Letters to the Editor -- July 23, 2010

Do we every truly learn from history?

What can federal employees and retirees learn from history? Today, it appears that we just sit back and expect everything to be given to us. Uncle Sam won’t let us down.

Think back to the late 1970’s when Congress decided to save Social Security (SS). What did they do? They decided that federal employees should be covered by SS. They also decided that anyone who previously was covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (federal employees) – a similar government retirement plan – should not be entitled to a SS spousal benefit and, if they had earned SS benefits on their own, those benefits should be reduced by up to 60 percent.

Therefore, a federal employee who was not eligible to retire by 1982 lost the major portion of any previously earned SS retirement and eligibility for a spousal benefit. This legislation would have been proper and fair if it had been effective for new employees, but it hit everyone not eligible to retire within five years.

Each year, the president is charged with having a commission compare federal employee salaries with comparable commercial salaries. In the past, the results have always been that federal employee salaries were less by 10 to 20 percent.

Now that President Obama has appointed the National Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Commission, the survey being circulated ignores position comparison and simply compares the average government salary to the average nongovernment salary.

The sad part is that our members of Congress are so out of touch with life outside Washington that they believe whatever they are told. When you read so much about government benefits, where do you think the commission will start their task of fiscal responsibility and reform? What will the federal employees and retirees do? Who will look out and speak out for them?

NARFE, one of America’s oldest and largest associations, was founded in 1921 with the mission of protecting the earned rights and benefits of America’s active and retired federal workers. The largest federal employee/retiree organization, NARFE represents the retirement interests of nearly 5 million current and future federal annuitants, spouses and survivors.

Walt Berwick, Past President
Delaware Federation of NARFE Chapters

‘Grandma’ writes another Bethany update

Editor’s note: The following letter is part of a series in which the writer addresses granddaughter Nora, and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

You are not going to believe what has happened at the beach! Last November, a storm came upon Bethany for almost two days, and the most amazing thing has occurred: the dune was lowered to a level where you can actually see over it as you walk on the boardwalk.

The good news for everyone is that the dune was lowered so much at Garfield and the boardwalk that now you can sit on the benches there and see the ocean! What a beautiful sight it is – crashing waves, dolphins swimming, kayaks galore, colorful umbrellas and lifeguards exercising. So, once again, you and your brothers will be able to enjoy the gorgeous view while you eat your doughnuts.

The “experts” say these storms come only every 50 years, but in this case it only took two years after all that effort and millions of dollars were wasted on sand that is now gone. Also, over the winter, the beach has come back, and it is better than ever. This happened thanks to Mother Nature, without the aid of a single dollar of tax money.

Speaking of money, the best news of all is that the geniuses who decided we needed dunes so high that they destroy the view of the beach don’t have any money to repeat the same mistake.

Isn’t God wonderful?!

Can’t wait to see you next month.

Grandma (not so grumpy anymore)
Nancy Wright Greene
Salt Pond

Hastings announces intentions to run

Eighteen months ago, I left the General Assembly confident that I had served with honor and had respected the conservative views of the 41st District. The future was very uncertain, probably even doubtful, I would return to the House of Representatives.

I am enjoying serving on the Millsboro Town Council, and enjoying the extra time that’s been created. However, the events of the last 18 months have troubled my conscience terribly. A state government that spends every dollar it can and pays for it by raising taxes on its citizens, small businesses and family farms is a state government that is failing the people it’s supposed to serve.

I believe the 41st District deserves representation of true conservative actions and not just tout conservative, then be swayed by party affiliation that will ultimately result in more out-of-control spending.

I believe the 41st District deserves representation that will fight against frivolous tax increases and vote no on budgets that raises spending by 6.5 percent, especially in an economic downturn. I believe we have not had that representation in Dover for the last two years.

And so, my conscience will not allow me to stand by and let this careless spending and millions of dollars of ridiculous special interests items cripple the state I love.

So on Friday, July 9, I filed the paperwork to seek the office of state representative for the 41st District. If you feel the way I do about what I have just stated, I invite you to be a part of my campaign by donating your time, financial support, or just help me reach your friends and family, co-workers and your church with my message.

It is critically important for our children and grandchildren that we return to the conservative principles that made this state the best in the nation. That is my pledge to you.

Greg Hastings

Lavelle expresses frustration over plea

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Delaware Attorney General Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

It was with great disappointment that I read in today’s News Journal that William Hitch, charged with nearly 100 felony counts of stealing more than $150,000 from the Laurel School District over the course of eight years, has gotten off with what amounts to a mere slap on the wrist.

Given the scope and length of times that the crimes were committed, along with the initial charges, how is it possible that a person who has so blatantly and wantonly misused and betrayed the people’s trust is able to reach a plea agreement with the Delaware Department of Justice that requires him to serve no prison time? He will not serve one day in prison under this plea agreement.

According to the article, a spokesman from your office said that Mr. Hitch will “literally pay for his crimes.” I am not all impressed with his statement and hardly consider this a punishment that fits the crimes. I imagine there are quite a number of people in Delaware prisons who would be happy to make a payment – an “interest-free reimbursement” as is being demanded in this case – to get out of jail.

I have to question and wonder why Mr. Hitch appears to be treated so lightly. I recall other people who have embezzled from their employers being sentenced to prison. I am requesting that your office provide me with the sentences for similar crimes of embezzlement – in both the public and private sectors – over the past 24 months.

This plea deal sends a wrong and confusing message regarding our criminal justice system. It seems to be a double standard, and what I take away from the plea is that public corruption is treated more lightly – extremely lightly in this case – than similar private-sector crimes. Additionally, it would appear that one can “benefit” from the criminal justice system if they are in an economic and financial position that allows them to cut a check or enter a payment plan.

I am formally requesting that your office withdraw the current plea agreement and ask that your office and the courts impose a more just punishment consistent with Mr. Hitch’s crimes. The public’s trust has been violated, not only by Mr. Hitch but also by our justice system as the result of this plea deal. When a crime has been committed, appropriate justice should and must be served. I find it very hard to believe that the vast majority of the public would consider that Mr. Hitch’s punishment was appropriate.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you as soon as possible.

State Rep. Gregory F. Lavelle
District 11

PETA offers position on SB 280 language

Delaware’s Senate Bill 280 contains some good provisions that all animal shelters should follow — including vaccinating incoming animals right away and maintaining lists of lost and found animals online — but let’s hope its restrictions on euthanasia don’t put homeless cats and dogs in an even more precarious position than they are in now.

Shelters that adopt “no-kill” policies can find themselves refusing to accept the very neediest animals when they are full, leaving animals to die badly on the streets or at the hands of people who don’t want them. Some no-kill shelters and the “foster homes” they use have been busted for hoarding and overcrowding animals in filthy cages and denying them veterinary care and a real life.

Every kind person hates euthanasia, but the humane and effective way to achieve no-kill status is by passing mandatory spay/neuter laws, ending sales of animals by pet shops and breeders, educating the community about sterilization of dogs and cats, and implementing strong owner responsibility requirements. If Delaware wants to become a no-kill state, it must first become a no-birth one. To learn more, visit www.HelpingAnimals.com.

Teresa Chagrin, Animal Care & Control Specialist
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)