Our March 23, 2010 article "Evil in a small place"harassment and selective prosecution by New Castle County" seemed to catch peoples’ attention. A focus of this was what it says about Chris Coons and his unfitness to be a United States Senator. (His opponent, likely to get elected, is long-time Delaware pol Mike Castle, former state legislator, former governor, and long-time congressman. Not a good choice either, but he doesn’t seem personally evil.)
Of course, New Castle County has been harassing Green Delaware for years, (see Alert 626: Justice in Delaware: fined $3,751 for "property maintenance code" violations. , etc) and not just us. State and county laws have been changed to give alleged violators no recourse. Some time ago there was a movement before the County Council to give "code enforcement" officers pepper spray, etc, to fend off enraged citizens. We don’t know what happened to that, but it’s a fair indication of the real attitude of the County towards non-wealthy human residents. This spring I attended a meeting of the Eden Park/Hamilton Park Civic Association. People there, mostly lower-income people of color, talked about unpleasant experiences with New Castle County in trying to maintain their homes and churches.
Coons’ officials seemed embarrassed by the reaction to Evil in a small place and we got word that the current cycle of bogus criminal prosecutions would stop if we applied for a (not required) building permit. So, reluctantly, We did. We shall see …..
The Evil Coons saga continue…
In a subsequent piece , Alert 681: "Revived" Common Cause Delaware gives award to the least-deserving person in Delaware, we wrote about a scam run by Coons, apparently with the active support of Markell, to reduce the already-minimal role of residents in influencing what happens with development proposals in the County. Maybe the most significant thing about this was that the Civic League for New Castle County was involved in the scam–rather than fighting it.
Fifteen years ago when Green Delaware was founded, I thought that if we set an example of more principled and independent behavior, some of it might rub off and advocacy in Delaware might improve.
That’s not the way it’s played out. We’ve won many battles and I’m proud of that. But politics in Delaware have continued to deteriorate, and one org after another has been taken down: For all practical purposes: Common Cause is gone; the Civic League is gone; the "civic umbrella groups" are gone; the Student Environmental Action Coalition is gone. The "environmental community" is at least as weak as ever–look at the shameful role of "Clean Air Council" in promoting incineration. The Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center, if still active–we aren’t sure–is not helpful and often harmful. The Delaware ACLU, sometimes helpful in the past, seems co-opted into the Markell administration.
Who is left to speak for the people and the environment? Some good activists still work in Delaware, but they aren’t getting any younger.
Look at the bigger picture: Soon enough after the optimism created by the election of Obama (and Markell?) the public is in a sour, resentful mood. The "Tea Party" movement is on a roll and many people are expecting unpleasant results in upcoming elections. Take a look at the Delaware Tea Party site:
- What is the Tea Party
- Written by Administrator
- Thursday, 26 March 2009 11:04
- On April 15, 2009, Delaware Patriots came together to join voices in saying, "We want our Country Back!" This was not organized by any political party. It was organized and attended by concerned citizens that realized their Country needed their voices. It was deemed a threat by Homeland Security. It was a perfect example of the peaceful exercise of our First Amendment rights. The liberal left laughed, called us names, and said we didn’t even understand what the Boston Tea Party was about. We understood it was about what kind of power would control of our lives and our children’s lives. We believe in Abraham Lincoln’s words: "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." This site is dedicated as a place to unite this voices and press on to save our Country and the Values it was built on.
These folks, mostly, I am sure, are not hateful racists and so on. But what misguided positions they take!
Are they going to object to abuses of citizens by New Castle County? No. Are they going to object to the gutting of pension plans and health benefits for state employees? No. Are they going to stand up against harassment of Mexican and Guatemalan workers? No. Are they going to object to torture of prisoners of war? Are they going to object to restarting a refinery that pollutes our air and water? No. They are going to incite these things in the name of "freedom?" Freedom for whom and what?
They are really complaining about "abuse" of the health insurance industry and the hospital industry and the drug industry and the chemical industry and the oil industry and the arms industries and so on. They are sincere enough in their rhetoric but they don’t get it. They have it upside down and backwards. (The "liberal left" has that right.) In yowling against government they are denying the rights of the people and yowling for the rights of DuPont, Gannett, Blue Cross, British Petroleum, Exxon-Mobile….
In reality, they are yowling against human rights and for corporate rights. In this they are in the same corner as pols like Coons and Markell. And, for that matter, Colin Bonini. They have a lot in common with the Libertarians, who have been the most consistently present "third party" in Delaware for many years.
If they get what they’re asking for, where will we be? Do they understand the consequences of enacting their rhetoric as policy?
The right-wingers at the Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI) are yowling about the rights of public housing residents to have guns. Maybe they are right, legally. But are they yowling for the rights of these residents to food, medical care, heat, and electricity? Far from it.
- WILMINGTON — Thousands of Delaware’s most vulnerable residents, forced by their socio-economic status to live in some of the state’s most dangerous neighborhoods, are prohibited from possessing the means to defend themselves from the drug dealers and thugs who infest their communities.
- A five-month investigation by the Caesar Rodney Institute has revealed that all four of the state’s public housing authorities ban their residents from owning firearms — despite clear protections in the Delaware Constitution, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court decisions and recent rulings by lower courts that have found similar bans to be unconstitutional.
At bottom the CRI is just a bunch of rich white guys–investors and developers–who resent paying taxes and obeying regulations and want it all. But because they are rich they can afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on an operation like CRI and expect a good return on their investment.
Like it or not, the Tea Party people, the CRI, and others of their ilk are on a roll … serving the forces of darkness by misdirecting public outrage away from the causes and towards the victims.
Coons and Markell, as I see it, are another branch of the same family. Their presentation is more nuanced, but they represent mostly the same interests.
DNREC’s "Community Involvement Advisory Council" gives its money to the likes of incinerator-promoting "Clean Air Council" and the multi-billion dollar "Nature Conservancy," closely tied to British Petroleum,–and in Delaware to DuPont and Delmarva Power. (" The Conservancy also has given BP a seat on its International Leadership Council and has accepted nearly $10 million in cash and land contributions from BP and affiliated corporations over the years.")
Who is funding the telling of the other side of the story? Green Delaware got $14,000 this year from the Environmental Endowment for New Jersey , our most consistent supporter. The largest single donation we’ve every received from a Delaware resident is $1000. It’s not nearly enough, and after fifteen years of successes, but also harassment and personal sacrifice, Green Delaware’s leaders are thinking of moving on to greener pastures.
Is Delaware really sinking as a human community? I don’t know. At the moment the pumps are not keeping up with the leaks, pirates have boarded and taken the helm, and water is lapping at the legs of the deck chairs. The talent Delaware needs to get its act together is getting older, and/or being encouraged to emigrate. Can we get back on track? To really valuing our people and our environment?
For a slightly lighter take on some of this stuff, see
Alert #287: Pirates still active in Delaware … (2003). and
So, dear reader, what of the future of Green Delaware? How much do you value our work? Are you willing to send money to keep us going? Want to help run things? give us a shout. We have decisions to make and want your input.
PS: The air quality forecasts for Monday and Tuesday are in the GREEN.