Where is Pete Schwartzkopf Hiding?

Delawareans want action and the only one who can provide it is Delaware Speaker of the House Peter Schwartzkopf. The issue at hand: the impeachment of Delaware Auditor of Accounts Kathy McGuiness.

Last Friday, McGuiness was given three guilty verdicts in the Delaware trial of the year. Things like conflict of interest and all that fun jazz. Without going the whole legal route other blogs have done it comes down to this: the only option to get rid of McGuiness is impeachment through the Delaware General Assembly. Which has to begin with Speaker Pete.

The problem is Pete is best friends with Kathy McGuiness. He has a VERY personal (and this is the ironic part) conflict of interest here. Nothing romantic or tawdry but a very deep friendship. I get it. It’s Delaware. But when your bestie is thrice guiltied the right thing to do is act.

This is my suggestion, and I even commented on Pete’s Facebook page with it, he needs to recuse himself from this messy affair. His pal Val Longhurst publicly said McGuiness needs to resign. She should lead the impeachment process and Pete can sit on the sidelines. It’s just the right thing to do Pete. I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye on things but you MUST do something. If you can’t see that your vision is extremely cloudy when it comes to Kathy I would highly recommend standing in front of a mirror and do some massive reflecting.

In the meantime, Kathy is going to appeal with her superstar attorney and has publicly stated she won’t resign. I don’t think it is in her to quit. It kind of reminds me of that scene in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King where Denethor is pretending nothing is wrong. His city is about to be sacked and destroyed. The legions of evil are at his door. He sends his son to the front lines to seemingly be killed. He is just that delusional. His power is gone but he refuses to give up. Once he does realize the end is here he throws himself into a fire, catches on fire, and throws himself off a ledge to fall hundreds of feet to his death. I’m not saying that’s what Kathy McG should do. I’m just speaking of the mentality here.

McG keeps plugging along with her “reports” on Facebook and Instagram. Her cheerleaders basically come on and say “Just what Delaware needs” or “You’re the best Kathy”. It’s a big dog and pony show with snake oil for sale.

I also wanted to take the time to thank the following for their excellent reporting of the McG trial: Delaware Liberal, Blue Delaware, WDEL, Bay to Bay News and the News Journal.

Meanwhile, In Amenia, NY… Jumping Into Local Politics

So the big news in my area is an upcoming Town Hall meeting on November 4th. Since the State of New York passed several marijuana laws, towns in the state have a choice to “opt-in” to having retail marijuana stores or dispensaries. The Town Board of Amenia, New York doesn’t seem to want this and voted against it on October 7th. This is causing a bit of a ruckus in this small town in Dutchess County, NY.

The TriCorner News wrote about the meeting a week later. Local supporters of the cannabis outlets want citizens to show up to the next Town Hall meeting on November 4th to urge the Board to reverse their decision.

During public comment, Town Clerk Dawn Marie Klingner read aloud a comment submitted via email by resident Daniel Donnelly, who opposed the law and encouraged the board to reconsider permitting selling marijuana in town, as well as legalizing smoking lounges.

Though he said he does not personally consume cannabis, Donnelly told board members without realizing it, they’re already surrounded by people who do. This includes, he stated, among others, educators, artists, farmers, athletes, clergy, attorneys and even law enforcement.

To me it’s the classic tale of the old vs. the new. The old-timers don’t want anything to change and want everything to stay the same. But they will be the first to complain when there isn’t enough money. Sometimes change results in getting more money. And with the way New Yorkers smoke weed there is a ton of money to be seen here. A ton.

I plan on attending the meeting on November 4th and giving my full support behind reversing the Board’s opt-out decision. I may be a newbie around here but that doesn’t mean I won’t speak my voice. And I encourage all my fellow Amenians who support this to show up as well!

Sometimes the numbers speak for themselves:

Gutierrez said he was told Theory Wellness, a dispensary in Great Barrington, earned $30 million in revenue in its first year of operation — but stressed he has not verified the numbers. At $30 million, he said that would mean $1.2 million in revenue split between Dutchess County and the town — roughly what Amenia would typically collect in a typical year from property taxes.

Delaware Department of Education Fumbles In The Dark And Tries To Make Sense Of Declining Smarter Balanced Scores

By wasting taxpayer money on yet another “study” with the University of Delaware, the Delaware Department of Education has come up with a presentation to explain how Covid is affecting students. The “findings” will be presented later today to the Delaware State Board of Education. This is the earth-shattering universe shaking report:

I have to ask. What is the purpose of this? There are no solutions, just data. There is nothing to address the mental needs of both teachers and students during these times. It is, once again, a reliance on the tired old horse called the state assessment. It seems like, no matter how many leadership changes and different staff members they hire, the Delaware Department of Education only cares about one thing: data.

If the Delaware DOE had a brain cell they would quickly realize that education got really jacked up since the shutdown in March of 2021. Of course there was going to be a tough time. We were in uncharted territory with a global pandemic. I’m pretty sure there weren’t that many people still alive from the Spanish Flu who could give guidance on what to do with this, especially in modern times. Students were going to lose time.

I’ve heard from many that the Delaware DOE is pushing “accelerated learning” to make up for the “learning loss” and lost time that came from Covid. Yes, let’s push students and teachers to the breaking point. Let’s see how your precious Smarter Balanced scores do then! When are they going to learn that data is not the same as education? You can fiddle around with numbers until the cows come home but it won’t change a damn fucking thing and we both know it. You are just trying to look good to… someone. None of it means a thing if students suffer in your vain attempt to beef up numbers. Shit happens. Covid happened. Get over your SBAC obsessed selves and let’s get back to work on the important things.

Let leaders lead and let teachers teach. Don’t tell the teachers how to teach. They already know how to do that. But more importantly, stop fucking around with numbers and graphs and let the leaders truly lead. And the ONLY way they can do that is by using their experience as teachers first and foremost. It isn’t a numbers game. It is about hearts and minds.

The Plight Of The American Teacher In Covid Times

Last night, a teacher named Steve Fackenthall gave public comment to the Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Board of Education. It echoed what most American teachers are going through these days. Teachers are mentally drained and have been since Covid turned the world upside down in the early months of 2020. It is having a tremendous effect on the American teachers. Many teachers have left the profession due to severe burnout and not enough support from their district offices.

This can only trickle down to the American students. Some want to say teachers are lazy, overpaid, get summers off, and only care about their union. Based on my experience with teachers this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most teachers deeply care about their students and want them to be successful. The sad truth is that a lot of pressure has been put on teachers to provide not only education to children, but also social-emotional supports.

My name is Steven Fackenthall, music teacher at Richey Elementary and Vice-President of the Red Clay Education Association. Tonight I speak to you about the extraordinary high levels of teacher fatigue and stress that is being experienced by our educators.

It’s only October 20th, yet it feels like it should be June any time now. We. Are. Tired. Our educators are drowning. To give more insight, I’d like to share with you thoughts from our educators. I’m extremely disappointed that TEACHER MENTAL HEALTH HAS NOT BEEN MENTIONED BY DISTRICT LEADERS ONCE, other than a link to the Employee Assistance Program. There have been no check-ins to see how we are managing as we are also returning following and continue during a pandemic… along with the absence of support or concern for our well being, we are being told to accelerate learning while we know many students are way behind where even the lowest students are in a typical year.

From an elementary school teacher. There is, even more than normal, a lack of understanding of what it’s like in the classroom right now. It’s one thing to read and talk about how COVID has affected our kids, but those working office jobs within the district need to take our word on more things or come visit classrooms more often to really understand what is happening.

I have been a Red Clay employee for 15 years and I feel hopeless. I’m sad for our students and am completely discouraged as a teacher. The general consensus is that NOBODY cares.

I need pacing guidelines relaxed as I have kids coming back from mandatory quarantines and need to catch up. ELA expects us to get through all 4 units this year, which we never have.

I need the micromanaging from the district to stop and just have the ability to teach and give my kids what they need. I used to love teaching but after this past year, I am seriously considering leaving. Although I love my kids, everything else about teaching is driving me over the edge, why isn’t the district listening to us? We need more support, we need more time to plan, grade and help our students, I cannot keep up these 60-70 hours a week.

I was in tears by 11 am and apparently I was the 3rd teacher of the day to do so. I was in the bathroom sobbing saying I can’t do this. I need a different job. This isn’t’ sustainable. These words are saddening.

These words are heartbreaking. And only a fraction of the responses I received. Red Clay board, if we are truly to respect the tireless work educators put forward for their students, then we must think about the conditions we place on them and how to improve that experience. We. Must. Do. Better. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.

District administrators need to stop worrying about “learning loss” and concentrate on the well-being of teachers and students. Teachers need to teach and students need to learn. Let them do it. Let them do the job you hired them to do. Stop with the Department of Education mandates and pressure and let your school be a school, not a bureaucracy.

At the end of the day, if you burn out your teachers, who will teach the children? Computers? We all know how that works. We learned that lesson last year. Nothing against teachers but we learned that teaching on a screen does not work for the majority of American students.

God bless Steve Fackenthall and all the teachers in America. They are the guardians of our kids for a significant period of time before they plunge into adulthood. They deserve our respect and our admiration.

Kathy McGuiness Gives The Middle Finger To Delaware And Now The General Assembly MUST Impeach, McG Using The Darius Brown Excuse (But She Is Right On That)

Delaware Liberal posted a statement from Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness where she announced the will not resign her position despite multiple charges against her. In the letter she states she is innocent until proven guilty and if other members of the General Assembly don’t have to step down when they are accused of something why should she?

Kathy McGuiness vigorously proclaims her innocence and denies the charges against her. She firmly rejects the calls for her resignation or leave of absence and will continue to do the job she was elected to do.

Hey, McG, I’m pretty sure the job you were elected to do was NOT to hire your daughter and her friend and then continue to pay your daughter when she wasn’t even working. I’m even more certain we didn’t elect you (I never voted for her) to bully and intimidate and spy on your own employees. But I digress.

She encourages her fellow elected officials to afford her the same level of patience they have displayed for our justice system, and with members of the General Assembly accused of violent crimes, until guilt or innocence are adjudicated in a Court of law.

The member of the General Assembly McG is referring to is State Senator Darius Brown. Back in May the good Senator decided to punch a woman in the face over some argument on social media. In a restaurant. He turned himself in and was arrested. The response from the Delaware Senate? Remove him from his position as Chair of the Judiciary Committee.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I have to agree with McG. Brown should have resigned, first and foremost. But when he didn’t, the General Assembly should have acted. By not acting they have set a precedent whereby an elected official can do bad things and stay in office.

What Brown did was extremely violent and unconscionable. I can’t fathom how Delaware State Senators can sit in the same room with him. When the McG news broke earlier this week many commenters on social media said “What about Darius Brown?” and they were absolutely right to express that concern.

The differences between McG and Brown are many. One, Brown is one of 21 State Senators and one of 62 members of the General Assembly. He can’t unilaterally make decisions that impact every citizen of the state. McGuiness can. She is the top dog in the Auditor of Accounts office.

In my opinion BOTH should be removed from office. And it should happen NOW. I’m a registered Democrat but that doesn’t mean I support bad behavior from my own party. Yes, McG’s party loyalties change like the wind blows. Which bears a mention- where is the Delaware Republican party’s statement on McG? Why are they being silent? You would think they would treat McG as a human pinata for their own agenda slamming Democrats. Instead we get crickets.

McGuiness holding onto her position is far more dangerous than Brown holding a State Senate seat. She makes decisions that impact Delaware tax dollars all the time. She is supposed to be the watcher at the gate but instead she opened the gate for her own ambitions and agendas and let her own selfish and narcissistic actions taint the office.

Updated, 9:38am:

Apparently some members of the Delaware Republican party (no one from the Delaware General Assembly) gave a weak-ass response to the McG saga. Jane Brady, the Republican Party Chair for Delaware, said the allegations are a “very serious breach of public trust”. And some other guy who I’ve never heard of named Joe Fulghum, who is the House Republican spokesman, told the News Journal no one should rush to judgment before all the facts are laid out. In a sane world they would call for her ouster. But I have no doubt McG is working all the angles and trying to broker deals for support from the Delaware GOP. They are CRAZY if they want to entangle themselves in her hot mess!!!!

Updated again, 9:49am:

My profuse apologies to State Rep. Gerald Brady. I did not mean to slight you. You need to step down too buddy! While you aren’t accused of actual crimes like Darius Brown and Kathy McGuiness, your racist remarks about Oriental women should have you resigning. But nope, your buddies in House leadership seem to think punishing you with redistricting maps is just. Don’t think so.

Schwartzkopf To McGuiness: I’m Not Your Biggest Fan

Yesterday, the leadership in the Delaware Senate and the House of Representatives finally issued a statement on the indictment of State Auditor Kathy McGuiness. Both basically told her to get out of Dodge until the investigation is complete. WDEL broke the news:

Leaders in both Houses are urging McGuiness to put the public’s interests ahead of her own and take a voluntary leave of absence until the investigation is resolved.

“While we firmly believe an accused person deserves their day in court, we also believe that the scale of the charges both shatters the public’s confidence in Auditor McGuiness’ ability to serve as a watchdog of government finances and prevents her from meeting the duties and obligations of her office,” the statement from state Senate leadership said.

Both said they’re weighing their own Constitutional obligations in light of the indictment. 

“We are concerned that the ongoing investigation and her legal defense will make it increasingly difficult for the auditor to effectively run an agency that is the watchdog of public funds. We believe it would be in the best interests of the auditor, her office and the residents of Delaware that she voluntarily take a leave of absence during these legal proceedings,” House leadership said.

This had to sting a bit for Pete Schwartzkopf. He has been besties with McG for well over a decade. Can’t be easy to see a friend going through this. But he is the Speaker of the House and he has to take a stand. He can’t ignore this.

Delaware Governor John Carney did issue a statement on Tuesday but, as usual, he is basically sitting on the fence like he does with many issues.

“The investigation is ongoing, so I don’t have a lot to say there. Obviously, what’s been alleged is very concerning, and we’ll see what…we see from the investigation from here on out,” said the governor. “I think that’s a decision that she has to make with respect to that. Obviously, she has staff that do the work of the office–it’s important work,” he said.

As Sheryl Crow once sang, it’s hard to take a stand.

Looming Questions

Good morning readers. I hope you are having a great day. As I reside in a new state I still have lots of questions about good old Delaware. I haven’t done this in a while but they are urgent questions that need answers.

Why would a school board hire a Superintendent’s daughter as a student teacher and allow her to get a $20,000 sign-on bonus because they come from University of Delaware? Why don’t the other Delaware universities and colleges get this same sign-on bonus?

Will the Delaware General Assembly convene soon to begin impeachment proceedings against Kathy McGuiness? Will a brave soul in the House or Senate draft legislation dealing with an elected official’s duties if they are accused of a crime, be it a misdemeanor or felony?

How soon will the Delaware Senate meet to confirm Dr. Mark Holodick as the next Delaware Secretary of Education?

Why does Brandywine School District appear to be the “most favored” district in the state? The Delaware teacher of the year is from Brandywine. Dr. Holodick is from Brandywine. Doesn’t a certain Governor live in the Brandywine School District? *Updated: Last year’s teacher of the year was in Red Clay, not Brandywine. Although she did get a seat on the Brandywine School Board last Spring.

There seems to be an uptick in school violence across the state. But are districts faithfully reporting this to the Department of Education? Is the DOE faithfully reporting those numbers?

When will Senator Darius Brown get his comeuppance? Punching a woman in the face and being allowed to still serve as an elected official is JUST as egregious as allowing Kathy McGuiness to still perform her duties. And for that matter, what about State Rep. Gerald Brady?

A Delaware Senator will soon announce they won’t be seeking re-election in 2022. Which one?

Will Dr. Holodick clean house at DOE or will he leave folks in place?

If Delaware students are expected to follow mask mandates why was there no mask mandate at the teacher of the year ceremony at Dover High School? And why no social distancing guidelines in place?

Since Kathy McGuiness had obvious ties to the AHEPA organization which has heavy ties to Odyssey Charter School does this mean Kathy Jenning’s office will take a heavy look at the Odyssey report from the Auditor’s office as a part of McGuiness’ investigation?

Why has Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf been silent on the McGuiness situation? Will he lead or feel bad for his friend? For that matter why has Governor Carney been quiet about it? Instead of showing fist-bump pictures on his Facebook account why can’t he comment on the biggest news out of Delaware in a long time?

Feel free to put your own questions in the comments section!

Kathy McGuiness Turned Herself In, Was Arrested, Booked, Arraigned, & Set Free After Posting Bail

Delaware State Auditor Kathleen McGuiness turned herself in today according to 6ABC News. She posted a non-secured $50,000 bail and went free. She is NOT allowed to talk to former employees or discuss the case with current employees. McGuiness pleaded not guilty to the two felony charges and the three misdemeanor charges.

Meanwhile, legislators such as State Representatives Paul Baumbach, Eric Morrison and Madinah Wilson are calling on McGuiness to resign immediately. The Democratic Party of Delaware also called for McGuiness to resign last night. There has been no official word from Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf who helped raise McGuiness to power in The First State. Any impeachment proceedings would have to start in the Delaware House of Representatives.

McGuiness Attorney Issues Statement Declaring McGuiness Is Innocent And Indictment Is A Lie, No Word On McGuiness Turning Herself In

Delaware State Auditor Kathleen McGuiness had her attorney issue a statement regarding the Grand Jury indictment that was announced yesterday. As predicted, her attorney, Steven Wood, denies the charges set forth against McGuiness. There has been no official announcement regarding McGuiness turning herself in.

The statement by Wood basically says the whole thing is a fabrication. It doesn’t touch on McGuiness’ daughter getting paid past her time in the office. It doesn’t even mention her doing any work for the Auditor’s office when she went back to college. It disgustingly states the ex-employees simply had an axe to grind with McGuiness.

Kathy McGuiness is absolutely innocent of these charges. The Grand Jury’s Indictment, like all Grand Jury Indictments, was based upon a one-sided presentation from witnesses and documents selected by the Attorney General. The Indictment is full of misleading statements and half-truths.

It is true that Ms. McGuiness’s daughter worked as a temporary employee in the Auditor’s Office. Delaware law does not prohibit family members from hiring family members, and there have been many instances of such employment all throughout state government—including in the Attorney General’s Office. It is also true that, like millions of Americans, Ms. McGuiness’s daughter worked remotely during the COVID pandemic. However, the Indictment’s assumption that the only way for a state worker to work remotely is by using the State’s email network is false.

Ms. McGuiness has, from time to time, hired outside contractors to perform various professional, policy-related, and communications functions for the Auditor’s Office. Unlike the Attorney General Office, which has several full-time employees that assist with press and public relations, the Auditor’s Office does not have a full-time employee to perform those functions.

Furthermore, unlike many other state agencies, the Auditor’s budget did not provide for a full-time policy development staffer until recently. For these reasons, Ms. McGuiness hired an outside contractor to assist in those tasks. The contractor in question has performed policy development services for other elected officials in Delaware before, including a former Governor. All of the relevant contracts were entirely lawful. There is nothing unlawful about hiring a former campaign consultant to perform legitimate tasks related to government service. The Indictment fails to mention that the consultant has provided policy advice for elected officials all around the United States in the past and continues to do so today.

The Witness Intimidation charge is pure fiction, and is clearly the result of fanciful tales spun by former employees with an ax to grind.

Ms. McGuiness will continue to work hard on behalf of Delaware’s taxpayers and intends to focus on the job that she was elected to do. She will have no further comment on this matter. When the whole story is finally heard, the facts will speak for themselves.

This is the part that burns me. The fact she is still able to perform her duties with the indictment hanging over her head. She should be nowhere near a penny of taxpayer money. I pray the General Assembly convenes immediately to impeach her.

Last night I remembered I actually filmed her swearing-in ceremony from January 1st, 2019. In the video she swears an oath to do her job. In another video former Delaware Governor Jack Markell gives the opening remarks for the swearing-in ceremony.

Here is the deal with McGuiness. She serves no one but herself. I’ve seen social media commentary suggesting the Democrats are out to eat one of their own. That McGuiness was getting too close to the truth. Nothing could be further from the truth. McGuiness, as reported several times, has switched political parties often. From Republican to Democrat to Independent to Republican to Democrat. Rumors have been circulating for months that McGuiness was going to take a stab at running for Delaware Governor in 2024 as a Republican. The Delaware Republicans basically told her to go away. In Delaware political circles both Democrats and Republicans just want her to leave her post and disappear. She is the shame of Delaware having been the very first statewide elected official to ever have a Grand Jury indictment against her.

Wood’s statement cannot be found in many places. The first I heard of it this morning was from an article by First State Update which leans very Republican.

Meanwhile, the very fine folks over at Delaware Liberal had their dream come true with the arrival of this picture:

Governor Carney Nominates Dr. Mark Holodick For Delaware Secretary of Education

Delaware Governor John Carney nominated former Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick as the next Delaware Secretary of Education following the “resignation” of Dr. Susan Bunting last week. Bunting will still be in the position until the end of this year.

This is a surprising choice given the Secretary of Education role pays much less than what Holodick was making as the Brandywine Superintendent. But I’m sure he will be ok.

From the official State of Delaware release:

Dr. Mark Holodick, now at the University of Delaware, spent a decade leading the Brandywine School District as Superintendent WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday announced that Dr. Mark Holodick, former superintendent of the Brandywine School District, will be nominated to serve as next Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education (DOE).Governor Carney’s nomination must be approved by the Delaware Senate. “Dr. Holodick spent a decade leading the Brandywine School District and understands what it takes to create a culture where all students and educators can succeed,” said Governor Carney. “His experience as Superintendent of Brandywine, and before that as a principal, will help him support school leaders and educators across our state. As Secretary, he will continue focusing our efforts to support our most disadvantaged students and make sure that all Delaware children are getting the education they deserve. I want to thank Mark for his willingness to serve, and members of the Senate for considering his nomination.” Last year, Holodick joined the Delaware Academy for School Leadership at the University of Delaware, where he leads coaching and professional development programs for principals and other school and district leaders. He had been Superintendent of the Brandywine School District since 2009, overseeing 16 schools with more than 10,000 students. Previously, Holodick was principal at Concord High School and at a blended middle and high school in the Delmar School District. Holodick was named Administrator of the Year in 2016 by the Delaware Association of Educational Office Professionals and Superintendent of the Year in 2017 by the Delaware Chief School Officers Association.“I appreciate being given the opportunity to work collaboratively with educators and stakeholders across Delaware with a focus on improving opportunities and outcomes for all students,” said Holodick. “If confirmed by the Senate, I will assume the position of Secretary with much gratitude and enthusiasm.”

Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness Indicted On Several Charges, Set To Turn Herself In To Be Arrested And Arraigned

Today, October 11th, 2021, Delaware Attorney General Kathleen Jennings announced Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness has been accused of several charges including felony theft, gross misconduct, nepotism and several other charges. She also announced that McGuiness will be turning herself in.

More details as they come but I will say this: I told you so. I told you in 2018 when she ran for State Auditor. I told you nothing good would come out of this and that she was a very corrupt woman. I will go so far to say that she is evil. I gave her the benefit of the doubt when I went to her swearing-in ceremony on January 1st, 2019. She didn’t fool me though because I knew she would do all this.

What she did to several ex-employees is heinous and despicable. Those are the true victims, even more than Delaware taxpayers. So the next time a scrappy blogger says “watch out” maybe the voters will listen. Maybe the News Journal won’t be so quick to jump on her campaign train to smash her opponent publicly and privately.

Kathy McGuiness had her eye on the role of Governor. We all need to thank God or whatever you believe in that she did not assume that role because she would have buried Delaware.

This is major vindication for Kathleen Davies. McGuiness made her life a living hell and I am a firm believer in karma. The karma bus hit McGuiness right in the face.

Updated, 3:29pm:

Press release from the State of Delaware:

Lengthy DCRPT investigation yields five charges, including felonies

Charges include orchestrating State contract with political consultant

Indictment alleges McGuiness hired teenage daughter, paid her while enrolled in college

Following an investigation involving dozens of witness interviews, thousands of document reviews, and more than a year of work, Attorney General Kathy Jennings and the DOJ’s Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust (DCRPT) announced Monday that State Auditor Kathleen McGuiness has been indicted for five criminal charges, including two felonies.

“We strive for a justice system where nobody is above the law or beneath justice,” said AG Jennings. “These are serious charges, and we do not make them lightly. The indictment includes a great deal of evidence that the State Auditor repeatedly broke the law and systemically abused her power, beginning in her first year in office. Our investigation revealed a long trail of corruption, nepotism, official misconduct, intimidation, and fraud that implicated thousands of taxpayer dollars — all from an elected official who is supposed to be a watchdog for exactly this kind of misbehavior. We cannot — and I will not — tolerate criminal corruption, no matter who you are.”

DCRPT opened its investigation more than a year ago, after whistleblowers came forward alleging serious misconduct by the Auditor, including abuse of tax dollars to benefit campaign associates, a pattern of deceit to evade spending oversight, nepotism, theft, and intimidation of employees. Monday’s indictment charges McGuiness with five crimes: Conflict of Interest, in violation of the State Officials’ Code of Conduct; Felony Theft; Non-Compliance With Procurement Law by structuring State payments; Official Misconduct; and Felony Witness Intimidation.

Contract structuring and oversight evasion

DCRPT’s investigation uncovered a sweetheart deal that McGuiness engineered with My Campaign Group, a political campaign consultant for her 2016 campaign. My Campaign Group markets itself as a company designed “for your campaign needs” and focuses on “provid[ing] political candidates with comprehensive issues platforms – taking them from the campaign trail to elected office.”

McGuiness was sworn in as Auditor of Accounts in 2019. In November of that year, she approached My Campaign Group for a State contract for professional services. Knowing that State contracts under $50,000 need not be subject to public bidding, the Auditor entered into a contract with My Campaign Group – which had never before had a State contract – for “communication services.” Over the course of the contract, My Campaign Group was paid $49,900 – just $100 below the oversight threshold.

The indictment also charges that McGuiness structured payments on the contract to cover up her spending and avoid oversight. Delaware Division of Accounting rules required special approval for purchases or payments of $5,000 or more.  The Auditor directed invoices of more than $5,000 to be paid in increments under $5,000.

Nepotism and theft

Early in her tenure, McGuiness assumed hiring decision-making for casual-seasonal employees.1. In May and June of 2020, three casual-seasonal employees left OAOA due to a lack of available work, including one whom McGuiness fired.  On that employee’s last day, and despite the ostensible lack of work, the indictment charges that McGuiness hired her daughter and her daughter’s friend – then seniors in high school – as casual-seasonal employees under her direct supervision.

Despite McGuiness’ conflict of interest, neither the daughter nor the daughter’s friend were interviewed, nor were their hires delegated to an employee without an ethical conflict.  The indictment further charges that McGuiness provided her daughter access to a State car.

Later that year, McGuiness’ daughter enrolled at College of Charleston in South Carolina. Over the next several months, she remained on OAOA payroll and continued to draw taxpayer paychecks despite not showing up to work, never logging in to work remotely, and rarely sending so much as an e-mail.

As of August 2021, McGuiness’ daughter – who was listed as OAOA’s Public Information Officer and later listed as an intern – had collected more than $19,000 in taxpayer paychecks, in addition to nearly $8,000 paid to the daughter’s friend. The daughter’s paychecks were deposited into a bank account on which the Auditor is an owner.

Surveillance and witness intimidation

McGuiness’ behavior concerned several employees, who questioned her behavior and, in some cases, came forward to the DOJ to file whistleblower complaints. The DOJ’s investigation revealed that McGuiness retaliated against real or perceived whistleblowers and engaged in a course of conduct to surveil those she saw as disloyal to her.

Notably, McGuiness submitted dozens of “e-Records” requests to the Department of Technology and Information (DTI) for the contents of OAOA employees’ e-mail accounts. This enabled McGuiness to monitor several employees’ e-mail communications in real time.  McGuiness also discriminated against employees who questioned her misconduct, and enacted office policies to limit the off-hours, personal activities of employees who she believed associated with former OAOA staff.

The DOJ reminds the public that DCRPT’s investigation into McGuiness and OAOA are ongoing, and urges anyone with information they believe is relevant to the investigation to contact DCRPT at (302) 577-5400 or de.gov/publictrust. Public trust complaints may also be submitted online at de.gov/dcrptcomplaint.

Delaware A/G Kathy Jennings To Announce “Major Public Trust Indictment” Today

The fun starts at 2:30pm in front of the Newcastle County Courthouse. If this is what I think it is one of the major villains of this blog is going down. Hard. Can’t wait!!!!

Breaking News: Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting Is Out

A press release will go out today regarding the “resignation” of Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting. Don’t be fooled. This is NOT a resignation from what I’m hearing from various sources. Apparently Delaware Governor John Carney does not like the direction of, wait for it, the Wilmington schools.

This is hot off the press so to speak. More will be forthcoming for sure!

No one saw this coming and Bunting was very upset about the news this morning according to sources who wish to remain anonymous. The question on everyone’s lips is “Who’s next?”

I am hearing a few names going around the water cooler but I have no doubt Governor Carney knows exactly who he wants.

Bunting oversaw the Delaware DOE during the past five years. The Covid-19 pandemic definitely challenged Delaware education and students and staff are still feeling the pressure from it all. She will most likely be remembered for the opportunity funding now available to Delaware schools.

Why now? Good question. Rumors circulated about Bunting possibly retiring at the end of Carney’s first term but that didn’t happen. It just seems very odd this would happen now. Unless Carney has something planned.

Into The Future

It is June 24th, 2020.  The world has gone crazy this year.  I haven’t posted anything in over two months on this blog.  Not because I didn’t want to but I didn’t know what to say or believe.

Delaware Smarter Balanced Participation Rate At 60% For 2020-2021 Test

The results are in and only 60% of Delaware students took the Smarter Balanced Assessment for grades 3rd-8th for the 2020-2021 school year.

Yes, we can blame Covid for this. And the fact that most students were either hybrid or remote for the last school year. But it is still something to celebrate. It massively skews the data for the entire assessment and renders it meaningless. Which, let’s face it, has always been manipulated for purposes that really have nothing to do with education. It is a numbers and money game. Used for punitive rather than informative. It has never been a true barometer of student regression or achievement.

Yes, the Delaware Department of Education WILL use the data to show Covid caused regression for students. But anyone could tell you that. We didn’t need to spend millions of dollars to administer a test to tell us that. But the DOE will tell you it is needed and blah blah blah.

Thank you to all the students and parents who opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment this year. It is definitely a cause for celebration!!!

The Money Grab For Teacher Lesson Plans

I’ve been hearing about situations where administrators are actually making money off teachers lesson plans in Delaware schools. This is going to become a huge topic in the coming months and years.

Who owns the rights to teachers lesson plans? Is it intellectual property? Many of the answers depend on the contracts school districts have with teachers in their union contracts. I’ve heard tales of administrators trying to work around that. They “demand” teachers digitally upload all their lesson plans. Can they do this? Can they “demand” teachers sign away their rights? I don’t have the answers to this. But if it is a violation of union contracts it is time the local unions and DSEA get involved big time.

The frightening part is rumors administrators are selling this material for profit. I would think that would be a huge ethical quagmire. What kind of administrators would have this kind of power? Those who are in charge of curriculum for starters. Principals and other district folks. Superintendents.

Are these weaselly administrators putting this profit back into the district or are they making personal profit? Have they set up shell companies for back-door funding?

I’m just introducing the topic and I’m hoping teachers quickly band together to find out what the hell is going on cause this is some shady shit for sure. If I were a teacher you deserve to ask what happens with your lesson plans when you “share” it with your district or school. What might be “gold” to greedy administrators is something you have worked on your entire teaching career. Is it right for others to profit off your hard work?

Why The Name Change?

Why not.

It’s time. My writing itch has always been there but I have felt trapped in Delaware. Not that Delaware is a horrible place but I was too confined just writing about education and politics in the First State. I still care about education and politics in Delaware. I’ve lived here just about 17 years. That is over a third of my life. But change is in the wind.

I want to write about everything. Hopes and dreams. Creative writing. My reaction to news. Sometimes making news. Entertainment. Poetry. Memories. History. Places. Things. All of it. Infinite possibilities about what makes life exceptional.

I may change the name if people hate it. Let me know!

Bombshell: Delaware Charter Schools Network Fights Raises For Charter School Teachers

The Delaware Charter School Network is in active lobbying mode to stop Delaware charter school teachers from receiving a raise that all public school district teachers will be receiving this year due to a surplus in the Delaware state budget.

State Rep. Kim Williams reported this shocking news on her Facebook account today with this quote from Delaware Public Media:

Some JFC members also offered statements about future budget issues, such as ensuring any salary increases for state employees also include charter school workers, something State Rep. Kim Williams (D-Stanton/Newport) says the charter schools are lobbying against. Charter school employees, which are public schools, will receive the one-time monies but the charter school employees that qualify for this raise may not see the salary increase, that will be up to the individual charter school leadership. The only two charters that will definitely see their increase will be Charter School of Wilmington and Odyssey Charter School, both charter schools voted to unionize and have contract language ensuring they received the state salary increase.Top House leadership has committed to sponsoring a bill with me in January to correct this wrong and make sure all of our state employees receive a raise when given.

It sounds to me like the other charter schools in Delaware should unionize along with Charter School of Wilmington and Odyssey Charter School. Teachers deserve their fair share no matter where they work. They are state employees, period.

The Delaware Charter School Network, led by the education Queen of lobbying at Legislative Hall is Kendall Massett. They are a lobbyist organization. They are not designed to be pro-teacher but pro-charter school. There is a huge difference. They cater to the whims of the charter school leaders and not the staff at charters. By attempting to get this funding blocked they are practically inviting charter school teachers and staff to unionize. The upcoming school year, from what I’m hearing, will see more charter schools in Delaware joining the teachers union and it is about time!

Transparency Under Attack With FOIA Revision Bill, Lead Sponsor Of Bill Allows FOIA Violation With Another Bill, Updated

Updated, 1:23pm, June 10th: Senate Bill 155 has been pulled from the Delaware Senate Agenda and will not get a vote today.

Senate Bill #155 is on the ready list for the Delaware Senate tomorrow. This very atrocious bill undermines the spirit of the Freedom of Investigation Act and serves no other purpose than to protect public bodies who want to keep things hidden from public consumption. My issue with the bill is this section:

 It amends the examination and copying of public records provisions of FOIA to alleviate the significant time, resources, and financial burdens imposed on public bodies by FOIA requests that are unreasonable, disruptive, or abusive. This Act allows a public body to deny a request from a requestor whose intent is to disrupt the essential functions of the public body or abuse the process and allows a public body to charge administrative fees for all reviews, including the review and redaction of information exempt from FOIA. The review and redaction of information is often performed by non-attorney staff in conjunction with necessary review for exceptions and exclusions.

The most disturbing part is the revelation that redactions are performed by non-attorney staff. Which means public bodies have always had the ability to redact information as they see fit. That isn’t a freedom of information. That is cherry-picking what you want the public to see.

Who determines a requestor’s intent? If the public body is doing things that are not essential functions and someone wants to make this publicly known you better believe that public body is going to deny the request. The assumption that public bodies are innocent 100% of the time is blatantly false. Which is a huge part of why FOIA law exists in the first place.

Administrative fees. Some already charge those fees. I filed a petition against the Delaware Department of Education in 2015. Attorney General Matt Denn’s office ruled the DOE grossly overcharged their administrative fees in my FOIA request. Who determines what a proper rate is?

The lead sponsor of this bill, Senator Kyle Evans Gay, leads the committee that is allowing the bill for a vote. In an opinion letter published in today’s News Journal, the Senate Education Committee was accused of violating FOIA by not posting their committee meeting in the designated time-frame. Senate Bill 130, which involves allowing public school coaches to coach student athletes for pay during off-season time, is also sponsored by Senator Gay. How can a Senator so callously destroy the fabric of FOIA with one Senate Bill while allowing a FOIA violation on another bill of hers? This is not what FOIA is about Senator Gay. Whoever is pushing you on this definitely got to you. But the kicker is the fact it was scheduled this during a time when you knew the Public Integrity Commission (PIC) wouldn’t be able to make it, as written in the News Journal opinion letter:

The PIC attempted to participate in the state Senate Legislative Oversight & Sunset Committee’s meeting on SB 130, which was held on May 18. However, the meeting notice and agenda were not posted on the General Assembly’s website until approximately one hour before its unusual scheduling on a Tuesday, rather than the standing Wednesday meeting. In addition to the lack of meaningful notice, the meeting was scheduled on the same day and time as our monthly Commission meeting, precluding our ability to participate.

That is just dirty politics Senator Gay. Allowing your bill to come before a committee during a time when you know the chief opposition to it won’t be able to attend is not just bad form, it is shady beyond belief.

And for the record, I definitely agree with the Public Integrity Commission on the absolute favoritism that will occur if Senate Bill 130 passes. It will definitely give an unfair advantage to Delaware student athletes who cannot afford off-season coaching.

The PIC issued an opinion on this matter in 2003. The Delaware General Assembly wants to overturn that ruling now. Why now? So coaches can get more money. But the consequences are obvious as the PIC Chair Andrew Manus wrote in his opinion letter:

The reasoning behind the decision was that paying a school coach for extra coaching sessions may lead a coach to favor those students at the expense of those who cannot afford such luxuries.

All the sponsors on Senate Bill 130 are Democrats. Some of which I believed were Progressive in their thoughts. In addition, all the FOIA destroyers on Senate Bill 155 are Democrats. What are they thinking? Do they not believe in transparency? Do they not realize the damage they are doing to public trust with both of these bills?

I urge every single Delawarean to email your State Rep and State Senator and urge them to vote NO on both of these bills. Senate Bill 130 is not up for a vote yet but that should not dissuade you from contacting your elected officials. Senate Bill 155 will get a vote tomorrow. Even with Senator Gay’s amendment dictating the public body must give a reason to deny a FOIA request it is still a recipe for corruption and fraud by the public.

Delaware is well-known for being horrible with transparency and violating the public trust. Are we going to allow our legislators to further erode that trust? I have never met Senator Gay and I don’t know much about her. But I don’t like these two bills at all. They both harken to a time that any true Democrat should be long past. We are better than this Senator Gay and I urge you to pull both these bills and table them. SB 130 is a special interest bill, lobbied by the DIAA to get coaches more money. SB 155 is a despicable and ugly bill. You can do better than this Senator Gay. And so can the rest of your Senate colleagues by voting NO on SB 155.

Exclusive: Patrik Williams Threatens Smyrna Teachers Union

Smyrna School District Superintendent Patrik Williams found himself in the hot seat yet again. This time it was with the Delaware Public Employment Relations Board.

In a case filed by the Smyrna Educators Association (SEA) against the Smyrna School District Board of Education concerning payment for part-time custodians during the Covid shutdown in Spring of 2020, the Relations Board ultimately ruled in the district’s favor but not without completely blasting Williams communications to the SEA. It appears Williams’ obnoxious and arrogant way of communicating in any situation knows no bounds. Not only does he lambasted the union over the situation but he doesn’t hide a direct threat to them either. As quoted from the final decision, rendered 2/15//2021:

The tenor of the Superintendent’s emails to the union representatives was unusually caustic.

In the last paragraph of the Superintendent’s last email he states he will not be bashful about sharing his opinion of SEA and DSEA”where (he) travels” and warns that “we won’t forget”.

Williams has been under fire for the past six months due to Twitter comments made last summer and fall concerning controversial comments made in tweets. As a result, State Senator Dave Lawson and several Smyrna citizens have led an effort for the belligerent Superintendent to resign. While Lawson and I don’t see eye to eye on many issues this is one I have to get behind.

I will say this to teachers and staff at the Smyrna School District: Now is the time to unify. I know there are more stories to tell about Patrik Williams. It is time to make your voices heard. It is time to put this man in his place and either force him to resign or have the board terminate him. If enough of you make enough noise the fear and intimidation he has placed in your hearts will no longer have power.

I have posted several articles about Williams’ unprofessional demeanor over the years, stemming back to his time to his role as Assistant Superintendent to the present. In my opinion he is a ticking time-bomb with no ability to filter himself or to deal with anything in a professional manner. He has impacted the lives of district students, teachers, staff and parents unnecessarily and his conduct in no way is fitting for a district Superintendent.

The below document is a must-read for ALL Delaware teachers, staff, students, and parents. If you have been on the fence about Williams this may just tip you over to the side of right. If you have been experiencing the same thing in districts or charters aside from Smyrna you need to know you have a voice. We are at a tipping point in Delaware education and this kind of behavior should not be tolerated at any level.