Letters to the Editor -- February 13, 2009

Birkmeyer takes aim at town council
Editor’s note: The following letter was submitted for publication after the Feb. 10 meeting of the Ocean View Town Council and represents the writer’s remarks at that meeting.

I speak this evening with a sense of outrage that knows no bounds!

Once again, the hypocrisy of this town council has reared its ugly head. Last month, the councilman from the 4th District recommended that the council ask for citizen input on ways to offset the town’s $1.5 million structural deficit. By the way, this is the same councilman who has stated that citizen input at town meetings represents a “mobocracy.” But, then again, his 4th District seat is up for election this year.

So what do we end up with the survey? The council spends thousands of dollars to send out a survey giving the property owners four limited choices – each representing a tax increase and/or elimination of one or more town employees. Is that really thinking out of the box?

And before the surveys can even be returned or analyzed, we have one councilman who appears on television to indicate he has already decided to vote to eliminate two police officers and one other town employee. And another member of the council indicated the town would be eliminating two police officers.

Was the council simply insulting the intelligence of the citizens by wasting taxpayer money and simply using this survey as a ruse to justify what they have already colluded to carry out? And let us not lose sight of the fact that our town has just invested well more than $50,000 apiece in training our two new police officers for their positions in the department.

In addition, I have here a copy of the town manager’s report on the town’s financial status, which includes recommendations by all of the department heads on ways to address the budget challenges. These reports were made in early November, and each and every department head recommended a number of worthwhile, out-of-the-box ideas, including the recommendation that the town postpone or delay all capital projects until the economy improves.

But what did the town council do later that month? It totally ignored their suggestions and voted instead to continue spending capital dollars to renovate the public safety building to accommodate the administrative staff. So, the council not only ignores the taxpayers, but its own department heads – what a surprise! Not only is this totally irresponsible, but completely inept and arrogant.

I want to strongly emphasize that when we talk about eliminating employees, we are not simply talking about a financial cost, we are talking about real people who chose this community in which to make a living and in many ways are like family.

This council should be examining every possible way to reduce expenses without simply resorting to a tax increase and eliminating employees. To do otherwise would represent a tragic disservice to town employees, as well as the citizens of Ocean View who each of you was elected to represent.

Elaine Birkmeyer
Ocean View

Bodine throws support behind Lawless

As a resident of Ocean View, I wish to express my support for Bob Lawless, who is seeking election to the Ocean View Town Council for the 4th District. Mr. Lawless is the president of my community association, a member of St. Ann’ Church choir and an overall upstanding member of the community. If elected to the town council, Mr. Lawless will bring a sorely needed fiscal responsibility and a voice that represents the residents of Ocean View.

The majority of the individuals that presently sit on the town council are often not receptive to the suggestions of the residents they are entrusted to represent. These gentlemen have little regard for valid concerns raised by the residents of Ocean View. I have personally witnessed concerning, unsophisticated behavior on the part of the town council in town council meetings.

Mr. Lawless’ campaign slogan is the “politics of politeness,” which is a philosophy that could bring positive change to the town council and set an example worthy of the Town of Ocean View.

Ronald A Bodine
Ocean View

Meredith also backs Lawless in campaign

I am giving my whole-hearted support to Bob Lawless, a candidate for the District 4 position on the Ocean View council.

I have talked to Bob Lawless many times in the past months, and I am convinced that he is just what we need on the Ocean View council.

Bob has no agenda of his own and loves Ocean View. He plans to spend the rest of his life here and wants a town that he can be proud of.

He is a friend of the Public Safety Department and knows how important it is to a community of mostly retired people and empty vacation homes. Our police department is the last place he would try to change! Bob also realizes the vast amount of talent in our retired citizens of Ocean View and would like to make them feel their opinions are valued and that their volunteer work for the town would be appreciated.

Since Bob Lawless has managed condominium and co-operative properties, he has experience that would be an asset to Ocean View.

Most of all, he is a kind man who is a hard worker and will listen to what the citizens of Ocean View have to say. Please vote for Bob Lawless in the Ocean View election on April 11. When Bob comes to visit you, listen to what he has to say and be sure to ask questions!

Bette L. Meredith
Ocean View

The right to own property

The Town of Selbyville is traveling on a dangerous road in their consideration of limiting owners of real property rights.

As a Realtor and professional real estate practitioner, I have always fought to protect property owners’ rights. One of the great symbols of the United States of America is to be able to own property freely without the government interfering with those rights. Taking away the inherent right to rent properties sets a dangerous precedent. What is next? Eliminating the right to own property for any reason?

The argument that renting property on a month-to-month basis or even for the short term is detrimental to a town is not only baseless but also ridiculous. The State of Delaware has a long-standing Landlord Tenant Code to address both tenant rights and obligations and landlord rights and obligations. The foundation of our country is the rule of law. Not the prejudice of the few.

Towns have other remedies for ensuring that property owners maintain their properties, whether rented or not. As a real estate broker for over 25 years, I have seen properties abused more by homes that were not rented but remained vacant than homes that were rented. In this time of economic crisis, go ahead and look around the country at homes that have been foreclosed on or abandoned. They are vacant homes that are in disrepair, deteriorating, yards and landscaping that are ugly; and it leads to crime, break-ins and drug-related incidents.

On the other hand, if a home is rented, the renter and homeowner are a check and balance that the home is maintained and predicated on the Delaware Landlord Tenant Code. Month-to-month leases are generally long term and require a 60-day notice to vacate from both parties. Short-term rentals like weekly summer rentals require the property owner to maintain a home during the rental period the same as if they were living there. Otherwise, who would want to rent it?

A town has other options; Bethany Beach and Ocean View are good examples. A town can require a rental permit, a town can charge a rental tax on the rental income, and a town can, in the permitting process, require that the owner sign that the home is up to code and will guarantee that it is maintained. (By the way, the small Town of Ocean View takes in over $75,000 per year in rental tax.) A town has ordinances for home yard maintenance, such as mowing and other requirements. And if a property owner or tenant has a problem, they can always call the police or go to court.

One option a town does not have is to eliminate or limit the right to rent, and if they do, I would suspect that town would end up in federal court, at a great expense to all the town residents. When a fly comes into your home, it is a nuisance; however, you take care of it with a flyswatter, not a machine gun.

Jerry Mueller
Ocean View

Wood another fan of Lawless for council

I wish to express my support for Mr. Bob Lawless for a position on the town council of the Town of Ocean View, Delaware. I have known Bob and have served with him on the 38th Representative District Committee, which includes the Town of Ocean View. Bob has been a relentless supporter of the local community as shown by his many hours of volunteer work. Bob not only manned the booths for the party at many events during the past summer, but he also serves one day a week at Sussex party headquarters in Georgetown.

Bob has the experience in the property management area that would serve the Town of Ocean View well. While many elected officials have the attitude that they are in charge and people exist for their benefit, Bob believes that the government exists to serve the people. I encourage all voters in the Town of Ocean View to support Bob this coming election on April 11.

Jerry W. Wood, Chairperson
7th Electoral District

Legatski offers suggestions for suits

Just a few weeks before newly-elected members of the Sussex County Council took office, the former council filed suit against the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to block it from establishing buffer zones around developments for the purpose of minimizing runoff that can harm the inland bays and other water bodies.

This was an inappropriate use of county funds in support of one category of constituents – real estate developers – over the interests of others who recognize and respect the importance of improving water quality.

If developers care to challenge DNREC, let them pay for their own lawsuit. Instead of taking on potentially huge legal expenses, the new County Council should withdraw the lawsuit and focus resources on the county programs and services for which it is responsible.

Richard Legatski