Accusers must be held to the accountability in Dewey

October 6, 2017

Regarding the Cape Gazette's article of Sept. 29, "Dewey officials mum on investigator's report." Why no media comments by the council after a summer-long investigation? When the facts change, will they change their opinion? Hopefully they will, soon, as it would be against the trust the public placed in the elected officials to not read or act on the investigators' report for the following reasons:

1. Endless comments, positions and campaigns were made when the allegations were released to the media and Appelbaum, by council and some town officials, became the sole campaign issue of the Sept. 16 Dewey election.

2. The 112-page report was issued the day before the election, but after the majority of Dewey voters had voted (60 percent by absentee ballot), and even local voters and council members were quoted as "not having read" the report prior to voting. Now the council has read it.

3. The investigation proved Police Chief Mackert, Lifeguard Capt. Todd Fritchman and Bill Mears' allegations were false and without basis, in fact described the clear motive of mal intent against Appelbaum, their boss, over their efforts to avoid accountability on their budget or any oversight on matters that it's the town manager's job to oversee.

4. Taking the most salacious allegation made by Todd Fritchman about an alleged harassment event in Appelbaum's office, (claiming Appelbaum wore revealing PJs in front of two female employees), the report proved entirely without merit based on the women's statements. Fritchman is on the record making these and other false statements for which he has not been held accountable at this writing. Who does this, and will he get away with this?

5. The investigators determined that Chief of Police Mackert had Alex Pires actually write the employees' complaint. Pires' alcohol businesses are supposedly regulated and overseen by the police and building inspector, but Pires wrote the letter on behalf of those officials who regulate him. This is a spectacular combination of cronyism, conflict of interest, and making false statements in cooperation with one another, against the public trust, worse than anything I've witnessed in Washington in my 30 years working with government.

6. Now the investigation is complete, facts are out, the accusers now have no comment except for continued demagoguery by Pires' frequent co-counsel Rick Cross. But worse, now Cross told the media he is working pro bono, a ridiculous claim given Cross' public alliances with Pires, and Cross' relentless media appearances and court filings. It only takes a tacit quid pro quo between Cross and Pires for future business or other types of cronyism.

7. The accusers must be held to the same accountability as they asked Appelbaum to be subject to. But that does not appear to be the case, yet. But it's inevitable as anybody arrested by the police, or authority exercised by Fritchman or Mears against them, can and will raise issues of the officials documented of false claims as a defense. Bet on it! As to council members not reading and acting on the report, that is clearly contrary to their role as public servants by any definition. Cronyism among those town officials who have been proven to have made multiple false accusations, in the name of escaping oversight by their boss town manager, is threatening against the citizens and will unquestionably be costly for the town.

Jeffrey C. Smith
Sandra Corry Smith
Dewey Beach


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