Havre de Grace Mayor William T. Martin invoked fictional TV news anchor Ron Burgundy on Monday, reminding city residents to “stay classy” as he expressed his concern over recent profane emails and phone calls directed at city employees.
“There’s been a rash of emails and phone calls to City Hall in the last couple of weeks, of people just dropping four-letter words on the employees and emailing people with insults and calling them names,” Martin said during the portion of Monday evening’s City Council meeting reserved for comments from the mayor.
Martin, who lamented that “it’s sad to even have to say this,” said six to seven profane complaints have come into City Hall in the past two weeks. People have blasted matters such as the large number of events in town and the challenge of finding parking during those events, as well as multiple projects to pave city streets in recent years.
“This is not a reality TV show. Nobody is watching — you don’t get credit for using bad words and bad language with other people.”
Havre de Grace Mayor William T. Martin
Share quote & link
Public Works Director Tim Whittie gave an update on paving projects Monday, discussing those that have been completed and those set to start, such as finishing paving along Otsego Street approaching Route 40.
“We’re trying to squeeze every paving dollar we have, to pave as much asphalt as we can around the city before the weather gets too cold,” the mayor said.
Martin said he has instructed city staff to hang up on callers or delete an email if the person uses profanity or other abusive language. He stressed that city employees who treat residents “rudely or with profanity” will face discipline too, emphasizing that “we are a civilized town.”
“This is not a reality TV show,” Martin said. “Nobody is watching — you don’t get credit for using bad words and bad language with other people.”
City workers will respond to citizen queries that are “civil” or “thoughtful,” though, the mayor said.
“We will reply immediately with a thoughtful response, and we will treat you civilized — that’s what we do every day,” Martin said. “That’s what this City Hall is all about, service to the community, to the public.”
The mayor, who praised employees who have stayed professional even as people curse at them, acknowledged that “everybody gets frustrated.” He encouraged residents to “just please be civil to people when you talk to [city employees], because we’re here to help you no matter the situation.”
“As Ron Burgundy would say, ‘Stay classy, Havre de Grace,’ all right?” Martin said, paraphrasing the character made famous by actor Will Ferrell in the 2004 film “Anchorman.”
Councilwoman Casi Boyer thanked Martin for his instructions to the municipal workforce, and she echoed his “Anchorman” reference, saying, “stay classy, Havre de Grace, we’re a cool place to live” for people of all ages.
Council President David Glenn reassured Martin and Whittie that “it’s not all bad news” regarding street paving. He said residents who have contacted him “couldn’t say enough about the paving.”