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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

MAYOR RETURNS AUCTION MONEY TO CITY

CAMPAIGN SLOGAN: HONESTY AND INTEGRITY


About a month after the Reporter-Times interviewed Mayor Deckard about his role in the surplus auction last fall, he quietly paid back the 3% money that he originally billed the city for.  In that interview, Deckard strongly defended his making money from the auction.  

THE MARTINSVILLE REPORT was first to disclose that Mayor Deckard was paid $2,592.23 when he auctioneered $80K+ of surplus city equipment sold last fall.   Since this story broke in Follow the Money Part 1,  Ron Hawkins did an interview with Deckard and wrote a comprehensive article about the auction in the Reporter-Times on Feb. 16, 2013.  

In that article by Hawkins, in the first paragraph, the mayor said that he did not see anything wrong with him making money from the city auction. He also stated "No one can do it better than the mayor being associated with the city". “You can never say that I was derelict in my duties.” 

These mayoral statements and ones made prior to the auction about  not charging the city for being the auctioneer riled up Martinsville residents and council members when they discovered that Deckard indeed had cashed in on the auction.  Evidently, the auction was done for free until an invoice arrived at the Treasurers office last fall. Few knew about that invoice and the subsequent payment to Deckard.  Those who did know were keeping very quiet, presumably to protect the Mayor.

Since the story broke, the mayor has taken major heat from both voters and council members. There were also questions about "becoming the auctioneer with no competitive bids" being in direct violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act which was passed by Congress in 1890 to prevent these type of transgressions. Potential investigations at the State level were rumored.



HERE'S YOUR MONEY BACK


On March 12, 2013, the mayor quietly waltzed into the treasurers office and wrote them a check for the balance of the 3% fee on the auction.  The amount, as you can see below is $2,592.23 which is the exact amount that was reported in my first article on this conflict of interest transaction.  





QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Would the money have been returned if neither the Martinsville Report or the Reporter-Times had not exposed this and no one ever knew about it?

What else in the city is happening like this that we never find out about?




ASSESSMENT
We all make mistakes.  The mayor should be commended for returning the money and righting the wrong.   The mayor however, made several rookie mistakes which cost him some political capital.   As a long-time veteran politician, he should have known better.  

Surprisingly, in the Reporter-Times article, it was clear that the Mayor still did not "get it" that mistakes were made.  Sure, Deckard did the auction for a very reasonable cost, but unless competing bids are solicited, many do not believe that he acted in the best interest of the city, just self interest.  There may very well have been other auctioneers in the area that would have done it for free.....but no one asked for them and therefore trust in the Mayor's office was lost.  

In addition to that, the mayor, in telling many that he would auctioneer for the city at no-cost, and then redefining what "no-cost" means with a stealth 3% invoice, upset the voters.  This was very Clintonesque.    (Remember?   "It depends on what your definition of "is" is").

MISSED OPPORTUNITY

A golden political opportunity was missed by the administration again.  See #4.  
  
Mistake #1 -  Being the auctioneer with no competing bids.
Mistake #2 -  Telling the public that you did nothing wrong.
Mistake #3 -  Stealthily paying back the city.
Mistake #4 -  Not admitting nor apologizing for mistakes 1,2,and 3 above.

The administration had the chance to come forth, apologize for the one sided approach of the self appointing of Deckard to being the auctioneer, and to defending something in the paper that most voters felt was questionable, but they did not.  Now we discover the stealth mode with which the money was returned to cover tracks.    

The money was returned not because anyone was feeling guilty or because they thought that they had committed a possible unethical act with a conflict of interest.  No, it was none of these things.




The money was returned because the mayor got caught and you the voters and council members spoke up loudly.  Also, there were probably concerns about potential legal ramifications.  

Contrary to what the Mayor said above, it is clear that throughout this entire auction debacle, our gut tells us that "yes Mr. Mayor,in this instance, we taxpayers CAN say that you were derelict in your duties and our confidence in this administration has faltered yet another notch".

Democracy works if you engage.  This IS proof.     





5 comments:

  1. Seriously? This clown would have kept all the money had he not got caught. This is great humor except it just a sad commentary on the Mayor of Martinsville. No wonder Martinsville has a shaky reputation.....shaky leaders.

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  2. correct, he is a clown.

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  3. I suppose the next right thing to do at the next auction opportunity is to send out an appeal to local auctioneers to donate their services. Good luck with that. There's always hope I guess.

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  4. Mr. Bader, Thank you for reporting in an intelligent manner. There are others who attack leaders with rambling babble to fulfill personal agendas exposing thier mental instability at every turn, but it is obvious that you are an educated man gathering facts reminiscent of a turn of the century publication that would make Theodore Roosevelt proud.

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  5. Great post. This is really an interesting event and for sure lots of people will attend this incoming event. As I heard, some of these money will be use for government projects. Thank you for sharing.


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