ROCK HALL TOWN COUNCIL MEETING REPORT

REGULAR MEETING

October 11, 2018

MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING

Present: Jones, Andrews, Edwards, Nesspor (Fithian, Capt. Dempsey, MacLeod, Porter, Sheriff Kirby)

ACTIONS TAKEN BY VOTE TO:

Approve agenda
Approve minutes from July 30 Utilities/Workshop meeting
Approve minutes from August 9 Regular meeting
Adopt Resolution 2018-01, 40-year $939,000 general obligation bond for Catholic Avenue water main replacement and new well projects

OTHER

Proposal to reduce water/sewer hook-up fee from $12,000 to $6,000 will be discussed at next Utilities meeting
Town deemed not liable in recent tram/bicycle accident; insurance claim denied
Per Fithian, Town water losses have been reduced from 32 to 12 percent with activation of new clarifier
Tyler Technologies representative will be invited to discuss new utilities billing software at next Utilities meeting; Andrews/Loller to discuss new software with County Finance Department
Proposal for $3,000 batting cage to be discussed by the Recreation and Parks Board
Unusable surveillance cameras have been returned to Verizon; per MacLeod, no contact was signed and no expense incurred by Town
Free Wifi hotspots now available on Main Street and at Civic Center
Fall Fest on October 13; Bike Fest on October 14; Halloween parade and Kite Fest October 27; Trick or Treat October 31, 6-8 p.m. (with Haven and N. Hawthorne streets closed to traffic)
Next Utilities/Workshop meeting October 29; next Regular meeting November 8

Compiled by Gren Whitman

TECHNICAL PROBLEM PREVENTED LIVE-STREAMING THIS MEETING

 

ROCK HALL TOWN COUNCIL MEETING REPORT August 9, 2018

 

REGULAR MEETING

Present: Jones, Andrews, Edwards, Nesspor (Porter, Dempsey, Wode)

ACTIONS TAKEN BY VOTE TO:

  • Approve agenda (1 opposed)

  • Approve minutes of June 7 meeting (1 opposed)

  • Approve report on June 7 budget hearing (1 opposed)

  • Approve agreement with Shore Scan to store Town records electronically

  • Accept property donated to Town (10 parking spaces)

  • Sell one Town vehicle for $250 and scrap second at scrap price

  • Donate $200 to Past [Fire] Chiefs’ Social Club

  • Withhold Town support from “Fireman’s Fest” (2 ayes; 1 nay; 1 abstention)

  • Advertise for new part-time clerical staff for Town office

ACTIONS TAKEN WITHOUT VOTE TO:

  • Accept County Sheriff’s report

  • Accept Town police report

  • Defer action on traffic problems and Town expenses re: bulkhead/ramp

OTHER

  • Community Spirit award given to Rock Hall 11-12 Legion Baseball team

  • Residential trash pickups will resume on Mondays on August 13

  • Letter critical of Jones and Nesspor’s conduct at prior Council meeting read into record

  • Sheriff Price described “Kent Goes Purple” campaign for September

  • Captain Dempsey presented State Police communication re: tram safety

  • Dempsey also explained Town Code Section 25-3 and disorderly conduct at meetings

  • Citizen asked for list of RHPD’s needs so she can consider possibly preparing grant requests

  • Mayor informed two attendees they were being “disrespectful,” but did not ask police for their removal

Compiled by Gren Whitman

FULL MEETING CAN BE VIEWED @

http://streamer.townhallstreams.com:1935/vod/_definst_/mp4:rock_hall_md/2018-08-09_2565415_MayorCouncil_Meeting.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wowzaplaystart=0

A Viewer’s Observations

Having spent nearly two hours watching the live stream of Monday’s Town Workshop meeting, I’ve come away with a few observations. There were the usual mundane matters of the town that cruise along with little dissent and the customary vote and approval, but there were a few things that have me bothered – I’ll get to them. As is the custom, it often gets ugly near the end and this meeting did not fail in that regard.

It seems that the roof of the Municipal Building has some issues requiring a likely re-roofing of the main structure. Ron Fithian stated that he had gotten a price of $24,000.00, not including plywood. What struck me was that the Mayor and Council did not ask any real questions about the scope of the work. Someone in the audience, chimed in to ask if it was going to be put out for bids. Well, yeah – that should be a given! Having had my share of roofs, there are some pretty obvious issues to be concerned about. What type of shingles ? What grade of shingle? What are guarantees or warranty? Ron will be addressing the matter again at the next Town meeting and I certainly hope that there will be some serious meat and potatoes on this. If only one quote is sought or provided; this is simply foolish business. I have to say that I’ve seen this one bid approach many times with the Town and I’ve always had issue with that way of doing business. It’s called due diligence, plain and simple, and if tax payer money is footing the bill, they have an obligation to the constituency.

Laurie Walters gave a very enthusiastic presentation as a citizen volunteer about giving facelifts to several of the deteriorating murals in Town. It’s a super idea and has all of the feel good that should make it a success. It so happens that I’m on the Board of the RH Marine Restoration and Heritage Center and couldn’t help but overhear some of the frankly, smart ass remarks about the Clamhouse. It’s not that those guys don’t like the Clamhouse, it’s just past political tainted blood. It’s unfortunate and I hope that it will change, but I will call a few of the folksout on it- they know who they are. I am opting to be gracious on this! Besides, we take charge of the maintenance on our mural. However, I do support a resuscitation of those needing it. Art is a good thing. We could use more of it.

Then, the plot thickens. It seems that the Mayor has been using one of the Town cars fairly extensively. Town employees sometimes do so. That’s ok only for Town business, but to use a town vehicle for personal use, is, in my opinion crossing a line. I can’t think of a single small town Mayor that drives around in a municipal vehicle. Mayor Jones was clearly aggravated about the challenge on this but I don’t think his arguments were solid. This prompted a tirade from Councilman Nesspor that denigrated into yelling and outright bullying of citizens. I’ve seen this conduct from Beef all too often and it is very unprofessional and unbecoming of a Council member. I happen to like Beef and know him to be a good person, but his conduct is out of hand. When he called upon Deputy Dempsey to have Gren Whitman removed because Gren raised the issue, was a childish power play. To Deputy Dempsey’s credit; he stood Beef down on his order and refused to act on it. Unfortunately, when the votes were cast, Mayor Jones, Rosalie and Beef voted to allow use of the Town vehicles – Beth Andrews and Tim Edwards voted against – Just so you know how that went. If you don’t believe me, tune in at around 1:30 into the meeting.

I’ve watched enough to see the same pattern evolving  ….. perhaps there really isn’t much new under the sun. And by the way, I was always taught that gentlemen should remove their hats before entering a room.

Liz Smith

 

 

July 30, 2018 ROCK HALL TOWN COUNCIL MEETING REPORT

UTILITIES / WORKSHOP MEETINGS

UTILITIES BOARD REPORT

Present: Jones, Kuechler, Andrews, Edwards, Nesspor (Fithian, Porter, MacLeod, Dempsey)

ACTIONS TAKEN BY VOTE TO:

  • Approve meeting agenda
  • Approve meeting minutes from June 6 (3 yea; 2 nay)

OTHER

  • Two replacement pumps on order for Bayside Avenue pumping station; cost at $10-12,000 each

WORKSHOP REPORT

ACTIONS TAKEN BY VOTE TO:

  • Approve meeting agenda
  • Approve meeting minutes from June 6 (3 yea; 2 nay)
  • Award playground contract to Mid-Atlantic ($74,500 grant)
  • Approve new trash hauler (Eastern Shore Environmental) at $7,000 per month)
  • Re-appoint three members of Planning Commission with terms as appropriate (Costa, Riley, Creighton)
  • Appoint three volunteers to Communications Board (Thornton, Soforenko, Harris)
  • Name Jones as liaison to Communications Board (3 yea; 1 nay; 1 abstention)
  • Permit Jones to have personal use of Town-owned vehicle (former police cruiser) (3 yea; 2 nay)
  • Permit any Town employee to have personal use of Town-owned vehicle per assignment by Fithian (3 yea; 2 nay)
  • Go into closed session to consider two personnel matters and acquisition of property

ACTIONS TAKEN WITHOUT VOTE TO:

  • Consider further proposal for cloud-based Town record system at next meeting
  • Instruct Fithian to determine Blue Book value of “gold” police car and 4X4 and sell them
  • Express enthusiasm for Main Street Committee’s mural project as proposed

OTHER

  • After meeting was recessed during discussion about questionable personal use of two Town vehicles, Jones asked Dempsey to remove the citizen raising questions; Dempsey stated that citizen was not disruptive and not breaking any law and declined to take action; meeting resumed
  • Given Town’s rock-bottom finances, a citizen suggested that Town sell retired police cruiser now being driven by Jones; suggestion not pursued; Town to continue to incur costs for fuel, maintenance, insurance, etc., for this vehicle
  • Cost of new roof for Municipal Building estimated at $24,000; cost of plywood additional; discussion to continue at next meeting
  • New town well close to operational
  • Open Meetings Compliance Board opinion read in entirety
  • Town disposing of/junking the unused Town dump truck now parked at recycling yard

Compiled by Gren Whitman

FULL MEETING CAN BE VIEWED @ http://streamer.townhallstreams.com:1935/vod/_definst_/mp4:rock_hall_md/2018-07-30_5726949_UtilitiesWorkshop_Meeting.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wowzaplaystart=0

 

 

A Reader’s Comment

The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object”

Thomas Jefferson

Gren certainly outlined a few choice issues about this non-meeting and although all are of significance, I’m on a somewhat different tack here; hence the quote from Jefferson.

What is at the core of my angst with the town leadership strikes at the core of free expression.

I’ll digress for a minute and harken back to the days of the Willis administration. As all pretty well know, it was a contentious time for reasons that are really not understood by many.Despite the countless hours of raised voices, hurled insults and vitriol directed at Bob Willis; he was generous in allowing folks to have their say. There wasn’t a 3 minute curfew on speaking ones mind and in spite of whether he subscribed to the speaker; he allowed freedom of expression.

When Bob left office, the number of chairs in the meeting room became rather slim, which sent a message to me, that there wasn’t much room being made for the public. It could almost qualify for a set up of musical chairs!

My current participation in town meetings would qualify me as a video voyeur and I’m ok with that, What I do see is the erosion of interest and patience in hearing what the taxpayers have to say. Mayor Jones is often surly when someone raises a question that is not to his liking. The gavel hammers down and the speaker is silenced. It may have the immediate effect of suppressing free expression, but the net result is to feed malcontent and distrust. It’s just not a wise way to govern in the grand scheme of things.

Leadership is difficult. Great leadership is rare.

Liz Smith