Letters - February 29, 2008

Cathcart responds to Schwartzkopf’s column

The State News recently ran an opinion column by state Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf on manufactured housing issues that, through errors and omissions, unfairly characterized the efforts of some of my colleagues.

In his column, Rep. Schwartzkopf stated that “a legislator, who owns a manufactured housing community, is allowed to be a member of the Sub-Committee on Manufactured Housing.” This is absolutely false. There are nine members of this sub-committee, including Rep. Schwartzkopf. None of these legislators owns a manufactured housing community.

Rep. Schwartzkopf also unjustly asserted that a House Subcommittee Meeting on Manufactured Housing (Jan. 9) was intentionally held in a fashion intended to shut the public out. In fact, the meeting was open to the public and was held in the largest meeting room in Legislative Hall, with a seating capacity of approximately 50.

Among those in attendance were the leadership of the Delaware Manufactured Home Owners Association and more than a half-dozen TV, radio and newspaper reporters. The meeting came about only after public hearings were held in each county to gather public input on the manufactured housing bills before the committee. No rational person can legitimately claim that the Jan. 9 meeting was conducted in anything less than an open, public fashion.

Another unsupported allegation by Rep. Schwartzkopf bordered on libelous. In his column, he indicted all State House Republican legislators by implying that their reluctance to pass the poorly crafted legislation he supports is to protect state GOP Chairman Terry Strine, who is a manufactured housing community owner.

What Rep. Schwartzkopf omitted was that it has been Republican House members who have successfully sponsored the laws that have aided manufactured housing residents in recent years.

Those reforms include: rewriting the state’s outdated Landlord-Tenant Code to improve lease agreements; establishing a relocation fund to help displaced homeowners when a community closes; and limiting lot rent increases to once per year. Republicans also sponsored a new law to help homeowners resolve disputes without costly litigation, a process that just began within the last few months.

Another fact conspicuously absent from the original column is that the areas of the state where manufactured housing is prevalent are predominately represented in the State House by Republicans. In other words, Republican lawmakers are actively motivated to help the people residing in manufactured housing because these are their friends, neighbors and constituents.

Someone more cynical than I might suggest that misrepresenting Republican legislators’ track record of progress on manufactured housing issues is a political tactic intentionally designed to alienate voters in an election year.

Fortunately, I’m not that cynical.

State House Majority Leader
Richard Cathcart (R-9th)

Local AARP chapter thankful for support

South Coastal Delaware AARP Chapter 5226 would like to thank our wonderful community for its support of the chapter’s campaign, “Opening Our Hearts To Support Our Troops.” The goal was to provide needed supplies for deployed service members.

On Feb. 16-17, four area grocery stores — Food Lion, Giant, G&E and Hocker’s — allowed us to collect items and financial contributions inside their stores. Shoppers during those two days contributed 1,161 items and $1,419.

Five area banks — County Bank, Delaware National, First Shore Federal, PNC and Wachovia — either made direct contributions or allowed us to place cash receptacles in a branch where citizens could make contributions. Funds raised from this effort, plus personal contributions from chapter members, raised the total funds received to $1,843.

Items contributed included: ground coffee — 115 cans and three boxes of coffee bags; powdered creamer — 62 cans; juice pouches — 31 boxes; bottled water — 31 cases/varied sizes; Pop Tarts — 181 boxes; granola bars — 138 boxes; microwave popcorn — 135 boxes; fruit snacks — 30 bags/boxes; nuts — 45 cans, 1 snack pack; trail mix — 62 bags; gum — 41 multiple packs, 52, assorted stick sizes, three boxes of bubble gum; hot cocoa — 52 boxes, two cans, nine individual packs; lemonade — 18 cans, nine boxes of individual packets; other powered drinks — 24 cans, one multi-pack, eight singles; Chapstick — 82; other — 13 candy bars, seven boxes/packets of crackers, four boxes of cookies.

Contributed funds were used to purchase 31 1,000-minute international phone cards, 50 hand warmers, 60 disposable cameras and seven mini travel games.

On Feb. 21, four chapter members delivered everything to a most appreciative USO staff at Dover Air Force Base.

This huge event could not have happened without the planning and participation of our Community Service Committee, including: Kathleen Brendel, Lorraine Carr, Bev Dalecki, Lorraine Fry, Charlotte Hamby, Mary Hughes, Carolyn Kelly, Joan Koch, Rose Oruc, Rose Parsons, Ione Phillips, Bobbie Shoff, Rose Snider and Anna Woodrum. Thanks also to Neva OHara, Vaughn Parfitt and Vernon Ruth who delivered three vehicle loads of items to the base.

In addition, I want to thank the 22 additional chapter members who worked at the four stores during the weekend event. They gave their time to a very important cause. Finally, thanks to the caring citizens of Sussex County who opened their hearts to support our troops. This is a great county in which to live. God bless America!

Ione Phillips, President
South Coastal Delaware AARP Chapter 5226

Brown announces his plans for Ocean View

When I am asked why I want to be a councilman, my answer is not a single point, statement or issue. We suffer from such a variety of problems that one cure will not fix the problems. So let us start with the biggest problem and move on from there.

As a resident of Ocean View, I have noticed the countless times where the residents’ desires are not met. A major part of this problem is that the council does not know its limitations. That basic yet most fundamentally misunderstood word is authority. While they do have responsibility, they do not have authority. When elected, what I would have is responsibility to you, the voters.

You can delegate responsibility. You cannot delegate authority. That authority belongs to the people exclusively. Even if one person were to give up their authority, that would not obligate anyone else to do likewise. How does that affect the council or that I want your vote? The council has been illegally doing whatever it wants by taking authority rather than being responsible. Let’s talk about responsibility.

Responsibility includes doing what they are told to do within the scope of our authority, and not doing something that is outside the scope of their responsibility.

For example: the council members take an oath of office, nothing else. That oath includes protecting, upholding and obeying the constitution of the United States.

But we’re just a town, you may say. Does that really apply to us at the local level? Does it ever! One of the problems facing many towns as well as states is that our elected do not know what they are legally allowed to do, so they do anything they want, often without realizing they are acting illegally when they do so. I have tried to fix this problem from the outside. Now I want your permission to fix it from the inside.

How would I do that? By addressing the following:

• Spending and bringing it under control;

• Unwanted expansion;

• Waste;

• Accountability to be understood and adhered to;

• Educating both you, the true authority, in your role in government, as well as the council.

When elected, I want to start district- and town-wide newsletters. I want these newsletters to include tear-out sections for you to return, so the elected within your district can hear what you have to say. Like it or not, you are the boss. Let’s not allow anyone to usurp that which is not given — your authority!

I want you to be made aware of what is happening with newsletters, not newspapers. Your input into decision-making is needed. After all, I would be working for you, the voter. I want those responsible for unauthorized spending to not only stop, but also be held accountable. It is we the people who is the duly constituted authority — not the elected.

Once this is understood we can move ahead with righting the wrongs, fixing what needs fixing. The council should be, needs to be and must be obedient to the people. They were elected to be managers, not dictators. To that end I want to work from within the council.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Wally Brown
Ocean View

Sorority grateful for help from community

The members of the Alpha Alpha Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi would like to thank everyone for their support of our annual fundraising event. The dance was held on Feb. 1, 2008, at the Ocean View VFW, with entertainment provided by Spontaneous Combustion. The dance, along with the Chinese Auction and 50-50 Raffle, were all very successful.

We would like to give special thanks to the following individuals and businesses for their donations to the dance and Chinese Auction: Al Casapulla’s Subs, Steaks & Pizza; Alesi Custom Builders and Renovators Inc.; Atlee Burpee Co.; Bear Trap; Bethany Cycle and Beach Goods; bluecoast Seafood Grill and Fish Market; Cactus Café; Creative Concepts; Leslie Croney; Delaware National Bank in Ocean View; Denise Beam State Farm Insurance; Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats; Fat Tuna Grill; Fisher’s Popcorn; Trudy Fox; Giant Food; Harris Teeter; Hocker’s; House Pets; Japanesque; Bob Kirk; Lighthouse Liquors; Made Ya Look! Salon and Day Spa; McCabe’s Gourmet Market; Michael McCarthy Stones; Millville Pet Shop; Miss Andi’s Day Care; Oceanova; Pottery Place; Rehoboth Beach Yoga Center; Rob Ward’s Professional Home Services; Selbyville Pet & Garden Center; Silhouettes; and Pam Webb Longaberger Consultant.

As always, the theme for the dance was “Help Us, Help Our Community.” Thanks again to all of you who helped us so that we may continue to give support to those in need.

Nancy Butters
Alpha Alpha Chapter, Beta Sigma Phi

Reader supports Esposito for mayor

Vincent “Vinnie” Esposito is an excellent choice for mayor of Ocean View, Del.

I know Vinnie personally. He puts the love of God, family and others above himself. I’ve also had the privilege of working alongside Mr. Esposito for the past couple years on several different volunteer activities, such as the Special Olympics, the Alzheimer’s “Memory Walk” and the “DADS” clinic (Delaware Animal Disaster Services).

I’m certain I would not have won the Jefferson Award had it not been for the direct involvement of Vincent Esposito. He worked tirelessly, behind the scenes, taking no credit.

Vinnie has never said no when called upon to participate in worthy projects benefiting our community. He has a great humanitarian side few others witness. I have watched his caring for senior citizens and others less fortunate, including animals.

I was also in attendance when Mr. Esposito was handed the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Volunteerism. He is a current member of RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Programs) administered by the State of Delaware.

The most important personal thought that comes to mind whenever I think about Vinnie is his politeness. A return of “Politics of Politeness” would bode well for Ocean View.

Vincent’s desire to give back to his community, passion to lead by example, willingness to openly communicate with his constituents, will help lead Ocean View to a more fiscally responsible community.

Vinnie believes, as do I, politeness begins at home. Isn’t it time for a more civil, bipartisan approach to solving our problems? The Town of Ocean View must set the example and be part of the reason why Delaware will always remain the “First State.”

Be part of the solution. Come out. Meet the Candidate Night is March 19 at 7 p.m., Town Hall, Ocean View, Del. Exercise your right to vote on April 12, 2008. You will make a difference.

Nancy L. Colella
Ocean View

Resident wants more community involvement

Did you know that there’s a new form to allow citizens to request documents discussed at town meetings that will now not be made available by default under a new paper and staff costing-savings policy. Wow! They finally passed a cost-savings policy.

Before, you could go to the council meetings on the first Tuesday of each month and they had copies of all business conducted or discussed. By the way, there are only about 10 people that come to these meetings. Now it will cost you something for each document. Wow! What a great idea! That will surely help fund the new Public Works building at $1.4 million.

What we need are for more citizens to start coming to the meetings and voice their beliefs on the spending of our tax dollars. I’m not against growth, but I can’t see wasteful spending of our tax dollars.

So on March 4, 2008, come to the meeting and let your voice be heard. Like the editorial said in the Coastal Point, “We applaud the citizens of Ocean View who decide to get involved in the process, and we urge the citizens of the town to study the candidates, and get out and vote on April 12.”

Joseph Fedick
Ocean View

Editor’s note: Ocean View’s document request policy is currently in a six-month trial period, during which there is no charge being assessed for copies of documents from town meetings. Both the policy and the potential charge are to be further discussed at the end of the six-month period. Ordinances up for public hearings and other documents requested to be made available by council members or the mayor also are being pre-printed in time for the meetings themselves.

Resident puts her support behind Esposito

This is in regards to a great person who is running for mayor of our great town. His name is Vincent Esposito. He is No. 1 for getting things done, thinking always of ways to save taxpayers money and ready to clean up foolish spending in our town council. He has an outstanding background as a former councilman-at-large for many years and he is ready to help our sweet town and get things done and no empty promises. Please vote for Vincent Esposito for mayor of Ocean View. He is the person we need.

Flossie Hopkins
Ocean View

Nippes encourages informed voters in town

Once again the town of Ocean View is facing a critical election. Voters will be electing a new mayor and councilperson from District 3. These two new public officials, coupled with the existing three councilmen, face daunting financial challenges. The members of council must work closely with Town Manager Dr. Gregory, who has charted a course of action that if followed, will place the town in a sound fiduciary position at the end of five years. To achieve this goal will require the council to make difficult and at times painful decisions.

The council must take the recommendations from Dr. Gregory and the Long Range Planning Committee and implement them while still providing essential services in a cost effective manner to the residents of Ocean View. The council has the ultimate responsibility to follow these guidelines, modify them, or ignore them.

If the council adheres to the basic plan, financial stability is a strong possibility. The council can modify the plan established in the budget, but must take funds from one area to increase funding in another area of the budget. If the council chooses to increase spending, then it must find additional revenues. The current economic climate, especially in the real estate market, does not bode well for an increase in transfer taxes. That leaves the council with the options to increase taxes or cut services.

Thus, you, the registered voters, hold the power to determine the path that your elected officials take in solving needs, such as work and office space for our dedicated employees, drainage and street repairs, paying down debt service and maintaining the high quality of public services offered and salaries paid to our exemplary employees.

The council realizes the importance of this election for the town’s future. The following changes have been enacted into law to encourage you to register and provide greater flexibility in the amount of time that the polling station is open for voting.

In the past you had to register prior to 30 days before Election Day. This has now been changed to 10 days prior to the election on April 12. Remember, you must register in Ocean View to be eligible to vote in the town’s municipal election. Just because you are registered to vote in the county or state does not permit you to vote in town elections.

Some of you have registered in the past, but have not voted in the last two municipal elections. After not voting in two consecutive elections, your name is purged from the voter registration list. If you are not sure of your voting status, please call the town hall at 539-9797 to have your status checked.

If you have been purged, you must complete a new registration form and this must be done by the deadline of 10 working days before the election. Please don’t wait until Election Day to discover that you are not registered and not allowed to vote.

Also, the time frame for casting your vote has been increased. In past elections the polling station opened at twelve noon. On April 12 the polling station will open at 8 a.m. to accommodate those of you who have to work on Saturday. The polling station will remain open to conduct balloting until 5 p.m.

If you know that you will be out of town for work, vacation or any other reason and cannot get to the polling station, please call the town hall and request an absentee ballot be mailed to you. Remember that in last year’s election, 19 voters submitted absentee ballots and it was these ballots that determined the outcome of the election.

In conclusion, your right to vote is not an absolute right like your right to free speech. You cannot be stopped from stating your thoughts and views, but you can be prevented from expressing your choice at the polling station. You must be at least 18 years old; be a U.S. citizen; be a full-time resident of Ocean View six months prior to the election; and most importantly, have registered to vote.

In last year’s election, only about 46 percent of eligible voters cast votes. You have the absolute right to choose not to vote or claim that “my vote will not make a difference.” In last year’s election, I was elected by a margin of three votes. Just a handful of voters who chose not to vote could have easily changed the outcome of this election by casting their vote.

By choosing not to vote, you are forfeiting your right to question or criticize council decisions. Democracy only works well when the citizens express their approval or disapproval of government actions by casting votes. Please take the time to ascertain the positions of the candidates on issues and vote on April 12.

Richard Nippes, District 2 Councilman
Ocean View

FHR grateful to Grotto for support

Fellowship Health Resources would like to thank Grotto Pizza for their contribution to the FHR Art Group. The Art Group recently visited a local Rehoboth art gallery and Grotto provided lunch for the group members. Thanks for the support and for making our trip a success.

Fellowship Health Resources

We must make effort to stop kids from smoking

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing the nation nearly $100 billion in health care bills each year. About 90 percent of adult smokers begin in their teens or earlier. Every day, another 1,000 kids become regular, daily smokers, and one-third of them will die prematurely as a result.

I believe that Congress has an unprecedented opportunity in 2008 to pass life-saving legislation that will finally give FDA the authority to crack down on the tobacco companies and their new deadly products.

A report was issued recently by a coalition of public health organizations titled, “Big Tobacco’s Guinea Pigs: How an Unregulated Industry Experiments on American’s Kids and Consumers.”

The report highlights how the tobacco companies have manipulated their products to recruit new youth users, create and sustain addiction and discourage users from quitting. New products, such as R.J. Reynolds’ Camel No. 9 cigarettes — a pink-hued version that one newspaper dubbed “Barbie Camel” — is marketed directly to young girls.

A growing list of products has been marketed with unproven and misleading claims that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Claims have included, “May present less risk of cancer” (Reynolds American Eclipse cigarettes) and “Reduced carcinogens. Premium taste” (Vector Tobacco’s Omni cigarettes).

The best way to reduce the 1,200 tobacco-related deaths each day is to prevent kids from ever starting to smoke. We need FDA regulation of tobacco products, and we have a great chance of passing this legislation in 2008. This is a call to action for all members of Congress to pass S. 625/H.R. 1108. Few steps could have a greater impact on our health.

Deborah Brown, Vice President of Community Outreach and Advocacy
American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, Wilmington

Deadline approaching to decide on party

One political campaign primary has ended, but another is on the horizon. Many Delawareans found out the hard way that they could not vote in our presidential primary on Feb. 5 because they were not registered with either major political party. But these independent voters have time to change their status.

The Sept. 9 primary for Delaware’s top state-wide offices is a closed primary, meaning you cannot vote in the primary unless you are registered as a Democrat or Republican. There will probably be primaries for governor, lieutenant governor and insurance commissioner on both sides. But unless you change your affiliation by March 30, 2008, you will not have a chance to participate in selecting who will run in the general election in November.

Re-registering is easy. Just contact your county election department and have them send you the necessary forms. But hurry — March 30 will be here before you know it.

Meyer J. Persow
Rehoboth Beach