2013: The Good, The Bad, the Ridiculous

Filed in Delaware by on December 18, 2013

I am El Somnambulo, and I’m a listaholic. Today, one of my faves, my Delaware year-end review. I went back to January, and chronologically went through our Delaware Liberal archives. Man, our bloggers were en fuego this year. Incredible work from all corners. Cassandra on Wilmington and loads of other stuff, Pandora on education, Jason330 on the suckitude that is our congressional delegation, our beloved leader DelDem liveblogging from the Hall and covering national politics like no other, great Rob Tornoe cartoons. And, next year, ProgressivePopulist will have loads of great entries. Anyway, y’all could do a lot worse than to go back to January and enjoy the journey like I did. You can just click on ‘archives’ at the bottom of the front page, take a trip down memory lane.

Would it surprise you to learn that I considered only 12 possible entries for the Good? Didn’t think so. I had lots more to choose from in the other two categories, but I’m kind-of a pessimistic guy.  So, here we go, have at it!


10. General Assembly passes legislation requiring the reporting of lost or stolen weapons. Effectively implemented, this will cut down on ‘straw purchases. This bill just squeaked through both houses.

9.  Death penalty bill passes Senate, 11-10, with 3 R yes votes, Cloutier, Lopez and Simpson. Although currently stuck in House committee, just passing the bill in the Senate is progress. And we’ve still got a year of the session left.

8.  Thanks to the efforts of the Workers Compensation Task Forcethe post of Ratepayer Advocate is created. Since Karen Weldin Stewart wouldn’t and/or couldn’t do the job for which she was elected, Matt Denn, et al, made sure that somebody would.

7. HB 10 passes, restoring voting rights for those felons who have paid their debt to society.  Second and final leg of a constitutional amendment. Great work by Rep. Helene Keeley in shepherding the Hazel Plant Act into law. Here is the House Roll Call, here is the Senate Roll Call.

6. Woodlawn Trustees begin ambitious and visionary plan to rebuild the Flats neighborhood in Wilmington. Quality affordable housing stock. $100 mill investment.  Now, that’s economic development.

5. After years of coming close, General Assembly passes legislation providing protections to manufactured home communities and residents. This was a great year for grassroots organization, congrats to all who lobbied on behalf of this bill.

4. General Assembly passes, and Governor signs, legislation requiring background checks for most private gun purchases. I admit that this is a bit of a mixed victory b/c clueless prime sponsor Valerie Longhurst negotiated away some key provisions of the bill to address NRA ‘concerns’. As if they were gonna support the bill even if it was emasculated. Allow me to quote from my favorite commentator, myself:

Seven, count ‘em, seven amendments have already been prefiled for HB 35(Longhurst), the criminal background checks bill. And these are only the so-called friendly amendments. In the immortal words of Casey Stengel while managing the inept New York Mets in their inaugural season:

“Can’t anybody here play this game?”

This bill should be the easy one. They’ve got the votes, no fuss, no muss. But, by paying undue deference to the NRA, they have become the Senate (United States version) Democrats, turning what should be defining statement victories into, at best, marginal progress and, at worst, defeat. The issue is larger than HB 35. The House dithering has emboldened the NRA b/c they’ve learned that they can run circles around the house managers of this legislation. That will make passage of other key elements of the gun control package far more difficult than it needed to be.

It’s definitely better than nothing, though. Just not as good as it should have been.

3. General Assembly effectively stops Markell/Levin plan to turn over operation of the Port of Wilmington to Enron spinoff Kinder Morgan (be sure to read the comments thread, Schwartzkopf delivers a shit sandwich to the Governor). I think I most enjoyed Alan Levin arguing that the General Assembly shouldn’t meddle in grown-up affairs, then arguing that the proposal deserved an up-or-down vote, after claiming that no such vote was even needed. Looks like there’s real progress at the Port, too. Cassandra, per usual, did a brilliant analytical takedown of the proposed deal. Nobody asked questions this year better than Cassandra.

2. Sarah McBride leads an inspiring and successful campaign to enact legislation ending discrimination based on sexual identity.  This gives me chills. Anyone who questions whether one person can make a difference need only look to Sarah McBride. Don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like this in my years working for the General Assembly or blogging about the General Assembly. Her story is inspirational, and her consummate success in pushing for gender equality is nothing short of historic. Can’t wait to see what she’s up to next. And, yes, Jason330, she’s hot.

1.  The General Assembly passes, and the Governor immediately signs, legislation legalizing marriage equality in Delaware. DelDem’s blogging on this was gripping, dramatic, and award-worthy. And it just might have helped to sway some key votes. Check him out  here and, of course, here. This doesn’t even include his almost-daily whip counts.  A personal note: I was in Indiana at the time of the vote. My wife and I were picking up our daughter from college. Our daughter had been a leader in the Gay-Straight Alliance at Wilmington Friends. She was following the live feed and burst into tears when the bill passed. We all went out that night for a celebratory dinner. One of the best days ever.


10. Governor and the General Assembly give racinos $8 mill…for no apparent public purpose. Oh, and the racinos don’t even have to agree to a no-layoffs pledge in exchange for the $8 mill gift from the taxpayers.

9.  Tom Carper abandons any pretense of being a Democrat.  In January, Carper describes himself as having ‘sat there in despair’ as a Biden/McConnell deal dooms Carper’s dream of slashing entitlements. At least until next time.

8.  Not to be outdone, Rep. John Carney brings his Concord Coalition buddies to Delaware to discuss ways to cut the Federal deficit. He encourages us to bring our ideas  to slash entitlements  uh, cut the deficit, to a series of meetings. Later in the same year, Carney joins the SNAP challenge, presumably to pretend that he gives two shits about the disadvantaged. More on him and Carper later.

7. Senators Carper and Coons vote to prohibit the restoration of $4 billion in food stamp cuts during deliberations of the Farm Bill. Carper and Coons also vote against permitting individual states to regulate GMO’s. As Cassandra points out, Coons has lent lip service to the Anti-Hunger Coalition. Apparently nothing more. You know, Coons is the dog-whistle guy, uses the right words, votes the opposite. More on Coons and Carper later as well.

6. Bilingual signs in Milford establish separate rules for Hispanic kids who play on Milford playgrounds. While the signs in English require adult supervision the signs in Spanish read, as translated, “You have to have a permit to play here or you will be arrested.” Signs like that don’t go up by accident. Check out the comments thread on this, interesting stuff.

5. Beau Biden flown to top cancer treatment center in Houston. We subsequently find out that the Cranston Heights Fire Department had rushed to the Biden home earlier this year to respond to a medical call of assistance for Beau, that Beau had become weak and disoriented during a trip in Indiana, and that the stroke that he had suffered previously was much more serious than had been reported. Since this latest August health crisis, we have received no definitive health update from anybody. Well, I’ll say it. This doesn’t look good.

4. While voting to permanently retain fee increases and other revenue enhancers it had enacted during the 2009 state, the General Assembly votes to cut the top rate on Delaware’s wealthiest. This ongoing fealty to the wealthy remains one of Jack Markell’s worst legacies. ‘Leaders’ like Schwartzkopf and Longhurst enable him.

3. The General Assembly passes legislation sought by Governor Markell that would enable Charter schools to access state bond money. The entire enterprise stinks to high heaven. Secret meetings, clandestine agreements between the DSEA and the Governor, highly-connected political and business leaders stepping to the front of the gravy train. I predict scandal in the future. Almost always the result of too much secrecy. BTW, Pandora and bloggers from other sites have done great work on this issue. Here’s Pandora on the oxymoronic notion of ‘education reform’.  An excellent thread dominated by serious thinkers. And here’s a universe of some of our best bloggers writing about HB 165.  I think that what they’ve written will resonate in future education debates. Too bad it didn’t on this one.

2. Entire Delaware congressional delegation revealed as members of corporatist cults. For John Carney, it’s Pete Peterson’s Concord Coalition, and Carper and Coons turn out to be in the thrall of The Third Way. In the thrall? One of Carper’s former staffers-turned-revolving-door-lobbyists is front and center with The Third Way.  Puck provides the following:

As noted in The Nation, Third Way’s annual report shows it received fundraising assistance from the consulting firm Peck Madigan Jones. The firm lobbies for Deutsche Bank, Intel Corp, the Business Roundtable, the International Swaps & Derivatives Association, MasterCard and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with AstraZeneca and the state of Delaware [WTF??].

Jonathan Jones, a partner at the firm, is Carper’s former chief of staff. Another partner, Jeffrey J. Peck, was general counsel and majority staff director for the Senate Judiciary Committee when Vice President Joe Biden chaired the committee.

The Third Way’s Board of Directors is almost completely comprised of corporate executives.  Both organizations push so-called deficit reform at the expense of those who have gotten screwed by the corporatists who control these organizations, and these legislators. Carper, Coons, and Carney, now officially confirmed as corporatist cultists.

1. City of Wilmington suffers from a dearth of leadership and common purpose. Maybe I’m more depressed over this than circumstances warrant. But, one year into the mayoralty of Dennis P. Williams, I see little reason for optimism for the future of the City. Not that it’s all Williams’ fault by any means. But his key promise to his constituents was that he was going to get the crime situation under control. It has worsened measurably. Record shootings; non-lethal sniping amongst the Mayor, his police chief, the FOP; the Mayor’s embarrassing blame-placing on congress critters for spending too much time on electronic eavesdropping to parents who haven’t done enough. The mayor’s staff has been knee-deep in scandal and ineptitude,  and City Council wants to outsource the gun issue to the Center for Disease Control rather than actually doing something. I don’t live in the City, but I’ve worked there and worked for elected officials who do live there. If anyone can see reason for optimism, please share it with me.


10. An apparently well-lubricated John Atkins waxes eloquent over the illegitimacy of the Moon Landing:

“Rick, once its launched it simply could have orbitted around the earth out of view of the naked eye? Ever watch “astronauts gone wild”? A guy simply asks every man that walked on the moon to place his hand on the bible to confirm it. Not one would do it…why not?” (Writer’s note: All spelling, grammar, and punctuation in this quote courtesy of John Atkins, perhaps after a night of enjoying soft-core lingerie models, sponsored by Maxim and Anheuser Busch.)

9. Pro rassler Jay Briscoe, champ of the Ring of Honor promotion at the time, (real name, Jamin Pugh of Laurel, Delaware) tweets the following after passage of the marriage equality bill:

“The Delaware Senate passed a bill yesterday that allows same sex couples to get married. If that makes you happy, then congratulations!! Try to teach my kids that there’s nothing wrong with that and I’ll fucking shoot you.

Apparently, Pugh’s family is known for their intolerance. One of our respondents describes Pugh’s father as a ‘particularly sanctimonious jackass’.

8. Newark NIMBYs’ strident objections to a Wawa leads Vance Funk to resign.  Opponents call the Wawa a ‘bright gaudy place’ and a ‘cancer in the community’, according to the Newark Post. Rep. John Kowalko equates Wawa to Walmart to great cheers from Wawa  opponents. Not sure they’re gonna like the new mayor any better…

7. The lonely quest of the Sheriff of Nuttingham comes to an end. Not only was Jeff Christopher rebuffed by two Delaware courts, including the Delaware Supreme Court, in claiming that he was a police officer. But Sussex County denies Christopher’s application to conduct (I can’t make this up) ‘posse training’ in a Sussex County building.

6. Previously discussed. Wilmington City Council votes to outsource Wilmington’s violence problems to the Center for Disease Control. Uh, correct me if I’m wrong. Don’t council members live in the city’s neighborhoods? Doesn’t a single one of them have a clue as to how to address this? Really? Do these people get paid? If so, they shouldn’t.

5. Tom Gordon and the NAACP try to play the race card to gin up a phony controversy against County Councilperson Lisa Diller. So here’s the deal. County attorney Bernard Pepukayi (who is, don’t tell anybody, black) refuses to provide a briefing to Diller over a project in Diller’s district. Diller raises her voice at the attorney and demands a briefing, the type of briefing routinely granted to council members. Rather than doing what is common practice, County Executive Gordon sends out a statement blasting Diller for her unprofessional manner and her lack of comportment, or something. The Delaware NAACP decides to demand that Diller take ‘anger management and diversity training’. Uh, you see, Gordon is looking to run for governor, and his hapless cronies who now represent what was once a proud civil rights organization are only too happy to help him. Never mind that Diller is both mild-mannered and progressive. Never underestimate the slimy depths to which Gordon will sink. Too bad they didn’t worry about dealing with the backlash over the rampant sexism they probably didn’t even know they were revealing.

4. Rethug State Chairman John Sigler busted as killer and maimer of wounded pigeons. Busted on camera shooting wounded birds electronically ejected from a box.  BTW, read the comments thread to see how some argued that the photo shoot was rigged. Idiots. Later in the year, he runs away from a questioner at Leg Hall. Sigler was there, of course, to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of pigeon-maimers everywhere. Shortly thereafter, he resigns as Rethug State Chair.

3. David Grimaldi, need I say more? Guy never does anything wrong, trouble just seems to follow him. Mindin’ his own business at Luigi Vitrone’s Pastabilities, when this Arcaro guy picks a fight with him.  Apparently over the ‘N’ word or something. County cops show up b/c Grimaldi calls them. City gets left out. We’re told by the County that this is not unusual, at least when it involves Grimaldi. Turns out that Grimaldi had been ‘accosted’ at least one previous time while minding his business. And then there was that little incident at the Hockessin PAL. Oh, almost forgot, Grimaldi demanded that an 84-year-old volunteer be ousted from her volunteer position at Rockwood b/c she wouldn’t let him and his ‘escort’ to visit the upstairs quarters unattended. Never mind that nobody was permitted to do this, Grimaldi is a somebody. According to Grimaldi, the 84-year-old volunteer is a nobody.  Enquiring minds want to know…is Grimaldi’s escort a somebody, or related to a somebody? A bigwig in County government perhaps? Dave? Tom? Somebody? Nancy, any insight into this?

2. L’Affaire Velda Jones Potter.  Let’s see…blew up a great gig by using her office to make sure that her son’s music festival didn’t lose a shit-ton of money. Lied about it, claiming that she was wearing her ‘private citizen’ hat while ordering around city employees to make sure that the festival didn’t tank, and then claims that when she was fired, she left with her integrity intact. I think she meant ‘in tatters’, but that would assume that integrity had been her constant calling card. Delusional narcissism is something to behold sometimes.  Speaking of delusional narcissism…

1. L’Affaire Chipman Flowers. Courtesy of SCTV.  Chip Flowers blowed himself up real good.   At the local level, I don’t think I can recall an officeholder destroying his career all by himself like this. If you go back and count up all the lies that Chip told this year, he would rival Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky thing.  Difference is, Clinton was trapped by the Ken Starrs of the world. Chip just conjured up a whole bunch of enemies, but ignored the only real one, the delusional narcissist staring back at him. Really, that song’s too great for this topic. Kinda think it’s too late for the Chipmeister to ‘make that change’. Oh well, we’ll have Chip Flowers to laugh about until our memories fade. I mean, Denali, Denial, it’s just too easy.

Tags: , ,

About the Author ()

Comments (16)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Time for some year end polling…. : Delaware Liberal | December 19, 2013
  1. fightingbluehen says:

    Fisker Automotive = The Ridiculous……would have been a good one.

  2. Jason330 says:

    Why did the Sig really leave? The PETA (SHARK) folks certainly didn’t hound him out of office.

  3. Steve Newton says:

    You make lists, I analyze lists.

    Of note, under the “The Bad,” nine of the ten items (leaving out the odious signs in Milford) involve Democratic politicians who really appear to be Republicans who happen to favor marriage equality.

    In “The Ridiculous,” three of the items concern GOPers, but 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 all concern elected (or, in Grimaldi’s case, appointed) Democrats behaving badly (bizarrely).

    And while I admire Sarah McBride and consider both items 1 and 2 on “the Good” list to be outstanding accomplishments for any decade, yet alone year, I keep coming back to the question of why Democrat in Delaware doesn’t even equate to “liberal” much less “progressive.” The remnants of the GOP cannot muster more than 40% of the vote in any statewide election, and yet …

    In Delaware, if you actually elect Republicans they will try to enact their stated agendas, but if you elect Democrats they will enact 60-70% of the Republican agenda instead of their own.

  4. Steve Newton says:


    Sig left office because he compromised on HB 88, which he believed was a done deal to pass. Then, internally, he attacked all the people who were still fighting against it. When HB 88 died in the Senate he was left looking like a complete moron because he had “given up the fight” before he had to.

    Shorter version (in homage to El Som’s list): to the GOP he was the bizarro equivalent of the Dems’ Longhurst on gun control issues.

  5. Andrew says:

    Is there going to be a podcast or recording of your talk with Al somewhere online? Missed most of the list.

  6. cassandra_m says:

    involve Democratic politicians who really appear to be Republicans who happen to favor marriage equality.

    This is funny. It is as though Steve just started reading this blog or something.

  7. Geezer says:

    “In Delaware, if you actually elect Republicans they will try to enact their stated agendas, but if you elect Democrats they will enact 60-70% of the Republican agenda instead of their own.”

    Steve Newton FTW.

  8. Dominique says:

    Sigh…not one mention of job growth (and the lack thereof), because that doesn’t really matter.

    I’ve come to realize that you guys live in a fantasy world where money doesn’t even grow on trees (because people would have to actually put effort into picking it); it just flies around in the air.

    Just so I’m clear…You’re appalled that anyone would limit the civil rights of those you like (LGBT*), but you’ll fight to the death to limit the rights of those you don’t like (gun owners). Meanwhile, you will shut a bitch down the minute she brings up morality when it comes to religious beliefs (abortion*), but tell her it’s immoral to put a degenerate serial killer to death AND cry that it’s our moral imperative to provide health insurance to everyone.

    *Before I get accused of being a big ol’ bigot (the libby go-to when RAAAAACIST isn’t available), I AM PRO-CHOICE AND PRO LGBT RIGHTS.

    I just want to point out that you guys are adorably inconsistent. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for people to take you seriously.

  9. Geezer says:

    People take the writers here seriously. You, not so much. Wait — not at all.

    But just to be nice, I’ll point out that you are equating civil rights with gun rights — not only not the same thing, but not in the same ballpark.

    Stick with the conservatives. They’re more in line with your own intellectual level.

  10. Jason330 says:

    I read that and I thought, “Can someone make sense out of that for me?” But you are right Geezer, it isn’t worth the effort.

  11. Delaware Dem says:

    Look, we all know that a small fraction of Hillary Clinton’s supporters in 2008 just went completely insane after she lost, and they changed their entire way of thinking and became Palinesque Tea Bagger Radicals. That is Dominique.

    There is no making sense of her.

  12. Steve: That’s a real good analysis of the list–and my frustrations. It really sinks in when you go back and read through the blog for an entire year. Jason330 has been on this forever. The fact that so-called D’s can embrace the phony deficit reduction theology espoused by those who benefit the most, while backhanding traditional D constituencies who are hurt by these memes, just drives me even crazier than usual.

    It took Carney’s embrace of the Concord Coalition, and Carper & Coons embrace of The Third Way (did L. Ron Hubbard come up with that name?) to lead me to that ‘aha moment’. Our entire congressional delegation belongs to a cult that dismisses traditional Democratic values.

    BTW, Rethugs would have been more front and center this year if they even mattered a little bit. They don’t. Maybe THAT should have made the Ridiculous list. The fact that they don’t even try any more. But why should they when D’s are better R’s than most R’s could be?

  13. Rob says:

    I don’t hold Woodlawn Trustee in as high regard as you do. They run a shell game and trot out whatever part of their mission statement is necessary to deflect and deceive. Question: can anyone here name just one of their Trustees? The list of Trustees used to be public info, but hasn’t been for years. They hide behind a public spokesman, Vernon Green. They bragged that they donated land for the National Monument. Well sort of. They set up a nonprofit that they control (same address and officers) and donated the land to that nonprofit (tax break for Woodlawn on donation) and then that nonprofit sold the land for $21 million (no sales tax because they ran it through their nonprofit). Not illegal, maybe not even slimy, but please don’t pretend you donated the land. The Flats have generated $6 million a year in rents, yet they let them get run down. Their coffers have been filled by land sales. They announced the $100 million project to justify selling land in PA that they were getting heat over. Oh and by the way, do you know where that land is? it is directly adjacent to the new National Monument! Wilmington needs affordable housing and that it great. There is no way thought they will invest the full $100 million in housing, but that is the headline they find convenient to use this time around. Don’t be fooled by Woodlawn. They are a developer pure and simple, not a nonprofit as they lead people to believe…some might say a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  14. Good point, Rob, and an excellent post.

    It’s the rebuilding of the Flats that I referenced here, and I think it was one of the best, pun intended, developments of the year. I think it’s visionary, and perhaps the only optimistic note I could find concerning the City in 2013. And it IS $100 mill in economic development.

    But I agree that Woodlawn Trustees cannot be, um, trusted without thorough ongoing investigation into what they’re up to.

    Which is why your post serves as a cautionary note.

  15. puck says:

    Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy becomes one of only seven state chiefs to join Jeb Bush’s education group:

    “Murphy is the only sitting school chief in the organization appointed by a Democratic governor, according to the list.”