We’ve all read the NJ articles and listened to the WDEL reporting, and some of us actually sat through the Channel 28 debacle of former Mayoral Policy Advisor Velda Jones-Potter’s “explanation” as to how City taxpayers ended up paying for 20 WPD officers and other city resources at the Foxtail concert on 14 September. Many of us (publicly and otherwise) have been calling for a full, impartial investigation by City Council — an investigation where the parties involved provide sworn testimony and where any found wrongdoing is referred to the Attorney General. Mr. Gregory did promise a Special City Council meeting dedicated to looking into why taxpayer dollars were so badly mishandled and who would have authorized this. Monday, September
October 30 is the date, but I want to ask — again — that Mr. Gregory make sure that this is a robust questioning and investigation. Wilmington already has a bad reputation for governing itself, and making sure that the tough questions get asked and making sure that unethical behavior has consequences would be a great beginning in changing that reputation.
Most of the working people paying taxes in the City work for organizations that are serious about maintaining an ethical reputation. For us, the kind of thing that we’ve been reading about is career-ending behavior, because ethical violations can damage the businesses we work for. Wilmingtonians take a skeptical and eye-rolling view of its City government — mainly because we know that all too often, unethical behavior gets papered over, maybe with slaps on a wrist, but the person involved gets to continue punching a clock until retirement. Everytime this happens, it further erodes the public trust and it is well past time for someone, some part of the City government to insist on repairing this trust.
Longtime City residents know that there are individuals in city government NOW that would not be there if the system was more interested in keeping faith with taxpayers rather than making sure certain employees get their retirement. Longtime City residents have to live with strict ethics rules in their own jobs — why not the people who are paid by us? We also know that State Senator Bobby Marshall was proposing a change to the City Charter that would provide for an independently elected auditor for the city — a thing that the City Council voted a Resolution to discourage. If that vote meant that the City was ready to hold itself strictly accountable for ensuring that the public trust was always the first order of City business, then it is time to prove it.
Leadership here does not mean triangulating for the outcome that seeks to downplay some of this activity while being focused on a couple of individuals. Leadership means that you and the City Council make sure that taxpayers and the hardworking group of people who put on events that try to celebrate this City are at the table on Monday and that their commitment to the City is not thrown under the bus. I’m asking on behalf of the many people who are disgusted with this incident that you ensure that a serious (with sworn testimony)and public investigation occur, letting the chips fall where they might.
For all of the Wilmingtonians who read this — especially those of you involved with putting on events in the City –please reach out to Council President Theo Gregory to ask him to be firm in delivering on his promise to get to the bottom of this bad business of misusing taxpayer funds and waiving requirements that all other City events work hard to meet. His email: tgregory@WilmingtonDE.gov ; his phone: (302) 576-2140. If he isn’t available when you call, leave a message saying you are a resident and/or an event committee member and that you want a full and thorough investigation on Monday into why the City paid for Foxtail police.
One last thing — there’s talk about Ted Blunt and Jim Baker showing up in Mayor Williams’ office recently. There’s plenty of speculation that they’ll be somehow involved with fixing this mess or just helping Williams get his office better organized. Would this be a good thing or a bad thing? Not sure yet — if they’re around as part of some Commission charged to look into this business, that could be great. If they’re around to provide a tutorial on how to hide the bodies, that’s not so great. Right now this is talk from a number of different places, but still talk. Stay tuned, but make those calls.