What has been expected for several months took place in Ocean View Town Hall on Tuesday night, as the town council voted 5-0 to terminate the contract of Town Manager Conway Gregory without cause.
Gregory has been somewhat of a lightning rod for controversy in the town, along with Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin. In fact, much of the recent in-fighting in town has focused on the fact that McLaughlin’s contract specifically states that he reports to the mayor directly, as opposed to the town manager.
A recent study performed by the University of Delaware’s Institute of Public Administration (IPA) suggested that the best governmental structure for Ocean View was one based on a strong town manager — meaning that McLaughlin, and all department heads for that matter, should report directly to Gregory. Town officials, including the mayor, have publicly stated that they agreed with that assessment, but that McLaughlin’s contract is explicit on whom he reports to in the chain of command.
The feeling many observers have had is that McLaughlin would be open to reporting to a town manager in the future — just not this particular one.
This is not a great day for Ocean View. Gregory is a competent town manager and consistently took realistic views in regards to the town’s budget and expenditures. Wood praised him Tuesday night specifically for recognizing that the town was relying too much on transfer tax dollars when he took the job.
But, as is often the case, personalities clashed frequently, and town officials felt the need to make a clean break from the situation and move forward with a new town manager.
The future will tell us if the council made the right decision on this one, and voters will tell council if they agreed with this move during the next election. That’s how this works. We wish Gregory, and the town, all the best in the future.