Responsible accounting is not retaliation
Voters clamoring to oust former Dewey Beach Town Manager Marc Appelbaum won the day in September, electing TJ Redefer, whom council then elected mayor.
The election took place just days before the release of a report on an investigation into Appelbaum's conduct following incendiary charges against him by town employees, including its police chief and beach patrol captain. The investigator's report recommended training for Appelbaum but did not recommend suspension or removal.
That same report brought to light that the most serious charges against Appelbaum appeared to be in retaliation against him, motivated by Appelbaum's effort to rein in both the police and the beach patrol – in particular a complete lack of accounting to the town for $2 million in materials obtained through a federal program that provides surplus military equipment to municipalities.
The investigation of Appelbaum also revealed information about beach patrol practices so problematic that entire paragraphs about it were blacked out when the report was made public.
Now the same employees who attacked Appelbaum charge that reviewing these and other questionable practices in their departments amounts to retaliation.
Investigating $2 million in unaccounted-for equipment is necessary for responsible management of town resources, policy that should have been in place with Dewey's first participation in the program. Investigating and correcting apparently secret beach patrol practices are necessary steps to protect the town.
In neither case can the actions of Dewey Beach officials be deemed retaliation. On the contrary, addressing these issues is critical to improving accountability and open government in Dewey Beach.
As officials move forward with their review, it's time for residents to rally around the government they elected and move forward.
As Redefer recently wrote, "It would be wonderful if everyone in Dewey Beach could take this holiday season to focus on how much we have to be thankful for. ... It's time for Dewey Beach to begin again."