Pile-up on Bob Culver (Part II)

UPDATE BELOW

Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton is the most partisan Democrat in Wicomico County.  A self-described “free government cheese eating liberal”, Ireton’s politics serve as a secular religion to his lapsed Catholicism.  Little wonder that Ireton chose to flip-flop on an important local issue and somehow blame new Wicomico County Executive (and Republican) Bob Culver.

On the record multiple times opposing the continued employment of firefighters hired through a federal SAFER grant.  It should be noted that when the council agreed to take the grant, Ireton attacked several members (most notably former councilwoman Debbie Campbell).  The council was reluctant because the predicted the precise problem which has now arisen.  But now an evil Republican has replaced Ireton’s fellow Democrat and political ally Rick Pollit.

The result?  Ireton has reluctantly agreed to rehire the firefighters but has made their long term employment contingent on more money from the county.  If I were a Salisbury taxpayer Ireton’s argument might be appealing.  If I lived in one of the rural fire districts I would be frightened by Ireton’s lack of concern for his fellow county residents.

Ireton maintains that Salisbury answers the lion’s share of calls.  True.  The Salisbury Fire District is the most populous, and most dense, fire district.  Common sense dictates that they will receive the highest number of calls for service.  Ireton believes that Salisbury is being treated unfairly in this matter.  As mayor of Salisbury he has a point.  As a citizen of Wicomico County he believes that his neighbors should burn rather than cut into his believed fair share of the county’s available money for fire departments.

Go down the road to Powellville.  To the best of my knowledge this is the least populous, and least dense, fire district.  Yet, to serve their area of the county still requires a fire house and equipment.  If you looked at each fire department on a cost per call basis you would see that Powellville’s costs are much higher than Salisbury’s.  Should the citizens of Wicomico allow the most rural portions of the county to burn in order to appease Mr. Ireton’s sense of financial fairness?

Should we be surprised that Ireton waited until after the election, and his political ally lost, before attempting to make political hay out of this predicted situation?  Of course not.  Ireton has used similar tactics from the day he was sworn in as mayor.  To date the voters of Salisbury have rewarded him.  As long as they do, he will continue to put politics above policy.

Fortunately for the citizens of Wicomico County, Bob Culver hasn’t provided any indication that he will be bullied by people like Ireton.  Let’s hope he continues to stand firm.

 

UPDATE:

In Sunday’s Daily Times some of Ireton’s behavior was confirmed.  Rick Hoppes, Ireton’s hand-picked fire chief, had promised council members that money would be found in the budget to keep the firefighters on staff when the SAFER grant money ran out.  DT reporter Jeremy Cox asked councilman Tim Spies, who was one of the members who voted for the SAFER grant, about Ireton’s “surprise” that council didn’t understand that the positions were temporary.

“I could swear that the (fire) chief said if we wanted to keep those people, he would find it in the budget somewhere,” the councilman said.

For those of us who attended that council meeting it is hard to forget.  Ireton was doing everything possible to goad the council into not accepting the grant monies.  At the same time he and Hoppes were telling them that the grant was essential to the public safety and that future funds would be found to keep the 11 new firefighters on the payroll after the grant expired.

Now the city election is over.  Ireton was re-elected.  Debbie Campbell was not.  Whose fault is it that the city can’t keep those individuals in the fire department?  Bob Culver, of course.  If he doesn’t pony up more cash for Salisbury then Ireton will blame his woes on the evil Republican county executive and county council.

 

Pile-up on Bob Culver (Part I)

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Justice By The Numbers

I picked up my Sunday copy of the Daily Times and thought that I had fallen into a copy of Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers .  The white liberal guilt oozed from the paper’s lead editorial.  If truth in advertising applied to the media, Look Closer at Arrest Patterns would be more fairly titled Arrest By the Numbers

Are African-American’s arrested in higher numbers on the Delmarva Peninsula?  I have no doubt.  I’m not accusing reporters Vanessa Junkin and Rachel Pacella of lying.

However, the published numbers demand that additional questions be asked.  Are African-Americans being falsely arrested?  If so, shouldn’t the prosecutors responsible for these cases demand better, more just, work by their respective police forces?

Yet, we see no evidence from the paper’s reporting that this is the case.  Sure, some folks are unjustly arrested.  Some may be black; some white, some brown.  I have no doubt that this happens and hope that the police will clean up their act when it does occur.  I even believe that some innocent people are unjustly convicted.  I also believe that this is the exception rather than the rule.

[Read more…]

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Maciarello Wants Police Oversight Board

SALISBURY, MD – Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello proposed civilian oversight boards for both the Salisbury Police Department and the Wicomico County Sheriff’s office according to a report by Daily Times reporter Jeremy Cox.  Maciarello also proposed that both SPD officers and WCSO deputies wear body cameras.  Details of Maciarello’s proposal are not currently available.

As with all such proposals, the devil is in the details.  The Salisbury city council and mayor could easily pass legislation to institute a civilian oversight board and require officers to wear body cameras.  The wisdom of such proposals can be debated.  However, neither Maciarello nor the Wicomico County government have the authority to institute such proposals.  The county government funds the Sheriff’s office with local tax dollars.  It cannot dictate to Sheriff Mike Lewis how he chooses to operate his office.  Unless the state plans on passing such a law OR Wicomico County plans on creating a county police department, such proposals are nothing more than suggestions.

In the Daily Times’ account, the subheadline reads:

Maciarello’s push represents the most tangible action taken so far after a string of violent —sometimes fatal — interactions between police and citizens in Wicomico

This hardly represents “tangible” action as Maciarello lacks the authority to do anything but hold a press conference regarding this matter.

photo courtesy of the Daily Times

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Salisbury Area Chamber of Cronyism

Crony Capitalismnoun; a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of dirigisme.

It’s a perfect storm.  After years of attacking elected officials who had the temerity to stand up for taxpayers, the Daily Times got its wish and Salisbury city government has returned to the days of the “Dream Team”.  Real estate developers bought themselves a city council seat.  Salisbury taxpayers now subsidize residential development by giving away EDU’s that were meant for commercial development.  The Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce is now the number one shill for taxpayer-subsidized development … under the guise of “working together”, the Chamber is now the lead cheerleader for taking from the city’s residents and doling out rewards to a few select developers.

Small wonder, one of those developers is now president of the Chamber.

After a few TEMPORARY construction jobs are created, it will be interesting to see how many permanent jobs come to Salisbury.  It will be even more interesting to see what the next round of subsidies entail.  Joe Citizen can continue to pay while others cash in.

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Ireton Threatens City Board Members

SALISBURY, MD – Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton has resorted to threats in attempting to get his way from the city’s Housing Board of Adjustments and Appeals (HBAA).  According to the Daily Times’ Jeremy Cox, Ireton threatened the board members after his administration did not get their way regarding the rubble pile on the site of the old Salisbury Mall:

“I just wanted to let the three of you know your terms are up, and we would like to know whether you would like to be reappointed,” he said.

The HBAA, mockingly called the “Slumlords’ Board” by some, is charged with hearing appeals of city enforcement decisions against city property owners.  The members of the quasi-judicial board are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council.   However, the board (like other quasi-judicial boards such as the Board of Zoning Appeals) is supposed to be independent.

Ireton’s actions threaten the independence of the board and make any rulings in favor of his administration suspect.  Why would Ireton do such a thing?  Simply, his arrogance knows no bounds.  Like his hero Barack Obama, the rule of law means nothing.  Results are what matter, and that means Ireton’s way or the highway.

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The Dunn / Day Era in Salisbury?

SALISBURY, MD – Is Salisbury returning to the fiscal disaster experienced under the now infamous “Dream Team”?  Only time will tell, but it appears that the huge sums thrown at the Jacob Day campaign by national real estate interests may be starting to pay off certain special interests.

A letter to the editor in this morning’s Daily Times by Chamber of Commerce president (and real estate developer) Brad Gillis outline the benefits already starting to flow to real estate developers … and promises more to come:

Together, the Chamber and the city successfully collaborated and amended the city’s paving policy. This legislation, Resolution 1312, gave greater discretion to the Department of Public Works and its professional engineers, thus creating a quality process and end product for both the developers and the citizens of Salisbury.

We were also successful in amending the city’s policy that required the warranty and maintenance of new infrastructure to be bonded for five years; no other cities researched required a five-year bond.

Without further delay, it’s time to act on another community win: an equivalent dwelling unit incentive zone.

We support the city moving forward with this Incentive Zone, which would create a bank of credits to be used for the development of the downtown area and enterprise zones.

Having this tool will enhance the pro-business climate in our great city without costing the citizens a single dollar. Salisbury’s comprehensive plan calls for high-density growth in our downtown area; this is the time and the place to create such banks.

Approving this incentive zone will send a message to local, regional and national builders and developers: “Downtown Salisbury is primed for both commercial and mixed use developments.”

The “Incentive Zone” of which Gillis speaks is designed to subsidize residential developers, not attract employers.  While Gillis applauds these subsidies (not surprising since he directly benefits), there is no mention of the across the board pay hikes proposed by his ally Mr. Day.  These, and other spending hikes, will ultimately result in tax increases on the citizens and businesses of Salisbury.

Does Mr. Gillis believe that tax hikes will attract business?  Of course not.  These “incentives” are not pro-business; they are simply a little league version of crony capitalism.  As Salisbury goes back to “giving away the store”, who benefits?  The very people who spent tens of thousands of dollars to elect their champion – Jacob Day.

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Tragedy at SU

SALISBURY, MD – A murder / suicide at the 100 block of Onley Road has left two men dead and a young woman severely wounded.  The Daily Times reports that the crime was related to a domestic violence incident:

Police said they are still trying to piece together the details of what they believe to be an incident of domestic violence. At least one other person who was in the home was being questioned about what had occurred, police said.

Late Tuesday, Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis confirmed the man killed by the shooter was former Salisbury University student Charles Abbott of Hebron. Next of kin has been notified of the tragedy, he said.

The wounded woman, whose name has not been made public, was receiving medical treatment in the Shock Trauma unit of a Baltimore hospital, Lewis said earlier during an 8:30 p.m. news conference outside the crime scene.

The shootings occurred at about 6 p.m., authorities said.

One victim was a student at Salisbury University.  One victim was a former student. Our prayers go out to the families of the victims.

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Should Salisbury Taxpayers Pay More for City Services?

SALISBURY, MD – It appears that Salisbury City Council president Jake Day and councilwoman Shanie Shields want taxpayers to pay more for city services.  According to the Daily Times’ Jeremy Cox, Day and Shields are pushing the Ireton administration to move forward with a plan to increase the city’s payroll by approximately $750,000 per year.  This 8.5% increase is based on a study performed by Evergreen Solutions, LLC.

Day wants to quickly move forward in raising the city’s payroll:

“Anything we consider implementing we should implement it quickly for sure,” Day said during a council work session. “We value our people like any organization, and want to compensate them fairly and bring the best here and keep the best here.”

Given that Day has repeatedly claimed that he is opposed to raising taxes beyond constant yield, voters should ask how he plans to pay for this raise.

Councilwoman Terry Cohen asked about the possibility of merit based raises.  According to Evergreen, city workers are opposed to pay raises based on merit.  This is not surprising given that government employees are not used to being paid based on performance.

Taxpayers may be interested to know that Wicomico County continues to suffer one of the highest unemployment rates in Maryland.  Given that there are numerous persons standing in line to fill any position left by a disaffected city employee, why should raises be given at this point in time?

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Will New Council Rubber Stamp Ireton FY 2014 Budget Folly?

We’re Glad Jim Ireton Isn’t a Math Teacher

The newly elected Salisbury city council is on its way to adopting a budget for FY 2014.  Included is a tax rate hike of nearly 8% coupled with a DROP in water and sewer rates.  One thing that appears to be missing is mayor Jim Ireton’s promised “storm water authority”, now laughingly referred to across the country as the “Rain Tax”.

Newly minted council president Jake Day is backpedaling on his campaign commitment not to support a tax hike.  He now claims that he won’t support a tax hike above constant yield.  We’ll give him that one (on style) since the net affect of the rate increase should be revenue neutral.  We wonder if the people who stayed home at the last election will be as forgiving since a sizable number of them will see their taxes rise?

The section of Ireton’s proposed budget that disturbs us most is a cut in the water and sewer rates.  WHAT?  A self-identified conservative is against a cut in government fees (water and sewer fees are not really a tax)?  Sorry to disappoint, but … YES!

Here’s the problem.  Salisbury is showing a sizable surplus in its Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund.  HOWEVER, Salisbury is having to PAY TWICE for its failed waste water treatment plant (WWTP).  By cutting rates now, the city will have to raise them that much more in the future.  The problem is simple.  Ireton hopes to justify future general fund tax hikes because he’s decreased the water and sewer rates.  Given that Ireton makes Barack Obama look like a Reaganite, he just can’t sit idly by and watch tens of millions sit unspent, even if it is in Salisbury’s best interest.  That money needs to be SPENT!  Sadly for Ireton, he can’t spend water and sewer money for every fly by night leftist scheme that comes down the pike, even if he thinks that Jake Day will rubber stamp Ireton’s every whim. (The jury is still out on Day, we all know that Laura Mitchell and Shanie Shields will rubber stamp all sorts of craziness.)

[Read more…]

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Is Jake Day Breaking Promises Already?

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Jake Day Elected Council President

Ireton, Shields Sworn in for New Terms

SALISBURY, MD – Newcomer Jake Day, along with incumbent Shanie Shields, were sworn-in to the Salisbury city council Monday night.  In a surprise move, Day was also elected as council president.  Councilwoman Laura Mitchell was elected vice president.

Mayor Jim Ireton was also sworn in to a second term.  The terms of Ireton and all five council members will end in November 2015 as the city adopts a new election cycle.

At the end of the meeting Ireton delivered his FY 2014 budget to the council.  In his budget Ireton calls for a $0.065 rate increase.

photos courtesy of Jeremy Cox via Twitter

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Ireton to Unveil “Let’s Do Business Salisbury” Plan at Chamber

SALISBURY, MD – Today incumbent Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton is to unveil a new approach to business at the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce.  According to the Daily Times, “Let’s Do Business Salisbury”appears geared almost exclusively towards developers, not just those seeking to open a business in Salisbury.

For those members of the business community looking for a a “one-stop shop” for permitting, registration, and other bureaucratic entanglements, Ireton’s presentation will be viewed either with disappointment or as a baby step in the right direction.  Newly elected councilman Jake Day and unsuccessful mayoral candidate Joe Albero both focused heavily on the need to court new business and on the need to streamline things like the permitting process, often viewed as an impediment to doing business in Salisbury.

Ireton’s plan involves setting up a kiosk on the first floor of the Salisbury / Wicomico Government Office Building (GOB) with form packets useful to developers.  Ireton also hopes to install a similar kiosk at the Chamber’s office on East Main Street.

According to the Daily Times’ Jeremy Cox:

…Those changes will be accompanied by a new, business-friendly atmosphere in the city’s staff offices, Ireton said. Those adopting the customer-service approach are the Mayor’s Office; Public Works; Building, Permits and Inspections; and Planning and Zoning.

… (Asst. City Administrator Lore) Chambers, though, said city administrators have worked on the plan for more than a year. Ireton said he was loath to announce the effort during the election season out of concern it would be criticized as a self-serving campaign ploy.

It should be noted that Ireton’s plan for downtown redevelopment was released two years ago.  Some members of the business community are skeptical that this “customer-service” approach has been in the works for over a year.  One local business owner, who asked that his name be withheld, stated, “I can’t believe that the mayor expects us to believe that it took a year to put some forms together.  No one, certainly not the mayor, talked about treating businesses as customers until Joe Albero decided to run against him.”

Ireton will present his plan in the lobby of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce at 1:30 PM today.

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Could Salisbury Use an “Extreme Makeover” Downtown?

It’s been tried in San Antonio.  This weekend it will be tried in Norfolk.  Perhaps Salisbury could benefit from a quick and dirty “Extreme Makeover”?

This weekend a group of volunteers and the urban planning firm Team Better Block will unveil a temporary “makeover” of a neglected section of Granby Street (once Norfolk’s vibrant main thoroughfare).  The key word in this is “temporary”.

Why would a municipality spend thousands of dollars to temporarily fix-up a section of town?  It gives people a chance to not only visualize, but actually experience, a re-vitalization plan.  Rather than spend hundreds of thousands, or millions, of dollars on a plan that may be good … or bad, Team Better Block’s approach is simple:

  • Do Something
  • Do it CHEAPLY
  • Do it QUICKLY

People get to see the potential of an area.  Potential developers / investors can be attracted.  Bureaucracy is curtailed.  The advantages are almost endless.

[Read more…]

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Media Monday – April 8, 2013

WGMD HOST NOT READY FOR PRIME (OR ANY OTHER) TIME

When I’m cruising through Delaware (or northern Worcester or Wicomico counties) I often bump my dial over one tick from WICO-FM to hear what’s going on at WGMD-FM.  While I like talk radio, I prefer some local content and WICO is now 99.9% syndicated. (two public radio stations are now the only source of real local content on the Lower Shore)

Two Sundays ago I happened to tune in and heard some guy named Bill Rogers spouting the most ridiculous nonsense this side of MSNBC.  The problem?  Rogers claims to be a conservative.  Personally, I think we should trade this guy to the left for a future third round draft pick.

What was Rogers’ crime?  The guy’s entire show (I only listened for about 90 minutes while I was driving to Seaford and back) was an attack on Libertarians.  Sure, everyone has a right to their opinion.  I don’t disagree with Rogers’ premise that voting Libertarian is often equivalent to voting Democrat, but Rogers’ reasoning was based on a false premise that I found quite offensive.

Rogers claimed that Libertarians were foolish because of their stance on gay marriage.  He specifically claimed that same-sex marriage laws would require churches to marry same-sex couples.  He didn’t say this once either.  Rogers must of repeated this at least a dozen times in the period I was listening.

It’s bad enough that my party (the GOP) is systematically driving libertarian-minded voters away, now we have a supposedly conservative, local talk host trying to do the same with what are basically lies.

I will concede that the day may come that some court, even the US Supreme Court, may make such an outrageous ruling.  However, that day has not arrived … YET.  It’s bad enough that nominally Christian denominations such as the Episcopal Church perform what are de facto gay weddings.  We have enough battles to fight in the present.  People like Rogers don’t need to make up problems.  If he is a conservative, as he claims, he also doesn’t need to deliberately offend a portion of the electorate we need to win.

PARKER, CLAYBAUGH SHOW TRUE COLORS … AGAIN

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Ireton, Shields, and Day Sweep Salisbury City Elections

Incuments Mayor Jim Ireton and Councilwoman Shanie Shields, along with challenger Jake Day swept today’s Salisbury city elections in a landslide.  The results were:

Mayor    
  Joe Albero

782

  Jim Ireton

1,694

     
District 1    
  April Jackson

77

  Cynthia Polk

80

  Shanie Shields

145

     
District 2    
  Debbie Campbell

612

  Jake Day

1,569

While these results are not official, the margin of victory for each candidate was large enough to negate any impact from the counting of absentee and provisional ballots.  There are approximately 300 absentee ballots outstanding.  As of today, approximately 250 ballots had been returned.

In addition to the margins of victory, probably the biggest surprise was voter turnout.  While Salisbury has a reputation of abysmal turnout in municipal elections, it has continued to grow each cycle.  This year’s turnout saw a dramatic drop – to 17.32% citywide compared to 21.10% four years ago.  While the addition of absentee and provisional ballots will increase the turnout percentage slightly, there will still be a large decrease.

The council will reorganize later this month.

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For additional analysis of the 2013 Salisbury election, tune in to WSDL (90.7 FM) at 9 AM Friday when DelMarVa Observer’s G. A. Harrison joins WSDL’s Don Rush and SU political science professor Michael O’Loughlin on Delmarva Today for an election post-mortem.  The show can also be seen on-demand at a later date.

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Jake Day Denying Special Interest Money

  1. Salisbury District 2 council candidate Jake Day isn’t happy that people are beginning to notice that tens of thousands of dollars in special interest money is being thrown at his campaign to unseat Debbie Campbell.  Who would blame him?
     
    You’ve got a national political action committee (PAC) out of Chicago throwing money at a council race in the little city of Salisbury.  Why?  It’s pretty obvious that their membership sees Day as the chance to hop back on the taxpayer-funded gravy train.  Ten years ago the "Dream Team" council of Mike Dunn, Gary Comegys, and Lynn Cathcart rode into power allying themselves with councilman Michael Day.  They proceeded to borrow millions and hand the money over to residential developers.
     
    Jake Day’s plan calls for much the same – subsidizing residential development by waiving capacity fees for residential development downtown (and that’s only what Day has admitted to).
     
    Since this became public, Day and his campaign treasurer Jordan Gilmore have been vigorously denying it (see the exchanges at the bottom of this post):

  2. There are over 14,000 registered voters in Salisbury.  The mail shop out of Virginia that did the mailing householded the list (this is so that only 1 piece of mail goes to the same address to people with the same last name).  This would have yielded approximately 9,000 pieces mailed PER MAILING.  Remember, there were TWO MAILINGS.  So … here’s the math:
     
    18,000 pieces
    $0.75 per piece (this is conservative given the size and type of mailing)
    $ 13,500 for two mailings
     
    But WAIT … There’s more:
     
    The same national PAC is also running radio ads in support of Jake Day.  We don’t have access to the details of the buy, but hearing from many people who listen to many radio stations, that probably cost the PAC a couple of thousand bucks.  That brings the total up to over $15,000. Greater than $10,000 is tens of thousands of dollars.  Mr. Day and his treasurer may not like it.  They can continue to deny it.  Unfortunately for them, math remains one of the few immutable truths
     
    Note – these are "independent expenditures".  There is nothing illegal.  We only have to ask the question -Is Salisbury for sale?  Perhaps this is why councilwoman Debbie Campbell is drawing attention to the fact with a video launched yesterday:

[Read more…]

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Daily Times Gears Up for Sunday Attack

 

 

DAILY TIMES PREPARES “OCTOBER SURPRISE”
What Happened to “Stick to the Issues”?

Salisbury’s Daily Times is planning its own version of the “October Surprise” for this Sunday’s edition. According to Daily Times city reporter Jeremy Cox, the paper plans to run a front page “expose” outlining the past legal difficulties of incumbent mayor Jim Ireton and his opponent, businessman Joe Albero.

“I’m really disgusted with the entire approach taken by our local newspaper”, stated Albero. “It’s small wonder that they’ve had to put their building up for lease. People just don’t want to read a paper that is one step above the National Enquirer. Who cares that Jake Day has a heavy foot, or that our three District 1 candidates have met with personal financial misfortune, or that both my opponent and I have had some minor brushes with the legal system? Why does the Daily Times think that these things take precedence over my plan to bring jobs to Salisbury, Jim Ireton’s repeated attempts to raise our taxes, or Jake Day’s plan to use our tax dollars to subsidize residential development in the city?”

Albero also noted that early in the campaign the Daily Times stated that they wanted to ONLY report on issues. “Throughout this campaign I have focused on how to make Salisbury a better place to work and to live. It’s unfortunate that they have gone back on their word and chosen to take this path. What have we seen from our local paper during this campaign? Most of the articles we’ve seen this election season have been thinly disguised attack pieces. Any discussion of real issues has been little more than fluff. I don’t believe that reporter Jeremy Cox is either lazy or a bad reporter. I can only conclude that publisher Tom Claybaugh and editor Michael Kilian believe that they can gin up advertising sales from certain business segments or somehow increase readership by attempting to use Gannett’s assets to impact a local election with salacious stories that have no real impact on Salisbury’s residents and businesses.”

Albero’s publication, SBYNews will print a response (written by a named contributor) after the Daily Times runs its piece.

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Few Surprises at Chamber / PACE Forum

At Tuesday evening’s final candidate forum before next Tuesday’s Salisbury city elections, there were few surprises; but there were a few.  The biggest surprise was that the sponsors of the forum – the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce and SU’s Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE) – through their chosen moderator, Chamber ED Ernie Colburn, gave up all pretense of being honest brokers in this process.  For starters, it became abundantly clear that SOME of the candidates had been provided the questions in advance of yesterday’s forum.  Candidates were also permitted rebuttals on a SELECTIVE basis.

The first question posed by Colburn was to council candidates about creating a business-friendly environment for the city.  After District 1 incumbent Shanie Shields read her answer from a prepared script, a stammering Colburn interjected that “No candidate had been provided the questions in advance”.  District 2 challenger Jake Day also seemed to have his answers well prepared in advance.  However, he was not as obvious as Shields.

After the first embarrassment, Colburn followed up by attempting to sandbag mayoral candidate Joe Albero.  Colburn stated that Albero had called for the closing of the Salisbury Zoo.  Albero was at ease when he corrected Colburn, “I’ve never said or written such a thing.  My wife worked at the zoo and she would kill me if I ever said such a thing.”  Albero has been a critic of the zoo in the past and has called on the zoo to be more financially self-sufficient.  Our research was unable to find any instance where Albero called for the zoo to be closed.

TAG TEAMING CANDIDATES

One new approach in this debate was a “tag team” approach taken by Day and incumbent mayor Jim Ireton.  Ireton never referred to Albero.  In a weak attempt to tie Albero and Campbell together, he would say “my TWO opponent”, while pointing to both Albero and Campbell.  Day attacked Albero directly by claiming that NO ONE has called for 500 affordable housing units to be built on existing downtown parking lots.  Ireton’s downtown plan does call for 500 housing units.  Speaking on the matter over the past two years he has called for some or all of those units to be “affordable” housing.  Even while trying to call Albero out, Day equivocated; saying “I think” and “I’m pretty sure”.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH TRANSPARENCY?

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Media Monday–March 25, 2013

SHOWING BIAS IN A BETTER WAY?

The Daily Times seems hell bent on queering this year’s Salisbury mayoral / council elections just like they’ve tried every other time in recent memory.  Will they be successful?  We’ll know next week.

After a series of scandals destroyed what little credibility remained at Salisbury’s Daily Times, new publisher Tom Claybaugh and managing editor Michael Kilian faced a tough choice:

  1. Report the news as fairly as possible (I don’t believe that anyone is 100% objective) and be honest on the op-ed pages (if you are going to claim to be the “voice of the community”, then print op-ed which reflect this).
  2. Continue the paper’s old bias, just try to be more like their big city rivals and commit more “sins of omission” rather than print easily verifiable lies; and certainly don’t encourage reporters to actively participate in their own stories.

All the News That We WANT to Print

    To most of us, choice number 1 is obviously the best path.  In an industry that appears to be dying, regaining credibility amongst readers is a good place to start if you want to rebuild.  The

Daily Times

    can claim some good young reporters.  They’ve shown that, when allowed, they can provide good, accurate coverage of local news.  Alas, Claybaugh and Kilian have decided on a darker path.  Rather than report all of the news, the DT seems determined to only run stories which aid their preferred candidates.
    How can I make such a claim?  Haven’t they run stories critical of Jim Ireton?  One!  Haven’t they run stories critical of Jake Day?  Less than one.  Who really cares that the Jakester has a heavy foot?
    I’m not claiming that the DT has savaged Joe Albero or Debbie Campbell.  They haven’t.  That’s the

Daily Times

    of old.  Besides, like Katherine Crowell four years ago, I don’t believe that Jeremy Cox would allow his name to be put on pieces that are riddled with lies and innuendo.  No, the DT is playing the stealth game.

Where is the story on Joe Albero’s economic development plan?  Where is a thoughtful analysis of Jake Day’s slick manifesto (which you can’t even download from his site anymore)?  Where is an analysis of Jim Ireton’s attempt to raise taxes (more than once) while he claims that he never raised your taxes (worth at least four Pinnochio’s over at the WaPo)?  Where is the story about Ireton and Day’s lack of basic math skills (how do to add 500 residential units downtown, plus commercial space when you have less than 100 available parking spots (after you have sold off all of the riverfront lots – which has merit – plus Lot 1 between the library and the plaza?).  WHERE is the story about national real estate interests doing a mailing  two mailings for Jake Day?

They’re no where to be found.  Why?  Mr. Kilian doesn’t want the public to learn too much about the candidates running for office.  If they did, the DT’s favored candidates wouldn’t stand much of a chance.  Unfortunately, things are worse on the op-ed side of the shop thanks to Mr. Claybaugh and op-ed editor Susan Parker.

WE Decide the News, WE Decide YOUR Opinion

Have you bothered to ask yourself why there haven’t been many letters to the editor in support of Joe Albero or Debbie Campbell?  The answer is simple … the Daily Times won’t print them.

[Read more…]

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City for Sale

AVAILABLE After April 2nd
Small City, Population 30,000+
Waterfront Opportunities Available
City Government willing to SUBSIDIZE Real Estate Development
Contact Jake Day

That’s the REAL message that showed up in voters mailboxes yesterday in a mailer from the National Association of Realtors.

When was the last time that a NATIONAL Political Action Committee got involved in a LOCAL race in a city the size of Salisbury?

If you read Salisbury council candidate Jake Day’s “plan” the reason is clear – Day’s “solutions” for Salisbury’s local economy are focused almost exclusively on DOWNTOWN and on SUBSIDIZING RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT.

Is Jake Day channeling the political corpse of the previous Salisbury administration?

  • Developer Reimbursements
  • Failed TIF’s
  • FREE or SUBSIDIZED Capacity Fees

Are Day and his backers hoping that putting a NEW FACE on an OLD PROBLEM will make voters forget that they are still paying for past mistakes and that Jake Day wants the Salisbury taxpayer to DOUBLE DOWN?

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Balkanizing Salisbury

Imagine you lived in a city carved up into little wards or districts.  Then imagine that your city council members are given “discretionary” funds to dole out for “projects” or to fix potholes and street lights.  It sounds like Chicago, New York, or Washington, D.C.  Well if Jake Day is elected to the Salisbury City Council, this is what he has in store for you.

Rotten Boroughs

Across the sea in Great Britain, they used to have “rotten” or “pocket” boroughs.  These were parliamentary constituencies (districts to us Yanks) that were, in effect, controlled by one person (or a small group of people).  The British wisely changed their election practices in the 19th century.

At last month’s Democrat Club meeting Mr. Day announced that if he was elected he (along with councilwomen Laura Mitchell and Shanie Shields) would re-visit re-districting and change the council to a seven member body elected from individual districts.  He had previously announced at the Salisbury Chamber / PACE forum that he supported a seven member council.  (NOTE:  this would occur REGARDLESS of who is elected mayor as charter changes cannot be vetoed.)

What’s wrong with that?  If you divide Salisbury into seven districts which are roughly equal by population you will have created FOUR rotten boroughs.  Think about it.  Salisbury would be governed by AT LEAST four districts where the total votes cast to elect the majority of council would be less than half (probably less than a third) of the votes cast to elect the other seats.

The facts are simple.  The current District 1 simply doesn’t show up to vote in city elections.  Neighborhoods such as Church Street / Doverdale, the Presidents and Princeton Homes don’t show up to vote in city elections.  Residents of Camden, the Park area, the neighborhoods along North and South Schumaker Drives – they show up to vote.  Yet – they will be effectively disenfranchised when it comes to city council representation.  It is easily conceivable that you will have council members (from a majority of districts) elected with fewer than 100 votes.  Some could be elected with fewer than 50!

Bottom line – a group like SAPOA could literally buy a majority of the city council ON THE CHEAP!  Is this YOUR vision for a better Salisbury?

Slush Funds

[Read more…]

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Balkanizing Salisbury

Imagine you lived in a city carved up into little wards or districts.  Then imagine that your city council members are given “discretionary” funds to dole out for “projects” or to fix potholes and street lights.  It sounds like Chicago, New York, or Washington, D.C.  Well if Jake Day is elected to the Salisbury City Council, this is what he has in store for you.

Rotten Boroughs

Across the sea in Great Britain, they used to have “rotten” or “pocket” boroughs.  These were parliamentary constituencies (districts to us Yanks) that were, in effect, controlled by one person (or a small group of people).  The British wisely changed their election practices in the 19th century.

At last month’s Democrat Club meeting Mr. Day announced that if he was elected he (along with councilwomen Laura Mitchell and Shanie Shields) would re-visit re-districting and change the council to a seven member body elected from individual districts.  He had previously announced at the Salisbury Chamber / PACE forum that he supported a seven member council.  (NOTE:  this would occur REGARDLESS of who is elected mayor as charter changes cannot be vetoed.)

What’s wrong with that?  If you divide Salisbury into seven districts which are roughly equal by population you will have created FOUR rotten boroughs.  Think about it.  Salisbury would be governed by AT LEAST four districts where the total votes cast to elect the majority of council would be less than half (probably less than a third) of the votes cast to elect the other seats.

The facts are simple.  The current District 1 simply doesn’t show up to vote in city elections.  Neighborhoods such as Church Street / Doverdale, the Presidents and Princeton Homes don’t show up to vote in city elections.  Residents of Camden, the Park area, the neighborhoods along North and South Schumaker Drives – they show up to vote.  Yet – they will be effectively disenfranchised when it comes to city council representation.  It is easily conceivable that you will have council members (from a majority of districts) elected with fewer than 100 votes.  Some could be elected with fewer than 50!

Bottom line – a group like SAPOA could literally buy a majority of the city council ON THE CHEAP!  Is this YOUR vision for a better Salisbury?

Slush Funds

[Read more…]

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Jim Ireton’s Work Schedule

Yesterday we highlighted Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton’s interview on Delmarva Public Radio.  In addition to being scarily anti-business in his rhetoric, Ireton also made the following comment:

I get up every day and barrel at 110%.

Really Jim?  What do you “barrel” at?

For the moment, let’s ignore the debate as to whether a “part-time” mayor can successfully operate a $51 million enterprise. (I believe the record indicates a big NO on that one.)  Let’s ask two other questions:

  1. Is Jim Ireton really a part-time mayor?
  2. Is Jim Ireton really devoting the time he supposedly spends as mayor to making Salisbury a better place to live and to work?

If your definition of being “part-time” is spending one second or more per week, month, etc. to the job of being mayor I’d have to give Ireton a free pass.  However, IF (like me) you define the term as spending 20 – 30 hours per week at a task then the answer is clearly no.  This ties directly in to question two.

For four years, and particularly during the last two, Jim Ireton has spent a fair piece of his “mayor time” engaged in political grandstanding, partisan politics, and pushing an agenda that is not even tangentially connected to making Salisbury a better place to live and to work.

In August, 2011 Ireton took time out of his supposedly busy day to picket the Salisbury office of Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD).  He has time to picket, but not to sit down with city council and engage in civil, honest discussion of issues facing our city?  Did this make Salisbury a better place to live and to work?

In June, 2011 Ireton called a press conference to attack the city council majority for not backing his planned luxury apartment project at “The Bricks”.  In his press conference Ireton implies that council members Debbie Campbell, Terry Cohen, and Tim Spies are racists (sound familiar?) and intimates that racial discord could follow (with councilwomen Laura Mitchell and Shanie Shields cheering him on).  Ireton’s rantings before the press are numerous, and (sadly) legendary.  Do any of these things make Salisbury a better place to live and to work?

Ireton has travelled to Annapolis to lobby for issues such as gay marriage.  Unless Ireton has some undisclosed plan to make Salisbury a mecca for gay marriage (with the tourism dollars that would follow) we have to ask – Do any of these things make Salisbury a better place to live and to work?

Ireton has lent his name and the prestige of his office to a campaign to strip gun rights from our citizens.  Do any of these things make Salisbury a better place to live and to work? (Criminals will still get guns.  C’mon … They’re CRIMINALS)

So … what’s your definition of “part-time”.

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Ireton Views on Business and Profit

Last week, Don Rush of Delmarva Public Radio interviewed both candidates for mayor of Salisbury.  The contrast was startling.  While this was not candidate (and SBYNews publisher) Joe Albero’s best interview, he was relaxed and discussed the issues facing the city.  Incumbent mayor Jim Ireton was agitated, sarcastic, interrupted Rush numerous times, and let the world know that Salisbury is NOT a business-friendly community.

See the interviews below.  Ireton’s starts at about 29 minutes in.

Ireton claims great accomplishment.  Nothing is his fault.  If something didn’t happen it was because of the city council, specifically Debbie Campbell.  If businesses believe that Salisbury isn’t business-friendly, it’s THEIR fault, not the city’s.  Oh … and he PLANS to do lots of things IF he’s re-elected.

For every ten people that come to the city, five feel they’ve been treated OK. – Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton

What is most disturbing is Ireton’s attitude towards business.  If you make a profit, you need to pay more.  If the police have to come to your business TWICE in TWO YEARS, the city (NOT a judge) should be able to shut you down.  If you appeal, you have to appeal to the same person who already decided to close your doors.

If you are a businessperson looking to move to Salisbury and you hear the mayor sarcastically asking questions like, “Who made that profit?” or “Somebody’s making money somewhere.” do you think that Salisbury is a great place to do business?

Ireton states, “For every ten people that come to the city, five feel they’ve been treated OK.”  Ireton thinks that’s acceptable!  Do you deal with businesses who take the attitude that they only need to satisfy 50% of their customers?  If you are a business do you want to move to a city that takes this attitude?  If you are a businessperson in Salisbury, do you want to expand in a city that takes this attitude?

You don’t have to give away the store to attract businesses.  You don’t have to make Salisbury unsafe to encourage businesses to expand.  You do need a sea change in attitude.  Satisfying 50% of your customers is NOT acceptable.  Making Salisbury “more progressive” isn’t going to attract business.

Thanks to PAC-14 for providing the video.

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Jim Ireton’s Respect for the Salisbury Taxpayer – Part 2

Giving YOUR Money Away to a Select Few

Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton LOVES to spend other people’s money.  OK, he’s a liberal.  Actually, Jim’s politics are somewhere to the left of Karl Marx.  Ireton has seldom seen a government program he didn’t love.  If Ireton is re-elected, AND if Jake Day is elected to the city council, Jim has a plan to spend some MORE of YOUR hard earned money. It involves re-developing downtown.

Ireton wants to sell the downtown parking lots for a song, subsidize them by waiving the capacity fees for water and sewer, and HOPE that Salisbury will somehow be re-born.

Does anyone believe that adding 500 “affordable housing units” downtown is going to re-vitalize Salisbury’s local economy?  Evidently Ireton, along with Jake Day, councilwoman Laura Mitchell, and councilwoman Shanie Shields do.

The “logic” goes something like this:

  1. You build X “affordable housing units” downtown.
  2. Businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers will RUSH to build stores.
  3. Downtown will be MAGICALLY re-vitalized.
  4. The world will be a better place.

Does that make sense to you?

500 Affordable Housing Units

OK, we sell off the parking lots, take EDU’s (water and sewer capacity) away from industrial development that could actually create jobs that pay a living wage, and 500 more housing units appear.  Do you think that businesses will then flock to downtown?  Ireton and his pals do.

Grocery Stores, Pharmacies, and Boutiques … OH MY!

Before a retail business decides to invest in a site they look at certain things, including traffic count and parking.  Would you build a grocery store based on a target population of less than 2,000?  Of course you wouldn’t!

But wait, wouldn’t people from outside the immediate area come?  Would they?  I live to the southeast of downtown.  There are at least  three grocery stores and at least seven pharmacies closer to my home than the downtown plaza.  Well, maybe the people who live over on the west side will come?  I can think of at least two grocery stores and two pharmacies that are closer.  Well maybe the folks from Newtown?  Maybe.  Where are they going to park?  Remember – Jimmy, Jake, Laura, and Shanie have sold all of the parking except for the parking garage.  Do you really believe that those folks from Newtown are going to walk across US 50 and then schlep their groceries back on foot?

OK, I’ll agree that one convenience store might succeed under the Ireton plan.

It’s MAGIC!

The notion that this will re-vitalize downtown, much less Salisbury’s local economy is too ridiculous for real comment.  Downtown CAN be salvaged.  It CAN be re-vitalized.  It just won’t happen by throwing subsidies at a few developers.

You need a solution that drives traffic.  Business people will then be willing to invest their own capital.  Look at Joe Albero’s plan.  It not only makes sense, it offers a REAL, free-market driven solution for downtown as well as a plan for the city’s entire economy.

Subsidizing residential development was a failure during the real estate boom!  Salisbury borrowed millions of dollars that were handed over to a select group of residential developers.  What did that yield?  Temporary construction jobs.  Subsidizing retail doesn’t yield jobs that pay a living wage.

The key is to allow development without unnecessary government interference.  The key is show potential employers – not just downtown, but throughout Salisbury – that the city will treat businesses, and residents, like valued customers.

Why can’t Jimmy Ireton learn from past mistakes; both his own and his predecessor’s?

Part 1 – Thrift Travel Inn

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Media Monday–March 4, 2013

WANTED:  Pabulum, Pandering, and NO QUESTIONS

Sunday’s Daily Times provided one of the most disturbing editorials I have read in a long time.  Tom Claybaugh, Susan Parker, et al, have the chutzpah to rip their shirts and lament low voter turnout in city elections and then turn right around and call on candidates to shovel sh## rather than talk about real issues:

We do not want to hear anything from any candidate about what someone else has done or failed to do, might do, has said, really meant instead of did say or, worst of all, is thinking or intending to do.

It’s little wonder voters are so disengaged.

Voters don’t vote because they feel that little or nothing will change.  Yes, there is a certain amount of civic disengagement; but ultimately people will turn out IF they feel that their vote means something.

Jim Ireton has had almost four years to accomplish something, yet the Daily Times won’t examine his record and doesn’t want candidates OR citizens questioning it.  When Ireton announced his run for re-election he claimed that he had kept his promises.  At the top of his list – not increasing taxes.  Where is the front page expose on the FACT that Ireton not only proposed a tax hike, he tried to veto the FY 2013 budget BECAUSE it didn’t include his tax hike?  and … The list goes on.

DT readers, and all other Salisbury citizens, deserve a newspaper that asks ALL CANDIDATES tough question.  Candidates need to ask tough questions about their respective opponents’ records and proposals.  Citizens should do the same.  Unfortunately, Claybaugh & Co. simply want to feed voters pabulum about their chosen candidates, pander to the lowest common denominator, and most importantly – avoid asking their favored few any TOUGH QUESTIONS.

Let’s hope the reporting side of the shop didn’t get the memo.

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Jimmy’s Respect for the Taxpayer–Part 1

Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton LOVES to spend money – OTHER PEOPLE’s MONEY.  Being a lifelong government employee, Ireton sees nothing wrong with doling our cash because, in his mind, there is ALWAYS MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM.

Today’s example – Salisbury’s Thrift Travel Inn

This infamous haven for hookers and drug dealers, Salisbury’s poster child for rent-by-the-hour, no-tell lodging luxury was finally demolished last November.

That’s a good thing, right?  In the end it was; but not if the city had done it “Jimmy’s Way”.

Ireton brought a proposal to the city council calling for the hardworking people of Salisbury to pay for the demolition.  Why not?  It’s other people’s money.  The evil, obstructionist council, led by Debbie Campbell, said NO!

Why would they do that?  Those mean, nasty people on city council thought that it was more appropriate for the property’s owners to pay for it.  Shame on you Debbie Campbell!  You took away another opportunity for Jimmy to call a press conference!

Of course, this hasn’t prevented Ireton from taking all of the credit during his campaign for re-election.  I wonder if this is another of Jake Day’s examples that the “mayor needs a partner”.

If Salisbury has any hope of revitalizing its economy, it deserves a Mayor AND a Council that respects the hardworking people and businesses of Salisbury.  These are the folks who pay the bills.

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Media Monday – February 25, 2013

Daily Times Attempts to Control Election
While I have been pleased to recently discuss an immense improvement on the NEWS pags of the Daily Times, Susan Parker’s op-ed pages have taken a serious turn for the worse.  From op-eds calling on elected officials to violate the law to refusing to publish letters to the editor that they don’t agree with, the DT seems to be attempting an undue influence on the current Salisbury city elections.

Wait a second G.A., you’ve always maintained that a paper should print ANYTHING it chooses on the op-ed page.

You’re right!  I have no problem with the DT, or any other outlet, saying anything it wants PROVIDED that it’s labeled “opinion”.  However, I do have a problem with the DT claiming that its op-ed page serves as an outlet for community opinion.  They would be more honest if they simply admitted that their op-ed pages serve as an outlet for community opinion that THEY AGREE WITH.
A great example is a letter submitted last week by Kay Gibson of Salisbury.  While you can read it on SBYNews, you won’t see it on the pages of the Daily Times.  Why?  Parker and her boss, General Manager Tom Claybaugh, don’t want any criticism of Jake Day to appear prior to Tuesday’s primary.  They don’t want to risk voters learning the truth and possibly showing up and casting their ballots for the evil incumbent, Debbie Campbell.
Why was Gibson’s letter so offensive that the Daily Times doesn’t want you read it?  Gibson has the temerity to expose the poor behavior and rank stupidity of councilwomen  Laura Mitchell and Shanie Shields while also noting that Day is taking, at least, some of his talking points from Mitchell.
Unlike most letters to the editor, Gibson’s piece calls on readers to do something that Claybaugh, Parker and crew evidently fear most – examine the facts and draw your own conclusion!  Gibson cites the URL where readers can listen to the council meeting she refers to.  Because she’s limited to 250 words, Gibson is limited to presenting more facts:
[Read more…]
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Media Monday – February 18, 2013

The Daily Times Host Its First Community Forum
We’ve always been vociferous critics of Salisbury’s Daily Times, specifically its city reporting.  While the Daily Times appears to be in continual decline, like most (all) of its print siblings, the journalistic side of the paper is putting out some of its best work in years.  Do we agree with everything written by reporters like Jeremy Cox, Jennifer Shutt or Vanessa Junkin?  Of course not; I’m quite sure they wouldn’t agree with us.
Last night the Daily Times hosted its first community forum in relation to the 2013 Salisbury elections at First Baptist Church.  The focus of the meeting was council District 1 and the mayoral race.  The DT will host another forum on Thursday at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center for District 2.  While the meeting was sparsely attended, about 15 people, the DT’s Jeremy Cox, with the assistance of Jennifer Shutt and Earl Holland, ran a thoughtful meeting.  Citizens had the opportunity to express their opinions on a variety of issues and where able to prioritize those issues.
The meeting started off with a couple of folks, one definitely appearing to be a shill for Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton, attacking mayoral candidate Joe Albero and questioning his residency.  Cox quickly shut down the dual attacks by noting that the purpose of the meeting was to get people’s opinions on specific issues and to guide the DT as to what issues they should look into.  Cox noted that the question of Albero’s residency had already been looked into.

After folks had a chance to vote, three issues were prevelant (in order of votes cast):
  1. Attracting businesses / jobs to Salisbury.
  2. Bringing high quality (and / or “living wage”) jobs to Salisbury.
  3. Affordable housing.
Miguel Mitchell offered several good ideas regarding economic development, specifically in regard to Salisbury possibly taking part in a start-up business incubator.  G. A. Harrison pointed out that too much was expected from council in this area, because the mayor’s office executes policy.  One problem that Salisbury faces in economic development is that the last two administrations have failed miserably when it comes to issuing permits in a timely fashion and getting Public Works to respond to business needs.
Overall, this was a great first step in attempting to gather ideas and “take the pulse” of the city for the upcoming elections.
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Is Joe Albero a Racist?

In part one of a multi-part series on SBYNews I examined today’s Daily Times article about Joe Albero and race.  Rather than re-print the piece here, I am linking to it:

There are a few things I would like you to keep in mind –
  • Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton has a history of playing the “race card” whenever he feels politically threatened or believes that he may use it to his political advantage.  Before calling Albero a racist he literally stood on a street corner and called a majority of the city council racists because they would not rubber stamp one of his proposals.
  • Ireton has played fast and loose with the truth from the day he was sworn in as mayor (I can’t authoritatively comment on before he was mayor).  Since announcing for re-election he has really turned the “Truth-O-Meter” upside down.  Whether discussing race, his attempt to raise property tax rates, or falsely taking credit for the city’s relatively sound fical condition and lower crime rate, Ireton views ignored truth as something to be ignored or twisted if it serves his political purposes.
  • While Ireton attempted to spoon-feed DT reporter Jeremy Cox with a lot of out-of-context, or misrepresented garbage, Cox worked hard researching what Ireton submitted to him and performed numerous interviews with Albero, and other cocerned citizens, in order to present a much more accurate story than we would have read had it been written by either of his two predecessors (and quite a few other former city reporters).
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From Bias to Irresponsibility

Historically, a newspaper has been important to the lives of a community’s citizens.  It has been a place to not only learn about events locally, but also what is occurring around a region, nation, and the world.  The op-ed section permits citizens to opportunity to express their opinions as well as learn the opinions of their neighbors.  A level of trust inherently goes along with publishing a newspaper as its readers want to be able to believe what is printed within its pages.  What happens when a newspaper breaks that trust with its readers.
Growing up I not only enjoyed the daily newspaper of wherever I was living, I respected its place in my community.  Even from an early age I recognized the bias inherent in  coverage; the publishers rarely shared my world view.  I had to seek coverage from multiple sources and I learned to critically evaluate what I read.  Growing up in Virginia I new that the Daily Press and the Virginian-Pilot weren’t going to provide full coverage of the things that mattered to me, so I also read the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Sadly, if you live in Salisbury, MD and its environs (as I do now) you are saddled with a daily newspaper that not only doesn’t share your world view, it attempts to mold the views of its readers by deliberately using its news and editorial pages as little more than propoganda in support of its chosen candidates and policies.
This past week I witnessed the nadir of a daily newspaper.  The Daily Times has called on the Salisbury city council to violate the very laws they are sworn to uphold.  In their effort to prop up a mayor who is spinning out of control, they actually want elected officials to commit an illegal act!  I almost understand their dilemma.  To date they have refused to acknowledge that Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton has taken the attitude that he is above the law when it comes to the tenure of his acting fire chief.  They were faced with two choices – ignore the incident or go “all in” support the illegal behavior.  Regrettably, they chose the latter.
Attempting to turn the tables on a council majority that is prohibited by law from providing the reasons for their refusal to confirm Ireton’s choice as fire chief, the Daily Times news and editorial staffs think themselves clever by calling on the council to violate their oaths of office:
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.

As this same group of “journalists” prepares to go to press attacking Ireton’s opponent in the upcoming election with charges of racism, they should be careful what they wish for.  While the council is tip-lipped about its reasons for denying confirmation to Ireton’s pick for fire chief, one reason appears to center on charges of racism within the Salisbury Fire Department, particularly among its top officers.  I wonder how they will defend this.
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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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Salisbury Mayor Refuses to Comply with Law

The Daily Times reports after the Salisbury City Council voted unanimously to allow acting fire chief Rick Hoppes to continue in his position for another month, mayor Jim Ireton continues to refuse to comply with the city’s law regarding the appointment of acting department heads.  Ireton disputes the interpretation of the law provided by city attorney Mark Tilghman.  Ireton appealed Tilghman’s interpretation to the Office of the Maryland Attorney General.  The AG’s office informed Ireton in a January 3rd letter that they defer to Tilghman’s interpretation of the law.

Ireton insists that he can interpret the law as he chooses:

“The July resolutions, which also covered Hoppes’ second-in-command John Tull, “simply provide for the Acting Status of both of these employees to be extended past six months.”

The council disputes Iretons actions and have the opinions of the city attorney and AG’s office to back them up.  At Monday’s council meeting, president Terry Cohen asked if Ireton felt he was above the law.  It appears that Ireton has delivered his answer.
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Politics, Not Leadership, Reigns in SBY

SALISBURY, MD – Last week we outlined Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton’s actions regarding the $1.4 million FEMA grant for the fire department.  In Jimmy Ireton’s world, scoring cheap political points far outweighed public safety.  One week has passed.  We are one week closer to next spring’s city elections.  Ireton is pulling another cheap political stunt.

This week we are told that Ireton is seeking to raise the annual salaries of Salisbury police officers by approximately $4,000.  Is he really?  Sadly, NO.  Instead, the brave, hard working men and women of the Salisbury PD are being used as so many political footballs.

While Ireton and councilwoman Laura Mitchell bask in the Obamaesque glow of the Democrat National Convention and help to cement their places as Salisbury’s liberals-in-chief, Ireton is attempting to play games with the lives of Salisbury’s police officers and the safety of its citizens.  By refusing to provide the RESPONSIBLE members of the city council with basic information such as the city’s year end cash position and how much money was returned to surplus at the end of FY 2012, Ireton is again attempting to goad the council members into voting against this latest proposal.  WHY?  To score political points on Jimmy’s ROAD TO RE-ELECTION!

Citizens should ask a couple of questions questions:

[Read more…]

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News-Post Calls O’Malley Out on Record and RNC Performance

FREDERICK, MD – Frederick’s News-Post doesn’t think much of Maryland governor Martin O’Malley’s recent performance in Tampa.  Kudos to one of the few print organs in the Once Free State that dares to say, “The Emperor has no clothes.”:

As outrageous as this was, it comes as little surprise in a political era when running the other guy or party down is the name of the game. Never mind trying to get the current national economic mess straightened out by — bite our tongue — actually working together for solutions.

Maryland Sen. E. J. Pipkin (R-36) hit the nail right on the head:

Gov. O’Malley crashing our convention is a waste of time. And he should not be talking about jobs after the dismal performance over the last few months." State House of Delegates Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell got even more personal, saying, "The country deserves to know what a fraud O’Malley is. We have a structural deficit of over $1 billion, we’re losing jobs at a higher rate than anyone else in the country and we have an underfunded pension system. There’s much to do in our state. The Democratic folks are very desperate to hold on to their national power.

Over the last few months O’Malley has proven what many of us already believed – his future political ambitions far outweigh the problems facing Maryland and our nation.  We almost feel guilty about our recent criticism of Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton.  While guilty of the same sins, what should we expect given the behavior of two of Ireton’s heroes – Barack Obama and Martin O’Malley?  We all learn from example.

 

READ MORE …

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Salisbury Council Votes for Fire Grant

SALISBURY, MD – At Monday’s city council meeting citizens were treated to all of the drama which has made Salisbury famous (or infamous?).  The meeting began with councilwoman Laura Mitchell’s expected grandstanding; it moved through a normal course of legislative business; and culminated with not one, but three trademark Jimmy Ireton hissy fits.  In the end, the city council accepted a federal grant of $1.4 million to allow the city hire 12 additional firefighters.

Read the details later today in the DelMarVa Observer.  For a fictional account, we suggest this morning’s online edition of the Daily Times.  It appears that new city report Jeremy Cox is a budding short story writer.

photo courtesy of WMDT

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Salisbury Council to Tackle Enterprise Zones, Give Fire Grant Another Try

SALISBURY, MD – The Salisbury City Council will meet at 6 PM this evening and vote to renew their enterprise zone for another 10 years.  At the end of tonight’s agenda, the council will also decide whether or not to accept a $1.4 million federal grant for the Salisbury Fire Department.  In most jurisdictions neither measure would be controversial, but this is Salisbury.

Even Democrats aren’t opposed to enterprise zones anymore.  Enterprise zones provide tax credits for companies that place businesses in depressed areas.  Unfortunately, Salisbury has drawn its enterprise zone to include the choice US 13 and US 50 corridors.  Because of this, businesses such as Walgreens and the Residence Inn have been able to take tax credits for investing in areas that they would have invested in anyhow.

Two weeks ago the council refused to place the grant acceptance on the agenda.  Tonight they will vote on whether to accept $1.4 million to hire additional fire fighters.  Again, in most places this would be a no-brainer and on the consent agenda.  The fire department says it can use the additional fire fighters.  The federal government will pick up the cost for two years.  What’s the problem?

As always, the devil is in the details and Salisbury’s council majority always looks at the details.  This matter would probably have been settled, but Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton doesn’t like details and doesn’t like to answer questions.  Instead he prefers press conferences where he can attack said council majority without giving them a chance to respond.

Questions that need to answered include:

  • How does the mayor plan to pay for the new firefighters after the grant runs out?  Is he planning on laying them off or is he going to propose an increase in the property tax rate (of 3 – 4 cents)?
  • The Mayor, the fire department, the Daily Times, and the chattering classes have all claimed that Salisbury needs these additional fire fighters.  Why has the administration failed to request them?  Why has the fire department refused to ask for them in their annual departmental budget request?
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Daily Times Refuses to Provide “The Rest of the Story”

IRETON CONTINUES TO CHOOSE CHEAP POLITICS OVER LEADERSHIP

SALISBURY, MD – Salisbury’s Daily Times continues its practice of misinforming its readers when it comes to Salisbury’s city government.  In fact, things have gotten so bad that they aren’t even capable of telling the whole story even when they are right.

Monday evening, a motion to include acceptance of a $1.4 million federal grant for the Salisbury Fire Dept. on the meeting’s agenda failed.  According to the administration of Mayor Jim Ireton this effectively killed the grant.  As far as this goes, that is true.  What about “the rest of the story”, including another Ireton hissy fit where he ordered all city employees to leave the council meeting?

On August 1st, council president Terry Cohen asked Ireton to provide any deadlines.  Ireton refused to do so until Monday afternoon when he attempted to bully Cohen into putting the item on Monday’s agenda as an “emergency” item.

Why wasn’t the grant on Monday’s agenda to begin with?  Great question … and fair.  At the previous work session, several questions were asked by council members.  They included little things like how much would the city have to spend over the next couple of years to accept the grant and what happens when the grant expires.  Will the city simply fire the firefighters or will the city raise taxes to pay for those positions into the future?  To his credit, acting chief Rick Hoppes did attempt to respond to the questions posed to him.  Unfortunately they were not complete.  As usual, Ireton’s office obfuscated.

[Read more…]

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Can You Imagine This in Salisbury?

SALISBURY, MD – We are constantly told that Salisbury city government is unique because of its ineptitude.  Really?

Let’s go a few hours south to the city of Chesapeake, VA.  In this sprawling city almost ten times larger than Salisbury, the Virginian-Pilot has been examining the cost overruns at a newly constructed jail.  City Council was never notified until AFTER the money had been expended.

The reasoning being this abuse of the taxpayer?  The city manager and his staff didn’t have a “mechanism” to adequately inform council.  Ever heard of email?

No, the problem doesn’t lie with Salisbury.  The problem lies with a seemingly lazy press in the Once Free State.  I may not like the editorial policies of papers like the Virginian-Pilot, the Daily Press, or the Richmond Times-Dispatch, but they report the news.  In Salisbury the press stayed silent while their pals in city government handed out millions in developer reimbursements and approved every cost overrun on the WWTP.  Yet, Mayor Barrie Tilghman and council members like Mike Dunn, Gary Comegys, and Lynn Cathcart were held up by the press as paragons of virtue.

Who are the bad guys?  People like Joe Albero for reporting this information; and elected officials like Debbie Campbell because they dared to ask questions.

Shame on them.  I guess the people of Salisbury would prefer a system like Chesapeake’s.

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Drowned Man Found in Wicomico River

SALISBURY, MD – The body of William Alfred Cole Jr., 72, was found floating in the Wicomico River yesterday afternoon near the US 50 bridge.  Salisbury police are continuing to investigate.

photo courtesy of the Daily Times

READ MORE…

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Will Salisbury Fix the Mess at Bateman / Onley Road?

SALISBURY, MD – The Salisbury City Council is expected to vote tonight on the city’s plan to rearrange the intersection of S. Division Street, Bateman Street and Onley Road.  Will they?

After years of Mayor Jim Ireton and TWO separate city councils attempting to come to an agreement it looked as if there might be an end (albeit unsatisfactory to area residents) to the problem of routing school buses down Onley Road.  Unfortunately, a disclosure by a representative of Salisbury University at the council’s last work session may cause the project to be put on hold again.

The council learned that SU had offered the city a portion of the northeast corner of its athletic field which runs along S. Division and Bateman Streets.  While not addressing the concerns of the residents near Onley Road, SU’s donation could easily address other problems of routing traffic through this staggered intersection.  Unfortunately, and true to form, the Ireton administration chose to withhold this information from council.

Now we’ll have to see how the majority reacts to being deceived by the Mayor’s office once again.

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Daily Times Admits Reporters Involvement in Political “Phone Prank”

The Daily Times has acknowledged that one of its reporters was indirectly involved in a “phone prank” perpetrated on local blogger and possible mayoral candidate Joe Albero.  Greg Bassett, Executive Editor of the Daily Times, writes in an editorial in today’s edition that the paper has accepted the reporter’s resignation.

On Saturday, June 2nd, Albero received a phone call showing Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton’s phone on the Caller ID.  The caller identified himself as Ireton.  Witnesses who heard the phone call state that the caller sounded like Ireton and that he appeared to be intoxicated.  The caller asked Albero to meet him on Sunday.  Ireton denies making the call and asked Salisbury police chief Barbara Duncan to investigate.

According to Bassett’s editorial (the editorial has since been stripped from the paper’s online edition), the unnamed reporter was present when the call was made by an unnamed “associate of the reporter”.  The reporter then failed to disclose his or her involvement in the “prank”.

The Daily Times has a history of using its news and editorial pages to promote, or attack, the actions of local elected officials.  This includes allowing its reporters to participate in political strategy sessions with the paper’s political allies.

Here is the text of Bassett’s editorial:

[Read more…]

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Is Ireton Running Already?

120615_Ireton_4MoreYearsSALISBURY, MD – At last Friday’s Third Friday event in downtown Salisbury, a “bookmark” was being passed out (see photo at left).  Taking yet another hint from his idol, Barack Obama, is Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton running for re-election?

There is no authority line on the “bookmark” and we were unable to identify the person handing out the material on Third Friday.  Therefore, it’s not possible to say conclusively that this is an opening salvo from a re-election campaign.  However, given the recent buzz about a possible mayoral run by SbyNEWS publisher Joe Albero, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ireton hitting the campaign trail much earlier than is normal for a city election.

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Where Is Jim Ireton’s Budget Veto?

SALISBURY, MD – The Daily Times has published multiple times that Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton would veto the budget passed by the Salisbury City Council.  Yet, a press release issued by City Clerk Kim Nichols states that the amended budget passed by the council is law.  What happened?

The answer is simple.  A veto would have resulted in one of two things:

  • The mayor’s veto would have been overridden.  or …
  • The city would have no budget.

Allowing the city to enter FY 2013 would be the height of irresponsibility.  Ireton should be applauded for not allowing the baser side of his nature to get the better of him.  Allowing the city government to shut down due to hubris would have been unthinkable.

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Salisbury Budget Showdown Begins

SALISBURY, MD – To the casual observer, the Salisbury budget process has been moving forward for over a month.  In reality, what has taken place up to today has been the equivalent of an “opening act”.  The real showdown begins tonight when the Salisbury City Council passes the FY 2013 budget.

Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton, who “governs” by press conference and denouncement of the council majority, has been hinting since the introduction of his budget that he would veto ANY change to his proposed budget.  Ireton is in for a BIG surprise.  Unlike last year, when he could veto the council-passed budget because it contained no tax hikes (see above photo), Ireton now finds himself between a rock and hard place.  Cut from his proposed budget are raises for his staff, along with other reductions in the Mayor’s spending requests.  Also gone is his proposed tax hike.

Ireton could, in theory, veto the council’s budget.  However, if he does so the city’s budget would not be in balance – a violation of the city’s charter.  Fortunately for the city’s taxpayers, Ireton cannot unilaterally implement a tax rate increase.  He can veto the ordinance setting the rate, along with the budget ordinance, but his budget cannot be implemented over the council’s objection because he included a hike in the city’s real property tax rate.

To date, Ireton has refused to meet with the council and negotiate in good faith.  Instead he attempted to ride in at the eleventh hour and demanded a meeting just before the holiday weekend.  For those that enjoy political theater, this week should prove amusing as Ireton attempts to spin the actions of a fiscally responsible council majority to his favor.

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BREAKING NEWS – Fire in McDonalds at North Salisbury Wal-Mart

SALISBURY, MD – A fire has been reported at the McDonalds in the North Salisbury Wal-Mart.  Units of the Salisbury Fire Department are responding.

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BREAKING NEWS – Hostage Situation at Parkside Apartments in Salisbury

SALISBURY, MD – A hostage situation is underway at the Parkside Apartments at the intersection of Glen Avenue and Beaglin Park Drive in Salisbury.

UPDATE – the perpetrator was hit with tasers and has been taken into custody.

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Salisbury Council Accepts Budget, Appropriates Money for Attorney

SALISBURY, MD – At Monday’s meeting of the Salisbury City Council almost $700,000 was appropriated to fund legal expenses for the remainder of FY 2012.  The original ordinance called for $70,000 in additional funds for the city attorney and $565,000 to fund litigation over the waste water treatment plant (WWTP) debacle.  The bill was amended to increase funding for the city attorney by $100,000.

While councilwomen Laura Mitchell and Shanie Shields had attempted to stop funding for the city attorney at first reading, both Mitchell and Shields changed their stance at this meeting.  If funds had not been appropriated the city would have been unable to enter into any contracts or pass any legislation until after July 1st.

At the same meeting the council accepted, on first reading, Mayor Jim Ireton’s proposed FY 2013.  Ireton calls for a $0.015 increase in the real property rate to fund increases in police pay as well as pay raises for his own staff.

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College Party Turns Ugly

SALISBURY, MD – A large party turned nasty Saturday night as police and Sheriff’s deputies were forced to use pepper spray on a large crowd at the Cedar Crossing housing complex north of Onley Road in Salisbury.  Police were dispatched to control a disorderly crowd of approximately 1,500 college-aged persons.  While police attempted to disperse the crowd, some individuals began to throw bottles and cans at the officers.

READ MORE …

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Salisbury Ethics Commission Releases Opinion on Council Conflict

SALISBURY, MD – On April 2nd the Salisbury Ethics Commission issued its formal opinion on a claim of conflict of interest brought by former council president Mike Dunn.  While the Daily Times had reported earlier on the commission’s preliminary, verbal ruling.  The written ruling, however, emphasizes that there was no violation of the city’s ethics code in any form and that Dunn’s claim was subjective at best.  In other words, there was no basis for Dunn’s claim.

To view the written opinion, GO HERE.

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