Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Salisbury Incumbent Not Seeking Re-election, While Taking Shots

Salisbury City Council President Mike Dunn in a article on the front page of The Salisbury Daily Times said that he will not seek re-election this coming April. The reason he says is that personal attacks are taking their toll. "I want my peace back," he says.

But Dunn isn't going away quietly. In the article, says that bloggers are destroying the community. Blogging has become very popular on the Lower Eastern Shore, many of them are either happy or taking credit about Dunn not running for re-election, sometimes both.

Dunn also calls out one specific blogger in particular. Joe Albero, whose Salisbury News blog is one of the popular web logs in Delmarva, was accused of by Dunn of spreading hate about homosexuals and following Salisbury Police Chief Alan Webster around town. The post in which Dunn is talking about was from January 19, featuring three men, who Albero alleges were holding hands to grab attention. Albero said in the post that "he doesn't believe or accept [that] behavior." The blog also has several pictures of Webster in his cruiser patrolling city streets. I have an agreement with Albero to use photographs from his blog, when needed.

Dunn also says that two candidates on the city council, Tim Spies and Terry Cohen, are notorious blogger. He is also calling for all candidates to renounce blogs and the comments that are made on them.

Albero, responds to the article on his site, by saying that it was Mike Dunn who brought Mike Dunn down, not the blogs. "We were simply the 'ONLY' source of news that brought these things to a head..." Albero adds that its Webster that followed him around, not the other way around.

Cohen in a letter to The Daily Times says that Dunn's allegations are baseless and cites the action as another example of his "inappropriate behavior pattern." There has been no comment from Spies on the allegation.

Later in the article, Dunn goes after fellow Council woman Debbie Campbell, attaching her to a group of residents that he and Mayor Barrie Parsons Tilghman claims to have something negative to say. Tilghman has branded the group "The Dirty Dozen."

Campbell has told me that she has a problem with Dunn's comments, but his article. The article said "Since Campbell's arrival, her policy and directional feuds with Dunn and other council members have been well documented." Campbell was the subject of getting the cold shoulder late last year, when she distributed a position paper to the media first before her colleagues.

Campbell contends that she has attempted to have open discussions in public meetings to address issues relating to fiscal oversight, public policy and conducting legislative actions in accordance with state code and the city charter. "I have followed Mr. Dunn’s ever-changing protocol to have items added to the agenda, to no avail," Campbell says. "My primary responsibility is to serve the citizens of the city in my legislative role. I have always been willing to be held accountable by my constituents for my position on issues and for my vote."

In dealing directly with Dunn's comments, Campbell questions his stipulation that he brought honor to the council chamber when she says that Dunn labels citizens as "The Dirty Dozen" or Councilman Gary Comegys, who is running for re-election, call citizens "cave people." Of the name calling, Campbell simply says that it's not professional and demeans the office.

Since Sunday, three more candidates have filed for office before tomorrow's deadline. There will now be a primary in the third week of next month, in which six of the candidates with the most votes will go on to the general election for three seats that are up for grabs. There is now only one incumbent in the race, Gery Comegys, in which many bloggers are hoping will lose.

P. Kenneth Burns is a journalist and broadcaster based in Laurel. He is the writer/editor of Maryland Politics Today.

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