Off the rails in Clarke’s Beach

The Compass - - OPINION -

It’s a trou­bling sit­u­a­tion that is far from be­ing re­solved, and leav­ing a per­ma­nent black eye on the Town of Clarke’s Beach.

This grow­ing, pros­per­ous lit­tle town that shares a bound­ary with North River, Bay Roberts and South River is be­ing torn from within by dis­sent and con­tro­versy. Some are sug­gest­ing the town coun­cil is now bor­der­ing on be­ing dys­func­tional, and based on re­cent events, it’s hard to ar­gue oth­er­wise.

The pot, which had been sim­mer­ing for sev­eral years, seem­ingly boiled over near­ing the end of a pub­lic coun­cil meet­ing on June 25. Deputy Mayor Kevin Hussey, who is now at the cen­tre of an un­usual land dis­pute with a prominent med­i­cal doc­tor in the re­gion (see ar­ti­cle on A1), launched a broad­side at Mayor Betty Moore and an­grily left the cham­ber through an al­ter­nate en­trance. Hussey blames Moore for be­ing the cause of the di­vi­sion and con­tro­versy in the town, and ac­cuses her of con­stantly un­der­min­ing the de­ci­sions of coun­cil. Hussey also spoke out last week about what he al­leges is a con­flict of in­ter­est by the mayor in re­la­tion to the set­ting of a gas al­lowance for the mayor’s ve­hi­cle.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view last week, Hussey stated the fol­low­ing: “I’m sick of Betty Moore … She has done ev­ery­thing to try and cause a racket and fuss. Not one coun­cil­lor sup­ports her.”

Close ob­servers of the Clarke’s Beach town coun­cil might agree that Moore, the only fe­male, is iso­lated. But those same ob­servers would be hard-pressed to agree that Moore is the root of the prob­lems, con­sid­er­ing that many of the con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sions made by coun­cil were op­posed by the mayor, in­clud­ing a de­ci­sion last week to re­ject a re­quest from Hum­ber to ad­dress coun­cil.

Let’s leave no doubt. Hum­ber has a le­git­i­mate beef with Hussey and the town, one that is cre­at­ing a buzz through­out the re­gion, and coun­cil should go out of its way to be open, trans­par­ent and co-op­er­a­tive. By re­ject­ing Hum­ber’s re­quest for an au­di­ence with the group, ei­ther at a pub­lic meet­ing or in pri­vate, coun­cil took the op­po­site ap­proach. As a result, Hum­ber is now dig­ging in his heels even deeper.

Snub­bing Hum­ber ex­hib­ited an un­bend­ing loy­alty to a “pro­to­col” that re­quires a week’s no­tice be given in writ­ing. There are times when this pro­to­col should be over­looked, and this was one such oc­ca­sion. Al­low­ing Hum­ber the chance to speak would have ad­vanced this dis­pute closer to a res­o­lu­tion. In­stead, it’s now sure to drag out even longer, and heighten the al­ready high level of ten­sion.

What we need is for all those in­volved to take a step back, take off the blin­ders and open their minds. If it re­quires the as­sis­tance of of­fi­cials with Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs to make it hap­pen, so be it. The peo­ple of Clarke’s Beach de­serve bet­ter than this.

Terry Roberts

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