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11/24/2010
Clark to review NCCo operations; Weiner to advocate for constructive alternatives when appropriate - News Journal

Bob Weiner, one of two Republicans on the 13-member council, said he's willing to work with Clark and his new team -- for now.

"I look forward to collaborating with the Clark administration for the benefit of all citizens, but I will not hesitate to be an advocate for constructive alternatives when appropriate."

Clark vows thorough review of NCCo operations
BY ADAM TAYLOR • THE NEWS JOURNAL • NOVEMBER 24, 2010 

WILMINGTON -- New Castle County Executive Paul Clark on Tuesday promised a thorough review of county government now that he is its leader, but asked for the public's patience as he tries to get it done.

Clark, a Democrat, took over last week after predecessor Chris Coons, also a Democrat, left to become a U.S. senator. His first public address as county executive was Tuesday before County Council, the legislative body where he served as president the past six years.

By law, the council president becomes county executive in the event of a vacancy.

"Considering that until just a week ago I was a member of this body, I felt that it was appropriate to make my first official remarks as county executive to you," Clark told the council at the start of his 10-minute speech in the Redding City-County Building.

Clark spent much of his time focusing on his perception of the county's attributes -- including its parks and library systems, ample open space and historic, cultural and entertainment spots. But, he said, much work needs to be done as he fills the remaining two years of Coons' term.

"I am not blind to the challenges we face. We have all seen the financial statements," he said. "And these economic times continue to be difficult. We continue to face a structural deficit. I recognize that county government has worked hard in addressing this problem, but we have not solved the problems."

The county government has raised taxes three times since 2005, when Coons became county executive.

"I expect to conduct a top-to-bottom review of our government, looking at what we do with fresh eyes and fresh ideas," Clark said.
Bob Weiner, one of two Republicans on the 13-member council, said he's willing to work with Clark and his new team -- for now.

"I look forward to collaborating with the Clark administration for the benefit of all citizens, but I will not hesitate to be an advocate for constructive alternatives when appropriate."

Councilman Jea Street, a Democrat, said the speech was vague, but he didn't expect a state-of-the-county address, considering Clark just took the job.

"We're still in the transition period," Street said. "He shouldn't have any major problems unless he decides to change things dramatically, which I don't see happening since there's no financial latitude to do anything like that. He came to the council because it's good protocol. I don't view the speech as anything more than that."

Clark asked the council and the public for patience. He said he would unveil many of the details that come from his work with his transition team and top members of his administration when he presents his budget proposal in March.

He mentioned the executive order he signed last week that requires his exclusion from all land-use cases handled by wife, Pam Scott, or her law firm, Saul Ewing LLP, which represents some of the most powerful real estate developers in the county.

"During my years with you on council, we all came to know that in a state as small as Delaware we all experience issues which can be potential conflicts of interests or create the appearance of such," he said.

If elected in the special election to succeed Clark as council president, Democratic Councilman Timothy Sheldon, the party's nominee, said he would ask the the New Castle County Ethics Commission for an opinion as to whether the Clark administration can ethically interact with Scott's law firm. Former state Rep. Tom Kovach is the Republican nominee.

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