Earlier this afternoon, an emotional Dennis Tyler announced to a room full of his department heads and the press that he will not seek reelection. At 76 years of age, he’s decided that he will continue serving as the chief executive for the remaining eleven months and then spend time with his children and grandchildren.
Mayor Tyler took over the helm after a one-term Republican Sharon McShurley divided the city with the help of The StarPress presenting her as a white night sheriff riding into a town of bad guys. She may have had a brighter future at the helm of the city but she listened too closely to the Tea Party Republicans hiding behind the auspices of Good Citizens for Delaware County. Today they are easier to recognize with their Trumpian MAGA red hats.
After a strong first term as chief executive, Dennis accomplished many great things in Muncie. In fact, he probably did more in six months than Sharon did in four years. Call it greed or pride, but the temptation to skim more for his Democratic insiders was too much to resist. The always contaminating presence of Phil Nichols at 214 North Walnut, or Democratic Headquarters, was always lurking in the shadows of Dennis’s administration.
Before long, the rumors began to surface and shady deals began to smell like rotting fish at City Hall. Dennis’s choice for building commissioner and Phil’s son were always at the center of discussion. Shaking down local businesses for donations. Using shell companies to siphon monies away from city taxpayers to his pockets. Craig Nichols soon got the attention he didn’t want – an FBI investigation. Resignations and quiet departures as one person after another were interviewed or called into question. Eventually, Craig was convicted but not before the damage was done to Dennis’s administration and the local Democratic Party.
Sadly, as of the date of this writing, no public condemnation has occurred. No acceptance of fault. Even Craig Nichols was allowed to receive a paycheck from the taxpayers he stole from until the FBI slammed on the bracelets. Why not own up to the mistakes made? Why not fire Craig immediately and own up? Why let the city linger through it?
Maybe, Dennis and the 214 Democrats thought it would blow over and the good people of Muncie would forgive them. It’s possible they didn’t care since the same people who helped Dennis, Phil and Craig were all one big happy family. It was water under the bridge. Craig made a good deal for himself and will just do the time keeping his mouth shut. Then it will be business as usual.
The problem is they forgot about the citizens they stole from…in their brazenness they never owned up to the people they served. They betrayed the public’s trust and had the arrogance to blow it off. The only replacement was when former chief of police, Steve Stewart resigned both his post as chief but as democratic party chairman. He was replaced by a long-time insider, Allie Craycraft. Nothing changed.
I suspect they would have continued business as usual inside the inner circle except for one small problem…the voters have the last word. In local elections, voters have a lot of power and it showed last November after the democratic party got routed. One ass whipping after another. The voters didn’t forgive the democratic insiders. Ray Dudley found out that when you associate with stink, it rubs off on you whether you want it to or not. Makes you wonder if the folks sitting in the first several rows will spend the next eleven months distancing themselves from the origin of the stink or will they quickly surround themselves with the next offering produced by Phil Nichols at 214 North Walnut.
Good luck to Dennis in retirement and enjoy the grandkids.