Cape Gazette
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Friday Letters

Letters to the Editor

Apr 06, 2012
Representative explains sheriff legislation

There has been a great deal of misinformation circulating regarding legislation seeking to clarify that county sheriffs in Delaware do not have arrest powers (House Bill 290).   Here are some of the reasons I’m supporting this measure.

The current state constitution (revised in 1897) defines county sheriffs as “conservators of the peace,” but this phrase is not defined.  The constitution also designates state chancellors and judges as “conservators of the peace,” and none of these officials have arrest powers.

In the 115 years since our state constitution was last revised, the General Assembly has made numerous additions and changes to the Delaware Code refining which officials have arrest powers.  In a clear indication of legislative intent, county sheriffs have been specifically excluded from these revisions.

More recently, Kent County Sheriff Norman Wood requested the state Attorney General’s Office to issue an opinion on this issue.  In the Feb. 23, 2012 opinion, State Solicitor Lawrence Lewis stated: "After consideration of the Delaware Constitution, statutes and case decisions, we conclude that the sheriff and his deputies do not have authority to arrest."

A 1995 opinion issued by the Attorney General’s Office also concluded that arrest powers were not part of the county sheriffs’ powers as codified in Delaware law.

However, Lewis also suggested some additional action was needed.  “We must recognize that we are essentially interpreting the intent of the General Assembly over the course of 30 or 40 years,” he said.  “We think the wisest course for all concerned is to seek clarification from the General Assembly as to whether it wishes to grant county sheriffs the power to arrest.  In the meantime, we adhere to our view that sheriffs do not have the statutory or common law authority to make arrests."

Despite decades of long-standing practice about what constitutes the duties of the county sheriff, despite laws showing clear legislative intent and two opinions from different attorneys general, the current Sussex County sheriff has instructed his deputies to act outside their scope of authority.

They have made traffic stops as well as conducted operations specifically to make arrests.  Sussex County Council members have worried that this activity could expose the county’s taxpayers to huge financial liabilities from lawsuits filed by illegally detained citizens.  It was with that in mind that they unanimously voted to ask the General Assembly to introduce and pass HB 290.

Twenty-five of the Legislature’s 62 members have signed on to sponsor or cosponsor this bipartisan bill.  The sheriffs of both Kent and New Castle counties are also supporting the legislation.

Understand that this bill would not prevent members of the Sussex County sheriff’s office from receiving training and carrying weapons to protect themselves in the performance of their duties.  Sheriff’s deputies in Kent County carry 40-caliber handguns and receive annual training in their use.   In New Castle County, the sheriff and deputies carry pepper spray, a hand-held radio, and a 9-mm sidearm with which they must qualify three times a year.  Additionally, they receive training from county police in the use of force, CPR, officer safety and other non-investigative police issues.

It needs to be noted that Sussex County Council sent a memo to Sheriff Jeffrey Christopher last October asking him to specify what training he wanted his deputies to receive, its benefit to his staff and what organizations would conduct the training.  The sheriff has failed to respond to this inquiry, stalling the process for getting his staff the assistance they may need.

The sheriffs of all three counties serve valuable functions in conducting tax and foreclosure sales, delivering court summons and in some cases, transporting prisoners.  These agencies, however, are not empowered to arrest citizens.  In keeping with the suggestion of the state solicitor and the request of Sussex County Council, House Bill 290 is intended solely to remove any small glimmer of remaining ambiguity on this point.  In doing so, it will also eliminate the looming threat that Sussex County residents could be liable for paying multi-million dollar settlements due to the defiant actions of their sheriff’s office.

The sponsors of House Bill 290 have tabled it in committee to give the public a chance to have some of their questions about the legislation addressed.   Additionally, the sponsors are exploring the possibility of requesting the Delaware Supreme Court to make a definitive ruling on the issue.

Sheriff Christopher’s own recent statements support both HB 290 and the possibility of getting an opinion from the High Court.  In a WBOC story posted on their website Dec. 21, 2011, the sheriff said he was asking legislators to clarify the authority of his office: “I’d like to have a declaratory judgment on what the role of the sheriff should be in so much as how the law describes it.”  In published remarks in the News Journal on March 28, he said: “It ultimately needs to go to the court system to be decided.”
State Rep. Dan Short
Seaford

 

Problems with Mediacom return

This is a follow-up to my article of October, 2011 about Mediacom’s poor service in my area. I was extremely surprised when I received a phone call from Mediacom’s Mid-Atlantic office the very next day after the article was published. I’m not sure what exactly triggered the action - the article or the FCC complaint that I filed a few weeks earlier (probably both) - but in about one week after that, my issues were resolved.

And that’s after eight months of numerous phone calls, emails, and techs’ visits. For those eight months they had been telling me that new equipment needs to be ordered, delivered and set up, and all that takes time, and more things of this nature. Was that all a lie? As soon as a little pressure was applied, the problem was resolved right away!

For about 1.5 months I was very happy with my service. And then, late December/early January, it started all over again. Cable internet with DSL speed, but at the cable price. Again, more phone calls, service calls, more stories from Mediacom employees. No resolution so far, and it has been three months.

I have discussed these issues with my neighbors in Gosling Creek community via the mass emailing system our community has in place. It turned out that the vast majority of residents have exactly the same complaints - slow internet, frequent outages, poor service.

I would like to share some tools that would help anyone who is unlucky enough to have Mediacom as a cable/internet provider to see if they are getting the speed they should be getting. Please go to either one of these sites to measure your speed:

• www.speedtest.net - click on Begin Test

• www.speakeasy.net/speedtest - click on Washington, D.C. Most people should be getting close to 15Mbps for the download speed. Also, here is the link to file FCC complaints that I utilized: www.fcc.gov/complaints.

I would like to publish some telephone numbers of the people in charge of Mediacom’s operations in our region: Glenn Bisogno, vice president for the Mid-Atlantic region, 302-732-9332, Ext. 310, or David Rickards, technical supervisor, 302-462-5091. Anyone who needs more information can also send me an email to anton@antechcomp. com.

I encourage as many people as possible to call Mediacom using the numbers I provided, file FCC complaints and submit a letter to the Cape Gazette. The more people do it, the more leverage we have on the company, and maybe they will finally do something about the sub-par service they provide!
Anton Balakin
Lewes

 

Leave policing to proper officials in Sussex

I’ve been reading in the last few issues of the Cape Gazette about the demands of Sheriff Jeff Christopher to be allowed to assume the mantle of full status of a police officer for himself and his deputies. Is this to allow the county to become liable for any infraction that may occur while attempting to enforce the law that they do not now have authorization to do? Nor will they have the training to do so in the near future. I agree fully with Mr. Persow of Rehoboth Beach, who laid out many issues that the sheriff has refused to answer, (above the law perhaps) that indicates the county would or could be liable for every legacy issue that arises now or in the future. Who foots the bill for all of his demands?

I believe that policing should be left to the legitimate town and state police departments. This is a blatant grab for power by the sheriff.    
J. Roche
Milton


There is plenty of crime in Sussex County

This pertains to all those silent seniors and retirees who live in every community in Sussex County and are afraid to confront the crime wave here in Sussex County. There are always two sides to a story, none of which any newspaper down here wants to hear that other side.

Now I have formed a group of people who go around and talk to senior centers and ask about what they're afraid of in Sussex County. Ninety-eight percent all give the same answer - crime and the lack of the proper law enforcement that needs to come to these communities and do what the state troopers can't do.

The state troopers are our friends and they try to handle every aspect of crime here in Sussex County, yet with Sussex County Council  the big issue is control, and that is what the good old boys live by down here. So, they don't want anyone upsetting the grand scheme of the rotten politics that have existed here in Sussex County for years.

And, that's not just me saying this. I've run into people all over the peninsula who say the same thing.

There was a state troopers' meeting at the Indian River firehouse March 8 and something must have jarred a nerve or two, because the “big guns” came down from Dover, including the major of the group. Now he brings down a leaflet, about eight pages thick, hands only a few out and proceeds to tell the audience that showed up that the crime is not down here in Sussex County. Don't believe it. Go to a website www.nexle.com and it will show you all the crime that exists here.

If the citizens don't take a stand against the county council, which has no clue on how to handle the crime in everybody's community, except to try and sell us on the idea that there's no money. Are we all ready to let public officials do the same thing here in Sussex County that our own federal government is already doing to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, trying to control all of our lives?

If this newspaper has any guts whatsoever, then let's try and do a little experiment to find out how much crime is really here and how many people have been victims. Print my name and address and ask the people of Sussex County to write me. Complete anonymity will be respected. Ask them to tell me what, where and when the crime that was perpetrated on them. And also ask all the communities to send me what's going on in their community pertaining to drug houses, foreclosure homes that have been sitting idle for God knows how long, etc.
Edward H. Funk Sr.
Millsboro


Mayor will serve 20th District very well

To those of you who live in the new 20th Representative District which includes Lewes, Milton and surrounding areas, the suspense is over and we are very lucky. Marie Mayor has announced that she is running for state representative from our new 20th District.

We have been buying lavender from her for years, either at her farm in Cool Spring or at the Lewes Farmers Market. I sat next to her at a meeting on education, well before she decided to offer to serve us in the Delaware General Assembly, and was very impressed with her knowledge, passion and common sense.

You won't get any sound bites from Marie. She listens carefully and answers questions with insight and concern. And her background is perfect for the job. She is a farmer, business women, educator, a Master Gardener. She serves as co-chairwoman for the Delaware Tourism Council and has worked with the Delaware State Agricultural Council.

She has the same concerns that most of us have - good-paying, year-round jobs; preservation of our communities and our natural resources; a well-educated population to attract those good paying jobs; and affordable, top-quality health care.

Marie has the personality, enthusiasm, common sense and energy to get things done. She knows how to work with those who disagree with her. She would be an asset to any community,  but she is offering to work for us, and we should all be cheering.
Ann Nolan
Lewes



Support Lopez for new Senate seat

Recently Ernesto “Ernie” Lopez announced that he would be running for the new 6th District State Senate seat. When I heard this news I was both surprised and honored to have someone of his caliber step forward to represent us. I have known Ernie and his wife Janis for most of my life, and honestly do not know a better candidate to fill this seat. Anyone who has met Ernie is immediately struck by his caring and honesty. This is reflected in both his personal and professional life. I urge you to get to know Ernie as he begins his campaign for this office.

I am confident that you will not only find a great person, but more importantly someone who will represent us well in Dover.
Ron Krajewski Jr.
Lewes



Landon great choice for Lewes City Council

This coming election day in the City of Lewes, the town's citizens have the opportunity to elect a man to city council who is one of the finest human beings who they could ever hope to have serve them.

I had the pleasure of working in the office next to Bill Landon at Cape Henlopen State Park last year when he served as the park's volunteer coordinator, and I can tell you first hand that Bill is the most hardworking, energetic, smart, personable and dedicated person I have ever worked with.  He is a man of integrity and honesty; a person of character in a time when that isn't necessarily a common trait.

Aside from his quite impressive resume, Bill is a straight talker with a pleasant and down-to-earth demeanor.  He is a Lewes native who is always looking for a way to serve his city and his local state park to the best of his abilities (which are many!).

A vote for Bill is a vote for the continued success of the quality of life you enjoy in your beautiful city.
Susan M. Drake
Rehoboth Beach



Dan Anderson ads give misleading data

Daniel G. Anderson's most recent paid advertisement includes the following paragraph:

Tax increases. Income taxes were raised in 2009 at 17 percent on incomes over $60,000. Gross receipts taxes were raised in 2008 and 2009. This is a hidden sales tax.

The estate tax rate went from zero to 16 percent. Franchise tax increases were passed in 2008 and 2009; partnership and LLC tax increases were passed in 2008. Satellite TV tax increases were passed in 2009. Income taxes on lottery winnings for Delaware citizens were imposed in 2009.

The first sentence is materially misleading. What is the reader to believe about the income tax rate for incomes over $60,000? Seventeen percent? Wrong. The rate is 5.75 percent for income over $60,000.

The second sentence is not much better. The ad does not mention that gross receipts taxes were reduced in 2011, effective 2013, to prior levels.

What is the reader to believe that the estate tax rate is, per the fourth sentence? Sixteen percent? Not quite. This rate applies only to taxable estates over $10,040,000.

Probably only a handful of people in that bracket die each year in Delaware.

The balance of the paragraph could not effectively be researched over the weekend.
If Mr. Anderson's presentation is so compelling, why does he resort to rhetorical devices make his pitch? Maybe the presentation is not compelling after all.
Julian Karpoff
Lewes



Boucher responds to Mayhorn letter


Mr. Mayhorn,
I feel I need to respond to your letter because of the incorrect statements you made about what was written.  I was not crying while I was driving. I started to cry when the trooper pulled me over. I cried then because I realized I was speeding and I was upset and angry at myself for letting this happen because I have been a safe and good driver for decades.

Yes, it happened because I was thinking about events of the day and did not realize my speed was for the moment too high. I was in contol of my vehicle and I was not driving erratically or dangerousely. I had not maintained that higher speed all the way from Maryland, or for the entire two-and-a-half hour trip. So, please use a little common sense when you want to argue your point.

Tell me Mr. Mayhorn, have you never exceeded the speed limit in your life? What do you think about when you drive?  Do you ever think about problems you have and for a few minutes, not pay complete attention to your driving?

Most people, if they are honest, will admit it happens to them sometimes. I am not talking about dangerous inattentive driving that puts others at risk, which you alluded to that I might have been doing, but a momentary laspe for a brief time. If you deny this when you answer the questions I asked, you are indeed the world's best driver.

Congratulations, I have never met anyone like you before. I do respect the police and appreciate the risks they face each day they put on their uniform.

My point was, and still is, that a little compassion and understanding from that trooper would have the better course of action. Perhaps I would have seen that compassion from a sheriff if he had pulled me over.
Dorothy Boucher
Lewes

 

Outgoing Sen. Bunting deserves tribute

Those of us who are admirers of Sen. George Bunting are experiencing mixed emotions regarding his retirement from the Legislature of the State of Delaware.  He certainly has made a powerful contribution to the welfare of this state, but now deserves time to devote to his family and to his business. I, personally, got to know and appreciate George in his early years as a member of the House of Representatives when we often rode together to attend meetings and sessions.  I found George to be totally aboveboard about all of his decisions and his determination to find the right solutions that would be in the best interest of his constituents and other districts across the state.

Best of luck to a good friend and fellow Delawarean.  My wife and I wish George and his wife, Donna, tranquility and happiness in the years ahead.
Jay D. Wingate
Rehoboth Beach



VIA fashion show a terrific success

The Village Improvement Association would like to thank everyone who helped to make the Spring Fever Fashion Show held March 25 at Baywood Greens a sold-out success.

A very special thank you to the boutiques in Rehoboth that donated clothing and accessories to be modeled.  They include Azura, Beach Graphics, Crysti, Jane and Georgie, and South Moon Under.

The models were VIA members escorted by handsome men from Rehoboth in the buisness and governing communities.  They are Nick Caggiano Sr., owner of Nicola Pizza; Nick Caggiano Jr., owner of Nicola Pizza; Sam Cooper, mayor of Rehoboth Beach; Jim Derrick, Sea Shell Shop; Steve Elkins, CAMP Rehoboth director; and Stan Mills, Rehoboth Beach commissioner.  Everyone looked fabulous.

We also appreciated the items the following businesses donated for the ticket auction: Azura, Beach Graphics, Beach Waves, Big Fish, Cake Break, Confucius, Crysti, Dichroic Glass by Fay, Donna Karan, Fish On, Food by Design, Grotto Pizza, Jane and Georgie, Joanne DeFiore Jewelry Designs, Karen's Keepsakes, MC Nails, Man-Maid Cleaning Services, Mr. Dom's Odd Jobs and Finishing Touches, Nage, Nassau Valley Vineyard, Nicola Pizza, PNC Bank, Rehoboth Beach Car Wash, Summer House, Sea Shell Shop, See Me Beautiful Photography, South Moon Under, Southern Delaware Choral Society, The Med Spa & Salon, Thomas David Salon, Valhalla and Village Improvement Association members.

Proceeds from this event will benefit the Village Improvement Association Capital Campaign Fund. Thank you to all who attended and supported the event; we hope to see you next year on April 6 at Baywood Greens.
Carol Hall
fashion show chairwoman
Village Improvement Association

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