The frightening state of Delaware

I’ve written several times about bring hounded out of Delaware by harassment from New Castle County.  You can read  some of these at greendelaware.org:    (Note: the greendel.org site is down due to failures at the hosting company.  We are trying to get this fixed.  Greendelaware.org is working but is missing a lot of content.)

Why I set myself up #4..making a farce of historic preservation
How I set myself up to be driven out of Delaware #3
How I set myself up to be driven out of Delaware .[#1]
Evil in a small place (#2) �.future of Green Delaware

But, I don’t want to complain too much as there are many good reasons not to live in Delaware.  Some points of a sad history:   Last state to practice slavery.  Last state to whip (flog) prisoners.  Highest cancer death rate of any state (various years).  And so on.  Over 1600 people were publicly whipped between 1900 and  1942. 66.2 percent were negroes, 65.8 percent were either unskilled laborers or farm hands. For those four decades, African Americans comprised 16 percent of the state’s population.   Delaware refused to ratify the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, outlawing slavery, until 1901, but legal slavery ended in December of 1865.  I wonder, though, looking at the horrific record of whipping, if a form of de-facto slavery did not persist in Delaware.  High rates of incarceration, infant mortality, and other indicators of bad social conditions.

In the last few years Delaware politicians have largely gutted the Delaware Coastal Zone Act (1971), surely the most significant environmental law ever passed in Delaware.  This has lead directly to residents being exposed to dangerous pollutants such as ethylene oxide.

Women were not allowed to vote in Delaware until August 18, 1920, when the 19th Amendment was ratified by a sufficient number of states.  Delaware itself did not ratify the Amendment until 1923.

In spite of this, some people in Delaware have always fought for social and economic justice, and for a cleaner environment.  Green Delaware has had the support of many exceptional people.  Strong people are activists in Delaware now.  Of course, the past is the past, and now is now.

Check out Man and Nature in Delaware  An environmental history of the First State, 1631 -2000, by William Henry Williams, 2008.  Williams ends with “Continuing to follow an unsustainable path places the future health and quality of life of Delaware’s citizens at considerable risk.”  (Williams died in 2997.   No update.  Green Delaware does not endorse all Williams’ views.)

Passing of Bill Boyer

Professor William W. Boyer died on February 26, 2020, at age 96, at his home in Newark.

Bill came to the University of Delaware at about the same time I was a freshman there, in 1969.  He was hired to chair the Department of Political Science, which was in chaos at the time.  Faculty were being fired for opposing the Vietnam War.  It is not easy to recall how different, yet the same as now, was the U of D.  Women were locked into their dorms at 10:00 PM.  One member of the Board of Trustees had been there since the 1890s.  Students were asserting themselves, and while many faculty were sympathetic, the old white men who ran the place were hostile and terrified.

Bill was a respectful, calming influence in those times.  He settled in Newark and became an important scholar of Delaware and other places including Korea and the US Virgin Islands.  His books included “Governing Delaware: Policy Problems in the First State ” (2000).” and “Delaware Politics and Government” (2009)  A synopsis of the latter ends with “The state has an individualistic political order in which public participation is indirect and citizen activism is limited.”   At the time of his death he was working on more books about Delaware.

Bill was a model professor and a fine human being.  For me he stands above the crowd of too many brownnosers and bullshitters that tend to accumulate in a place like the University of Delaware.  He will be missed.

There is a nice obit here, including:

“Throughout his long life, Bill fought for justice and equity, which over the years included speaking out against the Vietnam War, organizing a lecture series that featured Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, writing two books about the damage of colonialism in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and co-chairing a UD faculty committee which proposed divestment from South Africa as an apartheid state.”

Scheme to build an anaerobic digester for chicken wastes in Seaford, Sussex County.   

Food and Water Watch, along with other orgs, has been working on this.  The matter was before the Sussex County Council and Green Delaware sent a note: Dear members of the Sussex County Council

Michael H. Vincent – Council President

John L. Rieley – Council Vice President

Cynthia Green

Mark Schaeffer

Douglas B. Huds

Regarding:  “Conditional Use No. 2258 filed on behalf of Bioenergy Development Group, LLC”

We urge you not to approve a conditional use permit for this proposed facility. For decades we have seen Delaware used as a dump for wastes originating elsewhere.  Very often, facilities and processes have not performed as predicted by the promoters.  Unfortunately, state environmental regulators cannot be counted on for sound guidance.  Delaware lacks an “environmental review” program and permits are not processed until after land use approval is established. It is long past time that Delaware gave priority to the health and quality of life of Delaware residents. This proposed project has not been demonstrated elsewhere in the proposed form and scale.  Therefore, it must be regarded as experimental, with claimed but essentially unknown health and environmental consequences.  Again, it is long past time that priority was given to the health and quality of life of Delawareans. Please, “Just Say NO.”
Respectfully submitted.

Alan Muller Green Delaware

https://www.delawarepublic.org/post/sussex-county-council-delays-zoning-decision-controversial-biogas-proposal?fbclid=IwAR3Kr6rtidgWWQtErcI1Ho8SVBD-J6f6tBHfco3EfGqv2-Z-jm5F7bZKAik

To understand why it is so difficult for citizens to stop bad projects, consider this:  In Delaware environmental regulators will not process permits for air or water pollution until “land use approval,” usually by a county or city/town., is documented.  But hard information on discharges, material balances, and so on are usually only developed later, during DNREC/EPA permitting (and sometimes not than). 

So, hypothetically, the promoters of this chicken waste project go to the Sussex County Planning Commission, and then the County Council, and get their approval without much real investigation.  Then, they take that approval to the DNREC, which says, in effect:  “you meet our (very loose) requirements so here is your permit.”  Very often, project promoters and local officials say something like “don’t worry about environmental problems, you’ll be able to talk to DNREC about that.”  Then, when they get to the DNREC stage, they are told in effect:  “you are raising land use issues, and you should have taken that up with the County…..”

The people opposing this digester project are experienced and have legal resources so their chance of stopping it seemed likely better than average.   But the outcome so far is that the Sussex County Council has not only approved the project but is sponsoring bonds to pay for it.

Bad Air

Air pollution is something of a Delaware specialty,although Delaware regulators have made efforts, somewhat successful, to abate local pollution sources.  With climate change is coming drought,  and forest fires in Canada, California, and the US Northwest that discharge huge amounts of particulate matter (smoke).  This smoke can and does reach Delaware.  Air pollution alerts are to be expected.

Back to New Castle County

Chris Coons, now a senator, and Joe Biden, now President, both got their political starts in the corrupt politics of New Castle County.  How much influence that had on their futures is hard to say.

 in many ways the most powerful and damaging entities in Delaware are the county governments, whose control over “land use” decisions, taxation, and the General Assembly gives them a chokehold over Delawareans.

In many ways the most powerful and damaging entities in Delaware are the county governments, whose control over “land use” decisions, taxation, and the General Assembly gives them a chokehold over Delawareans.

(Unlike many states, Delaware does not have a standard form for county government, and each of Delaware’s three counties has a different setup.  The most harmful is that of New Castle County, which has long been the epicenter of political corruption in Delaware.  (Don’t take my word for it, do a search and see what comes up!)

Every legislative session New Castle County has a team of lobbyists at work.  It appears from the website of the Public Integrity Commission that lobbyists working for the County also work for the Homebuilders Association, State Chamber of Commerce, Comcast, Chemical Industry Council, Delaware City Refining Company, and etc.  Counties in Delaware have relatively few responsibilities; they don’t for instance, maintain roads or run public health programs.  So what are these lobbyists doing?  One favorite thing is putting into law more provisions for harassing and humiliating citizens.  We have no data to prove it, but I suspect New Castle County is becoming ever more arrogant and bullying under County Executive Matt Meyer.  Back to the days of Gordon/Freeberry?

What I do know is that NCC is demanding from me (Muller) thousands and thousands of dollars in fees and penalites, and putting up our house for a Sherrifs’ Sale.

Pandemic not over by a long shot.

Cases are increasing pretty much everywhere.  Delaware is now in the category of “escalating transmission.”  There is urgent need to mandate vaccination, and infection control measures such as masking.  If half measures continue it is not unlikely that a Covid variant will get loose that present vaccines don’t protect against.  I found this article interesting, suggesting that simple fear of needles is behind much vaccine resistance.  Also: One of the best sources of Pandemic information is Marie Schwab Miller on facebook.

Best,

Alan Muller

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