Delaware House & Senate Vote On Leadership For Each Caucus

As the News Journal reported the other day, the Delaware House and Senate met tonight to choose the leadership for each caucus.  This was met with scrutiny by some because this is normally done a week after the election.  But both parties want to get the ball rolling early for the 150th General Assembly.  Who is in? Continue reading

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Guest Post By Eric Morrison: Primary’s Record Democratic Voter Turnout- A Cause For Celebration Or Concern?

As many are dealing with the ramifications of the Delaware Primary, one reader felt there were reasons for how some votes were cast.  Without further ado, Eric Morrison from Newark has the floor: Continue reading

One Month Until The Delaware Primary! Your Guide To The Candidates!

The Delaware Primary election is one month away!  And there are plenty of statewide and district races for Delaware citizens to vote on.  I would go so far as to say the Primary is just as important as the General Election this year.  The heat is on! Continue reading

Fundraiser Fun At Fraziers!

Tonight I did something different.  I attended the Kent County Democrat fundraiser at Fraziers in Dover.  It was very last minute and I figured why the heck not.  I will get this off my chest first- I’m not a fundraiser kind of guy.  I went in shorts and a shirt.  I met a lot of candidates.  Some snubbed me.  Either they don’t know who I am or they do.  We all make choices.  Good luck getting my vote!  That’s all I’m going to say on that.  Okay, I’m lying.

For those who know me and where my passions lie, it begins with education.  First and foremost.  My thought has always been if you can’t make the right choices for kids, you shouldn’t be in office.  When I hit the voting booth, my vote is going to be for who I feel is the best candidate and will get the job done.  I’ll switch parties when I hit those buttons.  I don’t care.  So if I’m at a fundraiser, I’m not your money guy.  But I watch.  I listen.  I see who is talking to who.  Who is pandering and who is listening.

During Trump’s run for President, I switched to the Democrat party from Republican.  Neither Hillary or Trump were getting my vote.  Pure and simple.  I got some flack for that from some folks but that’s okay.  It’s my choice.  It is MY vote.  But it does not mean I always support what Democrats do.  The same philosophy applies to the Republicans as well.  Who and what am I?  I’m a wildcard.  I’m the guy you didn’t see coming.  I’m the guy who doesn’t care who I piss off on this blog if I think the decisions you make are bad for kids.  But that isn’t all politics is about.  For me it is, but for most education isn’t at the top of their thought process.  I do vote on other issues besides education.  But education is a HUGE factor.

Based on tonight, I know this blog will have tons of endorsements coming out in the next month or so.

Fundraisers are interesting events.  For the candidates, it is getting your name out there.  For the party or campaign team, it is about the money.  For people like me?  It is a blogger bonanza!  Showing up is the first thing.  But showing up and leaving before it is your chance to talk?  That is some bad mojo coming your way.  Giving me the evil eye when you were there.  Twice as bad.  It’s all good though.  I’m okay with knowing who doesn’t like me.  It just affirms what I may have written about you.  I’m not naming names but what is the abbreviation for microgram?  And for another candidate in that particular race, even if you KNOW I’m supporting your opposition for a three-way statewide primary, don’t just walk past me when I say hello to you because I will talk about it on here.  See what I did there guy with the same initials as Denzel Washington?

I’m babbling.  Far too many Swedish meatballs at the fundraiser.  And Fraziers makes the BEST Swedish meatballs!

If you had told me four years ago Donald Trump would be President I would have told you to lay off the peace pipe.  Even if I came around to that idea and you told me that same President Trump would snub our allies and shake hands with the little boy from North Korea the next day I would have said you were crazy.  But this is the reality we live in.  It’s like Twin Peaks and The Twilight Zone had a one-night stand and created the worst nightmare I’ve ever seen.  The oompa-loompa may be riding a red wave right now but what goes up must come down.

Some of my endorsements might surprise long-time readers of this blog.  It’s not personal.  It is politics.  Anyone coming into a race and expecting 100% of the vote is off their rocker!  That’s what makes America great.  It will be an interesting time between now and September, and then after the Primary heading into the General Election.

For candidates, I will be sending out surveys shortly.  Even if you don’t think I will support you, know that I have a vast readership who might.  I like to call it nearly every teacher in the state!  They are going to want to hear from you.  If there is one thing I’ve learned from teachers, it is this: they vote!

So here we are.  Four years ago today I made my first trip to Legislative Hall.  It was raining and I was carrying a sign outside in support of the school board audio recording legislation.  It was my way of thanking Kilroy’s Delaware for letting me write on his blog before I started this one.  That bill didn’t pass that session.  It did the next one.  Sometimes you just have to be patient.  A lot of the faces I met that day won’t be there next January.  The most important thing, no matter what political party you align with, is this: get your facts straight.  Do the research.  Who is doing it for the power and who wants to get in there and make change.  Vote with your conscience, not your allegiance.  Get involved.

I will get an insane amount of grief for this next line, but let’s make America centrist again!  We need balance.  One-party rule is not good for this country at all.  It isn’t always good for Delaware either.  We live in interesting times.

P.S.: To the candidate who had the conversation with me about FOIA- that was fun!

Delaware Politics Explodes With Regulation 225

When Regulation 225 hit the Delaware Registrar of Regulations on November 1st, it sparked a firestorm that will get more controversial by the day.  The regulation is causing a furor among Republican groups.  Legislators are receiving phone calls and emails from constituents who are vehemently opposed to the regulation.  What is the controversy?  Continue reading

State Rep. Rich Collins Is Not Digging Gender Expression Regulations

It looks like State Rep. Rich Collins is taking aim at proposed regulations dealing with gender discrimination according to the weekly newsletter from the Republican Caucus of the Delaware House of Representatives.  I felt the need to redline this because there are some points I agree with and some I don’t.

State Lawmaker Says Proposed Education Regulations Could Violate Parental Rights, Spark Lawsuits
A proposed anti-discrimination policy and regulations that could soon be applied to Delaware public schools are raising questions and concerns.
I’m sorry, but how often does Rep. Collins take an active role on education issues in the General Assembly?  How much education legislation has he put forth?  I think this has more to do with transgender issues than potential legality of the Governor’s actions.  Cause if Collins wants to poke holes at legality in state code, I can think of a few dozen issues that need the spotlight more than this.
“It opens Pandora’s Box,” said State Rep. Rich Collins, R-Millsboro.  “It has the potential to twist schools up in knots.”
A little overdramatic there.
The process began in mid-July with the issuance of a brief memorandum from Gov. John Carney to Sec. of Education Susan Bunting.  In the memo, the governor directed the agency to promulgate regulations providing clear guidance to schools “to prohibit unlawful discrimination in educational programs, and activities for students, on the basis of any legally protected characteristic.”
This is Executive Overreach.  Something Carney does very well.  He has been doing this a lot lately. 
The memo set a deadline of November 1st for the proposed rules to be posted in the Delaware Register of Regulations, a needed step preceding implementation.
If you ask me, any regulation should be based on a bill passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor.  No questions asked. 
Four “community conversations” were held — one in each county, and one in the City of Wilmington — to gather public input.
These community conversations are usually poorly attended.  The results of these meetings are predetermined as usual.
State Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, attended the Sussex County event last week.  She said the meetings – which all took place between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. over a period of just ten days – were, perhaps intentionally, inconveniently staged for parents to participate.  “They were held when families are collecting students from school activities, having dinner and assisting with homework,” she said.
I like Rep. Briggs King.  But my question would be when is an opportune time?  When parents are at work?  Is after 8pm better when parents are trying to get kids to bed?  I would say sufficient notice and having schools send out robo-calls paid for by the state would work better.  Or hell, have the state send out robo-calls. 
Rep. Collins noted that the forums appeared to have been deliberately engineered to thwart public criticism, with participants broken into small discussion groups, limiting interaction and open debate.
Welcome to DOE 101 Rep. Collins!  This is how they roll.  I’ve been dealing with this kind of nonsense for years.
He added that an online survey form for public feedback on the proposed policy and regulations posed questions that specifically called for participants to provide three things they liked about each but avoided any such pointed solicitation of negative comments.
Once again, we go back to the predetermined thing.  The Delaware DOE will never put “This sucks” as an option!
The draft regulations include “gender identity or expression” among its protected characteristics. 
Among the more controversial aspects of the proposed rules are the following:
  • All students enrolled in a Delaware public school would be able to self-identify gender or race.  (Rule 7.4)

I watch the show Shameless.  In an episode from last year, a character named Carl wanted to get a DNA test to prove he had African-American ancestry so he could get into a military academy.  The white teenager couldn’t get in but the school did have openings for different minorities for 20% of their population.  Even though he did not have any African-American ancestry, he did find out he was 3% Apache so he got in.  Not sure where I’m going with this, but I thought it was kind of funny.  In these episodes dealing with Carl’s situation, another brother named Ian is dating a transgender.  The writers did a great job of conveying some of the issues transgender people go through.  But I digress. 

  • A student would have the opportunity to participate on the sports team that is consistent with the student’s gender identity, regardless of the student’s assigned sex at birth.  (6.4)

I really don’t know how to comment on this one.  I have no issues with gender identity whatsoever.  But calling it “assigned sex”?  Is that a legal term?  I don’t know.

  • A student would have the opportunity to participate in the program of instruction dealing with human sexuality that is consistent with the student’s gender identity, regardless of the student’s assigned sex at birth.  (3.4)

I would think this is appropriate.

  • Regarding physical education programs – goals, objectives and skill development standards could not be designated on the basis of gender.  (5.2)

Why does everything have to be a “standard”?  What happened to the days when kids went to gym to release energy and play basketball or floor hockey? 

  • School districts and charter schools would be required to work with students and families on providing access to locker rooms and bathrooms that correspond to students’ “gender identity or expression.”  (8.1)

What does “work with” mean?  This is a good point.  I’ve seen how schools are “required” to work with parents, but sometimes you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

  • Even if a student does not legally change his or her name, he or she can select a “preferred name” based on a “protected characteristic” that school officials would be obligated to use except on official records.  (7.3)

I don’t mind this.  My son’s name is Jacob.  He likes his name.  He doesn’t like to be called “Jake”.  If he wanted to be called “Bob” in school, I would respect that, as long as he is consistent with it and not changing his “preferred name” every other week.

The proposed regulations direct school districts to establish antidiscrimination policies within 90 days of the rules’ implementation or the start of the next academic year, whichever is earlier.  The policies would be required to contain informal and formal complaint procedures.
A procedure isn’t the same thing as reality.  Just gonna throw that one out there.
“The regulations and policy contain no mention of a student’s age, so I question the wisdom of allowing very young students to make some of these decisions,” Rep. Collins said.  “These proposals also seem to undercut parental authority; giving parents less say in some of these processes then I think is appropriate.”
Then and than mean two different things.  Just saying.  But I kind of agree with Rep. Collin’s point here.  A five-year old making these decisions, without parental consent, could be a slippery slope.  A thirteen-year old, who is more aware of their body and their wants… that could be a different thing.
State Reps. Collins and Briggs King say the proposed regulations are invalid, noting that “gender identity or expression” is not a legally protected classification under the Delaware Code covering public education.
Then perhaps Reps. Collins and Briggs King should write legislation which would put it as a legally protected classification.
Delaware’s Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act of 2013 — which forbids discrimination on the basis of gender identity in housing, employment, public works contracting, public accommodations, and insurance – added new language to seven titles of the state code.  However, those changes were not applied to Title 14, which covers public education.
See above.
“Neither the proposed regulation nor the model policy document, are legitimate because they are not based on any legal authority granted by the General Assembly,” Rep. Collins said.
That’s because Carney wants to circumvent the General Assembly whenever possible.  He is becoming very proficient at that.  But the House Republicans had a Carneypalooza in their newsletter this week with pictures of him all over the place. 
Rep. Briggs King points to language in House Joint Resolution 6 – which is still pending action in the Senate – as further proof.  The measure contains a provision explicitly stating that Delaware’s laws on public education do not “prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression.”
Carney likes to flex his gubernatorial muscle.  If he wanted this so bad, he should have done his posturing on June 30th (and July 1st, July 2nd) and gotten the General Assembly to pass a simple Joint Resolution.
Rep. Collins said there has been a rapid push to implement the anti-discrimination regulations, outside the authority of law and escaping the attention of most parents and elected officials.  He said the new rules would produce confusion and likely create additional disputes and lawsuits.
John is all about the rapid push.  Patience is not his strong suit.  The only authority he seems to recognize is his own authority.
In a recent communication to the Department of Education, Rep. Collins urged the agency to delay action to address the growing concerns about the proposals.
How much you want to bet the response will be as empty as Legislative Hall between July and early January?
I am really torn on this one.  Collins offers up some valid points.  The biggest is that Governor Carney once again operated under the guise of Executive Power to do whatever the hell he wants.  He is the most non-transparent Governor in Delaware history.  He is flaunting this power a lot lately.  Much more than Jack Markell did.  It does not bode well for Carney.  I’m sure the DOE, Rodel, and the Delaware Business Roundtable love it though!
I dig into a great deal of education happenings.  I don’t mind any rights of students being clarified.  But there are some parental no-nos in the below draft of the proposed regulations.  I don’t think any educational setting should determine what is best to tell a parent or NOT tell a parent.  Parents have rights when it comes to their children and I can understand the concerns by some parents in feeling those rights are being stripped away.  I don’t see it as a “left-wing liberal snowflake” agenda though.  I see it as an overall concern I have with education policymakers who pretend they want parental engagement but operate behind the scenes and make decisions which ALL parents should know about.  They should also be a part of those conversations and no back-door meetings should take place.
The reason I’m so torn on this issue is because for me it is relatively new.  I’m not in schools enough and I don’t know many transgender folks.  While this isn’t a brand-new issue, it has gotten the spotlight the past few years.  I’m against any kind of discrimination, period.  Equal rights for all.  But many Republicans are against transgender folks, as well as homosexuals, because of what the Bible says.  I’m sure I won’t win any friends here, but the Bible was rewritten in the Council of Nicea some 1,500 years ago.  By a group of men.  It wasn’t rewritten by God.  And while the Bible doesn’t address gender identity or expression, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a big debate in the Council of Nicea.  I’ve heard some say the Bible is “God-breathed”, meaning it is infallible.  But I’ve seen one message in the Bible taken in so many different ways that it seems folks forget the basic message of the good book: love your neighbor.  Be nice.  Be kind.  To me, that is the message I take from the Bible.  Did you learn to forgive others?  Do you give more than you take?  Do you do your best to set an example for your children?  To me, those are the important things.  I believe in the Ten Commandments.  I do my best to obey them.  I don’t covet my neighbor’s wife.  I know the couple next to me are moving out and I haven’t met my other neighbor yet.  I haven’t killed anyone.  And so on.  I will never understand hating someone for what they are or the choices they make.  If they get all the stuff I take from the Bible, I’m pretty sure their passage to Heaven (or whatever afterlife you choose to believe in) is assured.
If Delaware Republicans and Democrats want to make some real headway, how about they band together to get rid of the rot in our state government?  We did a pretty good job on opt out a couple years ago.  Imagine what we could do together if we REALLY got organized?

Behind The Scenes Discussion At Legislative Hall Could Result In 2% Pay Cut Or Major Increase In Healthcare Costs For ALL State Employees

*Please go to the end of the article for an update on this developing situation.

While it has not been “officially” confirmed, I am hearing leadership in our state government is talking about giving ALL Delaware state employees a 2% cut in pay for FY2018.  The only exception would be prison guards due to the negotiated agreement with them.  The other possible option is increasing health insurance premiums by 50%.  This is going on behind closed doors folks with ZERO transparency.  None.  It is the day before they are supposed to be passing a budget and it has not been released to the public at all.  There is NO option to get your voice heard.

The House and Senate are taking a break to eat dinner.  They should be back on the floor around 8:30pm.  Longhurst’s House Bill #240 which could gut itemized deductions in Delaware and raise YOUR taxes will get a vote.  From the legislators and folks down there I’ve been talking to, the legislators are in a panic mode with Governor Carney seemingly clueless.  No budget has been written.  This is not good folks.  At all.  I’ve heard the cuts in the budget referred to as a “bloodbath”.  We have school boards able to raise taxes through the match tax scam.  We have charters keeping their transportation slush fund.  We axed the estate tax.  There is ZERO organization here folks.  And I won’t even get into the damn bickering between the Dems and the Republicans.  Grow up.  We don’t care.  Do the right thing for our state!

So this is what you need to do citizens of Delaware: get to Legislative Hall tomorrow night around 5pm and swarm every single legislator you can.  Show up IN PERSON.

Ironically, the “Find Your Legislator” portion of the Delaware General Assembly website appears to be not working.  At least for me.  But you view a full list in the blue links here:

Delaware Senators

Delaware State Representatives

This absolute crap and farce of a state government has been operating in the shadows for far too long.  They know this is going to hurt every single state employee but they want to rush this budget and then head off on Summer vacation.  This is shady and it is happening now.  We have State Reps joking around about last names, taking up time when there could be meaningful conversation that the public can here about all this.  I heard one state rep ask for a bill to be tabled until January because of the public’s need to know more about the budget.  Schwartzkopf shot him down.  I don’t know which rep it was, but we need to hear more of that.

Remember, tomorrow.  Make YOUR voice heard LOUD and CLEAR!

Updated 6/30/17, 1:24pm: David Burris, the Chief of Staff for the Delaware Senate Republicans put a response up on Facebook that there has been zero discussion about pay cuts on their side of the aisle.

The 2016 Anti-Endorsements

I see so many endorsements these days based on nothing but vapor.  I thought I would do the opposite.  An anti-endorsement.  Those who I wouldn’t vote for even if they were in my district and they were the only ones running.  These are candidates who have either done some really dumb things or are very clueless about what is going on.  And then there are the elite candidates who think their name is sufficient enough to stay in office.  Sorry, but I see right through you on many issues.  As for my Presidential anti-endorsements, it is a matter of choosing evil either way.  While we can certainly argue all day long about who is more evil, evil is as evil does…

David Sokola, 8th Senate District, incumbent, Democrat: If ever there were someone I would want to disappear from Legislative Hall, it would be Sokola.  It seems like every day I find out more about the damage Sokola has done over the past 25 years.  Enough.  If the 8th Senate District votes this guy in again, they are making a very big mistake.  I will be coming out with something in the next few days that will even cause Newark Charter School parents to rethink any support they may have for him.

Melanie George Smith, 5th Rep District, incumbent, unopposed, Democrat: She is a slippery one, this co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee.  Using that kind of pulpit for dubious allocations of state funds is a big no-no in my book.  She has power down at Legislative Hall… too much.  Her recent home purchase in the Newark Charter School 5 mile radius is an transparent as Saran wrap.  I have to wonder what else she has done in the past couple of months in regards to that 5 mile radius…

John Carney, Delaware Governor, Democrat: I’ve heard John is a really nice guy.  He speaks from the heart, but what I worry about is his mind.  In a come from behind primary victory in 2008, Jack Markell beat John Carney.  I believe Carney remembers that very well.  Instead of looking at how bad Markell has been for Delaware over the past eight years, Carney is embracing the Markell mindset and forming the very same allegiances Jack had.  Carney’s “we all have to get along” doesn’t work for me.  It is easy to say that AFTER things have been set in place.  Stacking the deck with certain people and then saying “Let’s get together and talk” is pure politics and that is NOT the change I’m looking for.

Donald Trump, U.S. President, Republican: I lived in New York growing up.  Trump has been around a long time.  I still remember the controversy and shenanigans this guy has pulled going back to the 1980’s.  How he got this far is something I will always wonder about.  He is a bully, pure and simple.  A clown in a suit.  I firmly believe, should he win, he won’t sit long in the Oval Office.  And that will give us a President Mike Pence.  Another corporate education reform lover.  No thanks!

Hillary Clinton, U.S. President, Democrat: When Hillary was running for the New York Senate, an incident happened at Westchester County Airport.  It was covered up.  Someone died.  I wasn’t a big fan of her before that, and I’m not now.  She is the embodiment of all that is wrong with this country.  Corporate interests rule the day for her.  The will of the people will be sapped and broken if she wins.  Not right away.  But it will happen.  She knows damn well exactly what she is doing.  While not as transparent an evil as Donald Trump, it is the snake that is coiled up and hissing behind a rock you have to watch out for.

Colin Bonini, Delaware Governor, Republican: He ran for Governor but every time I hear him talk it sounds like a concession speech to John Carney.  He pretends to hate standardized test scores, but he blasts traditional school districts while thinking charter schools are a worthy replacement.  He forgets that test scores are the apparatus that damages high-need schools in Delaware.  And Colin, slavery apologies don’t change history, but it is a gesture of good faith.  It is not a crutch.

Harris McDowell, 1st Senate District, incumbent: You have long outlived your purpose in Legislative Hall Senator.  I wasn’t a big fan of McDowell before I saw this old post on Delaware Liberal the other night.  He was one of the four flippers on House Bill #334 which made the wretched Smarter Balanced Assessment the law of the land in Delaware.  He also voted no not once, but twice on House Bill 50, the parent opt out bill.  As the Senate co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, it is more than obvious he has used that pulpit for his own purposes.  Shady as shady gets…

Anthony Delcollo, 7th Senate District, candidate, Republican: This candidate did one thing to earn an anti-endorsement.  I attended a fund-raiser for State Rep. Kim Williams and Senator Patti Blevins a couple of weeks ago.  Kim Williams will always have my support.  That is a no-brainer.  But Delcollo actually thought it was a good idea to ride around the restaurant where the fundraiser was being held with smears against Blevins on his truck.  This is extremely bad taste and gave me a gross feeling about him.  No thanks…

Pete Schwartzkopf, 14th Rep. District, incumbent, Democrat: A Jack Markell water carrier thick and thin.  It wasn’t just his appalling tactics with his desk-drawer veto of House Bill 50.  It was the disrespect he showed to members of the House.  As Speaker of the House, he has abused that role to further certain interests while using the big chair as a bully pulpit.  But all that pales to his behavior in caucus…  There is a very good reason many in Delaware refer to him as “Sneaky Pete”.

Joe Miro, 22nd Rep. District, incumbent, Republican: The one who brought the VERY WEAK opt out legislation forward when the House could have suspended the rules and overturned Jack Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  Nothing happened with that legislation and it was a way for Miro and other House Republicans make it look like they supported parental rights but instead brought it a crushing defeat that actually made parents feel like legislators don’t care about their rights.

Mike Ramone, 21st Rep. District, incumbent, Republican: See above.  But add to that, his telling me he can’t support the override because of John Kowalko…  not a good thing to tell me at all.  Add in his fervent support of charter school legislation that would have benefited charters for nothing but pleasing the charter crowd.

Bethany Hall-Long, Lieutenant Governor, Democrat: When I saw Hall-Long at the Del. State debate the other night, I saw someone who was pandering to a crowd.  I know, that’s what politicians do in many cases.  But it was thick as mud.  She was overdoing it.  She talks and talks and I don’t know if she truly understand what is coming out.  Her very quick plug for Teach For America the other night, after getting an endorsement from DSEA, spoke volumes.

Lisa Blunt-Rochester, U.S. Congress, Democrat: Her refusal to support parental rights in regards to standardized testing is a big reason I can’t support her.  But her Delaware Way of thinking, where everyone has to hash it out, hasn’t worked for Delaware.  And it is not going to work in Congress.  None of our Delaware reps in Congress have done anything really good for Delaware the past few years.  All of them voted no on an opt out amendment prior to the ESEA reauthorization.  I don’t see her supporting public education the way I would expect her to.  She seems far too connected with the Rodel crowd.  Those connections have been very bad for Delaware education.  While I think it would be great to have a female African-American Delaware Representative in Congress, I don’t think it should be her.

There are a few others who, a year ago, would have easily made this list.  But they earned some points for me in the last year.  It doesn’t mean I’m not watching them like a hawk though.  Some who I easily supported a year ago actually took a turn for the worse but they haven’t completely fallen into the pit.  Their conduct in the 149th General Assembly will tell the tale.  Not every anti-endorsement means I am 100% behind their challenger if they have one.  But my real endorsements are coming soon.

The Death Paradox

Paradox

If you look on social media and some of the blogs today, many Delawareans are talking about the vote in the House yesterday on the Death Penalty Repeal bill.  Senate Bill 40 passed in the Senate but the House shot it down with a 17-22 vote.  On the record, it was a 16-23 vote, but State Rep. Kim Williams voted no so the bill could have a potential shot at being reconsidered.

I will firmly state I am against the death penalty.  Like State Rep. Sean Lynn said yesterday, if there is even a chance of an error, than we cannot and should not put a person’s life on the line like that.  With that being said, I also oppose abortion.  To me, life is life.  Yes, the death penalty was put in place to execute the most egregious of criminals out there, but the Bible firmly states “Thou shalt not kill.”  Under that line of thought, a fetus is a life just as much as a murderer on death row.

For abortion, I believe that all life has an unfulfilled purpose.  I saw a post on Facebook this morning where a woman talked about being raped.  She had a child and gave it up for adoption.  Many years later, that very same child saved a woman from being raped at a party.  I often think about what could happen with children who are not able to reach their full potential.  Some don’t have a chance at all.  I used to be against all abortion with the exception of a woman who is a victim of rape.  I have changed that view in recent years because there are other options.  I understand women in those situations are given no choice.  But I have no doubt, if even 1% of our most famous inventors, writers, musicians, or leaders were born out of that environment, our world would be a lesser place had they not been born.

For families who have lost a loved one to a murderer, I cannot even begin to imagine your pain.  I have never gone through that, and I pray I never will.  I think every human being on this planet has thought about revenge at one point or another.  In my view, it doesn’t take away the event that precipitated the feeling of pain.  It simply masks it and any feeling from it tends to be short-term and can cause more psychological scars down the road.  And what if the guilty are not guilty?  I would find it very difficult to deal with if I found out I wanted death for someone who turned out to be innocent.

These aren’t easy issues, and based on some of the votes yesterday in the House, this can’t be seen as a simple Democrat or Republican issue.  Sure, many Democrats support death penalty repeal but favor a woman’s choice for abortion.  On the Republican side, it tends to be the opposite.  How many are out there that support both or are against both?  Please take the poll below.  I am very curious how people stand on these very controversial issues.

An Open Letter To Governor Jack Markell

I have tried to stay on the sidelines in the Syrian refugee crisis.  It is a deep concern of mine in many aspects.  My reasons for not publicly commenting on this are very simple.  I don’t want my readers to get sidetracked from education issues I write about.  The extremes on this issue among Delaware citizens is very apparent.  I have seen people de-friend others on Facebook because they don’t agree with their point of view.  There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground on these issues.  I see very Liberal citizens completely blasting Democrat politicians because they don’t agree with Governor Markell or President Obama.  I see those on the far right continue to trash those who seek equity in our society.

The plain and simple fact is this: there is a very huge population of people in this world who have no choice but to leave their country for fear of their very lives.  This is the reality.  Unfortunately, there are those who take advantage of that and come to other countries to perpetuate terror.  We saw it in Boston and Paris in recent years.  When do the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many?  When does the safety and concern for a country’s current citizens become more paramount than those who are not even having their basic needs met?  This is the crux of these issues.  Both sides have valid points that warrant further discussion.  What drives me crazy is the polarizing effect this has on social media.  I see this with gay marriage and abortion as well.  I cringe when I see very blatant and racist comments when the News Journal posts anything directly related to race on Facebook.

In matters of education, I fully understand I am extremely polarizing on certain issues.  I have never de-friended someone on Facebook though if they don’t agree with my opinion.  I will argue it until the cows come home, but I won’t shut them out.  As a society, we have become very quick to draw that line in the sand.

With that being said, I am taking a stand on the refugee crisis.  I do not think Americans should be put in harms way for the sake of individuals from another country.  While I realize there is more chance of a plane crash happening than a terrorist attack on US soil, the implications and consequences of another event would be long-term and damaging.  I don’t believe the US Government can say with 100% certainty that the vetting process is reliable.  While there is a chance, I can’t support accepting refugees from Syria.  This will tick off many who believe I am a Progressive Liberal.  If anything I am a Progressive Conservative Independent Republican Democrat.  It really depends on the issues.  In a nutshell, I am in the middle.  On this issue, I don’t think the risk of American lives being lost and disrupted is worth it.  9/11 haunted me for many years.  To this day, I always cry on the anniversary.  I didn’t lose anyone that day, but it felt like America was ripped apart and we lost something that day.  It was our sense of safety and security.

Today I received an email as I do every day from various groups and organizations on both sides of the fence on numerous issues.  Upon reading the below letter, I felt it best exemplified my thoughts and concerns with the refugee crisis.  I am posting it here because it is an important issue and a well written letter that best shows where I stand on this issue.  This does not mean I agree with every single aspect of the groups who signed onto this letter.  But on this issue, I stand with their opinions.  I do not think it is a racism or discrimination issue but rather a safety issue.  There is a very clear distinction between the two.

An Open Letter to Governor Jack Markell,
 
In a unified and sincere concern for the safety and economic health of Delaware’s families, we urge you to reconsider your position to relocate “Syrian refugees” into Delaware communities. We ask that you join the 30 other state governors in placing the safety and reasonable concern of your constituents above any other consideration or agenda.  
 
We all share your compassion for those who are suffering and want those who truly need refuge to get it. Like you, we recognize that true Syrian refugees need a safe harbor. That safe harbor is best found in Middle Eastern countries near their homeland beyond the reach of the present violence. The first and most immediate safe place in the region meets their need for safety. Their need is not tax payer supplied housing and EBT cards in Dover, Newark or Seaford, in a culture completely foreign to their Islamic worldview, and 6000 miles from their known way of life. 
 
We know from the recent European experience that “Syrian refugees” comprise people from a dozen or so countries from Morocco to Afghanistan. Claims in Washington of a robust vetting procedure prior to entry to US are not credible. The FBI has reportedly said it is impossible to vet that many people before they come into our country.  Representative Carney and Senator Coons have both expressed their concerns in light of this information.
 
We are equally concerned that your support for President Obama’s planned action reflects a disconnect from those you serve in Delaware. Delaware families are being profoundly impacted by limited resources including a lack of care for our veterans, also a concern of yours. Heroin use is at an epidemic level in our state and destroying families and communities daily. Wilmington continues to suffer from uncontrolled crime and there is a growing racial discontent.  We still face inequalities and deficiencies in our state’s education system that may likely place added burdens on the state’s budget. The people of Delaware just cannot afford the cost, financial and otherwise, of your plan to add to those needing assistance in our state. 
 
You will recall the Tsarnaev family; taken in by the state of Massachusetts under condition of asylum.  The cost to the taxpayer of their direct and indirect benefits exceeded one million dollars. No one in that family ever became self-sufficient or safely acclimated in the U.S.
 
As you know the two sons of that family killed 3 innocent people with a homemade bomb at the Boston Marathon. Over 200 other innocent people were seriously wounded in the blast.  After years in this country they acted with deadly violence as they believed their faith dictates. 
 
Finally, the Tsarnaev family was fully and completely vetted by our Federal immigration authorities as applicants of asylum. 
 
Ultimately, this “compassionate gesture” is estimated to cost the state over 100 million dollars. This cost extended beyond the social benefits taken by the family. It ultimately included, police operations and manhunt, emergency care for the survivors, hospitalization of the wounded, reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation and prostheses needs, business disruption, criminal investigation, state prosecution and public defender costs, and forward projected prison costs; all paid by Massachusetts tax payers.
 
We are faced with new and uncertain dangers that can only increase as we neglect to control those who gain access to our country.  We ask that you block state funding of any sort that would be needed and allocated to resettle this population in Delaware.  Importing persons from a vastly different culture and trying to integrate them is exorbitantly expensive and the unpredictable results can be devastating.
 
Our groups collectively represent many thousands of Delawareans who are passionate, engaged, and aware of the realities of recent events in this world conducted by a few Islamic radicals.  As Governor, your heaviest burden and first concern must be for the safety and common well-being of the people in Delaware.  We ask that you recognize the proven risk associated with similar relocation programs. We further request that you use your authority, in the best interest and public safety of Delaware families and communities, to obstruct President Obama’s ill-considered relocation plan. 
 
Respectfully,
912 Delaware Patriots
Faith and Freedom Coalition Delaware
Central Delaware NAACP
Rev. Dr. Shawn Greener
Frederick Douglass Foundation of Delaware – Sussex County
Institute on the Constitution

Election 2016: Delaware State Reps & Senators Who Will Have To Run Again

Election Day 2016.  The day politics can change in a heartbeat or remain the status quo.  For the past seven years, we’ve had a Democrat trifecta in Delaware.  The Dems rule the Governor seat and the majority of the House and Senate seats.  For the past twenty-three years, the Dems have ruled the Governor and Senate seats.  Many talk about a “blue Delaware”, but the House was ruled by the Republicans for a long time prior to 2008.

All 41 of the House seats are up for re-election next year.  11 out of 21 Senate seats are up as well. The big issues in 2016 are going to be the economy, the budget and education.  The following Delaware Senators will have to start campaigning soon if they decide to run for another four years:

Harris McDowell, Democrat, 1st District

Catherine Cloutier, Republican, 5th District

Patricia Blevins, Democrat, 7th District

David Sokola, Democrat, 8th District

Karen Peterson, Democrat, 9th District

Nicole Poore, Democrat, 12th District

David McBride, Democrat, 13th District

Bruce Ennis, Democrat, 14th District

Dave Lawson, Republican, 15th District

Brian Pettyjohn, Republican, 19th District

Gerald Hocker, Republican, 20th District

Out of these Senators, all voted yes for House Bill 50, with the exception of McDowell and Sokola.  For the final vote in the House, all voted yes except for the following: Jaques, Dukes, Gray, Heffernan, and Q. Johnson.  Not voting were Bolden and the soon-to-be-stepping down Barbieri.  It remains to be seen who will take over in the 18th District Barbieri represents.

Remember these NO and not voting members of our General Assembly.  They may get one more chance to shine on this issue with the House Bill 50 Veto Override.  Rep. Schwartzkopf has already said no to this, so I will definitely be making a big issue of that in the next year and four months.  Sorry Pete, you stuck it to parents by siding with Markell.  No sympathy!

This will be a huge election, statewide and nationally.  We will have a new President and a new Governor.  You only get to vote once, so make your voice count!

Mike Matthews (and many others in Delaware) Plea To the 148th General Assembly @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @ecpaige @Apl_Jax @DelawareBats @nannyfat @Roof_O #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware

Mike Matthews Facebook page is one of the first places I go when I am looking for information on education in Delaware.  Today, I found this:

This post is directed at the House Democratic caucus, which will be meeting tomorrow to determine leadership positions for the next General Assembly: House members, for the past two years our education system has continued to remain under attack by a Department of Education and Governor that refuse to address the real issues impacting our schools and instead rely on punitive labels and bad pieces of legislation driven by the ‪#‎edreform‬ movement. I’m going to be very frank: Current House leadership has generally aligned itself too closely to the governor’s agenda. There has been little pushback on matters of education outside of a cabal of reliable Democrats who’ve rightly voted against the Governor’s education agenda. Regardless of how the leadership vote goes tomorrow, all in the House — and Democrats in particular — must do a better job in 2015 of introducing and debating education legislation that’s good for kids.

I’m in full agreement with Mike.  I have to add Republicans need to do a better job.  If Greg Lavelle seriously wants to run for Governor in 2016, he needs to step up his game big time.  When Markell’s house of cards crumbles, people will be looking at who aligned with him.  The first place people will look is how legislators voted on key education bills.  In particular, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The legislators never received the chance to vote on Common Core, but they had their chance with Smarter (as the DOE now calls it).

We need the voices of sanity in our legislature.  I would love to see Senator Dave Lawson on an education committee.  I know this hasn’t been his forte in the past, but he has shown a keen interest in education in the past year.  It wouldn’t shock me to see him run for Governor in 2016.  He introduced legislation on the last day of the 147th Assembly to ban common core and everything that goes with it.  It was a futile effort, and he knew that, but he planted the seed.  Now it just needs to grow.