cassandra_m's Latest Posts
Tomorrow (March 16, 2015), the first Delaware Moral Monday will take the form of a Prayer-In on East Steps of Legislative Hall in Dover. From the press release:
The issues facing our state are both deeply spiritual and social. In response to the hyper-criminalization of people of color and the evident disparities present within the state’s criminal justice system, participants will gather to pray that the God of justice would intervene on behalf of the marginalized during this legislative session. Both specific and general criminal justice concerns will be at the forefront. The repeal of the death penalty, one such matter that will be introduced in the Senate on March 18, will be advocated.
Yesterday, the NJ published a lengthy article where Wilmington’s business community officially went on the record to voice their disapproval of the Williams’ Administration’s approach to managing crime in the city. While news and complaints about the crime problem are not new, the fact that portions of Wilmington’s business community is willing to talk to journalists about their concerns is new and huge, I think. Previously, they could just reach out to the 9th floor and they usually had not just a sympathetic ear, but also an administration that at least tried to address their concerns. Not, the problem (while admittedly not that much bigger than before) is exacerbated by both the glib promises made by the Mayor and his people as well as an administration that is utterly MIA on this issue. It isn’t just that no one from the Administration will speak or even be seen to be proactive on safety issues (even the perception of safety issues), Wilmington’s business community has met with the Administration multiple times asking how they can help AND communicating that they can be counted on to support solutions. This effort has been met with silence.
We already know that a provision to roll back the Dodd-Frank provision that forbid banks from booking their deriviatives in the the parts of their business that is insured by taxpayers. They would have to keep them in the portions of their business where losses were borne entirely by the bank and their shareholders. Elizabeth Warren led what Bloomberg called The Great Swaps Rebellion during the Cromnibus negotiations. And John Carney was peeved:
As you’ve likely heard, 3 time governor of NY Mario Cuomo died yesterday. Cuomo was one of the best voices for progressive politics in my lifetime, and a frustrating leader who couldn’t seem to commit to leading the charge to implement those politics — turning down opportunities to run for President and to be on the Supreme Court. Still, he was a brilliant speaker, providing some of the best defenses and descriptions of liberal politics ever:
That’s the title of Newsweek’s article looking at the crime problem in Wilmington. I thought that this article mostly tried to leverage off of articles like this one, that rank the safety of small cities using FBI crime stats and articles from the News Journal also reporting on Wilmington’s crime issues. The author mentions a “tale of two cities” quality to the city (that’s true) but doesn’t really do this theme justice, which might have told us more about the problem. And if you google “Murdertown”, you see places like Flint, MI, Chicago, IL, various towns in Texas and Youngstown, OH, tagged with it, so the title to this article is even a little worn. Still:
This year, there have been 27 homicides in Wilmington, tying its record 27 murders in 2010, and 135 people have been shot. Twenty-two of them died. With a population of just over 71,000, Wilmington had a violent-crime rate of 1,625 per 100,000 people last year, according to the FBI’s 2013 Uniform Crime Report (that crime rate measures murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault). The national average was 368 per 100,000 people. Wilmington ranks third for violence among 450 cities of comparable size, behind the Michigan towns of Saginaw and Flint, according to a Wilmington News Journal report.
The stats are bad, but if the number of murders could be cut by one third or so, Wilmington would fall right off of those top 10 lists. The city would be a little safer for the folks who live in the neighborhoods where the guns seem drawn all of the time, but would the problem be resolved? Probably not, because:
When you ask people in Wilmington about the root causes of the city’s crime epidemic, their answers read like the devil’s Christmas list: poverty, racism, lack of economic opportunities, drug and alcohol abuse, gun violence, high dropout rates, teenage pregnancy, stressed families and more.
Lots of interesting ink has been spilled about the National election and it seems to be converging on the idea that Democratic Congressional candidates simply could not provide voters with a real reason to get out and vote for them. They couldn’t beat a GOP candidate in Staten Island who is under indictment, threatened to throw a reporter off of a balcony in the Capitol building and was otherwise just clueless. I’m going to provide some links to the better pieces I’ve read so far, but we’ll start with Bill Maher’s assessment (from his Facebook page):
I feel bad for the people Democrats are supposed to represent, not the Democratic candidates. They remind me of the Iraqi Army – running when they should fight.
Sexual assault is serious and traumatic for its survivors — and there is no comparison to paying taxes. Insisting on that comparison is certainly callous and certainly stupid. Two things that may, in fact, be habit with Rep. Smyk. He needs to apologize (and stop chasing down people he thinks are responsible for circulating this) and he needs to apologize now. Please sign this petition that calls upon Smyk to apologize for his stupid and offensive use of the word “rape” in trying to defend corporate interests.
Then, make sure you go vote for Marie Mayor, who will certainly respect and represent her constituents better than this.
We all know that the NJ is working on the lastest Gannett revenue extraction scheme — the Newsroom of the Future — that mainly looks like a way to implement a staff reduction while re-orienting their attention to their website, rather than the paper. This article from the Nashville Scene provides some details of what is going on at The Tenneseean (another Gannett property going through the same thing):
So he says in this recording of a debate answer defending his vote for bailing out casinos. Smyk is — surprise — an ex-cop and the district he represents is the area where Bradley committed his crimes against children. And this career cop wants you to believe that the taxes paid by casinos are the equivalent of rape. A comment that completely diminishes the violence of real rape and completely devalues the real trauma endured by its victims. To be sure, plenty of Ds voted for this bailout too — but none of them would tell you they were somehow in the rape prevention business. His opponent, Marie Mayor, has a great response — that the revenues from casinos ought to be in use the fix Delaware infrastructure, which is exactly right. So the choice is between the R who wants to reduce the casino taxes vs the D who wants to help get our roads and bridges fixed. There’s no point in re-electing Smyk if the only people he plans to represent are a handful of casino owners.
Come inside for the video….
It is all laid out for you in this Delaware Right Guest Post by Georgetown lawyer John Sandy. Sandy took a look at the recent bid documents reprocuring process serving services in the County. The Constitutional Sheriff couldn’t bring himself to follow the requirements of the RFP and lost the contract. A contract that should have added about $7M to Sussex County coffers. Seriously — go read the whole thing. Mr. Sandy provides documentation to back this up and also takes a look at how Christoper paid for his lawsuit via a non-refundable retainer with one of the law firms that represents the County. He claims that since it was a non-refundable retainer, that his lawsuit where multiple courts told him his view of the constitution wasn’t even worthy of a fiction award, that the taxpayers paid no money for his defense. Sussex doesn’t operate on a retainer basis and Sandy provides a summary of the invoices presented to the County to defend his boondoggle. Seriously folks, go read the whole thing. Not only is Christoper a bad constitutional scholar (?), he’s been an incompetent administrator of the office, losing a major revenue stream. And he is a liar. Sussex County citizens should send him to jail.
This is a thing of beauty — watching Stewart explain it and and O’Reilly stubbornly insisting on the fiction of equality:
Shep Smith says: “These are the facts — we do not have an outbreak of ebola in the United States. Nowhere.” And he takes the media (radio and TV) to task for hyperventilating when it isn’t needed. Bravo, Mr. Smith. When he’s on, he’s on:
There’s a debate for Attorney General Candidates (I don’t know if this includes all of the ballot-qualified candidates) at Widener tonight, starting at 6pm, conducted by WDEL. You can listen on WDEL or go over to Widener to see it in person.
Delaware Public Media and the University of Delaware Center for Political Communication sponsor debates with the major party candidates for U.S. House and U.S. Senate tonight at Mitchell Hall. This website provides the times (House starts at 7 and the Senate starts at 8), and there are rules for the debates there as well. Not sure if you can still attend in person, but that is likely there at the website. You can also watch a live stream (I think!) of the House and Senate debate.
South Carolina Prosecutors Say Stand Your Ground Doesn’t Apply To Victims Of Domestic Violence. Well, of course not! Stand Your Ground is for white men who want to shoot people with impunity! So silly to think that an expansion of 2nd Amendment rights would apply to you women and colored people:
In the cases of women who claim they feared for their lives when confronted with violent intimate abusers, prosecutors say the Stand Your Ground law shouldn’t apply.
“(The Legislature’s) intent … was to provide law-abiding citizens greater protections from external threats in the form of intruders and attackers,” prosecutor Culver Kidd told the Post and Courier. “We believe that applying the statute so that its reach into our homes and personal relationships is inconsistent with (its) wording and intent.”
I’ve been listening to this debate on WDEL and Brenda Mayrack is really crushing it here. Wagner is crouching behind a story that his is a technical and complex job, which is why he isn’t doing accountability and watchdog roles — even though he thinks he should be re-elected to do accountability and watchdog work. He sounded *very* condescending to her and she bypassed that BS to stay on her message. Wagner spent a great deal of his time explaining how the real work of accountability belongs to agency management and the legislature. Basically, Wagner wants you to know that:
This ought to be the talk of everyone today — with the Texas Ebola problem, we are seeing how the US Public Health system has been deliberately broken:
That chart is from a great piece in the Scientific American, showing how Public Health spending has been on the decline. The author, Judy Stone, provides some context for how Public Health considerations have been undermined over the past few years. Read the entire thing, then take a look at some of the material she provides in the links at the end of the article:
We found out this week that approximately 25% of Delaware’s High school students are college-ready, in terms of their SAT scores. Leaving aside that SAT scoring is not the most reliable measure of college-readiness, what is the correlation between the SATs and the DCAS testing regime in Delaware’s schools? It seems to me that if DCAS measures what a kid is learning (yes, I know that is a BIG IF), and the kids are taking a curriculum that makes them ready for college, how can the SAT scores be so out of line with all of this testing? It is pretty remarkable to me that DCAS is used as an accountability test, but that it apparently all of that learning it measures doesn’t translate to better SAT scores.
And this is right here in Millsboro and the Indian River School District, where one Shaun Fink is trying to impose his religious bigotries (beliefs masquerading as bigotry) on the high school students in the District. You can read the details of Mr. Fink’s attempt to impose this atrocious bit of Christian Sharia law in this NJ article. Mr. Fink is hiding behind his so-called Christianity to try to demonize and ostracize LGBT people, objecting to the teaching of differences in sexual orientation as against his beliefs. Unfortunately, Mr. Fink still thinks he is living in the last century where not only could you get away with that kind of bigotry, but there was little price to be paid for it. In this century, this kind of bigotry is simply not a survial skill or a leadership skill — two things you want your kids to have. An official demonization of LGBT people — objecting to making them normal (as if they aren’t already) not only does not serve these kids, but also tries to use the government to impose your bigotry on others. Even more, what Mr. Fink knows is that kids are more tolerant of differences among them, including LGBT differences. Trying to curb a basic course on sexuality to impart Mr. Fink’s message that LGBT people are not “normal” is about him imposing his beliefs on these kids — because he knows that they don’t prioritize these differences. And trying to control other people — their behavior and their beliefs is what Sharia Law is all about, right?
A memo from David Ledford to NJ reporters, editors and other staff went out with a list of the new job descriptions that NJ employees need to fit into (see below). You’ll recall that NJ employees are going to be required to re-apply for their jobs, re-interview I suppose, and convince whoever is in charge of this business that they should still be around. After reading the memo and the Job Descriptions (see below), this is just an odd thing. It certainly looks like they are using this exercise to orient themselves to the web and it looks like they are going to reduce positions. It isn’t immediately clear that some of the folks on the editorial page would fit into this order. Which (even though they make me mad sometimes) seems like a waste of knowledge. I understand that some of the NJ folks have already decided that they will not re-apply and are walking away. Over the past year, that’s quite the exodus of local knowledge.
Over the weekend, the Gordon Administration started releasing some details in the planned trip to Denmark for a library tour by the Community Services Manager and an Administrative Librarian. The NJ article now has some estimates of the cost of the trip for two people and the planned dates of travel. There’s also some estimates of the costs of previous trips. The NJ is still pursuing its FOIA request for this data. Still — it’s all so much bull:
Some council members said they had never been briefed on the project. When they were finally given details last week, the Denmark trip was left out of the presentation. One council member happened to ask about it because he had heard a rumor.
“They all knew the principle behind this, which was to design the best library in the country,” Gordon said of council. “To attack that, it looks like we’re fighting and hurts our ability to attract more partners.”
This week’s unnecessary controversy is over a planned trip to Denmark (!) by Community Services Manager, Sophia Hanson, and an unnamed other county employee to inspect a library that apparently they think is a model for what they want to do with the planned library across the street (sort of) from Chris Bullock’s church on Rt 9. County Council did not know of this trip until Councilman George Smiley asked about it after a presentation on this library this week. It isn’t clear that any one knows much more about this trip, but Adam Taylor of the NJ asked for more detail and was pretty much told that the County won’t release more information on this because the County Executive thinks that the NJ is just going to do a hit piece:
County spokesman Tony Prado said Friday that Gordon administration officials would not talk about the trip. They wouldn’t say who was going, when the trip is scheduled to take place, how much it will cost, whose idea it was, or why it is necessary to visit a library in Denmark.
“The executive is concerned this is going to be a negative story and he doesn’t want to comment,” Prado said. “This has been a project that is near and dear to his heart, and the executive feels like this is going to be a hit piece, so he would just rather not comment.”