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