No pre-game show today b/c we previewed today’s committee meetings yesterday. Right here.
But yesterday was a notable day in a few respects. Almost all good, at least by my definition of ‘good’.
Accordingly, I hereby dedicate today’s column to goodness. (Author’s note: When I started this piece, ‘goodness’ was on my mind. As you’ll notice, ‘badness’ returned before I could fully revel in the goodness. Maybe next time…)
Delaware now has a proposal to eliminate the death penalty for capital crimes. I support it. In the past, I have been an agnostic when it came to the issue of the death penalty. But when I saw Thomas Capano, who carried out one of the most vile and grisly homicides/cover-ups in Delaware history, escape the death penalty (though not death) through legal legerdemain, my decision was made for me. The Tom Capanos of this world don’t get the death penalty. Therefore, those with less influence shouldn’t, either. Any death penalty statute should be administered equally, not on the basis of the (lack of) legal resources that one has at their disposal, IMHO. It’s not, it never has been, and it should go.
I note that police of virtually all stripes have aligned in near-unanimity in opposition. Need I remind you or them that, thanks to DNA projects all over this country, death row inhabitants are being cleared of homicide convictions, often caused by ‘thin blue line’ corruption and/or ineptitude? Yeah, yeah, I know, not in Delaware. Really? How can you be certain?
This is a courageous stand by the sponsors. In case you haven’t noticed, police are a potent political force in this state. Legislators, in general, prefer to take the path of least political resistance. They haven’t done that here, and I thank them. By name: Senators Peterson, Simpson, McDowell, Bushweller, Henry, Sokola, and Townsend; Reps. Scott, Miro, Barbieri, Baumbach, Keeley, Potter, M. Smith, Williams, Kowalko, B. Short. Thank you.
Once again, Legislative Council appears to have been caught unaware by the General Assembly’s return. So, if you want to know what happened in Dover on January 24, just go to the General Assembly’s website and click on ‘Current Day’s Action’. Awful, just awful. I hope the new General Assembly leadership takes a close look at the ineptitude and cronyism that has long dominated the so-called ‘information’ arm of the legislature.
Such ineptitude can’t stop your intrepid chronicler of goodness, however. The House passed HB 10 (Keeley) by a vote of 32-9. If I told you that only one D opposed the bill, you’d immediately know who it was, right? HB 10 restores voting rights to convicted felons by eliminating a 5-year waiting period. Keep in mind that the felon would have to have satisfied all obligations of their sentence, including restitution before their voting rights would be restored. So, it’s not (apologies in advance) a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. Special props to the following R’s who voted yes: Reps. Blakey, Hudson, Miro, Outten, Ramone, and Spiegelman.
It’s probable that more goodness surfaced in the form of new legislation. I’ll just have to wait for Legislative Council to turn their clocks up two months before discovering what it was.
In less good news, Gov. Markell announced that he has no intention to honor a request for $20 million to fund improvements at the Port of Wilmington. He says that he’d just have to take the money from somewhere else, and he doesn’t intend to do that. (Translation: He had no fallback position if he couldn’t ramrod the Kinder Morgan deal through.) He also took blame for the collapse of negotiations, and then once again proceeded to shift the blame onto Julius Cephas. Don’t take it from me, judge for yourself from today’s News-Journal story:
DOVER — Gov. Jack Markell said Tuesday he takes responsibility for the collapse of a deal to lease the Port of Wilmington to a private company, and he has no plans to ask lawmakers to give the port $20 million that officials requested if the deal fell through.“I’d have to take money away from something else and I’m certainly not prepared to,” Markell said at a meeting with reporters hours after the General Assembly returned to continue the session. “That’s not the financial ability we have right now.” (Author’s comment: Bullshit.)
Markell, who declined to discuss the collapse of the port deal last week when Kinder Morgan executives announced they were suspending negotiations, said he agreed with the company’s assertion that it was placed in an impossible situation by the leaders of the International Longshoremen’s Union.“The workers at the port said they were not going to negotiate without having legislators in the room. That’s just not the way this is done,” Markell said. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
So tell me, just what is he taking the blame for? And, while he takes the blame, why is he determined to double-down by starving the Port?
Perhaps with his mind freed from worrying about the Port deal, Markell can decide where he really stands on issues like an increase in the minimum wage and the death penalty, things that most governors have probably thought about. Here’s the death penalty quote from the News-Journal:
Gov. Jack Markell, unlike Maryland’s Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley who has lent strong support to the repeal effort in his state, would not take a position on the bill when asked recently.
Does that mean that he doesn’t have a position, or that he doesn’t want to take a position until he calculates the political repercussions of taking a position? And is it plausible for someone who prides himself on being such a public policy guy to never have evolved a position on such a prominent issue? Increasingly, the question becomes, “Does it really matter?”
No. The answer is that it’s just the real Jack Markell. Only Ruth Ann Minner prevents him from being the most disappointing Governor in Delaware history.