WTF Is Wrong With John Carney?

Filed in Delaware by on March 4, 2018

I understand why Gov. John Carney wanted to get rid of DEDO, the Delaware Economic Development Office, after the office spent the Markell years throwing taxpayer money with great fanfare at ventures that went tits-up (looking at you, Fisker!).

What I don’t understand is why he replaced it with a “public-private partnership” that essentially hands taxpayer money to a bunch of business people (with a few pols thrown in) to disburse. And the worst part is that this “Delaware Prosperity Partnership” wasn’t even formed for the dubious purpose of luring other companies to Delaware — it was formed to give money to companies that are already here.

That was re-affirmed this week by the body’s new permanent head, William Kurt Foreman, who was lured back to the East Coast from Oklahoma City, where he ran — how’d you guess? — the local chamber of commerce.

Here’s the part that really beggars belief: The DPP has a budget of $3.4 million. Foreman’s pay is $240,000. That means over 14%7% of the organization’s budget is going to the salary of its executive director. I thought forming stupid agencies to waste public money was the exclusive purview of Sen. Harris McDowell, but this proves me wrong.

“Only” $2 million of the budget is public money, but that’s enough to pay the state’s portion of education funding for about 200 kids. Instead we’ll spend it on letting a bunch of businesscritters sit around and decide which of their peers should be rewarded for keeping their business in Delaware.

Theoretically, Republican Ken Simpler would be worse. But don’t be surprised if Carney’s ineptitude gives voters a reason to give the GOP a chance.

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  1. SussexWatcher says:

    This thing had better produce some results in the next two years if Carney wants to be re-elected.

    The fact of the matter is, he could have implemented his vision through DEDO just by putting his preferred people in place. There was no need to do this Partnership. Every other governor has been able to accomplish some things through the people they hired. Instead, Carney took a year to pass a bill, move DEDO around, organize this entity and hire a leader. He could have skipped all that and just hired a leader and gotten started right away. The only thing new about this partnership is the private money. A good leader could have convinced the private sector to put up some of their own cash without this secret board running the show.

    But that is all relying on a governor who has (1) a vision and (2) people who share that vision and can execute it.

    I don’t think Carney has either. He is stuck on the internal mechanics of government instead of getting actual work done. He loves talking about forming this Family Services Cabinet Council like it’s accomplishing something. It’s not. His only articulated vision for the economy is public-private partnerships, which has been the government catchphrase for about a decade now. He abdicates leadership on so many issues to the General Assembly. And I don’t think he has many people who are following or are eager to join him. Look at the number of Markell holdovers in the Cabinet – he didn’t have a pool of his own people to tap. Look at the ex-campaign manager he just named labor secretary – the guy is a decade out of college and has zero leadership experience other than a year at the office formerly known as DEDO.

    Carney had a full year where he knew he was going to be governor. He apparently spent that time twiddling his thumbs and measuring the drapes. I really think he peaked as deputy chief of staff.

  2. Stewball says:

    Great points by Alby and SW.

    Is the new guy’s salary solely funded by taxpayer dollars? If so, we’re paying him more than we pay Carney.

  3. chris says:

    the other overlooked issue is that this new entity is not releasing any info to the public. All decisions will be done behind a black curtain…. this should have been established with full safeguards in place to ensure no conflicts of interest and no insider deals. Shame on the General Assembly leaders of both parties for not making this part of the new entity, not some detail to be created after the fact. Because it will never happen until the first scandal is exposed. Typical Delaware Way!!!!!!!!

  4. puck says:

    The first public fuck-up by this “Prosperity Partnership” will create a political opening for its abolishment – which may well come from Republicans, not Democrats.

  5. jason330 says:

    It will be nearly impossible for Ken Simpler to run to the right of Carney. I suspect he’ll give it the ol’ Princeton Tigers try though.

  6. puck says:

    Carney’s right flank is impenetrable, but he is low-energy and low on vision and competence. Simpler doesn’t need to run to the right. At this point Simpler could run on a promise of good government and win.

  7. Alby says:

    @Stewball: No, 40% of his salary is “privately funded.”

  8. Jason330 says:

    Puck. I get that Simpler could do that. I’m saying that he will STILL try to get to the right of Carney.

  9. Anon says:

    Puck you seriously think Republicans will have a problem with this? Did any of them vote down this idea first time? Did anyone vote it down?

  10. Dave says:

    “At this point Simpler could run on a promise of good government and win.”

    Exactly correct. Simpler is a foregone conclusion. The right will vote for him because he is a Republican. The Independents will vote for him because he seems to be capable of good government. The locals will vote for him because he is one of their own. The liberals and Democrats will vote for him because he isn’t Carney.

  11. john kowalko says:

    Probably underpaid him when you consider Herdman with the non-profit (but not non-interfering) education reform organization RODEL is pulling down nearly $400,000 a year in mostly taxpayer/grant/nepotistic money. Putting a million or two into the coffers of one of the least knowledgeable and experienced corporate “Education Reform Frankensteins” to be stuffed into some politically connected hacks wallet probably ensures a lucrative career future for Mr. Foreman.
    Representative John Kowalko

  12. john kowalko says:

    “Did anyone vote it down”?
    I voted against it and would double down that I and a few others made the right choice in trying to vote it down
    Rep. Kowalko

  13. Liberals Are Weenies says:

    Simpler has no chance of becoming Governor, not any chance at all. Carney could shoot babies on Main Street every day and cruise to reelection.

  14. Alby says:

    Such insightful commentary. Must be a conservative. You really shouldn’t start huffing gasoline until after dark, fella.

  15. chris says:

    RODEL is a joke on education….lots of talk and nothing else…
    if they are paying their guy 400K, that is a waste of serious money…
    shows you where some nonprofits have gone so wrong

  16. lebay says:

    “The DPP has a budget of $3.4 million. Foreman’s pay is $240,000. That means over 14% of the organization’s budget is going to the salary of its executive director.”

    Check your math, Alby. $3400000.00 x .14 = $476000.00

    Foreman’s pay would be just over 7% of the annual budget.

  17. Alby says:

    Thanks, lebay. Got that fixed.

    Still seems weird to me to give someone that much money to give away so little money. Purzycki didn’t get a whole lot more than that to run the RDC, which had a much bigger budget.

    I suppose the silver lining is that if you can keep these Chamber types tied up giving away peanuts, you come out ahead of the game. It beats giving away $20 million at a time.

  18. mouse says:

    There has never been any visible let alone effective economic development efforts that I’ve seen after living here more than half my life. And the mentality down here in the swamps of Sussex is that we need right work to attract more low wage manufacturing jobs. This is nuts. Sussex County has a huge percentage of affluent connected people on the east side of the county. With having the former VP here, being so close and connected to DC, having huge swaths of open land and being home to corporate crooks, I don’t get why we can’t form some kind of coalition to bring high tech high paying jobs here? Senator Carper?? But all we get are parasitic developers hiring low wage workers to deforest the inland bays watershed and build 3 models of beige plastic houses for cheapskate transplant retirees starting at 400K. Even the airport/industrial park could be a huge draw but it’s ignored.

  19. Dave says:

    “I don’t get why we can’t form some kind of coalition to bring high tech high paying jobs here?”

    Composition of the Sussex County Council

    Michael Vicent – Age, 73, years in Sussex County – 73, small business Vincent Fire Equipment
    Sam Wilson – Age 79, years in Sussex County – 79, farmer
    George Cole – Age 67, years in Sussex County – 67, Realtor, Antique dealer
    IG Burton – Age – 58, years in Sussex County – 58 , Auto dealer (retired), DELDOT Council on Transportation, Bayhealth Board of Directors, UD Board of Directors.
    Robert Arlett – Age 51, years in Sussex County – 13, Realtor, formerly sales/marketing, COMCAST sales (reason for coming to Delaware – slower life, more conservative/Christian environment)

    Primary objective – Preserving the way of life in Sussex County

    Considering the composition and objective of council, what would be necessary to create a vision and plan that would result in an approach for creating high tech jobs in the county (aside from a major university presence)?

    Hint 1: Remember to a hammer everything is a nail.
    Hint 2: What is a high tech, high paying job?

    Craft your answer in a manner that could be comprehended by and would appeal to those on the council. Avoid the use of terms such as software, robotics, quantum, computer, drone. Include terms such as mechanical, manufacture, assembly.

    You have all the time you want to complete the task.

  20. Alby says:

    @Dave: An assignment like that will get you poor grades from students at

    I give it an A+.

  21. mouse says:

    Never mind

  22. mouse says:

    The men on Sussex Council are selfish, mostly old, myopic and do nothing that doesn’t directly benefit them or their cronies. Old white rich men with zero vision for anything. They like the feudal atmosphere that produces slave labor. They could care less about the quality of life or environmental impact of their decisions.

  23. Alby says:

    Those decisions have lined the pockets of the old men and their cronies with foldable green stuff, so there’s that.

  24. Dave says:

    Exactly. And to a farmer (lest we forget Vance Phillips the watermelon farmer and philanderer) the county needed little else but farm roads (farm to market roads). They did not (still don’t) much care about that Sodom and Gomorrah place – Rehoboth Beach and how folks would get there or the young people and their future in the 21st century. It was good enuff for Pa and Ma and it’s good enuff for them.

    Fuedal is the correct word for their vision.

  25. mouse says:

    Phillips was ahead of his times. His party has normalized sleaze, crime and sexual perversion

  26. Dave says:

    Actually, Western Sussex County is ahead of it’s time. They have always been about sleaze and perversion (although Vance Phillips lived in the eastern part of the county, his farm was in the west). Remember, Evangelicals are only required to talk about morality. They are not required to practice it. Their god is a forgiving god. That’s why they spend a great deal of time repenting. It’s the mainstay of their religion.

  27. spktruth says:

    Carney has a vision? The man is an incompetent with incompetents surrounding him. Carney like Coons and Carper are center right. Sussex Council made up of very old white men is the reason Sussex wants to be a right to work county. They could never convince a high tech industry to come down below the canal as they don’t have nor want the infrastructure necessary. Remember Sussex County didn’t sign on to getting rid of slaves until the early 1900’s.