Letters to the Editor — May 9, 2014

Reader supports campaign finance reform


We want to thank former Chief Justice Norman Veasey for his comprehensive report on the state of Delaware’s ethics and campaign finance laws. It was honest and thorough. It illuminated both the problems of Delaware’s weak campaign finance laws and offered solutions which the legislators should follow through on.

Government integrity should become the highest priority for this legislative session. If trust is to be restored to government and voter apathy reduced, then reforms are essential. To protect the public interest should be the goal of both parties. In a recent letter we received from Common Cause, the following recommendations were put forth:

• Requiring large contributors to political campaigns to disclose their occupations and their employers, as required at the federal level and in more than 30 other states.

• Closing a loophole that lets donors avoid limits on campaign contributions by funneling money through LLCs and other entities under their control.

• Strengthening and clarifying gift laws and limiting the ability of lobbyists and others to curry favor by giving gifts to public officials.

• Increasing funding for the Delaware Public Integrity Commission, whose budget a fraction — less than a tenth — of the budgets of comparable watchdog agencies in Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.

We are pleased to see several bills addressing the above concerns, but some areas need strengthening. One of the bills, HB 284, does require large contributors to campaigns to list both occupation and their employer.

It is imperative that this bill and all of the legislation recommended by the Veasey Report pass this General Assembly. We applaud legislative leadership in working to achieve electoral transparency and fairness in government and hope that these bills receive bipartisan support in the best interest of all Delaware citizens.

Beth Doty
Rehoboth Beach

Jan Konesey

Law for state-licensed midwives gets strong support


House Bill 319 has been a long time coming, that’s for sure.

It isn’t just that traditional midwives have, on the whole, better outcomes for the women and babies that they take care of. It isn’t just that having a state-licensed midwifery program could save the state millions and cut costs to Medicaid maternity care in a massive way, saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands annually. It isn’t only that Delaware would finally catch up to more than half of U.S. states that already legally license and regulate the practice of out-of-hospital midwifery, and enjoy the double-sided joy of lowering childbirth-related deaths while witnessing an increase in workforce development.

Endearing as those benefits are, House Bill 319, the Midwifery Reform Bill presented this week by Rep. Paul Baumbach (D-Newark), would have a much more powerful and far-reaching impact that that.

House Bill 319 is about giving Delaware’s families a choice — for the first time in many decades, the childbearing women and their families in our three counties would be able to exercise their most basic of birthrights: to choose where, and with whom, they give birth.

The midwives that House Bill 319 proposes to license, and who would be regulated by a Midwifery Council overseen by the State Board of Medicine, aren’t just any old birth attendants — in fact, they’re far from it.

Certified Professional Midwives are nationally credentialed, expertly skilled, and upon the completion of their midwifery training, have completed more prenatal, postpartum and newborn exams, and actually attended more births as a primary attendant than their nurse-midwife counterparts.

They are the nation’s only birth attendants that are professionally and expertly trained in out-of-hospital deliveries, and the rigorous credentialing standards that they must meet have been credited for far fewer cesarean sections, less interventive and expensive hospitalizations, and more full-term, full-weight and healthy babies not needing special care.

Of course, the concern of most folks is safety: Are homebirths safe? Surprisingly for many, the real research says yes — internationally respected, evidence-based medical journals, such as the British Medical Journal, the Cochrane Collaboration, the Milbank Report and the New England Journal of Medicine, as well as global healthcare benchmarks like UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the American Public Health Association, have demonstrated time and time again that planned out-of-hospital births with trained and credentialed midwives save lives, save money and actually have outcomes that are equally as good, and oftentimes better, than do hospitals.

Delaware families have had to wait a seemingly excruciating length of time to have their childbearing rights restored to those enjoyed by every other developed nation in the world — in fact, every country in the world with maternal and infant mortality rates lower than the U.S. has midwives attending the majority of births.

But, again — it’s not only about healthier mothers and babies, or the huge cost benefits to every aspect of our healthcare system. It’s not only about the benefits of using an evidence-based, health promoting maternity care model. It’s not only about taking a huge step toward turning around our nation’s abysmal rankings in maternal and infant mortality, and giving women access to care that is affordable, effective, and legally regulated. It’s about restoring to the childbearing families of Delaware the right to choose who serves them. To choose where they bring new and precious life into this world.

Delaware women and their families have waited a long, long time for Baumbach’s House Bill 319, and we are so thankful for it. Now — let’s get back on track, stand firmly together for the restoration of our most basic rights, and license our certified, professional midwives.

This time, really – “It’s for the children.”

Sarah G. Culver
Perinatal Doula/Education & Advocacy Chair
Delaware Families for Safe Birth

Veterinarian gets thanks from family


We would like to express our thanks and appreciation to the Ocean View Animal Hospital for their compassion and end-of-life care they provided to our cat B.J. last week. Mr. Sean Stanziale, DVM, and his staff were extremely courteous and sensitive to us in B.J.’s final hour.

Frank and Allison Palmer

Reader takes Mediacom to task


For the past 25 years, we have owned a condo at Bethany Meadows, in Sussex County, where we spend on average two or three months a year.

We used to subscribe to Mediacom for Triple Play, which ended up being “triple pain.” If we had TV reception, then the Internet service was out or we had no dial tone. We averaged three to four service calls a year, had to wait for their seven-days turnaround, with the usual 8 to 5 window.

Since we got DSL and satellite two years ago, we’ve had no issues and no service calls.

Mediacom is circulating a spring brochure telling “satellite customers, now is time to switch” and providing them with eight reasons to do so. They also mention “the power to simplify,” “total defense Internet” and the option to keep your current phone number. We also know that the company is really big in Iowa and some other faraway places. So what’s keeping us from coming back?

For the past few years (as long as I checked), the Better Business Bureau of Delaware has given Mediacom an F rating. Consumer Reports in 2012 named Mediacom as the worst provider in the country (50,000 people were polled). Consumer Reports of May 2014 ranks Mediacom dead last for all services, except Internet, where it ranks 28 out of 29.

Everybody we know in Delaware comes up with tales of woes concerning one or another side of their operation, except one person who touches wood every time he mentions Mediacom.

A recent check with the Delaware Public Service Commission, who regulates that type of industry, shows that Mediacom has applied to renew its 15-year license in Delaware.

There will be a public meeting in Sussex County, but written comments can be sent any time at the following address: Department of State, Delaware Public Commission, 861 Silver Lake Boulevard, Suite 100, Dover, DE 19904 (Docket 13-431).

If you live in an unincorporated community, why not send a note to help the commission make an informed decision whether or not to grant Mediacom’s request and extend its license to operate there for the next 15 years.

Or would you rather pay high premiums, rent videos for entertainment, go to fast food places for Internet and get cell phone service in case you have an emergency?

Didier Fontaine
Ocean View

Chamber offers thanks for successful Bike Tour


On behalf of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce’s staff and Board of Directors, I would like to thank everyone who helped make the 25th Ocean to Bay Bike Tour an overwhelming success.

The Bike Tour brought 1,500 cyclists to the Quiet Resorts area at a time when our businesses need it most. This event would not have been possible without all of the hard work and dedication of our Chamber members, volunteers, sponsors and donors, as well as the support from DelDOT, our state and local police and fire companies, and the ARES group.

We want to thank Presenting Sponsor PNC Bank; Supporting Sponsors Coastal Point, Coastal Tented Events, Mediacom Residential, Michelob Ultra, NV Homes Coastal Division, ResortQuest Delaware; and Sag Wagon Sponsors: Fenwick Islander Bike Shop and The Bicycle Connection. Thanks to our other sponsors, including: Bayside Resort Golf Club, Long & Foster Real Estate, Mr. Natural Bottled Water Inc.

Many thanks go out to our entire member businesses for their donations of time and resources: Atlantic General Hospital, Banks Wines & Spirits, Beau Monde, Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Fine Arts Gallery, Bethany Treasures Studio, Capriotti’s, Kevin McCourt of Cogitation LLC, Comcast Spotlight, Delaware Beach Life, Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, Dirty Harry’s Restaurant, Frankford Public Library, Ft. Miles Historical Association, Giant Supermarket, Great Scott Broadcasting, Heather’s Homeworks, iKANDE Advertising, Jack Hickman Real Estate, McCabe’s Gourmet Market, North Bethany Beach Patrol, Paragon Auto Body, Realtor Peter DeMarie, Ruffles on the Bottom, Samaritan Thrift Shop, SendOutCards, Shore Bank, Sustaining Support LLC and Walgreens.

We would also like to send out many thanks to all of our amazing volunteers who worked tirelessly prior to, during and after the event. The Bike Tour could not happen without you. The Town of Bethany Beach and Public Works, Bethany Beach Fire Police; the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company and EMS; Millville Fire Police and Roxana Fire Police for going over and beyond to ensure the safety of the cyclists.

Last, but not least, thank you to our area residents for being cautious and courteous to the cyclists on our local roads.

Lauren Weaver, Event Manager
Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce

Hattier pushes back on Elling’s ‘Indians’ complaints

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Lloyd Elling, in response to his letter published in the May 2, 2014, issue of the Coastal Point, and was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

I read your comments about dropping the idea of changing the name of the Indian River Indians to something more politically correct. One of the many benefits of being an American is the ability to attempt to spread your message whether anyone else objects to it or not. That is called free speech. That is your right as an American.

I do take issue, though, with some of your comments. It is insulting to everyone who lives in the area, who grew up with a set of values, who graduated from IRHS and its predecessor schools to be called names or be accused of white privilege.

By your own words, you couldn’t motivate anyone in this community other than yourself. This presumably means the churches of our black, Hispanic and other minority communities. How is that white privilege on our part?

Comparing us to Christopher Columbus equally is an insult and demeaning to the entire Indian River School District, its residents and our efforts to educate every child to the highest and best level that that child is capable of.

Our record in this state is very, very good. Through Dr. Bunting and her awesome staff, our record is used through out the state as a model for other districts. To compare us to a 500-year-old dead person whose entire times and mores were vastly different than ours shows you really don’t understand it.

“Screaming Indians?” “Go Merciless Indians?” Frankly, the Indian we portray is an honorable individual who took pride in his or her circumstances, took care of the environment, learned about his or her world and stood strong on principle. You mean those statements in a condescendingly pejorative manner. When we say them, it is entirely in a sports sense and, as such, is very acceptable.

And while you exercised your right of free speech, you were trying to get us to drop our rights to the same thing. The Founders knew that not everything suited all people all the time, but censoring speech and habits for the benefit of a very, very few is something that I cannot support. I am surprised that you would want to take that right away from the people of the Indian River School District. They deserve the same rights that you have.

I sign this with pride at being associated with as fine a system as there is anywhere.

Go Indians!

Donald G. Hattier

Reader takes issue with drivers who disregard stop signs


Over the past several months, I have noted drivers’ increased disregard for stop signs. The Delaware Driver Manual [Page 72] states: “When you come to a stop sign, you must make a complete stop at the stop line; or, if none, at the cross-walk; or, if none, before entering the intersection.”

This is an important rule that drivers of all ages seem to forget when they:

• blow through the traffic control without any attempt to stop;

• roll through the stop sign when making a turn;

• train through when tailgating behind another vehicle.

A public service campaign by the Department of Motor Vehicles, state and local police departments would help re-educate drivers of the importance for obeying stop signs. Making complete stops at controlled intersections is a clearly stated rule for all drivers to follow. Failure to stop endangers other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

And, after all, stop signs are not offering a suggestion, they are giving a command.

Domenic Thompson
Ocean View

Drew clarifies her comments on equal pay


I appreciate the nice article you carried this week on my speech to the Sussex County Republican Women’s Club. They are a great group, and it was my pleasure to talk with them. That said, I’m afraid my message must not have been received quite as I intended.

In your article, the point was made by their organizers that I said the military did not pay women equal salaries for equal work. I’m sorry if I left that impression, because that is absolutely not the case. Darin, as a former Marine, you will understand my obligation to correct that impression of our military services.

The point I was attempting to make was that a woman cannot afford to get too comfortable in her job if she wants to increase her opportunity (and salary). Instead, while doing her very best at her current job, she must at the same time be preparing herself for the next opportunity. What may look like lower salaries for women can be caused by their not preparing to get ahead.

I discussed a study done several years ago of civilian Civil Service women working for the Navy in response to our lower numbers of women being promoted to the Senior Executive Service (civilian equivalent of admiral and general rank). Rather than discrimination, the study showed that men in greater numbers than women were constantly on the lookout for the next rung up the ladder and changing jobs to develop the breadth of experience that made them competitive for more important (and higher paying) jobs.

Conversely, women in greater numbers tended to get comfortable in their jobs and not move around (and up) as much. That desire for “comfort” in a job made them less competitive for jobs further up the executive ladder. Needless to say, subsequent to the study, there has been more focus in the mentoring of both men and women to ensure everyone “gets it.”

I also made the point that, if being comfortable in a job that may give you more time off to raise a family or go to school, or just because you really like the job, it is absolutely fine, whether you are a man or a woman. Just don’t wonder why you aren’t moving up.

So, not only does the military pay equal salaries for equal work, they are constantly expanding opportunities for both men and women, whether military members or civilian Civil Service members.

Rear Adm. Mimi Drew
U.S. Navy, Retired