Wilmington’s Mayor Williams and the “Charlie Brown” effect

The Wilmington crime issue has taken an interesting turn. Rob Tornoe points it out in his commentary.


Here is Rob Tornoe’s commentary:

Wilmington has a lot of problems. Crime, violence, urban flight, business relocation. So I understand that it’s an uphill battle that Mayor Dennis Williams is waging. And unlike a lot of cynical politicians out there only looking to leapfrog into the next position, Williams seems at least to genuinely care about fixing the city and its issues. 

But this week, Williams really rubbed me the wrong way when he appeared on Rick Jensen’s WDEL radio show and boldly… complained about being the victim of bad press from the News Journal. 

“One of the things that amazes me for a big corporation that loves Wilmington so much that moved out of the city because they couldn’t bully a little restaurant on Tatnall Street, that amazes me how much they love the city and how much they’re trying to destroy us,” Williams said despairingly of the News Journal, referring to events that happened in the late 1990s. “You took all those jobs out of here, you move out of the city because you couldn’t knock that one little store down, and now you’re trying to rip the city apart.” 


Don’t forget this is the mayor who promised to make a dent in Wilmington’s violent crime rate in just 6-7 months (he didn’t). He also promised his administration would be so transformative that in two years, “you won’t even think it’s the same city.” (we do).

See News Journal, everything is so much better now, so your reporters just need to stop picking on me! 

If I can address Mr. Williams directly for one second, no one forced you to run for mayor. And certainly no one had a gun to your head forcing you to make lofty predictions you couldn’t live up to. But to whine about the bad press your ineffective policies are receiving instead of being honest and direct with your constituents is both predictable and laughable. 

It makes me question whether you even believed your transformative rhetoric, or just were caught up in the moment of politicking with people’s hopes and dreams. As a former cop, many took what you said as realistic optimism about the positive changes you could honestly make for this long-suffering city. 

Now, it just seems more likely you did what politicians do – made overreaching, unattainable promises to secure office, and now that you’ve found it hard to actually fix anything, you lash out at those that dare call you out on your ineffectiveness. 

It’s a shame, considering the News Journal article was simply reporting the very real frustration many city businesses have with both your inaction and your lack of accessibility. Seem to me there’s a lesson to learn from the criticisms of local business owners, especially since they’ve said it’s been a struggle to get access to your office. 

Oh, that’s right, you were “not available for an interview” for their story. Neither was your chief of staff, who canceled on the News Journal at the last minute. 

There’s a phrase about heat and kitchens that seems to apply here. I’ll let you look it up, since you don’t seem to do well with the perspective of outsiders. 


Rob Tornoe is a cartoonist and WHYY contributor. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobTornoe

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