Move comes as protest of others' 'personal agendas'
By Alex Bridges -- email@example.com
MIDDLETOWN -- The Middletown mayor and two members of Town Council resigned their seats Monday night in protest of others' "personal agendas."
Mayor Marshall J. "Mark" Brown and Councilmen Gilbert D. "Gil" Barrington and John Wesley Blaisdell Jr. criticized other members' conduct before each man announced at the regular Town Council meeting they would step down. Resignations took effect immediately and all three men walked away from their seats at the beginning of the short meeting.
"I can honestly say that I have never seen a more dysfunctional group of people who are supposed to be working toward the welfare of the citizens of the town," stated Barrington, who joined council six months ago. "Frankly, we are the laughingstock of the area and I will no longer be a part of this."
Blaisdell returned to council after serving more than a decade.
"I can no longer serve an atmosphere of too many personal agendas and disregard for the overall good of the town of Middletown and its citizens, effective 3/12/12." Blaisdell read from his statement.
Brown, who has stepped down as mayor before only to rejoin council, named names in his longer letter.
"I have fought an endless battle with the Council, the majority of whom have allowed their personal agendas to supercede the needs of this community," Brown read from a statement.
The resignations leave three vacancies on council. Council member Charles H. Harbaugh IV assumed the role of mayor.
Outside the town office building after the announcements members admitted not knowing until shortly before the meeting that their colleagues planned to resign.
Council members Mark H. Davis, Carl H. Bernhards and Donna M.G. Gray responded to the resignations with some surprise and defended themselves against the accusations.
Davis told the audience of a couple dozen people he urged Barrington before the meeting to reconsider his decision.
"A lot of the allegations about how much of a mess we're in have been grossly overstated, and also the allegations that it's the council that's the problem has been grossly overstated," Davis said. "If we didn't have disagreements I'd be a little worried."
Brown had accused Davis and others, including three members of the planning commission, of thwarting efforts to prepare the town for an expected growth in population and for killing a proposal to extend Middletown's boundaries across Interstate 81 which would bring more revenue to the locality.
"The egomania of Councilor Mark Davis, the duplicity of Councilor Carl Bernhards and the bitter vindictiveness of fired Clerk/Treasurer and now Councilor Donna Gum-Gray delayed legislation, froze budget adjustments and halted critical infrastructure repair and improvements," Brown stated.
Bernhards refuted some of Brown's comments.
"I don't believe that anyone has really in any way tried to stop the boundary adjustment on the other side of I-81," Bernhards said.
The mayor also blamed "the egregious conduct of three Town Councilors," supported by three members of the Planning Commission, for spurring the resignation of J. David Griffin as the Town Attorney, a role he took on in January. Griffin gave his resignation earlier that day.
"They not only attacked his integrity, but forced him into a position of referee as they placed their own person agendas over that of the best interests of this community," Brown read from his own statement.