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Thank you for taking one last trip on our dime, Gov. Minner 27 December, 2008

Posted by David Anderson in Uncategorized.
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We don’t attack taxpayer funded business trips, here. They are usually useful and legitimate expenses, but once in a while some people try to game the system. According to the Dec. 17 2008 Delaware State News, Governor Minner went to the Virgin Islands for a review of a Governor’s conference held in Philadelphia just 25 to 30 miles to our north. The problem is that she didn’t even attend the event in Philly.

Let’s get this straight. She is a month out and decides that a summary of an event not important enough to attend is worth more to us than the event. Attending the event would have cost us a couple of thousand with her security details and staff at the most. Real cost would have been a few hundred dollars (wages are paid regardless). Taking the entire group to the Virgin Island costs a bit more.

When she is demanding 15% cuts from state agencies, you could ask the obvious questions. They are so obvious that we won’t ask them.
We won’t even be outraged. We will just say that we are sorry that it wasn’t a one way trip.

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Christmas is still important 22 December, 2008

Posted by David Anderson in Uncategorized.
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In today’s world, we often forget why Christmas matters. I believe that by secular standards, He is one of the ten most influential people to ever live (many would argue the first, but I am not looking for an argument). His teaching completely revamped human culture. His movement has grown over century after century. His devotees have had as great an impact for good in the history of the world as anyone ever born.

Consider the state of the world before Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth. The world was a very dark place where violence and the dark side of power were revered. The voices of people who advocated living by the better side of our nature never quite gained traction. After him, there was a philosophical, societal framework for a Kingdom based upon love, mutual respect, and justice which could spread across cultures and unite people of all kinds of heritages.

Before Jesus there would be no investments for hospitals because the sick were seen as weak. Doctors were regarded a body plumbers and not highly regarded. His emphasis on healing changed that.
Women were often not regarded outside of their role in fertility and sexuality in the majority of cultures. Christian ethics regarded them equally. Everything from the role of the blessed Mother to the fact that Jesus himself first appeared after the Resurrection to the women and entrusted them to give his message to the Apostles until he came to them personally gave rise to the new respect that women had. Women held office in the Church as deaconesses, evangelists, teachers, and prophets. Widows were to be regarded not killed to go with their husbands. The Women’s suffrage movement came out of the Christian Church along with the anti-slavery movement.

Children were no longer property to be thrown away if imperfect. Abortion, infanticide, and abandonment were forbidden. Jesus set the example personally by taking time to be with children during his services and defending them to the leadership.
The creation of Charities were inspired by Mathew 25 and other teachings.

The emphasis on universal education, the invention of the printing press, and the development of modern science came out of the Christian philosophy. So did universal human rights. Man is created in the image of God and deserves respect solely on that basis.

His teachings and actions were a radical departure from the norm and 2000 years later we are still trying to attain that standard. The great news is that the world is forever better because of the evolution of our standards which he set in motion.

You can think religion is a joke and still find reasons to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ or Yeshua of Nazareth. If we don’t discuss the impact he had on all of us, it is no wonder many can have a winter break or a holiday season. Go celebrate the renewal of humanity, celebrate Christmas.

Republicans win DE6th Special election 21 December, 2008

Posted by David Anderson in Uncategorized.
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It was an important victory, now the GOP has the votes to block a tax hike.

Tom Kovach wins 1540 to 1467.

It is a beautiful thing. This was an important victory. The Democrats were punished for trying to manipulate the voters much like Republicans were in the Smith district when voters preceived the same. The incumbents knew that they may well leave yet ran anyway only to resign after winning. This time was blatant and unexplainable. There was enough time to have had another candidate.

Congratulations to the winner of this hard fought race. The otherside was ready for this race and yet you won a Christmas challenge in a Democrat voter registration advantaged district. I want to hear this story.

This is an important victory. We needed it to keep the Democrats from having a 3/5’s majority in both house. Now we can keep proposed tax increases like the gross receipts and maybe an income tax surcharge temporary and small. We are now only 4 votes away from the lead. I can think of 2 possible pick ups in Kent county in two years. We need one more in NC and one in Sussex. It is a realistic map. The one today was the hard one.

Governor Markell–Here are a few suggestions that you may have missed 18 December, 2008

Posted by David Anderson in Uncategorized.
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Here are my top ten budget reforms in no order of priority.

Repeal the  new prevailing wage law because it is not the real prevailing wage.  I am all for a decent living wage in government contracts, but it makes no sense to cancel projects and have no wages.  Balance is a good thing.

Allow more competition in the state supplier list by opening it up to new suppliers every quarter for mundane items and simplify the process.  Many times it is cheaper to go to Sam’s or Staples than buy from the state’s approved list.  If a company can come up with a great deal, why make them wait a year or more to offer it.

Let’s get a performance audit of the Medicaid plan and the SChip program.  I don’t want to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.  I just want to find where the system is working and where it is not.

Sentencing reform would help us keep the dangerous people incarcerated and eliminate silly mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenders.  Drug rehabilitation would be money better spent than mandatory minimum sentences.  Our prison system is one of the fastest growing portions of our budget yet we aren’t much safer.

Sorry, but a salary freeze has to be a given.  Slight increases in employee premium shares for  dependent health care seem unavoidable for now.  That is painful for me to even write, but it is better than job or hour cuts.

Stop spending tax money for open spaces and help the counties establish Transfer of Development Rights banks.  The key to making it work is for the cities to cooperate.  We need to rebuild our cities not artificially build town centers in our counties.  Livable Delaware is a failed experiment which we can no longer afford.

Deregulate school construction.  Let’s allow schools to save money in construction by making sure schools are safe not dictating every detail. Why force prevailing wage on the schools?  Why not allow steel buildings and cut the cost by as much as 2/3’s.  Why stop a district from planning for obvious growth?

Now let me borrow a couple from Dave Burris of the Delaware Taxpayers’ coalition.  I agree that we need a performance audit of state government.  Many of State Auditor Tom Wagner’s old recommendations are still on the shelf.  Let’s find which ones are still relevant.

I also agree that we need to invite the citizens in the process with a lot more transparency.  A good start would be putting the proposed budget out and on line 5 days before the vote and the bond bill 3 days before the deadline. 

Finally, Let’s re-energize the  process.   First, we need an active sunset committee which asks of each program over the next two years, does this program fit into the purpose of state government, is it fulfilling its goals, is it effective.  Second, take the budget into a committee of the whole with a rule which allows members to offer budget efficiencies or new proposals only by offsetting costs.  Third, let’s set up a temporary DEFAC style committee for economic growth.  Let’s get some economic, business, and community experts to recommend some approaches for the future.

DEFAC not Dispensing Christmas Joy. 15 December, 2008

Posted by David Anderson in Uncategorized.
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The State financial Wizards have determined that state revenue will fall 600 million dollars short of original projections due to the national and local economies. That includes 100 million dollars out of the current budget. You can already hear the tax man coming. There is talk of more gaming revenues, a repeal of the cut on gross receipts, and an income tax hike.

Michael Steele for GOP Chairman 10 December, 2008

Posted by David Anderson in Uncategorized.
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The Man of Steele has a plan to rescue the Republican Party. We endorse a new direction for the Republican Party. The party needs leadership which is both principled and inclusive. Leadership which builds on our traditions, but will boldly communicate the message to 21st century America.
There is only one candidate to fit that criteria. It is Michael Steele. He was a statewide elected official and a former state chairman in MD. He has a track record of success, and if you follow the link, you will see he has the vision to match. Contact your State GOP and urge the National committee persons and chair to support him.

You can find out more about Lt. Gov. Steele by following the web link.

In Defense of the Referendum 5 December, 2008

Posted by David Anderson in Uncategorized.
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LEAD (Leadership in Educational Achievement in Delaware) committee chairman Marvin “Skip” Schoenhals made a controversial recommendation to limit referendum oversight for operating expenses. It was not a radical proposal. It did not seek to abolish, but limit the people’s oversight. A limit would be set and if the limit is surpassed then a vote would be necessary. I oppose this in principle. I could tolerate a low limit of 3 percent or less to allow flexibility to deal with energy spikes or make reforms, but that does not seem to be the intent. The want to begin the process of cutting us out of the loop.

I favor the right of the people to have oversight over their property taxes. More importantly, I favor the right of referendum more broadly. Referendum is an expression of the basic right of the people to alter their form of government. That right is hindered by the political class in Delaware. We are the only state which does not even allow the people to vote on Constitutional amendments. The idea of rolling back the very limited referendum we do have is repugnant to me. It is our government and I am sick of people saying “There, there let us take care of everything”. They do it now and what has it gotten us?

Have we had a great economic development plan? No. Have we had a great educational system? No. Do we have a some of the worst infant mortality, drug treatment, and cancer rates in the nation? Yes. Do we have some of the highest state government spending per person in the country? Yes. For all of that spending, we have little to show for it. Why? There is little accountability even in half of the legislature. The state senate is run like a closed club not a legislative body. About every 20 or 30 years we elect a governor to get us on track like DuPont and hopefully Markell then the political class rides the tank for the next two decades with little innovation.

We need the ability to bring active oversight from the people into the process. The best mechanism is the power of the ballot.

Our experience in the schools has not been negative. Sure sometimes referenda are voted down, but when the need is communicated, they also pass. The system works. What happens when there is no oversight? Look at the lack of control in the VoTech system. They spent money on lavish meetings and care little about controlling costs. Has it given us better education? The LEAD committee recommended significant cost savings in its first report, but little happened. It appears they have given up on much of the cost savings and have settled on tax increases. That is a shame. The people will pay for real reform, but they want to see our money used better first. Don’t be afraid to trust us, but do be afraid to continue the current scam.

Levin Comeback 5 December, 2008

Posted by David Anderson in Economic Policy, State.
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Alan Levin is a great business mind who will serve the state well as Economic Development Director. It looks as Levin’s political instincts have paid off after all. It would have been a bad year to run and by not running he ends up serving the state.

Mr. Levin brings a significant change in focus to the office. We will now pay as much attention to growing local businesses as trying to attract businesses here. That makes sense. All of Governor Minner’s foreign trips gave us nothing but bills. Mr. Levin will bring a sharp, focused approach to moving us ahead.

Congratulations are in order to Governor Markell. The man obviously cares more about getting the job done than the political registration of a qualified person. Previous Democrat administrations would rather get an out of stater with a D behind their name than chose a qualified republican. The Governor elect is beyond that and in the process has assembled an economic team second to none. I am just waiting for Eleanor Craig to be reappointed to DEFAC.

I know that I am a representative of the loyal opposition, but what is there to oppose? Govenor-elect Markell is bringing us together to address the economic crisis. I can only praise his leadership.

The tax man cometh 1 December, 2008

Posted by David Anderson in Uncategorized.
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Smyrna is looking at a significant tax increase. Will this be the first of a trend?