‘Out of touch’
South River mayor responds to former councillor’s concerns
The mayor of South River is calling a former councilor “out of touch,” because of comments made in a letter to the editor, which appeared in the Aug. 2 issue of The Compass.
In his correspondence, Larry Stephan defended his reputation by taking issue with statements Mayor Arthur Petten made in an earlier Compass story.
Last week, Petten sat down with The Compass to make sure “ the records (are) kept straight,” he said.
“ I don’t want to go talking about anything that’s not factual,” he added.
The mayor addressed the following four matters in Stephan’s letter:
• In his letter, Stephan accused the mayor of speaking out of “proper context.”
According to Petten, Stephan’s council seat was declared vacant when he missed seven out of 13 meetings. The provincial Municipalities Act states a councillor who is absent from “ three successive months” of regular meetings is automatically off council.
Stephan stated he missed only nine out of 24 meetings.
However, Petten itemized 13 out of 23 meetings Stephan had missed between April 2009 and May 11, 2011.
“ I ’ ve got records to show he missed these meetings,” the mayor said.
• In his letter, Stephan claimed: “control over the council and the administration of the town are now directly under the influence of the mayor.”
Petten referred Stephan to the provincial Municipal Councillors’ handbook, which allows a mayor “a greater administrative oversight responsibility than other members of council.”
“ The mayor already has more control and more power, if I can use the word, over members of council,” Petten said.
However, he was quick to add, “it’s not that the mayor wants to override anything.”
The handbook also subjects the mayor “to the direction and control of council and ( the mayor) must abide by any decision of council.”
“ That doesn’t mean the mayor has not got more control,” Petten asserted.
Again, he insisted, “ I don’t want more control.”
• In his letter, Stephan said the mayor “ has now secured the majority vote influence on council with the arrival of his wife as the new councillor.”
The mayor’s wife, Joyce Petten, was sworn in as councillor replacing Stephan in the regular council meeting of Aug. 3.
The mayor is convinced more than one councillor is “in on this,” he said.
He wonders how having his wife on council is any different from the fact that “the mayor of Spaniard’s Bay got his daughter on (council).”
Coun. Sherri Collins serves on the Spaniard’s Bay town council with her mayor father, John W. Drover.
“If the two of us decide we’ll vote the same every time, it means nothing when it comes to doing anything,” Petten argued.
• In his letter, Stephan claimed the “ town neglected to hire a maintenance person or students for the annual maintenance and clean-up tasks.”
Petten’s response was abrupt: “that is totally false.” Kevin Rose from Brigus is now the town’s maintenance man, and a student — Rikki Tipple of South River — finished up on Friday of last week as maintenance and clean-up person.
“As a mayor, I want everything transparent,” Petten concluded. “ I want the town to know about everything.”
Arthur Petten, the mayor of the Town of South River, is standing in front of the town office.