Is Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell Personal Errand Girl for the Country Club? Recently Obtained City Hall Emails are Quite Revealing

Posted on March 12, 2017

Todd Paris, Staff Writer and Salisbury Attorney

♦ Recently Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell came under attack at public comment during the past several City Council Meetings. She defended herself by penning a prominent piece asserting that those that speak out at public comment “don’t know her,” that she isn’t doing the bidding of the elite in Salisbury, but is in fact serving the underprivileged. Oh?

Due to a recent RFP public records request we can unequivocally state that the public commenters were dead on about Mrs. Blackwell.

We have uncovered emails from 2013 where Maggie Blackwell is doing personal errand service for a wealthy resident of the Country Club. After attending a meeting at the Country Club, Maggie emails the city’s Street Manager Craig Powers about when Maxwell Street will be paved. Despite the street being in better condition than many other streets in dire need of paving, Powers relays to her that “it will be considered a higher priority.” Then Maggie Blackwell forwards this information to the husband of the wealthy resident who complained.

We have several ethical problems here:

First, when an elected official contacts a staff person in this manner, it’s for a favor. While she doesn’t explicitly direct him to make this street a higher priority, he gets the message, does it, and she accepts this outcome and communicates this to the wealthy family. (see emails below)

Second, no where in this communication is the City Manager copied. City Council members are suppose to work through the City Manager (their only direct employee) and not bypass the City Manager in such a fashion as done in the email. Doing so erodes trust between the elected official and City Manager and places staff in precarious positions. However, here it seems Maggie Blackwell found a willing participant in Craig Powers who should have immediately forwarded Maggie’s email request to his boss and the City Manager, instead of doing the favor.

Third, Salisbury rates streets based on condition and ranks them from best to worst. The city then develops a paving schedule with paving dollars going to the worst condition streets rather than being dolled out politically-based on prominence. Maggie’s favor bypassed this established system and as a result some worse off street in the city got bumped because frankly their residents weren’t at a meeting with Maggie Blackwell. Many concerned citizens wonder why the low-income parts of town look so bad. When you have an elected official pulling favors with staff and the Country Club street jumps to the front of the line, then those areas get skipped.

Fourth, Maggie claims to be for the “Green Hills” and the “West End,” but when RFP reviews all her emails to the Street Department, we find in fact she is actually doing favors for the Country Club. Words versus actions.

I remember Ms. Blackwell at 2015 City Council debates bragging about her ability to get streets paved and potholes filled. It almost seemed if she could summon concrete and asphalt by cell phone when notified. We now know how this works, by getting favors from the Street Manager without the City Manager or other City Council members being aware.

We all know Maggie Blackwell claims she will not run again, but we also know she claimed to be for the poor neighborhoods while she was pulling paving favors for her rich “friends”. Most of us don’t trust what she says. She said previously in 2015 that she will not run only to turn about face and proclaim that she will run after all, “…because the needs of the city supersede my personal plans.” It sounds like what she actually meant was the needs of the country club supersedes her personal plans.

The next time residents of the West End or other less influential neighborhoods are swerving to avoid pot holes, they might ask themselves if the wealthy areas are jumping to the head of the line again with Maggie’s assistance.

Oh dear, the Street Manager that did Maggie the favor? He got a promotion, and guess who emailed him a long congratulatory note? Maggie Blackwell.

Email (1):

Email (2):

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