­er­ated the same view at the March 8 coun­cil meet­ing held at 3:30 p.m. Re­fer­ring to item 5.1 on the agenda listed un­der Cor­re­spon­dence as “Pauline Yet­man-sug­ges­tions to coun­cil” Coombs said:

“Ms. Yet­man won’t be given the op­por­tu­nity to speak un­til she apol­o­gizes to mem­bers of coun­cil and this town for re­marks she has made. Once she apol­o­gizes, she can speak.”

At that time Yet­man, who was sit­ting qui­etly in the back of the coun­cil cham­bers with a group of 9 sup­port­ers spoke up and said:

“I apol­o­gize for some of the re­marks made on Face­book.” The mayor re­sponded by say­ing: “If there are any other out­bursts like this the RCMP will be called and the per­son mak­ing them will be es­corted out of the build­ing.”

Yet­man and her en­tourage sat qui­etly for the re­main­der of the meet­ing and left just be­fore the in cam­era ses­sion be­gan.

“He asked for an apol­ogy and I gave it,” Yet­man told The Com­pass af­ter­ward. “He didn’t say it had to be in writ­ten form or at a cer­tain time or date. I thought he was wait­ing for me to give it then and I also thought once I gave it, I would be able to speak. Not only did that not hap­pen, but he threat­ened to call the po­lice.”

Yet­man feels the mayor’s com­ment to have her es­corted out of coun­cil cham­bers was un­jus­ti­fied.

“My jaw and every­one else’s just dropped to our ch­ests,” she said. “No one and I mean no one even made a peep dur­ing the meet­ing. Not once did the mayor have to call or­der be­cause some­one was talk­ing or mak­ing a noise. We didn’t go there to have a racket or kick up a fuss, that wasn’t our in­ten­tion. I could see the mayor re­spond­ing in that way if we were talk­ing or shout­ing, but none of the peo­ple with me said a word dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings. And I would never con­duct my­self in that man­ner any­way.”

Wrong ap­proach

Yet­man says the town man­ager Lester For­ward called her on the day of the meet­ing to say her re­quest to speak was de­nied, how­ever she was hop­ing the mayor might have had a change of heart.

“ He asked for an apol­ogy and gave the im­pres­sion I could give it then and there, so I did,” she said. “I thought that meant I would be able to speak af­ter­ward.”

Mean­while deputy mayor Terry Barnes felt Yet­man as well as coun­cil­lors were the ones who were owed an apol­ogy.

“This sit­u­a­tion with Ms. Yet­man wasn’t han­dled right,” Barnes told mem­bers of coun­cil. “It wasn’t the right ap­proach. She wrote a let­ter ask­ing coun­cil if she could speak last week and didn’t find out un­til to­day, the day of our meet­ing that she was de­nied. Now that’s not right. As far as I’m con­cerned the town man­ager owes coun­cil as well as Ms. Yet­man an apol­ogy for how this was han­dled.” Mayor Coombs dis­agreed. “My un­der­stand­ing is that some tele­phone calls were made to Ms. Yet­man last Thurs­day (March 4) in­form­ing her she would have to apol­o­gize be­fore she would be al­lowed to speak, and an­other was made this morn­ing, how­ever she couldn’t be reached” said Coombs.

Yet­man, who has caller ID, says she has no record of any calls from coun­cil, other than the call she re­ceived last Mon­day on the day of the meet­ing.

To­wards the end of the meet­ing Deputy Mayor Barnes re­quested an apol­ogy for Yet­man and coun­cil once again.

“I just wanted to say that I still feel we all de­serve an apol­ogy from the town man­ager,” said Barnes. “I just don’t think that it’s right to call a res­i­dent three or four hours be­fore a coun­cil meet­ing and in­form them they can­not speak. I don’t agree with that.”

No more apolo­gies

Al­though Yet­man didn’t re­ceive an apol­ogy she feels some good came out of the meet­ing.

“ They (coun­cil) talked about host­ing a vol­un­teer week and are in the process of get­ting a re­cy­cling com­pany to come into town to re­move the scrap and car wrecks that are left around,” she said. “I made th­ese sug­ges­tions to coun­cil in the let­ter I dropped off last week. They’re my ideas. I’m glad to see they are mov­ing on them.”

Yet­man says the threat of be­ing re­moved from coun­cil cham­bers doesn’t bother her in the least, but she won’t be of­fer­ing any more apolo­gies.

“I didn’t start that Face­book group, some­one else did. All I did was post a few pic­tures and it took off from there,” she said. “A pic­ture does paint a thou­sand words and mayor Coombs can’t ex­cuse the mess this once beau­ti­ful town is in to­day. He can try all he wants to have me thrown out of the town hall, but that doesn’t bother me in the least. And he (Mayor Coombs) bet­ter get used to see­ing my face be­cause I am go­ing to be at ev­ery coun­cil meet­ing and I won’t be apol­o­giz­ing again. I tried that once and al­most got booted out of the town hall. I didn’t do any­thing wrong, but he sure showed his true colours.”

DenisePike/The Com­pass

CON­CERNED CIT­I­ZENS - Pauline Yet­man, right, of Har­bour Grace and eight other res­i­dents at­tended the reg­u­lar town coun­cil meet­ing last week hop­ing to speak to coun­cil mem­bers about clean­ing up the town.

Photo cour­tesy of Pauline Yet­man

MESSY FOUN­TAIN - The foun­tain at the S.W. Moores Memo­rial Park in Har­bour Grace is one of the ar­eas in town res­i­dent Pauline Yet­man would like to have cleaned up.

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