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WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

NCC Executive Gordon pushes crusade against developers

No more Barley Mills. Never again.

To that end, New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon is unveiling an agenda for ethics reform to reassert control over land-use.

As with anything involving Gordon or land-use, critics find irony in Gordon advocating ethics. Lest we forget, all members of the county ethics commission submitted their resignations during the last Gordon Administration saying their autonomy had been compromised.

The new ethics framework would require disclosure of any non-county employee who assisted a county council member or other county official in writing a piece of legislation.
(Remember the story in Sunday's NEWS JOURNAL?)

County officials would be required to provide additional details about outside business interests, including families' outside business concerns. Vendors would be compelled to disclose campaign contributions.

The county auditor's office would be vastly expanded.

An interesting R--D coalition will introduce the package:
Democratic Council President Chris Bullock and longtime anti-development crusader, Republican Bob Weiner.

Intriguing that Weiner is championing a Gordon initiative now...


You can hear my in-studio interview with County Executive Tom Gordon...


Audio Here


You can hear my phone interview with one of Gordon's chief critics on County Council, Councilman George Smiley...


Audio Here



Proposal Highlights from a Gordon press release:


ENHANCED DISCLOSURE

* Disclosure of outside business interests held by the filer or immediate family (spouse & children)

* Disclosure of all private sources of income in excess of $1,000

* Disclosure of all fiduciary positions, or positions of trust, held whether compensated or uncompensated

* County Vendor Ethics Disclosure Statement -- New vendors will be required to disclose campaign contributions made to County Officials within the previous 24 months

* Disclose the author, in whole or in part, of proposed legislation

* Disclosure of real property in which an interest was held in New Castle County by filer, their spouse, and immediate family

* Disclosure of family members employed by New Castle County


OPERATIONAL CHANGES

* Disallow secret agreements with private enterprises

* Prohibit the use of personal e-mail while conducting County business

* Prohibit employee use of personal cellphones while conducting County business within the Department of Land Use

* Disallow "free meals": Although it is a common business practice to take clients to lunch or dinner, or to allow them to take you, this is not acceptable for public employees.

* Impose fines for ethics violations and allow wage garnishments for those who fail to pay

* Offer reward to those who report fraud, waste, or abuse

* Mandatory 4-hour ethics training for County Officials and department heads


INCREASED OVERSIGHT

* Land Use Compliance Manager - This newly-created position will be tasked with monitoring the communications of land use employees and ensuring compliance with State and County code

* County Auditor - Expand from one to three full-time auditors. Reorganize department to have dual reporting requirement (Both Executive & Legislative branches)

* Add County Attorney and legal aide positions to County Council to reduce the potential need to seek advice of outside council


OPEN GOVERNMENT

* Make Statement of Financial Interest (SFI) publicly available on-line for all who are required to file

* Post all external contract info (vendor, amount, description of services) on-line'

* Post position and salary info for all County employees on-line

* Post all FOIA requested documents on line

Posted at 7:28am on February 21, 2013 by Allan Loudell

<- Back to all Allan Loudell posts



Comments on this post:

teatime
Thu, Feb 21, 2013 8:08am

I don't remember all the details, but what was the ethics scandal that drove Gordon out of office the first time?


Mike
Thu, Feb 21, 2013 9:26am
It was kind of amusing to see Janet Kilpatrick and George Smiley complaining about this proposal. For years they were rubber-stamps for Paul Clark, another ethically challenged leader.

This may be a political master stroke by Tom Gordon. No one can be sure of his motivation, but it is certain to be popular with the residents of the county.

Allan Loudell
Thu, Feb 21, 2013 9:40am
teatime---

Tom Gordon and his (then) top aide, Sherry Freebery, came under Federal indictment on charges of racketeering. Basically, it was alleged that they utilized county resources for political gain. The government later dropped the most serious charges. (Gordon critics complain that he and Freebery slipped through the cracks of justice through a high-powered attorney who 'shopped around' for a lenient Federal judge.) Gordon pleaded guilty only to misdemeanor counts of failure to provide accurate tax information to the government, leading to a sentence of one year probation.

Allan Loudell

Arthur
Thu, Feb 21, 2013 2:17pm
I find it funny that in your piece you reference Gordon 6 times, but never once Coons, who is the culprit. You know, Chris Coons, the guy with the Ethics degree? Oh that's right, in Delaware once a person is out of local office, any crimes of the past are forgiven and forgotten. Right Ruth Ann.

Allan Loudell
Thu, Feb 21, 2013 2:31pm
I did mention Coons in a previous blog about this!

For that matter, I didn't mention Paul Clark this time either, but have done so repeatedly in the past.

Allan Loudell

kavips
Thu, Feb 21, 2013 3:35pm
It was not that Pam Scott and the Paul Clark relationship was secret. I remember when Paul first ran and I wouldn't have voted for him because of that, except that the real issue was that his opponent, who is now a southern Republican senator, was far worse. Oh... My... Gosh... Was he worse.

Everyone knew of the relationship, but accepted it out of necessity because had Clark's opponent won, things would have been far worse. Economic growth would have braked to a hard stop. Government would have been completely incompetent.

That said, with Coons who was part of Barley Mills, and with Clark taking over Coon's spot for two years, Clark actually did a good job with running the county.

I'm sure Gorden supporters will overlook that. but if one looks from a financial point of view, things could have been much worse.

I just heard with the 100 year anniversary of the New Castle County Police, that we have 370 officers. It was 340 just 6 months ago and this increase was due to Clark, who had resistance over financing the increase. Considering the spike in crime recently, it was not a moment too soon.

I don't mean to minimize it because it is important, but all we are seeing is the switch of the balance of power away from having developers call the shots, to citizens now calling the shots.

If you don't want development next to you, you now have county government on your side.

But the negative is that growth and increases to the tax base, will be far slower....

What New Castle County will now have to do, is sell itself as the most ideal community between Washington and New York to live.

I would have to agree with that concept myself. When you take the amount of culture, the ease of access on and off our major arteries, our rural charm, even in New Castle County, our lower taxes, our lack of sales tax, our history, we beat everyone.

Arthur
Thu, Feb 21, 2013 5:18pm
Kavips - the state and county tried to sell itself as the mecca for families working at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. I remember meetings at the Chamber telling all the businesses represented to be ready for the onslaught of new families requiring our services. Never happened. There are lot of New Yorkers and DCers moving to Delaware, but they are actually moving to Middletown and south.

mrpizza
Thu, Feb 21, 2013 7:13pm
A lot of room Gordon has to bring up ethics. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

As Delaware sinks further and further into the abyss, I'm more thankful every day that I live in Republican-controlled Cecil County Maryland.

kavips
Fri, Feb 22, 2013 1:38am
The Aberdeen Proving Grounds could be the distance. Getting out of Newark last year with construction on South Main Street, was enough to scare anyone from moving in and commuting to Aberdeen. I lost a GPS race to Breezewood PA because of that construction!

Middletown is still in New Castle County however... Not a complete loss.

kavips
Fri, Feb 22, 2013 1:44am
And as far as Gordon's ethics, there appears to have been far more political under-dealings in that case, coming from Republicans, than actual violations of ethics. Only two very minor charges stuck.

The Republican appointed judge I believe, recognized it as such and threw most of the charges out as bogus. Unfortunately the case had already been tried in the News Journal. Al Mascitti on WDEL morning, is the state's resident expert on Tom Gordon. Listen to his show tomorrow as I am sure he will cover it.

kavips
Fri, Feb 22, 2013 1:48am
Mr. Pizza ... from the other thread you got it wrong. It is the Right who eats the children, the poor, the military, and anyone else in an unfortunate situation..

The Left... eats Pizza.

:)

mrpizza
Sat, Feb 23, 2013 1:19am
Dream on, Kavips. Dream on.

kavips
Sun, Feb 24, 2013 8:36pm
I think everyone woke up the evening of November 6th, 2012. All dreams rested with Republicans who perceived they spoke for the majority, and upon finding they were sorely beaten, well, I don't think they dream much anymore.

With Republicans now marginalized, the real work can begin to get America back on its feet, by marginalizing Republicans out of power in the House. That moment for all of America, with them rendered completely harmless, is when the American dream begins... :)

mrpizza
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 12:10am
In other words, Mr. Obama can get on with the work of transforming America into a banana republic dictatorship. He's now about 75% there.

I really think he oughta consider the presidential job opening in Venezuela that will be opening soon upon the death of Chavez. He's a perfect fit for the job. Also, Joe Biden can be his assistant in charge of rounding up and torturing political dissidents.


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