SALISBURY, MD – The Salisbury Ethics Commission met Monday morning to consider the complaint filed by former council president Mike Dunn. The meeting, and subsequent coverage by the Daily Times’ Sarah Lake shows that the system is flawed.
First, why did this matter even go to a hearing? Dunn could not point to any example of where council members Debbie Campbell, Terry Cohen, or Tim Spies stood to benefit financially from their hiring Siedel, Baker & Tilghman as the city’s attorney. Dunn’s entire “case” was that “it doesn’t smell right”.
Ironically, it was council president Dunn who should have been brought up on ethics charges when he was on council. If “smell” is a factor, he and his entire “Dream Team” should have. As council president Dunn voted on matters impacting the Bank of Delmarva (the Andromeda club and other matters) while a stockholder. He stood to financially gain from his actions. Campbell, et al, did not stand to gain from theirs. Dunn and his “Dream Team” received campaign monies from most (if not all) of the city’s more notorious slumlords. They never hesitated to vote to protect SAPOA (the local slumlord’s guild). Of course, we should never forget the infamous annexation and developer reimbursement regarding Sassafras Meadows – a property that Dunn’s family had owned.
OK, that was past. Why is the system flawed? Again, let’s go back to the “smell test” – the entire basis of Dunn’s “complaint” (media show). Why was Ethics Commission chair Norman Lyster seen meeting with Dunn BEFORE the start of yesterday’s meeting? Lyster addressed Dunn as “Mike” throughout the meeting. He also stated at the beginning of the meeting that no criticism of the Daily Times would be tolerated. He also denied the individual defendants (Campbell, Cohen, Spies, and city attorney Mark Tilghman) from asking each other questions.
Dunn has conspired with the Daily Times (most notably reporter Sarah Lake) to attack these council members. Dunn used an article from Lake as “evidence”. Lake has repeatedly shown herself to be a less than honest broker in her coverage of the Salisbury council. Even her article today repeats several points regarding the charter petition that are provably false. Yet, Lyster set out in the rules of the hearing that no criticism would be allowed.
We also wonder why TWO persons from the mayors office attended the hearing yesterday. Their presence wasn’t required. Mayor Jim Ireton tells the council and public that things don’t more forward because his people are overworked. Yet, you have the city administrator and another staff member taking time away from city business to attend a dog and pony show?
We also wonder why Pick was seen meeting with the commission in a closed meeting. Given that Pick’s boss – Ireton – has a vested political interest in seeing Campbell, Cohen and Spies found to be unethical, should Pick be meeting with the commission in private?
Given that there is no evidence of unethical behavior, only Dunn’s offended olfactory senses, it will be interesting to see what the conclusion of this commission is.