Delaware Delaware Government Wilmington

Half of Wilmington City Council Votes to Protect Self-Dealing

Last night the Wilmington City Council had one item on the agenda — to vote to authorize funds for an investigation into the facts of former Councilman Trippi Congo’s lack of residency in his District. Do yourself a favor and watch these proceedings (starting around the 41 minute mark) — this lasts about 20 minutes. You can also read a good transcript of this at WDEL.

This is the Charter language on the qualifications and removal of City Council members:

Sec. 2-103. – Qualifications of councilmen.
A councilman shall be a citizen of the United States, shall be a qualified elector of the city and shall have been such for at least one year prior to his election. No councilman shall hold any other city office or employment during the term for which he was elected to the city council. A councilman shall not be less than twenty-five (25) years of age when elected to office. He shall remain a resident of the councilmanic district from which he was elected during his term of office. If a councilman shall cease to possess any of these qualifications, including in the case of a councilman elected from a councilmanic district, residence in the district from which he was elected, or if he shall violate any expressed prohibition of this Charter, or if he be convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, his office shall immediately be forfeited and become vacant. A councilman shall be deemed to have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude upon his conviction in superior court of the State of Delaware, or by an inferior court if its decision is not appealed to the superior court. A member charged with conduct constituting grounds for forfeiture of his office shall be entitled to a public hearing on demand. The council shall be the sole judge of the qualifications and election of its members and for this purpose shall have power to subpoena witnesses and require the production of records.

Wilmington City Charter

To recap:

  • Former Councilman Congo told WDEL that he no longer lived at his previously claimed 2nd District residence and now lived in the 8th District.
  • His 2nd Council seat was vacated by Council President Shabazz in accordance with the Charter.
  • He came back a couple of weeks later to say that he had moved back to the 2nd.
  • He asked for his hearing two weeks ago.
  • Council met last night to be able to authorize funds to prepare for that hearing.
  • Half of this Council voted NO to authorize this preparation, as if voting NO, not getting any formal information or documents would make this problem disappear.

If you are a Wilmington resident you should be mad as hell about this. You are watching half of your Council make the decision to represent one person — Trippi Congo — and forget about everyone who voted them into office. An office they hold with an oath to uphold the City Charter, which they are conveniently ignoring for their own agendas — trying to undermine the City Council President and trying to protect Trippi Congo from living with his own decision to violate the Charter.

Are you mad yet? Here’s who to vote out of office, here’s the people who are utterly not interested in representing the Wilmingtonians they were elected to represent:

  • Linda Gray, 1st District — this ex-“magistrate” can’t bother to read the Charter to understand the qualifications set forth, or the requirement to live in your District, or the fact that your seat is vacated if you move out (written in very plain English). This is a great example of her doing what Sam Guy tells her to do. Vote for Al Mills who really should have gotten this job in the first place.
  • Michelle Harlee, 4th District — Councilwoman Harlee is the grandmother to one of Trippi Congo’s children. She should have recused or abstained from this vote. No one in the 4th gets any benefit from her vote to shield Congo and you should vote for someone who will be honorable enough to uphold the Charter, no matter who tries to break the law.
  • Vash Turner, 5th District — another one who takes his marching orders from Sam Guy. And another one who thinks that his job is protecting a man who can’t live with the Charter rules. Turner has never had anything useful to add to Council and is one of Sam Guy’s partners in misogyny towards Hanifa Shabazz. Turner is currently running for Treasurer — a job he has no qualifications for — so make sure to vote for DeWayne Sims. Sims has the resume for this job, he’ll take the Charter seriously and he won’t try to sell you crabs or shady cryptocurrency (as Turner does now).
  • Yolanda McCoy, 6th District — yes she also does pretty much what Sam Guy tells her to do. Clearly she’s more interested in shielding Congo from any accountability than she is in the health of her own District. The 6th has a few good candidates running, my favorite is Ian Smith who I am certain will make holding up the Charter and serving the 6th his priority.
  • Sam Guy, At Large — less of a Councilman and more of a bully. He has difficulty presenting compelling and persuasive arguments for his positions and legislation so resorts to all manner of bullying of the Council President and any other Councilperson who does not fall in line with the conspiracy-theory-of-the-day. Is mainly one long tantrum looking for an adoring audience. Sound like anyone else we know? There are plenty of other At Large candidates running who would take this job seriously (except Charles Potter or Rysheema Dixon or Ty Johnson). Vote for any of them and send Guy home to create a You Tube channel to rant on.
  • Rysheema Dixon, at Large — someone who started with so much promise and then decided to let that go in favor of voting how Sam Guy wants her to vote. Lots of people who supported her in 2016 wonder what has happened. And don’t take any claims to “independent thinking” seriously. It’s not there. Which is why she voted with Sam Guy to let Congo pay no attention to the Charter.

Wilmington needs representation that will care about Wilmington, not about helping each other push forward all of their personal agendas. These people proved to you last night that they don’t care about YOUR agenda. Vote them all out. Wilmington deserves so much better than this.

15 comments on “Half of Wilmington City Council Votes to Protect Self-Dealing

  1. This entire thing is childish. Throw the entire council away and start over … and this article.

  2. Worst council members ever. They had a great opportunity to do so much for the community if they wasn’t so divisive and hell bent on making Hanifa look bad. It’s about 3 bad apples, with Sam Guy as the ring leader. It was so horrible to watch all year long. If you let the bad apples tell it they did so much for the people, where are the receipts of their accomplishments? Why must we make each other look bad, and destroy progress for our people. Crabs in a barrel. Damn shame…smh

  3. Worst council members ever. They had a great opportunity to do so much for the community if they wasn’t so divisive and hell bent on making Hanifa look bad. It’s about 3 bad apples, with Sam Guy as the ring leader. It was so horrible to watch all year long. If you let the bad apples tell it they did so much for the people, where are the receipts of their accomplishments? Why must we make each other look bad, and destroy progress for our people. Crabs in a barrel. Damn shame…smh

  4. Stan Merriman

    At least one Councilperson voted no with a damned good reason; didn’t want to waste $10,000 for a law firm that seems to specialize in healthcare clients to mount an investigation? Wouldn’t you hire an investigator to do that? Just asking. That proposal stunk to high heaven to me.

    • A Wilmingtonian

      A quick look at Google will show you that Morris James is a full service law firm and that the City of Wilmington is a client of theirs.

      • The next thing Stan Merriman understands about Delaware politics will be the first thing he has ever understood about Delaware politics. Ignore him.

        • Stan Merriman

          Yes, you’re right. I’m a yellow dog Texas Democrat from a very Blue and progressive urban center and continue to be completely baffled by DelDems, though totally committed to the values of my party. Baffling that Dems here tolerated a voting system without recount ability with small elections for so many years, only then to buy demonstrably hackable machines from a criminal company IMO and that of a vast array of IT University based research centers all over. And no early voting, nor voting centers you can access anywhere. And a party largely funded and run by incumbents with ED’s that have not been developed as strong neighborhood party organizations, nor much grassroots funding of the Party to give power to the people it represents. A Party that went without a Platform for years. Our dual primary set up for Presidential years. Self dealing among electeds at all levels. Nor many functioning Caucuses to advocate and pressure electeds on various interest groups…….ethnic, women, environment, criminal justice. Nor a party that takes errant electeds to the woodshed much. Candidates that do not work their way up the governing ladder and decide their qualified to run for the Senate. The size of Delaware makes such grassroots characteristics of a functioning Party so possible, but yet here it is…..”this is the way we’ve always done it”. Yea,your right, I don’t get it. So much unrealized potential.

          • And if I were ever to move to Texas I’m sure I’d find a lot of that state’s Democratic Party workings strange. For one thing I’d wonder why, given that the Democrats hold a registration advantage in the state, they never win any statewide elections.

            Never forget this: Political parties are parasites on the body politic. They have inserted themselves between the voters and the government those voters select. The fact that one of our parties is batshit insane should not blind us to the fact that the other one is rife with graft, corruption and nepotism. Loyalty to either of them is a mug’s game.

            • Stan Merriman

              Should you move to Texas, here’s you’re history lesson. Last Statewide Dem. governor elected, Ann Richards 1990, but undermined by sexist Lt. Gov. who hated her popularity and he allied with W. Bush to defeat her in ’94.: Erosion began in 1972 when we happily purged Wallace Dems from the party, happily recruited by Repubs. Daddy Bush and his buddy Jim Baker. Erosion and loss of control in the lege allowing horrific Repub. gerrymandering in 2000. Add to that integration of Urban public schools and massive departure of racists to the burbs and exurbs, joined by racist expats moving to Texas from northern states losing industry (ie: Michigan and auto industry decline, Penna. due to steel and coal decilne, Ohio, etc. They loved the white burbs and voted Republican. Add oppressed Chicano’s/Chicana’s who were mostly non voters just keeping their heads down to avoid crap. We in Hou/DFW/SA/SA/Corpus organized like hell with Dems/Acorn and the like with an amazing coalition of Anglo libs/Blacks/Chicano’s in the Urbs and stayed and became bluer; had some amazing state lege’s following B. Jordan of all races with from these urbs. to lead and inspire us. Thanks for asking. It may flip this year back, but if not, 2024. Great urb. party organizers and grassroots precinct organizing in our diverse neighborhoods. Thanks for asking.

              • Thanks, Stan. Would never move there willingly, or even visit — too many rednecks, too many guns. But it demonstrates that different states face different challenges.

                The big difference here is that we’re a one-party state at the state level, so merely electing Democrats does not help — if they’re the wrong kind of Democrat (Pete Schwartkopf, etc.) party loyalty makes them harder to dislodge than Republicans.

                People who live in competitive states often have a hard time processing the fact that the Democratic Party leadership is the problem.

  5. Wanda Green

    Although, I can agree to not wasting 10k, however, the request was made. The precedence needs to be set based on the current charter to update scenarios and establish a way to make the proper changes. I read the charter, it was clear, if you move out of the district you represent either you vacate your seat or Council President can remove you. Now let’s move forward and investigate because currently district 2 needs representation until new council person is elected and takes office in January. Personal vendetta is never a precursor to people business! I watched the zoom meeting! What a hot ass mess! I will say the polls I sat in front of had none of them there! District two mostly vote at PS DuPont and have been since I moved into the City in 1988! I now see why the area I am living in has become a war zone! I will say, I had to laugh when the Systemic Racism was bought up! I couldn’t tell if was against Freel or Shabazz! Now, if it was bought up against Freel, Congo requested it, put on media he lived in Freel’s district, so he bought up a constituent concern. If it’s against Shabazz, she appears to be a Black woman!!!!!

  6. I don’t understand the point of the investgation. He admitted it already. It’s not criminal, there’s not laundered money involved. They’re just trying to determine whether he violated the charter by moving out of the district. Why on earth do they need to pay Morris James $10,000 to listen to a WDEL interview? He is not denying that he moved out of the district, he’s just asking for understanding; Which he should not be offered.

    Hanifa was trying to use this crap to essentially get a firm to do opposition research on her opponent before the election with city funds. If that is not the real reason, then its just an unneccessary step in the process. It’s not like the members were voting down his public hearing or voting against removing him from the council. They voted against a self serving investigation into him moving out of his district, which he is not even challenging.

    • He will still have a public hearing and he will still be officially removed from council. Whats with the reactionary drama?

      • It takes a special kind of skill to make Hanifa Shabazz look like the good guy in any confrontation. That can only be done if Sam Guy is involved.

    • A Wilmingtonian

      An official hearing should be bolstered by legally defensible evidence, including his admission (yep there’s more) and including satisfying some of the criteria that the City uses to evaluate residency of its employees who have been accused of violating the 5 year rule. Should Congo lose, he’ll sue everyone in sight. The City Council should be ready for that. It’s intriguing how many fiscal hawks came out of the woodwork for 10K in fees to make sure this hearing went properly but no one wants to object to the funds the city spends to defend against every stupid Sam Guy lawsuit.

      Oppo research? Much of what anyone needed is right here on this blog. And even if you could get Morris James started last Friday (unlikely), there wouldn’t have been anything to use before next Tuesday.

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