Delaware

Shame on the Joint Finance Commitee

Filed in Delaware by on July 1, 2015 13 Comments
Shame on the Joint Finance Commitee

My favorite politician in Delaware is disappointed and we should all be as well. Matt Denn, the Delaware Attorney General, posted this on Facebook this morning…..

Continue Reading »

Note to Wilmington City Council — Ready, Fire, Aim Is Not A Public Safety Strategy

Filed in Delaware by on June 30, 2015 7 Comments
Note to Wilmington City Council — Ready, Fire, Aim Is Not A Public Safety Strategy

Last night there was a meeting of the Wilmington City Council Public Safety Committee and of the Committee of the Whole — intended to discuss the budget amendment that would authorize two new Inspector positions and and a Chief Information Officer for the WPD. What you could tell when the conversation started was that this […]

Continue Reading »

Delaware General Assembly Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 30, 2015

Filed in Delaware by on June 30, 2015 21 Comments
Delaware General Assembly Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 30, 2015

“HOSTAGE-TAKERS WIN. YOU LOSE.”

That will likely be the headline from the last day of session barring something unexpected.

Especially with the Rethugs seemingly determined to abdicate any responsibility to be, um, responsible. For purely id(iot)eological reasons, the R’s have tied any willingness to cooperate to screwing workers through their obsessive need to push for ‘right to work for less’.  They have also abandoned any pretense of thinking for themselves, leaving all talking points to their ALEC overlords. Check out their refusal to stop the escalating infrastructure crisis from getting any funding. Check out the result.  Greg Lavelle perhaps cemented (the use of ‘cemented’ is deliberate) his position as the Worst Legislator in the General Assembly by his phony demands for ‘reform’ which, for anyone paying attention, simply is a transfer of  administrative costs from the Transportation Trust Fund to the operating budget w/o providing a mechanism to pay for it:

Continue Reading »

BREAKING NEWS: Parties Try Last-Minute Cash Grab in General Assembly!

Filed in Delaware by on June 29, 2015 28 Comments
BREAKING NEWS: Parties Try Last-Minute Cash Grab in General Assembly!

The D’s and R’s have finally found something they can both agree on.  I had previously written about HS 1 to HB 128,  a candidate and party cash grab which was removed from the House Agenda once it was exposed.

Guess what? They’ve got another bill they plan to work under the cover of darkness of June 30 and July 1.  And, while they won’t fund $$’s for road building, ‘leadership’, including ‘mortal enemies’ Greg Lavelle and Patti Blevins, are united in crushing any insurgent candidacies under something called a ‘Party Building Fund’. No, it’s not for buildings.

Ladeez and gentlemen, let me introduce to you SB 155, which is sort-of a Delaware version of Citizens United.

The bill creates a new fund for political parties.  Here’s the key sentence:

No political party may make any expenditure from its building fund except for the costs of telephone and other communications services and the rental or purchase of equipment, office supplies, or an office or building.

Continue Reading »

Wilmington’s City Council Looks to Wash Its Hands of the City’s Safety Problem and Just Throw Money At It

Filed in Delaware by on June 27, 2015 1 Comment
Wilmington’s City Council Looks to Wash Its Hands of the City’s Safety Problem and Just Throw Money At It

Timed for the Friday afternoon news dump, Wilmington’s City Council has scheduled a joint Committee of the Whole and a Public Safety meeting to debate the City budget’s first budget amendment (not a month after the new budget went into effect). This budget amendment will add funds to the WPD budget to create two new Inspector positions and one civilian CIO position. The meeting is this Monday (June 29, 2015) at the City Council chambers starting at 5pm. This amendment has been revised from the original ask, now it provides approval for 3 new positions (rather than 4), does not add to the authorized strength of the Department and now spends just $285,000 of a projected surplus. A projected surplus that no one has any confidence in and AGAIN, I do not understand why we are committing to spending money that we think that we might have, rather than money that we actually do have. I’ll extend that to wonder why they are having this hearing at all right now — given that the GA has blown a hole in their budget and no one know what the world will look like on July 1, it seems clueless to spend any time talking about more spending until you know that your budget is intact.

Continue Reading »

Bond Bill Committee Zeros Out Municipal Street Aid and Community Transportation Fund

Filed in Delaware by on June 26, 2015 36 Comments
Bond Bill Committee Zeros Out Municipal Street Aid and Community Transportation Fund

This is reported to me by multiple sources at Leg Hall, (and the NJ!)with counties and other municipalities (and the REALTORS) furiously pushing back on this as well as the decrease in revenue sharing for the Real Estate Transfer tax. None of this is a done deal until the legislature takes its final vote, but blowing big holes in every single county and municipal entity here in Delaware doesn’t strike me as the most productive bit of business. Of course, they wouldn’t have such a big problem if they had passed a gas tax last year. Or if they had even passed the weak tea of the fee increases this week:

Continue Reading »

General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Weds., June 24, 2015

Filed in Delaware by on June 24, 2015 15 Comments
General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Weds., June 24, 2015

The Del-Tech stench grows fouler by the hour.  Despite the fact that no public notice was given, as required by Senate rules, the Senate Finance Commitee (illegally) met today and voted the Del-Tech Relief Act out of committee.  It’s on today’s agenda, just as it was on yesterday’s agenda.  The difference being that only one Senate rule was violated instead of the two rules that were violated in order for it to be placed on yesterday’s agenda. Make no mistake. The committee met because of what we wrote here yesterday.  They’re gonna try to railroad this bill through, and every homeowner will pay w/o having any say over the so-called ‘Community College Infrastructure Fund’.

As Al Mascitti pointed out yesterday, this is not the first time this exact same scheme has been proposed by Del-Tech. When Lonnie George did it, he at least announced the legislation in January, which gave legislators and the public enough (or, for those of you supported it, too much) time to reject it for the blatant rip-off it was.  It’s no coincidence that Mark Brainard and the bill’s supporters waited until June 11 to introduce the bill and try to sneak it through w/o any public input. The bill still sucks. As Al also pointed out, tuition at Del-Tech is far below the national average, and a very modest increase in that tuition would pay for this scheme w/o bilking homeowners who have no interest in Del-Tech and have no idea they’re about to be bilked. I call on many of the fine legislators who inexplicably have signed onto this bill to put the brakes on this cynical maneuver.

Continue Reading »

Navarro Running for Insurance Commissioner

Filed in Delaware by on June 23, 2015 37 Comments
Navarro Running for Insurance Commissioner

Well, I guess that Karen Weldin Stewart proved that you don’t have to know anything about insurance to be Insurance Commissioner.

Still, cop to sheriff to…IC? I dunno.

Continue Reading »

General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 23, 2015

Filed in Delaware by on June 23, 2015 26 Comments
General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 23, 2015

Sen. Patti Blevins: 1  NRA Lobbyist: 0.

That’s the result of one of the more unusual confrontations in recent Delaware legislative history. Unusual because it’s so not ‘Delaware Way’. And unusual because someone called out the NRA for lying. Also unusual because both Blevins and the lobbyist in question, Rich Armitage, do not generally court controversy. And most unusual in that the President Pro-Tem stated that Armitage “could have faced felony charges for his allegedly false testimony about closed door negotiations involving the gun rights group and the Attorney General’s office over language regarding the marketing of firearm safety programs.”

Continue Reading »

Delaware lawmakers are killing the golden goose

Filed in Delaware by on June 19, 2015 8 Comments

As I was coming up with ideas for my new cartoon, I had a surprising revelation – I was actually sympathizing with Delaware’s beleaguered casinos?

Continue Reading »

In Which We Find Neither Accountability or Fiscal Sensibility in the Wilmington City Council — AGAIN

Filed in Delaware by on June 18, 2015 11 Comments
In Which We Find Neither Accountability or Fiscal Sensibility in the Wilmington City Council — AGAIN

Tonight, the Wilmington City Council will vote on an amendment to the budget to add more management staff to the WPD. They will do that without having any hearings, with little notice to the public and without Bud Freel (the Finance Chair) in attendance. Councilman Freel is one of the few points of fiscal accountability (heck of any accountability) in the City Council and doing this without him available (guess Council President Gregory did not offer Bud first class tickets to come back to vote) and without a good public airing is good government malpractice. But then, we are talking about a group of people who aren’t much interested in good government — or, frankly, in representing their constituents. Here is what is being voted on:

Continue Reading »

General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Weds., June 17, 2015

Filed in Delaware by on June 17, 2015 2 Comments
General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Weds., June 17, 2015

My, how times have changed. So much so that HB 115(J. Johnson), which ‘permits individuals subject to the supervision of the Delaware Department of Correction to effect a name change based on a sincerely held gender-related identity’, passed the Senate and goes to the Governor. Two R’s, Cloutier and Lopez, voted for the bill, leaving only the Rethug Haters to either vote no or go not voting.

Rep. Kowalko has introduced two bills providing for higher tax brackets for those making over $125K per year.  HB 181  and HB 196.  While HB 181 is a straightforward addition of two upper income brackets, HB 196 ‘lowers the current tax rates by .05% for each bracket. The bill also creates a new tax bracket at $125,000 with a rate of 7.05%, and an additional bracket at $250,000 with a rate of 7.80%. The bill also provides a tiered reduction of the otherwise available itemized deduction based upon the individual’s taxable income’. I hope that legislators consider these proposals this year. Otherwise, next year’s fiscal picture will make this year’s look tame by comparison. And, uh, next year is an Election Year.

Continue Reading »

Delaware General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up & Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 16, 2015

Filed in Delaware by on June 16, 2015 4 Comments
Delaware General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up & Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 16, 2015

Miracle of miracles. The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council DEFAC), which provides the official estimate of state revenues, has upped its revenue projection by $33 mill, which makes balancing the FY ’16 budget easier. Funny how often that happens. Some claim that it’s BS, or DEFACating. But, it’s OFFICIAL BS.  This comes as some of Delaware’s most progressive legislators propose higher income brackets for Delaware’s wealthiest. Now, here’s the problem.  The budget deficit for the following fiscal year is projected to be steep. Next year also just happens to be an election year. If the General Assembly is going to pass a more equitable income tax bill and create more revenue, it will have to be this year, not next year.  Will the General Assembly finally restore some equity to the tax code, or will it wait and find itself in an almost impossible fiscal position next year?  As usual, what I think will happen and what I hope will happen are the diametric opposites of each other. An increase in taxes on the wealthy provides a sustainable stream of revenue.  Using one-times and combining them with rosy DEFAC projections simply kicks the can down the road.  In this case, the road does not go on forever. Act now. Because it ain’t happenin’ in an Election Year.

Continue Reading »

General Assembly Pre-Game Show: Weds., June 10, 2015

Filed in Delaware by on June 10, 2015 13 Comments
General Assembly Pre-Game Show: Weds., June 10, 2015

I’ve got limited time to write about a whole lotta bills in committee for today. Most importantly, in the Senate Education Committee, HB 50(Kowalko) is again on the schedule. Remember Mike Matthew’s order from last week: Either it gets considered or RIOT.

Continue Reading »

General Assembly Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 9, 2015

Filed in Delaware by on June 9, 2015 0 Comments
General Assembly Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 9, 2015

The Biden viewing in Legislative Hall resulted in the cancellation of Thursday’s legislation session. In fact, it’s likely that legislative leaders spent much of Wednesday recalibrating scheduling plans for the rest of the month, due to the imminent loss of that Thursday session. This has thrown off the normal cicadian rhythms of session. And played with my head. Come inside to see what’s on the agenda for today in the General Assembly, and you can catch me on today’s Al Show from 10-12, where we’ll no doubt toss around Delaware Dem’s 2016 scenarios,  and lots more.

Continue Reading »

Monday Daily Delawhere [6.8.15]

Filed in Delaware by on June 8, 2015 0 Comments

This Wilmington scene is from the wonderful photography of Nick McNevich. McNevich’s work was recently featured in the News Journal. McNevich is also part of the CreateInWilm Facebook community, which is a cooperative group of artists, photographers, and craftspeople dedicated to bringing change to the city of Wilmington through art and expression.

Continue Reading »

Sunday Daily Delawhere [6.7.15]

Filed in Delaware by on June 7, 2015 0 Comments

This Wilmington scene is from the wonderful photography of Nick McNevich. McNevich’s work was recently featured in the News Journal. McNevich is also part of the CreateInWilm Facebook community, which is a cooperative group of artists, photographers, and craftspeople dedicated to bringing change to the city of Wilmington through art and expression.

Continue Reading »

The Weekly Addresses

Filed in Delaware, National by on June 6, 2015 0 Comments

In this week’s address, the President recognized Immigrant Heritage Month, an occasion that allows us to celebrate our origins as a nation of immigrants.

Divider

In his weekly message, Governor Markell remembers and honors the life of Beau Biden.

Continue Reading »

Saturday Daily Delawhere [6.6.15]

Filed in Delaware by on June 6, 2015 0 Comments

This photo is from the wonderful photography of Nick McNevich. McNevich’s work was recently featured in the News Journal. McNevich is also part of the CreateInWilm Facebook community, which is a cooperative group of artists, photographers, and craftspeople dedicated to bringing change to the city of Wilmington through art and expression.

Continue Reading »

Friday Daily Delawhere [6.5.15]

Filed in Delaware by on June 5, 2015 0 Comments

The interior of St. Anthony’s of Padua Church, which will be the site of the viewing of former Attorney General Beau Biden today and his funeral mass tomorrow. This photo is from Tim Furlong’s Instagram.

Continue Reading »

Thursday Daily Delawhere [6.4.15]

Filed in Delaware by on June 4, 2015 0 Comments

This Wilmington scene is from the wonderful photography of Nick McNevich. McNevich’s work was recently featured in the News Journal. McNevich is also part of the CreateInWilm Facebook community, which is a cooperative group of artists, photographers, and craftspeople dedicated to bringing change to the city of Wilmington through art and expression.

Continue Reading »

General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up & Pre-Game Show: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Filed in Delaware by on June 3, 2015 2 Comments
General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up & Pre-Game Show: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The big news: Legislation decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use passed the House Tuesday. Despite an amendment that weakened the bill, not a single ‘small government’ Rethug voted for the bill. BTW, the amendment sucks.  I can only guess that it was required to secure a sufficient number of votes to pass the bill.  Otherwise, it should not have seen the light of day.

Continue Reading »

Wednesday Daily Delawhere [6.3.15]

Filed in Delaware by on June 3, 2015 0 Comments

Beginning today and occasionally over the next few weeks, we will be featuring the wonderful photography of Nick McNevich. McNevich’s work was recently featured in the News Journal. McNevich is also part of the CreateInWilm Facebook community, which is a cooperative group of artists, photographers, and craftspeople dedicated to bringing change to the city of Wilmington through art and expression.

Continue Reading »

Biden Funeral Scheduled for Saturday in Delaware

Filed in Delaware by on June 2, 2015 2 Comments
Biden Funeral Scheduled for Saturday in Delaware

A private Mass for the Biden family was to be celebrated for the family June 4 at St. Joseph Church on the Brandywine in Greenville, Delaware, where he was a parishioner.

A funeral Mass for Biden was to be said June 6 at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Delaware. Burial will be at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Cemetery, where Beau’s mother and sister, who were killed in the car accident years ago, are buried.

I assume that the President and other “official mourners,” like Governor Markell, former Governor Minner, Senators Carper and Coons, will attend the Saturday mass at St. Anthony’s.

Continue Reading »

Delaware General Assembly Pre-Game Show: Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Filed in Delaware by on June 2, 2015 14 Comments
Delaware General Assembly Pre-Game Show: Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Let’s not mince words. Not since 2009 has the General Assembly entered June with so much uncertainty and so much unfinished business.  I’d argue that it will even be a more difficult June than June of 2009.

Back then, everyone recognized that Delaware, like virtually every other state, was suffering from an economic downturn.  The newly-minted governor was able to work with the General Assembly to craft a series of ‘revenue-enhancers’ to address the budget shortfall.  R’s released just enough yes votes to enable bills to pass, in exchange for provisions sunsetting the revenue enhancers.

Fast-forward six years.  This governor has lost a huge amount of political influence. So much so that his press flak has said that he’ll watch what the General Assembly does, and not actively broker any settlements. He has, in particular, lost a lot of leverage with Democrats.  Some of this is inevitable.  Lame ducks almost never have much political capital to spend by Year 7.  Markell has also wasted political capital in ways that have earned him the enmity and distrust of D’s in particular.  Whether it’s the disaster of Race To the Top, his attempt to bypass the General Assembly while looking to get rid of the Port of Wilmington, his sabotage of a meaningful minimum wage bill, his inability to rally support for his gas tax increase, his cheerleading for charter schools, his refusal to consider any tax increase on his wealthy pals, and so much more, he is as close to feckless as any governor facing a budget shortfall can be.

Except…he HAS, by Executive Order, created a panel to look at long-term changes to how Delaware funds government.  Unfortunately, Markell has chosen to place a vast majority of DINO’s and Rethugs on the panel, ensuring that any recommendations it might make would not in any way address inequities in who pays what.  The good news: the ideas that are being put forward by this group are likely to be DOA. I mean, eliminate the estate tax? Really? These are not serious proposals except in a world where ALEC is king.

Continue Reading »