Letters to the Editor: February 19, 2010

A job well done in Bethany Beach

A very special thanks to the town manager, Cliff Graviet, and his staff for their outstanding job in dealing with two storms back to back! They did a great job in clearing our streets of snow throughout the town and providing a sense of security with the telephone alert system.

All the staff, including the police department for their vigilance, should be congratulated for their efforts.

Kudos to all!

Jack Walsh
Bethany Beach

Organization favors job opportunities at casino

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.

Six thousand Delawareans will have work over the next four years if the state legislature approves the $540 million Del Pointe Resort and Casino.

The developers are ready to put men and women to work this spring. All permits from DelDOT, DNREC and other agencies are approved. The land has already been annexed into the town of Millsboro.

Once built, Del Pointe will directly employ 2,000 Delawareans, and at least 500 more workers will have jobs in the area because of Del Pointe.

Del Pointe will bring much-needed funds to our local and state governments:

• $900,000 a year to the Indian River School District;

• $2 million a year to the town of Millsboro (plus $15 million in impact fees);

• $150,000 a year to Sussex County;

• $75.5 million a year to the State of Delaware.

Del Pointe is not your traditional race track and casino. It will be a major tourist attraction. In addition to the harness track and casino with hotel, there will be a family resort hotel with indoor water park, indoor sports complex, movie theater and at least five restaurants.

William Rickman, owner of Ocean Downs, located outside of Ocean City, was recently awarded the first Maryland state permit for slot machines. Rickman, who also happens to own Delaware Park in Wilmington, plans on installing 800 slot machines at Ocean Downs. He has postponed the Memorial Day 2010 opening.

Ocean Downs is 55 miles south of Harrington. If Del Pointe is not built and Ocean Downs installs slot machines, how many Delawareans and Marylanders who visit Harrington Raceway and Casino will choose to go Ocean Downs to spend their money?

Del Pointe’s excellent location will draw vacationers from Maryland and Delaware. With the proposed amenities and proximately to Delaware’s resort towns and beaches, it will become a tourist destination.

It is not a question of whether or not Delaware should have gambling. That decision was made in 1994. We have three casino/racetracks now.

A recent independent study said that the state would bring in more revenue by adding two sites and, while revenue may decrease at the three existing casinos, they would still have a substantial profit.

People are going to spend their money at hotels, restaurants, shops and casinos. They can spend it in a neighboring state or right here in Delaware.

Think of what $900,000 means to a school district in these economic times. Think what the prospect of a job this spring means to the man or woman who is out of work today.

Then tell your state representative and senator you want to bring jobs to Delaware. Build Del Pointe.

Joanne Cabry, Chair
Progressive Democrats of Sussex County

Reader upset governor out of town

I thought I knew what snow was all about.

After all, among other things I lived for 10 years on top of a mountain where it snowed all winter long and in the spring and fall. And summer was simply bad sledding.

But, if nothing else, the New Yorkers who clear the roads should be commended. They never failed. No, never.

Now, I’ve been living in Delaware about nine years now and we haven’t had much snow.

In fact, so little that I gave my snowblower away before I even moved here, thinking that my neighbors needed it more than I did. But now I’m discovering that Delaware is about as screwed up as they come when it comes to managing the State’s needs, especially in the area of snow removal. You know, quite often it takes an emergency to reveal a state’s flaws.

Let’s look at the facts:

First of all, the governor declares a state of Emergency from his hotel in Europe. Really?

Isn’t that the first State of Emergency? Where the hell is the governor?

He should be here and in charge.

Secondly, I learn that the County does not have jurisdiction for snow removal. That is a State affair. It turns out, according to the leading radio station in our county, that there are only 12 snow plows in the county, even though a spokesperson for the State said that there were 100 snow plows in action.

Not here, my friend. I’ve been driving the county and didn’t see one working snow plow. Now, mind you, if it was a tiny county with few roads, 12 plows might suffice; but we are the second largest county east of the Mississippi, about 1,000 square miles, so that’s a potential disaster in the making.

The proof is in the pudding. I had to go rescue my brother-in-law from a shelter because his house wasn’t plowed out for four days. That’s after he lost power from Delmarva Power. It took them four days to restore power. OK – we understand that the snow was wet and it brought down lines. We can overlook that.

And going across the state, I only saw two snow plows and their plows were up while the road was largely impassable in spots. Now, I’m talking about Route 9, a primary road; forget the secondary roads. Even on the primary road, Route 1, there were areas that were dangerous and would get more so after the current rain freezes on the ground.

What’s more, apparently in the interest of saving money, the State did not invest in salt, so that most cars cannot even traverse the ice spots. You would think at the very least we should be able to put sand down. I mean, after all, we are principally beaches down here.

But, no, no sand and no salt.

And now, we’ve got our second State of Emergency pronouncement.

And it doesn’t seem to register with anyone.

OK, that being said, here’s my recommendation. If we don’t have enough snow plows and we don’t have enough drivers to keep those plows going around the clock, then we have a problem.

In a State of Emergency, I would make an emergency allocation and hire freelance drivers with their equipment and assign them sections of the road to clear off under emergency legislation and hire the drivers necessary to do the job. And make sure that State supervisors were on the road inspecting. I didn’t see one inspector anywhere. This is not the place to look to save pennies.

I don’t think anyone gets it, quite frankly, that when the ice forms, there is going to be a horrendous number of accidents along our main arteries.

In a State of Emergency, if supervision can’t be counted on to address the situation, then I would recommend emergency elections to get rid of those who don’t perform and replace them with willing workers, if not from Delaware then elsewhere.

The public interest demands it.

Sound too tough?

Not if you have seniors who can’t get out of their houses, who have no heat, no food and are stuck inside and can likely freeze to death.

Nobody should be faced with that kind of dereliction. Manana is supposed to apply only in Third World countries; not in the good old U.S. of A.

It’s time to stop talking and start doing.

A warning: The likeable charismatic mayor of New York never got a second term because he forgot that people lived in the outer Boroughs of Manhattan, and he never cleared the streets or made sure that the seniors were cared for. And people never forgot!

It could happen here!

Les Aaron-Friedlieb

Reader wants state’s spending controlled
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Delaware legislators and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

In my ongoing research on the Delaware State Budget (http://budget.delaware.gov/fy2010/hb290.pdf), it still amazes me to no end that there is simply so much wasteful spending lying in plain sight. Let me give you just a few of the many examples so you can decide for yourself if your tax dollars should fund these items every single year.

Office of Management and Budget:

· Office of Management and Budget: Delaware Surplus Services. We pay almost $390,000 per year to auction off our surplus equipment. Does that mean that our state is so inefficient that we can’t even sell our equipment without having to pay people to buy it?

Department of Corrections:

· Prisons: Other Items: Prison Arts. I am hopeful that the $82,500 we spend every year on “Prison Arts” is at least therapy, and not simply macaroni-art with a splash of glitter. At worst it could be a class on how to make prison weapons out of paintbrushes. Can anyone else think of a better way to spend $82,500 per year of your taxes?

Department of Health and Social Services:

· Public Health: AIDS Needle Exchange Pilot Program. We spend $230,000 per year on exchanging dirty needles from drug addicts that are infected with AIDS? Do we know if the Needle Bandit used our taxes to fund his recent reign of terror on local businesses?

Department of Agriculture:

· Other Items: Fingerprints: We pay $76,000 per year for this one. More importantly, why exactly does the Department of Agriculture have a Fingerprints Division?

· Other Items: Fingerprinting: $75,000 per year. You read that correctly, we have both a Fingerprints Division and a Fingerprinting Division, both within the Department of Agriculture. On the state budget these are officially listed as two separate divisions of the Department of Agriculture.

Since the names are so similar, I hope that they can at least share an office so we’re not paying twice for the rent. I’m still trying to figure out why the Department of Agriculture deals with fingerprints in the first place though. Are these guys fingerprinting Delaware farmers, or chickens?

Department of State:

· Office of the Secretary: World Trade Center. $120,000 per year. Contrary to how it appears, no we are not paying for office space in Manhattan. It’s supposed to be a nonprofit that helps Delaware businesses do business overseas. Unfortunately, they also help allow member businesses from neighboring states. Isn’t it nice to know that Delaware tax-money is going to subsidize businesses in Pennsylvania?

· Internal Program: Government Information Center. If you go to the Web site (http://gic.delaware.gov/) you can see what they get paid to do. This mainly involves creating Twitter accounts and YouTube videos for state agencies, all for just under $800,000 per year. Sounds productive, doesn’t it?

Please note: This list is only a partial list. A thorough, line-by-line, evaluation should be performed by every Department to eliminate wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.

Recommendation: There is plenty of room for budget cuts within the State of Delaware, without resorting to budget cuts for necessary services like police, fire, EMT, maintaining roads, etc.

Christian Hudson