In a scene reminiscent of both the courtroom tirade by Al Pacino's character in the 1979 courtroom drama ...And Justice for All, and Jack Nicholson's famous line in A Few Good Men, Mayor Al McDonald and North Bay Taxpayers' Association Treasurer Don Rennick went toe-to-toe in a showdown not soon to be forgotten.
After several public presentations, Rennick took the podium, and after offering a greeting to His Worship and the Councillors, the Mayor stopped Rennick dead in his tracks.
"Before you start, in May I asked you, because you made comments about our staff, to follow our code of conduct. You basically refused. I gave you a second chance, and May 30th you made more remarks about our staff. I'm going to ask you to withdraw them and apologize to our staff," announced McDonald.
"I certainly will," replied Rennick, "Could you repeat the remarks you would like me to apologize for?"
"Staff has been misleading Council, and Council has been unable to grasp this fact," replied the Mayor, while quoting Rennick.
"And why would I apologize for that remark?" retorted Rennick.
This has been a long-simmering public battle, which has included name-calling, lawsuits, and indignation about the actions of the other party from both sides.
Animosity between the mutually disagreeing parties, and the strong personalities heading the factions meant this would all come to a head, and Tuesday night at the Regular Meeting of Council, this latest chapter of the tumultuous relationship did just that.
"That remark is true, what have I got to apologize for?" asked a perplexed Rennick.
"So, I've asked you to apologize, you don't need to, but I'm going to ask you to take your seat, I'm not going to allow you to proceed with your presentation," said McDonald.
As the two men talked over one another for several seconds, those witnessing the scene inched forward in their seats, certain that someone was about to say something they would regret.
With a final admonishment to take his seat, Rennick relented and the day's drama seemed complete.
Mayor McDonald continued on with the meeting, while those in the gallery and around the Council table exchanged glances showing their bemusement about what had transpired.
When the Mayor and Councillors retreated for an in-camera session, Rennick spoke about his frustration with other NBTA members and the media.
There was some uncertainty about whether it is within the Mayor's purview to block a public presentation. Rennick stated that the Mayor nixed his presentation because he was afraid of opposition to his administration.
Rennick wondered where the evidence was that he had slandered City staff, while again challenging the Mayor's right to prevent him from speaking.
Rennick lasted slightly longer at the podium Tuesday than he did on May 16, where in a less-heated exchange, Mayor McDonald listed what he felt were the NBTA treasurer's transgressions, asked him to follow the City's code of conduct, and ultimately ended Rennick's presentation before it started.
To see video of the May 16 exchange click here, and begin viewing at the 16:30 mark.
Mayor McDonald was firm in his stance that he had acted within his rights as Chairman of the meeting in forbidding Rennick from presenting.
"Anybody is welcome to make presentations, but there is a code of conduct that must be followed. When (Rennick) made accusations that the staff deliberately misled the Council and our citizens, that is not allowed in the decorum of the meeting, and as Chair I have the power to stop those presentations," said McDonald.
"The responsibility is with me to run the meeting according to our by-laws, and no presenter can get up and make those types of accusations," continued McDonald.
With Rennick still in the chamber accepting media requests, a security guard entered, standing watch.
Asked what steps can be taken to deter outbursts, the Mayor said he did not sense a security concern during the heated exchange, but did say that procedure would have seen an unruly visitor to City Hall removed from the premises for various infractions, including not ceding the floor when asked.
"Mr. Rennick has presented something like 30 times. It's not like we don't want to hear the message. It's ok to give an opinion. A lot of times the information being presented is not correct, but it's not our job to correct it. It is just an opinion," continued McDonald.
When asked if he would apologize for his remarks so that he could present, Rennick replied, "No, I would never do that."
Asked what would happen if Rennick wished to present at the next meeting of Council in less than two weeks, McDonald replied, "I would expect him to withdraw his remarks. I am standing firm."
What do you think? Should Taxpayers' Association Treasurer Don Rennick be banned from speaking to council by Mayor McDonald until he apologizes or is it undemocratic? Take our poll and give us your opinion in the comments section.