Thursday’s Town Council Regular Meeting marked the end of the line for the Proto gang in Cape Charles. With the new council set to come on board in July, Proto, Joan Natali, Dora Sullivan (resigned) and terminated (resigned?, disgraced?) Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek will exit stage left.
At Thursday’s meeting, there was much glad-handing and back slapping as the outgoing mayor and council congratulated themselves for a job well-done.
Cape Charles has seen a tremendous upswing, but that growth, like most good things that happen in this town, was the result of private citizens and their commitment. Around here, good things continue to happen, in spite of local government.
While the council is quick to take credit for the hard work of others, they also refuse to accept responsibility for abuse and blunders.
The Proto Council was in many ways merely a carryover from the Sullivan days, similar in its blunders, callousness, secrecy, and lack of transparency. From reverse-angle parking, rape in the park, drownings from inadequate safety measures, hundreds of thousands of dollars in environmental fines for the overpriced-underperforming wastewater plant, a record number of secret closed Executive sessions, to a redundant, wasteful and bloated staff inside Plum Street–in general, it has not been a real good look.
Proto and his council have been strangely silent on the Annexation Agreement, which is another reason for conflating them with the Sullivan reign. For some unexplained reason, the town had an agreement with the developer to pay to construct a new wastewater plant, as well as a connector road to the Bay Creek PUD. The agreement was in effect from 1990 until 2005, when it mysteriously disappeared. Maybe one day, Bob Panek, Dora Sullivan, Joan Natali, Chris Bannon or Steve Bennett can alert us to its whereabouts, and why it left the building in 2005? To be sure, Proto et.al are completely aware of Law No.27 and its implications for the citizens of this town, yet they chose to do nothing, willing to let millions of dollars be borne by the taxpayer.
The Proto term was summed up by one last blunder, their handling of the Panek Affair. When word hit the street of Panek’s firing, the Mirror immediately contacted the Mayor and town clerk. The request was pretty simple: just tell us the truth, tell us what happened. The Mirror only received the typical one-line response stating that Panek had resigned. Our response was, “We know that, but why?” We knew the what and the where, but it is also our job to report the why. What ensued was the typical stonewall of silence: we got nothing and had to start digging to find out where the rest of the bodies were buried.
Luckily, there is still one person left in town that has some decency and honor, and still believes in America, who understood the closed session was, if not illegal, was still a violation of trust, and importantly, felt the public had a right to know just what really went down.
Despite statements in the Cape Charles Gazette and to the Eastern Shore Post, it is common knowledge what really happened to Bob Panek. They can try and spin it any way they want, but it doesn’t change what happened. The more concerning problem is that the recent statements made by Proto and other members on council are just not true. Given what we know, and what was said by Proto and Chris Bannon, why would we believe anything they say any more? Why would we believe anything written in the Gazette, or what is told to the ES Post, or Nixle or Larry DiRe’s Twitter feed? In their last weeks, they did a fair amount of damage. In the end, all they had to do was come forth and tell the truth.
Now, we await the term of Smitty Dize. Dize has told the Mirror that he promises to be open and that, “I promise to tell you anything you need.” We hope so, but as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Council beware, despite the pollyanna smiles and hugs that exist only inside the insular bubble of Kumbaya that the select few inhabit, outside of it is a gurgling tide of rage. Read the comments in this story, and you will get a nice taste of the hatred and disgust the disenfranchised others have for this place. The lied to, those abused and pushed out, even those run out to the county, are still watching you closely, and hold you responsible. Don’t let the shiny, fake facade of tourism fool you.