Letter to the Mayor and Commissioners demands firing of Marc Appelbaum. Read the letter in its entirety at the end of the story.
UPDATE: The Town of Dewey Beach released the following statement on Monday, June 19, via an email provided by Commissioner Diane Hanson:
"Last Friday the Commissioners of the Town of Dewey Beach received a complaint that contained serious allegations of misconduct on the part of a town employee. In response, the Town will promptly and thoroughly investigate the matter and make its findings known when it is reasonable and responsible to do so. Time is required to compile the details that the complaint lacks in many instances. The Town will not rush to judgment. The sensitivities of all parties involved will be an utmost consideration."
Dewey Beach Town Manager Marc Appelbaum stands accused of sexual harassment, racism, abusive conduct and improper interference with the town’s police department, beach patrol and building inspector.
In a letter dated June 14, 2017, that addresses the Dewey Beach mayor and commissioners, ten DBPD officers, including Chief Sam Mackert, Dewey Beach Patrol Captain Todd Fritchman and Dewey Beach Building Inspector William Mears demanded the town take immediate action in firing Appelbaum.
If the mayor and commissioners fail to meet that demand, the letter said, they’ll “seek relief in court.” The letter also stated that witnesses of the incidents described in the letter are willing to testify in court.
Appelbaum’s history in Dewey Beach
Appelbaum served as a commissioner in Dewey between 2008 and 2010, during which time his hard-headed financial tactics helped the town recover from a significant budget deficit.
In 2013, Appelbaum was appointed town manager by a commissioner’s vote of 4-1. He signed a new contract in March 2016, making him the town manager through 2018.
The controversy with Appelbaum has been brewing since at least 2015, when the Dewey Beach commissioners adopted a resolution that removed his power over the police department and beach patrol. Also in 2015, former Dewey Beach Commissioner Rich Hanewinckel filed a lawsuit against Appelbaum, the mayor and the town alleging that Appelbaum used his authority to single out Hanewinckel’s rental properties for citations.
The letter from town employees regarding Appelbaum is downright salacious.
“We are exercising our rights as whistleblowers,” it begins, before laying out 42 specific incidents of improper conduct and repeatedly noting that town officials, though aware of Appelbaum’s alleged misdeeds, have turned a blind eye.
The first section of complaints deals with sexual harassment.
“Mr. Appelbaum wears pajama bottoms into the office, often without underwear, intentionally making the outline of his penis visible to female employees,” the letter states, amongst other sexual harassment allegations.
It goes on: “Female employees who accept Mr. Appelbaum’s humiliating treatment without complaint are rewarded with advancement, to the detriment of those who resist or complain.”
The next section, entitled “Abusive Conduct Towards All Employees/Lack Professionalism,” accuses Appelbaum of frequently swearing at town employees and using offensive gestures. It also implies he uses marijuana while on the job.
As for racial discrimination, the letter says that “Mr. Appelbaum refers to employees of color as ‘the brown people.’”
In interfering with the police department, the beach patrol and the building inspector, according to the letter, Appelbaum is compromising public safety.
“Mr. Appelbaum has no [police] training yet constantly involves himself in police procedures,” the letter states. “Mr. Appelbaum, who has no training in … lifeguarding, insists on interfering with the decisions of the Captain of the Dewey Beach Patrol, including scheduling and staffing of the lifeguards.”
And finally: “Mr. Appelbaum continually interferes with the job of the Building Inspector by directing [him] on how to handle applications.”
As of Monday, June 19, Appelbaum was still employed by the Town of Dewey Beach. He did not return requests for comment. DBPD Sgt. Cliff Dempsey confirmed that he had signed the letter but refused to comment any further.
“I have confidence in the competence of the town manager,” said Dewey Beach Commissioner and former mayor Diane Hanson. “But we will be looking into this matter.”
Read the PDF:
To read the PDF using Chrome, download PDF Viewer.