Manchester councilman resigns seat Job in Hampstead clouded his status


Manchester Councilman John A. Riley announced his resignation last night after a closed executive session that he attended with the mayor, Town Council, and two town attorneys.

Mr. Riley said in a resignation letter that his move was in the best interests of the town. The letter also said his attorney had told him he still was a voting member of the council. But Mr. Riley's resignation took effect last night.

After the closed session, Mr. Riley did not comment on his resignation, except to say, "I resigned my council seat in Manchester. That's it."

Mayor Earl A.J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. had declared Mr. Riley's seat vacant at the Sept. 22 council meeting in the wake of an opinion from the state attorney general's office.

The opinion held that, under the state constitution, Mr. Riley could not simultaneously hold the position of Manchester town councilman and the position of Hampstead town manager. Both are paid public jobs.

After two secret ballots during its public meeting last night, the council split 2-2 over a successor among three candidates. Only two of the nominees got votes.

Before the voting, the council members had battled over whether they should try last night to elect a successor to Mr. Riley.

Mayor Warehime said the council would vote again at its Oct. 27 meeting.

County Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy Jr., a former mayor of Manchester, told the council at the public meeting that its members should resolve their differences. He said the council's infighting in recent weeks has damaged the town government's reputation.

"It grieves me to hear from so many directions . . . 'What are the town clowns up to this week?' " Mr. Lippy said.

In what he called "grandfatherly advice," Mr. Lippy said the town's current problems could be solved if the council would decide every issue on its merits, without letting the members' personal likes and dislikes obstruct decisions.

"We hear of eternal feuding between two factions" over the status of Town Manager Terry L. Short, Mr. Lippy said, as well as efforts to "short-circuit" the mayor's power with a charter amendment and a state attorney general's opinion on Mr. Riley's status "mysteriously generated" by a Montgomery County official.

"That sounds like Keystone Cops, doesn't it? It's comic -- comically tragic." he said.

Commissioner Lippy said the council members should examine their consciences to see if they thought Mr. Short had been treated fairly.

If not, he said, "then he deserves to be let alone" until his contract expires.

Mr. Lippy also asked the council to "Let everyone forget about the past, put the pieces back together and do the job you were elected to do."

After the council meeting, Mayor Warehime said, "We're going to keep trying to fill the seat."

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