Letters: December 25, 2005

TTF shortfall is a trust misplaced

Two legislative members of the state’s Joint Bond Bill Committee apparently felt the need to offer some “insight” regarding the $211 million shortfall in the state’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) to readers of newspapers around the state.

What they call “insight”, however, could easily be viewed as misrepresentation by those who don’t share their agenda.

In an obvious attempt to shift responsibility from themselves for what has taken place to DelDOT, Reps. Bill Oberle and Roger Roy made several statements that tend to insult the reader’s intelligence and damage their own credibility.

For example, they state, “Legislators, including ourselves were not aware we were going to need to make some changes to TTF until 2005 when Secretary Hayward indicated there was a shortfall.” They went on say, “Until early this past spring the state’s transportation plan appeared to be sound.”

Yet Sen. Robert Venables had earlier indicated large sums of monies had been taken out of TTF on a continuing basis since 1990 without being replaced. He went on to say, “It’s not as if this financial shortfall should come as any sudden surprise to our legislators. In addition, Ann Canby, the previous Secretary of Transportation, warned the legislators of the growing danger when she left (2000) but no one apparently paid attention.”

Even during the 2005 legislative session our legislative leaders refused to address this obvious crisis. Sen. Thurman Adams, for example, was quoted at the end of that session as saying, “We addressed everything we needed to address, maybe not everything everybody wanted to address but everything that needed to address.” Hey, Senator, how could you have overlooked something this critical?

Reps. Oberle and Roy go on to say, “It has been a long-standing practice to finance Delaware road projects with a 50-50 mix of cash and borrowed money (bonds). This sound and prudent device is designed to insure that the state does not run up a burdensome debt.”

What’s going on here? In light of what we now know this seems to be an inappropriate argument based on meaningless data. After all this long-standing practice did not prevent the state from running up a burdensome $211 million TTF shortfall that is now causing our legislators and the Minner administration to frantically look elsewhere – even to the point of considering leasing or selling state roads in order to raise the needed money.

As the truth continues to come out, it becomes obvious this was not an unknown crisis but rather one that this administration and our legislative leaders were unwilling to face up to until their financial irresponsibility was about to explode in their collective faces.

Apparently one of the ways this administration “balanced” past operating budgets” was to take normal operating budget items such as DelDOT and DMV payroll monies out of the TTF.

Of course, this now makes the governor’s past “balanced budget” claims more than a little suspect. Obviously our legislative leaders had to go along with the deception so as to make the governor’s claims credible. With the exception of Sens. Bonini, Copeland and Simpson, the rest of our legislators went along with it as well.

It is perhaps ironic and a little more than fitting that Roy and Oberle are the ones trying to “spin” the rest of us into believing that the $211 million missing from the TTF “does not constitute a crisis.”

That’s because Rep. Roy is also co-chairman of the legislative Bond Bill Committee and the Bond Bill helps pay for DelDot’s construction budget. Therefore, you would certainly think a person in his position would have been well aware of the TTF shortages long before the spring of 2005. You would also have thought the same of Rep. Oberle, since he too was a member of the Joint Bond Bill committee.

Furthermore, Roy’s priorities and objectivity are in serious doubt as it turns out this is the same Roger Roy who is the executive director of a non-profit company called Transportation Management Associates. This is a company that has twice won lucrative state contracts from Delaware Transit Corporation, a Department of Transportation (DOT) subsidiary.

That contract is now worth $387,000 and has paid more than $147,000 of Roy’s company salary, currently $99,400 plus benefits over the last six years. This in spite of the fact Roy had publicly said he would not receive salary payments from the contracts.

In addition Rep. Roy had been instrumental in arraigning discounted ski trips to Maine’s Sugarloaf Resort for groups of people, at least one of which who had gone on the trip several times and who sat on the Delaware Transit‘s contract-selection committee.

In ’99 and ’03 she gave Roy’s company near perfect scores to help it win the contract over competitors. Asked if that individual should have ruled on his company’s proposal Roy said, “That’s something she had to decide, whether she had a conflict or not.” Another former Transit employee had also given Roy’s company a perfect score in ’99 after she had a private meeting with Roy at his company’s expense.

My point is that both Reps. Oberle and Roy stretch their credibility to the breaking point when they claim not to have been aware of the need to make some changes to the TTF until the spring of 2005. In addition, as co-chairman of a committee that helps determine the financing for DelDOT, Rep. Roy showed extremely poor judgment in how he allowed his own personal company to interact with a department dependent on his decisions for its financial well-being.

Furthermore, one has to believe a legislator of his experience would have been well aware of what he was doing when he offered a state employee that could determine if his company got a state contract or not, something that could be perceived as a special inducement. In truth, one has to wonder if Rep. Roy really is the best qualified legislator to be chairman of such an important committee.

Frankly I find assurances coming from these particular gentlemen “that there is no crisis, nor need for panic or rash decisions”… not to be very reassuring.

(Information pertaining to Rep. Roger Roy was extracted from Chris Barrish’s Nov. 2, 2005, Delaware News Journal article titled, “Group wants integrity probe of Del. Official.”)

Allen Ide

Local police chief offers holiday thought

As Christmas approaches, and the year comes to an end, I wish special blessings to special friends.

To the men and woman out protecting our streets, thank you very much for walking the beat.

If space is available, I respectfully request that you print the following poem in honor of our local police officers, active and retired.

Chief Kenneth McLaughlin
Ocean View Police Department

A Police Officer’s Christmas Poem
(Author Unknown)
’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the streets,

Not a person was stirring, ’cept an officer on the beat.

As he quietly patrolled the town with care,

Children and parents slept peacefully there.

The officer was clad in his blues and his vest,

Gun on his hip, always looking his best.

He’d just pulled aside for a quick bite to eat,

When all of a sudden, out on the street,

A bright light appeared from out of nowhere,

He shielded his eyes from the brilliant glare.

’Twas an angel of the Lord at the car’s rear,

He smiled and spoke, “Dear Officer, don’t fear.

I’ve been sent by God with a message for you,

Who faithfully serve while wearing the blue.

He wants you to know that He loves you all,

He’s pleased with the way you’ve answered His call.

To protect and serve others, so selfless you’ve been,

Your bravery and kindness have no end.

Even in tragedy, when nights become long,

You’ve helped countless strangers by just being strong.

God sees your heart, the joy and the pain,

He knows the profession can often bring strain.

So he sent me down here to let you know,

That as you patrol, you are never alone.
s you protect others, your Father protects you,

His angels go with you, His Spirit does, too.

No bullet’s to fast, no bad guy too strong,

I’m sent to make sure that your life will be long.

So fear not the night, and fear not the day,

fear not the threats that might come your way.

I’m sent to accompany you on the beat,

There’s not one moment you’re alone on the street.”

That officer sat stunned by the love of His God,

He bowed his head, with a tear gave a nod.

As the officer said thank you, the angel took flight,

“God’s got your back, carry on, and goodnight.”

Church is a historic part of Ocean View

I was so sorry that the Ocean View Planning and Zoning Commission decided so quickly to approve the demolition of the Victorian Church at West and Atlantic avenues.

I hope the University of Delaware will have time to document and its history before it is removed from the town.

The university is preparing a nomination for Ocean View to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places on a prime example of a late 19th century American oceanside community.

The removal of this historic portion of the Church of Christ will be one less element to tell the story of Ocean View and the people who created, nurtured and loved it.

Jean Athan
Ocean View

Local officer thanks police for donation
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Ocean View Police Chief Kenneth McLaughlin, Ocean View police officers and Sally Byrne, and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

Once again you proved your true friendship, and that I can always count on you. I can not thank you enough for your generous contribution.

We all sometimes find ourselves in tough situations in which the hardest punches come from people we trusted the most. My family and I are overwhelmed with your gesture.

We want to contribute this money to the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 16, so all of the police officers and their families can benefit from it.

Your gift to me means more than any gift that I receive this Christmas. I am truly touched and grateful to have you on my side.

Cpl. Joanna Robertson
Bethany Beach Police Department