Daily Times Calls for Council to Ignore Law

For years we, along with many others, have been a severe critic of Salisbury’s Daily Times.  While the paper appears to provide somewhat balanced coverage of other local news, their coverage of Salisbury politics, city government, and the Wicomico Board of Education  (BOE) has been biased almost beyound measure.  To add insult to injury, the DT has refused to disclose multiple relationships with public officials (i.e. the fact that their former Executive Editor is married to the communications director of our former Congressman or that their former Managing Editor is married to the public information officer of the Wicomico BOE).

We have also had many disagreements with their editorial views.  However, op-ed is just that – opinion.  Susan Parker and company have a right to their views just as we have a right to ours.  That changed yesterday.  In an editorial in Wednesday’s paper, Susan Parker called for the Salisbury City Council to violate the laws of the state of Maryland and the city of Salisbury.

One of two things should take place now: Ireton should provide additional candidates for the council to consider or the City Council should reconsider and approve Hoppes for the permanent position.

Either way, city residents are owed an explanation. Ireton has explained his position; he has the chief he wants.

Instead of hiding behind “personnel matters,” tell us why this man who has capably managed the department for the better part of the past four years on an interim basis cannot be the department’s official 22nd chief.

But first, show some leadership and make a decision.

Throwing salt on the wound, the DT’s news coverage of the current battle between Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton and the council over acting fire chief Rick Hoppes refuses to acknowledge that Ireton is willfully ignoring the laws he swore to uphold.

At Monday’s meeting the council voted to extend Hoppes’ role as acting chief.  The council has refused to confirm Hoppes as the department’s chief but are prohibited from providing the public their reasons because the matter is personnel issue.  We find this as frustrating as the Daily Times seems to.
On Monday council president Terry Cohen stated that there were substantive reasons for their refusal to confirm Hoppes.  Noting that the law prohibits them from discussing the matter publicly, Cohen called for Hoppes to waive his confidentiality privilege and then the council would hold a public meeting to discuss their reasons for refusing to confirm Hoppes as chief.
To date, Hoppes has not taken the council up on their offer.  Ireton certainly doesn’t want Hoppes to take the council up on their offer; he has made too much of a political issue out of claiming that their vote was over personal vendettas and personality clashes.  While the council majority may be mind numbing in there attention to minutae, there is no indication that they refused to confirm Hoppes for frivilous reasons.  Therefore, we doubt Hoppes will agree to have his dirty laundry aired in public.
While we may disagree with the Daily Times, we have never accused their staff, particularly Parker, of being stupid.  Why then would Parker call for the council to violate the law?  We smell a political motivated bait and switch.  Ireton feels that he is above the law.  It’s tough to ignore and even tougher to rationalize.  Drawing attention away Ireton’s actions and placing the attention on the council majority might salve her guilty conscience.
Wouldn’t it have been more constructive to:
  1. Call on Ireton to obey the law.
  2. Call on Hoppes to waive his privilge because, as Parker writes, “city residents are owed an explanation”.
  3. Call on the council to amend the charter to strip away the confidentiality privilege from all positions that must be confirmed.
Of course, that doesn’t fit the DT’s Salisbury paradigm – everything that council members Debbie Campbell, Terry Cohen, and Tim Spies do is evil and / or misguided and the streets would be paved with gold if only the voters would wise up, get rid of them, and agree to higher taxes and more wasteful spending.
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  1. You are assuming that Parker writes her own pieces. They are written by Tom Claybaugh at the direction of editorial opinion commitee members whos names are in the paper each day.

    • G. A. Harrison says:

      Do you really believe that the “Editorial Board” meets each day? That’s the excuse that the publisher has given, but it’s an incredulous explanation.

      Let’s assume you’re right. So what? The DT still called on elected officials to violate the law.

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