General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Thurs., Jan. 26, 2017

Filed in Delaware, Featured by on January 26, 2017

Nemski’s already written about the big newsIn a preview of things-to-come should the R’s take over the State Senate, the Rethugs banded together to block the nomination of Shawn Garvin, who appears to be a flaming moderate on the environment, to be DNREC Secretary.  The R’s, including self-proclaimed moderate Cathy Cloutier, voted in lockstep against the nomination.  If the R’s lose this Special Election, they will rue what they did yesterday.  I really don’t think that voters want this kind of obstructionism on issues like environmental protection.  If the D’s don’t capitalize on this beginning yesterday, it’s political malpractice.  Me? I see this as a major unforced error by the R’s, and it could well backfire big-time.  You can see the total BS behind the obstructionism in this excerpt from today’s News-Journal story:

The 10-member Senate Republican Caucus did not issue a statement on why its members opposed Garvin. Minority Whip Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, said each person had different reasons but declined to list his own.

Other Republican senators would not answer questions about their issues with the nominee or say whether they believe Garvin’s nomination is salvageable.

Yep, ten different senators independently coming up with ten different reasons of their own to oppose the nomination.  Happens all the time. Not.

I, for one, will be contacting my State Senator, Cathy Cloutier,  today to urge her to support the nomination.  If you live in her district, or in the district of any of the R senators, I encourage you to do the same.  Cathy has said that she has remained an R in memory of her late husband, Phil Cloutier.  The Republican Party to which Phil belonged, which was a strong environmental party, no longer exists.  That was the party of Russ Peterson and Sen. Andrew Knox, perhaps the two public officials most responsible for the creation of the Coastal Zone Act. Could you imagine them voting to obstruct environment protection? Does she really intend to join with environmental obstructionists for the next two years?  Not if I (and you) can help it.

All of Gov. Carney’s other nominations breezed through the Senate.  On the whole, with a couple of exceptions, it’s a profoundly uninspiring lot.

Back to the relatively mundane.  As I predicted, there were three bills that the legislative leaders wanted on the fast track.  All three bills are on House or Senate Agendas today for final passage before going to the Governor. All three will pass, probably unanimously.  They are:

SB 13 (Townsend):  An attempt to clarify and to clean up Delaware’s ‘abandoned property’ laws.

SB 16 (Sokola):  A mini-Bond bill that moves some money around from the June Bond Bill to address pressing priorities.

Both bills are on today’s House Agenda after having passed the Senate.  On today’s Senate Agenda:

HJR 2:  ‘We don’t need no steenkin’ pay raises’.

Joint Finance Committee hearings begin on Tuesday.  You can find the entire schedule for the hearings here.

W-w-what?  I just saw something interesting here.  You have a member of Senate leadership also serving on the Joint Finance Committee? That’s against Senate rules. Especially for someone with a specific financial interest in securing money for an agency that they head. And for someone with an interest in making sure that a certain State departmental level agency approves funding for them and doesn’t get rid of this agency. Seems like a blatant conflict of interest to me. For the record, that person is Sen. Nicole Poore, who, you may recall, got herself a cushy job for which she was unqualified.  With an agency that wastes upwards of $1.4 mill in taxpayers’ money a year. And because this agency is ‘technically’ not a public agency (wink wink, read the linked article to find out why), it relies on Grant-in-Aid funds. And because the Grants-in-Aid are doled out by, wait for it, the Joint Finance Committee, and because the Secretary of the Department that oversees JDG (hint: jobs, now what agency could that be?) has the power to downsize this useless agency, and since Nicole Poore also sits on the committee that oversees nominations, including that of the head of the Department that would oversee this agency, one could perceive a mere hint of a conflict-of-interest in all this.

I’m certain, however, that this legislator is applying her usual high ethical standards to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Move on, folks. Nothing to see here(?)

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  1. Dean says:

    “useless agency” “an agency that wastes upwards of $1.4 mill in taxpayers’ money”. Wow – even a low point for you Steve!! I guess you really don’t care about the at risk students in Delaware’s high schools. This “useless agency” keeps them in school and prepares them for jobs after GRADUATION. I guess Delaware should just get rid of this “useless agency” so they drop out of school? That will really help our state! This “useless agency” provides services to these kids in 24 of Delaware’s high schools. I thought you cared about public education??

  2. It is a useless agency that spends more time doing PR to prop up their image than they do at providing anything useful.

    I’m all for training programs and supportive services that work. Especially for at-risk youth. I’ve known JDG from the beginning. An alleged non-public agency scarfing up public funds to promote Pete DuPont’s vision of ‘public-private partnerships’. Those public funds were taken from agencies and services that empirically delivered more bang for the buck. In, you know, protecting at-risk youth.

    In other words, that money could be used far more effectively in achieving the purported goals of JDG almost anywhere else than JDG.

    Which is why they need to throw money at a legislator in order to keep the spigots open and the scam alive.

  3. Harold says:

    actually, I don’t think Poore being on JFC is against the rules, strictly speaking. I looked through them out of curiosity and didn’t see anything saying leadership couldn’t be on the money committees. Now, whether she /should/ be on there is a different story.

  4. mediawatch says:

    Some quick math here — divide that money among 19 school districts and you’ve got approximately $73,700 each. What say we dump JDG and use the money to add one guidance counselor to each school district?
    Sure, someone will pipe up and say my numbers won’t work in the real world (when you start including benefits, etc.), but my point is that every district will tell you that they could better serve their high school students (including the ones who are not college-bound or in danger of dropping out) if they had additional counselors.

  5. Harold: During the 20 years or so that I worked for the Senate, it was a Senate Rule. And for good reason. To minimize the concentration of power that would go with the double whammy. It’s why Nancy Cook, who tried to run the place, was not in leadership–because she chaired the JFC.

    It may not be a rule now. But the potential power that Nicole Poore possesses is one good reason to restore the rule, if indeed it no longer exists.

  6. Paula says:

    @El Somnambulo: Re calling State Senator Cathy Cloutier (and other republicans who blocked the nomination), could you fill in the blanks below (and correct as needed) for those of us who have never paid attention to state politics before? Something we could read (with adaptations, as needed) when we call?

    Here’s what I got so far, modeled on the scripts from The 65: We’re His Problem Now website and cribbing from your post:
    Hi, I’m [*name from town, part of town, development*] and I’m calling to [[express my disappointment in?]] Senator Cloutier for [[voting to ????]] in the [[???]]. As a [*parent, hiker, engineer, whatever you are*] I am concerned about the environment [[have you got anything better than this?]] and consider her [[action — what did she do again?]] to be counter to the vision of the Delaware Republican party — the party of Russ Peterson and Sen. Andrew Knox, perhaps the two public officials most responsible for the creation of the Coastal Zone Act. Is Senator Cloutier signalling that she no longer cares about and is willing to obstruct environment protection? Does she really intend to join with environmental obstructionists for the next two years? [*I voted for her in the previous election (if you did) and*] I will be following this issue carefully and discussing it with my friends and neighbors.

    I think that something like this could be added after every post where action is encouraged to help so many of us get up to speed. (And thanks for the shout-out on the daily-do today. 🙂 )

    Edited because I had put some stuff in angled brackets, which all disappeared when I posted.

  7. That’s a pretty long script. I called her office, but I know her (and like her), so I was more informal.

    I’d say something like (and keep in mind that you might get a machine) “Hi, I’m ——–, I’m a constituent of _____, and I’m calling to urge him/her to change their vote and to support Shawn Garvin for Secretary of DNREC. I don’t think we should be putting our environment at risk in order to score political points. My phone # is _______, and I’d appreciate a response reflecting the senator’s opinion. I’ll be sharing that response with my friends and neighbors.

    Thank you so much for responding to my request.”

    Please be polite and friendly. The person you reach on the phone is probably handling the phones for more than one senator, plus dealing with people who come to their desk. They’re mostly real nice people (I’ve been there), but often harried.

    Does that help?

  8. Paula says:

    This is just the kind of thing I was looking for! Thank you!

  9. Paula: In general, I think calls are more effective when they’re succinct. Provide the info that is needed and request the action that you’d like. Unless you are speaking directly to the official, the person taking the call is not gonna take down talking points, just the contact info and what your request is.

    There’s just too much going on and they don’t have the luxury of dallying too long.

  10. Hey, kids, on a whim, I checked out Nicole Poore’s bio on the Senate site. For occupation, it lists:

    “Sr. Client Services Manager – Agile 1”.

    Don’t take my word for it:

    That is a demonstrable lie. That is the job she had BEFORE she got the big bucks job at Jobs For Delaware Graduates in 2014.

    So, THEN I went to the Jobs For Delaware Graduates site:

    One of them is wrong. It’s the one that the public clicks on. Unethical AND dishonest. For almost three years.

    Memo to what press may still exist out there. How about committing some journalism by writing about this blatantly unethical conflict-of-interest?

  11. Anono says:

    So this is who we want, to head up DNREC?
    “arguing Small has allowed the refinery to become a bulk product shipping facility, a use expressly prohibited by the Coastal Zone Act, Delaware’s landmark environmental zoning law.” NJ 12/30/2016

    Please tell me what am I missing here?

  12. SSDD says:

    McBride drools over Nicole Poore like a livestock puppy.

  13. SSDD says: