Sussex County Delaware

Major Takes F.I. Council
to Task for Chief Issue

 
Fenwick Island ...

Says Council Has Lost
Sight of Its Responsibilities

By WILLIAM MANNING
Major, F.I. Police Department

For almost a year, except for a few comments to the media, I have remained silent about the hostile work environment and personal attacks CouncilPerson Henifin has directed at Chief of Police George H. Dickerson, Jr. and myself, with the approval of the entire Town Council, except Mrs. Carmean.

The Fenwick Island Town Council has lost its focus on government, who it represents, and reality. They think Fenwick Island is a Kingdom within the State of Delaware, independent and void of state laws. If I sound cynical, I have a right to be.

I know I work for the Town of Fenwick Island and should comply with their spoken word, but they have created a very hostile work environment. They won't accept the consequences of their own acts, now they are backed into a corner and, as always, we or someone else will be the cause of their legal problems, which they have created themselves. Several months ago I told Baunchalk and Henifin, that they were causing a problem that could well get out of hand, but who am I, an employee, to tell a CouncilPerson anything?

The Council has ruled the Police Department thru Henifin as a dictatorship and knowingly and continuously broken our Town Charter, Town Policies and Procedures, (unless they suit them), Town Codes, State Law, and Federal Law. These are all laws they swore under oath to uphold. They turn a phrase to suit themselves. For instance, in a statement to the Wave two weeks ago, Henifin said the paperwork in the department was divided up among the men. This never happened.

At the Council Meeting of November 15, 2002, Henifin told the audience the Public Safety Report wasn't prepared due to a miscommunication. The fact is, he and Council fired our secretary a week prior to the meeting and she is the person who prepared the report. No Ms. Jordan, no report.

President Baunchalk was an avid supporter of the new parking permit law, even though it wasn't favorable to many residents and tourists. Yet, twice this past summer due to special interest group activities, she wrote memos to the Chief directing him not to enforce the parking laws in specific areas. I have the memos.

In August 2002, during the Town's Election Day activities at Town Hall, I called Henifin and told him that Frederick and Griffin had campaign signs inappropriately displayed at their residences. I told him that Frederick had a campaign sign inappropriately displayed on his car on Town Property. Henifin came to Town Hall, saw the violations, and did nothing. I have the memo and pictures regarding this incident.

I filed grievance after grievance to the Town Council and Henifin for giving out raises contrary to the Town's Policy and Procedures. These were ignored. Sergeant Bruette got a $4,150 raise with four years of service; I got $680.00 with sixteen and one-half years of service. The Chief didn't get anything. All of the officers got uniform allowances; the Chief and I did not. We were chastised for requesting an explanation.

The Town's Policies and Procedures state that there should be equal treatment for all. They state that there should be equal raises for equal jobs done. I guess they figure the Chief and I will be gone eventually, so why bother with them on raises or benefits. Some officers still haven't gotten monies owed them for travel, schools, or clothing.

The Town Council was admonished severely by the Attorney Generals Office for numerous FOIA violations. The Town Attorney was admonished for openly making light of the violations. Other FOIA violations have since been filed against the Council by me. This is obviously violation of the State Laws.

Since the Chief and I have filed the FOIA violations against the Town Council, we have been bombarded with disparaging memos from Henifin and harassment. I have a memo from Henifin where he states everything he does, or actions he takes, he does with the authority and knowledge of the Town Council. Henifin has violated the Chief and my rights under State Law.

On several occasions, the Town Council has violated the Chief's and my Freedom of Speech, a Federal violation. They are outlined in lawsuits already filed and about to be filed against the Town, but Council doesn't care.

The entire Town Council is under Federal investigation for allegedly violating the Federal COPS Grant Rules and Regulations. They will have to answer both civilly, or possibly criminally, for their actions or inaction. I won't comment any further about the ongoing Federal investigation. Stay tuned Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the ships at sea.

Now comes the violation of the Town Charter. Mrs. Baunchalk brags she has been on Council nearly eight years. Haon and Elliott brag they're on board ten years. Griffin brags of his management skills in the private sector and he is the Town Treasurer. By Charter definition he is responsible for all funds and audits, yet the Town is in the red over $130,000 and no yearly audit has been done for four years as is required by Charter. Do the words "Lawyer Fee" mean anything?

How can the Council sit in front of the Town's people on November 15, 2002 and jokingly discuss their poor management of the budget and failure to have them audited. So, I guess by firing Ms Sherri Jordan, her $10.00 an hour job will save the Town.

If the Town paid as much attention governing the needs of the people and its fiscal affairs, as it did trying to railroad the Chief out of office because he blew the whistle on the FOIA and COPS violations, they'd be in the black. Why hasn't anyone asked them what they have spent on lawyer fees this year since January?

Are you aware of the cost of the computer program and the person hired to set it up? Are you aware of the cost of the Town Park? Are you aware of the Town Lawyer costs? Are you aware the Town hired another attorney to prosecute the Chief at his hearing, and I use "hearing" loosely? Are you aware the Town hired a mediator and the Fire Hall? Are you aware I'm qualified to be OIC of the Police Department? Are you aware they hired Glenn Hudson at $35,000 + per year as OIC during this money crunch?

Are you aware I'm not OIC because I tell the Council the truth? How can they say I don't communicate with them? I've answered almost every one of Henifin's stupid memos. Or is it because I won't bend over and kiss their ring.

Yet they fired Ms. Jordan, a $10.00 an hour employee, and hired Hudson at $35,389. Yet, he is not on the schedule; the Chief was required to be. He is not in uniform; the Chief was required to be. Why?

The business people of Fenwick Island are about to have a 7-1/2% business tax imposed on them. Now Council is over $130,000 in debt because of no audits. Could you run your business this way? They apparently are spending unlimited funds on lawyers, on unspecified issues, on an un-needed police officer at $35,389, and want to pass the cost on to you for their sins. This is just plain wrong.

And finally, read Chief Dickerson's Federal Law Suit filed on November 20, 2002 in Wilmington, against the Town, the Town Council and the Council as individuals. If there was ever any doubt the Chief wasn't being railroaded and retaliated against, your eyes will be opened.

The Chief's hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, December 4, 2002, at the Bethany Beach Fire Hall. Come and see the Fenwick Town Council in action and watch Sussex County's newest game show, "Truth or Lies". You be the judge.

Major William E. Manning
Fenwick Island Police Department


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