no one said it in so many words, there was a strong implication
at the committee meeting that at least two Council members had
qualms about placing John Molter on the commission because he is
the father-in-law of Tom Hubbard, the Gordon administration's
chief public relations spokesman.
nomination was never mentioned during the Council session on
confirmed a later report that Molter had withdrawn his name from
consideration. He issued a statement with said County Executive
Tom Gordon "is saddened by the loss of an extremely
qualified candidate but pledges to continue the search for
someone who possesses the same honesty and integrity to fill the
remaining vacancy that exists."
At the executive committee meeting
the afternoon of the Council session, Councilwoman Karen Venezky questioned whether
that relationship created "a perception of impropriety."
Councilman Robert Woods suggested that it might compromise the
commission's obligation to maintain confidentiality when dealing
involving specific county employees.
Molter said he does not believe
either is applicable. He said Hubbard is not likely to influence
him and that he has "a personal rule that we don't talk about
things out of class."
Council President Christopher Coons invited comment from members of the public attending the
committee meeting, William Narcowich, president of the Civic
League for New Castle County, said he did not question Molter's
integrity but that the nominee's "familial connection"
disqualified him from dealing with ethical issues involving
county government and its employees.
John Molter appears
before County Council's Executive Committee.
Molter, a Republican who lives in
Foulkside in Brandywine Hundred and is
retired after a 38-year career with the Du Pont Co. and now runs
a small business, Advanced Cleaning Technologies, was nominated
to the ethics commission by County Executive Tom Gordon.
He was Gordon's third nominee. The previous two have been
confirmed as have all four of Council's appointments.
somewhat surprising that Molter's nomination did not come up
during the formal Council session, especially in light of the
fact that Coons the previous week had scheduled the executive
committee meeting for the week it would not usually convene with
the expressed purpose of furthering the process of rounding out
membership on the Ethics Commission.
Coon had said during the committee meeting a few hours earlier
that he is anxious for the commission to resume its activities
and collaborate with Council, the Gordon administration and
employee unions to define an expanded role. The commission has
been inactive since last summer when all its members resigned in
a dispute over the amount of financing it was provided.
Coons nor his office responded to a Delaforum request to clarify
what happened between the committee meeting and the Council
session to sidetrack consideration of the nomination.
the committee meeting proposed eight steps he said were intended
"to sharpen [the commission's] focus and make it more
effective." They have to do with such matters as providing easy
access by county employees, safeguarding case records,
maintaining confidentiality and coordinating its activities with
Council and the administration.
the steps were developed in consultation with the administration
and unions, adding that "none of those conversations have
included any mention of weakening the county ethics code."
to establishing a clear course for the commission, Coons said,
"If we can get all that done in three months I will be happy."
Councilman William Tansey said he "would like to see it done in
said she wants "to move forward as expeditiously as we can."
at its formal session unanimously approved an ordinance which
specifically includes criminal investigations as one of the
situations in which county employees are entitled to have their
legal representation paid for.
Councilman Penrose Hollins, primary sponsor of the clarifying
ordinance, described it as a first step in a plan to make it
clear in county law that employees, including police and
emergency workers, are fully indemnified in the good-faith
performance of their duties. A large number of employees
attended the Council session and several officials, including
Chief of Police John Cunningham, testified that such legislation
is needed to remove any doubt that is the case.