August 14, 2001

County Council President Christopher Coons said he has brokered an agreement between Councilmen Richard Abbott and Robert Weiner to settle their dispute over the reapportionment of Council. He added that he considers that their doing so also resolves a citizen complaint against Abbott and that, as far as he is concerned, the matter is essentially closed.

"We have substantial issues on our agenda and we have to move forward," he told Delaforum. "I have spoken to Councilman Weiner and Councilman Abbott and asked them to find a reasonable way to resolve their disagreement. Both have made a good faith effort to do so."

As previously reported by Delaforum, Weiner regarded a letter that Abbott had sent to 560 constituents as constituting a "personal attack" on him and his record. The letter sought support for Abbott's position in opposition to splitting Greenville at the freight railroad which bisects the community and consigning the southern portion of that area, including Westover Hills, to Weiner's district.

Delaforum incorrectly reported that Coons, in a memo to county auditor Richard Blevins, had said that Abbott should reimburse the county for the cost of postage used to send out the letter, approximately $190.. Actually, the memo was from Blevins to Coons. In it, the auditor said that after reviewing the contents of the controversial letter at Coons's request  he concluded that it "does not convey information that furthers county concerns but, rather, it appears to be a personal plea for public support for the position that he (Abbott) was elected to."

Coons said he does not intend to pursue the issue further nor bring it before Council's executive committee, as previously had been suggested that he might do.

Abbott, through Jeffrey Schlerf, his representative on the redistricting commission, had opposed ceding part of  his Third District to Weiner's Second District. Schlerf advanced a proposal which would have moved the Rockford-Kentmere section of Wilmington to the Second District. The commission, however, adopted the original proposal, by a 5-1 vote, which indicates it is highly likely that that will be the version which County Council approves.

Under that plan, Abbott is slated pick up some territory along the state's arc near Newark. Redistricting goes into effect with the 2002 election. That is the only one it is expected to affect since a state law calls for County Council to be expanded with new districts drawn before the 2004 election.

Abbott said that he is satisfied the dispute is over and that he will respond by letter to the complainant explaining his position on the basic issue. Weiner also indicated satisfaction.

2001. All rights reserved.

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