General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Weds. June 12, 2013

Filed in Delaware by on June 12, 2013

Let us circle June 11, 2013 on the calendar. It will go down as a day when public schools were dealt yet another blow at the hands of greed and silence. The Governor’s greedy desire to rise above his station, D’s and R’s alike greedy desire to get their hands on funds they shouldn’t have, the press’ unwillingness to function as journalists instead of lapdogs; a conspiracy of silence that rippled through the Delaware Way, leaving only the have-nots behind (admittedly, that’s a dog-bites-man story in Jack Markell’s Delaware). Here’s the roll call on the charter schools money grab, if you have the heart.

Oh, and if anyone thinks that $5 mill is the end instead of the beginning, well, you’re not thinking. So, Markell will get his Race to the Top filthy lucre and his imaginary presidential street cred, Charlie Copeland (!) will parlay his family’s expertise in bankruptcies into running a hy-ooge city charter. A Tower Hill grad who inherited his fortune will be one of the largest players in Delaware education. In the inner city. I mean, has anybody with any say-so over who gets to run a charter ever read Dissolute Recrimination?

The politicians who supported this railroad job (deliberations in private, rushed through in a week and a half) opted to serve themselves instead of the majority of their constituents. The least they could do is let everyone in on the details of the deals. A very dark day for public education in Delaware.  And a black mark on the Delaware General Assembly that won’t be easily removed. Jack Markell is now officially dead to me.

More Delaware Way BS over on the Senate side. Ironically, what we were joking about on the Al Show yesterday actually happened in Real Life.  We were talking about the ‘vital compromise’ that would enable VFW’s and American Legions to shed their decades-long scofflaw status and to have slot machines  video lotteries in their buildings. So that they can push ahead with their vast ‘charitable’ enterprises. Well, Sen. Nicole Poore wanted to expand this privilege to other fraternal organizations, just as Al and I had discussed, we thought, in jest. This, of course, outraged the initial set of scofflaws to no end. The Doug Dennison News-Journal story (which I can’t link b/c, even though I subscribe to the dead trees edition, the News-Journal still cuts off my views b/c they Have No Clue) includes this priceless quote from American Legion guy Jeff Crouser:

“We did not want this to expand and envelope everything. Where were (the other fraternal groups) when we were negotiating with the state in good faith?”

Outrage from a serial scofflaw. ‘Good faith negotiating’ from serial scofflaws. Ya gotta love it. What the story does not mention is whether these newly-added groups were also breaking the law, or whether they’ve just had a brand new source of revenue dropped into their laps. I’d like to know.  Dog Bites Man: Racino owners are pissed off. Nobody cares.

Another classic quote from a Mealy-Mouthed Markell Minion:

“The Administration still supports this bill as amended because of the desire to help organizations that do charitable work.”

Has nothing to do with Jack wanting to run for Prez as “The All-Veterans All the Time” Governor. Beginning to detect a theme here? Here’s the vote on Poore’s amendment, and here’s the vote on SB 112(Bushweller).

In one other vote of note, the House passed HB 146(Bolden), which would add an additional $25 charge to those convicted of criminal offenses within the City of Wilmington. Legislation like this would have been DOA in previous sessions, as old-time legislators had a plantation mentality when it came to their meddling in what Wilmington could and could not do. For that reason alone, I salute its passage.

Here’s yesterday’s Session Activity Report.

A brief pause while El Somnambulo takes a deep breath…

Today is the last regularly-scheduled committee day in the House. Loads of bills in both House and Senate committees. Time for a Beckett quote (Samuel, not Sir Thomas): “I can’t go on. I MUST go on.”

Senate committee highlights:

John Kowalko’s ‘revolving legislators/lobbyists’ bill is in today’s Senate Executive Committee. I think it’s got a good chance of passing.

Didn’t take long to find yet another attempt to shut the public out of the public’s business. Didja know that we have something called a Special Law Enforcement Assistance Fund (SLEAF), and that law enforcement agencies can seek such funding? Didja know that the AG, the Director of Office, Management and the Budget, and the Controller General decide who gets such funds? Public agencies applying to public officials for public funding. Now check out SB 72(B. Ennis). If you read only one bill synopsis today, read this one:

This Bill expands the purpose of the Special Law Enforcement Assistance Fund so that law-enforcement agencies can obtain and devote resources to enhance the suppression, investigation and prosecution of criminal activity, promote officer safety, facilitate the training of law enforcement personnel, further public education and community awareness and improve victim services. In addition, the Bill creates an advisory committee to advise the Attorney General in approving applications for funding and allocating resources. No funds may be disbursed in respect of applications approved by the Attorney General without the concurrence of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Controller General. Finally, the Bill makes clear that the SLEAF Committee shall not be deemed a public body as defined in or otherwise subject to the open meeting provisions of Chapter 100 of Title 29 of the Delaware Code.

First of all, the General Assembly allocates lots of resources directly to agencies for the same purposes that this fund would be used for. And now, we are creating via legislation a new advisory body that is going to be exempt from FOIA? No wonder the AG tiptoed around the Charter Markell’s Cartel’s ignoring of FOIA. He wants to do it himself.  And you can be sure that he’ll be the one touring these local police agencies bearing checks, campaign photographers in tow.  In today’s Senate Finance Committee. For reasons that escape me, no fiscal note is required.

I support SB 56 and SB 57(Hall-Long), which would provide urgent and preventative dental care to certain Delaware Medicaid recipients. In today’s Senate Health & Social Services Committee.  Also in this committee, an interesting bill from my state senator, Cathy Cloutier. SB 116 ‘s synopsis is more an argument for the bill than a synopsis, but I think it’s a damn good bill:

No person who suffers an alcohol or drug overdose or other life threatening condition should die because of fear of criminal charges. It is within Delaware’s best interests to encourage reporting dangerous situations where they occur as not only does it save lives, but it also allows those persons saved to seek the treatment and assistance needed to regain a healthy lifestyle and be productive citizens and neighbors. This Act shall be known as the Kristen L. Jackson & John M. Perkins, Jr. Law. On January 31, 2012 Kristen L. Jackson passed away at the age of 23 years old. On May 5, 2011, John M. Perkins, Jr. passed away at the age of 30 years old. If the Good Samaritan 911 Law had been in effect the outcome may have been different. We hope in passing this law that it will save other parents from the pain their parents have endured.

SB’s 101 and 102 (Sokola) seek to assist victims of digital data breaches, defined here as:

A ‘digital data breach’ occurs when a person or entity intentionally, recklessly, or negligently and without express authorization from the affected individual to do so makes or causes to be made a display, use, disclosure or copy, in any form of an individual’s digital personal information.

Good stuff. Hmmm, wonder how the NSA feels about this. In today’s Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 117(McBride) would add Delaware to a compact that is “aimed at preventing lawbreakers who have lost their hunting, fishing, and/or trapping privileges in one state due to egregious crimes, such as poaching against wildlife or fisheries resources, from carrying out those activities in other states.” 39 other states already belong to the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. In the Senate Natural Resources & Environmental Control Committee.

Holy bleep! Almost 1400 words in, and I still haven’t tackled the House committee meetings. Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop drinking bourbon before noon…

Boy, they sure waited until late in session to introduce HB 162(B. Short), which would bring Delaware into compliance with the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Wonder how many Rethugs will vote no b/c, you know, Obamacare. In today’s Business Lapdog Committee.

SB 27(Sokola) encountered some pushback in the Senate. 6 no votes, including D’s McDowell and Townsend. The bill “would authorize the Department of Education, pending available funds, to offer competitive two year start-up grants to public schools for the purpose of developing new programs for students capable of performing accelerated academic work.” In the House Education Committee.

Time for the annual death knell for casino expansion in Delaware. HB 135(D. E. Williams) will be considered in today’s Gaming and Parimutuels Committee.

I like HB 178(Barbieri) because it removes a ridiculous barrier to physician licensure in Delaware. Specifically it eliminates a requirement “that applicants for licensure as medical doctors undergo a personal interview by a Board member as a prerequisite to obtaining licensure”.  These kind of obstacles were typical of many licensing agencies in Delaware. If you weren’t related to somebody or didn’t know somebody who was powerful within a particular profession (or, in the case of the building trades, if you weren’t the right ethnicity or didn’t possess the requisite skin color), you didn’t get licensed. I’m frankly surprised that this one is still around. In the House Health & Human Development Committee.

I would hope and assume that SB 55(Townsend) makes it out of the House House Administration Committee today, but, considering recent heavy-handed tactics by House leadership, I’m a bit worried. Probably just paranoia on my part.

Some bill synopses just make you say, ‘Bullshit’. Here’s one:

This bill continues the process of updating the Liquor Control Act to make it more modern and consumer-friendly. Section 1 and 2 allow package stores to open at 8:00 a.m., instead of 9:00 a.m. on days other than Sundays. Section 3 allows package stores to open at 11:00 a.m. on Sundays instead of noon. All of these changes reflect consumer demand for more convenient shopping hours.

If you substitute the words ‘Total Wines’ for ‘consumers’, the synopsis would approximate the truth. Anyway, HB 156(Walker) will likely move through quickly. And the lobbyists writing out checks will not be ‘consumers’ in the traditional sense.  (Of course, if I hadn’t given up drinking bourbon before noon, I might feel differently.)

HB 71(Ramone) ‘makes it unlawful for a minor to possess or use a tobacco product.’ Uh, good luck enforcing that one. In House Judiciary Committee, where it should stay.

Yay! A respite from ‘teh stupid’. The Manufactured Housing Committee indeed will consider SS1/SB 33(B. Ennis) today. It got 17 votes in the Senate. Can the Forces of Evil once again thwart the public good? Time to head to your favorite mode of communication and…communicate with your representatives.

HB 155(Miro) prohibits “the use of a wearable computer with a head-mounted display while driving”. In today’s Public Safety/Homeland Security Committee.

More special interest legislation for veterans. In the Revenue & Finance Committee.

Whew, we’re done. What’s that? We’re not? There’s a what? Senate Agenda? Well, I got your Senate agenda right here (points to nether region)!  Sorry, I get a bit surly at times.

Let’s see…State giving away land to Smyrna. Can we at least specify that (a) Smyrna can’t use the land to set up yet another speed trap; and (b)  Smyrna can’t turn around and sell this parcel to someone with political connections? Didn’t think so. SB 12(Henry) creates yet another set of ‘victims more important than you’; and HB 116(Viola) helps out the racinos who can’t make a go of it with racing. Oh, and a bill written by the telecoms for the telecoms. This bill reduces PSC oversight of the industry, which was close to non-existent to begin with.

That pretty much defines a typical legislative agenda.

It also pretty much defines why I need a drink.

To paraphrase Rep. Lumpy Carson: “It’s noon somewhere.”



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  1. Mike O. says:

    When do we start calling it corruption?

  2. You just did. Can’t say that I disagree with you.

  3. Mike O. says:

    SB 27(Sokola) encountered some pushback in the Senate. 6 no votes, including D’s McDowell and Townsend. The bill “would authorize the Department of Education, pending available funds, to offer competitive two year start-up grants to public schools for the purpose of developing new programs for students capable of performing accelerated academic work.” In the House Education Committee.

    What in God’s name is the rationale for opposing this one? This is exactly what we need to make public schools competitive with the best charters. Public schools actually have a program called AVID (which I need to post about someday) designed to move kids into honors-level work. Don’t we want there to be honors programs for them to move to? Let’s see how these 6 self-identified enemies of public education vote on HB 165.

  4. kavips says:

    instead of corruption, Copeluption.?

  5. I totally missed the out-of-range-of-FOIA-AND-Fiscal Note AG-Exec. cops slush fund committee. That is some nasty nasty.

    On the nos for SB 27, Bryan Townsend is a circumspect kind of guy so I will be curious as to his vote’s rationale.

    And Mike O., I can’t quite tell if you’re assuming that our oh so very “public” Charter Schools aren’t in the running for these competing funds under SB 27. I’ll read the bill but I doubt a bill from Senator Sokola would leave Charters behind.

  6. Citizen says:

    Good catch, Nancy. Little chance Sen Sokola is standing up for district schools and Bryan T. is opposed. You’re probably right.

  7. Citizen says:

    kavips connects some dots here that weren’t clear to me before–reactions?

  8. john kowalko says:

    Mike O.
    Here is a letter from my wife (a former Christina School Board member and “Gifted Talented” program coordinator for Christina) which mirrors many but not all of my concerns with establishing a competition for limited funding in place of restoring adequate funding. Much like the Charter School aberration passed yesterday.
    John K.

    Subject: Opposition to SB 27
    The exact same Bill as SB27 (HB 46) met strong and valid opposition in the House Education Committee last week and failed to get released. I imagine that this is no more than an end run around the well thought out opposition to this bill in the House.
    I will be posting a letter presented to the House Education Comm. expressing reasons to oppose this poorly thought out “competitive grant” (the rich get richer and finite money is not available for the needy think RTTT)
    Here’s the letter.
    I am asking that you do not support the most recent bill concerning competitive grants for gifted education. Brandywine’s gifted program has undergone several manifestations over the last ten years because of the original acceptance into the program by means of a very subjective placement test. I knew quite a bit about the inadequacies of the test when I was in a daycare in Wilmington and many of my parents over the years had their children take this test.
    However, this bill has several inadequacies which could result both in the same kind of issues happening on a statewide level, but also illustrates what has happened to gifted education in Delaware and why.
    Rep. Scott, as an ex- school board member, I’m sure you are familiar with much of what I say.
    Many years ago, when my daughter was in elementary school, gifted education through the districts was accommodated by a line item in the district budgets. Later- maybe 1998 or 2000?- this was eliminated and districts used the Academic Excellence Units to pay for their gifted teachers. (Districts were awarded excellence units based on student population and they could be used to hire teachers or turned in for “cash” allowing districts to either buy teachers for specific programs or buy a specific program.) While parents of gifted children weren’t always pleased with this, as districts prioritized their excellence units for what they considered necessary, at least there was some method for districts to afford special teachers and special programs.
    However, in 2009, EVEN AS THE STATE HAS STRESSED DISTRICT FLEXIBILITY in financial matters, excellence units were eliminated from the school budgets, almost eliminating any kind of real flexibility. This has caused countless problems- evidenced most recently in the loss of reading teachers from the budget and districts inability to maintain them through EUs.
    I was acutely aware of how my district used EUs as I was head of the gifted/talented program in Christina for two years- when we hired 18 certified G/T teachers and introduced the Schoolwide Enrichment Model to Delaware as the prime method for reaching talent in our schools. SEM offered services to 20% of the populations in EVERY elementary school in the district, and a six week program for all students in the building. This is a program that has been impossible to continue under the reduced funding districts currently receive.
    I could go on and on about the disadvantages and fallacies of competitive grants in public education. It always hurts more than it helps. It is just wrong for children in schools where we are pledging to help ALL children, and offer ALL children an equal advantage. Most important for you as legislators to realize, however, is that it is unnecessary. Districts have been asking for, and offering, ways to fund educational needs. This bill is going to be jumped on by parents and others who feel that this will be the quick fix to solve the G/T problem, and finally get some money for their children. And parents have a justified claim- there should be money for G/T education. The bill, however, should be focused towards ALL districts, and should be addressed in Joint Finance or the Bond committee.
    I have attached an article and the study behind it concerning US student test scores. As the leading members of the Education committee I hope you will read these and ask your colleagues in the education committee to do the same. It is time we stopped bashing our education system and started realizing it’s not all that bad. We do ourselves no favors- and I am speaking specifically of Delaware right now- by expressing to the world that our schools and our teachers are in such dire need of improvement. It is simply not true. We have now and we have always had great public education in Delaware. We all sent our children to these schools, didn’t we? Certainly my children are shining examples of what the Christina schools have been able to do!
    The announcement this morning of Astra Zeneca moving workers out of Delaware I firmly believe highlights the problem of negative advertising on our school systems. If we insist that our district, our teachers, even our colleges need to be restructured or taken over on a continual basis- and that is exactly what has happened over the last 5 years, why would companies want to locate here? No amount of financial bribery will suffice.
    We need to give our schools what they say they need and start telling the world how great they are. The statistics are there. Please read the reports. For far too long leadership has been relying on insufficient and skewed data. The truth is that top students do well, and poor students are improving faster than those in other countries (and the US enrolls and tests a much higher percentage of children in poverty than most other countries in the PISA). Reading is competitive word-wide. Math in the US is competitive with math in European countries and while it is doesn’t equal Korea, the emphasis on language literacy in the US puts it at a natural linguistic disadvantage with Asian languages.
    While we should always work to improve, we should be proud of our academic accomplishments (compare Nobel Prizes) not by continuing the failed practice of competitive grants but by providing districts with a solid financial structure to do the job they know how to do.
    Thank you for reading this. I know it is long- but you guys are among the elite readers in the world!
    Connie Merlet
    14 Kells Ave
    Newark DE 19711

  9. Black Cobain says:

    SB27 sound pretty good, however the fact that the funds will be going directly from DOE to the schools rather than from the school districts to the schools, leads me to believe that it would include charter schools. You guys must have missed the Governor’s memo, Charter Schools are public schools.

  10. Black Cobain says:

    Touche… Since when did competitive grants become the answer. So kids at schools that don’t getthe grants are what?… Losers?

  11. Mike O. says:

    Thanks John. If there is equitable distribution, then I don’t mind if some goes to charters. But if it is competitive, I am sure somehow the scale will be tilted toward charters. I should have read the bill. So I retract my earlier outburst and now oppose the bill unless it is amended. Thanks to you and your wife for the explanation.

  12. Citizen says:

    I’ve taken a stab at a letter for senators–use, revise, scrap as you see fit. But do contact our senators–it’s easy to email all 21 of them!!

    “HB 165, soon to reach the senate, has several flaws that should be remedied in order to ensure equitable public school opportunities for all Delaware children.

    1. The amended language about nutritional assistance remains inadequate (HA 3). It is unclear what would legally constitute “breakfast” or “lunch” provision, also whether this must be available every school day. However, the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program clearly stipulate daily nutritional requirements for each meal, and costs for the “reduced” price.

    Please amend lines 24-26 to specify that charter schools must comply with the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program’s nutritional standards and other requirements. This will ensure that low-income children are equally well served by charter and other public schools.

    2. Line 117 should be amended so that the required impact study can be sufficient grounds for disapproving an application to establish or expand a charter school. Without this change, the impact study is of little value. Conducting an impact study should be at the discretion of the district in which the charter will be located; and once conducted, the study must be considered regardless of the percent increase or timeline of expansion (lines 105 & 110). Note that Newark Charter used lines 105 & 110 to avoid an impact study, by proposing annual growth of 14.5% over four years.

    3. The new provision of minor capital funding for charter schools amounts to taxpayer support of a private investment. This is poor policy and irresponsible governance. It should be eliminated. Alternately, amend it to ensure repayment to taxpayers if a charter school leaves its renovated facility (e.g. via a lien on the property).

    4. Line 82: at a minimum, the Performance Fund should be available only to “high-quality” charters that ALSO serve low-income, ELL and special needs students in proportion to the presence of such students within the charter school’s enrollment area. Without this stipulation, the state will reward charter schools that have enrolled only low-risk students, due to the weaknesses of Delaware’s current charter code.

    However, the Performance Fund appears to offer special state provisions to charter school students at a time when district students are increasingly underserved as a result of budget cuts; this is very hard to justify.

    5. Line 326: the ten-year renewal option for “high-performing” charters is ill-advised. There is well-documented evidence that some Delaware charters achieve strong results by underenrolling low-scoring students, particularly low-income children (see the attached analysis). Public charter schools need to be closely overseen by their authorizing authority to guard against this—once every ten years is too little oversight.

    The goal of the above changes is to make Delaware’s charter schools an asset to the state’s landscape of public education choices, and to prevent charters from weakening district schools—which the vast majority of Delaware students attend.”

  13. SS1/SB 33 has made it out of House committee. If you haven’t done so, contact your state reps.

  14. Mike O. says:

    For HB 165, as weak as the new school evaluation is, it is even weaker at renewal. Which is exactly when you would want to evaluate impact, or diversity. Oops, there is no diversity requirement in the bill – never mind.

    Reminds me of when NCS wanted to expand, and was shocked – shocked! to find their school had somehow ended up with fewer low-income students than the neighborhood they drew from. And the state responded with the Lowery Doctrine.

  15. kavips says:

    lol to John Kowalko:

    I thought we were the elite readers of the world.

  16. Anon says:

    This type of underhanded secretive corruptions is a pattern of behavior by the Markell Administration. At the same time they are gutting education, they are also spending your tax dollars to hire outside Attorney’s to try and cover up the gutting of the State’s Coastal Zone Act.

    Markell and O’Mara know they ignored, if not out right violated, Delaware’s environmental laws at the expense of Delaware’s Environment. This corruption is a very RuthAnn Miner-esk activity, but on steriods.

    It is clear that the Attorney General told them their actions were illegal, so now they are trying to get an outside attorney to help with the cover-up.

    I hope Sierra sues, as this will have to come out through the legal discovery actions in the court order.

    Markell is incredibly sleazy. He campaigned with the aging Honorable Governor Peterson to use his legacy to win the primary, and now is pissing on his legacy.

    Nice F_ _ _in Guy.

  17. Citizen says:

    HB 165 has been assigned to senate Ed committee, according to the DE legislative website. It wasn’t on their agenda for this afternoon. Are they likely to discuss it tomorrow? Can the public comment? My understanding is no–correct?

    Email Sokola, your senator & (ideally) the other 19, if you haven’t already!

  18. The Senate will still likely hold some committee meetings. Unlike the House, they don’t limit Wednesday sessions to just committee hearings, they also generally run an agenda.

    However, the meeting could happen on a day other than a Wednesday. I’ll keep an eye on it. At some point, though, you can bet that HB 165 will make it to the Senate floor.

    Our best bet, IMHO? Try to amend it.

  19. Joanne Christian says:

    BINGO–to John Kowalko and Connie Merlot re: competitive grants for accelerated programs. Once again, these students should be serviced anyway, and all you will end up getting are pull-out, unsustainable programming because of “limited funding”. I am so livid now about HB 165–my gloves may come off, and get legal involved. Weighing the options here. And FOIA will be the least of their problems.

    And as an aside–of which I am heading over to kavips–it is abhorrent to lay this at Charlie Copeland’s feet. Don’t have any idea where he is in the mix—but your mostly Democrat house voted this travesty to the Senate. With the noted exception of the Nay voters—the Democrats alone could have said No Thanks. So much for the preferred party of the public.

  20. kavips says:

    I’ll address Joanne’s point. The first thing to realize is this issue is new to a lot of people. These “yes” votes think they are doing a good thing. Their argument in their heads, goes like this. “Before there were no rules for charters, there was no accountability, this bill fills in that hole. The breakfast and lunch were fixed, the language cleaned up, so who could possibly complain about helping kids get a better education? Now when you have an idea in your head, it is very hard to get it out of your mind. Their job is to “fix” education and to them, that means they vote up or down on whatever bill comes before them. The Republicans are still under the impression that public schools have gone to the dogs and getting a voucher to go to a charter school to learn creationism, is a really good thing. Anything that helps the cause of creationism and charters in church schools, is a good thing….

    So, everyone is voting their conscious. But someone on the top, knows it’s baloney. The rush from Committee on Thursday to the floor on Tuesday. The rush from the placing of the bill to the first hearing, shows they know it is a race against time. The blocking of Kim Williams entering the hearing room shows they know this is not a bill that should be exfoliated of all its cover. They know it is a crock….

    But most of the others don’t. They simply are not that concerned with educational issues to begin with, and as long as the power brokers support it, it is good for them. It would be the same as you voting for Sussex County ditch regulations, a big thing to those developing near one, but for you, yawn. (btw, know what you call those little ditches running off the big one? Sons of ditches. lol)

    Back to a serious issue. The point I’m making is that educating these people is of the highest priority. If they know what you know, what everyone here commenting knows, they being good people could not possibly bring themselves to throw public school children under the bus. That is so hard to do.. Unless one has the soul of Voldemort no strong arm twisting by anyone can force one to harm little children as this bill will do…..

    Educating, not yelling at our State Senators, is our immediate priority….

  21. Joanne Christian says:

    Exactly kavips. And some of us go to Dover to make the plea, who know the crosswalk of legislation like this and the inherent landmines. Others talk great, big, grand, disgust and disappointment with puffing chests, and blog argument. The point being, blogging can only go so far. Faces, mail contact, phoning, and physical presence deliver the message, that blogging can only craft. It’s easy to spew pontifications, and righteous rhetoric when sitting in your underwear, and setting the State straight from a keyboard. Getting dressed and heading to Dover, or phoning or sending correspondence as your overly documented real name as known to the government, is a weightier influence than “anonymous, pigeon on the green, lastdeconservative, kerplunk, kaboom, and koward” in clearly putting a face to legislation pro or con.

    The blogs are great–and identities for whatever reason may need to be protected. But reality is, education and healthcare bills are always tough. Blogs bullet and blast the information thankfully. But, real people are the certified mail to Leg Hall. Who knows…..maybe many more activists are there in the wings, and unidentifiable–but my experience has been–I can count on one hand, anyone who really speaks out; aside from the blogs; to legislative human ears, and not a social media audience. I am not criticizing the phenom work blogs and their contributors do to identify and target issues. Yet again, HB 165 is a classic example of target identified, but the missile launch froze. Sorry, I guess I am just hugely ticked this vote went so overwhelmingly Yay–opposition not even relative to the massive YES vote.

  22. No says:

    Preamble to the Constitution
    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    Joanne &  Kavips,
    “Educating, not yelling at our State Senators, is our immediate priority….”

    How would these legislatures score on a scholastic aptitude test? I bet some of them just read the title of the HB 165 and said, “Sounds Good to Me.” Agree with State Rep., Kowalko,  Parents, PTAs and teachers should be organizing and down at legislative hall STAT and file a lawsuit if HB 165 gets rushed through the Senate. Could the ACLU, school boards or the teachers union champion this?
    If HB 165 passes, this will be a precedent win for the Governor after his failed attempt to privatize the Port of Wilmington. Next, privatize and slowly dismantle the public school system with taxpayer money within 3 years. Cash Out for a Cabinet position with the Deparment of Education or a US Senator seat?

  23. puck says:

    Joanne – by definition, most people who care about this issue have young children, and can’t pick up and go to Dover every time a hearing is scheduled. Don’t you think I would be there a lot more often if I could? The House hearing was scheduled at the same time as my son’s middle-school graduation. What was I supposed to do? Don’t you remember those days? It’s not laziness that keeps some of us away. It takes a community – Maybe those who can go can pick up for those who can’t. There is a lot that can be done by email, phone, and blog – that’s what they are there for. And I don’t mean just writing polemics – I mean digging up facts, and taking legal and procedural actions like FOIA, for example, or working the traditional talk radio. I bet a lot of the people who did show up have never filed a simple FOIA request. But everybody is needed, and no finger-pointing. Especially not with that hack argument about bloggers just being keyboard activists.

    Think of it this way – before blogs, legislators relied on the News Journal for information.

  24. Joanne: I blog in my underwear–in your dreams.

    Granted it’s a highly-provocative picture,and probably doesn’t do me full justice, but I always blog in formal attire.

  25. Joanne Christian says:

    El Som–don’t ruin it for me–you know I only envision you in high-end mariachi wear. Extra pom-poms of course dangling from your sombero. Please, let me hold on to some part of my dreams.

  26. Joanne Christian says:

    puck, puck, puck,–I know you must think I’m 107, but believe it or not, I have a child younger than your “middle-school graduate”. Because I do blog under my real name, I’m not even going to go there about children, and young famiies, and having to be elsewhere.

    Again, bloggers are VERY VALUABLE to get the message out. The rubber hits the road, when the blogger ACTS on words, that a LEGISLATOR sees–emails, presence, letters, phone calls. “puck” is a “slam book” entry name (you probably don’t remember those b/c you are younger than 107), that can be easily discounted as meme and rhetoric. Radio shows–like El Som–is the next level of real engagement—and so on and so on and so on. No finger pointing (that was for Charlie Copeland, and kavips’s misfired missile, in my view that gave enemy coverage)–so it’s a refining of the bloggers’ transformational role they can be in the legislative process.

    We have bloggers. And Heaven knows, I can’t blog. But we need; is what I want to call “troggers”. Those of us who come out of our caves to deliver the blog message. It’s real scary for some folks to show up in Dover–even though they may want to. Trogging would cojoin that effort, so it’s not so daunting and vulnerable of an intention. I’d love to see that organized.

    You missed the point puck in righteous indignation of “needing to be elsewhere”, and “you forget what it’s like….(sic)”, and of course polemic hack. In truth, you are “puck”. Who is “puck”? Nameless, and faceless unless really sending a letter, email, or appearing to a legislator. Other bloggers have “credentialed” themselves , revealing blog identity on various occasions when paths may cross. And I am very well aware of the work they are doing as private citizens for better legislation. But for the cross coverage, full ammo, HB 165 received on the blogs–not enough of us trogged. That’s all I’m saying—or lamenting (actually fretting) over.

    Word and deed–just trying to pull the two together. The personalization of justification of absence just obscures the path forward. And do we ever have a path to carve out.

    And FTR–“middle school graduation” is so passe to the 21st century. Educators reading that are left w/ exploding heads. It’s “promotion”. We left “graduation” from middle school w/ the Waltons. I know you want to be PC :). See you in Dover? School is out now! 🙂

  27. puck says:

    Sorry, bad assumption on my part about the ages of your chidren. But there must be some other arrangement if they haven’t aged out. By the way, my youngest must be picked up from day camp no later than six and then brought home for dinner. I’ll send you the directions to the day camp for the next afternoon hearing.

    Also, you look great for 107.

  28. Joanne Christian says:

    Now that’s the puck I’m used to! I’ll bring dinner. And tell that camper of yours not to keep me waitin’ w/ looking for lost water bottles, and a missing swim towel. Also, I don’t allow electronics on in the car for around town running. You either talk to whoever else is in the car ( I promise—there won’t be hitch-hikers) or sing to my radio station.

    And just to fill you in–that youngest child showed up–14 years after 4 kids in 5 years. So yup–this year has been MY major transition, of really raising this one. Until #4 left for college, seems like I only had to buy shoes for #5—they were all great in the big sister/brother caregiver department. I guess I paid alot of “dues” on the front end. So I feel your pain w/ daycare/camp hours–and now my lack of drivers.

    So yup 107–kids in three decades. Thanks for the compliment. But I think it’s all credit to drinking TAB 🙂 !! Big wink to all my long-term DL buds.

  29. For the last two weeks of the month, the House will be addressing more than tributes and committee meetings on Wednesdays. We will have a ‘normal session’ each Wednesday, and committee meetings will be held, as needed, typically from 12-2pm on ANY of the three session days of the week.

  30. Paul, I hope any committee meetings scheduled for the House are posted as soon as possible!!!!! It has been the practice for the last weeks of session to abandon public hearings altogether and go for the suspension of rules and a multitude of ready and must lists. So.Hard.To.Follow.

    I sincerely hope we see the Redistricting bill come to the House House Admin. Committee for a hearing. Last year I patiently waited until midnight last day in June for the bill to hit the floor. It didn’t. Can we hope for better this year?

  31. I don’t expect to for SB 48 to reach a committee hearing this month.

    the meeting schedule is online at, and from there you can choose House, Senate, Joint, etc.

    the House committee meeting agendas for today and tomorrow are posted. Indeed they are expected to be in flux in the coming 11 days, so look early and often.