In an apparent act of vandalism, the tires of Ocean View Councilman Roy Thomas were punctured during last Tuesday night’s Ocean View town council meeting — something that has him and other members of council uneasy.
In a subsequent letter to Police Chief Ken McLaughlin, Thomas wrote, “It is my opinion that this incident is an extension of the recent behavior of certain individuals who have disagreed with my position on several issues that have come before the town council.”
Thomas wrote that it is a much bigger issue than the tires. He said that, although it seems to be a black eye for the town, the incident is not something that can or should be “swept under the rug.” Thomas said this incident was apparently the second time this year that it had happened to him.
“First, let me make it clear that this is not about tires,” said Thomas. “It is an attack on the system of government that we have. It is an attempt to intimidate elected officials to vote a certain way or a punishment for votes they have taken.”
Most notably in recent weeks, Thomas, along with Councilman Perry Mitchell and Councilman Richard Nippes, voted to change police Chief Ken McLaughlin’s contract so that he reports to the town manager instead of the mayor — as he had done since coming on board in 2001. The change was voted upon in a 3-2 decision, with supporters citing language in the town charter requiring the town manager to oversee all administrative manners.
Many in the community expressed concern that the decision would result in McLaughlin’s resignation. A prayer vigil and signs posted around the community in recent weeks have voiced support for the chief. McLaughlin has retained legal counsel in the matter, but has said in the past that he wanted to fulfill his contract to the town.
Regardless of the town’s struggles, Thomas is adamant that vandalism is not the way to voice concerns constructively and only hurts the town and all of its residents.
“It is a pattern that started in Ocean View several years ago and has now escalated to destruction of property. What is next?” he asked. “Today the victim was me. Tomorrow it could be another councilman or an employee.
“Passionate debate of the issues is welcome and makes for better government. However, this type of behavior can not be condoned or tolerated, and results in government that does not represent the entire community,” he said.