Fall River Harbormaster Resigns, Blaming Mayor
FALL RIVER — On July 13, Fall River Harbormaster Bob Smith tendered his resignation effective the next day – and according to his publicly posted resignation letter, it's due to the city's current administration.
Smith had been the city's harbormaster for eight years, since previous harbormaster Bruce Bannister was suspended pending investigation of a motor vehicle incident, according to the Herald News.
In the July 13 resignation letter addressed to Mayor Paul Coogan and posted publicly to Facebook, Smith stated that Coogan's administration has made his job "exceedingly difficult."
He alleged that he was denied access to department funds for purchases, including for safety equipment, and that he made the decision to resign after being informed that the police would have control of the harbormaster's budget going forward.
Among the allegations in Smith's letter is a claim that a document submitted to Homeland Security named him as the responsible party for the safety plan at the city's recent Independence Day fireworks display.
"I had never seen this document nor was I consulted," Smith wrote.
He claimed that four days before the fireworks display, "there was absolutely no safety plan," stating that he worked through the weekend to provide a "safe and orderly event."
"I have operated the Harbormaster Dept. like a business, and we get by on a $25,000 budget," he wrote.
The department's budget for the previous two fiscal years has been just over $28,000, including the harbormaster's annual $2,500 salary – which, he wrote in the Facebook post, averaged out to around $1.66 per hour.
"It was a job I did for the love of the job, not the money," he wrote in the post. "And I loved it."
"Under these conditions I do not feel that I can provide a safe environment for the boating community, or the crew of the Harbormaster Department," Smith concluded in the resignation letter.
The mayor's office has yet to respond to a request for comment, although his office was able to confirm that the harbormaster has resigned and that the copy of the letter seen by WBSM is the same as the letter the office has on file.
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