El Somnambulo's Latest Posts
This is truth, not fiction. The Delaware Chapter of the Faith & Freedom Coalition has endorsed putative Democrat Dave Tackett in the Democratic Primary against State Sen. Bryan Townsend. Tackett was endorsed along with a bunch of R’s. The Faith & Freedom Coalition is the home for the usual suspect right-wing nut jobs. Ralph Reed is the founder and chairman. Their endorsers include Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, Marco Rubio, the Christian Broadcasting Network, Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, and Ted Cruz, among many others. This group, this group, has decided to endorse Dave Tackett. For those who doubt me, here is the press release….
We all know Colin Bonini. The Senator who votes against the Budget pretty much every year and publicly scolds the General Assembly for failing to make the ‘tough choices’. Meaning failing to shred the social safety net while cutting taxes and screwing unions. This self-same Colin Bonini sits on the Bond Bill Committee. A superb […]
The Democratic Party endorses neither candidate for the State Treasurer primary. Kremlinologists no doubt will enjoy parsing the following sentence:
Given the Committee’s perception of quality both Democratic Treasurer candidates possess, the committee failed to reach consensus on the endorsement of either candidate.
Might I suggest that this is one endorsement that neither candidate really wanted? How could Chip run as the anti-establishment candidate if the establishment endorsed him, and how could Barney run as someone not beholden to the Carpers and Carneys of this world if he got the endorsement? My vote will ultimately come down to this: What can we least afford? A self-delusional narcissist who has had his hands effectively tied, or the next Carper or Carney?
Two serious soulful performers gone. A guitar god who sometimes placed speed (in both ways) ahead of pitch or accuracy, and one of the most galvanizing stage performers (for whom pitch was thankfully never the point) I’ve ever seen with a particular penchant for the music of Stephen Sondheim….
Don’t look for gimlet-eyed Jack Markell to lift a finger to assist in the humanitarian crisis at the nation’s borders. Delaware Gov. Markell turned down a request from The US Department of Health & Social Services to even consider making any state resources available to stem the humanitarian crisis. He blames congressional ‘dithering’. As if the kids placed in the middle of this crisis can do anything to overcome congressional dithering.
Markell, who is among a number of the nation’s governors who fielded federal requests for help, said there are no state facilities available that could properly accommodate the children while they await immigration hearings. But he said some Delaware faith-based organizations might be in a position to offer assistance.
“I don’t really see the possibility of any state facilities housing these kids,” Markell said Monday. “I don’t think that exists. If private organizations choose to do so, that’ll be up to them.”
There’s no sense recapping what we’ve already recapped, so I won’t. However, there is at least a possibility that Rebecca Walker will not be the only person to withdraw from the ballot. 1. Today marks another election deadline: July 11, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. DEADLINE for filed candidates to withdraw or file for a different […]
I first got a heads-up on this from a reader, and then I went to the Delaware Elections website and discovered that she is no longer listed among the ballot-qualified candidates. In other words, Rebecca Walker has withdrawn for reelection in the 9th RD. And, by waiting until after the filing deadline to remove her […]
The deadline for candidates to file is 12 noon Tuesday. Parties can fill slots on the ballot moving forward, and candidates can withdraw, but anyone who does not file by the deadline cannot get on the ballot w/o party support.
1. Yes, the fearsome duo of Carl Smink and Rose Izzo will lead the mighty Republican ticket into battle this fall. Izzo filed on Thursday, July 3.
2. Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf will run for reelection. Not that it was ever in doubt, but he has now filed.
1. Will State Auditor Tom Wagner file for reelection?
This is awesome, just the kind of stuff I love. You will no doubt recall, through the writings of Cassandra and others, that Delaware utilities currently cannot offer their customers consumer conservation programs that would save the consumer money and reduce energy usage.
You also know that a bill designed to permit utilities to offer these programs was buried in the Senate Energy Committee, where it had languished for over a year under the watchful eye of SEU founder and Senator Harris McDowell. Which brings us to last night, and, for that matter, this morning. At 3:21:05 am, to be precise.
No, Sen. McDowell did not relent, nor did he release HB 179 from committee. So, how did this get done?
The Longest Day. Here’s what a final day is usually like. Legislators drift in, and sessions generally begin around 4 pm or so. Dinner break a couple hours later. Because of, um, unfortunate instances of overindulgence in the past, members and staff generally dine in Leg Hall. In the past, lobbyists have paid for dinner. […]
Yes, Chris Coons has a Republican challenger. His name is Carl Smink. Here’s what I know. He’s filed, but hasn’t announced. He’s from Milton. His website is under construction. He has written a few op-eds, or maybe letters to the editor, for the Cape Gazette, none of which are readily available unless you’re a subscriber. He IS, however, a “Drill, Baby, Drill” kinda guy who hates socialism. Ok.
Two Kent County state reps may not even make it to November, and I must say I’m surprised. Both Harold Peterman (33rd RD) and Don Blakey (34th RD) are being challenged. Peterman’s opponent is Charles Postles, who appears to be the chair of…the 33rd Republican RD Committee.
Blakey’s challenger is Lyndon Yearick, who doesn’t fit a Tea Party profile, at least not on the surface. Active in the United Way, mentoring programs, and also the Chair of the 34th RD, Yearick looks like the kind of candidate R’s looking to restore credibility to their Party would seek out. He’s currently the Maryland/Delaware Campus Director for Kaplan Test Prep. He has an MBA from Penn State (OK, now that’s a cult). By far, one of the more interesting candidate profiles I’ve come across.
My question is this: Why would two RD chairs primary sitting state legslators? Usually, the legislators themselves have a huge say in who the RD chair is. Is it possible that Peterman and/or Blakey are retiring even though they’ve filed? One would think so. C’mon Kent County, help me out here.
The Senate approved a new Supreme Court Justice, Karen Valihura, and David Small as DNREC Secretary. I can’t let this go without a comment about Justice Carolyn Berger‘s resignation from the Delaware Supreme Court and her seemingly ‘injudicious’ comments. I don’t know it she’s right on the specifics of Markell not taking her seriously, but she’s right on point when it comes to, well, I guess the operative word is ‘paternalism’, when it comes to women appointees to judgeships.
When I first started working in Dover, the operative word was ‘chauvinism’. I’ll leave it to others to decide whether paternalism is a step up from chauvinism. To me, it’s ‘same old wine in a brand new bottle’. From Philadelphia Business Journal:
Berger’s situation outlines a concern in some quarters in Delaware that women do not have enough of a role on the judicial branch. Berger said women have advanced on the state’s family court, superior court and court of common pleas. She is also the only female to serve on the Court of Chancery, which deals with business litigation.
“Family court is the only court ever to have a woman chief judge,” Berger said. “The court of chancery has had no women judges for the past 20 years, despite the fact that several well-qualified women have applied in the past. And I’ve been the only woman on the supreme court. Many other states have more than one woman justice, and in several jurisdictions, women justices outnumber male justices.”
Maybe it’s the same menfolk arguing that Delaware’s courts are the nation’s most prestigious who, in their own paternalistic minds, don’t want the wimmenfolk messing with that reputation. Perhaps the wimmenfolk who are assuming the leadership role in the State Senate just might have something to say about this moving forward. I hope so. But, I digress. You can as well. In the comments section.
We also know that the General Assembly will find some way to waste money on the casinos. Casinos that are in the shape they’re in due to disastrous business decisions by its oligarch owners. Didja see the latest? Read the article carefully and see if I come to the same conclusion you do. Those supporting the latest casino bailout, including Jack Markell, are now proposing to use ‘one-time’ funds that were not used for their original purpose:
The casino aid proposal now offers $9.9 million to casinos by using $5 million left over from an $8 million bailout approved by the General Assembly last year (?). The proposal also uses $3.2 million set aside for the Kent County Sports Complex in the the Delaware Economic Development Office’s job infrastructure fund and the remainder would come from other money available from that fund.
Got that? The “Delaware Economic Development Office’s job infrastructure fund“. And just what are these funds supposed to, um, fund?:
The infrastructure fund for economic development, established in 2012, provides assistance for renovation, construction, or other improvements to roads, utilities and infrastructure to attract new businesses to the state. It also can be used for the expansion of existing state businesses to create jobs, according to the fund’s guidelines.
In other words, that Fund could (and I think should) help fund road and infrastructure improvements. Instead it’s going to bail out the casinos. As to the ‘expansion of existing state businesses to create jobs’, we’re not getting job expansion at the casinos. In fact, I think Cassandra’s right. The ink won’t be dry on the Governor’s signature before the alarm bells are once again sounded by the casinos. They are now essentially extorting money from the State. Our public officials are paying.
I really didn’t think this would happen, and, I must admit, I’m almost stunned that the General Assembly would choose political expediency over our deteriorating infrastructure. The Governor is not exempt from criticism. Far from it. Jack Markell (a) waited until an election year to play a game of chicken on infrastructure spending; (b) likened the need to continue our ongoing periodic road maintenance program to swallowing bitter medicine rather than pointing out the benefits to our state’s economy from having those great construction jobs; and (c) decided to (pardon the expression) muddy the waters by making this a two-fer with a proposed clean water initiative. Horrible messaging, horrible staff work.
Still, I never expected the Delaware General Assembly, by dint of deliberate inaction, to blow (at least) a $70 million hole in the annual transportation capital budget. $70 million less spent on keeping our roads and bridges drivable in FY 15 than was spent in FY 14. (Well, maybe $60 mill, should the Honorables hike weekend tolls on Rt. 1.) This is blatant dereliction of duty. From the ridiculous (Valerie Longhurst proclaiming that she simply won’t allow a gas tax increase) to the equally-ridiculous (Greengrocer Hocker claiming that, since the D’s can’t pass this by themselves, he’s not going to ‘help’ them). Never mind everybody who drives in this state who will suffer the consequences. I’ve been around a long time. This Profile in Cowardice ranks near the top of the most cynical gestures ever to emerge from Dover. When the roads become pockmarked, you know who to blame. Call them on it. And if you live in one of these idiots’ districts, and you have the chance, vote against them.
While ignoring public safety, the Honorables appear poised to provide another $10 million to help bail out the bad business decisions made by greedy racino millionaires who were literally given licenses to steal by the State. Who could possibly argue that our legislative luminaries have their priorities in order? Looks like we’re headed towards a horrible conclusion to what has generally been a good legislative session.
Ted Kittila, a Seaford native and a Wilmington corporate attorney, announced that he would run as an R for Attorney General. He has not yet filed. Here is a background piece on Kittila from the News Journal. It also looks like Kittila will need to bring something a little stronger than his trying to contrast himself with Denn by essentially claiming that he is a lawyer while Denn is a politician. Denn’s response:
“I have practiced law in every court in the State of Delaware, representing both businesses and people with few resources or who couldn’t afford an attorney,” Denn said. “I have worked to improve the public safety system as chair of the Criminal Justice Council. I have experience protecting consumers as Insurance Commissioner, protecting children as Chair of the Child Protection Accountability Commission and getting laws passed as Insurance Commissioner and Lieutenant Governor to help families, businesses, schools and kids. I look forward to talking about my experience and ideas.”
Last day of the DIY reports, I promise. Got next week’s work schedule, and it’s ‘green across the screen’. In the limited remaining time allotted to me today, I’ll now proceed to scour my resources for stuff that interests me…
Very happy to see the Senate pass SB 253(McBride), which ultimately conveys a parcel of property to Faithful Friends. Anyone who knows anything about Faithful Friends knows that they perform an invaluable public service in providing care and adoption services for stray and abandoned pets. A humane no-kill shelter with some of the finest staff and volunteers you’ll ever meet. I find it ironic that the three senators who voted no reside in an area known for housing Delaware’s worst (only?) puppy mills.
The FY ’15 Budget Bill was introduced and laid on the table in the Senate. If you have time, read the Epilog Language. That’s where all the sneaky stuff usually is.
Yay! HB 331(Kowalko) unanimously passed the House yesterday! The bill requires that both the University of Delaware and Del State comply with FOIA. And, unless I misread it, the House Amendment voted onto the bill strengthens the bill. The University must really have pissed off some important people.
The most DIY Edition ever. I almost never have to go to work this early. But, today I do. It’s up to you, dear readers to provide content, snark, context, and that je ne sais quoi that I bring. Here are the raw materials I work with on a daily basis….
Roads Held Hostage: Day…um, I Lost Count. Seven legislative days remain, still no word of any sort of fix to the $70 (or $90) million hole in the State’s transportation/infrastructure budget. Looks like we’re getting in ‘patch, then kick the can down the road’ territory. The very idea that D’s can’t or won’t tout a needed $70 (or $90) mill road repair/jobs program pretty much defines what’s wrong with Delaware’s brand of ‘Democrat’. BTW, since it looks like the 495 repair will cost somewhere around $20 mill, I’m hedging my bets as to whether the hole in our transportation funding is $70 mill or $90 mill.
OK, there are only a few ways that I can write the same story day after day. Whether I’ll run out of ways to write it before a fix is arrived at remains to be seen. Check back tomorrow.
Oopsies. Did I say tomorrow? Breaking news, and it ain’t good. A real bleak fiscal picture, must-reading for anyone interested in what’s gonna get funded and what will not. Here’s the takeaway quote:
“The problem is that no one wants to raise taxes for anything. You don’t want to raise the gas tax. You don’t want to raise income taxes. You don’t want a sales tax. You don’t want any of these taxes, but you still want the infrastructure,” Bhatt told lawmakers.
Speaking of infrastructure, DELDOT’s capital proposal is $128 mill, $70 mill less than last year’s. Revenue-shifting and the General Assembly’s refusal to even consider a gas tax will mean deteriorating roads, bridges and infrastructure. Hey, hopefully they’ll be out of office when stuff actually falls down. Then they can blame it on someone else. Cowardice. Proof that these election-obsessives don’t live in a reality-based world.
2. Chip Flowers Creates Yet Another Issue For Himself
So, let’s see if I’ve got this straight. In order to ‘save the state money’, Delaware’s Most Ethical State Employee has cut deals with seven banks, all of whom manage state $$’s, to pay for his travel expenses and those of his staff. $5K per bank, times 7. $35,000 in travel expenses. Which is a lot of travel expenses. I would call this extortion were Flowers not so ethical. He, of course, is once again changing the subject. This issue isn’t/wasn’t that he traveled, it is/was that he was unable to account for how much he spent and who paid for it. If a treasurer can’t account for his own expenses, how can he account for the state’s finances?
3. I’m Not Loving Sean Barney’s Campaign
I got an e-blast from him yesterday. He’s been endorsed by a buncha lawyers. I like some of those lawyers. I don’t give two bleeps that they’ve endorsed him. He used some of the same boilerplate that I can’t stand when it comes to our Corporate Bar:
Our legal community in Delaware inspires trust and confidence the world over because of its reputation for upholding the highest standards of professional responsibility. Moreover, Delaware’s bar is exceptional in the manner in which it pairs the highest expectations of competence with the highest expectations of collegiality.
I have people telling me on the QT that Sean Barney is really one of us. As in progressive. But he is running a risk-averse campaign where all we learn about him is about his military service, his high school schools initiative, and the fact that he’s been endorsed by a lot of the usual suspects. Haven’t even heard a dog-whistle from him to create any enthusiasm.
So, the I-495 bridge repair is gonna cost $20 million or so. About 60,000 vehicles, a lot of them trucks, are now grinding other Delaware roads, further degrading those road surfaces. Not so much as a peep out of the General Assembly as to how they’re gonna fund the $70 mill hole in the road/infrastructure funding. Which may now be $90 mill. Rethug signs still litter New Castle County, proclaiming ‘No New Gas Taxes’. Is anybody gonna do anything?
OK, let’s talk about Delaware’s position as the nation’s corporate leader. Our lofty perch is not based on having ‘better’ lawyers, ‘better’ judges, or having the abiding respect of the corporate community. We’re in this position because we’ve passed laws that enable corporations to engage in unsavory practices that otherwise would be considered criminal activity. We make it impossible for people to know who are behind straw corporations, or why these shells exist in the first place. We enable the worst kinds of criminal activity, including arms sales, drug-running, and, yes, human trafficking, by enabling corporations to create impossible-to-follow paper trails. The entire political establishment props this up by worshipping at the feet of the Court of Chancery and by placing those who are its most effective defenders in positions of power. It’s no accident that the preponderance of judgeships go to those from the corporate law community . It’s no accident that people like Ed Friel and Jeff Bullock, both from Carper Cyborgenics, have served as Secretaries of State. They’re all in on Delaware’s dirty secret: Our vast revenues generated by Delaware’s corporate hegemony are derived from Delaware’s willingness, no, eagerness, to enact laws that benefit even the worst actors at the expense of, well, people. In Delaware, corporations are not merely people, they have rights superior to people. You can put suits on these people, and they can be heralded as Delaware’s best, but they are merely well-learned shills and shysters.
Hey, it’s no surprise that Delaware was the state to legalize usury. We were the most experienced when it came to legalizing criminal activity via corporate shell games.
So it was no surprise that HB 327 and HB 328 flew through the House yesterday, it’s what we do. Every year. In June. A package of bills emerges from the Corporate Section of the Delaware Bar every year. Proponents cite them as necessary to continue Delaware’s pre-eminent position in corporate law. But now you know just what kind of stuff is in these bills. Thanks to the ADA, League of Women Voters, and the Delaware Alliance for Community Advancement, for shining a light on Delaware’s dirty secret. Maybe, just maybe, this will start a debate that should have been taking place all along.
I’m hearing alarm bells over a package of corporate bills on today’s agenda. Bills like these generally sail through the General Assembly in June, and reflect lawyerly obeisance to their corporate masters. Nobody usually knows what’s in these bills, except for the legal sharks and the corporate forces writing the bills for/with them. Which brings me to HB’s 327 and 328. Both sponsored by Rep. Walker, who is running them, as well as HB’s 326 and 329 on behalf of the Corporate Law section of the Delaware Bar. The League of Women Voters, Americans for Democratic Action, and the Delaware Alliance for Community Advancement have all expressed concerns regarding HB 327 and HB 328. From the ADA:
Delaware is a leader in incorporation. As such, we have responsibilities to ensure we are supporting legitimately-purposed corporations as well as not allowing our state to be used as an easy way for people to set up corporations anonymously and then use them to facilitate drug smuggling, arms trafficking, money laundering, anonymous campaign contributions, or other nefarious activities. Our state’s reputation suffers when we allow bad actors to take advantage of our laws that enable the easy establishment of untraceable shell companies.
…However, these bills are ineffective as written. They do not require information be collected about the real people, often called beneficial owners, who ultimately own or control Delaware companies, and they do not make it any easier for law enforcement to access this information—in fact, for law enforcement to access the information that is collected, someone at the company needs to be tipped off that they are under investigation.
Any general election ballot with both Matt Denn and Brenda Mayrack on it is a ballot worth filling out. For years, we, and many of you, have lamented the dearth of progressives at the highest levels of elected state Democratic officeholders. I am convinced that both Denn and Mayrack are true progressives, and that the offices for which they’re running this year are unlikely to be the last offices for which they run. In addition to being progressives, both are real competent. With all due respect to Beau Biden (and that’s about as much respect as he’s due), Denn is a huge upgrade in the competence department. As for Tom Wagner, is there anybody in the state, other than perhaps Dick Cathcart, even willing to make an argument about his competence? Unless one views not doing anything as evidence of competence? Now contrast him with Brenda Mayrack. As Spiro Agnew might say, “Nolo contendere”. Speaking of Wagner and Cathcart, for those of you new to this scandal, this is must reading. Pretty much everything you need to know in one place. Perhaps that Delaware City sycophant who kisses Cathcart’s ass (no, not Val Longhurst, the other Delaware City sycophant who kisses Cathcart’s ass) will respond to this. Wagner? I dunno. But the term ‘suspendered disbelief’ was never more appropriate. BTW, in a delicious piece of irony, the pathetic report/whitewash from Wagner that I linked to in the article…is no longer available from the Auditor’s office.