Georgetown council members double down on decision to fund confederate flag museum
GEORGETOWN, Del. – Georgetown council members are standing by their decision to fund a local museum where the confederate flag flies, despite the Attorney General’s Office finding they violated a FOIA request in the process.
Georgetown Town Council met Monday night and doubled down on their decision to fund the Georgetown Historical Society, which runs the Marvel Museum where the confederate flag flies.
The condemnation comes after a check, for more than $24,000, was delivered to the historical society. That check was voided by Georgetown Mayor Bill West after learning that no formal committee process was established prior to the vote that approved the funding back in July.
After Mayor West voided the check, three council members, Angela Townsend, Sue Barlow, and Penuel Barrett, pushed ahead with that funding, meeting outside of council chambers to deliver a new check to the historical society last month. It was that move that violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request through open meeting requirements.
“We will, in your upcoming elections, make sure that your races are not unchallenged and that there are qualified people that fit that bill,” explained Fleur McKendell, president of the Central Delaware NAACP. “If you love this town, if you love the people of this town, then do what benefits the people of this town, remove divisiveness, symbols of hate, symbols of oppression.”
McKendell and others, including the Lower Sussex NAACP, addressed council and delivered a presentation where they explained how the confederate flag is hurtful and why it should be taken down, despite their efforts however, those same three council members doubled down on their decision to fund the museum.
“There was no private meetings, there was not a quorum, all we did was execute a check,” Councilwoman Townsend stated. “I’m not a white supremacist, I’m not a racist, I’m not a criminal.”
Mayor Bill West, who has called on those three council members to step down, spoke out during the meeting in response to the Attorney General’s findings.
“You come picked up the check, you made phone calls to meet the other two, you met with them, they signed the check, you delivered the check,” Mayor West stated. “That is a structured quorum that took place and that’s what the AG’s Office said.”
Deputy Attorney General Dorey L. Cole issued a response earlier this month to a FOIA request that was filed by the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice. In that response, it stated that the Town of Georgetown violated the FOIA when the three council members violated open meeting requirements:
‘We find that a quorum of the Town Council violated the open meeting requirements by privately discussing and taking action on the Georgetown Historical Society’s grant check without complying with the open meeting requirements.’
Council ultimately voted to approve the funding again by a three to two vote, which Mayor West and Councilwoman Christina Diaz-Malone voted against.
“I guess we’ll see everybody in court,” Mayor West said following the vote.
In an interview earlier this month, Mayor West called on the three council members to step down following the response that was issued by the AG’s Office.
“To me, I think this is just about criminal,” Mayor West told 47 ABC’s Rob Petree. “I’m hurt to realize that we’ve got three council members that are trying to run the town and make decisions outside of open government. They violated code-of-conduct. To me, they can’t be trusted anymore. They’ve gone behind our back, done secret meetings, and done things they’re not supposed to do, and they can’t be trusted anymore.”
Mayor West now wants to see an ethics investigation conducted by the state: “instead of our own ethics committee, I’d think it needs to be investigated by the state because we can’t let our towns people who are on the committee have to go through all this nonsense that’s gonna be brought out.”
47 ABC’s Rob Petree spoke to the Delaware Public Integrity Commission who said that Georgetown is out of their jurisdiction and that their own ethics board would have to investigate.
As of this time, none of the three council members have responded to our repeated calls and requests for comment.