Wilmington's city council voted Thursday not to issue a public censuring of councilwoman Zanthia Oliver.

Wilm. city council adamantly refuses to censure Oliver

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Wilmington's city council voted Thursday not to issue a public censuring of councilwoman Zanthia Oliver.

Wilmington’s city council voted Thursday not to issue a public censuring of councilwoman Zanthia Oliver.

A resolution to censure Wilmington councilwoman Zanthia Oliver was slammed by city council members in the group’s meeting Thursday night, losing by a vote of 10 to 2.

Resolution 0333, sponsored by Councilwoman Shané Darby, was a public censure of councilmember Oliver, following the public reprimand issued in April by the City of Wilmington Ethics Commission.

“I have already come in front of the ethics committee and this has been discussed and it has been handled, and this is all I have to say” Oliver said. “This committee gave me my reprimand and I’ve accepted it and I’m done with this conversation.”

Oliver was given a public reprimand by the city’s ethics commission after voting during a previous meeting to allocate $200,000 to her brother’s nonprofit. 

RELATED: Wilm. councilwoman Oliver reprimanded for ethics violation

Norman Oliver’s organization, Our Youth, Inc., offers physical and educational services for children in New Castle County to help them stay on the right path and set them up for success in their future endeavors. 

According to the Wilmington Ethics Commission’s public reprimand, the councilwoman voted in 2020 for a 196-page resolution which laid out numerous beneficiaries of different grants, one being her brother’s group. 

No one on the council argued that Oliver’s actions weren’t wrong, but the strong majority said that the situation has already been handled and Oliver has been through enough public humiliation and punishment. 

Darby said she wanted to file her resolution to censure sooner. 

“Back in April, I did request for this but I really can’t control the timeline of the law department and when they were going to be able to produce it and then put it on the council agenda,” she said. “I wanted it to be in the same timeframe but it was out of my control.”

Darby said there are so many obstacles in the way of holding city council members accountable when they do things that are unethical, that the behavior will continue.

“I can’t be fired. I can’t really be removed,” she said. “The only thing that can happen is for me to resign or people not to vote me in the next session.”

The city’s funds were mishandled which brought harm to the community, she said. 

Councilman Chris Johnson did not support the censuring of Oliver.

“The whole process played out the way it should and I believe it should leave it at that,” he said. “I get that people want to re-litigate this but I don’t think we should be here to do that, we should be here to move forward with the business of the council.” 

Councilman James Spadola pulled out his phone to read the definition of what a public censuring on a city council means.

“It simply says the expression of formal disapproval,” he said. 

Spadola said he felt pained to vote for the censuring, but a pain that he supports, he said.

“Our relationship has ebbed and flowed,” he said to Oliver, “and it’s probably more valleys than peaks right now. You do a lot of great stuff… but ethics is something that I’ve stood for before this body.”

The money allocated by Oliver to her brother was a significant amount, he said. 

Several council members said the body needs to respect Oliver and said she’s been dragged through the mud enough with the first punishment. 

Councilwoman Bregetta Fields several times cited the “don’t throw stones if you live in a glass house” proverb. 

Darby said there was nothing personal about her resolution, pointing out that she “doesn’t go to sleep thinking about anyone here.”

She thanked the council for the discussion and said she knew her resolution would not pass.

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