Letters - May 12, 2006

CBS leader addresses state lawmakers
Editor’s note: The following open letter was addressed to the Delaware State Senate and House of Representatives, and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

Dear Legislators,

1. We ask you to support House Bill 170 to add two at-large members to Sussex County Council.

2. We ask you to not support Sen. Thurman Adams’ idea for a bill to add two new Sussex council districts based upon 2010 census figures.

While we appreciate that Adams recognizes how important it is for Sussex Countians to have better representation, his bill will not help and it could confuse people.

First, the law already requires redrawing district lines to reflect the 2010 census and we certainly cannot wait until the 2012 election for this.

Second, Adams’ bill does not provide an independent commission to draw the lines equitably.

Again, what we do need — and have asked for many times — is to have two at-large members added to Sussex County Council this year.

We are grateful to the Delaware House of Representatives for passing House Bill 170. Now we ask that the Senate adopt it too.

House Bill 170 is practical. HB 170 does not disturb existing council district lines.

It is consistent. HB 170 would bring Sussex more in line with Kent, which already has seven members with one at-large. New Castle County Council has 13-members with one at-large who serves as president, as well as an independently elected executive.

It is popular. The House already passed HB 170 by a non-partisan vote of 34-4.

It is reasonable. Sussex used to have three Levy Court members who all ran at-large. Then, in 1974 the present five-member council was established. In 1974 there were 87,000 people in the county; now Sussex may have as many as 200,000 people and still only five council members withn one running at-large, and no elected county executive.

Sussex council members are elected only by the voters who live in their districts, every four years, although each has the power to make decisions for all of Sussex.

Other Sussex County officials who run county-wide: Sheriff Robert Reed; Clerk of the Peace George S. Parish; Recorder of Deeds John F. Brady; Register of Wills Howard Clendaniel.

Better government: Under House Bill 170 every Sussex resident would be represented by three council members instead of just one. Everyone would have at least one county council choice at the polls every two years instead of only every four years.

New residents have been pouring into Eastern Sussex since 1995 and in 2004, 67 percent of those who voted in the presidential election lived east of U.S. 113; however, they still have only two out of five council members to represent them.

Only one of those councilmen lives on the rapidly developing coast which provides roughly 76 percent of the county’s income yet has only 20 percent say.

It is time to give them a chance at local representation.

Joan Deaver, President
Citizens for a Better Sussex

Bethany’s new height limits hurt the town

The Bethany Beach Town Council drove another nail into the coffin of Old Bethany Beach on April 21, voting to increase height limits by another 4 feet in the residential section of town with the largest number of smaller lots.

The Council, in response to repeated citizen unhappiness with the monster homes being built on our smallest properties, decided to allow these “homes” to loom even more ominously over their neighbors, cutting off light, air, and views. The Council, sadly, is moving in the wrong direction.

These monsters — really mini-motels because of their sheer bulk and the number of renters they are designed to accommodate — are already too big. They create the very density the Town says it is trying so hard to avoid.

Let’s urge the Council to come to its senses, repeal the misguided height limit increase, and start implementing the provisions of the Comprehensive Plan according to the wishes of the great majority of Bethany Beach homeowners. We told the Council, very clearly, how we want the Town to look and feel when we responded to the Community Questionnaire. Our views helped shape the Comprehensive Plan but were ignored when the height limits were voted up.

You can still walk the streets and alleys of Old Bethany Beach and see many appropriate additions and new construction which conform to the look and feel of their neighbors’ homes and show respect for their access to air and light. Beautiful, sensitive construction is being done under the present rules. The Council should be acting to support the decisions of these homeowners rather than undermining them by allowing higher and higher structures next door.

E-mail me at Danofbethany@aol.com or drop me a note at Post Office Box 165 if you are interested in helping to encourage the Council to follow the wishes of the great majority of homeowners and not those of just a few developers. Let’s keep in mind that Bethany Beach can be the kind of community we want it to be and not become just an investment opportunity.

Dan Costello
Bethany Beach

NARFE thankful for help with tourney

The officers and membership of NARFE Coastal Sussex Chapter 1690 wish to thank the local business firms and individuals who contributed to our annual golf tournament to benefit Alzheimer’s research.

Our appreciation to: Rick Solloway (Edward Jones); Dr. Kevin Wallace; Dr. Harry Anagnostakos; Dr. James K. Kramer; Gerald Hocker (Rep., 38th District); Dr. Donald Suh; Joanne Young (Coldwell Banker); Boulevard Ford & Lincoln-Mercury; Grotto’s; Linda Reagan and Laurie Shelton (Long & Foster); Bethany Travel; Forget Me Not; Bethany Dental Associates; 84 Lumber; Peter Kangas (Morgan Stanley); and Vickie York, Realtor.

Roland Hudson
NARFE Coastal Sussex Chapter 1690

Thanks to NARFE tournament sponsors

The Sussex County Chapter of 1690 of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) would like to thank the following professionals and businesses for their donations to our Fourth Annual Golf Tournament held at the Salt Pond Golf Course on Monday, May 1, 2006.

Proceeds from the tournament will go to the benefit of Alzheimer’s research.

Thank you Bear Trap Dunes, Salt Pond Golf Course, Shawnee Country Club, Bethany Bay Golf Club, Ocean Resorts Golf Club, Club House Golf and Hocker’s Grocery and Deli.

A special thanks to those who made a $50 cash or more donation to have individual or firm names displayed on tee boxes. They are Edward Jones Investments, Dr. Kevin Wallace, Dr. Harry Anagostakas, Dr. Kramer, Gerald Hocker (Rep. 38th District), Dr. Donald Suh, Coldwell Banker (Joanne Young), Boulevard Ford and Lincoln Mercury, Grotto’s, Long & Foster, Bethany Travel, Forget Me Not, Morgan Stanley, Bethany Dental Associates, 84 Lumber, and Vickie York, Realtor.

Erne Bernhardt, Chairman
NARFE Golf Tournament 2006

Adams’ legislation a ‘Trojan horse’

Sen. Adams, in an effort to justify creating new legislation attacks HB 170 by stating, “The federal government frowns on anything that draws new districts and puts them at-large because of the minority element. They feel minorities might not get a shot with at-large districts.” While he did not define “shot,” I will assume he meant they might not get fair representation under a bill that provides for at-large members.

That’s a pretty thought-provoking statement, considering Kent County has an at-large member and the New Castle Council president comes from an at-large district as well. In addition, the New Castle County executive is elected county-wide. Does that mean that Adams believes the minorities in those districts might not be getting fair representation, and, if so, why has he never publicly raised this issue given his apparent concern about at-large representation for Sussex County?

Adams seems concerned about the federal government’s opinion, and that is all it is. The word “frowns” has no legal or legislative significance so consequently the federal government “has no hound in this hunt.” Furthermore, isn’t it contradictory for a man who previously championed the idea that local government is best to now promote the value of a federal opinion in regards to an issue that is all about local government? Oh well, it’s any port in a storm, right Senator?

In case no one has been paying attention, Thurman Adams’ proposed legislation, misguided as it is, would not go into effect until 2012 — that’s six years from now. Does anyone really think there would be any unpaved portion of Sussex County left in six years if we were to wait that long before initiating changes? On the other hand, HB 170 would go into effect this year, thus giving us the earliest possible opportunity to try and save what is left of a quickly diminishing environment. Can there really be any question as to which legislation should be passed now?

Adams is quoted on May 3 as saying he wants to file his bill before May 11. Talk about the fast track. Meanwhile HB 170 has been sitting in his committee ever since passing the House last summer. The people want HB 170, the House wants HB 170 – yet the senator wants to fast-track his own meaningless bill. How ironic that Thurman Adams wants to “fast track” a bill that won’t go into effect until 2012 but has refused to help pass a bill that everybody else wants that would go into effect in 2006? There should be no question in anybody’s mind as to who is depriving Sussex residents of the fair representation they so badly need and want.

Thurman Adams has his own agenda and it is apparent that it does not include HB 170. Could it be Thurman Adams doesn’t really care if Sussex residents, including his own constituents, obtain fairer representation in the foreseeable future? Could his intentions be disingenuous: on one hand to pass legislation no matter how meaningless in an attempt to reduce public outcry for blocking HB 170; on the other hand pass meaningless legislation that would act as an obstacle to any further attempt to pass more meaningful legislation in the future. We are all familiar with the phrase “win-win.” Should Adams’ bill become law we would probably all get to know what the phrase “lose-lose” means.

Could it be Adams’ objection to HB 170 has nothing to do with the merit of the legislation but everything to do with the fact the majority of Sussex County Council members, unlike Kent or New Castle County Council members have made it clear they will not accept any changes to their current arraignment voluntarily?

Could it be Adams would not object if sewer lines were installed along Route 13 near the 300-plus acres of farmland he has been acquiring over the years? And who would be making that sewer decision? Why, the Sussex County Council of course. How does the phrase go? “One man’s loss is another man’s gain.” Only in this case, it would be 170,000 people who would lose.

One can understand what Adams’ motivation to block HB 170 might be but it’s difficult to see why any other senator would want to go along with supporting his Trojan-horse legislation.

While true that HB 170 specifically addresses only Sussex County problems, the fate of the legislation has important state-wide significance since much of the state is faced with similar problems. Adams’ proposed legislation is so transparently misguided and ill-suited to solving Sussex’s problems that to support it instead of HB 170 would be tantamount to senators sending a message to all Delaware residents that “we really don’t care about your representation or land-management problems.” Should that occur I don’t think anyone could really blame voters if they felt they needed to look for someone else to represent them.

Because 2006 is an election year it is probably safe to say a lot of people will be watching in the days ahead to see which legislator supports which bill.

Allen Ide

Reader questions rights of the condemned

Oh, to be a federal court judge.

I read an article yesterday in a daily newspaper regarding the imminent execution of Robert W. Jackson III. Jackson has filed a lawsuit saying his death by lethal injection would be cruel and unusual punishment.

If memory serves, the article cited two cases - one in which the murderer actually had to feel pain before he died (gasp) and one in which the murderer expressed surprise that it was taking so long (12 minutes).

My one and only question to Jackson would be, “At what point while you were murdering Elizabeth Girardi with an ax did you stop and ask her if she felt it was a humane and not cruel way to die?”

I have a solution to this moral dilemma. The murderer can die as the victim did. Raped and stabbed? Bludgeoned? Strangled? Works for me...

Beth Long
Ocean View