News you need to protect your town.
June 24, 2013
June brings good news for Dewey Beach
With two decisions issued by the Supreme Court of Delaware during the month of June, one in favor of the Town of Dewey Beach and Dewey Beach Enterprises, and another in favor of Mayor Diane Hanson, all Dewey Beach stakeholders can breathe a little easier.
The assurance of a safe Memorial Day weekend with support of additional police paid for by owners of Ruddertowne/Lighthouse Cove Dewey Beach and The Starboard, storm-water system maintenance and drainage improvements throughout the bayside of town implemented by DelDOT at the request of Building Official Bill Mears with the support of Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, and a unanimous Town Council vote to acquire the eight-camera surveillance system recommended by the Public Safety Task Force combined to make June a very good month for the people of Dewey
Dewey Beach News extends congratulations to all involved, and reminds everyone in the mood for a celebration that Highway One, Ltd. is sponsoring what promises to be a fabulous (and hopefully Guinness Book of World Records-setting) Fourth of July fireworks display over the Rehoboth Bay.
DEWEY BEACH TOWN COUNCIL
VOTES "YES" FOR PUBLIC SAFETY
Commissioners unanimously approve task force recommendations for
eight surveillance cameras
At a June 11 Public Safety Task Force meeting, Mayor Diane Hanson emphatically declared that she and her fellow commissioners take the issue of public safety very seriously. Three days later, Town Council affirmed her statement with a unanimous vote to approve the purchase and installation of an eight-camera surveillance system.
The eight-camera recommendation was developed through a cooperative effort that spanned more than six months and included Public Safety Task Force members, the Dewey Beach Police Department, property owners, residents, and representatives of the business community, and culminated with a proper public request for proposals.
Though Task Force member Jay Rooney presented options for fewer than eight cameras at the June 14 Town Council meeting, he reiterated the belief of the Task Force that an eight-camera system was needed.
Funding the project
Former Commissioner Dale Cooke supported the Task Force's position.
"I'm asking you to fully fund the eight-camera system. I doubt that you're going to, but I'm asking you to do that. They've spent a lot of time, effort and energy to tell you where the cameras are needed. They're telling you these cameras are needed in these eight locations and because they've been arm-twisted by the town on funds, they've given you an option for five or four or eight," said Cooke.
"They say the Town needs eight. For safety, please don't cut them back." Cooke added, pointing out that the funds for the lesser systems would come from a grant obtained by Police Chief Sam Mackert and money raised by the business community at the Winter Gala. He suggested that the Town also contribute some of its money to the project.
Former Budget and Finance Committee Chairman David King said he was in complete agreement with Cooke because the cameras address a public safety issue. King suggested that the money be taken from the infrastructure fund and,if not from there, he suggested the Town access one million dollars it holds in an undesignated town reserve.
"This is as good a use of that money as is anything," King said.
Agreeing with Cooke and King, Commissioner Anna Legates asked Town Manager Marc Appelbaum if he was comfortable using money from the infrastructure fund.
Appelbaum said the Town has money available from its general fund and self-restricted funds, including the $480,000 building permit license fee paid by Dewey Beach Enterprises that should become unfettered upon expiration of the period for a possible appeal of the June 10 Delaware Supreme Court decision rendered in favor of the Town of Dewey Beach and Dewey Beach Enterprises.
"The money is available for you to do it," Appelbaum told the commissioners. "The answer is yes, as I told you a month ago at the meeting, if you all come to the conclusion that this is an imperative item, the money is there."
Voting 'yes' for public safety
Citing complaints about last year's hastily purchased parking meters, Commissioner Joy Howell suggested the Town install five cameras now and, if everyone likes them, that Town Council consider the remaining cameras at its September meeting.
"I'm on the job this time," said Commissioner Gary Mauler, a professional engineer. "The work Jay [Rooney] and I are strong enough to do is going to hold these people to a schedule, a performance standard, and we're going to get the right equipment."
Referring to needs to make Dewey Beach a more people-friendly town, and meet the demands of the citizens for improved public safety, Mauler moved for immediate acquisition and installation of the eight-camera system at a cost not to exceed $95,000. Rooney, Mackert, Mauler, and Appelbaum (whose involvement is limited to sources for payment) will oversee the project, and - at the request of Howell - one camera will be focused down Route 1A to provide additional residential coverage.
The motion passed unanimously (Commissioner Courtney Riordan was absent), prompting sincere expressions of gratitude and appreciation to the commissioners from police, and members of the community and the Public Safety Task Force. Of the authorized expenditure up to $95,000, it appears that approximately $16,000 will come from a state grant, $27,000 will come from funds raised by local businesses, and $52,000 will come from the Town's coffers.
It is expected that the surveillance system will be installed by the end of summer.
ADDITIONAL POLICE PRESENCE ENHANCES PUBLIC SAFETY OVER MEMORIAL WEEKEND
For the fourth consecutive year, Dewey business owners Jim Baeurle of Dewey Beach Enterprises (owner of Ruddertowne/Lighthouse Cove Dewey Beach) and Steve "Monty" Montgomery of The Starboard, paid to provide additional police to assist the Dewey Beach Police Department over the Memorial Day Weekend - Dewey's biggest special event of the year.
During the June 14 Town Council meeting, Police Chief Sam Mackert and Town Manager Marc Appelbaum acknowledged the positive impact of the additional paid officers, and of the two State Police mounted officers during the record-setting weekend.
Georgia Leonhart Photos
Gathering before taking to the streets of Dewey Beach on Saturday May 25 are, l-r, Cpl. Ricardo Lucas of the Capital Police Department, Lt. Derrick Harvey of Milton, Pfc. Chris Story of Georgetown, Pfc. Albert Sargent and Cpl. John Collins of Milton, Chief Edwin Cooke and Cpl. Nathan Benson of Blades, Cpl. David Ober of Dagsboro, and Cpl. Brooks Jenney, Pfc. Kristen Davidson and Lt. William Hocker of the Dewey Beach Police Department.
The Delaware State Police Mounted Patrol Unit provided an impressive addition to the police presence in Dewey Beach. Shown are Cpl/3 Alison Meadows on the 7-year-old thoroughbred Smarty, left, and Cpl/3 Helen Zane on Jack, a14-year-old thoroughbred-quarter horse cross.
DELAWARE SUPREME COURT RULES
IN FAVOR OF MAYOR DIANE HANSON
Affirms decision reversing PIC reprimand
On Wednesday June 19, precisely one week after hearing oral argument, three Supreme Court Justices unanimously affirmed a Superior Court decision in favor of Mayor Diane Hanson.
The appeal arose out of Hanson's participation in a September 11, 2010 vote to "clarify" the meaning of the phrase "relaxed bulk standards" as used by a prior town council and previous Planning Commission members. Following a March 15 hearing, the Public Integrity Commission ("PIC") determined that Hanson had a conflict of interest and should not have voted on that issue, and issued a reprimand against her.
Hanson appealed the reprimand to the Superior Court, which reversed PIC's decision, ruling that it was not based on substantial evidence. PIC then noticed an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Justice Carolyn Berger, Justice Jack B. Jacobs, and Justice Henry duPont Ridgely heard oral argument on June 12, after which they issued an Order unanimously affirming the Superior Court's decision reversing PIC.
The Cape Gazette quotes Hanson as saying, "I'm very pleased to be exonerated finally."
Petition to Delaware Department of Justice prompts Town to release FOIA documents
A PowerPoint relied upon by Commissioner Anna Legates to assist in determining if actions taken by Dewey's Town Council were compliant with the Delaware Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was produced by the Town on Wednesday June 12, after a complaint was filed with the Delaware Department of Justice to compel its production.
Concerns regarding FOIA compliance, and a desire to be aware of materials publicly referred to during the April 6 Town Council meeting and shared with the commissioners regarding the standards for compliance, prompted an informal request to see the PowerPoint materials, which was refused by the Town and was therefore followed by a formal FOIA request. The Town refused to produce the requested materials on April 22.
A complaint/petition to compel production was sent to the Delaware Department of Justice on April 25. FOIA defines a public record, as "information of any kind, owned, made, used, retained, received, produced, composed, drafted or otherwise compiled or collected, by any public body, relating in any way to public business, or in any way of public interest, or in any way related to public purposes, regardless of the physical form or characteristic by which such information is stored, recorded or reproduced."
Production was sought because the PowerPoint materials were information received and retained by Legates, were already in the possession of the Town, and already had been or would be provided to her fellow commissioners. Further, Legates referred to the materials during a public meeting in a way that related to the public business of providing accurate and FOIA-compliant Executive Session Minutes, and the requested material related to the responsibility and public purpose of the Town and its commissioners to conduct its business in an open and public manner.
A complete copy of the PowerPoint materials was transmitted to Georgia Leonhart on Wednesday June 12 by Jim Dedes, Assistant to the Town Manager, with copies to Town Solicitor Fred Townsend and Deputy Attorney General Jason Staib. As the materials were produced, the Office of the Attorney General sent notification of its decision to close the matter on June 14.
To see the FOIA materials previously made available to Dewey's commissioners, click here.
Public Reminders and
Notice of Upcoming Meeting
Dewey Stakeholders Invited to Subscribe to NIXLE
The Dewey Beach Police Department has successfully implemented use of the Nixle Community Information Service - accessible only by Police Chief Sam Mackert - to provide members of the Dewey Beach community with important real-time notifications and emergency information (including about storms and public safety) via cell phone text message and/or email. Register online at www.nixle.com.
Fast-approaching: July 15 Voter Registration Deadline
Everyone eligible to vote (residents, property owners, leaseholders with terms of five-years or more, and settlor/creators of certain trusts that own real property) must be registered to vote by Monday, July 15, in order to vote on Saturday, September 21. Check to see if you are registered to vote, and find out how to register if you are not, by visiting the town website, www.townofdeweybeach.com, and clicking on the link Are you Registered to Vote?
located at the bottom of the homepage. For assistance or more information you may contact Election Committee Chair Beverly Corelle at [email protected]
Town Council Meeting
6 p.m. Friday July 12, 2013 at the Lifesaving Station.
Agenda and related materials can be located on the town's website at www.townofdeweybeach.com
, as they become available.
WHAT IS DEWEY BEACH NEWS?
Dewey Beach News is an independent confederation of neighbors, friends and business associates who love Dewey Beach. Supporters include Kris and Steve Appel, Joe McAvoy, Stephanie Przygocki, Alice Walsh, and former Dewey Beach Mayor Bob Frederick.
Writer and media consultant Georgia Leonhart reports, writes and disseminates Dewey Beach News email communications.
We who support Dewey Beach News do not agree on every issue, but we are in complete agreement that Dewey Beach needs alternative voices and channels of information.
If you are interested in supporting Dewey Beach News, want to be added to our email list, or wish to communicate regarding any other matter, please contact us by email addressed to [email protected].