Letters to the Editor — January 6, 2016

Date Published: 
Jan. 6, 2016

Readers believe Perry unfit to lead Energy

Editor:

President-elect Donald Trump wants former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to be America’s next Secretary of Energy. If confirmed, he will oversee our nation’s nuclear arsenal. Those duties include making sure the nuclear stockpile is secure from outside threats and ready for use.

Rick Perry will replace Dr. Ernest Jeffrey Moniz, professor of physics and engineering at MIT. Because of his qualifications, … Moniz was considered the most important American negotiator at the table for the Iran nuclear deal.

Secretary Moniz’s predecessor was Dr. Steven Chu, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997, and a Stanford and the University of California professor of physics and molecular and cell biology.

Rick Perry was a Texas agriculture commissioner before serving as governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015. He holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M University.

But it’s Perry’s record on climate change that most distinguishes him from former energy secretaries. Unlike every energy chief in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, Perry disputes that climate change is both happening and is a consequence of human action. In his 2010 book “Fed Up!” he wrote that “we have been experiencing a cooling trend” and railed against Democrats who have embraced “so-called science” on climate change.

Perry continues to make comments that reflect his eagerness to deny science for the benefit of corporate and self-interest. In 2014, he actually said, “Calling CO2 a pollutant is doing a disservice to the country, and I believe a disservice to the world.”

As we’re learning from Trump’s other cabinet picks, the key qualification that Trump wants his public servants to have is a commitment to serve the private interests of corporate power.

Perry has taken more than $11 million in donations from the oil industry over his political career. He is currently a director of Energy Transfer Partners, the company attempting to drive the Dakota Access Pipeline through environmentally fragile Native American land at Standing Rock.

As governor of Texas, Perry regularly fought the EPA over Clean Air Act compliance. In 2010, Perry filed a lawsuit against EPA in an attempt to block the agency’s plans to regulate greenhouse gasses. He lost the case and cost Texas taxpayers $342,000.

With every appointment and tweet, Trump has made it clear that his sole interest is to please the international ruling party of oligarchs and enrich himself in the process. The only wall Trump is interested in building is the one to protect him and his cronies from obstacles to achieving financial dominance.

Rick Perry is a stone in Trump’s wall. Every senator who cares about science, clean energy and nuclear safety should oppose this dangerously ignorant nominee. Perry’s scientific illiteracy and disturbing financial ties to fossil fuel companies make him utterly unfit to lead the Department of Energy.

Tom Brett

Millsboro

Susan Ball, Joanne Cabry, Barbara Del Mastro, Elaine Faye, Janice Gaddis, Rita Hughes, Leslie Ledogar, Dee Lewis, Anne Pikolas and Kit Zak

Members of the Energy & Climate Change Team of Progressive Democrats of Sussex County

Reader offers ‘truth’ about Obamacare

Editor:

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic minority House speaker from California, has frequently been falsely quoted as saying “that we had to pass the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in order to know what is in it.” Ms. Pelosi actually stated that “we had to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of controversy.” Translation: Once the citizenry becomes more educated about all the comprehensive beneficial benefits in the bill, they will want to buy into it.

Twenty-plus million have enrolled to date. Yes, the better-off among us were required to pay more for Obamacare to subsidize those with lower-middle class incomes or below a certain threshold of the poverty line. If they were extremely poor, they could apply for Medicaid. Block grants in the replacement plan will shortcut the benefits that Obamacare provided.

The problem remains that half of our citizenry do not believe all Americans are entitled to health care. The Republican plan is to replace it with “Universal Access” which translates to everyone can buy it only if they can afford it.

Obamacare could have been improved incrementally if Republicans were willing challenge the pharmaceutical industries’ inflated markups and other overpriced health care providers. Instead, they chose to protect them and remained obedient to their wealthy beneficiaries’ greed.

Veteran Affairs are able to negotiate pharmaceutical prices. Why not Medicare and Affordable Health Care? Corporatocracy rules, to our demise. We cannot afford to sit back and allow the new administration create havoc with our health care insurance.

Bill Clemens

Smyrna

Frankford council looks to change law

Editor’s note: The following letter was written by the Frankford Town Council and addressed to other Delaware municipalities. It was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

The purpose of this communication is to update our prior communications as to the law that was passed in 2001 in regards to Title 7, and the ability of Municipal Governments to approve well permits in their respective towns.

Background: Frankford Council learned in April of 2016 that a large commercial operation in the city limits of Frankford had applied for a non-potable well permit in September 2015. DNREC issued this well permit and the well came online approximately January 2016. DNREC and the business did not notify nor seek the Town of Frankford’s permission for this well, as required by DNREC regulations.

The business represents approximately 33 percent of the Town’s water usage. The Town only realized they had a new well when a large drop in water consumption was observed in the first quarter of 2016. The Town contacted DNREC to inquire why the well permit was issued without Town approval. Discussions and meetings ensued where it was disclosed that there were errors in the permit issuance and that the law was changed in 2001, removing any municipal government from having approval authority over non-potable wells. It was also learned that DNREC had not updated their regulations to comply with the 2001 [change].

While a large part of these deliberations pertained to Frankford in particular, two issues were clarified that could have large consequences for other towns in Delaware. We are communicating this to you so that your town can be prepared for the eventual impact it could have. In addition, if this law is to be changed, all municipalities need to discuss this with their state legislators so that this law can be overturned in the next legislative session.

The first issue identified is that DNREC “SHALL” issue a non-potable well permit to an applicant, regardless of the available water supply provided by the local government. The law delineated two types of wells only, potable or non-potable.

Taken to its logic conclusion, with the exception of drinking water usage, no resident or business needs to be connected to the town water supply. As Frankford is now realizing, this can have devastating effects on budgets and capital outlays should a significant portion of usage be disconnected from the municipal service. And, as in our situation, large loans to improve or expand the water systems cannot be repaid when significant reductions occur.

Second, DNREC questioned the validity and authority of ordinances requiring town approval of any well. For example, DNREC stated that they would still have to issue the permit regardless of any such ordinance. The Attorney General’s office would not opine as to the legality of any ordinance passed. It was implied that the only way a municipality could enforce such an ordinance would be to sue in court, obviously an expense most towns could not afford, along with the judicial uncertainty they would face every time a well is requested.

We continue to feel that the only way to insure the future viability of municipal water systems is to change the law. This needs to be accomplished in the upcoming session. Towns cannot incur large loans or bond obligations that stretch for decades to provide their residents with safe, clean drinking water with the current law in place. Think about your current situation and ask yourself what would your town be forced to do if tomorrow your water system suffered a 33 percent reduction in revenue.

Please consider contacting your state representative or senator, explain this situation to him or her. Like we learned when working with our legislators they probably are not aware of the law or its consequences. This law must be changed so that the law reverts to pre-2001 regulations. If there is a consensus from our municipal colleagues to draft legislation, please advise so we can help organize that effort.

Frankford Town Council

Reader supports nomination of Bunting

Editor:

I want to express my appreciation and applause to Gov.-Elect John Carney for nominating Dr. Susan Bunting as Delaware’s next Secretary of Education.

Dr. Bunting brings a wealth of experience in curriculum, instruction and large district management to this position. She is a consummate educator, an extraordinary diplomat and a proven leader. I am confident that she will work collaboratively with legislators, school board members, educators and parents in leading our state’s public schools.

The people of Delaware will quickly learn that Dr. Bunting is the hardest worker, the best listener and a most ethical professional looking out for children first.

Patricia S. Oliphant

Lewes

Reader has concerns with referendum

Editor:

I have read many recent articles published in the Delaware Wave (Dec. 27, 2016), the Coastal Point (Dec. 23, 2016) and the Sussex County Post (Dec. 28, 2016) regarding the Indian River School District’s second referendum attempt, scheduled for March 2, 2017. These articles leave me with many questions and very few real answers. Below are many of my concerns:

Why should the second referendum vote be held so soon? Many of our residents and property owners are retired and considered “snowbirds”; thus, they will not be here to vote on the referendum. Why not wait until their return in April to take the vote. I know the answer will be that they can vote absentee, but how many are really thinking about that when packing for their trips?

I would also like to know why the IRSD has chosen to not pursue the prosecution of Mr. Patrick Miller, the former chief financial officer. I have read the complete audit report detailing the financial misdoings by the District and Mr. Miller. The audit only encompassed a small sampling of the work performed by Mr. Miller during his time as CFO. The audit reviewed 196 voucher transactions totaling $574,289, with $159,915 not for valid purposes, lacked documentation, etc., or 27.85 percent of the total sample.

I urge the District to work with the State Attorney General’s office on this matter before a second referendum is considered.

It appears to me that the District is saying, “Trust us, we are putting procedures in place so this will not happen again.” Why were there no procedures in place before this audit to protect the District’s finances? In a letter to the editor, Coastal Point (Dec. 23, 2016), Dr. [Donald] Hattier states, “Even though Dr. Bunting is physically close to the CFO’s office, she had no way to review the actions of the CFO on her own without requesting help from guess who? The CFO.” He also said the Board has no direct access to any of this. Statements like this do not give property owners a good feeling as to how our tax dollars will be used.

Jan Steel, chief financial officer, said in the Wave article that Delaware is looking to cut $900,000 from Indian River. In the Sussex Post article, Mark Steele, assistant superintendent, said that there has been rumor that the State transportation costs are going to increase by $600,000, i.e., a possibility that State cuts could be $800,000 or $900,000. Why not wait until it is confirmed that the State is actually cutting this money from IR and get a definite amount of the cut?

Dr. Bunting also states that if the referendum does not pass that jobs may be cut. Will jobs be cut and if jobs are cut, are these jobs necessary to the running the District? At this point, there should be a list of necessary cuts to the budget.

Dr. Bunting stated in the Wave “senior citizens can qualify for a tax break and not see differences in taxes.” This statement is misleading. The Senior School Property Tax Relief in Sussex County states that homeowners age 65 or over are eligible for a tax credit against regular property taxes of 50 percent (up to $500). This credit may be used against property taxes on a primary residence. The individual must be living in Delaware for three consecutive years in order to be eligible to receive a credit.

For example, if a senior’s property taxes are $1,000 and they receive a $500 credit before a tax increase, they pay $500. However, let’s say the referendum would cause the taxes to go up $100. The total would be $1,100 less $500 thus leaving the senior paying $600 or an increase of $100. There is a difference in taxes.

Has the IRSD and Dr. Bunting taken into consideration the number of new subdivisions that have been built and are still being built in the District? How much in taxes are being paid by these new homeowners? Have these numbers been worked into the budget?

And lastly, it is my understanding that the District has been given the go-ahead to build four new schools, for which the District must buy property to build three of these buildings. When will the District ask for a referendum to purchase this land?

Loeda H. Stango

Bethany Beach