Dover ethics commission dismisses complaint

 

DOVER — The city of Dover’s ethics commission has dismissed a complaint about City Council’s lack of action on a councilman’s drunken driving arrest.

The city’s ethics commission emerged from a 30-minute closed-door meeting Thursday morning and announced that a complaint had been unanimously dismissed, but offered no specifics due to Dover code regarding confidentiality.

The complaint was filed by La Mar T. Gunn, a Dover businessman. He said it was not related to his role as head of the Central Delaware NAACP.

Afterward, Mr. Gunn, who lives outside the city limits, confirmed that the city told him his complaint against elected official Tanner Wm. Polce seeking a disciplinary response was dismissed, and official written notice would likely arrive by the end of the day.

On May 28, Councilman Polce was charged after an automobile crash in New Castle County that left two men in another vehicle injured. After initially claiming innocence, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor DUI charge. A $500 fine and 12 months of suspended probation were ordered.

Following Thursday’s decision, Mr. Polce released a statement

“I greatly appreciate the ethics commission’s due diligence on this matter,” he said.

La Mar T. Gunn

“I’m glad this issue has been ruled on and we can now focus on the work at hand. We know there are many pressing issues facing the city and we can now turn our full attention to those issues most important to our community.”

In a letter to commission member Thomas C. Jackson Wednesday, Mr. Gunn cited city code when pushing for the councilman to resign, be issued a public reprimand and censure from council and pay a fine of one year’s council salary.

Mr. Gunn accused the city of a double standard, citing a public censure of councilman Brian Lewis by City Council.

City Council censured Councilman Lewis on Oct. 9 for violating “the spirit” of the city’s ethics code. City Council President Tim Slavin’s resolution for the censure said Mr. Lewis “promoted an unfounded allegation of a potential ethics violation against a member of council.”

Mr. Lewis had publicly questioned whether Councilman Polce had a conflict of interest in a vote relating to Wesley College where Councilman Polce holds a part-time position. In doing so, he did not disclose that he had already received an opinion from the city solicitor.

Mr. Gunn said the comparative severity of Mr. Polce’s conduct was clearly worthy of discipline.

“The subject decision proves that local politics and many of our elected officials have become a toxic machine that endangers all non-establishment citizens,” Mr. Gunn said. “It’s very unfortunate for the rest of us, but they (corrupt politicians) own the machine.

Tanner Polce

“Having hijacked the machine, means they can throw a monkey wrench into what are supposed to be the wheels of justice whenever they choose. It’s apparent that our city and state have a different set of rules for those within a certain circle.”

Mr. Gunn said he will take his concerns to the Delaware Attorney General’s Office for review.

“This should be taken to a higher authority because I do believe people deserve better than these shenanigans,” he said.

Ethics commission members Lisa Enright, Gary Coy and Robin Case attended the meeting along with City Solicitor Nicholas Rodriguez. Members Mr. Jackson and Nancy Shevock were not present.

“Not having all members at a commission meeting brings up other issues as well,” Mr. Gunn said.

Ethics commission members are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by city council,

Mr. Polce also serves as policy adviser for Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@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.