Publix Integrity Commission ruling against Dewey Mayor Diane Hanson overturned

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To Our Friends & Neighbors in Dewey Beach,

This is a banner day for Dewey Beach:  The PIC (Public Integrity Commission)
decision against Mayor Diane Hanson has been overturned.  In a lengthy 32-page decision,
Judge E. Scott Bradley states, "I have reversed PIC's decision, concluding that it is not
supported by substantial evidence in the record and violates PIC's own rules of procedure." 

This complaint was filed with the PIC on October 1, 2010 -- in an effort to silence Mayor
Hanson and to deny her a vote on matters relating to the Ruddertowne project.  We are
grateful to the Superior Courtof the State of Delaware for finally resolving this issue,
for restoring Mayor Hanson's right to represent the voters of Dewey Beach, and
for exonerating her of any unethical behavior. Mayor Hanson's statement follows:

" I am very gratified to be exonerated after two years almost to the day. It's a shame that Dewey Beach and the State Courts had to spend so much time and money on  these trumped up charges.  I have always supported keeping our height limit for buildings in Dewey Beach at 35' and, while I do own rental properties, so do
at least 50% of the property owners in Dewey Beach.  

When I voted for the ordinance in question, it was on the advice of three attorneys who represented the
Town of Dewey Beach and advised me that the clarifying ordinance was in the best interests of the town.
 It has always surprised me that the Public Integrity Commission could decide that there was anything
unethical about that."

Diane Hanson


Citizens to Preserve Dewey-PAC,
Linda Winton, Anne Duffin, Joan Claybrook, Marcia Schieck, Amy Levy, Karen Jacoby

P.S.  Just a reminder to come out and meet the candidates, Gary Mauler and Courtney Riordan.  Meet & Greets will be held this weekend and next week:  Saturday, Sept. 1, 6:30 - 8:30 PM, 9B Read St. Unit 8, Dewey Beach;  Sunday, Sept. 2, 11 AM to 1 PM, 2 Swedes St., #3 Bermuda Seamist, Dewey Beach;  Wednesday, Sept. 5, 6:30 - 8:30 PM, 613 South Carolina Ave. SE, Washington DC;  Saturday, Sept. 8, 6 to 9 PM, Bonfire on the Beach near Lifesaving Station. 

Hope to see you at one or more of these events!


Update: Dewey Mayor Hanson wins appeal of ethics violation

Judge Bradley: No evidence to support conflict of interest
By Kara Nuzback | Aug 31, 2012
Cape Gazette  August 31
Source: File photo Dewey Beach Mayor Diane Hanson

Dewey Beach — Dewey Beach Mayor Diane Hanson has come out on top in her appeal of a Delaware Public Integrity Commission finding she committed ethics violations.

Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley on Aug. 30 reversed the commission’s ruling against Hanson.  In his decision, Bradley said the commission’s claims against Hanson are not supported by evidence.

The issue stems from a 3-2 town council vote on Sept. 11, 2010, to pass an ordinance to clarify the meaning of “relaxed bulk standards,” as written for the RB-1 zoning district in the town’s Comprehensive Plan.  Ruddertowne is the only building currently affected by the clarifying ordinance, which specified “relaxed bulk standards” does not include height, meaning DBE would not be allowed to build Ruddertowne above 35 feet.

Dewey Beach property owner and Milton resident Joe Nelson filed an ethics complaint against Hanson regarding the vote, Oct. 1, 2010.

On May 13, 2011, the PIC ruled Hanson should have recused herself from the vote.

The PIC argued the Ruddertowne development would impact Hanson’s rental properties, which are located near the Ruddertowne site.

The commission also alleged the Ruddertowne complex would affect Hanson’s quality of life.  PIC also noted Hanson was being sued by Ruddertowne developer Dewey Beach Enterprises in her personal capacity.

Hanson filed an appeal of the PIC ruling, Aug. 2, 2011, in Sussex County Superior Court, saying the decision should be overturned.  The appeal stated the PIC’s ruling was arbitrary and capricious because no evidence was presented to support the assumption that Hanson would benefit from her vote to clarify the zoning ordinance.

Bradley sided with Hanson, stating the PIC’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence and violates the commission’s own rules of procedure.

Nelson’s initial complaint was not properly sworn and contains double hearsay, Bradley said, but the commission accepted it as true and correct.

PIC’s determination that Hanson had a conflict of interest because of her nearby rental properties is not supported by any evidence, Bradley stated.  “Merely because Hanson and DBE would be renting rooms in the same town hardly means that they would be competing with each other,” he wrote.

PIC’s allegation that Hanson’s quality of life would be impacted by the Ruddertowne complex is reversed because PIC did not follow its own rules in making a preliminary judgment and giving Hanson the opportunity to rebut before determining the conflict, Bradley wrote.

Bradley also stated there is no evidence to support PIC’s finding that Hanson voted for the clarifying ordinance because she was being sued in her personal capacity and the vote would help her qualified immunity defense. Bradley said the town was obligated to defend Hanson in the federal lawsuit, so she was not personally at risk.

Bradley also said there is no evidence in the record that an attorney told Hanson the clarifying ordinance would help her qualified immunity defense, which Bradley finds is fatal to the PIC’s ruling.

Bradley said PIC’s ruling was based on three unproven conflicts of interest, and it must be reversed.

In an Aug. 31 email, Hanson said she was confident Bradley would clear her name, and she is grateful to have been exonerated. “It's a shame that Dewey Beach and the state courts had to spend so much time and money on these trumped up charges,” she said.

PIC attorney Janet Wright could not be reached for comment.