Letters to the Editor — June 27, 2014

ECGC celebrates 15 years


Thank you to everyone who came out to the East Coast Garden Center’s 15th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, June 14, 2014. It was a great day, despite all the flooding caused by a storm the day before. There was some logistical re-arranging, but the weather could not have been more gorgeous.

Attendees enjoyed complimentary aloe plants (supplied by Cordrey Charities), complimentary hot dogs and lemonade, a very informative class on propagation and all-around a great celebration of the past 15 years.

We thank all our supporters for the past 15 years and welcome many more years to come. Thank you again!

East Coast Garden Center

Reader discusses the merits of guns


We are under the mistaken impression that we send representatives and senators to Dover and Washington to protect our rights and freedoms. All they seem to want is to see their name in the legislative record for sponsoring a bill — any bill — no matter how mediocre or ill-conceived.

They have the ability to make law; therefore, they think they must make law. Wrong. The citizens are no longer falling for the hype of “Look at how many bills I’ve gotten passed.” We’re looking at the effect and necessity of these bills — just ask Eric Cantor. Really, we all know how much criminals fear legislation, like gun-free zones. Criminals obey gun laws as well as most politicians honor their oath of office.

States that have the most restrictive gun legislation also have the highest gun-involved crime rates. Criminals know the citizen has no legal ability to self-protect. Criminals also know the well-prepared citizen can be very detrimental to their chosen career. The police can’t protect you, only investigate after the crime has been committed. Let’s try looking at states that have low gun-involved crime and investigate that — what a concept.

For those that don’t want a weapon, that feel their life and the life of their family are not worth protecting, it’s easy: don’t buy a weapon. That’s your right, but don’t you dare to interfere with my God-given rights.

Richard McKinley
Fenwick Island

Simpler says: Pass the gravy, please


The final meeting of the Delaware Economic Financial Advisory Committee this month produced no windfalls for state legislators to balance the budget. Instead, officials will need to reduce spending this year and next year by an aggregate of about $50 million versus the estimates they were working off back in September of 2013. Now, that may sound like a significant drop, but recall that our general fund spending is nearly $4 billion.

By most reckonings, cutting about half of 1 percent over the next two years should not be cause for the rending of clothing and the tearing out of hair. But you would not know it by the dour attitude and spirit of defeat pervading our General Assembly. Quoting House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf: “Right now, going into June, my priority is a balanced budget. Anything else is gravy.”

While I concur with the Speaker’s priority, his conception of “gravy” is quite broad, and not everyone considers it a frivolous condiment. The governor, for one, remains committed to spending several hundred million dollars on infrastructure projects for both roads and water.

“Racino” operators desire a restructuring of the 43 percent of gaming revenue going to the State. Protectors of our incorporation franchise want a less aggressive enforcement of our escheat collections — now more than 15 percent of our general fund. There are even some still seeking to have the “temporary” tax hikes of 2009 on those earning more than $60,000 actually made temporary. For all of them, these will be dry years — gravy is in short supply.

To me, this suggests a problem. If there is no capacity in our 62-person General Assembly to seriously weigh other matters, if the governor’s signature measures cannot be prioritized, and if the totality of the proposals from other quarters are to be suspended, all due to a decline in forecast revenues of .5 percent, then I am concerned that we are lost. And not for want of financial practices and processes, but precisely because of them.

While I may sound like a heretic for suggesting that the way we do our state finance is broken, consider a few questions: Does our finance system inspire confidence and encourage private investment and growth? Is there a clear prioritization of spending and a commitment to getting the highest return on our collective resources? Are we better informed of our overall financial position and able to make better decisions as a consequence?

If you are like me, you will have said “no” or perhaps “hell, no” to each of the foregoing.

My point is as follows: a finance system that fails to achieve certainty, accountability and transparency is not much of a finance system. Yes, I can hear the rebuttals coming now — that we have a AAA bond rating, an award-winning annual report, an online checkbook, etc. All true, but by whose metrics are we to judge the worthiness of our finance system? Bond underwriters? Government accounting experts? “Open government” proponents? How about John Q. Public? By the average Delawarean’s standard, our state finances are an impenetrable source of both angst and dismay.

I have spent 20 years in finance, as an investor, money manager and chief financial officer. My experience is unambiguous: organizations with good finance systems succeed; organizations with bad finance systems fail. Moreover, even good finance systems must change and adapt with the times.

In Delaware, we last meaningfully addressed our finance system in the late 1970s, during a truly dark budgetary period. Then, our government rose to the task and did major financial reform! In the roughly 35 years since, however, we have authored barely any minor reform, and more alarmingly, none since the lights almost went out in the most recent financial turmoil. It is time for a major upgrade before it is too late.

I officially launched my campaign for state treasurer just before the Memorial Day weekend, with two themes. First, I believe that there should be a financial professional in charge of the management of our public investments and the monies that come and go from our state’s coffers. Filling the Treasurer’s Office with someone with no finance background sends a clear message that we do not take our state’s finances seriously.

Second, I want to make Delaware “First in Finance.” I view a commitment to building the most solid fiscal foundation for our state as both good defense and good offense — something that will set Delaware apart from every other state in the nation. Viewed in this light, sound finance is a competitive advantage, an economic development measure, and the surest way to attract business to our state, grow our own job base and generate long-term prosperity for our people.

As someone who has spent his life fixing things that are fiscally broken, I am driven to do the same for my home state. While no finance system can guarantee us that we can have our cake and eat it, too; for Pete’s sake, we should at least have a system that allows us to enjoy a little gravy alongside an otherwise well-balanced meal.

Ken Simpler
Candidate for State Treasurer

Spring Tea a success, thanks to many


As the honorary chair of the Beebe Medical Center Auxiliary’s Spring Tea, I would like to thank everyone that supported and attended the Tea on Sunday, May 18, at the Lewes Presbyterian Church. This event was planned by my co-chairs, Muriel Pfeiffer and Pat Sandy, along with the Tea Committee, and I want to thank all who participated in the meetings that preceded the event.

The tables were decorated in different themes by the following: Pam Coleman, Linda Dahl, Sandra Fennell, Joan Nicholls and Rosemarie Barti, Muriel Pfeiffer, Sandy Prettyman and Geri Pease, Michael Roussell, Pat Sandy, Ginger Snowden and Rosemarie Vanderhoogt. The tables were magnificent and enjoyed by all that attended.

A big thank-you to Kay Burgee, Larry Burgee, Chuck Gritton and Karen Gritton, Nancy Horneck, Kathy Miller and Ida Guyer, Elizabeth Pratt, Michael Roussell, Pat Sandy, Mary Ann Sterling and John Spera, and Martha Tutak for preparing the wonderful food.

My thanks to the Craft Group of the Auxiliary, that hand-made all the beautiful tea cozies for the tea pots. And special kudos to Bill Cheyney, our sound engineer.

A special note of thanks to Kimberly Manfra, flutist, for the wonderful soft music played for our Tea.

I also want to say a big thank-you to our wonderful servers who made the event very enjoyable for all the attendees. They are: Larry Burgee, Kay Burgee, Judith Hannan, Nancy Tartaglione, Martha Tutak and B.J. Young.

In closing, I want to thank the Cape Henlopen Elks Lodge #2540, who always support our event, Giant Food at Lighthouse Plaza and Pepperidge Farm Breads. We hope to see you next year.

Ginger Snowden, Chairwoman
Beebe Medical Center Auxiliary Spring Tea