Maturity Prevails in Sykesville as Council Meets over Post Office Controversy
Well being as I have to get to work, I don’t have time to listen to my tape and give a detailed accounting of what happened at the town council meeting last night, but here are some quick impressions and here’s an article in the Carroll County Times. I believe one will also be following in the Carroll Eagle.
First of all there were lots of people there, at least 50, maybe 70, every chair taken and a crowd spilling out into the second room. I had to kneel on the floor.
As is usually the case when I attend any sort of public meeting it seemed that most of the crowd was older, beyond 50, beyond 60, beyond 70.
People really like the post office. They really like the people who worked there. And they’re angry about the loss of the post office, the loss of these women, and the town’s handling of the matter.
Mayor Miller did something very kind and wise by introducing the new town manager, Dawn Ashbacher, before starting the meeting, and everyone gave her a big applause. She wasn’t prepared to speak, but did say something along the lines of, “I thought everyone came here to see me.” Which sadly, wasn’t true, but did get a big laugh. I like her.
Then the mayor did something not so smart. He read a well-prepared statement, and said that the council had decided it would be imprudent to discuss the post office matter at this meeting, because the council needs more time to discuss the matter.
Which might have started a riot, but didn’t, because after saying that, he answered questions anyway. Everyone behaved well, no one lost their temper. And here are the pertinent facts as I remember them.
The post office is funded until July of 2013. However operations are suspended.
This was not a planned action to close it down. It was a failure in personnel management, not some sneaky way to destroy the post office.
Based on the response last night and the behavior of the town council, I would say the post office has a very good chance of surviving.
The next town council meeting, which will be in about two weeks, will be dedicated to the issue of the post office and hopefully the public will return in large numbers for that meeting. The public will certainly have a strong say, if not the ultimate say, in this matter, and the town council is clearly listening.
Jean Maher is bringing some sort of legal action against the town government. Apparently, due to this, the council is not allowed to discuss the specifics of the matter, including why she was fired.
When Jean lost her job, they offered her position to another of the three women, but instead, all three quit in support of Jean.
My impression is that the town government is embarrassed and chastened by this and really wants to fix the problem as soon as possible, but what next?
When I asked if there was any chance any of the women might be returning, the mayor said, “No.”
I should also note that several town business people are losing money and being inconvenienced because of this.
The post office will most likely remain closed through the holidays.
I thought the most concerning moment was when Councilman Ian Shaw spoke. He seemed somewhat depressed and a bit bitter about the whole thing, and he said, “I think it may have signed the death warrant for that post office.”
He did not elaborate and no one followed up on that statement.
The other council members seemed much more upbeat and determined to fix the problem. Hopefully Ian was just having a bad night.
The mayor did a good job of keeping things under control and civil. When asked about his behavior on social media, he smiled and declined to comment. That, of course, was a reference to his angry outburst on our Facebook page and his baby comment. He might have just said, “Yeah, I’m sorry, I should think before I type.”
Anyway, there’s no reason to assume that the post office is dead, but there’s also no reason to believe it will be reopening any time soon with the same four women who seem to be so popular with the people who showed up at the meeting last night.
That’s all for now.