alleged to have received the money is A.I.S. Risk Management,
which Hicks cited on grounds of impropriety in an audit report
issued in April. It is owned by Lynn Moroz, the county's former
risk manager. It, in turn, subcontracts with Freebery
& Houghton, a law firm. Michael Freebery, one of the firm's
principals, is the brother of Sherry Freebery, the county's
chief administrative officer, the second-ranking position in the
administration, and Joseph Freebery, general manager of the
county Department of Special Services.
had a $450,000 purchase order with A.I.S. removed from
consideration for approval at the July 27 meeting of County
Council to, in his words, "provide ... sufficient time to learn
more about A.I.S.'s no-bid subcontract in favor of the law firm
of Freebery & Houghton." He subsequently sent a memorandum
raising several questions to county attorney Timothy Mullaney
and other officials.
was unable to attend the meeting of Council's finance committee
on Aug. 24 because of a conflicting court obligation, according
to committee chair Karen Venezky. The matter was then further
following the meeting and a subsequent County Council session,
Hicks 'released' a one-paragraph memorandum, dated Aug. 19 and
addressed to County Executive Tom Gordon, saying that he had
"determined" that a check for $13,800 had been issued to A.I.S.
against the tabled and unapproved purchase order.
recommended that the county executive and Council work together
to determine the appropriate response to this unauthorized
action," Hicks's memo said.
said he was "surprised" that Mullaney was not at the finance
committee meeting and added that the attorney had told Weiner's
legislative aide that he did not receive Weiner's letter. Weiner
also quoted a memorandum that Mullaney reportedly had written
earlier which claimed the purchase order was not subject to
Council approval because it merely was a vehicle for making
payment under a previously-approved contract.
just one of several related developments coming on the heels of
Hicks and Weiner having made public on Aug. 24 another
memorandum from Hicks to Gordon which said he had "determined"
that Mullaney lives in Kent County. That would violate county
law which requires employees to establish residence in New
Castle County within six months of being hired. Mullaney was
appointed county attorney in January, 2003. The position is a
several months there has been open friction between the county
administration and both Hicks and Weiner. Hicks is officially an
employee of County Council under provisions of state law.
another context at the finance committee meeting, Hicks said his
workload has grown significantly, partly because "the number of
tips sent to the auditor's office has increased." The office is
a one-man operation.
session, Council appointed John Baxter, Deborah Horn, Susan
Webb, John Wheeler and Peter Winnington, all of whom are in the
accounting profession, to constitute an unpaid audit committee,
which will guide the work of the auditor in much the same way
that an audit committee appointed by a corporation's board of
president Christopher Coons tabled a proposed ordinance which
would have authorized Hicks to hire outside auditors on a
temporary basis to handle auditing that his workload precluded
him from doing. That would be in lieu of providing him an
assistant, Coons said. The tabling, he said, was to allow the
new audit committee to recommend a course of action in that
in the session, Council unanimously enacted two ordinances which
Weiner sponsored to more broadly define nepotism in both the
county ethics code and the law relating to purchasing services
and supplies without going to competitive bid.
former measure, of which Coons was a cosponsor, defines
'immediate family' as including spouse, children, brothers and
sisters, step-brothers and -sisters, parents, step-parents and a
spouse's parents and children in reference to proscribed
relatives are also brought within the scope of required
financial-disclosure reports, but the law declares there can be
no presumption that a county employee is aware of the financial
situations of anyone except a spouse and non-adult children.
measure proscribes doing business directly with or with a firm
owned or partly owned by a parent or sibling when the purchase
of contract is not competitively bid. The law already forbade
such dealings where a county employee, spouse or child is so