Memo to Pete Schwartzkopf: You’re Not Speaker Yet.

Filed in National by on December 20, 2012

A rookie mistake, or a sign of things to come?

Celia Cohen has the story here, and I think it’s an important one. Here’s why.

During my time in Dover, the following served as Speaker of the House, the leader of the institution: Lonnie George, Chuck Hebner, Brad Barnes, Terry Spence, and Bob Gilligan. In addition to being white males, they all had great respect for the institution of the House. They all, to varying extents, created a collegiality that extended beyond the 41 members themselves, to full-time and part-time staff, per diem staff, and to the extended Leg Hall family.

As one of his first acts as the presumptive Speaker, Pete Schwartzkopf fired two per diem employees. Their alleged sin: Being disrespectful to Pete Schwartzkopf. Not to his face, mind you. Someone told him that they had dissed him. (Et tu, Valerie Longhurst?) Just let this Schwartzkopf quote float around in your brain for awhile:

“It was not a very hard decision,” Schwartzkopf said. “Do I bring somebody back who vocally and vehemently disagreed with leadership or somebody who will just do the job?”

Vocally and vehemently? Well, vocally, yes. Assuming that Schwartzkopf’s narc was accurate, someone presumably vocalized it. Vehemently? Really? And, by all accounts, they did their jobs well.

Before we go any further, let me explain who per diem employees are, and what they do. In general, per diems only work on days that the General Assembly is in session. About 50 days a year, or so. They handle routine, but important tasks: bill preparation; updating legislative calendars, agendas, and ready lists for the legislators; handing out bills and amendments during session;  maintaining order in the chambers; even serving as podium officials, including bill clerk and reading clerk. Those chosen are, by and large, patronage employees, there aren’t many of them, and they are selected by the elected officials themselves.  Not by the Speaker or the President Pro-Tem. Many are retired. So, yes, they are often politically active, are generally delights to talk to, and are integral elements in both the day-to-day operations of the General Assembly and the collegiality of the body. Doesn’t matter if you’re a D or R, they’re all part of that institution known as the House. And, yes, gasp(!), they often have opinions about politics.

The two per diems who Pete fired had one thing in common: Each managed a successful campaign for a first-time Democratic House candidate. Kim Williams and Andria Bennett. For their troubles, Pete fired them. Not good.

These firings serve only to create a sense of paranoia amongst the staff. While one might hope that the Speaker would call on his ‘better angels’, his second-in-command is Rep. Valerie Longhurst, whose only supervisory experience prior to entering the House was in wrangling volunteers at her local Babe Ruth League canteen. Probably would have fired them too if they hadn’t been, you know, volunteers. What the House apparently faces is a leadership team that prefers to run the institution through intimidation rather than collegiality.

That could present a challenge to the presumed leadership team-to-be. While there was a sharp split during the leadership elections, it wasn’t as if it was Good vs. Ee-vil. Valerie Longhurst excepted. Fair-minded House members who voted for Schwartzkopf/Longhurst may well already be having second thoughts about what the next two years could portend under this team. Which is important because the House leadership has not yet been officially chosen.

The Senate leadership has officially been chosen. The Senate met in Special Session to consider judicial nominees. Prior to considering the nominees, the Senate approved the leadership nominees. The House has not yet met.

What generally happens is that the House D’s and the House R’s each submit their nominee for Speaker, presumably Schwartzkopf and Dan Short. Short has been named Minority Leader by the House R’s. He won’t be the next Speaker. But, if enough House D’s go ‘not voting’, it’s at least possible that Schwartzkopf could face a challenge from within his own caucus. A nominee requires 21 affirmative votes to be elected Speaker. His ill-considered firings could make that 21-vote threshold dicey for the former state cop.

For the sake of the institution, I hope that Pete Schwartzkopf sends a strong signal that he values the collegiality of the institution, like his predecessors. It’s not a sign of weakness to admit mistakes. He can recognize the value of each and every employee of the House, and let them know that they don’t need to look over their shoulders. He can also make clear that, while he will reward his supporters in the leadership vote, he will not punish those who opposed him. Senator Thurman Adams took the punishment route after he defeated Sen. Blevins and a more progressive slate of senators back in 2000. That acrimony permeated the Senate until this year. It would be a sad irony if, in the same year that the Senate appears to have healed longstanding rifts through consensus leadership choices, the presumptive House leadership team opts to open wounds on the other end of Leg Hall.

Your move, Mr. Presumptive Speaker.

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  1. I think in the long run, he needs to chill. He offered one the job back, but he was rebuffed. I do not think that he is endangered in the short run. It may have ruffled feathers, but the democrats are not going down the route of a major leadership shake up for a couple of per diem employees. It just doesn’t happen and won’t here.

  2. capesdelaware says:

    I agree with PETE .Time for some new blood and fresh ideas .

  3. anon says:

    This is what happens when leadership changes, whether it’s in the public or the private sector, as the cliche goes, a new broom sweeps clean. There is no reason why he shouldn’t surround himself with people he’s comfortable with and trusts.

  4. SussexAnon says:

    Patronage employee argues with actual elected official, gets fired.

    Shocking.

  5. AQC says:

    Looks like Pete continues to get his revenge in committee assignments.

  6. @anon-
    “This is what happens when leadership changes…There is no reason why he shouldn’t surround himself with people he’s comfortable with and trusts.”

    Or, this is what happens when someone in a position of power behaves like a petulant child.

  7. SussexWatcher says:

    I’m sorry … *Why* do we have patronage jobs twelve years into this century? What service do they provide that screened and guaranteed-qualified temp workers could not?

    This whole thing stinks to high heaven, but only because the allegedly progressive party here is condoning and even celebrating a political practice that should have gone out with Grant.

  8. To me, the real issue is whether Speaker Schwartzkopf will forsake a collegial way of doing business that has served the House well for at least 30 years for a more cutthroat approach. An approach that did not serve the Senate well for the past 12 years.

    My goal in writing the piece was to raise that cautionary note. I hope that Pete and members of the House heed it.

  9. JConnor says:

    I will type slowly SW because you are stunningly stupid. The General Assembly is POLITICAL place populated and operated by Political people. Some of whom are hired by the ELECTED officials. It is now and ever shall be so. The conversation is not about if patronage exits but how the employees will be treated. Patronage sir, is NOT a dirty word.

  10. SussexWatcher says:

    Um, maybe not to you, Mr. Sketchy, but the rest of the civilized world finds something extremely distasteful about people getting jobs based not on their qualifications and experience, but because they hold the right political views and have kissed up to the right people.

    “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is a piss-poor way to run a modern government.

    I have no problem with politicians hiring their own personal staff members. But rhat’s as far as it should go. There should be no caucus staffers who work for just one party, no per diem workers who get gigs because of their campaign work, no girlfriends or boyfriends or children brought on board to type and run messages and answer phones. Those people make a mockery of meritocracy.

  11. JConnor says:

    Stunningly stupidis too weak, Political connection IS the qualification and experience and yes they SHOULD be partisans and the fact that you can’t comprehend this gains you idiot status.

  12. SussexWatcher says:

    So there’s a Democratic way to be a “reading clerk” that only people who volunteer in campaigns know?

    Sorry that I’m so stupid, Joe. I’ve just gotten every one of my jobs on the merits, you see, not because I made calls and asked for donations for my local legislator. So it does irk me just a bit to see people who are employed based on who their political sugar daddy is. But if you can explain how political ties qualify someone to be a glorified secretary in a way that actually makes sense, I’ll be all ears.

    A patronage system is indefensible, simply put. If we value competence, a spoils system is an anachronism. And in my book, that makes the party that supports it anachronistic.

    If a party wants to hire the Connected and pay them from its own funds, that’s fine. But my tax dollars should not be going to pay the salaries of a bunch of pals and cronies – and especially not to pay outright political operatives like chiefs of staff and press secretaries. I’m an unaffiliated voter. Why am I paying a bunch of party hacks?

  13. Roland D. Lebay says:

    The only idiot here is the party hack. That would NOT be SW.

  14. Roland D. Lebay says:

    @JConnor-

    Patronage sir, is NOT a dirty word.

    It sure as hell should be a dirty word. Patronage employees displace otherwise qualified candidates who, in an honest system, would be MERIT employees.

    I give you one Michael Harkins as a glaring example. A party hack who took extreme liberties w/ government dollars.

    Have you ever asked yourself why quasi-gov’t agencies like DRBA exist? I’ll give you the answer, since you’re too stupid to figure it out for yourself.

    DRBA and other quasi-governmental agencies exist for two reasons:

    1. To insulate the legislative and executive branches from potential problems.

    2. To provide patronage jobs for party hacks like Joseph P. Connor, Jr.

  15. JConnor says:

    What patronage or ANY Government job have I EVER had you F’n Idiot? We are discussing the General Assembly here. Get your nose out of those dimestore novels and try to follow along…. Oh wait TOO STUPID…. AS@$*&E!

  16. Roland D. Lebay says:

    You were a (poorly) paid shill for KWS. You didn’t have enough pull to get a patronage job, so you settled for a job at Connections, CSP INC. You know, the “pass-through” entity that is rapidly destroying West Center City.

    BTW, work on those reading comprehension skills. I did NOT say you had a patronage job. I said quasi-governmental agencies were created to provide jobs to people LIKE you.

  17. SussexWatcher says:

    Sensitive much, Joe?

  18. JConnor says:

    In other words you are full of crap.This is a discussion of the General Assembly but, I am the President of another agency, in any event NOT government, You have no actual clue of what I do and quite frankly I dont give a rats ass what you think. You have shown yourself to be a third rate pompous blowhard. There is a puddle of Aids calling, idiot!

  19. Roland D. Lebay says:

    In other words, you cannot refute what I said, so you’ll just post a bunch of shit.

    You are the “president” of another agency, yet still need to supplement your income w/ a job at Connections? Bitch, please!

  20. JConnor says:

    You can make all the fabrications and insinuations you wish you are a useless POS there is nothing you said worthy of refutation. I wish you a life in a Mushroom House!

  21. Roland D. Lebay says:

    What did I fabricate?

    BTW, have you ever been inside a mushroom house?

  22. JConnor says:

    I have no obligation wharsover to respond to personal shots at what my employment is or isn’t, particularly to a faceless anynomous POS. Your crap bears no relation to the subject, You have a right to throw bombs from the peanut Gallery. I have the right to ignore them. I lived in Landenberg for a semester in ’71 right next to two houses,,,,,, good night Cretin, tell Roland I said Hi…

  23. Roland D. Lebay says:

    In other words, you have no defense and you refuse to even answer a question that has nothing to do with your employment.

    As for being anonymous and faceless, I’ve repeatedly invited you to cross the street and meet me in person. You’ve repeatedly declined.

  24. Ezra Temko says:

    This could be an amazing year for the legislature if both houses now operate with more openness and respect for each other and for process. I hope that this will happen and that legislators and the public will expect it from our leaders in the senate and the house.

    I’m not sure what the comment about all the speakers being white males was meant to imply (or perhaps it was simply an observation)?

  25. SussexWatcher says:

    “There is a puddle of Aids calling, idiot!”

    Wow.

  26. Guys, these are per diem jobs. 50 days a year at most. You get to Leg Hall around 11 and leave when session is over. You are paid only for the days you work.

    These are jobs that need to be done, but don’t require any kind of advanced skill.

    The D’s will choose D’s, the R’s will choose R’s. Since the D’s run the chamber, the bulk of the jobs will go to D’s. There aren’t that many of them.

    We’re getting way off topic here.

    The ‘white male’ comment merely served to point out that we have not had a femals or minority speaker during the past 30 years. Nor, for that matter, ever.

    My main point, which has gotten buried, is that I hope that collegiality triumphs over intimidation when it comes to how the House is run. I don’t think it’s wise to burn bridges by firing per diem employees b/c you heard that someone may have said something about you. YMMV.

  27. SussexWatcher says:

    “These are jobs that need to be done, but don’t require any kind of advanced skill.”

    Then why doesn’t the GA contract with a temp agency? I would be grateful to anyone who can explain that to me.

    I hardly think it’s off-topic to question why these jobs exist. If they didn’t, this mess would never have happened.

    I know it may be too close to home for some, but it’s a legit question.

  28. Well, it would cost MORE to contract with a temp agency b/c you also have to pay the temp agency commission. Jeez. These per diems don’t get benefits, they’re basically the same as ‘casual and seasonal’ workers.

    And the jobs exist b/c they need to be done.

    What’s off-topic (and tasteless) is the inevitable back-and-forth between JC and whomever. So, from that standpoint, everyone has been warned. Future comments on that will be moderated and, had I been off from work yesterday, portions of this thread WOULD have been moderated.

  29. CrazyDem says:

    I agree with El Somnambulo. The real problem is the way the Speaker Elect has chosen to operate the House by intimidation and retaliation. If all acounts are correct, he was elected by a very narrow margin. He should have been building a consensus caucus – not keep dividing it. Haven’t we learned anything from the 2002 Republican caucus – who started with a 29 to 12 advantage to have only 14 members now. Not only has he hurting the caucus but if what I heard about committee assignments is correct – he is now hurting the public. Representative Kowalko has been the best public advocate on the Sunset Committee. To remove him makes no sense and is clearly retaliation! I laughed when El Somnambulo recommended that the House Republicians vote for someone else. But it is starting to make more sense each and every day that Schwartzdopf is in charge. Dan Short could make the Republican party relevant again in one historic move by voting as a block for another speaker. Based on what has happen over the past few weeks I’m sure that several Dems would join him and send Schwartzdopf packing. If Schwartzdopf is allowed to continue I think that Governor Markell’s agenda will be in trouble.

  30. At this point, we know nothing about committee assignments, and I do not assume anything.

    My piece is/was not designed to tear down Schwartzkopf’s speakership, merely intended to try to strike a cautionary note.

    Assuming he becomes Speaker, we will see his committee choices, and then we can evaluate them.

    I’d suggest that we not get too apocalyptic just yet. After all, the question I raised in the piece has not yet been answered: Was this a rookie mistake or signs of things to come?

  31. JConnor says:

    As to the topic ES I agreee with your assessment. As to moderation it is clear that I am free target practice for personal attack but “warned” when I push back. I don’t see any body else’s employer or in this case alleged employer named with impunity. In each of my posts I brought it back to the thread topic.
    Have a nice day.

  32. SussexWatcher says:

    Then make the jobs casual/seasonal. Then at least they’d be based on qualifications rather than politics.

    I would end by observing that Joe brought his posts back on topic by wishing someone had AIDS. Why he is tolerated here I do not know.

  33. JConnor says:

    SW …. RDL wished it on ME! Read your history!

  34. citydems says:

    In defense of Rep Longhurst, I know from personal experience – she surpervised 40 people in a publicly traded company for a number of years. And she did overall well and was successful in that job- so the cheap shot of the “only thing he has supervised is wrangling volunteers at her Babe Ruth canteen”- is dead wrong. Merry Christmas

  35. John Young says:

    Well citydems, that’s a nice story, much unlike her sicking a poor staffer on me to explain why we named a school after William Oberle and not herself: http://bit.ly/U12ZWa

  36. heragain says:

    Patronage, in this example, makes a ton of sense to me. People take a lot of time out of their lives to run campaigns, meaning many of the most devoted are highly OVER qualified for their day jobs. They can be pretty darn sharp folks. People in temp agencies may be, too… I know lots of under-employed actors who work through them. But if you hire known quantities you know you are giving the people who care about the process more information on what elected officials actually do, as well as more flexibility to people who may do it. Seems like a win for everyone, including the public.

    SW, it’s a team sport. So many things are. Complaining about that is like complaining that your favorite golf buddy isn’t able to play on the UD golf team. If that’s his dream, he’d better get himself enrolled.

    I hope Pete runs this like a friendly business, and not like the Wars of the Roses, E; Som.

  37. PI says:

    One thing that is overlooked in all of this is that until the Hous takes a fll vote on Jan 8, Pete is technically not Speaker. In the Senate, Patty Blvins was not pro tem until the full Senate voted. Until that time, the senior member of the caucus was in charge of the Senate. I believe it works the same in the House. And, technically, no committee assignments can be made.

    ElSom…..you make a lot of good points. Political faithfuls are probably best suited for these jobs. They don’t do them for the money so much as for their love of the political process. As someone who has worked as a per diem, I will contribute that most of us are retired professionals and quite qualified for any of the tasks set before us. I would hazard a guess that many of us are better educated than many of the elected officials.

  38. SussexWatcher says:

    Sorry, but I just don’t see government as a “team sport.” Patronage and paying for party functionaries with taxpayer money just seems the height of inefficiency. If the party wants to reward the faithful, have Daniello and Sigler sign the paychecks, not the State Treasurer.

  39. SussexAnon says:

    “They don’t do them for the money so much as for their love of the political process”

    Yeah, I am sure they got canned because the cared too much.

    Political hire or not, you mouth off to a powerful, influential, soon-to-be-speaker there probably will be consequences. Not sure why that is so hard to understand.

  40. brian says:

    House Committee Assignments are out:

    Dennis E. Williams reward for breaking his word and “flipping” his vote to Pete? …a seat on Bond Bill

  41. Andy says:

    Are the committee assignments on the web somewhere. I did not see them on the GA web site

  42. JPconnorjr says:

    NJ blog has complete list

  43. Some scary stuff here, starting with JFC. Dennis P. Williams and John Mitchell were the two House people you could count on to not give in when Jack Markell would, say, try to cut Medicaid benefits $92/person/ month, or cut scholarship $$’s for Delaware college students. Dennis P. of course, is now Mayor of Wilmington. Mitchell was dumped from the committee. In their stead are Bill ‘Lumpy’ Carson, who is both stupid AND disinterested, and Debra Heffernan, who will have to step up her game big-time. While Melanie George Smith is well-qualified to be JFC co-chair, she is a strong Jack supporter with a judgeship on her mind. I hope that the Senate provides some counterbalance. Otherwise, this Governor’s office could well screw the neediest in Delaware with the acquiescence of the House of Representatives.

    Check out the Sunset Committee appointments. Kowalko is gone, not just as chair, but as a member. The three D’s are Gerald Brady, Stephanie Bolden, and Andria Viola Bennett. The mathematical formula for this is: 3 x 0=0. I mean, Pete couldn’t at least put Paul Baumbach there? One can only conclude that neither Schwartzkopf nor Markell want a functioning Sunset Committee. I wonder why.

    Lumpy Carson will still chair the House Transportation Committee. He will co-chair the Manufactured Housing Committee.

    Oh, and there are 28 members of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. A. Joke.

    Here’s some stuff I liked. John Atkins is on neither the Corrections nor Public Safety committees. I like Mike Barbieri as Health & Human Services Chair; Mike Mulrooney as Labor Chair; Darryl Scott as Chair and Kim Williams as Vice Chair, of the Education Committee; and Kowalko and Trey Paradee as Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively, of the Energy Committee ( I REALLY like that last one).

    I’m psyched that Paul Baumbach will chair the Manufactured Housing Committee. He could well have a significant progressive achievement on his hands if he can get legislation protecting residents of those communities through the House.

    BTW, in what may, or may not, be Schwartzkopf’s idea of a sick joke, he has installed alleged turncoat Dennis E. Williams as Vice-Chair of the House Business Lapdog Committee, chaired by Bryon Short, who fell one vote short to Valerie Longhurst for House Majority Leader.

    Should be an interesting session…

  44. Andy says:

    “Otherwise, this Governor’s office could well screw the neediest in Delaware with the acquiescence of the House of Representatives”

    It has already started with Public Transit I am hearing that there is an 8% gap in the DART Budget for FY 2014. There are talks about possible service cuts

  45. Mike says:

    “As runner up for Speaker, tell her what she’s won!!”

    Helene Keeley gone as chair of Bond Bill and replaced by Q. Johnson.

  46. Thanks for the link to the House assignments.

    Taking Kowalko off of Joint Sunset is whack. What ‘s supposition is whether it was simply giving Pete’s loyal leadership sponsors a seat on a money committee or whether it was an insidious bid to align fully compliant water carriers for the Governor’s agenda.

    The Sunset reviews Public Advocate, Parole Board, Child Care Licensing and SEC this year. John is especially sharp elbows with the Public Advocate’s Deputy Attorney General this year in the Delmarva rate increase proposals before the Public Service Commission. And as a child care small business owner, John’s wife Connie is very active in a group now reviewing the 900 regulation changes proposed for that agency with more to come under the Executive Order 36. Kowalko also worked with Bruce Ennis to hold off the Markell admin. bid to eliminate the Board of Parole until a full vetting could happen in Sunset review.

    Mayor-elect Dennis P. Williams has a key person in the fight over the agency, chairman Dwight Holden, on his transition team – if not yet with a new job at City Hall.

    The link below also may shed light on why Larry Mitchell has been removed from JFC by the new House leadership. Pete’s record of carrying Markell’s water is pretty much impeccable.

    http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20110203/NEWS02/102030352/Delaware-Joint-Finance-Committee-split-Gov-Jack-Markell-s-plan-abolish-parole-board

    “Rep. Dennis P. Williams, D-Wilmington North and JFC chairman, is losing patience with the board, whose relations with Chairman Dwight F. Holden have been so rocky that in late April the board members sought a court order to force him to schedule hearings.

    “As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t made my mind up. You have people suing each other over there. There’s a lot of nonsense going on there. It’s ineffective. It’s embarrassing the state,” Williams said Wednesday during a briefing by budget analysts on the plan to abolish it. Last year, he voted to keep it.

    Elsmere Democrat Rep. John L. “Larry” Mitchell, who also voted last year to keep the board, said he is “not really sure how I’m going to go on this.”

    “The one thing I am sure, I do remember the discussions last year, we’ve all got to remember that the present board that’s sitting right now are very experienced and knowledgeable people who’ve served for a number of years,” Mitchell said. “One of our board members [William C. Pfeifer] is the longest-serving member of any Board of Parole in the country, so we’re really losing a lot of continuity and experience.”

    Delaware abolished parole as part of the Truth in Sentencing Act in 1990, so only inmates sentenced before then are eligible for parole. According to Office of Management and Budget official Brian Maxwell, as of November, there were 247 inmates eligible for parole and 350 parolees under the board’s supervision. The board, whose budget totals $501,000, also handles so-called tier designations for people who were convicted of sex offenses before parole was abolished.

    Markell wants to eliminate the board and split its duties between the Department of Correction and the judiciary. The board’s full-time employees would be given hiring preference for state jobs.”

    /Delaware-budget-Parole-Board-crime-victims-plead-stay

  47. One of the problems with DART is that the money for transit is split between regular bus routes and paratransit.

    The more we have crappy county land use planning with sprawling rural residential development for seniors (Sussex County especially) and the more seniors we attract to live here from NY and NJ for our ‘low, low taxes’, the more paratransit dollars are stripped from regular mass transit to serve the hugely subsidized paratransit routes. In Sussex, those numbers are crazy – a twenty – thirty mile round trip rider is charged two bucks door-to-door.

  48. Ahh trouble in paradise. Jack and Pete were the great guardians of progressivism until they are not. http://www.delawareliberal.net/2011/12/13/bulo%E2%80%99s-2011-top-10-mvps-most-valuable-to-the-progressive-cause/

  49. john kowalko says:

    Actually my wife does not own a daycare. She is the Director of a non-profit daycare run out of the Willa Rd. Universal Unitarian Church and her facility takes a large percentage of poor (purchase of care) kids. The regulations imposed and being imposed are making it nearly impossible for those quality day-cares (like Willa Rd) that focus on low income children so their parents can work to avoid bankruptcy. They also cannot afford to provide benefits to their employees although Willa Rd. pays much more to its wonderful staff than any Walmart. The “STARS” program does not help these struggling and necessary small businesses to survive and puts the most needy families at risk. Safe and healthy day-care environments provided by these smaller day-cares are being squeezed by government over-regulation and government agencies staffed by people who have never had the experiences nor difficulties of keeping small businesses successful. Check out the statistics of how many workers and how much tax revenue from those workers (in the child care field) goes into the state revenue stream and then ask yourself why NO public school is required to be licensed by the Office of Child Care Licensing to operate their day-cares. The fact that Delaware promotes its winning of a federal Early Child Grant as signifying progress could lead one to surmise that the little tidbit of “no licensing requirements” for public school day-cares was not a piece of info provided in the grant application.

  50. Andy says:

    Nancy
    the whole system is hugely subsidized. In accordance with the American’s with Disabilities act both the Para Transit part and the Fixed Route part are tied at the hip.
    You are correct that the influx of seniors moving here is a large impact on service especially downstate.
    Another is the where the state group homes are also built when folks are moved from the various state owned care facilities to these state subsidized group homes.These homes have been built generally off of the beaten path.
    The Para Transit service has been in place as it is currently operated for over 40 years. As the population has grown overall that part of DART has seen rapid expansion.
    We allowed all of the development that you also described and made our state attractive to these folks without any plan in place to satisfy the anticipated transportation needs for these people. We also allowed the Transportation Trust fund to be used as a piggy bank for the few and the priveledged.
    Instead of allowing Tranist to wither and stagnate as it seems to be the Governor’s plan, the state needs to really look into this and come up with a long term transportation solution that includes public transit statewide, both Fixed and Para Transit. As it stands now Transit is considered a necessary evil by the state and this administration.
    We are the only state that provides this level of para transit service to our disabled and senior population and that is some thing we should be proud of. The pressures of fare increases only effects the most disadvantaged and does little to solve the problem.
    Instead of cuts we need solutons or there will be a bigger price down the road as our populaton ages and are less able to use cars

  51. dogbert32 says:

    “I hope that the Senate provides some counterbalance. Otherwise, this Governor’s office could well screw the neediest in Delaware with the acquiescence of the House of Representatives.”

    Well, that seems to be clearly the intent behind Schwartzkopf’s committee assignments, especially the Sunset Committee. I mean, the committee that requires the most intense knowledge of how our system works and how our agencies function, is going to a freshman Representative? It seems like that’s a good way to ensure that nothing will get done. Oh wait, that’s the point.

  52. Thanks for the correction, John.

    As I read it, it turns out that Quinn Johnson owns several day care facilities. I hope he is being as diligent in investigating the potential impact of these new Regulations as Connie et. at.

  53. FWIW, at a Newark Fiscal Cliff forum earlier in the month, I tried to encourage Connie Merlet to run for the opening Newark City Council seat. David Athey is leaving in April. But she told me how busy she was with the group that’s vetting the massive number of regulation changes.

    Markell’s Executive Order 36 is a big deal. I hope everyone is taking an interest in reviewing their agency of pique. The Sierra Club is taking aim at DNREC – public hearings this month. The Civic League for New Castle County is working on the DelDOT recommendations. etc.

  54. Pencadermom says:

    Any daycare, whether it’s a center or home daycare, can take purchase of care children. And many do. How would regulations differ in those places and those that are inside of a school? Or am I missing something? If they don’t have to be licensed by the Child Care Licensing, are they run as part of a school district or what? Regulations for daycares are all about safety, number and age of children per adult, etc. whether they are purchase of care or not. How could they possibly not have to be licensed in some way?

  55. john kowalko says:

    Day-cares in public schools are not currently required to be licensed. Meaning they are not bound by child to caretaker ratios, not required to have minimal facility space (bathroom requirements etc.), not bound by OCCL safety rules, not bound by teacher/provider credentials not obligated by any of the constricting regulations that are applied to privately owned and/or operated child care facilities and the number of regulations and subsets of those regulations numbers over 1100 and 915 of those are being proposed to have changes made to them. It is not accurate that all of these regulations are “ALL” about safety, ratios etc. This is the type of over-exuberance that will doom an industry that for the most part is run safely, effectively and with the best interest of the children as their primary concern. No one is advocating weakening requirements that ensure the health, safety and welfare of children but overbearing regulatory agencies can and do harm these private entities while having absolutely no say in those businesses funded with taxpayer dollars. Hence the very real importance of the Joint Sunset review and legislation to require licensing of childcare in public schools.

  56. Pencadermom says:

    Wow, I can’t believe they aren’t already. I’m not sure how much regulation strengthens safety or welfare in many centers anyway. I worked in some, visited others, and ran one, and I will tell you, MOST of the ones I had contact with, I wouldn’t send my worst enemies child to.. and the biggest problem was, that inspectors ALWAYS called before doing an inspection. I asked them why and was told they were too short staffed to do surprise inspections, just in case the center or home was not open that day, they would not be able to check it off from their ‘to do’ list. Many centers and homes can’t run on purchase-of-care alone, it doesn’t pay enough. sad

  57. SussexWatcher says:

    Interesting how an agency is overbearing once one has a personal connection. I’d guess that the spouse of a Delmarva Power exec probably feels that Kowalko is overbearing, too.

    Hypocritical much?

  58. john kowalko says:

    Not at all. Understand reality much?

  59. Pencadermom says:

    I would be curious to know what kind of regulations they have that you think are not needed. I can’t think of a kind of business that should be watched and guided more carefully than where we leave our children all day every day.
    Do the daycares in schools fall under the schools rules? They have to follow some kind of rule. Does the daycare your wife manages take younger kids than preschool age? That might be the difference in regulation? (the younger the kid, the more rules kind of thing maybe)

  60. Dave says:

    “We allowed all of the development that you also described and made our state attractive to these folks without any plan in place to satisfy the anticipated transportation needs for these people. ”

    Of course, for some people, like me (who were attracted to Delaware, where I expect to one day become fertilizer) recognized that I was moving to a fairly rural area (Sussex) and even though there was a paratransit capability, my more important criteria was whether there was taxi service. Part of the my planning was to envision life at a point in time when I could no longer drive. So to me taxi service was a critical factor and whether I had the resources necessary to be able to manage life without driving.

    I tried to get my father to do the same thing (envision life and it’s changes as he ages), starting about 15 years ago. But nope, he wasn’t having none of it. He was the smart one though because now at stage two dementia, he no longer really has to worry about it. My mom does and his children do.

    Those who move to Delaware later in life should have some plan for their later needs that give them ability to control their lives without depending on a service like paratransit, which cannot keep pace with the demand. Fortunately Delaware does have things like half price taxi service for seniors. But the point is, Delaware cannot afford an ever exanding paratransit. There are simply not enough resources to meet all competing needs.

  61. Andy says:

    The Para Transit service transports many people with a variety of disabilities who still have family as their primary caregivers giving those family members the ability to work.
    However the point is not to focus on the Para Transit service but on Public Transit as a whole throughout the state.
    The continued building of new roads and the expansion of the present ones is unsustainable

  62. Dave says:

    Andy, I don’t disagree, but transit programs must be sustainable as well. It remains an economic equation of not just how much we need or want to do, but how much can we afford.

  63. 73Gremlin says:

    Andy, Paratransit costs are soaring, and we need to take a hard look at it, and ask ourselves what level of service are the taxpayers of Delaware willing to fund.

    How many other states provide lifetime, door-to-door service for just a few dollars, just because a person is disabled? What do other states do?

    I don’t have any answers, but I know we owe it our neighbors to take a look at para transit.

  64. JConnor says:

    “Just because a person is disabled” Let’s put them in pens a feed them once a week…..You are an insensitive POS

  65. 73Gremlin says:

    JP, you’re right — That sentence of mine seemed a bit harsh. Being disabled is awful, and I work hard in my personal life to help those who are not as fortunate as myself.

    My father was in a wheelchair, couldn’t drive, but he lived in another state It never occurred to us that we should expect the state to provide him door-to-door transportation. Why is it so different in Delaware?

  66. JConnor says:

    So we should go to the lowest commmon denominator of help for the disabled? Did it occour to you that there is a corresponding economic benefit of assisting in providing a level of independence?

  67. Roland D. Lebay says:

    @Andy-
    The continued building of new roads and the expansion of the present ones is unsustainable.

    How else would you handle population growth? These people (able bodied or otherwise) need to get around. Reliable local rail service disappeared decades ago, so roads are pretty much the only thing we have left.

  68. Roland D. Lebay says:

    @JConnor-
    ““Just because a person is disabled” Let’s put them in pens a feed them once a week…..You are an insensitive POS”

    And you lack reading comprehension skills, even AFTER the point was clarified. YOU are an overly sensitive “man”.

  69. Roland D. Lebay says:

    “Let’s put them in pens a feed them once a week”

    Says the man who works for a company who:

    A) Turned the BSA DelMarVa Council’s building into something akin to a prison.

    B) Turned a former parking lot into the 8th St. “Human Zoo”, replete w/ occasional Disc Jockey service to keep the human animals amused.

    C) Earns a PROFIT on the backs of the downtrodden who collect gov’t checks.

    Are you fucking kidding me?

  70. JConnor says:

    And your distortion, false information and bile have exactly what to do with paratransit? Sorry you hate your neighbors so much.

  71. Roland D. Lebay says:

    My comments have nothing to do w/ paratransit. Nor did yours.

    Please explain exactly what I have distorted and what false information I’ve posted. I’ll own the bile. I’ve earned it.

  72. JConnor says:

    To the good folks that run this party: I will no longer interact with or answer in any way RDL. I would appreciate that this his references to my alleged employment other personal references be moderated, Thank you

  73. cassandra_m says:

    If you stop interacting or answering RDL, he wouldn’t have the opportunity to reference alleged employment that you’ve already “alleged”. Asking for moderation isn’t a solution for your need to have the last word.

    Everybody on this thread needs to chill and get back to the topic at hand.

  74. JConnor says:

    Pardon me? I have NEVER discussed my private Employment here. As you share a hatred for the same folks ( human animals) RDL hates you are hardly impartial. I will not deal with the guy further on that you can make book. Enjoy your day.

  75. cassandra_m says:

    There’s no hatred for the “same folks”, even though I will acknowledge that you need to believe that and that is the current party line. But I have no claim to impartiality. Just pointing out that you get what you deserve. Don’t let the door hit ya, and all that.

  76. JConnor says:

    Do you remember any of the things you have said? It seemsyou do. I actually give you credit for owning it and will withdraw hate from my comment.

  77. cassandra_m says:

    I sure do remember. And have said similar words directly to your “management”. It isn’t about the “folks”, it is about the folks profiting from them. Although I’ll stipulate this bit of reality won’t jive with the victimization narrative currently in vogue.

  78. SussexWatcher says:

    Joe Connor: “I have NEVER discussed my private Employment here.”

    Really?

    Not to excuse RLB, but, um … you’re wrong.


    Comment by jpconnorjr on 4 November 2011 at 1:50 pm:

    Our Agency “The Addictions Coalition of Delaware” distributes and will publish a Wilmington edition starting Jan 1,2012 of the Homeless Newspaper “One Step Away” Our vendors have been working in Wilmington for just about a year. Our November Philly edition just hit the street and the lead article is about the relationship between the Homeless and Occupy.
    http://www.streetnewsservice.org/news/2011/october/feed-303/homeless-find-home-at-%27occupy-philly%27.aspx
    This story has been picked up nationally and gone viral
    We will be at thePark tomorrow as will some of our vendors. We expect that our homeless friends will be made welcome and given an opportunity as they are at the bottom of the 99% or as they have been dubbed the “Last 1%”

    http://www.delawareliberal.net/2011/11/03/time-for-markell-to-step-up/#comment-253247

  79. Final warning. The topic of this post is “Memo to Pete Schwartzkopf: You’re Not Speaker Yet.”

    Get back on topic, or get out.

    And, please, no comments about how you’re on topic. You’re not.

    And no comments about how you didn’t start it, and are the victim here.

    The only victims are those interested in the topic of the thread.

  80. Dave says:

    Well paratransit service needs roads, so…But the point is, we have to balance the need with the resources. And we need the cooperation of those who are the recipients of the services to provide those services in an effective and efficient manner.

    I would advocate a broader approach that includes location of the receipents, timing of services, coordination of destinations, etc. The current model of wherever you live, to wherever you want to go, whenever you want to go, cannot be sustatined in the long term as the numbers of recipients increase.

  81. I have been talking to DART and with people involved with housing and disabilities for years about efforts to make sure new special needs housing is on bus routes. The local buses all accomodate wheelchairs now.

    The DE State Housing Authority told me that they give ‘weight’ or ‘points’ to builders’ proposals on existing regular routes – for housing that uses state funds anyway.

    The most idiotic and one of the most corrupt tweaks to the code coming out of the Coons-Clark era in NCC governance was removing mass transit as a stipulation for properties with ST (Suburban Transition) zoning.

    ST zoning offers an increase in density allowance – obviously making sense to put it on transit routes.

    The currently popularity of ST re-zoning requests are the mainstay for developers to get more profit from a parcel by the doubling of density – even if it is out in the southernmost rural ag communities and in no way shape or form a transition from urban to suburban as the zoning title suggests.

    Workforce Housing Ordinance also was stripped of a recommended requirement that it be situated near transit routes.

    Greedy land owners (Farm Bureau) and developers’/ attorneys (Mrs. Paul Clark) had designs on building their ‘cities’ below the canal and couldn’t be bothered with matching density bonuses with bus or rail. Sussex doesn’t even have decent zoning classification or any professional land use planners.

  82. Andy says:

    The problem has been that DELDOT funding for years has been basically a piggy bank for the well connected. Through this type of management the Transportation Trust Fund is now having problems sustaining DELDOT. Rail was spoken of. Delaware has the track and the right of ways for rail downstate. The bottom line is that Public Transit has to be a major part of the transportation solution not a necessary evil has it has been in the past and continues to be under this Governor.
    There is hardly any transit below RT 40 to speak of and that is one of the main reasons for the explosive growth in use of the para transit service. Rt 13 in Dover and the roads in Eastern Sussex now resemble the roads in New Castle County with rush hour traffic. DART shuts down in Kent COunty at 6 PM and there are only 3 routes to cover all of Sussex County that run similar hours.
    With the continued rise in the price of gasoline and increase in traffic gridlock in the state, the state owes it to its citizens to rethink their transportation priorities to a model that is much more cost efficient in the long run.
    Delaware’s Transportation model is from the 1950’s. THe developers build where ever and the state gives them a road and other infastructure. This can not continue.

  83. Andy says:

    Senator Townsend just posted his Senate Committee assignments on Face Book. Does anyone have a list of the full slate of assignments?

  84. Sussex DE says:

    Pete takes actions before thinking? Surprise. Where is the talent?