The Dover Ethics Commission decided in favor of Councilman Tanner Polce.

It took the city Ethics Commission less than 30 minutes Thursday to dismiss a complaint against a sitting Dover city councilman.

Commission members are prohibited from releasing any information, including the subject of the investigation or the claims made against that individual. However, it is understood the case was brought by Central Delaware NAACP Branch President La Mar Gunn against First District Councilman Tanner W. Polce.

Acting on the advice of City Solicitor Nicholas Rodriguez, who received the complaint, the three commissioners present ruled Gunn had “failed to state a violation” of the city ethics code.

Gunn quickly blasted the commission’s decision, deriding them as corrupt servants of a crooked political system.

“The subject decision proves that local politics and many of our elected officials have become a toxic machine that endangers all non-establishment citizens,” Gunn wrote in an email. “It’s very unfortunate for the rest of us, but they (corrupt politicians) own the machine.”

Polce, however, feels the situation has been resolved.

“I greatly appreciate the Ethics Commission’s due diligence in this matter,” he said. “I’m glad this issue has been ruled on, and we can now focus on the work at hand.

“We know there are many pressing issues facing the city and we can now turn our attention to those issues most important to our community.”

‘A different set of rules’

Although commissioners could not discuss the case, Gunn brought it into the open, saying he had filed the complaint Nov. 16 in an effort “for city officials to do their job.”

Gunn had taken issue with council’s failure to reprimand Polce or otherwise address a May 28 New Castle County DUI incident that occurred 20 days after he had taken office. After first saying he would plead not guilty, Polce later pled guilty to a single charge of driving under the influence. Other charges were dropped and he was fined $500 and put on probation, although the probation was suspended.

Gunn argued city officials exhibited a double standard by taking no action against Polce even though they had reprimanded Third District Councilman Brian Lewis in October for knowingly giving false information to the media.

He has declined to say if he will ask the Ethics Commission to take up Lewis’ case.

In a Dec. 6 letter to Commission Chairman Thomas Jackson, Gunn called Polce unfit to serve and unworthy of public office.

He recommended commissioners urge Polce to resign, issue a reprimand against Polce as they did with Lewis and fine Polce the equivalent of one year’s council salary.

Local politicians have hijacked the machinery of government only to benefit themselves, he said.

“It’s apparent that our city and state has a different set of rules for those within a certain circle,” Gunn wrote in his email. “Rules and laws that prohibit things such as driving drunk and even killing others only apply to the rest of us.”

Gunn did not provide specific accusations about either example.

Gunn also has addressed problems with another councilman, the Fourth District’s Roy Sudler.

In October 2016 the two men got into a disagreement outside Dover’s Modern Maturity Center. Gunn said he felt threatened by Sudler, claiming the councilman was intoxicated. Gunn told police he pushed Sudler away; Sudler then called police, who completed their investigation without filing charges.

In an email, Gunn said he did not think the ethics panel would take action on an incident from more than a year in the past, but “I intend to file a complaint against Mr. Sudler also.”

Dover’s Ethics Commission meets only when formal complaints are filed against city officials or its employees. Its five members are appointed by vote of council, after their nomination by the mayor.

In addition to Jackson, commission members are Robin F. Case, Gary Coy, Lisa M. Enright and Nancy Shevock.

Neither Jackson nor Shevock attended the Dec. 7 hearing; Jackson was attending to other business while Shevock was prohibited because she had been unable to attend the initial Nov. 14 meeting.