Despite the controversy that had been building in Holyrood over a microbrewery application which appeared to culminate in council’s public reprimand of Mayor Gary Goobie during the public meeting of January 19, news of his resignation hit like a bombshell Thursday afternoon when Goobie made public his resignation letter to council.
Council had reprimanded Goobie for the way he publicly criticized the process around the brewery’s approval, and for questioning the conduct of town staff for the way they handled production of a newsletter about the development.
Goobie didn’t attend the public meeting. The next morning, however, he forwarded his resignation. The day after that, he released it to the public.
“My confidence in the majority of councillors and some management staff has been severely compromised to the point where I can no longer effectively serve as mayor,” Goobie wrote.
“We must all admit there has been significant internal issues festering within the organization for quite some time, in which many of you have brought to my attention on multiple occasions. I have tried my best to address those concerns; however, to no avail.”
Goobie said residents have expressed concerns about various aspects of council, and claimed further that several councillors have expressed similar concerns, but did not feel comfortable coming forward.
The Town replied with a public letter of its own the next day.
“It is with disappointment and regret that Council accepts the resignation of Gary Goobie as Mayor of the Town of Holyrood,” began the letter, which went on to cite Goobie’s passion for the development and sustainability of the Town.
In an interview afterwards, Goobie offered his version of the events that lead to his resignation.
It started, said Goobie, with a call from the Town’s CAO, Gary Corbett, on Monday, January 18, following what Goobie referred to as a private, or secret meeting, of council.
“It was a meeting held between the majority of council with the Town’s (human resources) consultant,” said Goobie.
The meeting, he added, was held in relation to a number of comments he had made to The Shoreline regarding the brochure that was sent out by the Town on December 23 informing residents of council’s decision to approve, in principle, the Beach Head Brewey application the night before. Goobie had found the brochure problematic in both its timing and contents.
“They wanted a full retraction and a public apology — or else,” said Goobie of his statements to the newspaper. “I am more disappointed than upset that this secret, or private meeting, happened last Monday, unbeknownst to me as mayor, until I received a phone call that evening from the CAO.”
Goobie questioned why council would meet with the human resources consultant, who typically deals with staff concerns.
“It’s not the role of the consultant to deal with an issue that’s going on between council, so I don’t know why the consultant was there in the first place,” he said. “But the CAO advised me that a meeting had taken place that that day, which was unbeknownst to me. I find that extremely intimidating, or disturbing, to say the least.”
Corbett, on behalf of Deputy Mayor Curtis Buckle, told The Shoreline there was no private meeting of council, but rather a “discussion” among five councillors and a consultant at the Town Hall.
“Certain members of council inquired about whether a formal meeting was planned to discuss the news article,” said Corbett in an e-mailed statement. “The members were advised that the Human Resources Consultant (HRC) was in attendance at the Hubert Keough Municipal Building. These councillor's were advised that the HRC would be available for questions if they wished to attend. Five councillors participated in discussions with the HRC.”
Goobie said when he learned about the meeting, he decided it was best not to attend the public meeting the following night.
“I felt in everybody’s best interest, I felt it best to refrain from attending that meeting the following day,” said Goobie, adding he e-mailed a letter to council with instructions for it to be read at the meeting.
“Due to significant developments yesterday involving a “private meeting” among some councillors, in which I was not invited or privy to, but informed after the fact, I hereby advise that I will not be attending the meeting this evening,” read that letter.
However, Goobie’s letter was not read aloud at the public meeting.
Neither the CAO nor acting Mayor Curtis Buckle have been available for further comment about Goobie.
The former mayor said he was surprised by the public condemnation he received from council.
“If they had grievances, or some objections, as to why I conducted the interview (with The Shoreline) surrounding that brochure, why didn’t they come to me in advance of that council meeting?” he said. “They had a week to give me a call and express any concerns, or thoughts, or whatever. I never heard a word from anybody.”
Goobie said he still feels justified in making the comments to the newspaper.
“As mayor, and as a matter of transparency, I felt an urgency to clarify all these questions to the public. I operated within my authority given the circumstances, to do just that,” said Goobie.
He stressed that only some staff were involved in the production of the brochure.
Goobie argued the comments made about him at the public meeting should not have happened when he was not in attendance.
“Had I been afforded the opportunity to met with them that Monday, if I was advised of this secret meeting, all this could have been addressed,” said Goobie. “All of this could have been addressed and dealt with in an appropriate manner, and at the appropriate time. I’d been giving consideration to resigning way before this. This was only the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Goobie said he appreciates the comments he has received from residents in the last two weeks.
“I was extremely overwhelmed by the tremendous outpouring of well wishes and encouragement and support,” he said. “I was really overwhelmed— I literally came to tears, it was that moving.”
Holyrood council is next scheduled to meet on February 9.
Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News