What are the Trustees of the New Castle Common? A Reveal

The Board and Elections

The Trustees are a shadowy group of thirteen with control of hundreds of acres and millions of dollars that belong to all the residents of New Castle. However, some Trustees think they are the sole owners of the Trust assets. From an email by T. Wilson, then president, who has no idea what a trust is:

“During the Haters & Traitors campaign they have lead the citizens to believe that the Trust belongs to and was given to the citizens, this is just wrong! I repeat WRONG!!”

We elect the Trustees, but of fifty-five hundred townspeople, only four hundred twenty-three voted at the last election. Why so few voters with so much at stake? Perhaps because many residents don’t know about the Trust or understand how it works; perhaps because the current board of Trustees likes it that way. One current Trustee is in his third twelve-year term, and a number of the others are in their second. That could mean some will become virtual lifetime Trustees, the way it was in the eighteenth century. Time to join the modern age and limit the board to two six-year terms!

Equally shadowy is the way the Trustees conduct their elections. Despite many requests from Trust beneficiaries (people who live in town), they only post a third of bylaw content on their website: Thus the section on how Trustee elections are run is unavailable to anyone who isn’t a Trustee. Here’s an excerpt from an email by T. Wilson, then president, claiming that we don’t have the right to see their bylaws or to expect them to follow them:

“All, I hate to be wasting your time on childish hateful actions that keep coming in directed to the Trust but it is obvious we have a member or members of our own Board fueling these actions for no other reason than trying to destroy a 250 + years organization created to preserve and protect the very Trust. Tom Clayton was given a complete copy of our of our By-Laws, Policies, and Procedures that are being passed around by Bill Boyer.

I have no idea who would give him a full copy of our rules and regulations, whoever was responsible for this should be removed from the Board. It is now become time for all Trustees dedicated to the Oath and to the Trust to stand up and defend our Organization to the fullest.

I will try and find out who gave Mr. Boyer these By-Laws which are only used as rules for us to follow and to change when we find it necessary, they are not rules that the public can demand that we are all cheats, thieves, crooks, and other type of despicable persons they are implying we are when we don’t follow them to the letter.” 

Until recently, Trustee elections were held all day on a Saturday, and election machines were rented from the State. Lately, voting’s been available with paper ballots at the Trustee office for four hours on a Saturday morning or at office hours during several weeks (but no one who works out of town can access most of those times), and when voting, you deposit your “secret“ ballot in a little old wooden box. How quaint! 

If you ask a Trustee to explain the working of the Trust, don’t be surprised if he tells you it’s a private foundation. Even though the Delaware Department of Justice determined in 2017 that the Trustees are a public body, several of the current Trustees have insisted they’re private. They know better than the DOJ! So they refuse to observe the Freedom of Information Act, which means we can’t find out what they’re doing with our property. Ask them for information about the building of the West Third Street parking lot, or why the farmhouse renovation cost one and a half million dollars to provide them with a “Corporate Headquarters,” and you’ll be turned down flat. 

For that matter, why do they need a corporate headquarters? The Trustee Charter states that the Trust assets are “for the use and benefit” of the residents of New Castle. A private Trustee headquarters is not for our use and benefit, but solely for theirs.