Letters to the Editor -- December 23, 2011


Spirit of Christmas gets ringing endorsement
Editor:

Christmas is upon us once again. We need to take the time to remind ourselves that Christmas is about love. It is a time of charity and giving, not of materialism and receiving. A new iPad or a flatscreen might keep you entertained for a time, but ultimately they are just empty objects.

Want to give a precious gift this year? Give your time. Ask anyone who has lost a friend or loved one if they would rather have an Xbox, or more cherished memories. Reflect on your own experiences, and then reconnect with someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time.

All too often we purposefully ignore the very same people that we should actually be trying to learn from. Don’t hide your face from the Salvation Army folks ringing their bells outside of stores. What are you afraid of? Go strike up a conversation with one. Look them in the eye and ask them why they volunteer their time. You will see pure joy and the Spirit of Christmas staring you in the face.

Do you want to give a great gift? Buy two cans of food on your next trip to the grocery store and drop them off at a church on your way home. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Walk into a nursing home and volunteer to visit with the elderly for a few hours. Walk up to a soldier, look him square in the eye, shake his hand and say, “Thank you.” It will change you.

Christmas is about love. We have forgotten that. I think it’s time we show the world how to do that again. Merry Christmas.

Christian Hudson
Lewes

Ocean View vet gets thanks for weekend housecall
Editor:

In today’s day and age, it is rare to find anyone who will go above and beyond the call the duty, and I’m glad to report that Dr. John Maniatty, VMD, did such last month, regarding my German shepherd-mix.

“Pretty Girl” is 13-plus years old and has been treated for many aches/pains/illnesses over the years, and Ocean View Animal Hospital has done their best to keep her healthy, happy and comfortable.

Last month, Pretty Girl took a turn for the worse. For two days, she cried in pain and could not move. As all animal lovers know, it is a torturous decision to make with regard to how much you let your animal suffer. My decision was made on a late Friday afternoon, and I called the Ocean View Animal Hospital.

Cathy, took my call (after 6 p.m.) and was most sympathetic and extremely understanding. She immediately sent my records to Dr. John Maniatty, who called me that night, after 8 pm. Since Pretty is a large girl (she loves her treats) and weighs over 90 pounds, it was impossible to get her to the hospital. Therefore, Dr. Maniatty scheduled time to come to our home on a Saturday. I was amazed. He did not want to see Pretty Girl suffer either.

Dr. Maniatty arrived at my home a bit after 3 p.m. and, needless to say, I was a complete wreck and Pretty was laying on one of her three dog beds on the patio. We started by shaving a small section on her front paw so the first needle (sedative) could be injected. As luck would have it, we could not find a vein, so Dr. Maniatty patiently waited a bit of time, trying to calm me down, as well as soothe Pretty Girl, before shaving the second front paw.

We found a vein, but the needle would not go in. Pretty yelped in pain, and we backed off again. After about 10 minutes (crying again) we thought we would re-start. Well, Petty had other plans. She literally got up (keep in mind she had not moved for over 48 hours), slowly scrambled down the five steps we have leading from the porch to back yard, and split.

Needless to say, we called off the procedure. Yeah!

To be honest, I was concerned that Dr. Maniatty would be upset that he re-arranged his Saturday to assist us. Just the opposite occurred – he was as thrilled as I that Pretty moved/walked, and we both agreed that God had a hand in this decision. Dr. Maniatty is truly a compassionate and wonderful veterinarian.

I’m happy to report that almost three weeks have now passed and, while Pretty moves slowly, she is capable of coming/going as she needs to. And I was never invoiced for his Saturday visit.

To close, I highly recommend Dr. Maniatty and his team if anyone is in need of their services. You won’t be disappointed.

Diana Ohtersen
Ocean View

MSO fans sing praises of orchestra and its conductor
Editor:

I’ve been meaning to write a love note to the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Benichou for some time. The December “Holiday Joy” concert makes it impossible for me to put off writing.

Please pardon me for being immodest for a few lines: During my 35 years in New York City, working as a freelance musician in recording and TV, I was privileged to work with various orchestras and conductors. I believe Maestro Benichou and the MSO are easily as good as anything or anybody I heard or worked with in NYC.

It’s a pleasure to see Maestro Benichou conducting the MSO with such glee and passion, as if he was in love with the orchestra and every note they play. And it’s easy to see and hear that the orchestra loves him too. As I watch and listen, I am all the more proud to be a musician.

Best wishes to all.

Jim and Cora Mitchell
Salisbury, Md.

MOAA gives thanks for support of fundraiser
Editor:

The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Southern Delaware chapter, wishes to express our sincere gratitude for the community support and for the personal donations at the recent dinner held at the Route 26 DiFebo’s restaurant in Bethany Beach to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior program.

Our thanks to the following businesses who continue to support the Armed Forces, especially the Wounded Warriors Foundation. Fisher House program and special military related community activities: G&E Hocker’s stores, Giant Food, David Twining’s Group (Nantucket and Lobster Shanty restaurants), Miller’s Creek store, Lowe’s, Cottage Café, Harris Teeter and Applebee’s. The support and generosity of these businesses resulted in a successful fundraiser and further cements the military and civilian partnership.

MOAA is grateful to DiFebo’s restaurant and staff for making this fun event a successful reality. One hundred percent of the funds collected will serve the ever-present need of our wounded warriors and their families.

Service to our country is one of the greatest sacrifices our young men and women in uniform can make. MOAA is pleased to provide whatever assistance is necessary to reduce the continuous burden they bear so that all Americans may continue to enjoy the freedom made possible by our military. We must never forget these patriots.

Capt. Richard A. Pfeil, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Military Officers Association of America,
Southern Delaware chapter

Writer pushing for dog protection
Editor:

I am writing about a legal form of cruelty that has been going on far too long. It is that of the perpetually chained or penned so-called “outside dog.” It is heartbreaking to see these dogs treated so inhumanly and having no power to do anything about it. Most of these dogs are severely neglected and end up physically and emotionally harmed.

This is not how our faithful pet is supposed to be treated. They spend their entire lives in solitary confinement, at the end of a chain or in a small pen, forgotten and uncared for. They lack adequate food, water, shelter and basic veterinary care.

Every year, countless dogs freeze to death or die from heatstroke. They starve to death because they can’t get to their food and water when they get tied up in their chains. Dogs die from accidental hanging. They suffer from lacerations on their necks that often go untreated.

Most of these dogs will also develop heartworm from being bit by flies, mosquitoes and parasites. It is a terrible disease and most dogs will go untreated. They will suffer horribly before ending in their death.

I ask the owners: Would you trade places with your dogs?

Dogs are very much like people and even better. Yes, they have feelings! Yes, they get cold. If it is too cold outside for you, it is too cold for your dog. If it is too hot outside for you, then it is too hot for your dog, or any pet, for that matter.

It makes me sick to think of the many times people in this area have told me about someone they know that has left their dog out to die, then just dump them along with the trash – which is illegal. Often this will go unreported. Some people feel that because no one in authority helped while the dog was alive, what was the point of reporting it? They will then go out and replace the dog, and cause more suffering.

The lack of socialization of these dogs often leads to aggressive behavior. Offending owners, stop and think. Put yourself in solitary confinement. How long could you last before going crazy? Then again, it would not be the same because you would not have a heavy chain around your neck, holding you hostage day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Every year, many children are severely injured or killed by chained dogs. How many more have to pay with their lives because of a dog that was mistreated?

This is the fault of the owner/ caretaker and lawmakers for allowing this to happen. Someone needs to be held accountable. Some states and at least 100 communities and counties have banned or limited chaining with positive results. These animals need our help now, and we owe it to our children for their safety.

Dogs by nature are very social and loyal, they are meant to be part of the family, inside, safe and sound. A dog treated kindly will bring so much joy into your life, especially when life and people can be cruel. They love us no matter what. I have personally seen so much suffering. Enough already!

I have been able to give a better life to a few very grateful, happy dogs. That feeling is so rewarding. I vow to help as many as I can.

A special thank you to Anne Gryscon from Safe Haven and Jane Pierantozzi from Faithful Friends, for giving me the support and good advice to successfully have a former chainer willingly surrender her dog and helping her realize dogs deserve better. She is living safe inside with her own bed, good food, clean water, lots of attention and a yard to run around in. Now, that is truly priceless. So many more deserve to live this way or at the very least not to be neglected or treated cruelly.

Please sign the online petition on Facebook, “Unchain Delaware Dogs.” Also please email or call state representatives and senators, urging them to introduce a strong anti-chaining/penning and protection-in-all-weather bill into the state legislature.

Thank you for your support.

Donna Tallaric
Millsboro

Magill offers his opinion on censure
Editor:

Tap.

As a former Ocean View Town Council member who was actually there in 2006 when we voted to censure Bill Wichmann for his actions in the illegal hiring of an electrician to install a generator, I wanted to correct the mistaken impression the current council left in lifting the censure at its meeting on Dec. 13.

Instead of stating that in this kinder, gentler Ocean View the council members just wanted to lift the censure for their good ol’ buddy Bill, they tried to justify their votes by claiming the censure was a nuclear option when a tap on the shoulder would have sufficed.

In performing their “due diligence,” these council members apparently overlooked a few things that led to the censure three months after the violations were discovered.

It would have helped, too, if they had bothered to contact all of the council members who voted for the censure, instead of just the former mayor. They didn’t contact me or former councilman Roy Thomas. I wonder why? Maybe it’s because we’re on the wrong team – you know, that “Cop-Haters” team that includes anyone who has ever questioned the police.

You wonder what would rise to the level of censure for them if the violations of the town charter and ordinances, the lies, the threats and the attempted cover-up didn’t.

It all started with a memo from the town manager on April 11, 2006, asking the police chief for copies of the three quotes required to process the $15,987 purchase order the police department submitted for the installation of a generator at the temporary police headquarters.

All she had was a purchase order that showed up out of the blue with an invoice from Mr. Electric for $15,987. The invoice didn’t even have a signature on the Authorized Signature line.

Tap.

Perhaps the council members didn’t dig enough to learn that after the town manager’s memo to the chief, she got a call from former mayor Gary Meredith, demanding a meeting with him and Wichmann that afternoon.

Tap, tap.

Perhaps they didn’t hear about Wichmann’s tirade against the town manager in town hall for telling me about the meeting he and Meredith demanded when I stopped by her office and asked her why she seemed so frazzled. Employees told me about the tirade, with one asking if Wichmann would be ordered to take anger-management classes, as had town employees after a similar incident.

Tap, tap, tap.

Perhaps they didn’t hear that the former mayor admonished the town manager for telling me about the missing quotes because she should have known that “Eric would just go tell Roy.”

Tap, tap, tap, tap.

Perhaps they missed, in that 4-inch folder of generator documents in town hall, the memo from Councilman Thomas to council and the town manager, asking for the verification of facts of alleged purchasing violations (Why didn’t Wichmann just admit his so-called “mistake” then and save the town a lot of grief?).

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Perhaps they missed that the memo from the police chief, explaining why the required three quotes weren’t obtained, failed to mention the critical fact of who authorized the installation.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Perhaps they missed the memo from Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader detailing the violations that had occurred, or the solicitor’s letter to the electrician, who threatened legal action against the town if he wasn’t paid, in which the solicitor explained that the town had to collect the documentation needed to certify the purchase process to the grant agencies first.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Perhaps they didn’t hear about the special council meeting on April 25, 2006, two weeks after the violations were discovered, in which Wichmann finally got around to admitting he illegally hired the father of a former OVPD officer to install the generator.

Perhaps they overlooked the fact that instead of apologizing, Wichmann bellowed: “I got MY generator up and running, and all you want to do is fight. Well, bring it on!”

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Perhaps they missed Wichmann’s lie in that same council meeting about having a written estimate for $6,800 from the electrician in an attempt to justify his illegal actions.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Perhaps they didn’t hear about all of the back-and-forth over two months as we tried to piece together the documentation to certify the purchase and avoid losing the $50,000 grant for the project, with little help from Wichmann. Future grants would also have been at risk had we not buttoned down those issues.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Perhaps they didn’t hear about the repeated requests, once we learned Wichmann committed the violations, for written documentation from him that would help us salvage the grant. We didn’t get his memo until June 19, 2006 – two months after the violations were discovered – and even then it was just a song-and-dance about how the generator’s unexpected delivery in December 2005 somehow resulted in his illegal hiring of the electrician in March 2006.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Perhaps they missed the email from the generator’s manufacturer that the warranty was void because it had been improperly installed on the wooden shipping pallet rather than a concrete pad as required.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Perhaps they missed the memo from the former town manager regarding Wichmann’s threat that she better wear body armor to the censure hearing. As if the threat weren’t bad enough, it put the town in a precarious legal position. The memo included her concerns about Wichmann’s past outbursts at meetings and in town hall and council’s lack of corrective action.

Tap, tap … Boom!

Frankly, had we had the option, I would have wielded the sledgehammer and voted for the real nuclear option – removing Wichmann from council.

For two weeks, he allowed the chief to be on the hook for the violation. Even during the censure hearing, he continued to display his disdain for the laws he swore to uphold by making and voting for two motions the town solicitor told him violated FOIA.

As it was, the censure had no practical effect. He continued to have the same powers as other council members. The censure didn’t even change Wichmann’s behavior. Authorizing the installation of the name for the police station on the building before council even voted on it comes to mind.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

From the first time I had an in-depth conversation with Wichmann after we appointed him to council in 2003, I knew the town was in trouble.

During that conversation, Wichmann told me the public shouldn’t question council members because the public doesn’t have access to the in-depth information council members have. He said in Park Ridge, N.J., where he served on council for nine years, people would just say, “Figure out what you want to do and send us the bill.” Apparently he expected that here, too.

We have a raised dais in town hall because Wichmann felt the table we used to sit at didn’t command enough respect from rowdy audience members. Seat us above the audience and we’d get the respect we deserved, he reasoned.

He didn’t think we should hold public meetings and a referendum on the water system.

Had I known at the time that Wichmann caused a firestorm of controversy in Park Ridge when he ran for office there on a platform of cleaning up a non-existent illegal immigrant problem with lies that the local newspaper debunked, I wouldn’t have voted to appoint him in the first place. It was called the “most vile and vicious” campaign tactic in Park Ridge history by the town’s mayor.

After his appointment, Wichmann revealed his plans for the 15,000-square-foot police station after council budgeted for a 5,000- to 7,500-square-foot building. At that meeting, he snidely told council members they shouldn’t question the size of the 15,000-square-foot building because we didn’t “know what all the rooms are for.”

He then lied to the public in a council meeting that he had developed a 40-year plan to justify the 15,000-square-foot size. No such plan existed.

He lashed out at council for not approving an unfinished construction bid package, sight unseen, for the new police station.

Throughout the process, he bullied council with statements that any council member who didn’t vote for his request at that moment would be putting the officers’ safety at risk.

He concocted a clause in the contract for the land that Bear Trap donated for the police station that reverts ownership to Bear Trap – of the land AND the building – should the building no longer be used for government purposes. He proposed the clause because he thought Wally Brown, had he won the mayor’s race that year, would sell the building and disband the police department. He thought the clause would prevent Brown from doing that.

Then there was his desire for council members to hammer out the budget behind closed doors, rather than in public meetings, as required by law, and his misleading statements that the 15,000-square-foot building was needed to serve the town’s public safety needs for the next 40 years when the real intent was to house a regional police force.

Maybe Wichmann’s a kinder, gentler soul when he’s serving drinks at his bar, but my experience with him as an elected official was much different.

Yeah, a tap on the shoulder would have gotten this guy’s attention, alright. All that would have done is confirm in his mind that he could do what he did in the generator case and never have to worry about anything but a tap, tap, tap.

So, why should any of this concern our citizens, five years after the fact, in our kinder, gentler Ocean View?

It should concern us all that our current council members don’t believe Wichmann’s actions warranted more than a “tap on the shoulder.” It makes one wonder why these council members want to set the bar for official reprimands far above reasonable standards.

Eric Magill
Ocean View