For the second time in seven months, the Cottage City Board of Commissioners voted out its chairman.
The council meeting on Wednesday included commissioners arguing with each other about everything from town challenges to personal issues, residents shouting from the audience, a commissioner banging on his desk and the chairman pleading with voters to remove some of his peers in the next election.
“I hope you vote me out of the chair,” said then-Chairman Commissioner Demetrius Givens. “It’s like being in a clown car in here, and I want to get out.”
Later that night, his wish was granted as three of the five members on the commission voted for his removal from the town’s top post. He remains a commissioner at-large.
Commissioner Phyllis W. Robinson (Ward 3), who was ousted as chairwoman in September, abstained. Givens also voted against the change in leadership.
The board named Commission Vice Chairman Gary Styles (Ward 4) as chairman. Styles previously unsuccessfully attempted to remove Givens from the post during a meeting last month, according to the Feb. 13 minutes from the meeting. During the last attempt, Commissioner Brigitte Young (Ward 2) abstained, along with Robinson, which prevented the change.
Among Styles’ reasons for removing Givens was that Givens holds every “legitimate” position in the administration instead of dispensing positions among the commissioners. The other commissioners that voted for ousting agreed, stating that Givens holds too much power.
Givens transferred the community garden and recreations positions to Robinson toward the meeting’s end, before his position changed.
Styles also accused Givens of grandstanding and exaggerating situations.
Young made the motion to remove Givens during the board’s argument over whether to expand Cottage City’s half-court basketball areas to a full court.
The arguing became so intense at one point that three residents attending the meeting shouted at the commissioners for arguing about which company to use for fencing supplies for Cottage City’s community garden.
“This is unfair. That money is for our community garden, not for you to sit up there and fight over it,” said resident Donna Hayes.
Former commissioner Aileen McChesney said the infighting has been an ongoing problem in Cottage City, but that all the commissioners who ran in the last general election campaigned for a “return to civility.”
“My parting words were, ‘Don’t squander this opportunity. You have a great chance to make some changes,’” she said.
While McChesney said she and Givens do not always agree, she respects his drive to participate in Cottage City activities and ensure they get done.