After nearly six hours of executive session between Dewey’s audit committee and town council, the public is no closer to finding out the results of a report prepared by Salisbury-based TGM Group looking into employee procurement practices.
Following town council’s two-hour-and-30-minute executive session March 9, comments were limited.
Mayor TJ Redefer was the only one to speak on the matter when the item came up on the agenda. He said a lot of work had been done, but there were still questions for Roy Geiser, TGM Group partner, who was not in attendance for council’s executive session. He then said the plan was to meet with Geiser in the next 10 days to have those questions answered so the report can be finalized.
“We are just about there with a report we can share with the public,” said Redefer. “We are very excited about the recommendations.”
However, that wasn’t the last word on the much-anticipated report. The document, and council’s frustration that information in the report was trickling out, came up again during commissioner comments.
Referencing the resignation and the withdrawal of the resignation of Audit Committee Chair Larry Silver in the days before the report was due, Commissioner Paul Bauer said he has many concerns.
“From our committee levels, we have to have some ethics that say what goes on the committees is there,” Bauer said. “This is trying people in the press, and we’re getting way too much of that. If I have a gripe with somebody, I don’t plaster it in the newspaper first, and then ask questions second. We’re going through a process and doing everything we can to be transparent with everybody, and we’re going to have that same expectation of everybody on committees as well.”
Following Bauer’s statement, Redefer had similar thoughts, but this time he called out members of the audit committee specifically.
Redefer said Silver’s resignation March 5 was to the commissioners and members of the audit committee. He said within two hours of Silver’s resignation, he received an email enquiring about the resignation, and then within four hours, he received another email from a citizen who mentioned in conversation that she also had a copy of the TGM report.
Redefer said at that moment, the report had been shared only with the audit committee. He said the committee members must be unbiased, and if they’re not, the commissioners would remove them.
“Obviously this is a highly sensitive matter, but what is clear is that someone in this group is willing to take our town’s progress off track for their own agenda. Enough is enough,” said Redefer.
In an email March 11, Silver said, on behalf of the committee, he had no knowledge that anyone on the committee did any such thing.
“The report was marked "draft and confidential" when it was sent by me to our members,” he said. “Knowing the committee the way I do I have no doubt whatsoever that TJ's comment is incorrect.”
Committee member and former Mayor Diane Hanson said she was sure there was no leaking of report information from the committee.
“As far as the email TJ sent out about Larry’s resignation,” Hanson said in an email March 12, “it was sent to almost a dozen people, which included all the commissioners and town staff. If someone forwarded that on, I don’t see how you would consider that leaking.”
Committee member Diane Tenhoopen said town hall staff and all commissioners had immediate knowledge of Silver’s temporary resignation and subsequent reinstatement. In a March 12 email, she said all parties must focus on the content of the draft report and conclude the TGM review as soon as possible for the good of the town.
Committee members Steve Huse and Dennis Trencher could not be reached for comment.