I believe Council has taken a step backwards by cancelling the Economic Development Council and laying off/firing it’s five employees.
Oh yes, a “Seamless transition” was promised. How does that come about? Have any council members, or the CAO, Maury O’Neill, gone into that office to start a conversation about the grants and direction that the EDC has taken so that a knowledgeable transition can occur?
Simply, there was a meeting to terminate the EDC in November, and a week later, Shah Mohamed, the director, was given notice of termination as of Dec. 2021.
Wait a minute!!! The EDC was supposed to run until the end of April before it was transferred under the office of the CAO Maury O’Neill.
And how about this? That same CAO is also on the EDC board and is also becoming the director of the new absorbed EDC. Is this a conflict of interest?
Ms O’Neill recommended this action based on the Wayfinder’s report, got the town council to agree, got the EDC board to agree, and then appointed herself for the job. Being the CAO of any town is a full-time job that requires intelligence, care and cooperation with all of the town’s departments.It’s hard to imagine that adding Economic Development and Tourism portfolios to this complex job whether justice to all these can be accomplished well.
The EDC office was designed by groups invited to participate and I, being a Wawa Music Festival member, was in one of the groups asked to assist in this project.These folks have procured grants and helped small businesses get a digital presence as well as assisting in promoting sales, like the Goose Nest market, drumming up student volunteers, providing heaters and making sure all the COVID protocols were in place. They did a fantastic job.
When my wife, Mary Harbocian, tried to speak to council , she was first interviewed by Maury O’Neill after having submitted a written deputation, then, eight days before the Dec 14th town council meeting was given one day’s notice to submit her concerns, which she did. Two days later, Mary received a message from Maury that “council was too busy” to listen to her concerns for the allotted ten minutes, and maybe the mayor would ‘consider’ putting her on the agenda for January. No surprise here! We’ll just shut down all dissent so maybe you’ll give up and go away.
Fear of Change? Fear from “ideas’ from OUTSIDERS? Fear of losing control?
I, and quite a few others, are disappointed with this decision and I feel sad for five people who put their heart and soul into this office. Is it too late to reverse this and get everything back on track? That might feel like ‘eating crow’. Might not happen.
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