Change Needed To End County Corruption
I want to reiterate challenger, Edward S. Lee’s sentiments, and to acknowledge his strong backbone for speaking out. His recent articles in The Daily Times (Sept. 11) and The Dispatch (Sept. 17) are absolutely factual (true).
New political blood is long overdue. Lee described a mirror image of a select group of people in Worcester County Government (WCG) who are culturally corrupt. They’ve guaranteed the unscrupulous practices would continue to manifest as a “norm” throughout WCG.
Yes, it was imperative that incumbent James Purnell win. He said, “the people were upset and worried at the prospect of his opponent winning this election.” Lee’s win would have upset this quaint “quasi” government that protects and guards the personal gains and all those secret agendas our officials have institutionalized, committing gross mismanagement of government in this county. It is unprofessional and unethical practices throughout (scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours), at the expense of taxpayers.
Lee, however, has touched only the surface of the improprieties that go on in this “status quo” business as usual government. It is the nature of “this beast” and the burden on our backs. They have done wrong so long that they actually believe what they are doing is right. Every entity of our government is based upon “conflict of interest” dealings that they describe as “unity and respect for each other that goes beyond party affiliation” (Commissioner Purnell’s quote).
Purnell’s appointment some 15 years ago was revolutionary and historic; however, his appointment has been nothing short of a total “mockery” not only to African Americans, but to the distinguished title and position it represents. The momentous intention of that position and seat was supposed to bring honor and signify such great progress being made in Worcester County. What a joke. I assure you it was a “hoax”. We have been fooled (duped) all over again. His appointment has fostered some very serious conflict of interests (directly and indirectly), some in full violation of the law(s) of this county, state and federal government, and this has been going on every since he took office.
With my own eyes, I have seen the daily abuse(s) of authority and power by WCG employees. When I became so discontented and dissatisfied with what I was seeing, in addition to, others coming to me with their grievances, complaints, and concerns that their “civil rights and civil liberties” were being violated and jeopardized (forced by the status quo regiment) through illegal infractions against them, I had no choice but to speak up and bring these issues to someone’s attention. I soon realized that there was (is) absolutely “no one” to turn to with your concerns and complaints. Why? Because of the intricate “web” spun within WCG. Everyone is intricately related, prudently selected, and primed to fit in this protected mold. So, who can you turn to? No one.
Take the “web” at the Worcester County Jail (WCJ). You have the Warden, Ira “Buck” Shockley, the Assistant Warden, his son-in-law, Garry Mumford, and another Assistant Warden, Rita Lawson. Add the many family, friends, and acquaintances that make up the rest of the staff, and that web is grossly protected in secrecy and has held together with ignorance of the law(s), their employment rights, fear, threats, and intimidation, and somehow it stays tight and solid without being exposed for what it really is. The employees are like little robots, being held hostage with these “mega” salaries so who’s going to speak out.
It was after my retirement from the Maryland State Police that I had the time to witness the arrogance of it all, the “in your face” disregard of government authority and power by its employees. I watched daily how my tax dollars were being foolishly spent, wasted for personal benefits. I began to monitor, record, and log the blatant behavior (too numerous to mention all in this one letter), from the county inmates, correctional officers, and other county employees. The use of personal, county issued vehicles, all on county time, servicing the warden’s needs at his home, as well as his rental properties. These daily trips back and forth from the workplace to home, throughout and during any given workday (workweek), it was excessive. So excessive, it was disturbing to me.
This kind of behavior is an established arrogant “norm” for our county officials because the corruption and dishonesty in this government is prevalently widespread. Take for instance, Sunday evening, Sept. 10, I received a telephone call from Bud Church’s office soliciting support for incumbent, Commissioner James Purnell. I asked the caller to give me just one reason why I should vote to re-elect him, the caller (she) said “because of his support of the jail.” What? You don’t want me to tell you what I said to her. Then on Tuesday evening, voting night, my wife and I were trying to scurry to the polls (at the top steps of Snow Hill Middle School), when Assistant Warden Garry Mumford, approached us soliciting support for Commissioner Purnell. When I (we) tried to ignore him, he then speaks directly to my wife, and tries to get her to listen to his speech in support of Purnell, and at the same time handing out Purnell’s campaign pamphlet. We tried to ignore him by not acknowledging anything he was saying, but his persistence led to a few words in exchange, then again after we voted. Absolutely inappropriate and unethical. For this so-called prominent county employee, who is suppose to be a strong voice in this county (community), who is a member of the school board, on the Board of Atlantic General Hospital, who has affiliations with numerous clubs and organizations (too many to mention all), and who is openly soliciting and campaigning for a candidate, regardless of his personal choice, this is unthinkable behavior.
Just think about the number of “voters” who may have been influenced, intimidated or persuaded to vote for “his” favored candidate, the incumbent. Yes, if Purnell had lost this election, some major changes would have occurred and to keep that from happening, they would do just about anything to assure his win. Purnell said it all, “the fellow commissioners, of both parties, were encouraging his bid for re-election, and it’s what in your heart and what you want to do to help each other, that’s what it’s all about.” Yes, helping each other, that select “few”, and not “the people” (taxpayers) in this county.
Where are government transparency, accountability and responsibility? They are not here because they don’t exit. They were tossed aside years ago to protect those personal fringe benefits. Ethics, rules, regulations, and policies have been ignored for years, and it is called blatant arrogance (or ignorance). Speak out against the wrongdoings, and you’ll see what happens to you. This corrupt mentality is ingrained in WCG. Try to pursue any of your issues with the appropriate authorities; you will be faced with a roadblock each and every time. You will receive absolutely “nothing”, not a response to your concerns, your letters, your calls, and this is “our” government.
Reporting the abuse certainly got me nowhere, so expecting an opportunity to be heard was out of the question. I was (am) considered a “problem”. Somehow, I had invaded “their” space, their time and their private little indiscretions. Ignoring “the people” is their way of handling “the people” and their attitude is, “how dare you!”
The “people” of Worcester County need to clean house. 2014 is just too long to wait.
Marvin C. Purnell