Former Dewey Beach commissioner releases statement for Applebaum investigation

DEWEY BEACH, Del. - A former Dewey Beach Town Commissioner has released his statement regarding the investigation of Town Manager Marc Applebaum, on Tuesday.

Former Town Commissioner Gary Mauler reportedly requested that Cross & Simon, LLC. release to the public his statement which was submitted for the independent investigation into complaints against Town Manager Marc Applebaum. The independent investigation is apparently ongoing.

You can read Former Town Commissioner Gary Mauler's full statement below:

"Dear Mr. Walton:

I reached out to you earlier to advise you that as a former Commissioner in Dewey Beach, I had relevant information for your investigation regarding Marc Appelbaum and wished to be interviewed as part of the investigation. Initially, you indicated that the information I had was not relevant and you declined to include my information in your investigation. Later, you asked that I supply you with a written statement. This is my statement. I am still availabLe for an interview if you have followup questions. I have tried to tailor my comments to issues that have been raised in the various complaints that I understand have led to your investigation.

As described below, I feel that Mr. Appelbaum is an out-of-control town manager. He acts through bullying and intimidation to everyone he works with — including employees, department heads and including former Commissioners, Anna Legates, Joy Howell, and myself, who he is supposed to answer to and respect. The entire structure of the town government has been turned around by Mr. Appelbaum to the point that he views himself as answering to no one — not even the commissioners. He has created a toxic environment that only seems to have grown worse over the four years that I server as a Commissioner.

Demand for Benefits as Town Manager

When Mr. Appelbaum was hired as the town manager, he made statements that were intended to sway us to hire him over other candidates. First, he said that to save the town money, he would forego all medical benefits. Second, he agreed that he would work at the pleasure of the commissioners and agreed they could dismiss him from his job "at will." These statements were reported in the press. However, once he was installed as town manager, he demanded — through the town solicitor — for retroactive payment of medical benefits. And when the term of his contract was up, he got the town solicitor to advise the council that we had no right to terminate his contract — even at the conclusion of the contract's term. I found it very disturbing when I heard reports that the town solicitor directed a town employee to make payments to Appeihaum without the approval of the Commission.

Furthermore, when it came time for the renewal of Mr. Appelbaum's contract, I advised my fellow commissioner — in executive session, that was supposed to remain confidential, — of what I had learned about the harassment charges by Diana Smith as well as other issues I learned from talking with former Commissioners and citizens. Within days, the of that executive session Mr. Appelbaum knew everything that was discussed in private and then Mr. Appelbaum and Fred Townsend threatened me with yet another lawsuit based on those private and frank discussions allowed between commissioners about his proposed contract.

Selective enforcement

Mr. Appelbaum frequently conducted business through selective enforcement of the town's ordinances. For example, Mr. Appelbaurn allowed the Hyatt construction project to work at times and days that were not allowed under the Dewey Beach Code. In another example, he allowed another company to violate zoning codes as well as work during times not allowed under the Code. He was not uniform in granting these exceptions and held others to the terms of the code which cause conflict within the town. Mr. Appelbaum granted favors to some business. For example, he allowed the Hyatt to lease public parking spaces for their exclusive use. Other business were not given such opportunities and lost parking for potential customers as a result. When I asked him about this during a Town meeting (where I was a commissioner and he was the town manager) he outright refused to answer my questions and walked out the meeting room. The Mayor (Diane Hanson) and the Town Solicitor did nothing to assist in getting a response. I saw this as a contempt of authority by Mr. Appelbaum

Harassment of Employees and Commissioners

I regularly received reports from employees working in the police department, beach patrol, zoning office, town volunteers, and parking office that Mr. Appelbaum showed disrespect and inflicted abuse on them. I attempted to meet with employees of the town but Mr. Appelbaum told me I was not permitted to talk to them and he then disciplined those employees who he learned reached out to me. He expressly told me I was not permitted to talk to police officers about their concerns over him. He further acted to prevent me and the other Commissioners access to the Police Chief, Building Official and the Beach Patrol Captain by telling them they were not needed at Town meeting or simply directing them to not attend the town meetings throcigh threats and intimidation. This action was in direct violation of the Town Charter. I witnessed Mr. Appelbaum using sexist remarks and foul language in front of town employees. He wore unprofessional clothes in both the office and at town meetings. As a Commissioner I found it embarrassing and disgusting that he dressed so poorly while attend Town meeting as our Town Manager. I felt it showed complete contempt and disrespect to the position of Town Manager.

Mr. Appelbaurn operated through intimidation. When he was challenged or criticized, he generally threatened a lawsuit or claimed that any criticism opened the town to liability. For example,
I made statements to the press about facility issues with the town hall building. In response, Mr. Appelbaum sent a letter to me which insisted I provide more evidence or retract my statement. I took it as a threat from Mr. Appelbaum. A copy of the letter dated September 12, 2016 is attached. I often received threats of lawsuits by Mr. Appelbaum when he disagreed with my position on issues and he seemed to have the town solicitor, Fred Townsend, as his personal bully to back him up.

Mr. Appelbaum repeatedly showed contempt for the Commissioners and attempted to intimidate them or simply ignored them during town meetings. Other commissioners have seen such behavior as well. For example, current commissioner Courtney Reardon agreed in a 2015 email that it was the "behaviors and actions perpetrated by Diane [Hanson] and Marc [Applebaum] that have created the dysfunction and chaos in Town Council" and that there had been "misdeeds."

It seemed that through his intimidation and harassment, he has worn employees, the town solicitor and other commissioners into acting pursuant to his will. Diane Hanson would regularly look to Mr. Appelbaum in town meetings for his approval and direction. It almost seemed during the meetings that Hanson (who was Mayor at the time) had been briefed by Appelbaum and given her "marching orders." furthermore, Mr. Appelbaum and Hanson attempted to start a "witch hunt" against Chief Mackert in an obvious attempt to discredit his reputation and ability as well as the reputation of our
Police Officers.

Right before the 2016 election, Diane Hanson called my wife and told her that she should convince me to stay out of the election because I would be sued if I ran for office by a town employee and that I would not be defended by the Town. It seemed clear and I assumed that the threat was being made at the behest of Marc Appelbaum.

Failed to Follow Town Procedures for Contracts

Mr. Appelbaum ignored town requirements to put contracts out for hid. As one example, he awarded a landscaping contract without any bidding process. In another case he attempted to get bids for road work without complete engineering drawings and specifications. The engineer involved told me that he was not allow to complete his design and that bid package Appelbaum advertised was useless. I am attaching a number of documents that support many of my statements. Again, I am available if you have any follow-up questions or wish to conduct a formal interview.

In summary, from all I have seen and known about Mr. Appelbaum, he has operated through fear and intimidation for too long. I advised the Town employees, about three years ago, that I did not have the votes on the Council to address their concerns and that their best bet was to join forces and hire an attorney.

I feel it was very brave of the initial twelve employees from the police department to stand up on behalf of all town employees and send a letter to the Town Commissioners given the toxic atmosphere in which they were forced to work in. I would hope that their brave efforts to clean up and restore order to the Town are successful.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Mauler"



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