MEDIA — Wallace Nunn came before Delaware County Council last week to battle charges of corruption while issuing a warning about taxes.

Nunn, a Republican member of Delaware County's Board of Prison Inspectors and a former county councilman and council chairman, took umbrage with generalizations by Democrat county councilmen Brian Zidek and Kevin Madden accusing the county Republican Party of corruption.

"So, you are calling me and others who have served this place, this county for a long time, criminals," Nunn said. "(S)ome consultant has told the Democrats to keep using the word 'corruption' whether the word makes any sense or not."

"There ain't no consultants advising us what to say," the councilman said. "There is no master plan out there. This is grassroots people like me, like Kevin, like (county Controller) Joanne (Phillips) who had never served before ... There's no machine on the Democratic side. We're kind of a rusty bicycle."

"From my perspective, everyone in Delaware County has been victimized by the machine," Zidek said. "It benefits a very few ... Those people who run the machine are corrupt, those are the folks, in my opinion, who are victimizing the people in Delaware County."

Asked if that included Nunn, Zidek referred to his time on council. "If you are running county council, you are on county council, you are part of the problem," he said.

Nunn's broadside comes in the closing weeks of a bruising campaign for county council. Three seats are up for grabs and Democrats could take control of the county government for the first time since the Civil War. 

At the meeting, Madden spoke to Nunn. "I'm certainly not calling out every individual in Delaware County as a registered Republican. I'm calling out about the system but it's your choice if you align yourself with that."

County Council Chairman John McBlain replied, "There'll never be a name that they pronounce, that will come out of his mouth. This is another broken record that we've seen."

During his council appearance, Nunn called on the elected officials to look at recent evaluations of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility.

He noted the accreditation of the independent American Correctional Association. "Three prisons out of the 60 in the state have it," Nunn said. "We're one of them."

He spoke of the high evaluation from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, as well as that from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections under Gov. Tom Wolf's administration, which said the Delaware County prison was operating so well they were exempt from a normal yearly inspection this year.

"You ought to be proud of this," Nunn said. "Now if you philosophically believe that there should not be outsourcing that's fine. I can have that argument with you but let's not make up things."

He said the state average number of incidents at correctional facilities was 244 and there were 95 in Delaware County. "One third," Nunn said. "One third."

He listed the daily costs per prisoner per day: $109 for Philadelphia; $100 for Allegheny County; $66 for York; $76 for Delaware; $86 for Lehigh; $97 for Berks; $78 for Lackawanna; and $99 for Chester County. 

Then, he noted at prison board meetings "person after person after person coming in and making victims of the prisoners ... These people ... in that prison, what about their victims? ... There are people who have been raped, murdered, mugged, robbed, had drugs running through their neighborhoods."

Nunn ended with an oration on taxes, claiming those in the lower socioeconomic ends of the county are unfairly impacted by real estate taxes as they struggle to pay for food or medicine or holiday gifts for family members.

"How are you going to bring a health department in and not raise taxes?" he asked. "How do you think you are going to take back running the prison and not increase taxes?"

"I agree with him on that," Zidek said of Nunn's comments about the regressive nature of real estate taxes. "That's part of the reason we're so upset that our taxes are so much higher in Delaware County. From my perspective, we spend money where we shouldn't and we don't spend money where we should."

Zidek pointed to 21 assistant solicitors employed by the county, whom he said receive full health benefits and earn between $40,000 to $50,000 annually while also having other law practices. The councilman said that work could be consolidated to three or four full-time solicitors.

He also noted the practice of hiring outside consultants from the $550,000 spent on attorneys to craft a request for proposals for the prison last year to outside accountants who need to be hired because the controller's office doesn't have enough.

Zidek also noted that the county Information Technology department is run "on a shoestring budget" despite positive returns and the lack of case management for the public defender's office, whom he said relies on manila folders.

He also pointed out the money spent on training sheriff's deputies who then leave to go to higher-paying jobs.

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"I wish you wouldn't think I was a criminal but if you do, you do," he said. On Tuesday, he added, "I guess that's politics. What are you going to do? We don't have to be Washington."

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