Letters to the Editor -- August 28, 2009

Residents ask council not to pursue change

The following letter was sent to the Bethany Beach Town Council to urge them at the time not to pursue a town charter change to increase the council’s term in office, from a two-year to a three-year term length, and to establish term limits.

The Council eventually decided to place this proposal before the citizens as a non-binding referendum in the upcoming election.

The letter presents a position held by five mayors covering the last 28 years of town government. They all believe that voting against the proposals is the better choice.

Vote “Against the Proposal” on the ballot on Sept. 12, 2009!

Your government has been working fine. Don’t try and fix something that’s not broken. The choice of how we wish to be governed should reside with the electorate, not the elected.

Jeri Walsh
Bethany Beach

Honorable Councilman:

The undersigned, former mayors of Bethany Beach, urge the Council to reconsider the recent motions that passed by a 4-3 vote that would request a town charter change regarding the council’s term in office from a two-year to a three-year term length and establish term limits.

We note that two other former mayors, who serve on this Council, voted against the motions at the recent council meeting. This means that all five former mayors who have served the Town of Bethany Beach, from 1984 to 2008, believe the historic use of two-year terms should continue.

During this period, the town flourished. It had optimized town services, beautification programs and facilities. It had managed its finances and had demonstrated sensitivity for the improvement of communications and cultural affairs that has been superb, and it was accomplished within the framework of two-year terms, with no term limits.

There has been no mandate by Bethany Beach citizens for this change. Also, there have been no outside requirements, such as a change in Delaware law that require it. Indeed, the vast majority of municipal charters authorized by the Delaware legislature include two-year terms for council members.

The arguments presented for the use of three-year terms include the concern that an election could possibly result in a majority of council being replaced in one election. This might have a significant effect on town policies. In that regard, we respect the rights and capability of citizens in such a vote, unlikely as it is to occur.

We believe that accountability of elected representatives to the citizens of Bethany Beach is actually a compelling reason to maintain two-year terms. Two-year terms provide a higher sense for increased accountability by the council members and a more effective environment for change, when needed.

We also feel that term limits (maximum time an individual can serve) are a prerogative of the electorate and not the elected.

The opinion of these former mayors should not be taken lightly. They represent an effective process that is directly connected to the successful operation of the town over many years.

We strongly urge that the council place the motion concerning term lengths and term limits on the May Council agenda for reconsideration.

Charles J. Bartlett, Joseph F. Mc Hugh and John D. Walsh
Bethany Beach

Weather and athletes equal great field hockey

Despite heavy early-morning rain, the day cleared and 24 teams played 72 head-to-head games in the last big event prior to the beginning of the Fall 2009 Field Hockey Season. Teams from throughout Delaware and Maryland made the 6th Annual Seaford Hockey Play Day an overwhelming success.

Action photos on the games can be found at www.landstonephotos.com. Click on “View & order pictures” for a library of photos.

Our event would not have been possible without the support of the coaches, referees, parents and players of the girls’ Seaford High School Hockey team, which began working on this event almost nine months ago. Each hockey team member not only played in the event but was a volunteer in making the event enjoyable to the other participants.

Extra-special thanks should be given to our committee chairs: Event Chairmen Jack and Susan Riddle; Registration/T-shirts – Melissa Wills, Debbie Quillen and Lori Hoch; First Aid – Judy Roach, Pat Wheedledon and Angela Azores; Concession – Lisa Tobin and Colleen Demott; Grills – Clarke Tobin; Referees – Robin Verdery and Chris Minner; Field Marshals – Mike Procino; Field Set-Up – Randy Hawkins and Jeff Wooten; Field Lining – Ford Verdery, Lori Hoch and Dave Quillen; Vitale’s – Betsy Ellingsworth; Volunteers Coordinator – Tracy Wooten; City Liaison – Tammi Bergh; and “Iceman” Paul Bradham, who mans the ice station and weather station.

We are also extremely grateful to Soroptomist International of Seaford, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Trinity Transport, Community Bank Delaware, Delaware Electric Co-op, R & L Irrigation, and Seaford Parks & Recreation, who served as corporate sponsors for our event.

Also, special thanks to the WGMD Friday PM Sports Team (Captain Bill Baker and Andrew Betts) for the live pre-event coverage on FM 92.7 WGMD Talk Radio. Catch them each week on Fridays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Play Day was hosted by the Seaford High School Field Hockey Boosters. All proceeds from this event will be used to support Seaford Girls Field Hockey.

In kind support was provided by: Towers Signs, Robin’s Nest Daycare, Nanticoke Little League, Seaford Machine Works, M.L. Joseph Construction Co. Inc., Home Team Realty and EMT personnel.

We appreciate the help of the Seaford School District staff: Freddie Murphy, Steve Henry, Doug Henry and Roy Whitaker (grounds), and Artie Uhlich (athletic director.)

Seaford High School Field Hockey Boosters

Animals to be focus of Rehoboth walk

On Oct. 3, there will be a Farm Sanctuary Walk for Farm Animals on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk. These events are held each autumn around World Farm Animals Day, to raise awareness about animal welfare issues associated with factory farming. This year, there are over 50 walks scheduled across the country, and thousands of people will participate.

Surveys have shown that people are concerned about how farm animals are raised and treated, and Farm Sanctuary’s Walks help educate the public about the reality of factory farming. The walks also raise vital funds to support Farm Sanctuary’s rescue, advocacy and education programs.

I want to invite people to join us on Oct. 3, either by walking or by coming by to learn more. It’s an excellent opportunity to get information about factory farming and its impact on animals, the earth and human health.

More information is available at walkforfarmanimals.org or farmsanctuary.org.

Leslie R. Lantz, Walk for Farm Animals Coordinator
Rehoboth Beach

Walsh likes BBLA’s stance on referendums

I would like to commend the Bethany Beach Land Owners Association (BBLA) Board of Directors for stating in their recent newsletter that voting “No” on the two referendum items in the upcoming Bethany Beach election is the right call.

The Board of Directors of the Bethany Beach Landowners Association recently voted to oppose Proposal 1, to increase the length of council terms, and Proposal 2, to limit the Council’s term in office.

BBLA went on to say: “In response to requests for our views, BBLA’s Board of Directors considered the issues and voted overwhelmingly against both. On the three-year term, the vote was 14 against and one abstention. On term limits, the vote was 14 against and one in favor.

“Views of those who oppose these changes in Bethany governance, including all five former mayors, (Charlie Bartlet, Bob Parsons, Joe McHugh, Jack Walsh and Carol Olmstead) who had served Bethany from 1984 to 2008, can be summarized as follows:

“In those years under the existing governance scheme, the town has flourished. Nothing major appears to be broken and, therefore, nothing major needs to be repaired. There is no citizen mandate for these major changes.

“It is argued that two-year terms promote accountability of council service and a ‘more effective environment for change, when needed.’ Frequent elections serve Bethany citizens well and should not be abandoned without good reason. Former mayors reminded the council that term limits are a prerogative of the electorate and not the elected.”

The BBLA membership consists of almost 1,000 Bethany Beach households and has been in existence for at least 35 years. Their long term experience with town affairs and access to public opinion serves, in my view, to add credence to their position on this matter.

Your government has been working fine. Don’t try and fix something that’s not broken. The choice of how we wish to be governed should reside with the electorate, not the elected.

Vote “Against the Proposal” on the ballot on Sept. 12, 2009.

Jack Walsh
Bethany Beach

Reader upset with direction of Bethany
Editor’s note: The following letter was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication:

Congratulations, Bethany Beach.

All the local land has for the most part been sold off to the outside area, and we have imported all of their fears and prejudices that they were fleeing. It would appear they have brought all the baggage with them.

You have taken a town that was, for the most part, built up to be a summer retreat for the church folks of the outside areas. At what cost?

The bandstand used to be for the area church members to use for the listening of music from local churches and military bands, as well as a gathering place for the church communities.

Have we learned nothing? Shun God and what happens? Look at the corruption in Congress and our political system, and look at the slums of big cities. What are these visitors afraid of? I don’t think once a week or month of wholesome family-type spiritual type music will sway an atheist, cause someone to lose their soul if subject to a hour of music.

It looks like our future is bleak. Where does this downhill slide end?

Walter E. Lathbury
Ocean View

Steele writes in his support for Olmstead

This letter is written in support of Carol Olmsted for the Bethany Beach Town Council.

I’ve known Carol for about nine years. I’ve worked with Carol when I was on the Council for four years. I supported Carol when she ran for the mayor’s position after being elected to the Council.

I have supported and am now supporting her because she really cares about what happens in Bethany. She is not a one-issue candidate. Her concern is for all of Bethany. There were times when we had different positions on issues. Sometimes my position won and sometimes her position won. But, we never were at odds with each other.

She works hard. She makes sure she understands the issues before coming to the Council meeting. I do not know of any other person during my years on council and working with the council who works any harder.

Carol worked hard on the manual that defines how Council members behave at meetings and how to run the meetings. This manual is invaluable to newly elected members to the Council. I truly believe that Carol should be elected to the Town Council.

Harry Steele
Bethany Beach

Dorfman earns support in Bethany election

I would like to share my endorsement of Jerry Dorfman as a worthy candidate for the Bethany Beach Town Council. I have known Jerry since he became a full-time resident in Bethany Beach in 2000, although he and his wife have owned property here since 1993. He has an extensive background in business, corporate management and real estate, and has previously served on the Town Council for 3.5 years, from May 2005 to September 2008.

In addition to his service on Town Council, he has served as Town Treasurer for two years, and has also served on virtually every other committee of the Board. He is presently serving on the Budget and Finance Committee, Transportation and Trolley Committee and the Audit Committee, and he chairs the Recycling Committee.

Jerry is truly a public servant, as evidenced by his regular attendance at the Town Council meetings, workshops and public hearings. He is extremely conversant with the current and long-range issues that impact the local and visiting residents, property owners and the business community in Bethany Beach and surrounding areas.

My experience with Jerry is that he makes every effort to understand the concerns and viable alternatives suggested by the community members prior to making a decision on any issues that come before the Town Council. His major concern is the welfare of present and future citizens of our fine town. Jerry has been more than available on occasion when I have required assistance as a neighbor and local resident – either by phone or e-mail.

The campaign issues that Jerry is stressing are to work to insure that Bethany will remain a safe, family-oriented resort community; participate in future financial planning to insure that Bethany remains financially sound; and to work with both the Town Council and town manager to obtain grants, and other sources of funding for projects such as Streetscape, storm water management, pedestrian and bike safety and water plant improvements.

For all of the above reasons and many more, Jerry will have my vote and I hope you will consider him also!

Susan Street
Bethany Beach

Thanks to MADD and Georgetown PD

I would like to take this opportunity to thank MADD of Delaware and the Georgetown Police Department for the recent benefit motorcycle ride event held at Harley Davidson of Seaford. I also want to thank the community for coming out on a steamy, summer Sunday to support a great cause.

It was a great event, and the even greater thing was that two families, the Jesters and the Huffs, were honored and recognized as they have both lost a loved one due to the irresponsible consequences of someone choosing to drink and drive. I thank MADD’s Nancy Raynor for recognizing the Huff family and Georgetown PD’s Chris Story for rerouting the ride to pay tribute to Hank Huff.

What a wonderful, but yet emotional sight it was to see the riders all pass the family and friends of Hank Huff in the neighborhood in which he lived, and was tragically taken. It was great to share my time with the family and lend them my support.

I personally plan to continue to work with MADD and our area state legislators to not only strengthen the penalties associated with DUI’s and vehicular homicides, but to also better educate the public and raise awareness of the consequences.

While vehicular homicide or manslaughter may be considered involuntary because the offender is driving under the influence, drinking beyond the level of legal intoxication and then driving is voluntary.

Please continue to support the local chapter of MADD and urge your state legislators to get tougher on penalties. We may never totally eliminate drunk driving, but we can all work together to decrease it and the tragic consequences that may surround it.

Scott W. Wilkins