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Dewey employee resigns following new complaint

Commissioner conflicts of interest cited as reason for new commission filing
August 29, 2017

Story Location:
105 Rodney Ave.
Dewey Beach  Delaware  19971
United States

In response to a new complaint filed with the Public Integrity Commission, Dewey employee and commissioner’s wife Mary Dunmyer has resigned from her position as town project director.

“She is simply fed up with being used as a pawn in the politically motivated attacks of certain self-interested people in the town and has grown weary of the intimidation tactics being used by some non-Administration employees and property owners,” said Commissioner Mike Dunmyer in an Aug. 28 statement on Facebook. “This is a great loss to Dewey Beach as Mary's expertise is unique in town and has been essential to the success of numerous projects.”

Dewey Beach property owners Dave Davis and Gary Mclhinney filed a complaint with the integrity commission Aug. 23 asking for a ruling on the town council member’s involvement with the ongoing battle between Town Manager Marc Appelbaum and more than a dozen current and former employees. The complaint cites two conflicts of interest – the Dunmyer’s familial relationship and the couple’s Dewey property neighboring Appelbaum’s.

“Dunmyer’s participation in matters related to Appelbaum may raise suspicion among the public that he is engaging in conduct contrary to the public trust,” reads the integrity commission complaint. “His separation from these issues diminishes the likelihood Dunmyer would be required to review or dispose of matter in which he had a personal interest.”

This is the second complaint filed with the integrity commission against a member of Dewey town government this summer.

Town employees, a group including police Chief Sam Mackert, beach patrol Capt. Todd Fritchman, building inspector Bill Mears and nine members of the Dewey Police Department, filed a complaint against Appelbaum June 29. The employees have called for a full investigation and permanent removal of Appelbaum as the town manager.

Dunmyer, who is not running for re-election, has one more council meeting on his two-year term. The next scheduled council meeting is Friday, Sept. 8.

During the Dewey Civic Association’s Candidates’ Forum Aug. 26, Commissioner Diane Hanson, who is running for re-election, said a report from Max Walton, the Wilmington-based attorney hired by the town to conduct an independent investigation, could come as soon as Sept. 1.

In his statement, Dunmyer said he’s been careful to balance his obligation with the town, recusing himself whenever a matter has had a direct impact on his wife, such as discussion of a new method of determining employee bonuses.

Dunmyer said he asked town attorney Fred Townsend and a second attorney about how he should conduct himself with the complaint against Appelbaum was filed.

“Both stated that I should not recuse myself,” he wrote. “As such I've voted in favor of affirming the Town Solicitor's decision to engage outside counsel to conduct a full and fair investigation of the employees' complaints. This vote passed, 4 – 1, and thus would have passed without my vote as well. In my view, this takes the employees’ concerns very seriously and represents a deep commitment to developing the fact base necessary to make the right decision going forward.”

In an email Aug. 28, Davis said it’s unfortunate that Dunmyer simply didn’t choose to recuse himself from voting on Appelbaum issues. He also said the move makes things worse.

“We believe the conflict of interest situation is heightened with his wife's resignation, and that Mr. Dunmyer's close personal experience with his wife's employment and now resignation from her job serving Mr. Appelbaum continues to be a conflict that would affect Mr. Dunmyer's judgment in discussing and disposing of issues related to Mr. Appelbaum,” said Davis, who then urged Dunmyer to proceed with great caution when participating in any Appelbaum-related issues.