New Castle County Executive Thomas P. Gordon on Wednesday afternoon released this statement:
First let me address the issue at hand, the rush to judgment by WDEL on the allegation of improper behavior by the county executive and a contract employee for the county.
Dana Long is one of two housing inspectors under a Section 8 Housing Program funded by the federal government. These two inspectors are responsible for 1,825 clients under the New Castle County Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. Each inspector averages approximately 1,700 inspections per year. Both inspectors were hired through a vendor as contract employees in 2009 under the Coons Administration. It is our understanding that they were hired as contract employees because of the uncertainty of federal funding. One of the housing inspectors has been converted to a full-time county employee since that time. That employee is not Dana Long, who still serves as a contract employee. Dana Long has been a contract employee for approximately seven years, providing a vital service necessary to fulfill the requirements of the federal program New Castle County administers.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to listen to the full recording(s) provided to WDEL, but just snippets that purport to tell the full story. These select snippets seem to suggest that a contract employee had accessed a confidential mailing list and used it to make a call on behalf of his wife, who was running for office. This is untrue. In reality, on August 13, 2015, a person enrolled in our Section 8 housing program called to protest several violations for which the client had been cited. During this call, the client mentioned that the housing inspector had called the client earlier and asked the client to vote for his wife. This individual did not make a complaint. This alleged request by the housing inspector was said to have happened prior to the November 2014 election, about nine months prior to the August 13, 2015, phone call. This comment was forwarded up the chain of command to Dave Grimaldi, chief administrative officer (CAO) at that time.
The initial information provided to Dave Grimaldi was that the employee had admitted to this conduct, later learned to be inaccurate. An internal investigation by the Department of Community Services revealed upon interviewing the employee that he did not download any files or make any phone calls to the client. There was no evidence that any files were downloaded. County officials tried to get the client to come in to meet about this incident, but were not successful. Based on these facts and confidential information, the incident was closed as unsubstantiated. Currently the employee’s inspection area does not intersect with his wife’s senatorial district. Additionally, the contract employees were provided with county cell phones to create a record of all phone calls.
Let me be clear: There was no violation of any law or regulation and, regrettably, WDEL has reported inaccurate information to the public.
Sometimes our initial reactions to situations are inappropriate but usually change as you more calmly reflect on the issue. You have been made privy to the former and not the latter, which did happen, but was not released by Dave Grimaldi or WDEL because it did not suit their agenda.
Notice that The News Journal reported on the complete tape, quoting a portion of the recording not reported by WDEL. The unreported quote said, “Gordon is heard saying the matter should be looked at legally and we don’t want to do anything wrong.” It seems odd that this snippet is missing from WDEL’s reporting. Maybe the reason is because it did not fit their “gotcha” headline.
Now let’s address Dave Grimaldi. Remember, he is a bitter ex-employee who was fired. I apologize for the lapse of judgment in hiring Dave Grimaldi in the first place and subjecting the county residents to his antics over the last three years, as reported by The News Journal. I also apologize that residents of New Castle County have become part of his vendetta.
As you all may know, I dismissed my Chief Administrative Officer Dave Grimaldi because I lost faith in him. That was a very tough decision. I initially viewed Dave as a talented young man whom I valued as a trusted employee. I am sorry for any harm that has come to the county because of my misplaced trust. We now learn that Dave decided to secretly record members of county government during frank and confidential discussions. It has been brought to our attention that he has been doing this secret taping for over two years. We have learned that on at least one other occasion, a tape he released previously had been altered. So in this campaign season, I guess we can look forward to Dave Grimaldi treating us all to those edited private conversations complete with locker room language.
Unfortunately, political campaigns have drifted further and further from an examination of issues and a candidate’s ability to govern effectively. Instead, they have become simply a public relations game where anyone can throw mud, in the hope that something will damage your opponent. I can only say to the citizens of New Castle County that I am sorry there has been controversy in my term that has been escalated by politics. I have worked very hard to do the job I was elected to do. We have enhanced the parks, worked diligently on economic development, cut government spending – all of which has resulted in no tax increases and a world-class Department of Public Safety.
I will continue to work hard for the citizens, but I will not allow anyone or any source to distort the truth to darken my administration. If I have offended anyone with my language, again I apologize, but I will defend myself and continue to prove this type of releases is done purely with the intent to harm me, members of my staff and others. My record stands for itself. Please, judge me by my accomplishments and not the malicious actions of Dave Grimaldi. There is much more I would like to say, but we are currently in litigation with Dave Grimaldi, so I am limited to what I can say about him and his actions.