Ocean View discusses quick departure of new town manager

Following Rick Konrad’s departure on April 27, two weeks into his tenure as town manager, the Ocean View Town Council met to discuss his resignation.

Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader noted that the Town had entered into a contractual agreement with Konrad on March 14 and that Konrad had requested to be released from his contract on April 27.

Schrader said he had spoken with Konrad’s attorney and drafted a severance agreement, wherein the Town will accept Konrad’s resignation and he will no longer be required to perform any duties at the town manage or attend town meetings, or be able to represent himself as an employee of the town. The Town will have no further obligations to Konrad or his kin, in pay or benefits.

The council voted 3-0, with Mayor Gordon Wood abstaining from the vote, to accept Konrad’s resignation.

After he had tendered his resignation in Ocean View, Konrad acknowledged that he had accepted a position as head of purchasing for Wicomico County, Md. – a position that was advertised for applications between April 6 and April 20.

“I have a problem,” said Wood. “I believe Rick Konrad should not accept the pay he received for two weeks… His leaving on Friday was not something that was on Friday, it was something that was in the works.”

Wood also went on to address rumors regarding the possible reasons behind Konrad’s resignation.

“We immediately began to receive calls from people in town who were convinced Konrad made his abrupt departure because: (a) he was being pushed out by Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin, or (b) he was pushed out by those who are against McLaughlin,” quoted Wood, from Point Editor Darin McCann’s May 4 column.

“What a bunch of unmitigated BS…” he said of the opposing claims. “I would like to apologize for people who made comments of that nature. Anybody who thinks differently is simply wrong.”

Wood said that he had numerous conversations about Konrad’s hiring, during which McLaughlin said, “I don’t think I’ve ever felt as good about the future of Ocean View as I do for the new town manager. It will be fun working, and it will be productive for the Town of Ocean View.”

Resident Jim Carr thanked Wood this week for dispelling the rumors, and those in attendance applauded.

Wood added that he was extremely disappointed with Konrad’s conduct – in particular his resignation by email, as opposed to an in-person or telephone conversation.

“Our brand new town manager was the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people,” said Wood. “What I feel is upset, disappointment, poorly treated and anger. It was work wasted by Bob Lawless, Tom Sheeran, myself, Lee [Brubaker] and others on the council. I would estimate that Bob, Tom and I spent each way over 100 hours on this.

“I feel the committee handled the process properly,” he continued. “Although I’m unhappy, aggravated, disappointed, feel poorly treated – on the other hand it’s better now than later. Decisions based on family are difficult to critique, and I will not,” Wood added.

Sheeran, who was the chairman for the search committee, said that he believes the Town will persevere and go on to find a great new manager for the Town.

“In the wake of this unexpected event, personally I strongly feel the Town of Ocean View is not only in good standing, but great standing,” he said. “Out department heads and employees have again shown their resilience by stepping forward.”

He added that the Town currently has three “excellent” candidates they are considering. The council voted 4-0 to reinstate the town manager search committee and to reopen the search.

“The search committee, we did our job. Unfortunately our selection didn’t work out too well. So we’re back to square one… I don’t think we’re in a mess by any means. I think we’re in good shape, very good shape,” said Sheeran.

“I think the process we did the last time was the right one,” added Lawless. “I know it was done exhaustively and cautiously, and I think we have to do it again, unfortunately.”

Until the Town has chosen Konrad’s replacement, Finance Director Lee Brubaker will again serve as interim town manager, as he had done since the Town ended its contract with Conway Gregory. Wood requested that council look into drawing up a contract for Brubaker so that he is properly compensated for his extra work hours and duties. That is scheduled to be discussed at the town council’s June meeting.