At my age, there is not much in life that surprises me. However, I am stunned and frustrated to recognize how the current Fenwick Island Town Council has been using the “negative power of no” to diminish transparency and disclosure during these past two years.
It began when the residents were told no to their requests to view construction plans for a new commercial building that received a record number of accommodations. Then council’s authority expanded with another no to the many people who volunteered for committees but were denied when the secret selection process resulted in the same handpicked members on multiple interrelated committees. (This is a longtime but undemocratic strategy to pre-determine outcomes.) And then, additional “no rules” were applied during meetings to limit public comments via a ticking timer clock!
Now the Fenwick council has voted no again, this time for public use of the Town Hall until sometime in September, even though the governor has ended most COVID restrictions as of July 13. When the Fenwick Island Society of Homeowners (FISH) asked to use the meeting hall for its annual Meet the Candidates forum in July, Town officials replied with this latest no, citing potential health risks for employees who work in the building and utilize the restroom areas.
Most residents and employees have had COVID shots, the meeting would have been held on a Saturday and FISH offered to pay for any special cleaning. So why are the town council members and other town officials objecting to a town election activity that dates back to the 1950s?
FISH’s mission has always been to educate the residents in an unbiased and non-partisan manner in order to keep the community informed about town issues. This organization does not take sides; its mission is to educate! Isn’t it interesting that this is one of the most contested elections in recent years? And isn’t it questionable that the four incumbent council members up for re-election voted to prevent the public use of the meeting hall?
As a past FISH president for over 10 years, I would like to urge everyone involved to let the sun shine in Fenwick again. We need to continue the decades-long tradition of a FISH candidates forum. Therefore, open up the town hall again, and let the voters hear a positive yes rather than a negative no.