Letters to the Editor — January 13, 2016

Reader wants to see changes in IRSD


President-elect Donald Trump has nominated a new Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos. What does she know about the public education system? The question has been raised “if she has ever stepped inside a public school.”

Betsy Devos is focused on charter and private schools, and the elimination of public school districts. What impact will this have on the Indian River School District? What will families do with their “voucher” to attend a school of their choice? Will the number of IRSD students diminish and thereby void the necessity of a referendum to increase our facilities due to overcrowding?

We have a referendum coming in March of 2017 to expand the capacity of the IRSD. This is a very concerning issue we the taxpayers and voters will take into serious consideration.

Secondly, “Why is there an abundance of questions as to why our public schools are not meeting the needs for a superior education?” I do not believe that charter schools are the answer, as they have not demonstrated significant results, even in their choice of the most motivated students. Private schools will continue as those families with “money” will segregate their children from those without “money.”

Donald L. Gephardt is a professor emeritus at Rowan University and in a recent written commentary titled “Is School Choice the Key to Improving Education?” he made this comment in his article; “But, now — when anything goes wrong — we blame the teachers. Well, if we want to keep blaming the teachers, we have to allow them to play a more direct role in what happens in school — we have to start allowing them to be the professionals that we not only give lip-service to, but to bring directly into the decision room. If teachers were professionals, they would play a direct role in selecting and fashioning the curriculum and the tests designed to measure improvements.”

Professor Gephardt did not stop there. He stated, “Once tenured, educators should engage and participate in the hiring and retention of their colleagues. Suddenly, every teacher would have direct responsibility for every student in that school.” He boldly stated, “You would see dramatic, positive changes overnight. Teachers would have to answer to their colleagues — or not be retained. There would be a process to share the good stuff that is so essential to professional growth and development. Teaching would have the place in the school that it merits and deserves.”

Is Professor Gephardt’s professional proposal an approach to pursue? I do. Let’s place the education growth of our children in the hands of professional educators. The selection and retention of educators needs to be decided by the tenured educators.

The IRSD has practiced nepotism forever in the hiring of professional educators by the superintendent’s office and approved by the IRSD Board of Education members for many years. Votes equal employment? We need significant changes in the membership on the IRSD Board of Education. Term limits is a solution. Longevity can and does produce a “good old boy” mentality and decision-making.

Racism does indeed exist within the IRSD, and they will lose another lawsuit raised before them. The Board of Education and the superintendent know that the “Indian sport mascots” are “bloodied” with racism. Yet they have persisted within a 40-plus-year “tradition” of the IRSD.

Assistant Superintendent Mark Steele says that “Indians are honorable.” He is correct, but to reduce a people to a sport mascot is not honorable or respectful. Ownership, slavery, ignorance and plagiarism are what the IRSD practices and teaches to our students with their sport mascots. Yes, the Nanticoke Tribal Nation stated they had no problem with the IRSD mascots.

Unfortunately, the multitude of IRSD cartoon images of “Indians” are all of the northern plains tribal nations and not of the Nanticoke nation. If the Nanticoke Tribal Nation wished to donate their images to be cartooned for sport, we could be cheering “Go Nanticokes.” I hope they refuse and demand respect from the IRSD.

We can no longer have faith in the present IRSD leadership on the Board of Education and within the superintendent’s office. We the school tax payers have been burdened and embarrassed by the actions of IRSD Board President Charles Bireley, Board Member Donald Hattier, Superintendent Susan Bunting and Assistant Superintendent: Celeste Bunting. They should all resign. Assistant Superintendent Mark Steele should retire immediately.

They all should have known the actions of the resigned IRSD financial director. He had a history of these actions and they still employed him. Why? Did he fit the profile for the IRSD?

Board President Charles Bireley should return all of the monies he illegally earned as a sport scorekeeper for the IRSD. How many years does that go back to?

Donald Hattier wrote an extensive letter to the editor of the Coastal Point in the Dec. 23 issue. He referred to me as an “implant” (not of Sussex County). How many IRSD taxpayers are “implants”? Are we the majority of property taxpayers? Donald Hattier just added more no votes to any future referendum for the IRSD. He just cannot resist using demeaning descriptions of children coming into the IRSD and IRSD taxpayers. I suspect it is related to the Douglas MacArthur syndrome.

The Republican Party had a slogan in the elections of 2016: “Drain the swamp.” It seems applicable to the leadership of the IRSD. Vote no ’til we “implants” and “lifelong” residents see resignations in the administration of the IRSD and term limits on the IRSD Board of Education. It is our property tax dollars that the IRSD needs to increase. We decide the future actions of the IRSD with our taxes.

Lloyd E. Elling

Ocean View

He will be president — let’s have hope


We have survived a too long and too vile campaign for the presidency. Even in the fog of his many lies (or, more politically correct, post-truths), Donald Trump played brilliantly to the fact that the American political system as it has evolved since at least the late 20th century has left virtually all Americans, except the very rich and the white upper class, economically more fragile.

Hard-working poor and lower middle-income Americans are losing hope of a better tomorrow for themselves and their children; others of us may have to make uncomfortable but doable changes to maintain middle-class lifestyles.

During that 60-plus-year period, Democrats and Republicans alike failed to address the changes that globalization and technological advances were making for Americans. All “the cans in the road” were just kicked further along, hoping that someone else would have the political will to deal with them. Attempts at drafting legislation to effectively deal with issues sometimes resulted in political suicide.

And so, in 2017, we find ourselves in exactly the national dilemma that Republican President Dwight David Eisenhower warned us to avoid in his farewell address… a corporate-military complex that does not put American interests above its own. Such a complex is exactly what Trump and those he has nominated to surround him and to represent his administration to America’s citizens and to the world represent.

Clinton and her campaign managers failed to put her progressive platform forward in ways real folks could understand. And many voters disliked her so intensely that it overrode their dislike of Trump. Enough voters chose Trump to get him over the needed 270 electoral votes. That so many Americans decided his racist, bigoted, xenophobic, vindictive and sexist views were OK does not reflect well on our humanity.

Trump’s promises that he and only he could and would fix all the wrongs “fast, very fast, folks!” helped him get to the magic number of 270. The political and social atmosphere at home is so very much like that which prevailed in Germany in the ’30s. We would do well to humbly remember that the Germans elected Hitler also.

Trump did not invent any of the odious ways of being in and seeing the world. They were all there; what he did do was to bring them into the open. That, in and of itself, could be a good thing if we had a national dialogue that let us talk to each other… that let us hear other peoples’ experiences.

But what Trump did, with the aid of a deaf citizenry and a disemboweled media, is to anoint hateful words and behaviors as normal and encourage their use as a tool to flog, verbally and/or physically, anyone who dared to disagree with his views. Children are not the only bullies!

Maya Angelou encouraged us to “listen to people when they tell you who they are”; too bad more of us did not do that before casting our vote.

That Trump embodies all those perverse characteristics is not my real personal fear of his presidency. Each of us on our own can fight any such tendencies in ourselves. My fear is that this man, with the maturity and impulse control of a 5-year-old, will use the power of the office for his own self-interests, rather than for the nation’s interests. All the rails that keep excess power at bay in a democracy, the checks and balances so carefully written into the Constitution, are all in Trump’s corner.

Democrats essentially have no Congressional leadership at the top and have inadequate numbers to effectively enact or oppose any legislation. Republicans in the 114th Congress were successful in denying President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court a hearing, in spite of the fact that Judge Harlan had been vetted favorably by bipartisan voters in the past, so the Supreme Court is Trump’s for the taking.

The Republican congressional members who have spoken in opposition to Trump have been disparaged and others appear to be falling in line, apparently cowed or placated by unknown tactics.

The fourth rail — traditional media sources — has been so hollowed out by corporate takeovers, or in the case of public media, by severe funding cuts, that investigative reporting free from outside constraints is limited.

Trump’s unbridled presidency has the power to fundamentally change American democracy in ways that disregards Constitutional law and the amendments enacted to enable the nation to work toward a more perfect union for all Americans.

Welcome to America, the corporate entity.

Both President Obama and some of Trump’s incoming team have told us that moderation in word and action will be forthcoming as the reality of the responsibilities of the office hit him after Inauguration Day.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, nothing he or his Cabinet nominees have said or done since the election suggests that he is capable of either moderation or humility, both of which are essential to good and just governance. Neither has Trump given any signs that he is capable of providing the leadership role for the world that has been part and parcel of the heavy mantle that American presidents have worn for over 100 years.

While the next administration tries to get it right, I intend to do all that is legally within my power to stand with all Americans, and with those who want to be Americans, who are harmed by hateful speech, bigotry and laws that disenfranchise their rights; rights that are either God-given or guaranteed by current American law.

I hope that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle who believe in equal rights for all will join me in opposition to attempts in alter or to introduce laws that favor corporations over individual citizens.

In spite of the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens’ United vs. FEC, corporations are not citizens. Opposition is patriotism. When the British hauled Gandi into court in 1922 for yet another time on charges of sedition, he said in his own self-defense... “Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.” They never again let him speak in court to defend himself. Yet his persistent nonviolent protests against tyranny ultimately freed a nation.

Our own Tea Party; the peaceful civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin King and the resistance of Nelson Mandela in South Africa all attest to the power of right action. I hope that every one of us will stand up for each and be counted when the next administration tries to divide us further.

I especially hope that we can learn to hear what others who may disagree with us are saying and that they will extend the same civility to us, so that together we can once again remember that we all want to participate in the American promise.

I really dislike being wrong, but I am praying fervently that my assessment of a Trump presidency is so, so wrong. I am praying that at the end of the next four years, I will be able to say “President Trump” out loud without experiencing a jolt to my brain, heart and soul.

Patricia W. Frey


Reader: We need DNREC transparency


Thank you to Coastal Point staff reporter Laura Walter for pointing out Delaware State Parks and DNREC plans to dredge the Assawoman Canal starting in January. DNREC’s latest dredging plans seem to be taking place out of general public view.

In the Dec. 30 Coastal Point article, a DNREC rep noted that 200 letters of opposition were sent in the past, but only four or five this year. Most likely this decrease was due to lack of public notice by DNREC. Searching DNREC’s official website, the only information discoverable about new plans to dredge the Assawoman Canal is from the 2010 dredging operations, which was completed in December 2010 to January 2011. Nothing was discoverable about the latest plans and the permit DNREC sent to Corps of Engineers (USACE).

According to DNREC’s webpage and earlier USACE publications about the canal dredging, any dredging operations are supposed to be completed by Dec. 31, when the dredging season ends due to environmental restrictions on fisheries habitat. Yet, according to the Dec. 30, 2016, article, Delaware State Parks plans to begin dredging in January 2017, contrary to the environmental restrictions. A 2007 DNREC report also states that dredging can only take place from September through December in any given year. So why new plans to start dredging in January?

Also alarming is the lack of DNREC concerns or any plans to manage bank erosion and sloughing of the banks. The Dec. 30 article and the dredging permit request DNREC submitted to USACE confirms that soils along the canal are mostly sand (with some silt). Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the dredging of sandy banks “will” erode.

Without any plans at all to invest in riprap or other bank stabilization, the dredging operations will result in banks erosion and more downed trees over the canal. Added boat wakes will also hasten banks erosion. That means the canal will soon fill up again.

In 2007, USACE recommended proper bank protection for dredging of the Assawoman Canal. That apparently was not done in either the 2007 or the 2010 dredging operations, so here we are with yet another dredging operation being planned along the same canal without proper banks protection.

DNREC’s latest dredging permit request to USACE did not include any plans for banks erosion controls.

DNREC dredging plans need to incorporate proper science and engineering to implement it right, or don’t waste the time and money to do it wrong. Dredging plans also needs to be more transparent to the public.

Bess Kotsiras

Ocean View

LBWC searches for new members


The Lord Baltimore Women’s Club was started by a small group of very insightful women back in 1934. These women were dedicated to their community, as well as service-minded. Our club has grown to approximate 100 members. We are proud that, over the past five years, we have given scholarships to Indian River High School and Sussex Technical High School totaling approximately $30,000.

We are also involved in many other activities, such as the local food bank, the local chapter of Habitat for [Humanity], Wounded Warrior [Project], the Inland Bays project, Adopt-A-Highway and supporting the local elementary schools. We also schedule a few trips a year for our members to enjoy. We have gone to Harrington Casino, Clear Space, Possum Point Theatre and the Philadelphia Flower Show, just to name a few.

What we need now is a few more like-minded women that are dedicated to community service. Lord Baltimore Women’s Club meets the third Monday of the month, except July and August, for a luncheon meeting at the Cripple Creek Golf & Country Club. Our last appeal for members gave us 12 wonderful women. If you are interested in joining our club, please contact us at lordbaltimorewc@gmail.com. Looking forward to see all of your new faces.

Lord Baltimore Women’s club

Delaware the state of the Five C’s or Five G’s


At a point in time not so long ago, Delaware was known as the state of the five C’s. Chemicals are gone. Cars are gone. Credit cards are almost gone, and chickens. We in Delaware thought these industries would always be here. Oh, how wrong we were.

We are about to start a four-year journey with a new governor, John Carney, and a new administration. Hopefully, he will learn from mistakes others have made. Some people will say that the chicken industry will never leave, that their roots run too deep in Delaware. Where have I heard that before? Oh, yes, DuPont.

In Delaware, AgriCulture is spelled with a capital C. With chickens gone, AgriCulture would find it hard to survive. Not only would the direct jobs be gone, but all the support jobs would be gone. Business stays and goes where it is appreciated. Hopefully, Gov. Carney realizes this and will support AgriCulture in Delaware spelled with a capital C.

Daniel W. Magee


Reader wants IRSD to be accountable

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Delaware Attorney-General Matt Denn and was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

As Delaware’s Attorney-General, and the state’s chief law enforcement officer, you have broad responsibility to combat crime, safeguard families, fight fraud and protect consumers. Your staff is committed to the common goal of serving all Delawareans with integrity and dedication to ensure the public’s access to open government and protection from abuse.

I am writing this letter as a concerned citizen of the Indian River School District to Matt Denn to determine the reason criminal charges have not been filed against Patrick Miller, [former] CFO for the district.

If you or your staff have read the investigative report issued by the auditor’s office, you will find that Mr. Miller should be indicted, tried in court and found guilty of misappropriating funds from the district.

What is far worse, however, is the conduct of the school board, who had knowledge of his actions before he was given the authority to handle the finances of the district. Mr. Birely, an accountant, could not have exercised good judgement to approve such unlimited access to someone who had previously been removed for similar actions.

The report details Mr. Miller’s misuse of funds outside of the money appropriated to the Boys & Girls Club and the [Indian River] Volunteer Fire Company, such as the use of a signature stamp for over $21,000 worth of transactions, direct payment to his personal credit card for $31,000, multiple purchases without support or explanation, $29,755 worth of payment vouchers for invalidated purposes, and over $24,000 which lacked documentation.

The actions of Mr. Miller, along with the board’s collusion, has done untold damage to the district, as well as the teachers, community and children they serve. The board has further insulted the community by asking us to support a referendum as they allow Mr. Miller to retire with a full pension and paying him $52,000 to end his contract.

The people of Indian River School District deserve better, and it is incumbent of you to right this grievous wrong. And, furthermore, Dr. Bunting shouldn’t be elevated with this issue unresolved!

Valerie Reeves

Ocean View

Caregivers need all of our support


Every day I watch many friends and relatives taking care of their loved ones at home, where the patient wants to be. They manage medications, administer oxygen, care for wounds and more.

These medical tasks were once only performed by doctors or nurses, but are now commonly done at home by nearly half of all family caregivers. Many receive little or no instruction on these tasks before their loved one returns home from the hospital.

That’s why I’m so pleased about the CARE Act, a new law that went into effect on Jan. 1. The CARE Act allows every hospital patient to designate a family caregiver. The hospital must notify the caregiver before their loved one is discharged and provide basic instructions for follow-up medical tasks needed at home, like the ones we may all have to provide someday.

In fact, AARP has even created a wallet card that identifies you as a caregiver. It serves as a reminder for you as you go about your caregiving duties. It’s available at action.aarp.org/DECareAct.

I’ve seen all that family caregivers do, and they need our support.

Joan Thomas, AARP member

and volunteer

Ocean View