It’s Official, Anderson for Levy Court

I officially filed for the 3rd district Levy Court seat in Kent County. I have a lot on my plate, but I am concerned enough about this county to invest my energies to making it better.

We have some challenges ahead. Unemployment is up 25% over last year, but just as important so is underemployment. I have been talking with people working 3 jobs and still not able to make ends meet because the 3 jobs don’t pay as much as the one they lost. Others are paying 20 to 50 dollars a day to get to work. It is clear that we need a better business base here. We need to treat the businesses we have better and attract new ones.

The lack of emergency preparedness concerns me. The Rico Chemical incident was a wake up call and our county leadership seems to have hit the snooze alarm. I testified before the state and city governments about our concerns, but I don’t see enough movement on the county level.

I know from my duty providing Katrina Relief with the National Guard that local government matters. Whether the relief operation went smoothly or was a source of frustration was directly related to the competence of the local officials. I saw elected officials who rose to being local heroes selflessly serve their community. They were models of leadership. I saw others get in way, and even divert aid to their friends. I saw first hand that local government matters. My family lives here and I am not comforted by our lack of coordination between first responders and the local government.

I am not pleased with the way our county spends some of our money. I have detailed that elsewhere on this site. The Government needs to act like our money is a precious resource. When I am elected, you will have a constant voice asking the right questions.

Now you know why I did it, I hope you will give me a chance to serve you. It will be a decision you won’t regret. Thank you.
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This week we finally paid for our government–federal, state, and local

…At least we paid for this year. Cost of Government day came this week. “Cost of Government Day (COGD) is the date of the calendar year on which the average American worker has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government on the federal, state and local levels”, according to Americans For Tax Reform. Congratulations, my fellow Americans, you are now free to look out for yourself and your fellow man.

The worst part of the sad fact that Americans work the equivalent 197 days to deal with the economic consequences of government is that it will likely get worse. The entitlement bomb is crying out for reform. According to the Concord Coalition we face 53 trillion dollars (present value of money terms) of unfunded liabilities if we don’t implement reforms. That is about the equivalent of the world’s economy. If you took every dollar earned in the world this year, you could pay the promises Congress has made the people. That should be a wake up call.

Academy of Dover Turnaround

Update: we were featured in the lead story on WHYY TV Thursday.
There is nothing more fulfilling than being a part of success. The school is one of the great turnaround stories in Delaware education. Student Achievement is up. School morale is up. The school is run better in accordance to best practices in many areas. More needs to be and will be accomplished to make this a premier school. I am fully optimistic that the next year will bring that goal to reality.

Now it should be obvious that this was a team effort. In fact I would say optimistically, I may be responsible for 5% maybe 1%, but my 5% was essential to it happening. When I highlight my part in this to show you why I can be trusted, let it be with the understanding that a lot of other people did their part too. It was a team effort as the article said and without everyone’s effort the school would have failed. I especially credit the leadership of Mrs. Mary Scott (board president), Mrs. Leida Sanchez, MBA (treasurer), and the dedicated staff who went beyond the call of duty.

The Academy of Dover was a good school fundamentally (thanks to the vision of its founder), but it was facing some real challenges. The former management company did not live up to expectations and the school faced closure if changes weren’t made. The Department of Education demanded a new board of directors be chosen. I was honored to be one of those selected.

We faced 4 challenges. We needed better administrative procedures including financial management and reporting. We needed to improve our test scores and raise student achievement. We needed to meet 24 conditions set by the department of education. We needed to restore our image (damaged by the negative publicity from the problems which threatened the school’s viability) in the community and among our own parents.

Board President Mary Scott gave us our assignments. There was too much work to be done as a full board in just a couple of months before school opened this past year. So we each took an area and reported back to our committees which compiled and reviewed the work and reported back to the full board. We still had to have special meetings which lasted for 4 and 5 hours each (for an unpaid position). The results were worth the effort. We accomplished the conditions several at a time. We established Board Procedures for governing the school. We retained a firm to do an audit. We established best practice financial management. We sat down with our management consultants and made clear what we needed to happen. We had our contracts brought up to best practice legal standards. We brought the school up to the same standard expected of districts in many ways.

Stage 2 After the administrative items were handled, we went for the tougher job of bringing up student achievement. We implemented tracking of every student so a teacher and parents could know were each student stood not only in a class grade, but on each skill to be tested upon by the State (DSTP). We used Iowa testing at the beginning and end of the year. Next year we will test at the beginning, middle, and end of the year using MAPS.

I proposed a new math curriculum, Singapore Math which will be implemented next year. It is the number 1 rated math program in the world. We were one of three schools in the state of Delaware to pioneer the program. This was strongly supported by the principal at the time.

I also proposed a physical fitness policy, we now have one reflecting recommended practices and even received a grant to improve it. School safety was another priority of mine (having a child in the school) even though we had no incidents. We tightened some procedures and our bringing in more technology to help us over the coming year.

I have also had a part in bettering communications with the parents through a newsletter and an updated website. I also authored a parent satisfaction survey.

We are utilizing our computers better to aid learning. We have one for every 2 students. One of my areas was technology.

My part included writing some of the board procedures. It also included marketing and public relations. I authored the marketing strategy for the school. It was a low cost/ high effectiveness strategy. The school’s enrollment is up over 30% and climbing.

I am also one of those who proposed a gifted and talented program which will be brought on line this coming school year.

As I said many others did more, I am certainly not the star of the show, but my part was also significant. Because I am an activist, I do not believe in just belonging to a group. I am a man of action. If elected, I will do my best to achieve the goals laid out. I want to see a strong, sustainable economy. I have a record of achieving what I set out to do. Please give me a chance to work for you.

If you desire to make a donation, Thanks.

If you choose to contribute, I am most grateful. Thanks.  A local campaign happens with the sacrifice of people like us.  I don’t have the special interest groups, but I rather have the people anyway.

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By popular demand

Some of you mentioned that you wanted to see my WHYY appearance again. Just follow the link. Thanks WHYY and thank you Tyler Nixon for posting this. You can also go to WHYY’s site.

Property Protection Bill vetoed by Governor Minner

 Governor Minner vetoed the bipartisan SB 245. Delaware on line reported the following:

Gov. Ruth Ann Minner announced today she is vetoing legislation that would have redefined “public use” in the eminent domain law and made it harder for government agencies to take private land.

The Legislature passed Senate Bill 245 on June 12, after months of negotiations between parities involved in the issue.

The legislation would have only allowed government agencies to take private land if it was intended for “public use” and added that economic development did not meet the definition of “public.” It also would have tightened the definition of blighted, adding it must be a threat to public health and safety.

I am so glad we have the Governor looking out for the interests of the powerful. If we didn’t have people like her, the average citizen might be able to sneak a break in once in a while. I am so relieved that Marx’s vision of the government desires trumping private property is not locked up in a museum. (Sarcasm fully intended)

Miracles can happen even if they are small ones.  SB 245  is a bill which gave protection against the government using its powers of eminent domain to take property for public use against some individuals to benefit other private individuals without there being a legitimate public use like a road or school.

The Senate voted on the veto override (which required 13 votes, 3/5) 11 in favor and 9 opposed.  The vote failed. The bipartisan bill looks dead in its current form for this year.  The majority of Democrats flipped on this important issue.  They would rather stand with a lame duck governor (Ruth Ann Minner) than the public.  Unfortunately so did a couple of Republicans who would have been the difference.  I am not pleased with the result, but I do celebrate progress.  Most people didn’t think we would even get a vote.

I support bill in Kent County ensuring that our rights are protected regardless of the status of future legislation.

A Better Approach to Planning

When I listen to the land management debate, I wonder why the real issues are often mentioned only in passing.  We are in danger of becoming a bedroom community not a vibrant self-sustaining one.   In Kent county, most people can no longer afford to live here on the wages paid.  According to the housing report, most people are being stretched by rent and mortgages beyond what they can comfortably afford.  High energy costs make commuting  to find a better job an unproductive option for many.  Stagnant wages, high energy costs, and a lack of affordable housing have created an iron triangle of despair for many people. 

To answer this we need to begin with a smarter, fairer approach to land management.  It should meet these three objectives:  reviving our towns and cities, providing a diversity of housing stock, and promoting a vibrant business environment.  It needs to respect property rights and be environmentally and culturally sustainable.

First, I wonder why we need to build town centers where there is no town.   It is almost like the Democrat majority in Kent county is trying to dump all of the growth in areas still represented by Republicans; political gamesmanship is not leadership.  That doesn’t seem like real change to the CR district and does nothing to alleviate the traffic issues about which everyone around Dover complains. The idea has merit if it is connected to town growth plans and can connect to town services.  The county needs to cooperate with the towns not build new towns.

Second, we need implement a Transfer of Development bank and institute a system where people can easily sale or trade TDR’s.  If someone wants to sell their development rights, not even the county can tell them for sure what to do.  I spoke with someone who did three different deals and each one had different rules, all in the same year.  The worse part is that it was becoming harder not easier.  If you want to control growth, let people make money off of keeping their property rural.  It is the best way to fairly compensate people for choosing to preserve their property.  It won’t work unless it is a market commodity.  Ideally, the TDR’s should also be able to be used in the towns to facilitate Traditional neighborhood design plans and giving developers matching tax credits to rehabilitate housing.  We don’t need to devalue property and place unheard of restrictions on people.

Third, we need to implement a traditional neighborhood design as a development option.  In my view it should be available in all areas and be encouraged not subjected to higher scrutiny.  It would provide a mix of housing, allow churches, medical offices, smaller stores, and other businesses not high traffic to be in an area.  It would allow a landowner and developer to make a greater profit offering some affordable housing while bringing good local jobs where people live.  That is good environmental policy, and economic policy.  The bedroom community mandates have failed.  Let’s try something different.  Let’s give people more choices.  History shows that choice works better than mandates.

Fourth, we need to be pro-business in order to be pro-jobs.  I would like to see our industrial-commercial areas become enterprise zones and international trade zones. We need to work with the chamber of commerce (CDCC) to take advantage of grants available to businesses which export overseas.  With the Internet and parcel post services, it is an easy proposition for more businesses than we think.  There are more than 360 federal economic development programs.  Let’s have a contest with the colleges to see who can come with the best way to tap them.  I would also like us to take advantage of alternative energy and science grants.  I would also like to see a tax credit to any business anywhere in the county which expands.  The new expansion portion should be exempt from higher taxes for three years.  I would love to see start ups get a one year tax holiday.  These ideas won’t cost us money but could bring us a real return.

Fifth, we need to continue cooperation with the cities to coordinate economic development and not work contrary to one another.  The county should ensure that it plans proper infrastructure for industrial parks like the Garrison Farm.  If you don’t build it, they won’t come.  That was even true in the “Field of Dreams”.  Impact and adequate facility related fees should go into a trust fund used to for that purpose and not into the general fund.

What we are attempting to do in the Livable Delaware and the proposed Kent County Comprehensive plan hasn’t worked well for the average person and often fails at its stated goals anywhere I can find.   So why not try something smarter?  We need smart change.