Letters to the Editor — January 30, 2015

The ‘Ghost Bike’ left an impression


On a recent trip to Baltimore, we stayed with our daughter, who lives in the city’s Roland Park neighborhood. Turning into her road, we noticed a white bike, flowers streaming over its frame. Obviously, it was a memorial, though quite different than those seen on the roadside. An unusual and poignant sight.

Known as the “ghost bike,” we quickly learned that it symbolizes the tragic death of a well-known cyclist and designer-builder of custom bikes. The cyclist, experienced and revered in the biking community, was struck from behind by a vehicle, thrown onto the car’s hood and into the road. His death brought an immediate outpouring of grief for his family and concern for cyclists’ safety. Investigation of the accident is ongoing.

It is my hope that the ghost bike will serve as a reminder to all in Sussex County. Our roads are small and busy. When sharing the roads with cyclists, let us be alert, patient and considerate.

And let us remember the ghost bike.

William Amelia

Bacon and Melson receive support


Amid difficulties surrounding the budget and health care coverage and pensions for its’ employees, the Town of Frankford is set to elect its new town council in February 2015.

Joanne Bacon has graciously filled the president’s seat for the town council since the resignation of Jesse Truitt in June 2014. She acknowledges the position has been difficult to negotiate, given all of the turmoil that has Frankford’s citizens concerned for the future of the town.

Joanne has proven over the few short months that she has been the president of the Frankford Town Council that she is fair and interested in listening to the concerns of the townspeople. Having been the only town council member to do so, she voted against having the citizen’s privilege reduced from two to one opportunities during council meetings. She was noted as saying after that vote that she was shocked that the council would vote to silence the citizens.

Joanne has always been a very involved and vocal member of the town council, engaging the townspeople during town meetings and, as president, considering all sides of an issue before calling for a vote on a topic. It is clear that her actions are to work for the best interest of the town.

Among the citizens who have been involved in town council meetings faithfully over the past years is Velicia Melson, one of the two people chosen by citizens of Frankfordf to run for town council.

Velicia has been an active member of the group known as the “Concerned Citizens for Frankford” since the group began over the summer of 2014. “There needs to be accountability, integrity, and uniformity for the town — one rule for everybody,” she has been quoted as saying.

The Town has long been struggling with issues over budget concerns and health care coverage and pension contributions for the town employees. With more than 30 years of experience in the finance field, Velicia is well-equipped to deal with the tough decisions that come with balancing a budget. Her résumé extends to working for multinational companies, such as Marriott International in Bethesda, Md., as well as local companies such as the Delmarva Urgi-Care Center and Women’s Healthcare of Delmarva.

“The financial integrity and the health of the Town is completely unknown,” Velicia has said, also stating that one of her goals is to increase transparency of the Town for its citizens. Having had the opportunity to manage the finances for different companies has led Velicia to a place where she is uniquely positioned to lead the Town of Frankford forward. In her various positions, she has successfully increased financial collections by 70 percent, developed and implemented financial policies which decreased the number of collection accounts outstanding, and reduced insurance claims by 70 percent, improving cash flow.

Tackling such tasks requires thoughtful action, diplomacy, effective communication skills, and an acute understanding of business management and operations. Velicia exemplifies all of these.

Having been born in Frankford and raised with her parents in the military, Velicia has had the opportunity to live and work in many places, but her ties and roots are here in Frankford. She is also a member of the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary, where her focus is on community involvement.

She is community-oriented, saying, “It would be great to have committees who work to assist the town council. The committees can be made of citizens and be a place for citizens to voice their concerns, in addition to the town council meetings. The committees can work to do more for the citizens of Frankford and help communicate citizens’ concerns to the council. It will help increase town growth and help us to bring more services to the town that can benefit the residents.”

It is important to note that those who are eligible voters in the town of Frankford need to register to vote in town elections by Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. Due to the holidays, the town hall will be open on the following dates for town business and to allow for voter registration:

Your voice counts! Town elections for Frankford will be held in early February 2015, and Joanne Bacon and Velicia Melson hope to be the voice of the people of the town of Frankford.

Liz Carpenter

Reader believes system is not working


It is easy to follow the rhetoric of the political party which most resonates with our personal sensibilities given today’s government gridlock. Doing that limits our understanding of complex issues and our practice of civic responsibility. Congressional members of both parties to the right and the left of center politicize every issue no matter how grave or frivolous. The number of moderates is so small that common sense is powerless.

Failed policies and laws distort and/or thwart the democratic process. Democracy depends for its integrity and effectiveness on bipartisanship. It has been hijacked by an embarrassment of money, gerrymandering of voting districts and unlimited terms for elected officials, just to mention a few impediments to good governance.

A system that allows special-interest lobbyists to outnumber elected officials by more than 4 to 1 doesn’t encourage governance by, for and of the people. These are very old and very powerful strategies of war... Divide and conquer! America’s citizens appear to be losing both the battles and the war over the past 25 or so years. Perhaps we would do well to consider Native American philosophy, which looks forward to the seventh-generation future, rather than the expedient now when we enact laws and regulations.

The wealthy are not the villains. A tax code so complex and loophole-ridden and which favors dollars from investing gains over earned income is a real problem. As a retiree with modest investments, I am OK with the current tax rate on earnings. My children and grandchildren, who work hard and have little to invest… not so much! Middle-class families are getting pulverized, and that has consequences for the economy both today and tomorrow.

From the 1940s to the 1970s, worker productivity rose about 45 percent and wages rose about 41 percent. Since then, productivity rose another 40-plus percent, but income rose only about 17 percent, and both political parties had their hands on the controls at various times during that period.

In 1973, America had an historic low of 11.1 percent poverty rate. Poverty rates rose to an official 15.1 percent in 2009, the first full year after the Great Recession. The official rate understates the number of people who actually fall below the poverty line at any given time. For example, during 2008-2009, 32.2 percent of Americans fell below the poverty line for at least one month.

Income is the greatest driver of higher poverty rates. A study of the period 1979 to 2007 found that the single most powerful factor in overall rise in the poverty rate is income inequality. Income inequality accounted for 5.5 percent of the rate. In the same period, changing racial composition accounted for a mere 0.9 percentage point increase, and single-mother heads of household accounted for 1.4 percent of the rate.

On a positive note, the same study shows that increased educational attainment decreased poverty rates 2.7 percent, and income growth decreased the rise in poverty rate by 3.8 percent. Does this not suggest we really should spend more of our national treasure on education and raise the minimum wage? The bulk of the gains in our currently slow healing economy have gone to the already very rich. There can be no dispute about an un-level playing field for the 98 to 99 percent of Americans.

The references to poverty rates in the above paragraph are from the State of Working America section of the Economic Policy Institute; www.stateofworkingamerica.org. Statistics from other resources may differ in specific figures, but the trends and conclusions are essentially the same.

As to who is to who is to blame, there is more than enough to go around. Remember to include ourselves when blame gets passed around. Voting in the 25 to 30 percent range sets the stage for civil discord.

I hope every elected official who understands that Americans (and the world economy) got shafted by Wall Street greed must keep sounding the clarion of alarm about “banks too big to fail.” It certainly was not only those who had stock in banks and the auto industry who got shafted. The end... that we got paid back with interest … does not justify the means. That, although the banks may have been within the law when they sliced and diced mortgages and sold them, they knew they were worthless.

It says volumes about inadequate laws and regulations. When the Glass-Steagall Act, which was enacted in 1933, was dropped from bank regulations in 1999, it set the stage for a debacle. Part of what that act did was to forbid banks from using taxpayer money to fund risky investments. It separated commercial and investment banking, which helped to avoid conflict of interest. It also offered some consumer safety.

In the interim, regulators and bankers got cozy. Enforcing the Dodd-Frank Act, which was a bipartisan effort and which was designed to rein in some of the most egregious activity of monster banks, has been held off for five years, and the banking industry is lobbying for another five-year reprieve.

Their rationale for the request is that the regulation is too costly to implement; this while bank profits soar! The big banks are still nurturing slight wounds from the slap on the hand that the bailout required and are now only slicing and dicing insurance policies. Perhaps Main Street will take another big hit.

Patricia Frey

Women’s club looking for phone books


In the past few years, I have been trying to gather, update and archive any and all information regarding the GFWC Zwaanendael Women’s Club located on Third and Savanah Road in Lewes. I assembled all known information and archived at the Lewes Historical Society and in the Delaware Room of the Lewes Library.

However, as part of the collection at the Lewes Historical Society some of the phone directories are missing. I believe someone has them in their attic or basement long forgotten. Missing are 1962-63, 1968-69, 1969-70 and 1972-74. If anyone has these phone books, please drop them off at the Lewes Historical Society.

The Club published them and distributed them free of charge to the community. The 59th Edition was their last one (2013-2014). The Club would, in the past, use the phone book as a fundraiser, selling advertisements. After careful consideration, it was decided that the cost of producing the book outweighed the profit.

The mission of the GFWC Zwaanendael’ s Women’s Club of Lewes is to support the International General Federation of Women’s Clubs by supporting their local community through volunteering their time and resources to those members of our community in need. Should any women be interested in joining this long-standing club, please contact them at P.O. Box 100, Lewes, DE 19958.

B.J. Young
GFWC Zwaanendael Club