There has been a lot of talk recently about the “Fenwick Four,” and the group’s collective effort to win seats on the Fenwick Island Town Council following the scheduled Aug. 1 election. Some of that talk has been good, while some of it has been not-so-good.
But there’s definitely been talk.
Voter turnout numbers are low across this country, on elections local and national, but impassioned conversations leading up to election day are a good sign that turnout should be significant. And that is always a good thing.
So, what has generated all the talk about this quartet of candidates? Part of it is the old “should non-residents be allowed to run for council” argument, which is fine and dandy, but they are currently allowed to in Fenwick, so this should be a non-issue. If the people of the Town don’t want that, then get a charter change before the next election.
Another concern is that the foursome is running on a singular issue, i.e. height restrictions in Fenwick, and that the residents deserve more well-rounded candidates. That’s a valid argument, for sure, but one that’s up for the voters to decide.
We’ve seen blocks of candidates run for office before in this community, but rarely as transparent as this group is. We see that openness as a positive, in that voters can be well-informed. But we also see the obvious negatives. Let the voters decide.
As journalists, we’re not supposed to root for things.
The old saying amongst sports reporters has always been, “There’s no cheering in the press box.” For one thing, you just don’t look cool around your peers if you’re holding up a big foam finger and celebrating a good deed by the home team. For another, our fundamental mission is to provide our readers information in a clean, fair manner that carries neither bias nor prejudice.
This is obviously not only contained to the field of sports reporting, as reporters are constantly being reminded, both by themselves and their editors, to straddle the line of impartiality while covering politics or police beats. There are opinion pages in newspapers (such as this very page!), and that’s where opinions should remain.
However, behind the coffee stains, tired eyes and tape recorders, we are human beings at our cores, right?
So, yes, we obviously have things or people we prefer over others. We like when Indian River High School wins games, or Lower Sussex Little League does well, or when our friends or neighbors win elections to public office. That’s just human nature, and something that’s nearly impossible to completely deflect. But it is imperative that we remain neutral in the information we provide to you, and that is a never-ending quest.
That being said...
I have never in my life rooted for someone to remain relevant in an election than I am right now for Donald Trump. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are very few opponents he could have that would actually make me cast a ballot for him. But, as a columnist and avid political observer who enjoys a good metaphorical trainwreck as much as anybody, the longer Trump remains a “thing” in this election, the more material I have at my disposal.
The man can flat-out move the needle. Capitalizing on a political climate that is more divisive and full of rancor than at any time I can remember, Trump is equal parts Don King and Gilbert Gottfried. Like King, he can promote himself or what he’s doing to levels that have the other GOP candidates pulling out their hair, and, like Gottfried, well, he’s annoying.
When South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called Trump a “jackass” recently, Trump countered by sharing Graham’s cell phone number to a cadre of reporters and announcing that Graham had begged Trump to help him get more exposure on Fox News. To his credit, Graham had a pretty good response on Twitter: “Probably getting a new phone. iPhone or Android?”
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, also a GOP candidate, could not escape Trump’s crosshairs, either. Perry has been seen sporting eyeglasses this election cycle, to which Trump offered this little nugget: “He put on glasses so people think he’s smart. People can see through the glasses.”
And while those have been pretty funny takes (at least to my warped sense of humor), Trump has also touched some raw nerves in his party on other comments, particularly when he disparaged U.S. Sen. John McCain’s war record, a man who served as a prisoner of war for six years and rejected an offer to be freed early because his men didn’t receive the same consideration.
Yeah, that one did not make me smile, particularly since Trump enjoyed deferments to keep from serving his country during Vietnam.
Of course, many of the GOP candidates also had to feel bile rise in their throats when Trump went after Mexicans who enter the nation illegally, suggesting that they are rapists and murderers, and basically stating that Mexican officials have purposely sent their worst citizens to the United States. This came shortly before the Washington Post wrote a story about all the illegal immigrants working on Trump’s hotel project in Washington, D.C.
The GOP has had a hard time getting the Latino vote over recent years, and have been working on better explaining their message to that demographic, and they had to feel absolutely torpedoed by Trump’s comments.
But he doesn’t backtrack on any of these shots, and he certainly doesn’t apologize, and that makes him must-watch entertainment.
For perspective, the first presidential election I was eligible to vote in was George H.W. Bush against Michael Dukakis. I was always a fan of the elder Bush and was very proud to serve under him while I was a member of the United States Marine Corps. In fact, I remember my father basically having to talk me out of depression when he lost his next election to Bill Clinton.
But my one silver lining out of that race was one H. Ross Perot — the eccentric billionaire who liked dropping verbal bombs on his opponents and filling up my column with every tantalizing sentence. The debates were priceless, and you could see everyone in the auditorium lean up in their seats a little more every time Perot began to speak.
So, yeah, I love Trump running in this election, even if I don’t love Trump, myself. And I’m guessing that’s part of what is making him fare so well in recent polls. Some consider him offering refreshing “straight talk” as opposed to the rhetoric we are used to being bombarded with, and that gets attention.
I hope it lasts, but not all the way to the White House.
Letters to the Editor
Flags don’t kill people; people kill people
One person committed a crime with a confederate flag in the background and all h___ breaks loose. So the PC Police come out in full force.
I have news for them. Digging up the graves of a Confederate general and his wife won’t stop someone from committing a crime. Taking “The Dukes of Hazards” reruns off the air because of a stupid car won’t stop the violence in this country. Taking away all “Confederate” symbols from our national parks, like Gettysburg or Andersonville, will not stop someone from committing a crime.
That man who shot those people at that church is a criminal. The flag had nothing to do with it. Slowly, our history is being eroded. I feel sorry for our children who will never know the true history of our nation.
Reader calls for action in ‘culture war’
Recent decisions by the Supreme Court which undermine traditional family values have left many Christians and other concerned Americans upset and demoralized. While the federal government and Supreme Court are a problem, the role major global corporations play should not be underestimated.
Reuters recently reported that “Big business was on the winning side in the U.S. Supreme Court’s two major cases of the year, with hundreds of employers pushing hard in favor of gay marriage…”
This is not a new development. In a survey conducted by Fortune magazine 20 years ago, 59 percent of CEOs said, “A woman should be able to have an abortion if she wants one, no matter the reason.” The same survey reported that 100 U.S. corporations, including Apple, Levi Strauss, Microsoft and Time Warner, were actively supporting the gay agenda.
This long-term corporate opposition to traditional values is producing a frightening harvest. Those of us who are concerned about our nation’s moral degeneration need to take the fight to the corporation’s own back yard by impacting their market share and stock values.
The good news is that protests and boycotts are as American as apple pie and have been used by those on the “progressive” side for years. We need to wake up and get involved.
As noted, many large corporations actively support the LGBT lifestyle and promote entertainment on television, film and digital games which denigrates the traditional American family. Since most of us either pay into or live off retirement plans that buy stocks or mutual funds, we have the power of the purse. Money talks in America!
An organization that invests only in companies which support Catholic values is Ava Maria Mutual Funds. A protestant Christian group, the Timothy Plan, also offers mutual funds which support traditional values. In addition, this group will analyze individual stock holdings to advise if the companies are supporting abortion, pornography, alternate lifestyles and objectionable entertainment.
When the LGBT lobby is unhappy with events, they don’t hesitate to threaten boycotts and provide adverse publicity. This is their right under our Constitution, but those of us who oppose their agenda have the same right and need to exercise it.
There’s a culture war going on and it can’t be fought simply at the ballot box. The zeitgeist of the age determines what happens at the ballot box. Change requires stopping the insidious promotion of immorality by our media which is being funded with global corporate money.
Legion benefit a hit, thanks to many
The American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 24, would like to thank all those involved in the successful benefit held on June 28 for an American Legion son, Mark McHugh, who suddenly became seriously ill. The benefit was held at the American Legion Post 24 in Dagsboro.
The support received from friends, family, merchants, restaurants, our Legionnaires, riders, sons and auxiliary members was overwhelming! Those involved selflessly donated not only their time, but also prepared food for the buffet, gave gift cards, auction items and cash donations.
A special thank-you to D.J. Mike Smith, A-Z Entertainment, and Dennis and Diane Daniels, Double D Auctioneers.
Words cannot adequately express enough gratitude for the thoughtfulness and generosity shown by all to the McHugh Family. It is almost unbelievable how the community steps right up to help when a crisis occurs. What a wonderful area we live in!
Thank you for supporting the American Legion and Auxiliary.
American Legion Ladies’ Auxiliary, Unit 24
Canal trail gets rave review from reader
Even though our new Assawoman Canal Trail has not been officially dedicated and opened yet, we and many other residents and visitors to the area have already had the wonderful experience of running, biking, walking, or all of the above, on its first segment.
The just-completed section from its northern end by the Ocean View marina to its present southern terminal by Route 26 definitely provides a venue where we can supply those “qualifications” Emerson suggested for a good walk: “endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much!” However, this is only Phase I of the project.
We would like to encourage all its users and potential users to contact our elected officials (County Council District 4 Councilman George Cole, sussexcountyde.gov, https://www.sussexcountyde.gov/contact-us?id=25, (302) 542-4564; State Delegate for District 38, Ronald E. Gray, Ronald.Gray@state.de.us, (302) 744-4171; State Senator for District 20 Gerald W. Hocker, Gerald.Hocker@state.de.us) and thank them for their support in getting it built, and at the same time ask them to provide whatever assistance may be necessary to bring the project to its completion.
After reviewing DNREC’s Fiscal 2016 (dnrec.delaware.gov) we noticed no moneys were allocated toward the building of Phase II. We need to have that situation corrected for Fiscal 2017!
As Columbia, Md., transplants, both my wife and I are well aware of how much the quality of life and property values are enhanced by the proximity of relaxing bucolic running/walking/biking paths. This has been a great addition to our little corner of paradise!
Pepe and Doris Sandoval
Route 54 traffic is a safety concern
On Friday, July 3, I was travelling from Selbyville to my house in Keenwick on the Bay at approximately 1:30 p.m. When I came around the sharp curve on Route 54 at Williamsville, the traffic came to a complete stop. It took me 45 minutes to travel less than a mile to the intersection of Route 20 and Route 54. Traffic continued “stop and go” another three miles to Fenwick Island.
Having lived in the area for more than 55 years, this is the worst I have seen the traffic. Year after year, it gets worse! Sussex County continues to allow homes, townhouses and condos to be built with no concern for the traffic that comes with such expansive development. These people are truly destroying what was a nice place to live and others to vacation.
The county continues to approve more homes in Bayside development: hundreds of more homes than what was first approved. Another large development has just started behind Mallard Lakes. Where do these officials think all these people are going to go when wanting to go to the beach?
I think they have forgotten that Route 54 is supposed to be an evacuation route. Last summer, when there was an accident on the crossway bridge, it completely shut down traffic both ways for hours. This happened four times that I know of last summer. Has anybody questioned the future plans of this area which is becoming a disaster waiting to happen?
Fenwick voter chooses to study individuals
At the homeowners meeting on July 11, the six candidates for the four openings in the Aug. 1 election were introduced and spoke. All the candidates, as individuals, seem to be very qualified, and it was great to see the level of interest.
Three of the candidates — Gene Lanagan, Richard Mais and Roy Williams — are incumbent members of the council, and Lisa Benn, Ann Christ and Julie Lee are running for the first time.
Councilmen Lanagan and Mais have significant council and committee experience. They spoke of the fine work the council has done and their concern as individuals over a number of issues that they think should be addressed.
The other four candidates — Williams, Benn, Lee and Christ — on the other hand, have named themselves the “Fenwick Four” and have chosen to run as a block, with T-shirts, campaign handouts and, as you might expect, identical positions of what that group sees as the key issues. My concerns about their approach are significant.
(1) If elected as a voting bloc, the Fenwick Four will be a majority of the council and have the power to implement those changes they choose to push through and vote down any issues raised by the rest of the council.
Based on their comments, the group represents a limited constituency with a very specific agenda. I am all for individuals with differing opinions. One of the values of having a diverse council membership is that the discussions of members with differing opinions and perspectives will result in decisions that represent the majority of the town and not just that of a select few. A voting bloc will not!
(2) The members of the “Fenwick Four” that spoke all listed the main issues facing the town as maintaining the current roof height, which they linked to not changing the town ambiance, and a lack of “transparency” regarding council activity/decisions.
They, by the way, completely disregarded the excellent manner in which the current council leadership has maintained town services during the Sandy flood and economic downturn without increasing tax rates or the significant challenge that faces the council to continue to do that going forward.
(3) As for roof height, all of the Fenwick Four have homes safely on Bunting Avenue, where the street level from which roof heights are currently measured is higher above sea level than the remaining 70 percent of the town on the bay side.
Certainly, maximum roof height will have to be eventually discussed, but the real issue is chronic flooding on the bay side, where the council (the Fenwick Four?) will have to do significant work and make major decisions in the coming years to address rising water levels.
(4) Although “transparency” was listed as a major issue, the council meetings are open, the minutes are published and the council has tried hard to increase the membership and attendance at the many monthly subcommittee meeting.
One of the Fenwick Four is on the council but, although the other three complained mightily, none attend council meetings nor have they attended or volunteered to join any of the council sub-committees where most of the discussion on issues takes place.
(5) Three of the “Fenwick Four” are part-time residents, and although they commit to spend the time necessary, they will still only be in town to represent our needs part of the year. The members of the council not only attend council meeting but are members of multiple very important council subcommittees that meet though out the year.
Since these three have not been involved in the past, I doubt if they have any idea of the time commitment required as council members to keep the town running year-round.
In my opinion, the Fenwick Four are very dangerous as a voting group. If the group is elected, they will bring a very limited agenda, with very limited perspective, represent a very limited constituency, but have the voting power to dominate the council direction for years.
I will vote for the four individuals that I think will best address the broad spectrum of issues facing our Town, and I hope you do the same. I will not vote for a voting bloc, and I hope you don’t either.