Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Ocean City Councilman Brent Ashley was forceful this week in his questioning of City Manager David Recor over a perceived blunder at the hands of city staff.
At issue is whether the city erred when it let a deadline pass involving the town’s advertising agency contract. It was reported that the city had to decide within 180 days of the contract expiring whether it was looking to test the market and see what other advertising agencies could do for the city and more specifically how much it would cost. The former council had decided to last year extend the contract for a year with the understanding the city would embark on a Request For Proposal process this year. As a result of the notice period passing, the contract automatically renewed for another year with the current vendor, MGH Advertising.
Therein lies at least part of the rub. Does a former council’s position and vote carry over after an election? It’s unknown if the current council felt the same way because it was not broached publicly. While that’s an unknown, what is clear is someone within the city let this deadline pass without any council discussion, and all indications are it was an oversight. Ashley found that to be inexcusable this week, and he has a point.
Ashley clearly was frustrated with the city manager and his complaints ring familiar. One of the major reasons the former council majority cited continuously for removing former City Manager Dennis Dare in September of 2011 was because he was unwilling to carry out policies dictated and work with the majority and the “new direction” it wanted to take the city. On some level, right or wrong, Ashley seemed to be indicating Recor intentionally did not follow up on a matter he recently addressed.
“This is what I was talking about at the last meeting and everyone seemed confused. Is everyone clear now?,” Ashley asked. “My question is, at what point was it decided not to do the RFP and who decided it?”
Recor responded no decision was made at all on the matter, and he simply claimed responsibility and did not offer any insight as to why it went down the way it did. Ashley did not accept that, giving the city manager a verbal tongue lashing. He was clearly frustrated by the fact a recent discussion point was not followed up on as well as the fact an official council vote was held on this specific point last year.
“You have a valid motion, a second, and a majority vote to do this and it never happened. We set policy up here, and we pay salaries for professional people to follow the directive of the council,” said Ashley, who voted for Recor to be the next city manager during the search process last year. “You know what Mr. Recor, we just had a case a couple of weeks ago with a parking lot where the lease wasn’t paid for two years and nobody knew it. Who is watching the store here? It is not up to me as a council member. When a motion is made to move forward with a majority vote, it is up to you to make sure that happens. So, now we don’t have a RFP, it’s too late to do it again. Is there anything else we should be checking here before it slips through the cracks?”

Should elected officials sleep during meetings?
The obvious answer is no, but it happens during most Worcester County Commission meetings with one commissioner in particular known for falling asleep during the typically brief gatherings. It’s been happening for years in various severities.
During a recent meeting, a new low was achieved, however, with the commissioner in question turning his chair away from the speakers and falling into a deep sleep while commission members heard various business matters. At least one photo of the long-time commissioner asleep in his chair with mouth agape has been circulating through electronic channels this week. There he was in a deep sleep while business was being handled around him.
To quote my favorite ESPN football segment, “C’MON MAN.”