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Please attend the New Castle County Council Executive Meeting Tomorrow (Tuesday 3/8) at 4:30pm

You may have heard that some Democrats on County Council have resorted to skipping meetings to avoid voting on good government measures proposed by our newly elected Council President, Tom Kovach.   We have seen this tactic used by Democrats in the Wisconsin state senate and apparently it has come to Delaware.

The “Wisconsin 6” – Councilmen Bill Bell, Penrose Hollins, Joe Reda, Tim Sheldon, George Smiley and Jea Street – were all absent with no excuse from the Marsh 1st executive committee meeting.  They claim this was not coordinated, but Councilman Hollins reportedly admitted to WDEL talk show host Rick Jensen that the absences were in fact coordinated.

The News Journal reported about this incident on March 2nd (full story).   Here are some excerpts:

Councilman Bob Weiner said citizens should be “furious.”

“Tom Kovach is being punished for committing the crimes of winning a special election, then placing an item on the agenda to talk about the poor way we passed the Governor’s Square deed restrictions into law,” Weiner said.

The absences seem to be a continuation of a move to undercut Kovach’s power. Kovach, one of three Republicans on council, won a special election against Tim Sheldon in January.

“It’s disappointing,” Kovach said. “But if what I’m doing is interrupting the status quo, well, that’s exactly what I was elected to do.”

Kovach didn’t take long in irritating some council members. Last month, he refused to sign deed restrictions into law for the controversial Governor’s Square III Shopping Center in Bear after several council members said they unknowingly voted to pass them Feb. 8 because the agenda title was too vague.

Since then, the council voted to have the council pro tem sign any measure into law that the president refuses to sign, a move thought to have been done to limit Kovach’s powers. All six members who were absent Thursday voted for that change.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?  – Come to the meeting tomorrow (Tuesday March 8th) at 4:30pm and send a message to the Wisconsin 6

The next executive committee meeting is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday March 8th) at 4:30pm – please come and show your support for good government.   There are three items on the agenda that concern how county council can change its rules.

  1. Councilwoman Diller (one of the good government Democrats) has proposed a 7 day public notice for any council rule changes.  There was a FOIA complaint filed against NCCo on March 2nd in regards to the lack of public notice of the sneaky February rules change to limit the Council President’s power.
  2. Councilman Smiley (of the Wisconsin 6) has proposed allowing council rule changes at any committee meeting (instead of just executive committee meetings).   This will make it harder for the public to follow and comment on any efforts to change the way county council works.
  3. Councilman Tackett (another good government Democrat) has proposed another rule change that will ensure clarity in titles of companion legislation.   This will make it harder to sneak legislation into the agenda like was done with the Governor’s Square deed restrictions.

The meeting is open to the public and public comment is welcome (if you wish to comment, you will have 3 minutes to speak).    Committee meetings are held in the Council Conference Room which is on the 8th Floor of the City/County Building (800 N. French Street, Wilmington, DE 19801).

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As previously pointed out in this blog, Keith Stoltz has made some sound and wise investments in Democratic leaders (original post is here). In Delaware, owning Democrats is a good plan, especially if you’re going to destroy the City of Wilmington.

Mr. Stoltz will be building 300,000 square feet of retail shopping & restaurants just outside of the City limit — Free parking, no city wage, no environmental issues, and lax government oversight (County Executive Paul Clark’s wife is Mr. Stoltz’s attorney).

In summary, who will visit Market Street to shop with roving Meter Maids dishing out $40 tickets to every 5 minute “over-the-time” shopper? Who will travel the maze of roads to get to the Riverfront to pay higher prices and risk crime? The answer is no one will. Anyone coming from Stanton, Elsmere, Newport, Newark, Hockessin, Centreville, or Brandywine Hundred will be able to go to Delaware’s “Brinton Lakes” rather than anything in the City. It will be cheaper, faster, cleaner, safer. Perfect in every way. Mr. Stoltz knows this. So do the Democratic politicians that he has strategically bought over the last 10 years.

  • Investment in Market Street? 30 plus million taxpayer dollars.
  • Investment in Riverfront? Over a 350 million taxpayer dollars.
  • Stoltz investment in Democratic politicians $70,000.
  • Affect on Wilmington? Bankruptcy.

So, the News Journal has missed the actual story. The real impact of this development will be on the 75,000 residents of the City of Wilmington where record crime, record unemployment, and collapsing infrastructure are turning Delaware’s signature city into a wasteland. Where banking is shrinking, Dupont is shrinking, lawyers are leaving. Now Mr. Stoltz has killed retail & restaurants as well.

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It was reported in the News Journal as well as commented on in this blog that both Pam Scott & Secretary Wicks had quit/resigned. I was out of town, and heard the news. I first thought, “Great. The people were heard and leaders stepped up to the plate and led.” I was preparing to issue a congratulations to the adults in the room. However, when I got home and read the stories, I put the “congratulations” away.

According to the News Journal, “the county’s ethics commission said, despite assurances from Clark of a “firewall” between his office and the work of his wife’s firm, there was no way to prevent conflicts or the appearances of improprieties without Clark or Scott resigning.” So, Ms. Scott was forced out by the ethics commission. I can understand her reticence to leave her position. She is a very capable and competent attorney. Her husband could have stepped down. However, he is a very ambitious politician who has run for numerous offices along the way. Now that he has finally hit the “big time”, it would be hard to give that all up. Too bad that they did not reach this decision on their own. It says something that is not positive.

As for Secretary Wicks, I figured that she and the Governor just wanted to let a few weeks pass from the last crisis so that she could pretend that she was just stepping down to have more time with her family. But then the newspaper article today detailing another ham-fisted land deal conducted with my tax dollars. It is clear that she stepped down in front of this next breaking crisis. So, she was also forced to exit against her wishes and without real leadership being demonstrated.

Perhaps I shouldn’t worry about the way that the changes happen and should just be happy that they have happened. However, as someone who studied decision sciences, I believe that the way a decision is made is almost as important as the decision that is made. A bad process leads to bad decisions more often than a good process leads to bad decisions. Delaware for the last few years has had more of its share of bad decisions, and it looks like the process hasn’t changed.

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Wow!   Two in one day!

February 18, 2011 will now go down in history as the day the “firewall” crumbled.   There was no dramatic “Tear down this wall!” speech, just a simple letter to the News Journal saying Pam Scott would be leaving the law firm of Saul Ewing, effective March 31, 2011.     You can read the News Journal article for more details.

Carolann Wicks also resigned today as Secretary of Transportation.   The News Journal has the story.

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Tonights’ Kovach victory is a very good thing for the people of New Castle County.   Congrats to Tom, his family and his campaign team!

Best wishes to Mr. Sheldon as well.   He is a decent, honest guy and a good councilman.   But he ran a lousy campaign, to the point of being embarrassing when you consider how much money he had to spend.  For his sake I hope he does some housecleaning before 2012.

Kovach ran a good social campaign – twitter, facebook, etc.    Compare Kovach’s 416 facebook fans to Sheldon’s 102 fans (Kovach also has a personal page with 710 friends).  Kovach had dozens and dozens of posts over the last 6 weeks.  Sheldon had six, none between Dec 5 and yesterday.

This win gives Republicans up and down the state hope, but the DE GOP still has a lot of work to do.  State Committee should take a lesson and examine what Team Kovach did.   Tom assembled a great crew of people and they got the job done on a shoestring budget.

From Adam Taylor on the News Journal site:

Republican Tom Kovach defeated Democrat Tim Sheldon in today’s special election for New Castle County Council President, getting 58 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election returns.

Kovach overcame a huge voter-registration disadvantage. There are 94,770 more Democrats than Republicans countywide.

Kovach, a Brandywine Hundred resident and an attorney with a practice in Wilmington, received 16,721 votes. Sheldon, of Newark, a union pension manager, got 12,139 votes, or 42 percent. Two minor-party candidates each received fewer than 1 percent of the vote.

About 7 percent of the county’s 391,654 voters turned out today.

Sheldon will remain as the council’s representative in the 9th District. He has two years left in his term.

Many observers said the campaign boiled down to a referendum on which candidate would be the better watchdog over new County Executive Paul Clark and potential conflicts with land developers represented by his wife Pam Scott’s law firm, Saul Ewing.

The election was triggered in November when Clark — the former county council president — automatically succeeded Chris Coons as county executive after Coons beat Christine O’Donnell for a U.S. Senate seat.

Kovach will be sworn-in next week and serve the two remaining years of Clark’s term.

The job pays $45,604 a year.

 

 

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Vote, Vote, Vote!

Get out and vote for Tom Kovach! You have until 8pm.   Same polling places as the Nov election.   Click here to lookup where you vote.    From all reports (and as expected), turnout is super low so far – your vote is very important!

 

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