Controversy over audit committee minutes continued at the Dec. 8 Dewey Beach commissioners meeting.
Former audit committee Secretary Diane Hanson noted officials now have two versions of approved minutes for Aug. 3; one approved unanimously on Aug. 17 and a disputed version approved by a 2-1 vote Nov. 6, with Hanson dissenting.
“I don’t know if this is an issue for our attorney or not,” she said.
Hanson said at the Nov. 6 meeting, then-audit committee Chair Larry Silver produced meeting minutes for Aug. 3 and 17 that he had revised.
In Silver’s Aug. 3 minutes, his version states he told meeting attendees all draft documents discussed at the meeting should be returned to independent auditor Roy Geiser. Then, in his Aug. 17 minutes, he deleted the committee’s unanimous approval of the Aug. 3 minutes.
Hanson opposed these changes. She said at the end of the Aug. 3 meeting, she asked resident Jeffrey Smith, who arrived late to the meeting, if he had seen a copy of the audited financial report discussed during the public meeting.
Hanson said Geiser at that point handed Smith a copy.
“This is credence to the original minutes,” she said. “If [Silver] said it at the end of the meeting, why would Roy five minutes later be giving a copy to Jeffrey?”
Hanson also said that on Aug. 6, she called Dewey Police Sgt. Cliff Dempsey after she heard Smith would be arrested for theft of the public document. Hanson said she told Dempsey she witnessed part of the incident and did not see how a theft charge would stick.
“I spoke to him personally, but there is no record of my call to police,” she said.
Commissioners did not respond to Hanson’s comments.
Rebecca Snyder, executive director of the Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association, who saw video of the Nov. 6 meeting, said in an email that the new minutes were altered to align with a narrative the audit committee preferred.
“Original minutes could be amended or corrected, but they don’t just fade out because they are inconvenient to those in power,” she said.
Snyder said announcements made after adjournment are not part of the meeting.
“Facts matter,” Snyder said. “The Press Association feels the actions of the Dewey Beach council are essentially gaslighting the public by changing the narrative and minutes to reflect the most flattering view of the audit committee.”