- Published on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 14:54
- Written by Super User
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
KURE BEACH - The Kure Beach Town Council received resignations from all but one member of their Stormwater Committee at their June 20th, meeting.
According to Council member Emilie Swearingen the reason was due in part to how Mayor Dean Lambeth had recently treated a fellow committee member.
During the Council's June 20th, meeting Mayor Lambeth said, "We received several resignations from the Storm Water Committee" and he talked to Public Works Director Sunny Beeker and, "He thinks this committee has pretty much done its due and I propose we do away with it." Councilman Steve Pagley seconded Lambeth's motion.
Councilman David Heglar said, "I talked to one of the members. What I just encourage all of the Council - although I talked to the Mayor on this one - we talked about at our organizational meeting in January as we always do that we are going to be professional with everyone and we need to make sure that includes committee members when they do stuff we don't like. From my perspective for the council, if committee members bring stuff up in a committee that is outside the committee's bounds, we can't get totally upset and blow up on people. We can tell them what the committee should spend their time working on, but it should be done professionally."
Pagley said he spoke to Beeker and he said he could handle the duties of the committee as far as educating the public on stormwater issues.
Committee member Mo Linquist said the issue started when Lambeth said told her to "shut up and not mention seismic testing or else he would fire me and get rid of the committee."
The issue of seismic testing generated enormous public outcry earlier this year. Council previously voted 3 to 2 giving Mayor Dean Lambeth permission to send a letter to Washington supporting seismic testing for offshore oil and natural gas drilling. That resulted in unprecedented levels of public outcry opposing that position. A crowd of approximately 300 people rallied at Kure Beach Town Hall on January 27th, to voice their opposition to Mayor Dean Lambeth signing a letter in December 2013 supporting seismic airgun testing for off shore oil and natural gas exploration.
According to Oceana.org, "Seismic airguns are used to find oil and gas deep underneath the ocean floor. Airguns are so loud that they disturb, injure or kill marine life, harm commercial fisheries, and disrupt coastal economies. These dynamite-like blasts—which are repeated every ten seconds, 24 hours a day, for days and weeks at a time—are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.
Linquist opposes seismic testing. She said the committee's purpose is to meet the federal storm water requirements for public education and outreach.
She said the committee is often focused on stormwater and environmental issues. For example, at their March meeting they heard a presentation on harvesting rain water and using rain barrels.
The information was given to them by representatives of New Hanover County and the Fort Fisher Aquarium.
On Tuesday she said, "We had not discussed seismic testing until our May meeting after the Council did not sign a resolution opposing seismic testing and the whole conversation lasted a mere 15 minutes."
Linquist said, "He grabbed [Council member] Emilie Swearingen after the May town council meeting and told her she better “shut me up” concerning my voicing about the seismic testing" or he would dissolve the committee.
Linquist said that Lambeth later called her saying the committee should stop talking about seismic
testing. She said, "He said it was out of our jurisdiction and he would shut down the committee."
Linquist said that's when she decided to resign. She said it's a weight off of her shoulders and, "I can still do what I want. I've started working on eliminating the use of plastic bags that impact the environment." She said just because the committee is gone doesn't mean community efforts can't continue on.
During the June 20th meeting Swearingen said, "They resigned themselves because of the way she was treated and the way she was talked to and they were all... absolutely appalled that anybody on this Council would talk to her the way they did."
Swearingen said a requirement for receiving certain grant funds was to have an educational component for stormwater management and the committee was formed for that purpose.
She said they circulate educational information and materials and have played a role in the Town's successful recycling program.
On Tuesday Lambeth said, "I called Mo and said seismic testing was off the table. They should stick to things in Kure Beach. Focus on Kure Beach issues." He said he told Mo if the committee didn't start focusing on its original mission he would look into dissolving it."
He said the issue of seismic testing was not within their purview of topics to work on and the matter had already been discussed and voted upon by the Town Council.
Only one member of the seven member committee remained prior to the June 20th meeting.
The Council was presented with resignations at their June 20th meeting from Mo Linquist, Barry Nelder, John Gordon, Thomas Moffitt.