Mahaney’s Cape May Political Riptide
Council Woman Patricia Hendricks put it best: “Why did that Council put off action on three City ordinances and then take action to hand their new police chief a three-year contract? What was the point? How did that action not affect the incoming administration?” A Cape May political riptide that nearly drowned the town.
Cape May nearly drowned in anger, frustration and ultimately an $800,000.00 payout of which more than half will be burden by tax payers. Drowning in anger because it happened. Drowning in frustration because to this day, no one is quite sure why all this happened. Thrown only a life ring called mystery, council appeared to be caught in a rip current.
Mayor Lear in his remarks said: “One might indeed ask why those elected officials were so casual and so dismissive of the potentially costly consequences for Cape May’s taxpayers when they made unfounded charges against Rob Sheehan.”
“Why, in an inexplicably swift decision by the Mahaney administration, was Marino given a 3 year contract,” asked Mayor Lear. Even though the Sheehan litigation and his potential reinstatement were still pending?” Mayor Lear continued.
All these questions and the promise from Chief Sheehan there would be no settlement without reinstatement. And the city settled. Settled because there was no sure course that the presiding judge would reinstate Rob, regardless of the outcome of the trial.
Although party to the conflict Councilman Furlin said he hoped it would go to trial. Yet he added, “An $800,000 settlement seems excessive and will probably anger most residents. It angers me. When residents try to assign blame for this burden, they need look no further than this council and Capt. Sheehan.”
Once a rip current takes hold of you, it can be futile or life threatening to swim against it. Perhaps Council members Swain, Furlin and Passagno tried resisting the rip current, even tried swimming parallel to shore a suggested technique. Pessagno also voted not to renew Sheehan’s contract on March 3, 2015.
Resolution and Apologies
Once settled, the city and her residents can move on. Rob, who took the high road by not dragging out the lawsuit and potentially costing the city much more, stays on the job, just not as Chief.
Chief Marino has no choice but to be (and there’s no reason to think otherwise) a great Police Chief. The book on this saga finally gets closed. After the city writes the check for $400,000.00.
I am probably not alone in feeling frustrated at this process. I am equally sure that I don’t know the moral with in the Cape May Police Department. Certainly they are ready to move on and deal with the job of serving and protecting residents.
I can’t help but feel that not only did this cause the Sheehan family pain, Council Members, including Swain, Pessagno and maybe even Furlin seemed disheveled by the whole mess.
Once approved it should be interesting to OPRA the closed session meeting minutes and read who said what to whom. Lets hope we don’t go down this path again.