Letters to the Editor -- April 5, 2012

Reader grateful for responders to fire

It is with profound humbleness that I find myself writing this thank you note. As most of you are aware, I had a house fire on the first floor of my home on Feb. 14, 2012. Even though I lost personal belongings, my life and my dogs were saved.

Words cannot express my gratitude and appreciation to the Millville fire company, Bethany Beach fire company and Roxana fire company. One cannot imagine the feeling of fear from smoke inhalation and fire. I was so fortunate to be able to find a window and call out, and have Elaine Downy come along and call 911. Elaine, you truly were God-sent.

I would also like to thank my son and the fire company for saving my dogs, and my daughter for caring for my pets while I was taken to Beebe hospital. There, I had the utmost care.

Again, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, and God bless.

Elaine F. Bennett

Oil companies team up with politicians

Government grants to oil companies are subsidies. Back in the day, they were an incentive to explore for oil. Further exploration reveals that they are presently giveaways that help to distribute more wealth to the politicians who support them.

A Treasury Department economist said in 2009 “that a study had found that oil prices and potential profits were so high that eliminating the subsidies would decrease American output by less than one half of one percent.” Just imagine what our country could do with this extra revenue if legislation passed, eliminating these giveaways to big businesses.

President Bush, a former Texas oilman, called for an end to oil company incentives, along with the Democrats, in 2007 after they took control of Congress. Legislation to end the tax breaks failed due to the enormous lobbying power and political muscle of the oil companies.

Yesterday, we learned that the 47 Republicans who voted against ending oil subsidies received a total of $25 million in campaign contributions last year from the five biggest oil companies. The 51 Democrats who voted to end oil subsidies only received a total of $5 million in campaign contributions.

These oil companies reaped record profits once again. They do not need subsidies now that their businesses are firmly established. This once again alerts us to the fact that many politicians remain far more interested in their re-elections than doing the right thing for our citizens. We can’t find any fault with former President Bush and President Obama trying to do the right thing. We know who the culprits are!

Bill Clemens

Cozy Critters thankful for support

Being a huge part of the community that works together, we had a great fundraiser event at Cottage Café of Bethany. Cozy Critters Child Care worked with Cottage Café to host a fundraiser for our program.

We would like to give a big thank-you to them. The staff at Cottage Café was very nice, helpful and inviting. The food was fantastic. We were able to reach out to the community and our parents to help support our child care. Our children and parents greatly enjoyed themselves. Thanks again for everything.

The Cozy Critters Child Care family

Reader supports Markell into the future

Our kids from all over the state of Delaware met at John Dickinson High School on March 30 for 12 hours of competition in the exceptional academic, creative problem-solving and critical-thinking competition for the State of Delaware Odyssey of the Mind Championships. One of those kids competing with a team was a very bright and talented offspring of our governor.

Gov. Markell was there to be a supportive and proud parent. Yes, he was there to shake my hand and the hands of many other parents, as his re-election for another four-year term will be decided this fall in the general election… a very important election.

I, for one, will be voting for Jack Markell to continue as our governor for the State of Delaware. Why? Because he is a family man. He is an education supporter. He is a deeply caring public servant. He was at the Odyssey of the Mind Delaware State Championships nearly the entire day. He is one of us. He supported our kids. He supported his kid’s team competing. He stood on the stage for the recognition of all of the teams who placed first, second, third or received special awards for excellence as a team, student, coach, official or retiring from the OotM Board of Directors.

He shook every child’s hand who reached out to him. He had his picture taken with team after team after team. This man shows he understands the value of education for our children and the professionals who teach our children. He is a family man equal to each and every one of us.

This event for Gov. Markell is not his first time at OotM. Last year, he did the same at OotM. This man is with us – the people of Delaware. He is there for our future leaders of our state. We are so very fortunate to have this exceptional public leader for the State of Delaware. Register to vote and make Delaware a 100 percent registered voter state. Join us in voting for Jack Markell on Nov. 6, 2012, for governor of the State of Delaware.

Lloyd E. Elling
Ocean View

Fundraiser a hit, thanks to many

Thanks to the generous and giving Tuesday-night regulars and staff at Mio Fratello’s, and many generous people from the Ocean View/Bethany area, Chuck’s “Pink Beard” Fundraiser was very successful. A deposit for $1,111 was made to Baby Ava’s account at PNC in Bethany. Thanks to one and all. You just cannot beat the generosity of the folks in this area.

Ellen Erbe

Reader discusses need for health care

My wife went in for a colonoscopy. Her doctor said she should begin getting these at 60. They found a polyp and have scheduled a surgery. If it had gone on unnoticed, it probably would have caused colon cancer, so we are happy that they found this.

I just received the bill that was in excess of $5,000, which will fall mostly on my insurance.

There are two questions: Why would a two-hour outpatient procedure cost over $5,000? The second question is, if I did not have insurance, what would happen? The answer is obvious, that if I were not sick, I would not pay that type of money for a proceedure to see if I might be sick. The real problem is that there are people who will die of colon cancer and other preventable diseases because they could not afford preventable health care.

Do you know of ridiculous charges in health care? We all do, and it is time that we get care for the 30 million Americans who do not have a decent health care.

Guy Fisher

Reader supports bill defining sheriff’s duties

I would like to commend the various county council members who are sponsoring Bill 290. I would especially like to thank state Rep. Gerald Hocker for his backing of this much-needed measure.

Giving arrest powers to sheriffs and their deputies, which historically they haven’t had nor needed, would open a “Pandora’s box” that would be difficult to ever close. They would next want SWAT teams, armored cars and maybe even attack helicopters. We have all that, thank you, and it serves us well.

Pass 290.

Randall Miller
Ocean View

PETA pushes for meat-free diets

The top producer of “pink slime” — bright pink ammonia-treated meat that has long been used as a filler in ground beef — has halted production at three of its four plants. It’s a start, but once meat production stops entirely, then we’ll really have something to celebrate.

All meat — whether it includes “pink slime” or not — is gross and unhealthy. It’s high in cholesterol and saturated fat and contributes to heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. A recent Harvard study shows that people who eat red and processed meats are much more likely to die prematurely.

Instead of eating meat — which is the flesh of thinking, feeling animals who raise families, form friendships, mourn when they lose a loved one and are terrified by the sights and smells of the slaughterhouse — why not enjoy tasty mock meats and other healthy and humane vegan foods? See www.PETA.org for free recipes and product suggestions.

Heather Moore
PETA Foundation

Sons of Italy thankful for support

The Ocean City Lodge of the Sons of Italy would like to thank the Delaware merchants of Selbyville, Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island who so graciously donated wine, merchandise and gift certificates for our Second Annual St. Joseph’s Day Italian Festival held on March 24th. Their gifts helped us have a table of prizes for raffling plus a table of gifts for a silent auction that was a key part of making our festival such a success again this year. In spite of it being a rainy, foggy day we had over 800 visitors who came and enjoyed our home made Italian specialties and Italian music. We suspected last year that we had started a new Ocean City tradition and we furthered that notion this year.

Again, we are grateful to these merchants and wish them great success in the upcoming season.

Sal Castorina
Ocean City Lodge of the Sons of Italy

Rep. Short explains stance on HB 290

There has been a great deal of misinformation circulating regarding legislation seeking to clarify that county sheriffs in Delaware do not have arrest powers (House Bill 290). Here are some of the reasons I’m supporting this measure.

The current state constitution (revised in 1897) defines county sheriffs as “conservators of the peace,” but this phrase is not defined. The constitution also designates state chancellors and judges as “conservators of the peace,” and none of these officials have arrest powers.

In the 115 years since our state constitution was last revised, the General Assembly has made numerous additions and changes to the Delaware Code, refining which officials have arrest powers. In a clear indication of legislative intent, county sheriffs have been specifically excluded from these revisions.

More recently, Kent County Sheriff Norman Wood requested the state Attorney General’s Office to issue an opinion on this issue. In the Feb. 23, 2012, opinion, State Solicitor Lawrence Lewis stated: “After consideration of the Delaware Constitution, statutes and case decisions, we conclude that the sheriff and his deputies do not have authority to arrest.”

A 1995 opinion issued by the Attorney General’s Office also concluded that arrest powers were not part of the county sheriffs’ powers as codified in Delaware law.

However, State Solicitor Lewis also suggested some additional action was needed. “We must recognize that we are essentially interpreting the intent of the General Assembly over the course of 30 or 40 years,” he said. “We think the wisest course for all concerned is to seek clarification from the General Assembly as to whether it wishes to grant county sheriffs the power to arrest. In the meantime, we adhere to our view that sheriffs do not have the statutory or common-law authority to make arrests.”

Despite decades of long-standing practice about what constitutes the duties of the county sheriff, despite laws showing clear legislative intent and two opinions from different Attorneys General, the current Sussex County sheriff has instructed his deputies to act outside their scope of authority. They have made traffic stops, as well as conducted operations specifically to make arrests.

Sussex County Council members have worried that this activity could expose the county’s taxpayers to huge financial liabilities from lawsuits filed by illegally detained citizens. It was with that in mind that they unanimously voted to ask the General Assembly to introduce and pass HB 290.

Twenty-five of the legislature’s 62 members have signed on to sponsor or co-sponsor this bipartisan bill. The sheriffs of both Kent and New Castle counties are also supporting the legislation.

Understand that this bill would not prevent members of the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office from receiving training and carrying weapons to protect themselves in the performance of their duties. Sheriff’s deputies in Kent County carry 40-caliber handguns and receive annual training in their use.

In New Castle County, the sheriff and deputies carry pepper spray, a hand-held radio and a 9-mm sidearm with which they must qualify three times a year. Additionally, they receive training from county police in the use of force, CPR, officer safety and other non-investigative police issues.

It needs to be noted that Sussex County Council sent a memo to Sheriff Jeffrey Christopher last October, asking him to specify what training he wanted his deputies to receive, its benefit to his staff and what organizations would conduct the training. The sheriff has failed to respond to this inquiry, stalling the process for getting his staff the assistance they may need.

The sheriffs of all three counties serve valuable functions in conducting tax and foreclosure sales, delivering court summonses and, in some cases, transporting prisoners. These agencies, however, are not empowered to arrest citizens.

In keeping with the suggestion of the state solicitor and the request of Sussex County Council, House Bill 290 is intended solely to remove any small glimmer of remaining ambiguity on this point. In doing so, it will also eliminate the looming threat that Sussex County residents could be liable for paying multi-million-dollar settlements due to the defiant actions of their Sheriff’s Office.

The sponsors of House Bill 290 have tabled it in committee to give the public a chance to have some of their questions about the legislation addressed. Additionally, the sponsors are exploring the possibility of requesting the Delaware Supreme Court to make a definitive ruling on the issue.

Sheriff Christopher’s own recent statements support both HB 290 and the possibility of getting an opinion from the High Court. In a WBOC story posted on their Web site Dec. 21, 2011, the sheriff said he was asking legislators to clarify the authority of his office: “I’d like to have a declaratory judgment on what the role of the sheriff should be, in so much as how the law describes it.” In published remarks in the News Journal on March 28, he said: “It ultimately needs to go to the court system to be decided.”

State Rep. Dan Short
39th District