Letters to the Editor - July 11, 2008


4th of July Parade Committee says thanks
Editor:

I am writing this letter on behalf of all committee members to express a special thanks to all those who devoted their time to make this 24th parade a special event.

We would like to extend a special thanks to Bethany Beach officials, their staff and town employees, Bethany Beach Police Department, Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Co. and Ladies Auxiliary, the fire police, the Public Works Department and their crew.

Thank you also to St. Ann’s Church and the Christian Church Conference Center for the use of their facilities and grounds. A special thanks to those who sold T-shirts and those who purchased them and to Jennifer Carter, a very talented local artist, for her help in the design of the T-shirts and her donation of a painting for the Grand Prize winner. Without the support of all of these parade components for the months leading up to and after the parade, this event could not be a success.

In addition, thanks to the local businesses who provided trucks for our musical groups. Lord’s Landscaping provided two trucks; one from 84 Lumber, one from Miken Builders and one from G&E/Hocker’s. Also thanks to Mr. Natural Bottled Water, Food Lion, Giant and Shore Stop for their donation of water to the parade. Thanks to Shore Foods in Bethany for providing us with ice. Thanks to the Delaware Wave and the Coastal Point local newspapers for the coverage of this event.

The parade committee is an all-volunteer group. The Town of Bethany Beach supports us with a great deal of logistical help; however, all funds to cover the cost of this event were realized from donations by civic-minded friends in the community and the sale of T-shirts. Thank you for your generous support.

A special thanks to the scores of bicyclists who used the bike kits and their talents to decorate the bikes ridden in the parade and to the number of community groups and businesses who entered floats and, of course, to the walking organizations. In addition, thanks to those who participated in the 20th annual horseshoe-throwing contest sponsored by Mr. Joe Lank. It was a success.

From everyone connected with this annual fun and successful show of small town Americana, our sincere thanks.

Philip C. Rossi, Chairman
Bethany Beach 4th of July Parade Committee

Mitchell turns to state office for answers
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the Delaware Public Integrity Commission and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication:

I am writing for an advisory opinion regarding the resolution passed at our June 10, 2008, town meeting and whether that resolution is valid according to its support found in our Town Charter and the laws of Delaware, cited below.

This resolution provides for the forced resignation of a Citizens Auxiliary Patrol member from the Citizens Auxiliary Patrol (CAP) because he is also on the Ocean View Town Council. I am a council member on the Ocean View Town Council and the author of the resolution to wit:

“Resolution on Ocean View town employees or Council members serving on the Citizens Auxiliary Patrol (CAP).

Whereas many voters recently complained of the seeming conflict of interest of a council member holding a council position and also serving as a member of Citizens Auxiliary Patrol (CAP).

Whereas the Town Charter provides for a separation of powers and checks and balances between the administrative and the legislative branches, and concurrent membership on the town council and the Citizens Auxiliary Patrol (CAP) seemingly violates these principles,

Resolved that no current or future Ocean View town employee or council member shall be a member of the Citizens Auxiliary Patrol (CAP) of the Town of Ocean View.

Further resolved that Ocean View town employees or council members who are current members of said organization shall resign, not later than June 20, 2008.”

The resolution was passed by a 3-2 vote. Whereas the council member has not resigned, I am submitting this case for your review.

Does a violation of separation of powers occur?

This Ocean View council member also serves in the Ocean View Citizens Auxiliary Patrol (CAP) which unit resides in the Public Safety Department and reports to the Chief of Police.

Section 2.102 of the Town Charter provides that the Town Administrator is the “chief administrator of the town…” Section 2.301 of the Town Charter also provides that “all legislative power shall be vested in the council consisting of a mayor and four council members…”

The Public Safety Department, like all line departments, reports to the Town Manager and is considered to be part of the administration of the town. The councilman contributes a great deal of time to CAP, spending a good part of most days at the public safety building. Thus, the councilmember serves in a dual role in both the legislative and administrative branches and brings to the council his support of CAP and public safety activities. He also receives overt CAP vocal support at council meetings.

He in turn proceeds to mobilize opinion within CAP and the Public Safety Department for his legislative goals. Two years ago, CAP endorsed a council candidate. CAP volunteers, albeit not in uniform, were seen as active campaign operatives and candidates for election. To be clear, it is not alleged that this councilman directly took part in these campaign activities except to write letters to the editor endorsing CAP activities.

Admittedly, the town manager form of government does not have neat divisions as the state government. But there is an important distinction made as to what an individual councilman can authorize and what the town council can enact. This distinction may be lost when a case of the dual roles of a councilman and CAP member are merged and lines of authority are blurred.

Is the council member speaking as council member or a CAP member? Further, the dual membership can cause the council member to overreach, such as the following.

Assume a hypothetical fact pattern. A councilman who is in the Citizens Auxiliary Patrol believes that the Public Safety Department needs a generator for its building. The councilman has purchased the generator on his own authority without an approved purchase order or any approval from the town council, or without proper budget allocation for the expenditure. He has acted as investigator, fact finder, legislator and administrator.

Actually, it is not hypothetical; it took place two years ago. The town council censored him for his conduct.

Is there conflict of interest?

The council is the legislative body that funds the Citizens Auxiliary Patrol (CAP). Part of this funding includes the provision of uniforms to all CAP members. This council member votes on all appropriations of the town budget which includes funding for CAP. The council member receives various tangible and intangible benefits from CAP. Such tangible benefits can include a uniform, badge, locker in the Public Safety Department and a police sticker for his private car. Intangible benefits can include the satisfaction and enjoyment as a CAP member and the enjoyment of prestige among their fellow citizens and fellow CAP members.

These are proper enjoyments of CAP members who volunteer many hours to the community. However, the council members/CAP member who votes favorably on CAP issues does realize benefits that redound to his own person. The councilman has never recused himself on these issues.

He also votes on funding for the Public Safety Department. Because of his membership in CAP, this council member has been favorably disposed toward all police issues. Does not his interest in CAP spill over to the larger issues of Public Safety? This councilmember has supported over the years more funding for Public Safety, has supported a Public Safety Building over two million dollars and more recently, supports a take home car policy out of proportion to our town budget.

Over the years, his positions on expanding public safety budgets and his opposition to any cuts such as the proposed “take home car” policy seemed to be overwrought. An example of an overwrought behavior in the June 10 council meeting was that he turned in his plaque commemorating his effort to establish the Public Safety Building when the council approved the move of some town offices to the Public Safety Building.

Is this behavior serving the public interest, or a narrow interest that is preserving the Public Safety Building? Any of these facts alone would provide little evidence of personal interest, but taken together reveal a pattern of conflict, or, at least, impaired judgment of what the public interest is.

State law (Title 29) provides “that personal or private interest in a measure or bill is an interest which tends to impair a legislator’s independence of judgment in the performance of his or her legislative duties with respect to the measure or bill.”

It may be that there are legitimate public policy interests in an ever expanding public safety budget, but the support for ever increasing budgets should be borne by those who have no connection to the Public Safety Department. The larger point is that this is not a vote in the public interest pursuant to Title 29.

I will submit this copy also to the Attorney General as the “separation of powers” issue may not be applicable to the present case.

Thank you for your consideration.

Perry J. Mitchell
Ocean View Town Council

Resident wants to be sure chief stays in town
Editor:

My husband and I are not members of the Citizens Auxiliary Patrol. We were there at the last workshop meeting of the Town Council. It was stated that the CAP members were on one side and other citizens were on the other side. I have no idea what side of the room we sat on, and we certainly didn’t notice any division of the audience.

My impression of the meeting was that it was very well run and the citizens who spoke about their concerns were civil. There seemed to be a balance of speakers, both for and against some of the policies the Council wants to implement. The mayor did an excellent job of presenting his feelings on the past meeting, concerning the resolutions and the right of the voters to express their opinions.

However, I can understand the CAP volunteers being concerned about the present Council hurrying to pass new resolutions to limit the effectiveness of the CAP unit and the morale of our police department.

My concern is that we are going to lose our wonderful police department that has taken Chief McLaughlin years to build up to be an effective 24/7 presence in our community. We lived here when we had two police officers in the town, and some waited over an hour for the state police to come when 911 was called.

On a personal note, I called the police two times in April to come to my home.

One time I had accidentally locked two of my dogs in the car as I was preparing to take a sick puppy to the vet. The officer who responded was calm and immediately made me feel better. He worked quickly and was able to save my dogs from the hot car.

On the second call, we had a sick raccoon in our yard. It was on a Saturday, and I wasn’t able to reach anyone at Animal Control. Again, another officer came within five minutes and handled the situation in a businesslike manner and put the animal down.

I am thankful that our police are available to us night and day and on weekends. No one knows when we might need them! Please support our chief and our police department.

Bette Meredith
Ocean View

Hocker thanked for help with Alzheimer’s
Editor:

I have been a strong advocate for dementia training in the State of Delaware since my mother was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease several years ago. Aware of and wanting to promote the CARES program, a comprehensive dementia care training approved by the National Alzheimer’s Association, free for the asking and carrying continuing educational credits for all professionals completing the training, I turned to Rep. Gerald Hocker for ideas.

Understanding the impact that this training could have on all Delaware families faced with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, Mr. Hocker wanted to help. He directed me to Rep. Pam Maier, Health Committee. Together, they sponsored House Resolution No. 74, urging the awareness of the various effects and impact of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias on the residents of the State of Delaware and urging an awareness of the CARES dementia training program.

This resolution was introduced into the General Assembly and passed on June 30, 2008. Anyone who has been touched by this dreaded disease will fully understand the importance of this resolution as a wonderful first step in promoting dementia-specific training for all Delaware professionals.

With everything going on in the 144th General Assembly, Rep. Hocker took the time to consider the well-being of some of Delaware’s most vulnerable citizens, those suffering with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia and their families.

While thinking about the events of the past week and the assistance I received from Rep. Gerald Hocker, I am reminded of a quote by Donald A. Adams, past president of the Rotary Club, “To give good service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.”

On behalf of everyone touched by this dreaded disease, I thank you.

Cynthia Tunney
Frankford

Reader says coastal area needs protection
Editor:

I am concerned that the trend in construction in the Bethany area is to clear-cut lots during construction of new homes and businesses. Some new homes in South Bethany have removed all native trees and shrubs, and in their place pour concrete and build decks.

This is unfortunate, in my view. Part of the attraction to our beach resort is the trees and plantings, which provide shade, privacy and wind breaks, and help with air quality. These plants also help reduce erosion and runoff into our canals and bays. Clear-cutting not only robs South Bethany and other seaside resorts of these desirable features, but the concrete mass also creates a heat sink to help raise ambient temperatures.

Many of our seasonal renters have commented how much they like the native pines we have at our South Bethany home. The cooling shade and privacy from these trees are much appreciated, as are the whispering breezes as wind passes through these pines. Several renters have left us comments in our guest book that the Bethany area is so much prettier and desirable than some beach towns in New Jersey, which have clear-cut all trees and shrubs.

I hope that our local government can encourage or require homeowners and builders to leave native foliage, as well as planting new trees and shrubbery around structures under construction. In Maryland, we have regulations protecting trees within 1,000 feet of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. While I generally oppose new government regulation, it seems to me that our coastal resort needs additional protection from clear-cutting and installation of excessive impervious surfaces.

Rick Casali
South Bethany

Markell leaves a good impression in Dagsboro
Editor:

We don’t seem to get candidates running for governor to stop in Downtown Dagsboro very often — let alone have the time to visit with them.

Since Jack Markell came to visit Dagsboro — I took the time out of my schedule to stop by. We met at the diner and then walked across the street to the fruit stand. There, Jack immediately introduced himself to the owners and began a lengthy conversation in Spanish. I then wondered to myself, “Is there anything that Jack can not do?”

With rising gas and other energy prices, as well as the cost of food these days, I am really concerned. The state needs to do more to bring good, solid, high-paying jobs to Delaware.

I like his plan to link our goals to grow the economy with our community and environmental goals. They should work together, and it will be easier to bring new companies to Delaware. This will also make it better for those who grew up and still live here.

I think his idea about making Delaware more attractive to entrepreneurs in right on. New businesses in Delaware, and in Dagsboro in particular, will go a long way to growing our town and diversifying our work force that has depended too long on low-paying construction jobs, and chicken farming — industries that won’t be around forever.

Thank you, Jack Markell, for taking the time to stop by Dagsboro. After listening to your vision for Delaware, I am excited about the prospect of you as our governor. I am ready for change and will vote for Jack Markell on Sept. 9.

Lee I. Dogoloff
Dagsboro

July 4 parade too hot to handle for resident
Editor:

Bethany’s July 4 parade is always good patriotic fun, however it could be improved by starting earlier in the day. It now starts at noon, so the participants and audience are exposed to the hottest part of the day, after which they may want to do nothing but go home and cool off.

If it started earlier — say 9:30 or 10 a.m. — then everyone could enjoy it during the cooler morning hours, after which they might stay downtown and visit local restaurants and shops.

This could help reduce the risk of heat sickness, particularly for seniors and very young people, while also giving a boost to the town’s economy.

Richard Legatski
Dagsboro

Marine Corps League thankful for help
Editor:

We of the First State Detachment, Marine Corps League, had an entry and participated for the first time in this year’s Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade.

We salute those responsible for organizing, working on this project and including us as a unit. The marshals did an outstanding job. Everyone we came in contact with was polite, helpful and friendly.

Our sincere thank you at the local firehouse for the lunch provided us after the march. To all those who made this special holiday event a success, you are deserving of recognition for a job well done. Thank you, and “Semper Fidelis.”

Jack Rine, Commandant
1st State Detachment,
Marine Corps League

Mulligan encourages residents to be involved
Editor:

I write to encourage citizens of the town of Bethany Beach to explore serving on Town Council, especially the many citizens who already serve the town and the wider community by service on town committees, civic groups and associations or who do so in other areas.

There are benefits and challenges to serving on a small-town elected body.

The main benefit is personally participating in this democracy, on a scale small enough to grasp. Service on the elected body provides an ability to impact both tradition and change in a well-loved town. It provides the opportunity to meet many fine people in the town and in other parts of the state, both in and out of government.

Regarding the challenges, there is considerable support in place to make it easier to handle such areas as understanding issues, balancing perspectives and organizing the time commitment.

Understanding the range of issues is made easier by the preparation of briefing material by the sponsoring council member, the capable town staff, and occasionally consulting engineers and/or the town attorney. It is also made easier by input from citizens, both the 45 individual citizens now serving on town committees, and those who read the publicly available briefing material.

Balancing differing perspectives on issues, as part of a group of seven individuals, is made easier as the council has a tradition and practice of being able to discuss in a civil manner while maintaining basic respect among members. Years ago, the council establishes its own written rules in writing of how members work with each other and the public; these rules and values are reviewed and modified by the full council at the start of each new session.

Committing time is made easier by practices old and new. Meetings are scheduled weeks in advance. There is a calendar being developed to list all required council and manager action during the year. There is a planned transition workshop for the next council to provide an overview of pending issues, programs or projects. There is support available from a stable, experienced and committed town staff and from citizens who currently or formerly serve on council or on committees.

For more information on the benefits and drawbacks, and perhaps the pleasures and pains of serving, you can contact people who currently or formerly serve on council. I did so two years ago and found each such person invariably gracious and open when I did. You could obtain names by calling the town clerk on (302) 537-3771 or at admin@townofbethanybeach.com. Also, I am happy to talk with anyone, and my phone is (240) 687-3841 or tmulligan@comcast.net.

To file as a candidate for the election, you need to send a form to the town office by Tuesday, July 22, to place your name on the ballot. It takes 3 minutes. The form is available from the town or at the Web site, www.townofbethanybeach.com. (Go to government-elections.) In layman’s language, all registered owners of property within the town for over one year are eligible to serve, although specific criteria are on the Web site and form.

I encourage you to explore serving and consider filing.

Tracy Mulligan, Councilman
Town of Bethany Beach

Rehoboth resident puts support behind Markell
Editor:

In this election year, we are faced with the choice of listening to the same old campaign rhetoric or supporting a man who has the vision to lead Delaware into the future. That man is State Treasurer Jack Markell.

Markell has published his “Blueprint for a Better Delaware,” a book which describes his vision of where our state can be. After reading this book, I’m convinced that I have made the right choice in supporting him for governor.

Jack is a bold thinker, not afraid to support those things that he believes in. He was the first statewide elected official to come out in support of the Bluewater wind project. He has a sound plan for ensuring that every Delawarean has health coverage. His ideas for job creation, education, and equal rights show that he is a one-of-a kind, bold leader that we need in a governor.

Read the book and you’ll agree that Jack Markell is the man we need to lead our state into the future.

Meyer J. Persow
Rehoboth Beach

Ocean View resident supports the council
Editor:

I attended a work session meeting [in Ocean View] on June 25. When I walked into the town hall, I felt like I was going into a church for a wedding and I didn’t know whether to sit on the bride’s side or the grooms, as I am friends with both. There were all CAP (Citizens Auxiliary Police) members on one side and a few people on the other side. I knew right away how this meeting was going to be. Just like all the town meetings in the last couple of years.

We, the people, all the people, voted for change. We elected the new members of the council for change. Now we have to let them do their job and not be influenced by this small minority group that has grown beyond their intent. They are here and volunteer to protect and help the community. They have grown into a social and political club that groups together, and their only agenda is to have things the old way and let the town be run by one man and one group with a different agenda.

After campaigning against these changes and losing in the election, their only new agenda is to not having the CAP or chief report to the town manager. Well, we voted for them not to report only to one council member. This is why we the people want town council members to be removed from one or the other because of a conflict of interest.

This minority group of people needs to go back and do the job they volunteered for. They group together and complain, write letters to the papers, but never do they announce that they are members of the CAP. I guess they don’t want the other 1,000 people in town (the silent group) that elected our new council to know who they really are and what they represent.

I really do commend the few CAP members that do the job they volunteered for, but our new council needs to realize why they were voted in and make these changes, and not let this small group of good old boys control them.

I have been a property owner in Ocean View since 1992. We didn’t have crime then, other than the few cases of drugs, etc, in a year’s time, and now that we have a 20- to 30- members CAP and very large police presence, and it’s really not any different as far as crime goes.

So maybe some of the CAP members that are doing all the preaching should go back and do some research, and realize that it’s not only them that matters. We have a great town and we need to let it grow, as it surely will, other than a very large police and CAP and no growth in any other areas.

One last comment: the take home policy is a no-brainier; just follow the news and other towns across the nation.

Ted Scoleri
Ocean View