Dalhousie councillors lose patience with suspended colleague Mickey Maloney
WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE ► Deputy mayor considers resigning because squabbling is such a distraction
Three members of Dalhousie town council say they've lost patience with their truculent, suspended colleague Mickey Maloney, and one may resign if things don't settle down.
"I'm going to give myself the month of January," Deputy Mayor Gail Fearon said the day after Maloney was expelled from council chambers again this week.
"And if things continue in this fashion, I'm seriously considering resigning. I'm not the only one."
He doesn't hesitate to use foul language and foul gestures.- Jean Robert Haché , councillor
Councillors Jean Robert Haché and Melvin Ferguson both said they support how Mayor Norman Pelletier has dealt with Maloney, which was to suspend him from the past two meetings.
The most recent suspension came Monday night, when Maloney refused the mayor's demand for an apology for allegedly insulting staff and councillors.
Maloney said he'd done nothing that required an apology — "That's a pile of crap," he said — and he was unable to get the mayor to provide more details.
Eventually, Maloney left the meeting, which had attracted an unusually large number of spectators, some supporting the ousted councillor.
Fearon said Maloney's behaviour has been disrespectful and vulgar at the council table. His Facebook postings about town business are also improper, she said, and the regular tumult on council has distracted from important work.
"I feel that we are spinning our wheels, you know, and a lot of the issues … top issues that we should be putting our efforts towards are being kind of forgotten," said Fearon, who thinks her time might be spent more usefully with other organizations. "We don't have the energy to put into the issues that really need the energy."
Fearon said Pelletier has tried to work with Maloney but now they are at an impasse, and she isn't optimistic about mediation.
Pelletier said a municipal bylaw governing council proceedings gives him the authority to suspend any councillor for disorderly conduct or using profanity toward other members.
Pelletier has also complained that Maloney is posting information on Facebook that should be confidential, and that he shouldn't be speaking for the town.
The only way the suspension can be overturned is by a majority vote of council, according to the bylaw.
The bylaw doesn't mention the need for an apology or any other condition that might bring an end to a suspension.
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"What I'm going to do next week is ask council if they want to accept Coun. Maloney back or accept my decision," Pelletier said. "That's it. So be it. And if we have to take other action we will."
Town council is scheduled to meet Dec. 18 for a public meeting.
Haché, who is serving his second term, said there was animosity from the start of this council, when he and Maloney got into a shouting match after Maloney blamed the former council for things that hadn't even happened.
"The first meeting, a shouting match right there," Haché said. "Can you imagine? That's day one."
Haché said the meetings just got worse, with Maloney refusing to participate in discussions if things were not going the way he wanted.
"He'd stop talking or he would insult people," Haché said. "I didn't note down what he said, but the words like idiot, and retarded and bullshit and things like that came out more often then less.
"He doesn't hesitate to use foul language and foul gestures."
Ferguson said he's been spared comments from Maloney but he's witnessed his colleague, who sits next to him at council, swearing at others.
"He's insulted quite a few people."
Ferguson said he supports the mayor's response to Maloney and would vote for a motion along those lines.
"I'm a team player," said Ferguson.
Maloney denies he insulted or swore at anyone and intends to take his seat at the next council meeting. He said he's asked a lawyer to look into the issue of his suspension.
An email statement from the Department of Environment and Local Government said the situation in Dalhousie is an internal matter and the department does not get involved in mediating such disputes.
"As an independent level of government, municipalities and their councils are expected to abide by applicable legislation as well as their own governing by-laws."
Andy Letourneau and Kevin Lavigne, the only other members of council, could not be reached for comment.