A particularly-sketchy ‘redevelopment’ project headlines today’s House Committee meetings.
HB 310(Longhurst) essentially enables the ethically-bankrupt Dick Cathcart to be at the center of what looks like a deal that will put $$’s in connected people’s pockets far from the view of the public. You may remember that Cathcart awarded no-bid contracts to friends of his while ‘working’ as contract administrator at Delaware State University; had his clear involvement in awarding these contracts whitewashed by Republican crony pal Auditor Tom Wagner; and even had Wagner recommend him for the position of City Manager of Delaware City as the scandal-scarred Cathcart beat a hasty retreat from elective office before the voters did it for him. Under HB 310, which, by the way just happens to be in the House Administration Committee chaired by…sponsor Valerie Longhurst, this is what would happen:
This bill creates the Fort DuPont Redevelopment Corporation, along with a board of trustees and an advisory council, to oversee the economic development of the Fort DuPont Complex near Delaware City while preserving the historical and environmental interests of the Complex and surrounding areas. This Act will allow the City of Delaware City to annex the land, will allow the Corporation to take title to the land to manage redevelopment, and will provide for the implementation of the pending redevelopment plan. The Corporation is required to comply with all laws of the State of Delaware and the City of Delaware City in the exercise of its powers.
So, let me get this straight. The State gives this land away? So that Dick Cathcart, in his role as City Manager of Delaware City and who has already proven that he is not ethically-fit to handle taxpayers’ dollars, gets to make decisions on how this land gets developed and sees that dollars go to certain parties? Oh, and that’s before we look at the strong possibility that this land could well end up underwater? What could POSSIBLY GO WRONG? BTW, the bill’s only sponsors are Longhurst and Sen. Poore, who have this perhaps soon-to-be-developed parcel in their districts. Any of their cronies involved? Will anyone dare to challenge this program until/unless any and all questions about this project are answered? Is this really gonna be rushed through the General Assembly between now and June 30? I’ll make a prediction now. If this project gets approved, sometime in the perhaps not-so-distant future, indictments will be the result. One more prediction: After Delaware’s master of suspendered disbelief, Auditor Tom Wagner, leaves office at the end of the year, either of his own volition or on the sword of Brenda Mayrack, he just might end up as a beneficiary of Cathcart’s largesse. Enough already.
Other House committee highlights:
SB 48(Blevins) creates a Delaware Redistricting Commission to handle future legislative redistrictings. Anyone thinking that this will eliminate political machinations will be sorely disappointed. The appointees will be nominated by legislative leadership, with those ten appointees selecting an eleventh person to serve as the chair. In other words, all that is happening here is that future maps would be indirectly drawn by the legislature via surrogates rather than directly drawn. This may be a lot of things, but reform is not one of them. Hey, I have no problem with the way things are now, so I’m not outraged. Just thought you should be informed. Also in the House Administration Committee.
HB 302(Jaques) significantly changes how elections are administered in Delaware. The current county election departments would be replaced with a statewide election board. The bill also ‘establishes a mechanism for citizens to report possible violations and gives the State Election Commissioner the resources to investigate possible violations’. This is one of the very few bills masquerading as election reform that is worthy of the name. House Administration Committee.
The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee is wasting little time addressing a notable Senate bill. SB 178(Peterson) removes yet one more opportunity for ineptitude from the clutches of Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart–this time defensive driving courses.
Today’s Senate Committee meetings feature some significant, if less blatantly-hinky, bills.
HB 105(Viola), which provides for same-day voter registration, will be considered in the Senate Administrative Services/Elections Committee. The Senate has proven less immune to negotiating against themselves than the House, so I’m cautiously optimistic that the bill will ultimately pass the Senate, likely in its current form.
I’m ambivalent about SB 191(Henry), which creates ‘Downtown Development Districts’. The bill is ‘intended to leverage state resources to spur private investment in commercial business districts and surrounding neighborhoods; to improve the commercial vitality of our downtowns; and to increase the number of residents from all walks of life in downtowns and surrounding neighborhoods’. Uh, we’ve never done this before? Of course we have. But Chambers of Commerce love the notion of helping to spur private investment by ‘leveraging state resources’. Whether taxpayers should is another question. The money doesn’t always seem to end up where it should. Lotsa co-sponsors, though. In today’s Senate Community/County Affairs Committee.
Not sure why this isn’t already law, but SB 193(Peterson) requires a ‘mammography service provider to provide specific notice to a patient if that patient presents with dense breast tissue’. In today’s Senate Health/Social Services Committee. Legislation banning minors from using tanning facilities will also be considered. SB 94(Cloutier) also mandates warning signs for these facilities.
Big doings in today’s Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 197(Blevins) would place Delaware amongst the states with the best statutes addressing human trafficking. It’s a great bill, and could well become law before the Memorial Day recess. Bear in mind, however, that the statute can only be as effective as its implementation. Asleep-at-the-switch Attorneys General need not apply.
SB 188(Peterson) rectifies one of the worst excesses of the ‘War on Drugs’ legislation in Delaware. I was present at the creation of the current statute. Didn’t make sense then, doesn’t make sense now. Then-AG Jane Brady pushed for this and, aided and abetted by the likes of Tom Sharp, Wayne Smith, and Jim Vaughn, got legislation passed that gave the Attorney General, not judges, the authority to determine who should be considered ‘habitual offenders’. Her rationale was that, left to their own devices, judges would coddle criminals rather than put them away forever. It is, of course, ironic that Ruth Ann Minner then made this pox on the vox populi a, wait for it, judge. Jane Brady, one of Delaware’s worst public officials ever. She did real harm. But, I digress. SB 188 vests judges with discretion to determine “habitual offender” sentences, rather than the Attorney General’s staff. It also permits some offenders whose sentences were determined by the Attorney General’s Office to be resentenced by judges. I know that many of you may find it difficult to believe that prosecutors were essentially given sentencing authority, but you just had to be there. I don’t think that any issue was demagogued as thoroughly as was this phony War on Drugs in Delaware. Except maybe for ‘forced busing’, featuring some of the same demagogues. Needless to say, SB 188 is a long time coming.
The Senate Public Safety Committee will have what no doubt should be an interesting briefing on the State Medical Examiner’s office from DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf and Delaware Homeland Security Secretary Lewis Schiliro. What a clusterbleep that has been. How could such incompetence have been allowed to go on? Didn’t anyone in, say, the AG’s office, notice any early warnings on this? Just askin’.
Today’s Senate Agenda features the bill to slaughter gray foxes, along with other varmints and critters. Fear not, though. An amendment has been introduced that would remove the gray fox from the sights of law-abiding hunters, although incidental ‘taking’ (read: killing) of gray foxes could be permitted by regulation. I’m guessing rabies, maybe.
Saved the post-game report for last. Here’s the full Session Activity Report from yesterday. Other than lotsa bills being introduced, there was little activity.
Enough activity for this post, however. Time to luxuriate in inactivity…before going to work.
Tags: 'downtown development districts', Brenda Mayrack, Delaware City, Dick Cathcart, El Somnambulo, Fort Dupont Delaware, human trafficking in Delaware, Redistricting, same-day voter registration, sentencing of 'habitual offenders', Steve Tanzer Delaware, Tom Wagner, Valerie Longhurst