McDonald: Council members need to be held more accountable


I am relatively new to the Dover area and generally do not write public letters unless I am prompted by a concerning issue. As I sat down to read the morning newspaper online recently, I read an article written about the former Dover City Council president (William Hare), who was recommended to be censured by the city Ethics Commission for offenses that involved him violating various city codes (“Dover staffer explains complaint against Hare”). The story stated that a complaint was filed against this councilman for inappropriate conduct with a city employee over her duties as a code enforcement officer. What troubled me after reading the article was that this councilman used his position of authority to follow the employee during her lunch break to Aldi and personally went over to the employee’s residence. Many in our society would consider the actions stalking or harassment.

There appears to be public interest in this matter, considering the timing of the release of the documents by the Ethics Commission. For one, the public deserves to know what transpired, since we are the taxpayers and elect those who serve on City Council. To me, this matter does raise troubling concerns about the council member’s actions and should warrant an investigation by the Delaware attorney general’s office’s Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust.

If you read the article, the process worked — a complaint was filed, and the Ethics Commission did its job and did it well. The problem seemed to occur when the document got to the City Clerk’s Office and in the hands of the City Council president. According to procedure, the City Council president sets meeting agendas and chose not to put the possible censure against him on an agenda — therefore, keeping it from the public.

A censure is a formal reprimand and a kind of punishment, and they seem to be on the rise in these divisive times. However, most of the ones I have researched have been made public and were acted upon accordingly.

Even if the City Council president complied with the bare minimum of the letter of the law and released the document sooner, I believe the spirit of the law would require more proactive transparency around this matter. As residents, we deserve better from our City Council and elected leaders. We entrust them with the responsibility to do the right things and represent us all, yet Councilman Hare’s actions fell short by suppressing information to the public using his influence as council’s leader.

In the article, it states that this measure will now go before the full City Council for a vote June 10, after eight months of concealment. I truly hope the matter is resolved, complying with the code of conduct and adhering to the standards of ethical conduct, not personal agendas or interest by council members.

Moving forward, it is imperative that our city elected officials prioritize transparency, accountability and collaboration to avoid repeating such blunders, and I urge my fellow city residents to hold our council members accountable for their actions and demand better governance for the betterment of our beloved city.

Jimmy McDonald Sr.


Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at civiltalk@iniusa.org.

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