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Mayor cans Oak Harbor marina board chair

Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley will get the chance to appoint two new members to the city’s marina committee after all.

An unlikely controversy about the volunteer, advisory committee seemed to end Tuesday night when the City Council voted down Dudley’s request to increase the committee’s size from five members to seven.

The next morning, though, Dudley kicked off the committee’s current chairman, attorney Chris Skinner.

Another member of the committee said he plans to resign soon, according to Dudley.

The mayor said he will now “reach out” to find two potential candidates and hopes to bring the appointments to the council in May.

He said he doesn’t have anyone in mind.

Meanwhile, Skinner said the issue, which he described as a “tempest in a tea pot,” is another example of Dudley’s leadership through retaliation. Skinner spoke  against adding members to the committee; he also is an outspoken critic of the mayor and represents two former employees who sued the city after Dudley fired them.

Skinner said no one  denied that the marina committee, or the marina itself, is working well.

“This is why we call Dudley the wrecking ball,” Skinner said. “If it’s working well, he wants to wreck it.”

During a council meeting last month, Dudley proposed bumping up the membership on the committee to seven.

He said he wanted more voices on the committee and wider representation.

One member should be a live-aboard, he said.

Council members were immediately skeptical. They questioned why a boat owners who doesn’t live in the city should be on the committee.

The council discussed the issue exhaustively at the April 2 council meeting. Skinner and another member of the committee addressed the council and spoke against increasing the size of the committee; Skinner said having fewer members is more efficient. They also weren’t happy that Dudley made the proposal without even notifying the committee members.

The council elected to table the issue and directed staff to bring forward two ordinances for the marina committee — one with five members and another with seven members.

Tuesday, the council tackled the issue again.

Dudley repeatedly said he was surprised that his proposal was controversial; he thought the marina committee members would be happy to have more people with ideas. He read a long list of other committees that have many more than five members.

“My goal is to see what can we do to have more input and to see what we can do to improve the marina,” he said.

The majority of council members, however, felt there was no reason to change the committee. They repeated the refrain, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

“When the volunteers prefer it that way, I’m going to support the volunteers,” Councilman Rick Almberg said.

A motion to continue with a five-member board passed by 4-3. Council members Almberg, Joel Servatius, Beth Munns and Danny Paggao voted in favor.

Thursday, Dudley admitted he ousted Skinner from the committee because of the attorney’s opposition to the increase in members. He said Skinner is “resistant to whatever the mayor recommends.”

“It didn’t have to be this way,” Dudley said.

Dudley said the marina is doing fine, but he wants to hear from people who have “fresh ideas” for making things even better.

“I’m not one for complacency,” he said. “I want a committee that continues to think outside the box.”

Skinner, on the other hand, said Dudley has no vision and no plan, but is just following the direction of his “kitchen cabinet” to get rid of people he doesn’t like. Dudley has ousted a series of people in administrative positions and appointed new members to different committees.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” Skinner said. “He’s like a grade-school kid who wants to assert his authority.”

 

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