Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

In a surprise move to many, Ocean City Public Works Director Hal Adkins notified the city Wednesday morning he is not interested in replacing former City Manager Dennis Dare at this time in his career and “for the foreseeable future.”

In an email addressed to Mayor Rick Meehan, who is doubling as acting city manager after Dare was ousted earlier this month, and Council President Jim Hall, the leader of the four-member council majority, Adkins wrote he is passing on the post after careful consideration.

Adkins has indicated previously the city manager’s position was one he had hoped to aspire to at some time in his municipal career, presumably after Dare retired in a few years. However, this week Adkins said the timing was just not right for him and his family and the handling of Dare’s removal played a part in that decision.

“As you recall, after nearly three hours of discussion [during a closed meeting on Sept. 19], the simplest summary of any action item that resulted from that meeting was for me to ‘think about’ the position and my willingness to accept an appointment, if it were offered,” Adkins wrote. “After spending the last week doing so, I wish to respectfully inform you both my answer is no. The timing that has presented itself is terrible for both my family and my career planning goals. The truth be told, and expressing my personal feelings in a crystal clear manner, the recent actions of resignation in lieu of termination for Dennis Dare have now caused a negative effect on me also. The details of that comment will remain private and I will find a way to live with it.”

Adkins continued that he did not wish to be contacted by members of the council trying to change his mind, although he did not rule out considering the city’s chief executive role in the future.

“Should the opportunity present itself again in five to 10 years, I may have an interest at that time depending on other factors that will need to be weighed, by me, at that time,” he said. “… I respectfully request we now maintain the historical lines of communication that have worked so well, my communications through the Interim City Manager’s Office without ‘crossing political lines’. I do not care to be pressured by individual members of the Mayor and City Council with respect to changing my position. I will not, respectfully stated.”

The fallout of this decision is still fresh around the city, and this makes the recent decision to not conduct a national search for the next city manager even more pertinent and likely worth revisiting, considering the lead candidate is now out of the running.

During a recent closed session meeting, Councilwoman Mary Knight made a motion to initiate a national search for the post. It was voted down in predictable fashion, with Doug Cymek and Lloyd Martin supporting their colleague and majority members, Brent Ashley, Joe Hall, Jim Hall and Margaret Pillas, in opposition.

It has been quite clear over the last couple weeks why the majority was not interested in doing a national search. It’s because they wanted to appoint Adkins, who gave them the business of thanks but no thanks this week.

It’s no secret other internal names have surfaced and they include City Engineer Terry McGean, Finance Administrator Martha Lucey and Fire Chief Chris Laramore. However, it was confirmed by many that Adkins had the inside track, and with him out of the picture, it’s going to be fascinating to see which direction the council now heads.

It’s been a long time since Berlin has had an elected official to stir the pot, and Councilwoman Lisa Hall seems intent on filling that void in a big way.

Small town politics is always interesting, but in Berlin most of the time it’s quite banal, as the Mayor and Council have traditionally heeded the recommendations made by the town’s chief administrator in predictable fashion. Times are changing in the historic town, as Hall is taking off her proverbial gloves and looking to expose some issues she feels need attention.

According to Hall, many of her constituents, or “ratepayers” as she refers to them, are not pleased with how the town is being managed. Hall agrees with them and seems intent on holding administrator Tony Carson and Mayor Gee Williams culpable. She feels Carson, Williams and Councilman Troy Purnell are running the town with iron fists.

Hall maintains the media and some residents have been sipping the mayor’s public relations tea (Gee’s tea if you will). She said all is not well in the town, many citizens are unhappy with how Carson, Williams and Purnell are leading it and people need to know it. For their part, the three subjects of her agitation feel the town’s finances and direction are stronger than it ever has been.

Two points some detractors are still harping on is the raise given to all town employees earlier this year and the mayor improperly intervening in the Atlantic Hotel window issue. One citizen went so far as to file a Freedom of Information Act request, seeking all town salaries so he could review it.

All in all, Hall’s main goal in bringing issues to light is to motivate the citizens and to have each Mayor and Council seat contested next October. In that regard, Berlin and Ocean City have something in common, as the citizen movement in Ocean City is seeking similar goals.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.