Cape Gazette

Dewey doesn't need own ethics committee

By Dale Cooke | Aug 10, 2013

My compliments to the Dewey Beach Town Council. They eliminated politics from the equation and made the right choice for the town when they decided not to have a ballot question on imposing a gross receipts tax. Unfortunately, neither the budget and finance committee nor the commissioners had bothered to ask the state authorities about the legality of unilaterally imposing such a tax. Everyone's time, energy and most importantly the town's money could have been saved had someone just taken that simple step. It doesn't legally matter what money is needed or what source is justified, if the state law doesn't allow the action, the town throws money down the drain by persisting in the effort.

Now the commissioners seem to want to spend even more of the property owners' money to create their own public ethics committee. The state already has just such a board, that attempts to verify local governments operate in a legal manner. I believe the vast majority of Delaware local governments rightfully defer to to the state rather then waste significant time and constituents' money.

I understand that some towns that created their own system have attempted to revert back to the state. They see that there is no need to duplicate when the state now pays the normal operating cost. Unfortunately, state regulations say that once a town leaves the state integrity board they can never return to that system of checks and balances. They will forever have to pay their own lawyers to have their own duplicate committee. I have spoken with some proponents of this town expenditure and they seem to believe that the good old boys in the state government are out to cause trouble for Dewey Beach. Claiming that they are all against us and that they are "out to get us" sounds a bit paranoid and somewhat childish to me.

Using the claim that the previously adjudicated charge against our mayor is proof of a conspiracy against the town, they say we'll save money. That's not true. Assuming that a proper board could be created with fair minded neighbors as members, the town would still have to constantly spend money for an independent lawyer, regular training for the members, along with those very same town attorney/defense expenses if that board decided that any charge against town officials or committee members justified any hearings.

I honestly like and appreciate the vast majority of my town neighbors. But, no matter how good your neighbors are and no matter how you presently feel about those friends and neighbors, how many of you would like to have those same neighbors sitting on a board to judge your actions instead of an impartial, independent, state government authorized board? Even in our nationwide jury system, friends and neighbors are usually eliminated from the possible pool. Since there were so very many changes necessary when this issue was last brought before a town meeting, the commissioners promised a revised document would be placed before the public for discussion before any vote was scheduled.

Now, before the final document has been revealed at a public meeting for suggestions from the property owners, before there has been any public discussion or open review, they have already scheduled a possible vote at this week's town meeting. That's not justifiable. When this locks us into something forever, it should never be voted upon at the final version's first reading. At a time when some commissioners and budget and finance members have claimed the town needs more taxes, why do the commissioners propose to spend additional town money to duplicate what the state pays for now?

Dale Cooke
Dewey Beach

Comments (1)
Posted by: Barry Wayne Price | Aug 13, 2013 07:50

Good information to ponder Dale. The divisions in Dewey have become tiresome.

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