OCEAN CITY — In the wake of City Manager Dennis Dare’s forced resignation, a local citizens group is mobilizing to fight the council majority that orchestrated it.
At Monday night’s Mayor and Council meeting, Joe Groves, president of the Delmarva Condo Managers Association (DCMA) who is currently serving as general manager of The Plaza building, will be speaking and representing the Citizens for the Preservation of OC, a group formed on Facebook that has more than 1,000 friends.
“Ocean City has become our national government — you are either on that side or this side,” said Groves, a former federal government employee who worked out of the White House and also worked to get now-Governor Martin O’Malley into office as Baltimore City’s mayor.
Since last week’s events at City Hall, Groves, a full-time Ocean City resident who owns a number of properties in town, said he has spoken with four council members privately, including Councilwoman Margaret Pillas, the only member of the council majority willing to meet with him.
According to Groves, who was joined by former DCMA President Bob Paroda in the 80-minute meeting, Pillas said Dare was asked to resign because he was not following the council majority’s orders, contradicting Council President Jim Hall’s public comments that Dare was removed for a “change in management direction.”
“I just wanted to get to the bottom of it as a citizen to try and understand what happened,” Groves said. “She said, ‘the reason we fired him was because for months we were asking him to get us information and we would ask his department heads to get it and they would not get it for us. That’s why we fired him.’”
During that meeting, Groves said Pillas reported the city has “62 applicants for the position”. However, City Hall confirmed not one application has been received.
Groves said he got involved as the spokesperson for the citizens group after reading Councilman Joe Hall’s comments after last Friday’s meeting to WAMU Coastal Connection host Bryan Russo, who was writing for ShoreBread.com.
“We have been very clear since we took power that we have an agenda, and this is a step in that agenda”, he said. “We are headed in a new direction in Ocean City.”
Groves said, “They don’t control the government. We control who we put there, and they have a rude awakening coming their way. They believe it will just blow away, but it’s not going away.”
Groves said the group has a structured plan of five or six objectives including tackling voter registration and educating voters.
“I’m going to speak at Monday’s meeting and I believe we will have about 200 people there,” he said. “My objective on Monday is to find out what the plan is. I’m not going to stand for someone to say ‘it’s a personnel issue’ or ‘we are working on that plan, it’s nobody’s business.’ ”
Groves also said he has requested the phone records of each council member because he believes there’s malfeasance among the council majority.
“I’m not afraid to speak out, nobody can take anything from me,” Groves said. “I believe in standing up for the right thing. Some of the people on my executive committee say they don’t want to be the spokesperson because they run businesses and won’t get what they need. They can’t take anything from me.”
On Monday, Sept. 26 at 10 a.m., the citizens group will be meeting at the Clarion to discuss future plans. The public is encouraged to attend.
“I’m expecting 300 to 400 people to attend this meeting,” he said. “I’m going to invite the entire City Council to come. We want a positive message. Yes, we disagree with the firing of Dennis, but we understand he serves at the pleasure of the council. My argument is we are not going to get Dennis back, but this is ridiculous how they are operating. ”