Dewey residents urge oficials to move forward
The following letter was sent to Dewey Beach Mayor TJ Redefer and Town Council with a copy submitted to the Cape Gazette for publication.
We congratulate you on your election to serve Dewey Beach, and wish to open up a dialogue on positive reforms needed for Dewey in light of the town investigator's report.
We believe that the first order of business is to evaluate the investigator's report equally with respect to its findings on both Marc Appelbaum and the town officials who made the media allegations on June 14, eventually leading to the investigator being hired. The investigator documented multiple troubling actions by the town police, lifeguard captain, and building inspector, some of which are ongoing. The investigator's report found the officials' wrongful actions on behalf of the town date back many years prior to their June complaint letter, and well before Marc Appelbaum became the town manager.
The investigation reported that many, if not all, of the allegations made by Town Police Chief Mackert, Lifeguard Capt. Todd Frichtman and Bill Mears were without basis or documentation. In performing his rightful duties of oversight of the officials, the investigator found that the town manager ran into serious coordinated opposition from these three officials who sought at all costs to avoid accountability or supervision.
There is no question that the town manager was at all times the supervisor of these three officials, as per Dewey town charter, and the report was due to Mr. Appelbaum's persistence in holding these three officials accountable. Therefore, given the fact of the report's defining a systemic dysfunction among town officials, the council's review of Mr. Appelbaum's employment must also consider the employment of the town officials who were named in the report.
Mr. Appelbaum's departure is now a given, but the findings of the investigator relating to the town's chief of police, lifeguard captain, and building inspector will continue and likely grow in attention into the spring and summer, as decisions are made relating to core town functions, including policing, arrests, staffing and payroll issues of lifeguards, and building inspections.
It is, therefore, imperative for council to hold persons accountable for any prior or ongoing wrongful actions for a few important reasons. First, for the ability of the town to credibly perform its basic governmental duties in Dewey's future. Second, based on their public accusations which the investigator found were motivated by an effort of coordinated retaliation, the town officials named in the report have compromised their ability to function with integrity in the view of anyone reading the report, including the undersigned residents and owners.
Third, it's vital to allow a new town manager to do his or her job without encountering the documented refusals of oversight and power struggles undermining the town. Finally, council's actions must seek to avoid further liability from actions of these town officials, part which could be used against the town now or in the future.
Thank you for your consideration of our views as you take up this matter on Saturday and beyond. We look forward to working with you to make needed reforms in Dewey to address the report's troubling findings, and to define the town as positive and family friendly, with an open, accountable and transparent government being a necessity. Please contact me for any further information you may need, and the undersigned residents and myself look forward to working with you and the council.
Jeffrey C. Smith
On behalf of, and with written email concurrence and approval of, the following current Dewey Beach property owners after letter was circulated and reviewed Oct.4-5:
Kenneth W. Lodge
Susan B. Lodge
Mary Ann Parmelee
Marty Seitz, former commissioner