Letters to the Editor — January 24, 2014


Elling gives take on origin of the IRSD

Editor:

A Delaware law of 1881 created the Incorporated Body: The “Indian River School Districts for a Certain Class of Colored Persons.” The information is taken from the book “Delaware’s Forgotten Folk, the Story of the Moors and Nanticoke,” by C.A Weslanger.

The author tells us a story “...of a school system where Whites, Negroes, Moors and Nanticoke each demand separate accommodations; of a court case where an Indian was proved a Negro by spiteful neighbors; of herb doctors and magic cures; of Moors who have Negro cousins in one city and white cousins in another.”

We are told of the Nanticoke’s tribal people demand to be given their own schools separate from the Negroes and Moors. We learn of the struggles and successes in being identified by the Delaware legislature as the Nanticoke Indian Tribe. We learn of the Moors and their isolation. We learn of the Delmarva origins of the European family names of Negroes, Moors and Nanticoke.

“Throughout the colonial period of the Delmarva Peninsula, Negroes and Indians were regarded as inferior to whites even in the early days. Both Indians and Negroes were thought of as colored people. In fact, Indians as well as Negroes were enslaved in Maryland (Delaware) and Virginia and other southern states.

“We have the deposition of the great Iroquois chief, Canassetego, who addressed the Pennsylvania authorities on behalf of the Nanticoke Indians then under his protection as follows: We have further to tell you that the people of Maryland (Delaware) do not treat the Indians as you and others do, for they make slaves of them and sell their children for money.”

The slave owners of Maryland (Delaware) used their slaves for their sexual deviancy and profit. They committed crimes against humanity. Yes, we can easily find “whites,” “Negros,” “colored” and “Indian” men and women who accepted each other with an abundance of love, a life of commitment and created many beautiful children. All these descendants fill our schools.

45 years ago, the Indian River School District made a selection of a high school mascot for the Indian River High and Selbyville Middle schools. It could have been the “Negroes,” “Coloreds,” “Moors,” “Whites,” “Slaves,” “Indians” or “Nanticoke.” The 1492 erroneous name of “Indians” was chosen.

Racism continues to be taught to our students in 2014.

Lloyd E. Elling
Ocean View

Reader has praise for Carney

Editor:

Bravo and kudos to Congressman John Carney for his Delaware Voice article on Social Security — it was right on the money (no pun intended)!

It is disgraceful that some of our elected officials are even considering taking money from the Social Security Trust Fund, since it was created and established with the earnings of millions of people over many decades to help support their “golden years.”

I totally agree that the system needs “tweaking” in order to strengthen it and keep it viable for those who continue to contribute to it. What it does not need are wrong-thinking politicians attempting to steal from it to solve problems that many of them have helped to create.

Thank you, Congressman Carney, for your support of our seniors and your clear and forward thinking to find solutions to this situation.

Bobbie Hemmerich
Lewes

Chamber, QRCF grateful for support

Editor:

We know that 2014 will be a great year if the start was any indication. The Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation (QRCF) would like to thank the community for its support of the Hair of the Dog race and 18th Annual Leo Brady Exercise Like the Eskimo’s plunge!

On New Year’s Day morning, nearly 1,000 runners, plungers, spectators, party-goers and volunteers gathered in downtown Bethany Beach. Our events were aiming to raise money for scholarships and grants, and we were awed by the outpouring of support. We are thrilled to announce that more than $6,000 was raised for local students and local non-profits.

These events represent a partnership between those in the business community, represented by the Chamber, and those who support non-profits, represented by the QRCF. Together, we seek to improve life in the Quiet Resorts for residents and visitors alike.

We could not do our work without generosity from a variety of sources. We received amazing support from the Town of Bethany Beach, Bethany Beach Police, Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company and EMS, Delaware State Fire Police, Bethany Beach Public Works, you and our sponsors: presenting sponsors Anne Powell and Jennifer Hughes Team, Ocean Atlantic/Southeby’s International Realty and Mango’s; supporting sponsors Coastal Point, Coastal Tented Events, Tidepool Toys & Games, and event sponsors 3rd Wave Brewing Company, D3 Corp., DJ Padraig, Delaware 105.9 News Talk, Bethany Blues, Bethany Beach Books, The Cottage Café, Evergreene Homes, Harris Teeter, Carl M. Freeman Foundation, Jeff Baxter Mortgage Team, Tidewater Physical Therapy, Wilgus Associates, DiFebo’s restaurant, Giant Food, Off the Hook, Law Offices of Scott & Shuman, Pepsi, Pine Mountain Water, PNC Bank and Steve Alexander Realtor. We also received enthusiastic support from locals and visitors, spectators and volunteers.

We would like to extend special thanks to Hair of the Dog Chair volunteer Brigit Taylor and her committee. They, and many others, contributed hundreds of hours to make the events great.

On behalf of our members and volunteers, thanks again to all for the past and future support of our organizations and the work we do.

Kami Banks, President
Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce
Steve Alexander, President
Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation

Frankford candidate speaks his mind

Editor:

Is the Town of Frankford on the side of its residents or on the side of just a few people in the town?

Last May, the Frankford Town Council voted in a host of new fees. It wasn’t clear to residents and landlords why all these fees were necessary, especially the tax on landlords, which would make it perhaps unnecessarily burdensome on many of Frankford’s residents. At least two landlords at this meeting told the council, “You are hurting people.”

These fees are typically passed on to tenants, who make up a third of all families in Frankford. Anyone building a house in Frankford now would be subjected to the new barrage of fees; anyone building or renting out a house would be also.

It went unnoticed by the council that developers, landlords and potential homeowners are not lined up to build or do business in Frankford — so why would the Town want to discourage potential revenue contributors instead of encouraging them? Why curb needed growth before there is real mentionable growth?

With the inflation of the dollar and prices steadily rising, Frankford will be at the crossroads of inviting and incentivizing controlled growth or balancing the Town’s expenditures solely on the backs of the few people who reside here — money has to come from somewhere... Most of us know what the typical answer is when more money is needed and there is an inferior, stagnant revenue base. I won’t use the “T” word here.

The irony is, during the building boom beginning in 2002, Frankford, when compared to other towns in the area, did not reap its share of new construction, businesses or residences to add to its revenue base. (Years before, senior-citizen housing and a possible racetrack, bringing new jobs and revenue, were turned down.)

Frankford was essentially bypassed, even though it has copious acres of vacant and undeveloped land within its boundaries. Frankford virtually looks the same as it did 30 years ago, except it no longer has conveniences such as a grocery store, Laundromat or a gas station, as it once did, while other towns have moved forward. Some would say it has somewhat regressed.

In recent months, the Frankford town council has been entertaining the idea to go back approximately 13 years for one well-connected employee (the council president’s wife) and seven years for another, to buy pensions for the years they worked when the Town offered no pension.

Of course, it has been hidden from the public how much that would cost the Town, the taxpayers. At the meeting with state representatives discussing how these pensions work and how much they cost when going back that far, the state representatives were told by the town’s police chief not to tell us how much they would cost — something that would normally be considered public information. So, as of now, it’s pretty much a secret.

Some have estimated it to cost $80,000 to $100,000. It was confirmed at a subsequent meeting this pension purchase is still under consideration by this council. But why haven’t they OK’d the pension buy yet?

One reason could be the council has been over the limit specified in Frankford’s charter as to how much can be spent on employee benefits — it is presently capped at 15 percent of salaries, and that limitation has been violated or circumvented since at least 2009, likely before.

The council is now working on lifting that cap by amending the charter. They will likely vote for those pensions as soon as that’s completed, which will be after the Feb. 1 municipal election.

The question was asked at another meeting, where the Town would get the money from to pay for these pensions? The answer from the Town was the new fees and taxes just passed (aforementioned new landlord taxes and other fees) could be partly used to pay for those pensions, since the money expected from those new taxes and fees had not been allocated.

At the January 2013 regular council meeting, once again, complaints were made about up-to-six-months-late water bills. The council’s remedy, while admitting water rates would have to be raised again (water rates had already been increased to $8.75/1,000 gallons by 2010, over two to three years), was to install new water meters, because they said the reason for the chronically late water billing was because of problems reading the meters.

But that was not true. At the following meeting, council members were given charts with meter reading dates that showed that the meters had always been read on time (like clockwork) for years.

The problem was getting the bills out, and neither council member acknowledged meter reading was not the problem, even though they had the facts in front of them. But, still, bonuses of almost a thousand dollars are paid to the person (a well-connected employee) not getting them out on time.

Back to the May meeting for a moment: During this meeting, the council changed its agenda format so that anyone wanting to speak to the council on passing all the new fees and taxes had to speak before the proposed ordinance, with its particulars, was read.

The council even today adheres to this format, so that anything they discuss concerning the town and its residents cannot be questioned or disagreed with, effectively locking out residents on the way they handle the town’s business. A resident has to speak at the beginning of the meeting before an item on the agenda is discussed by council members. At many town hall meetings over the years, only two to three residents would attend.

Frankford needs a town council that wants to keep its town hall open for business during regular business hours and days. Closing the town hall for school bus runs, vacations and other personal business should be a thing of the past.

A part-time employee not dependent on employee benefits such as health insurance and pension could keep the town hall open during sick days, vacations, school bus runs and other personalized necessities and would aid in getting water bills out on time, since reading the meters has not been a problem. Right now, the town hall is staffed with the one well-connected employee. And overtime pay could be reduced.

All the incumbents seeking reelection have been on this council for years. One has been there approximately 35 years.

I’d like to see amongst other things: (1) all property owners automatically registered to vote in town elections; (2) incentives for potential homeowners, developers and businesses, including incentives for existing property owners to improve the land they’ve already invested in; 3) policies and ordinances carried out in the best interest of the town as a whole; (4) timely water billing; (5) at least part-time help at the town hall; (6) the town hall open for business during all regular business hours and days; (7) initially, newsletters going out once per quarter to apprise every household of the town’s business to spark interest.

The new people running for office all agree a change is much needed. I believe the residents will agree this election. We need your vote.

Jerry Smith, Candidate for Councilman
Frankford

Welch makes thoughts heard on election

Editor:

Frankford’s municipal election will be held on Feb. 1, 2014. All three incumbents, Jesse Truitt, Pamela Davis and Charles Shelton, have filed to run for office. Three people have challenged these positions, Skip Ash, Jerry Smith and myself, Greg Welch. The Frankford Board of elections has disqualified me as a candidate, because I am not a registered voter. I have documentation that I have registered.

During the 2012 elections, the state election commissioner, Elaine Manlove, Department of Elections’ Jean Turner and Town Clerk Terry Truitt all in unison and separately issued statements denying me candidacy for town council. All stated that I was required to be a town registered voter.

During appeals and hearings at the 2012 election, I established that all three officials illegally used their position to deny me candidacy without using the process that the law requires. All three officials also misrepresented the law and stated town registration was a requirement.

I also produced documentation that I have registered by producing my driver’s license and Delaware polling place card with my town address and completed and submitted my town voter registration card. I was belatedly allowed to run in that year’s election.

Immediately after the hearing that allowed me to run, a town charter amendment was passed to the general assembly that made voter registration a requirement. This amendment also removed the town charter requirements for how our book of registered voters is to be maintained. This was done to conceal the fact, which was proven in my appeal, that it was not being maintained as required by the charter.

One immediate issue that will be greatly affected by the outcome of this election is our town considering joining the state pension system. This would require all town employees to be covered by the states pension plan.

On May 21, 2013, our Town met in a special meeting with state officials for the purpose of discussing and possibly voting on adopting the pension plan. The state representatives stated that once the town is enrolled in the program, we could not get out of it.

The officials stated that the cost of the plans varied, depending on how much the Town invested in time served by employees. The most costly plan would pay for Terry Truitts’ 13 years of employment. This would make her fully vested and make the Town responsible for her pension for the life of her and her husband, [Council] President Jesse Truitt.

The Town did not allow any questions and would not reveal the buy-in costs of these plans. The Town stated that this was an executive issue and they did not have to disclose the costs of pension plan. This is an intentional misrepresentation of FOIA, and the Truitts will financially benefit.

They did not, and have not, discussed the initial buy-in cost or how we are going to pay for the perpetual expenses created by the pension plan. With the Truitts’ decades of experience in our town government, it is impossible to believe that the Truitts’ actually believe it is proper to deny citizens the conversation on how much they are putting in their pockets and how we are going to pay for it.

Our council has kept this pension plan off the council meeting agenda to intentionally deny citizens the ability to ask questions or inform council members of the perpetual costs of this plan.

Our Town is currently in the process of amending our town charter to remove the 15 percent benefit/salary cap that would allow our Town to heap unlimited benefits on the Town’s employees. The process the Town is using to amend the charter is illegal, and the Attorney General is currently reviewing these illegal actions. Our current council is supporting these illegal actions.

All three of the incumbents will definitely vote to encumber our town with the expenses of this pension plan. The three challenging candidates are opposed to adopting the State pension plan. I believe we should discuss other options of pension plans, as well as the costs and benefits of each. A discussion of how the Town will pay for such a plan should occur in open session before we are obligated to pay for it forever.

This issue will not go to referendum. The Council will make this decision. If the incumbents are reelected, our Town will certainly adopt the state pension plan and raise your taxes to pay for it. This election is your only chance to have any say in this issue.

Greg Welch
Frankford