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Archive for the ‘Delaware’ Category

From CNBC:

Category Score 2012 Rank 2011 Rank
Cost of Doing Business 152 32 31
Workforce 135 36 19
Quality of Life 112 49 48
Infrastructure & Transportation 173 27 40
Economy 171 19 22
Education 107 31 26
Technology & Innovation 70 40 32
Business Friendliness 122 19 1
Access to Capital 41 30 35
Cost of Living 14 37 35
OVERALL 1097 43 36

ECONOMIC PROFILE

  • Governor: Jack Markell (D)
  • Population: 907, 135
  • GDP (per capita): $63,159
  • Number of S&P companies: 2
  • Top corporate tax rate: 8.70 percent
  • Top individual tax rate: 6.75 percent
  • Gasoline taxes/fees: 23.0 cents
  • Bond Rating/Outlook: Aaa/Stable
  • SAT scores (average): 1455/2400
  • Degree Granting Institutions (colleges/universities): 11

Sources:  Census Bureau (2011), Standard & Poor’s (2012), Tax Foundation (2012), American Petroleum Institute (2012), Bureau Labor Statistics (2011), National Center For Education Statistics (2011), Moody’s (2012), CNBC

 

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It has long been rumored that Delaware is a “Business friendly” State, especially with the “Businessman” Governor, Jack Markell. If you are Dupont, Bank of America, AstraZeneca, or a “green” company backed by venture capitalist, John Doerr, then, yes, Delaware is business friendly. But what if your just an average small business or average entrepreneur trying to make it in Delaware? From Thumbtack.com:

  • Overall Friendliness – C
  • Ease of starting a business – D+
  • Hiring costs – A-
  • Regulations – B
  • Health & Safety – C-
  • Employment, labor & hiring – A-
  • Tax Code – A+
  • Licensing – A-
  • Environmental – D+
  • Zoning – D
  • Training Programs – F
  • Networking Programs – D

 

  • Current Economic Health – 22nd
  • Optimism About the Future – 32nd
  • Growth Rate Last Year – 22nd

Because we’re friendly for incorporation services, we are able to outsource ~50% of our State’s tax revenues. So, we have a good business tax & licensing policy. If it weren’t for those legacies (that can be traced back to over 100 years ago), we’d be in the bottom half of the Country. No wonder our Optimism is so poor. Good thing they didn’t rank our public schools…

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Delaware’s Treasurer, Chip Flowers, squeaked into office in 2010 and promised to give Delaware a “heads up” before the next economic crisis hit so that we’d all be prepared. Since taking office, he’s left his rating of Delaware’s economy as “Fair”.

From his own July 1, 2012 review,

  • How is Delaware’s Consumer Sector holding up?    — “Delaware ranked 42nd in yearly job creation.”
  • How is Delaware’s Business Sector doing?   — “Regional Manufacturing activity slows.”
  • How is Delaware’s Financial Sector working?  — “Delaware stock index declines by 2.42%.”

Golly. I wonder what it would take to earn a “Weak” Rating?

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The saga of State Representative, Head of the State’s Budget Writing Committee, and Mayoral Candidate for the cash flow negative City of Wilmington, Dennis Williams, continues apace. According to the News Journal:

State Rep. Dennis P. Williams hasn’t rushed to pay his outstanding tax and utility obligations to Wilmington, and the city isn’t in a hurry to collect them either, it seems.

That’s left Williams, one of four candidates who have filed to succeed Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker, facing questions about why he hasn’t paid his debts since they were first publicized in March, and city officials explaining why they haven’t actively sought satisfaction of the unpaid bills.

Williams – who wields substantial influence over public money as chairman of the state Legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee – still owes $1,486.94 in delinquent city property taxes on the Madison Street and Vandever Avenue properties that he owns in Wilmington, according to city records. He also owes $1,697.83 in delinquent water and sewer bills, the records indicate.

At the same time Williams, D-Wilmington North, has been extolling his financial acumen during public forums, the records show he has been habitually late in paying his city debts.

Now, we’re familiar with Democrats financial problems across the country (e.g. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner or former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle); however, closer to home Democrats have been spending more time drinking, driving, philandering, and burning tires (aka Brad Bennett & John Atkins). But Rep. Williams is doing his part to hold up the Party’s national reputation.

So, what is his excuse for not paying taxes?

On Wednesday, Williams said that he had fallen behind on his city taxes and utilities because he was helping his ailing mother pay her medical expenses for several years.

Medication and co-pays for visits to the doctor have contributed to a bill in the “thousands of dollars,” he said.

 Note, that Rep. Williams and his wife, a Wilmington City employee, combined make almost $130,000 per year. In addition, I assume that Rep. Williams has coming to him his policeman’s pension. Both he & his wife are eligible for taxpayer provided healthcare. So, throwing in 30% benefits, the Williams’s are making over $170,000 per year.
I assume that his mother is a senior citizen and is on Medicare, which, according to the President, is a great example of government-run health services — very affordable with high-quality. So, it makes no sense that Rep. Williams should be blaming his mother’s government-provided healthcare as the reason that he does not have the $3,000 to pay his taxes.
Perhaps… perhaps… Rep. Williams hasn’t paid his taxes because he is not so frugal with his own money — just like his State Budget writing hasn’t been particularly frugal, either… The City of Wilmington is already running operating deficits, does the City really need a mayor that can’t balance his own books?

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The quoted paragraph below comes directly from the Editorial Board of the News Journal. The Editorial Board was weighing in on the continuing saga of John Atkins. Seems that Rep. Atkins has been using a prisoner work release program in Sussex County for a long time for cheap labor, and his use of these inmates came to light when Rep. Atkins inmates were illegally burning tires.

The News Journal was correctly following up on the issue and requested documentation on the work release program from Delaware’s Department of Corrections. But, the DOC could not respond to the request because it has not kept records on this program for 23 years (3 years of the Castle Administration, but 8 years of Carper, 8 years of Minner & 4 years of Markell. 20 Democrat years in a row for this basic failure of management).

Upon discovering the grossly negligent incompetence, the Editorial Board made the following blanket statement about the level of accountability that it expects from our Democratic Governor and his personally selected management team.

As as we have seen time and time again, the “Delaware Way” of governing – trading on friendships, relationships in exchange for mutually agreeable favors – is a stubborn culture to rout. It thrives on private transactions and agreements among lower level government employees, whose day-to-day operations tend to stay beneath the radar of management scrutiny.

via Good government requires records | The News Journal | delawareonline.com.

This is the first time that I have heard that the “Delaware Way” is thriving outside of the purview of Governor Markell’s hand-picked Department Chiefs. Imagine if the private sector operated this way with employees running around “beneath the radar of management scrutiny”. Where I come from, this is just simple management incompetence (Let’s recall that Commissioner Danberg worked in the Department of Corrections for many years on “Special Projects” before he moved to the Attorney General’s office where he became the Acting Attorney General before moving back to Corrections as the Commissioner during the Minner Administration).

I wonder if Gannett management feels similarly to the Editorial Board about publishing newspapers.

As President Truman said, “The buck stops here.” The News Journal Editorial Board has a different opinion about Delaware’s Governor and Corrections Commissioner.

 

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Dr. Lovelock seems to confirm much of what this blog has written about on “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” over the last 4 years. It is nice to see when people of different backgrounds and knowledge can come to the same conclusions. Sadly, Delaware’s Governor and his “Warmist” supporters are hurting Delaware’s economy by forcing high energy prices on Delaware’s businesses as well as promoting a regulatory regime that makes high-paying manufacturing jobs difficult to create…

The following is from the Toronto Sun.

Two months ago, James Lovelock, the godfather of global warming, gave a startling interview to msnbc.com in which he acknowledged he had been unduly “alarmist” about climate change.

The implications were extraordinary.

Lovelock is a world-renowned scientist and environmentalist whose Gaia theory — that the Earth operates as a single, living organism — has had a profound impact on the development of global warming theory.

Unlike many “environmentalists,” who have degrees in political science, Lovelock, until his recent retirement at age 92, was a much-honoured working scientist and academic.

His inventions have been used by NASA, among many other scientific organizations.

Lovelock’s invention of the electron capture detector in 1957 first enabled scientists to measure CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and other pollutants in the atmosphere, leading, in many ways, to the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Having observed that global temperatures since the turn of the millennium have not gone up in the way computer-based climate models predicted, Lovelock acknowledged, “the problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago.” Now, Lovelock has given a follow-up interview to the UK’s Guardian newspaper in which he delivers more bombshells sure to anger the global green movement, which for years worshipped his Gaia theory and apocalyptic predictions that billions would die from man-made climate change by the end of this century.

Lovelock still believes anthropogenic global warming is occurring and that mankind must lower its greenhouse gas emissions, but says it’s now clear the doomsday predictions, including his own (and Al Gore’s) were incorrect.

He responds to attacks on his revised views by noting that, unlike many climate scientists who fear a loss of government funding if they admit error, as a freelance scientist, he’s never been afraid to revise his theories in the face of new evidence. Indeed, that’s how science advances.

Among his observations to the Guardian:

(1) A long-time supporter of nuclear power as a way to lower greenhouse gas emissions, which has made him unpopular with environmentalists, Lovelock has now come out in favour of natural gas fracking (which environmentalists also oppose), as a low-polluting alternative to coal.

As Lovelock observes, “Gas is almost a give-away in the U.S. at the moment. They’ve gone for fracking in a big way. This is what makes me very cross with the greens for trying to knock it … Let’s be pragmatic and sensible and get Britain to switch everything to methane. We should be going mad on it.” (Kandeh Yumkella, co-head of a major United Nations program on sustainable energy, made similar arguments last week at a UN environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro, advocating the development of conventional and unconventional natural gas resources as a way to reduce deforestation and save millions of lives in the Third World.)

(2) Lovelock blasted greens for treating global warming like a religion.

“It just so happens that the green religion is now taking over from the Christian religion,” Lovelock observed. “I don’t think people have noticed that, but it’s got all the sort of terms that religions use … The greens use guilt. That just shows how religious greens are. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting (carbon dioxide) in the air.”

(3) Lovelock mocks the idea modern economies can be powered by wind turbines.

As he puts it, “so-called ‘sustainable development’ … is meaningless drivel … We rushed into renewable energy without any thought. The schemes are largely hopelessly inefficient and unpleasant. I personally can’t stand windmills at any price.”

(4) Finally, about claims “the science is settled” on global warming: “One thing that being a scientist has taught me is that you can never be certain about anything. You never know the truth. You can only approach it and hope to get a bit nearer to it each time. You iterate towards the truth. You don’t know it.”

via Green ‘drivel’ exposed | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto Sun.

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Previously, I blogged on the problems with the actual structure of the creepily-named Delaware Health Security Authority proposed by Rep. Kowalko, Rep. Jaques, Rep. Osienski & Sen. Ennis. That post can be found here. I don’t know how anyone can secure my health, so let’s look at the proposed legislation to see how these 4 wise men would:

§1605 Powers of the Delaware Health Security Authority.

(a) The Authority shall have the following powers:
(1) To make, amend and repeal by-laws, rules and regulations for the management of its affairs [Editor's note: This untouchable group will set their own rules without so much as a nod to a public rule-making process];
(2) To adopt an official seal;
(3) To sue and be sued in its own name [Editor's note: The Authority can take you to court];
(4) To make contracts and execute all instruments necessary or convenient for carrying out the purposes of this Act;
(5) To acquire, own, hold, dispose of and encumber personal, real or intellectual property of any nature of any interest therein;[Editor's note: This is an extremely broad government taking. Basically, the Authority can set its own rules thereby defining its own interests. Then the Authority uses its interests to encumber your intellectual property. This is tantamount to a government taking. Anyone ever hear of due process?]
(6) To enter into agreements or transactions with any federal, state or municipal agency or other public institution or with any private individual, partnership, firm, corporation, association or other entity;
(7) To appear on its own behalf before boards, commissions, departments or other agencies of federal, state or municipal government;
(8) To appoint officers and to engage and employ employees, including legal counsel, consultants, agents and advisors and prescribe their duties and fix their compensation[Editor's note: As we already know, the Authority is unaccountable and untouchable by statute. They can now hire their own staff and define what they want to pay this staff -- all outside of the control of the State budget writers or average citizens. If you don't like it, they can sue you or define your intellectual property to be encumbered and unusable.];
(9) To establish advisory boards and councils;
(10) To procure insurance against any losses in connection with its property in such amounts, and from such insurers, as may be necessary or desirable;
(11) To invest any funds held in reserves or sinking funds or any funds not required for immediate disbursement, in such investments as may be lawful for fiduciaries in the state[Editor's note: They can overcharge for their services and then invest that money  as they see fit. What does Treasurer Flowers think about this?];
(12) To accept, hold, use, apply and dispose of any and all donations, grants, bequests and devises, conditional or otherwise, of money, property, services or other things of value, which may be received from the United States or other agency thereof, any governmental agency, any institution, person, firm or corporation, private or public. Such donations, grants, bequests and devises may be held, used, applied or disposed for any and all of the purposes specified in this Act and shall be used in accordance with the terms and conditions of any such grant. Receipt of each such donation or grant shall be detailed in the annual report of the Authority, which shall include the identity of the donor, lender, the nature of each transaction and any conditions attached thereto; and
(13) To do any and all other things necessary to carry out the purposes of the Delaware Health Security Act.[Editor's note: To do anything that they want to carry out the purposes that they defined under paragraph (1)!]

So, to summarize:

The Authority will write its own rules, have the ability to sue you and encumber your intellectual property (aka steal it), hire their own staff (while legally being able to self-deal), invest any excess money that they have for their own purposes (remember self-dealing?), and by statute, do “any and all things necessary to carry out” their own purposes.

I wouldn’t give this power to a Saint. Power corrupts & absolute power corrupts absolutely. This list of powers is extreme and scary.

 

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Below is the Caesar Rodney Institute’s press release, and I’ll let it speak for itself.

In the early 1970′s, the Coast Zone Act was passed in the Delaware General Assembly and signed into law by the late Governor Russell Peterson.

The fundamental purpose of this act was to stop Shell Oil from building another oil refinery in Delaware along the Delaware River. Of course, the act went much further, fundamentally banning all manufacturing from the defined “Coastal Zone”. The broader affect was to indicate to manufacturers that Delaware was an unattractive place in which to build manufacturing even outside the “Coastal Zone”. The result is that over the last 40 years, almost all manufacturing in Delaware has ceased.

One can argue that our environment is cleaner, and therefore, people are healthier. But, that simplistic analysis ignores the clear negative health outcomes for the unemployed and underemployed. And, wealthier citizens demand a cleaner environment. Many on the Left believe that clean manufacturing is impossible, but these same individuals enjoy the fruit of that manufacturing (look at the oil-based fabrics used in the Occupy Wilmington site).

In any event, the law is the law. Governor Markell can’t applaud Governor Peterson for banning manufacturing on the one hand and then choose to ignore that law on the other for his preferred manufacturer.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RE: Lawsuit Filed against Governor Markell, Public Service Commission DATE: 6/20/2012

DOVER, DE – Cause of Action, a Washington D.C.-based legal advocacy group, has filed suit today in US Federal Court, District of Delaware, against Governor Jack Markell and five members of the Delaware Public Service Commission at the behest of the Caesar Rodney Institute.

The Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI), a Delaware-based non-partisan think tank, has challenged the merits of utilizing high-cost solid oxide fuel cells to produce electrical power for sale to ratepayers of Delmarva Power, Delaware’s largest energy utility provider. CRI was the sole entity opposing the contract between Delmarva Power and Bloom Energy at the Delaware Public Service rate hearings in October of 2011, on the basis the economic impact on Delaware’s economy would be negative because of the contract. CRI was also concerned about the constitutionality of the contract.

In an attempt to make the public aware of the issue at hand, CRI funded expert testimony in support of an engaged citizen’s challenge at a hearing before the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board, as to whether Bloom Energy had the right to build its Solid Oxide Fuel Cell technology in lands that were considered protected for wildlife. The Board voted to deny the citizen activist standing, which allowed Bloom Energy to begin building its Fuel Cell technology in the Coastal Zone. At that point CRI decided to pursue the matter further.

Since CRI was not able to convince the Public Service Commission and other government regulatory bodies to change their views on either the economic or environmental impact of the permit application, discussions were initiated with Cause of Action to pursue the matter further. Based on the information and analyses CRI presented, Cause of Action accepted CRI’s request to intervene in the matter based on constitutional issues that could be adjudicated. 

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I’ve just begun (5 minutes ago) a quick read of the Rep. Kowalko & Rep. Jaques & Rep. Osienski & Sen. Ennis proposed Universal Healthcare Act for Delaware. I didn’t get very far before purely technical issues began jumping out.

I’ll focus on just one, in this post, ignoring for the moment the debate of Universal Healthcare versus Free Choice (aka Socialism versus Capitalism) — a debate in which the Country, including Delaware, has already manifestly determined that Socialism is something that they do not want.

The following is a copy of section 1604 of the Bill (House Bill 392). It establishes the overseeing entity. I’ve bolded a few areas that are problematic at the least.

§1604. Establishment of the Delaware Health Security Authority.

(a) There is hereby created a body corporate and politic to be known as the Delaware Health Security Authority hereinafter referred to as the Authority. The Authority is hereby constituted a public instrumentality of the state and the exercise by the Authority of the powers conferred by this Act shall be deemed and held the performance of an essential governmental function. [editor's note: Messieurs Kowalko et al state that they want to attract and maintain the efficiency of the private market. How one does this by creating a controlling government entity is a fascinating piece of silliness.) The Authority is placed in the Department of Health and Social Services but shall not be subject to the supervision or control of said Department or of any Board, Bureau, Department or other agency of the state except as specifically provided by this Act.  [editor's note: Ahh.. Unelected, unaccountable, and unremovable. The Secretary of DHSS nor the Governor has any say in what this Board does -- the Board is in complete control.]

(b) The Authority may purchase from, contract with or otherwise deal with any organization in which any Authority board member is interested or involved [editor's note: Messieurs Kowalko et al are providing, by statute, the right for Board members to self-deal. And, we already know that they are unaccountable by statute as well]; provided, however, that such interest or involvement is disclosed in advance to the Authority’s board members and recorded in the minutes of the proceedings of the Authority; and provided, further, that any board member having such an interest or involvement may not participate in any debate or decision relating to such organization.

(c) All officers and employees of the Authority having access to its cash or negotiable securities shall give bond to the Authority at its expense, in such amount and with such surety as the Authority’s board shall prescribe. The persons required to give bond may be included in one or more blanket or schedules’ bonds.

(d) Board members, officers and advisors who are not regular, compensated employees of the Authority shall not be liable to the State, to the Authority or to any other person as a result of their activities, whether ministerial or discretionary, as such board members, officers or advisors except for willful dishonesty or intentional violations of law [editor's note: Notice that "Gross Negligence" has not been included in this list. So, a Board member can legally self-deal, be unremovable & unaccountable, and be grossly incompetent -- with no liability at all.]. The Board of the Authority may purchase liability insurance for board members, officers, advisors or employees and may indemnify said persons against the claims of others.

To summarize the problems with just the section that establishes the “Oversight Board”:

  • It is defined as a government entity, pure and simple.
  • It has no direct oversight or authority by any elected official from the executive branch despite its clear executive role (Later in the statute, 4 members of the General Assembly are placed on the Authority — and we all know their expertise when it comes to healthcare. The Secretary of DHSS is also put on the Authority as a regular member. These 5 members of a 15 member committee will have no authority to remove other members.).
  • Board members are legally allowed to self-deal.
  • Board members are allowed to be grossly negligent.

More on this bill, later.

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OK, so many people reading the headline might think that this post is going to be a snarky post about Delaware’s Race-to-the-top money & program. Nope. It’s a post about the Markell/Flowers mutual non-admiration society. What could be funnier than a couple of liberal democrats accusing each other of being risky with taxpayer money? Each fighting over who is the worst spending Democrat…

From the News Journal:

[Markell] Administration officials are now publicly questioning Flowers’ choices as the state’s top cash manager. Markell’s office cautioned Flowers against chasing “big returns” on taxpayer investments after hiring a financial consultant to monitor the portfolio. And one Markell insider recently accused Flowers of “holding a gun to the head” of state officials after he threatened to hold up a bond sale to fund a controversial Newark Charter School expansion plan. Flowers hasn’t backed down, accusing Markell’s team of “Nixon-style smear tactics” and lobbing criticisms of his own, including questioning Markell’s shaky $20 million investment in electric carmaker Fisker Automotive.

Now, we know that the MainStreamMedia doesn’t like “gun” rhetoric when it comes from Conservatives, but evidently, Liberals can use the term… liberally. And, of course, there’s nothing better than one Democrat accusing another of being like Richard Nixon. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

The Treasurer and the former Treasurer clearly have a problem getting along. The current Treasurer wanted a bigger office and so the Democrats kicked out the Delaware Commission on Women from their office space to give it to the current Treasurer (and note that while he’s kicking out the Commission on Women, the Democrats are trying to kick out their only statewide female officeholder, Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart by endorsing a male candidate – and who has the problem with women???).

So, while the Governor has spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on failed investments in Fisker Automotive and economy-strangling above market power rates, the Treasurer has opted for “constantly tracks[ing] movements in the state’s investment portfolio on a Bloomberg financial portal. He had them installed last year, and access costs almost $40,000 annually”, and “announc[ing] a three-year deal to pay financial firm Credit Suisse $350,000 annually to serve as his consultant on the portfolio, including evaluating performance, and searching for ways to boost yield in an “under-performing” portfolio”.

It is a tough call. Who is the worst big government spender in Delaware? The Governor or the Treasurer. I can see why they are fighting. It’s a title that they both covet.

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