Letters to the Editor — July 22, 2016

Coastal-Georgetown AAUW thankful for bill


On June 30, Gov. Markell signed into law House Bill 314, titled “An Act to Amend Title 19 of the Delaware Code relating to Unlawful Employment Practices.” This new law, better known as the Wage Secrecy Law, makes it unlawful for a Delaware employer: (1) to require that employees keep their wages secret as a condition of employment, and (2) to discharge, formally discipline, or withhold job advancement to anyone who discloses his or her wages. Because wage secrecy is a major contributor to the gender and racial wage gap in the U.S workplace, this law goes a long way toward alleviating pay inequity.

The Coastal-Georgetown American Association of University Women (AAUW) has 125 members who reside between Milford and Selbyville. Over the years, our members have worked with and supported Delaware legislators in their efforts to address issues that have an impact on women and children, and we thank the coalition of women legislators for introducing and advancing a package of bills that reflect our concerns and for recognizing that pay inequity is one of the more pressing issues.

Our Coastal-Georgetown AAUW members are pleased that Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf supported HB 314. We are, however, most disappointed that our state senators, Gerald Hocker, Ernest Lopez and Gary Simpson, who represent our Coastal Georgetown AAUW membership, did not vote to support this important bill that will help address the controversy over the pay gap with quantifiable facts.

We are concerned that politics appears to have intervened in this non-partisan issue that affects both women and men. AAUW believes that it is important that all employees, not just women, should be able to talk openly about wage fairness in the workplace if they choose to do so. We thank those in the Delaware legislature who supported this bill and Gov. Markell for signing it into law.

Kathleen Thompson, President
Coastal Georgetown AAUW

Reader responds to Mitchell’s letter


I would like to comment on Perry Mitchell’s campaign letter. Throughout his letter, he accuses Sen. Hocker of opposing “education, policing, corrections or any spending in the State budget.” Like most liberals, he is obviously in favor of more spending and unlimited tax increases.

He appears to ignore the many manufacturing jobs that have been lost in this state. Instead of scaling back as our income has decreased, our leaders have chosen to forge ahead, adding more and more spending programs to the budget.

Sen. Hocker has fought this spending and has attempted to hold down tax increases. Mr. Mitchell seems to believe that high taxes will attract new business to the state. Personally, I will stand with Sen. Hocker’s more thoughtful approach.

Walt Berwick

Frey responds to previous letters


Two readers wrote to object to points in my letter(s) in June 24 and/or July 8 issues of the Coastal Point in which I advocated for reinstating a ban on assault weapons.

Since then, there has been another mass shooting, this time in Dallas, which killed five policemen and wounded seven others. And just today (July 17) another shooter in Baton Rouge has killed three more law enforcement officers and injured three others one of the injured officers is reported to be fighting for his life. To the best of my knowledge, investigators have not, as of this writing, released the type of weapons used in either of these murders.

I agree with Dr. Hattier’s assessment that control of small handguns would make a real difference in total number of deaths in America from gun violence. Yet there appears to be no support from Americans, whether left, right or center, as it relates to gun control, for federal or state legislation “with teeth” to control handguns.

A recent surge in mass shootings, in which guns either manufactured with or retrofitted with characteristics (most specifically large-capacity magazines) designed for military use are being used, has given many responsible and law-abiding citizens pause.

These weapons allow for mass slaughter of citizens in our public arenas. They are the weapons of choice when the shooter’s goal is to kill and maim as many human beings in as short a time as possible. (Original sources: Analysis of Mass Shootings [August 2015] everytown research.org. Cannon A. Mayhem amplified: mass shooters and assault weapons. Citizens Crime Commission of New York City [June 2016] www.nycrimecommission.org and Singer N. The most wanted gun in America. New York Times. Feb. 2,2013, nytimes.com)

Contrary to Ms. Purcell’s statement that any discussion about a “loophole” is just liberal rhetoric, there is a huge loophole in federal law, and guns of all types are readily available both legally and illegally.

It is true that the so-called “gun show loophole” is inaccurate. Both Dr. Hattier and Ms. Purcell seem to believe that any laws designed to curb gun violence by limiting public access to guns only hurt law-abiding citizens and that criminals get their guns illegally. The fact that the weapons used in most mass shootings are obtained legally gives the lie to that belief.

Federal law on gun sales pertains to who sells the gun and not to where the gun is sold. Federally licensed gun sellers are required to run background checks… but not all sellers are required to be licensed, and so the loophole.

The requirement to have a Federal Firearm License (FFL) depends on whether the seller is in business to sell firearms if he/she is, then a FFL is required by law. This is true whether the sales take place in stores, at gun shows or on the Internet. Folks such as gun collectors, hunters and other private individuals are not required by federal law to be licensed to sell.

State laws which exceed the federal law restrictions take precedence. Apparently, federal law does not define how many firearms an unlicensed seller can make before a license is required.

As with everything related to gun violence and laws, many studies are outdated/or suspect, and the number of guns sold legally by unlicensed sellers is unknown. A PolitiFact Sheet (www.politifact.com) published Jan. 7 cited a joint gun survey by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard universities in 2015. The national survey of 4,000 noninstitutionalized adults found that 22 percent of those who purchased guns, whether at gun shows, stores or elsewhere, did not undergo a background check. When the researchers excluded purchases between family and friends, the percent dropped to 15. Even at 15 percent, that equals approximately 5 million gun owners whose 2015 purchase did not involve a background check. At the time the sheet was printed, that study had not been published, and I have been unable to find a publication date for it in my research.

So, yes, Ms.Purcell, there is a huge loophole in federal gun control law. And that loophole is not an unintentional flaw in the design of the law it is the result of a political compromise between those who wanted background checks on all gun acquisitions and those who wanted no background checks. A sad and timely example of the public danger this loophole can create is the fact that in the cache of weapons which the Dallas shooter owns there is a legally purchased AK47.

The New York Daily Times of July 12 reported the story the seller told to federal investigators when they tracked him down. The purchase price was $600. The buy was arranged via Facebook. The sale took place in the parking lot of a Target outlet in Carrollton, Texas. The seller is a 26-year-old man who says he sold the gun to Johnson because he needed the money to buy plane tickets for a wedding in Mexico and the buyer “didn’t seem weird in any way, just a normal guy.”

The seller said he thought Johnson would have passed a background check under Texas law, a private sale does not require a background check. As I said earlier, the type of gun used in that mass shooting has not been released by investigators to date. But you can bet that the young man who sold that AK47 is desperately hoping that was not the gun used, even though the sale was legal.

Dr. Hattier raised a very real concern about what guns would be classified as assault weapons. While the dictionary definition of an assault weapon is very straightforward (see my letter in the July 2 issue), a legal, technical definition is difficult.

The 1994 U.S. Assault Weapons Ban allowed assault weapons and large-capacity magazines manufactured before 1994 to remain in the market this left as many as 200 million weapons in legal circulation; 18 kinds of firearms, along with specific numerous military-like features, were made illegal for civilian purchase and possession gun manufacturers responded by tweaking designs just enough so they fell outside the definition.

The ban was in effect only 10 years, which is too short a period to analyze how effective it was in reducing violent gun deaths. (See www.criminaldefenselawyer.com and Public Safety & Recreational Use Protection Act. HR 3355. 103rd Congress (1993-1994).)

America has been spectacularly unsuccessful in addressing factors that play into our high death rate from guns in general and military-style weapons in particular… drugs, economic chaos, lax /no background checks, mental illness, inability to predict who will commit a mass shooting, etc., etc.

Must we, as a nation, accept that violent death from guns cannot be controlled in ways that protect our citizens and that at the same time honors the Second Amendment right to bear arms? As of this moment, our conversation about mass shootings is excruciating and circular. So there seems to be no choice for advocates of stronger restrictions on who can buy the most deadly firearms, except to keep building the case and amping up the pressure for a definitive response from Congress.

Only Australia, which is similar to America in many respects, has had the courage to tackle mass shootings in an effective and measurable way. There have been no mass shootings (which they define as five or more deaths, excluding the death of the shooter(s)) since the National Firearms Agreement was enacted in 1996.

Original research published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) dated June 22, 2016, is titled Association Between Gun Law Reform and Intentional Firearms Deaths in Australia, 1997-2013.

Yes, I know that America is not Australia. And, yes, I know that political, cultural and legal challenges here make it highly unlikely that the U.S. would implement comparable policies. However, Daniel W. Webster, ScD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Gun Policy & Research wrote an editorial in the same JAMA issue which makes a strong case that America can and should come together, despite those real differences, to forge legislation that reduces violent death from assault weapons. I urge anyone who is genuinely interested in reducing gun violence in America to read Dr. Webster’s editorial.

Calling those who have reasoned disagreement with your position names meant to silence them or to prejudice their case will only make solutions more difficult to obtain. Every reasonable voice is needed in this debate.

Patricia W. Frey

Previous letter gets a response

I am writing to comment on Jeffrey Chandross’ letter published in the July 15 Coastal Point. I think it’s humorous that Mr. Chandross finds traffic chaos here at the beach in the summer.

Mr. Chandross, we live in a vacation destination at the beach! Most of us expect overburdened and, yes, even some chaos on our roads in the summer months. Unfortunately, since we have chosen to live in this beautiful area, most of us have no problem in adjusting our routines so we can avoid the traffic chaos caused by our summer visitors. It’s just easier that way! Furthermore, most of the vacation traffic will disappear by mid-August.

Mr. Chandross, you do realize that virtually every vacation destination, be it at the beach or in the mountains, experiences similar traffic chaos.

I have to say the rest of your letter strikes me as just a little alarming. Of course we experience more traffic chaos on a couple of three-day summer holiday weekends. My suggestion to you is get used to it, because, like you so succinctly note, new developments continue to be built. You and I are here enjoying the good life. Should we deny others the same opportunity?

And then you make the most absurd suggestion I have ever heard from a taxpayer! You state that you believe that our tax structure should be revised including higher taxes. Really? Do you actually believe that only a few locals left would find this imposing? If you do, you’re wrong! It’s the low taxes that have contributed greatly to the growth we have here. Oh, yeah — having a beach also helps.

Then you really go off the deep end! You would then ask politicians to spend the largesse wisely. I find that ridiculous and wonder where you’re from! This is Delaware! And the Democrats in New Castle and Kent counties currently control our destinies. Mr. Chandross, the Democrats have never seen a tax or tax increase that they did not like. And I could list numerous instances where those same politicians have simply redirected tax money away from what even they said it was for. But why bother!

One more thing! Do you know that the Route 26 improvement currently approaching completion has been a 25- to 30-year project? It has, so how quickly do you think a tax windfall would be able to relieve our traffic chaos?

In closing, I find it sad that you’re upset with billboards, and specifically billboards sponsored by our longtime local businesses, like the Hockers and the Timmonses. They are successful local businesses doing what all businesses do. They advertise to make a profit. There’s nothing shameless or selfish about that!

Thomas M. Keeley III
Ocean View

Reader responds to letter response


In response to Stephen Piron:

With all due respect, did you write your letter with quill and ink? Firearms have developed along with written communication, so I find your analogy of one-shot muskets with 21st century arms odd. Sure, the founding fathers only had one-shot rifles available, but that is what the British had also.

But since you brought up our founding fathers, the Second Amendment was written to protect the citizens of this new country from future governmental tyrants and personal protection, not hunting.

“A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them. Which would include their own government.” — George Washington.

If you think our government has our best interest at heart, you are sadly mistaken. It has become so powerful and corrupt I trust none of them. “To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.” — Adolph Hitler.

Hitler was not the only one to disarm then overpower its citizens. China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated. Pol Pot disarmed his citizens in 1956, then murdered 2 million of them once defenseless. The list goes on and on.

If you cannot see the irony of having a gun ban enforced by a government that is fully armed, you fail to understand why the Second Amendment was written.

If you don’t want to exercise your Second Amendment rights, that is your choice, but you will never be able to disarm the over 43 million law-abiding citizens that do exercise their right.

There are many other reasons we have this right:

I mentioned protection from our own government. We also have the right to have the same protection they afford themselves. They are no more important than you or I. I find it very hypocritical that most that are calling for gun control are gun owners, are armed themselves or have armed security.

Protection from foreign government. “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass” is a quote by Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. With ISIS and other foreign terrorists on the rise, this should be a main reason for our citizens to be armed. Especially since the current administration will not even acknowledge this threat.

Self-defense. I am responsible for my own protection. I will not wait for the police to draw a chalk line around my body while they try to figure out what happened. I have the utmost respect for our officers in blue, but they cannot be everywhere at all times. The response time for a 911 call can sometimes be over 20 minutes. By the time help arrives, the damage is done. You can sit cozy in your home and wait for help, but I will protect myself.

This is a violent world, for sure. God forbid someone break into your home looking for drug money or to rob you. Murderers, rapist, thieves, druggies — your life means nothing to them. They are already criminals, and criminals do not obey the law. They will not obey any new laws.

Of course, your letter was sent to the anti-Second Amendment Democrats. Mine was sent to our Constitution-loving Republicans, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee and Gov. Rick Perry.

On a final note, you stated that only the federal, state and local police should have these types of firearms for the protection of the people. Are you suggesting a militarized police force or, worse yet, martial law? It certainly sounds like it.

Donna Purcell

Reader discusses Fenwick issues


The campaign season is fully upon us in Fenwick Island. The signs are everywhere.

This year, one candidate has been very vocal about his desire to keep Fenwick quiet and small without offering concrete proposals to achieve that end. At the same time, the candidate appears to be waging a not-so-subtle attack on the business interests in Fenwick and, along with a few others, wants to subject the residents to an architectural review process to ensure that Fenwick Island is transformed into a stylized Stepford community of conformity, rather than the small and quiet aspects that we currently enjoy.

Such a proposal is elitist at best and potentially discriminatory. But I digress.

The same candidate, while consistently nit-picking the town council and alleging, by rumor and innuendo, improper acts by the council, seemingly is not cognizant of or is deliberately ignoring Delaware State Code regarding campaign spending on signage and print material. The applicable section is:

DE Law Section 15 § 8021 Identification of purchaser.

“(a) All campaign advertisements having a fair market value of $500 or more, except printed items with a surface of less than 9 square inches, shall include prominently the statement: “Paid for by [name of political committee or other person paying for such advertisement.].”

“For purposes of this section, “campaign advertisements” shall include any communication by a candidate committee or political party that would otherwise qualify as an independent expenditure or an electioneering communication but for the fact it was made by a candidate committee or political party.

“(b) All third-party advertisements having a fair market value of $500 or more, except printed items with a surface of less than 9 square inches, shall include prominently the statement:

“Paid for by [name of political committee or other person paying for such third-party advertisement. Learn more about [name of person] at [Commissioner of Elections’ web address].”

“(c)?The Commissioner may adopt regulations regarding the size, placement and duration of the foregoing statements as the same shall apply to specific forms of campaign advertisements. In connection therewith, the Commissioner may modify or amend the foregoing statements to conform to the requirements of a particular medium (i.e., television, radio, print, Internet), and may by regulation create exemptions from the requirements hereunder where compliance is not reasonably practicable due to the small size or short duration of such advertisements. In all events, however, campaign advertisements having the same medium and duration (for example, 15-second radio advertisements or Internet advertisements having less than 200 characters) shall be subject to the same requirements.”

If candidates want to preach to the larger community about standards, laws, procedure, etc., it seems that the same candidates would take the time to learn state code and adhere to the state code.

Is this a small detail? Perhaps, but in my view, it speaks volumes about attention to detail and following the laws regarding process.

Some of us longer-term residents remember, in the not so distant past, when the mayor and council didn’t sweat the details and the Town found itself in financial and legal quagmires. Ultimately, that lapse cost the Town dearly, financially and legally. All of that could have been avoided by heeding the details.

Since that period, the councils and mayors have worked diligently to ensure that those lapses aren’t repeated. The Town is now financially sound and is being managed in a professional manner. I, for one, don’t want to repeat the past, no matter how quiet and quaint it seemed at the time.

Jim Simpson
Fenwick Island

Parade committee thankful for supporters


The Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade Committee offers a special thanks to the following for supporting our 2016 Independence Day celebration:

This parade would not be possible without the many volunteers who devote their time and the support of our community.

We would like to thank all of you, including the people who sold parade T-shirts on the boardwalk and all who purchased them this year. And we cannot forget our master of ceremonies, Jennifer Carter.

The committee also extends a special thanks to Bethany Beach officials, Mayor Jack Gordon, Town Manager Cliff Graviet, their staff and all Town employees, including Steve Grames, parking supervisor, and our 2016 grand marshal, Brett Warner, director of Public Works and his crew; Police Chief Mike Redmon, Capt. Darin Cathell, Bethany Beach’s finest; Dean Sissler, and all the local, state and seasonal police who assisted us; Chief Brian Martin of the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company; Karen Lett of the Ladies Auxiliary; BBVFC-EMS; Eric Hognan and Sussex County EMS; the fire police; St. Ann’s Catholic Church; the Christian Church Conference Center for the use of their facilities and grounds; the use of trucks from Lord’s Landscaping, G&E Hocker and Complete Tree Care; Magnum Electronics for communications; Frog House Restaurant; Ron Steen’s Umbrellas; and Marilyn Panagopoulos, Mark Giblin, Chuck Peterson, Tommy Riebel and Joan Thomas, who provided their convertibles and drove the VIPs.

We’d also like to thank Walgreens for its donation of water for the parade and the Air Force National Guard Band of the Northeast for providing the evening entertainment despite the rain.

Events Director Julie Malewski
Bruce Frye, Chair

2016 Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade Committee

State Park thanks local businesses


On behalf of Delaware Seashore State Park, I would like to express a special “thank-you” to the local businesses of Fenwick Island, Bethany Beach, Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach for their donations to our 36th Annual Sand Castle Contest. With their generosity, every participant left the event with a special prize promoting and supporting our local businesses in the community.

The event took place on Saturday, July 9, and drew a crowd of a hundred participants and 40 teams. We couldn’t have asked for a better day and a better group of local supporters!

This special event would never have been possible without the generosity of the following: Sea Shell City; Crepes & Crazes; The Treasure Chest; Captain Mac’s Fish House; Baja Beach House Grill; Penguin Diner; Turtle Beach Café; Beach Break Bakrie & Café; Blue Room Fine Arts Gallery; Woody’s East Coast Bar & Grill; Wings to Go—Dewey; Franco’s Pizza; Rita’s Italian Ice; Vavala’s Beach Things; Snyder’s Candy; Bike to Go; Quiet Storm; Fisher’s Popcorn; the Purple Parrot; Kaisy’s Delights; Nicola’s Pizza; Sea Shirts; Breakers; Bethany Blues; Maureen’s Ice Cream; Bethany Sports Cards; the Artful Bean; the Blue Crab/Bethany Oyster House; Pottery Place; Fenwick Island Bike Shop; and Dave & Skippy’s.

We cannot say “thank you” enough to this remarkable group. The staff of Delaware Seashore State Park sincerely appreciates your support for our park and our programming efforts. To learn more about other programs and special events in our park region, check out our website at http://www.destateparks.com/park/delaware-seashore/programs/index.asp.

Laura Scharle
Interpretive Programs Manager
Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum
Delaware Seashore State Park