The Dayton Commission held its first meeting Wednesday, one day after federal law enforcement officials revealed a major investigation into alleged fraud and public corruption in the city’s government. The probe is related to the city’s handling of public contracts.
At the commission meeting, Dayton officials announced they’re launching their own separate internal investigation into the federal allegations.
The meeting was scheduled before the feds handed down the indictments against Joey Williams, the Dayton Human Relations Council’s Minority Business Assistance Center Director Roshawn Winburn, business owner and former state lawmaker Clayton Luckie, and Dayton entrepreneur Brian Higgins.The four were arrested on charges ranging from bribery, wire fraud and public corruption.
And, the rapidly unfolding scandal prompted some last-minute schedule changes to the Dayton Commission's agenda. A nearly $1 million contract was abruptly pulled from the agenda.
City manager Shelley Dickstein said the commission needed more to time to evaluate it.
She also announced the city is conducting an internal investigation of its contracting process using an independent third party.
"We immediately began reviewing all contracts in the procurement process. We have established a multi-department team in conjunction with our external auditor to review the contracting process to identify all areas of concern," she said. "I remain confident in our ability to lead the organization through this difficult time."
Dickstein, Mayor Nan Whaley, and commissioners Chris Shaw, Jeffrey Mims and Matt Joseph all made statements expressing their disappointment at news of the investigation. Commissioner Darryl Fairchild was not present at the meeting.
Joseph said he expects the commission will be focused on the matter of the federal investigation for the foreseeable future.
"Our job here as commissioners is going be to find, to root out, to find any bad actors that are out there, to bring them to justice, to look at our processes very carefully and figure out which ones we need to change, which ones we need to update. And that's our charge for the next few months, at least, maybe years," he said.
Dayton Resident Bishop Richard Cox told the commission he was angry to hear about the federal allegations against members of city government.
"We want to know how deep this corruption goes. The government is pointing a finger at you and we're pointing a finger at you because it happened on your watch," he said. "They say that some other folks might get arrested. Are any of you going to be arrested?"
Whaley also spoke later in the evening -- it was the first time the mayor took reporter questions since news broke about the federal investigation.
“I'm going to respect the process of the federal investigation. That's not my job. My job is to be completely transparent and work with with the investigators, which the city will do. And we want our city to come out stronger on the other side of this and that's what we're hoping and I'm leading to do,” the mayor told reporters.
Law enforcement authorities are asking for the public’s help in their ongoing investigation into the alleged corruption in Dayton.
They say more charges are likely to be filed in the future. Officials are urging anyone with information related to the allegations to contact the FBI’s public tip-line at 937-291-5222.