Town commissioners vote for independent investigation

Town commissioners vote for...

DEWEY BEACH, Del. - Dewey Beach Town Manager Marc Applebaum has come under fire in recent weeks with dozens of allegations against him ranging from sexual harassment to a bullying demeanor toward employees.

Now an attorney representing a group of Dewey Beach employees has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to suspend Applebaum.

During a Commissioner meeting Friday evening, the commission voted 4-1 to hire on an attorney to conduct its own independent investigation into Applebaum.

The vote came with quite a bit of controversy.

Another lawsuit claims the Town Council has violated Delaware's Freedom of Information Act by agreeing to hire a law firm to conduct the investigation without a public vote or any discussion.

Dell Tush, former Dewey Beach Mayor, came to the meeting Friday night to voice her concerns.  She says the commission is voting to hire on a law firm after the fact, which she considers wrong.

"Contrary to what the Solicitor says, he has no authority without vote of council, and there was no public vote, no discussion, to allow him to go forward to hire anybody."

Despite that criticism, Town Attorney Fred Townsend said during the meeting that everything has been done in an appropriate way, adding their actions were "totally defensible, and that this is something a Town Solicitor is authorized to do.  He says there is nothing calling for a public vote from the council to retain a law firm.

Rick Solloway, another former Mayor and former Commissioner, said the addition of attorney Max Walton is "tainted" because of his relationship with Applebaum.  Solloway says he has over 50 emails with Max and Marc on there together, having "intimate dealings with past issues with Dewey Beach."  He adds that at least one member of the Town Council knows this information.

Tush had expected to voice her concerns directly to the commission Friday evening during a public comment segment.  The public comment period was then erased from the proceedings through a vote.  The commission reasoned that the subject was very sensitive in issue, and was inappropriate to comment on.

Tush met 47ABC following the vote approving the hiring of Walton, and says the commission did not want a public comment period because they are hiding something.

"They know what they're doing is incurring a lot of anger from the public.  They know the public , the general public, feels (Applebaum) should be suspended, and an investigation done. They're not suspending him, they're allowing him to be right back there working."

Laurence Cronin, the attorney for Applebaum, released a statement read at the commissioner meeting tonight:

"Marc Applebaum is currently out-of-state attending a wedding.  While he is unable to be present this evening, he wanted it noted he is looking forward to cooperating with the investigation being undertaken by the town.  He has confidence upon conclusion of the investigation his good name and reputation with be restored as a result of the dismissal of the allegations that have been made against him.  Until the investigation is completed, however, Mr. Applebaum, nor I, will be communicating with the press with respect to this matter so as to not interfere with the town's investigation."

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