I finally got a chance to catch up on the William DiBella saga today — and was shocked to find he’d survived a vote of no confidence at the Metropolitan District Commission last week, according to a story in the Journal Inquirer.
DiBella, who’s been involved with the MDC for three decades, was found liable by a jury recently “on all counts of aiding and abetting in a 1998 state pension investment scheme, in which he was paid a $374,500 “finder’s fee” for a few minutes of work,” the paper reported. “The federal Securities & Exchange Commission filed the civil suit in 2004, accusing DiBella of violating federal securities laws in taking the finder’s fee in a $75 million pension investment. Others connected to the investment already have served jail time or paid fines,” the story added.
Not surprisingly, some of the MDC commissioners thought DiBella shouldn’t be the regional sewer and water authority’s chairman after getting nailed in federal court.
They asked for a vote of no confidence, which DiBella survived on a 16-11 vote. Another vote, calling on him to resign, fell short on a 17-10 vote, according to the JI’s story. I don’t know why someone would say they have no confidence in DiBella but not ask him to resign, but that’s a separate issue.
“Why doesn’t the whole commission stand up and say this is enough?” asked Republican commissioner Jeffrey Wright, who led the charge against DiBella, the paper reported. The GOP members opposed DiBella, a former legislative big shot.
The Democratic commissioners mostly hemmed and hawed that they needed more information and time.
“If I thought I was damaging this organization, I would step down,” DiBella told the MDC, according to the JI. “I think this was premature at best, and at worst, truly politically motivated.”
Well, Mr. DiBella, if you don’t think this is damaging to the MDC, you’re utterly blind. It’s a terrible message to have a major government organization that’s about to engage in a gigantic sewer project to have as its leader a man who just got slapped around in court. It raises all sorts of troubling concerns, perhaps without any justification.
But if DiBella is half the man his supporters say he is, he’ll resign rather than let this turn into a circus. If he cares about the MDC and the region, he’ll step down quickly.