Dover councilman: Mayor ignoring city rules

Robin Christiansen

Brian Lewis

DOVER — A Dover City Council member has accused Mayor Robin Christiansen of bypassing the rules for making appointments and reappointments to city commissions, committees and boards.

Councilman Brian Lewis noted that city council members unanimously passed a new recruitment process last October that states, “Members currently serving on City Boards/Committees/Commissions wishing to be reappointed and continuing to serve must reapply with an updated application.”

He said Mayor Christiansen has been skipping the process and recommending individuals for appointment and reappointment without receiving and sending out job applicant information to city council members.

“If a select few are complaining about filling out at five-minute application it makes me suspicious if they are on the board commission or committee for the right reasons,” Mr. Lewis said. “The city council president (Tim Slavin) and everyone currently on council, with the exceptions of the two new members, voted for this last year.

“If the process is changed it concerns me that we’ve become a flip-flop council.”

Mayor Christiansen, however, believes it is detrimental to the city to require current members to reapply for their posts.

“I think it’s kind of an insult when you don’t have a lot of people that are stepping forward to serve and if you find somebody that’s doing a good job and they’ve been there for a while and there’s nobody else to take their place or showing any interest, I think we need to recognize their experience and their expertise they bring to the job instead of agitating,” he said. “I’ve had a number of people who have quit committees because they refused to reapply.”

Mr. Lewis is not alone on this: Councilman Roy Sudler Jr. said by ignoring the ordinance, the mayor is showing “a lack of respect for City Council.”

Nick Rodriguez, the city’s attorney, agreed with Mr. Lewis that new application procedures had been put into place and should be followed by the mayor.

Mr. Rodriguez wrote in a letter to Mr. Lewis that the new recruitment process “makes it quite clear that any person currently serving, who wants to be considered for reappointment, must fill out and submit an application for reappointment. If this does not occur, then that person cannot be considered for reappointment.”

He added, “This issue was discussed at great length by members of council, and it was pointed out that the revised application was, at the most, a five-minute project to fill out and that it was absolutely essential to have the application filled out and submitted by those members who were currently serving appointments if, in fact, they wanted to seek reappointment.

“Obviously, if those currently appointed individually did not submit an application in compliance with this resolution, they could not be considered for reappointment.”

According to the city, a long-time member of the Fourth of July Celebration Committee opted not to continue serving on the body when required to fill out an application.

That’s something Mr. Sudler takes issue with.

“If anyone really and truly wants to serve on the committee for the city of Dover, they won’t mind taking five to 10 or even 15 minutes to fill out an application because that’s what they truly want to do,” he said.

Committees are not “a country club where you come, you eat, you break bread, you talk and then you sit and look pretty,” he said.

Mr. Lewis said Council President Slavin has declined to return his emails and phone messages in regards to receiving direction regarding the matter, so he went to the city solicitor for a legal opinion.

“My main concern is if the process is changed that the conflict of interest section will not be updated annually,” said Mr. Lewis.

“The city doesn’t need to rectify the problem, we just implemented this process not even a year ago by unanimous vote by council. I haven’t seen or received any statistics or documentation of how many people are complaining about the new process.”

Mayor Christiansen said he is aware of Mr. Lewis’ concerns but has not spoken to him because “he doesn’t seem to be anywhere to get ahold of.”

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment