Green Delaware News #30

Be an informed voter - Green Delaware's comments on candidates

    Port Penn, Delaware, November 2, 2000.  In closely-contested elections you CAN make a difference. If only a few dozen republicans had voted for Bill Lee rather than John Burris, Delaware politics would have changed. But how are people to decide in the face of the shallow rhetoric belching out in the days remaining before Election Day? To be a smart voter, you need to look beyond campaign rhetoric, and consider what INTERESTS the candidates represent and what if any track record they have.

    Here are a comments from Green Delaware. Note that we haven't tried to cover every race, only some that might be in doubt, and/or ones we know something about from direct experience. We hope no one will feel slighted. Green Delaware is totally non-partisan. Our comments aren't based at all on party affiliation, or how a race might influence the control of a legislative body. Some good friends of Green Delaware, such as Charles Potter, Bruce Reynolds, and Dave McBride, aren't discussed because they aren't in seriously contested races. Also, there are other candidates from other parties, such as the Constitution Party, Libertarian Party, and Natural Law Party. These are generally, admirable, public-spirited folk who deserve more credit and recognition than they get.

    To see who is running, check the Department of Elections web site: http://elba2.state.de.us/candidates.htm.  Many of the candidates have web sites liks there easily found with a search engine. Let candidates know that their environmental stances influence your vote. 

    Gore v Bush v Nader for President

    Bush would dig, drill, pave, and pollute without moderation. "For an environmentally concerned person to vote for Bush would be like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders." This leaves many in a quandary over voting for Al Gore or Ralph Nader. Nader, whose stature and contributions dwarf Gore and Bush together, "tells it like it is" about the problems facing our country and what to do about them. An active Green Party of Delaware has brought Nader to Delaware twice and worked hard for him. But many hesitate to actually vote for him, feeling that "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush." Others argue that the Nader campaign has brought out people-particularly young people-who otherwise wouldn't vote at all. Gore wrote an important book about environmental issues, but it's hard to judge him by his role in the Clinton Administration. He's undoubtably smarter and of more substance than Bush. 

    See this comparison of Bush and Gore. Sorry we didn't find a 3 way comparison (yet).

    Look into your own heart on this one: Gore or Nader. No Bush.

    Minner v Burris v McDowell for Governor of Delaware

    John Burris IS the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber, representing Delaware's big corporations-including many of the world's worst environmental offenders-is Delaware's single most effective enemy of the environment and of public health. Its control and manipulation is far-reaching. The Chamber lobbies relentlessly for more pollution and more development. Burris has claimed that his "best contribution" to Delaware is the Delaware Public Policy Institute (DPPI). DPPI claims to be an independent think tank but is bogus--a front for the Chamber. When investigated by Green Delaware it proved not to even have it's own phone number (they got one). DPPI-commonly cited by Delaware's press as if it were legitimate-has effectively manipulated discussion of public issues to exclude independent points of view. Burris' proposals to "study" Delaware's cancer problem are pure bullshit. The Delaware American Association of University Women reports that Burris supports "Weakening clean air and water standards." Intelligent and articulate, Burris theoretically could change sides and represent the public, but we think his use of dubious if not fraudulent methods at the Chamber disqualifies him. 

    In eight years, Ruth Ann Minner has never once answered a letter from Green Delaware or agreed to meet with us. She has no record of supporting citizens' efforts to reduce air and water pollution, and offers nothing meaningful about sprawl development. She seems intolerant of independent points of view. For example, she listens only to the anti-recycling, pro-in incineration Delaware Solid Waste Authority. She doesn't support efforts to stop raw sewage dumping, claiming-wrongly-that the Federal government is going to take care of it. Respected by many as a self-made woman, Minner simply seems out of her depth.

    Floyd McDowell, Independent candidate, has supported Green Delaware's efforts for years. (Disclosure-McDowell is a personal friend of this writer and has stated that if elected he would offer him the job of head of DNREC.) McDowell, not always as clear as he could be on issues, is clear as a bell in his commitment to integrity and open, democratic government. 

    Vote for Minner or vote for McDowell. Burris would be the fox in the henhouse.

    Carper v Roth for US Senate

    As Governor, Tom Carper shut down efforts to protect wetlands. He weakened the Coastal Zone Act. He appointed a Natural Resources secretary who said he "was not an advocate for the environment." He gutted the Public Service Commission, protecting the huge emissions of Conectiv, and laying the groundwork for unwise deregulation. Carper gave grants and loans to companies, such as Rodel, Motiva, and Metachem, which he knew were violating environmental laws and endangering the health of Delawareans. He gave Motiva a permit to dump 38,000 pounds of oil and grease into the Delaware River every day. He claims to have reduced toxic air emissions, when in fact it's always been his stated policy to do nothing until compelled by the Federal Government. When public concern about exploding sprawl development in Delaware became hard to ignore, Carper gave two hundred thousand tax dollars to the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce (acting through the so-called Delaware Public Policy Institute) to put on a pro-development "summit." which brought legislation to a halt. Carper has also taken many steps against public participation in government, such are his current proposals to charge fees for using the Freedom of  nformation Act. An all-round horror show.

    Incumbent Roth's environmental record isn't so good either. He get's credit from national environmental groups for sometimes voting "right" logging and oil drilling in Alaska, but he's done little for Delaware's environment, usually voting the line of the chemical and auto industry polluters. Roth successfully promoted subsidies for incinerating chicken manure. (When we contacted his staff to ask whether they had looked into the implications for air quality, the answer was "no.") Roth has supported millions of Federal dollars for a tourist-oriented trolley in Wilmington, but has not yet responded to requests for help with the same city's raw sewage dumping crisis. 

    Roth, not being Carper, and being older, with fewer years left to do harm, has this writer's vote.

    Brooks Banta v Joan Wood--Kent County Levy Court

    Banta, the incumbent, is that rare critter in Delaware-an independent-minded county officeholder. Banta has a reputation for doing his homework, and is almost the
    only officeholder in Delaware with the gumption and good sense to question bringing a semiconductor plant to Delaware. Naturally, he's being opposed by real estate
    and development interests. He's a breath of fresh air and deserves re-election.

    Tom Gordon v Craig Shoemaker-New Castle County Executive

    Before he was elected, Gordon told Green Delaware he would support cleaning up the raw sewage dumping by Wilmington. After being elected, Gordon wouldn't meet with us or answer letters. His top aid, Sherry Freebury, said she wouldn't cooperate with us, and would avoid providing any information that might be useful to our efforts. Gordon is decisive, but has a harsh, bullying style. He has largely reduced the County Council and civic "umbrella groups" to puppets, and followed the usual New Castle County policy of servicing developers-especially big ones-while posturing as responsive to community concerns. We have seen him and his people badgering and intimidating reporters. Worse, too many people have told us they fear harassment or intimidation by county police. Gordon, though disliked in many quarters, serves favored interests so well the Republicans didn't put up even a token opponent. His plans for a giant sewer system in lower New Castle County threaten efforts to control sprawl in the area. He never appears to debate his opponent, Craig Shoemaker of the Green Party.

    Shoemaker, a politically inexperienced engineer, represents what the Green Party is about, and what American democracy is supposed to be about-participation of ordinary citizens in politics. Shoemaker unquestionably would be more supportive of the environment than Gordon. A vote for him is a vote for change, with no downside.

    Shirley Price v Ken Sutton --38th Representative District

    Price is behind a bill to set up some mild controls on big developments in the Inland Bays area, and she's taken a real pounding from developers and realtors. Her opponent, Ken Sutton, opposes her bill but offers no solutions of his own. Price deserves re-election.

    Dick Cathcart v Bethany Hall-Long for 9th Representative District

    Dick Cathcart has played a key role in bills important to Green Delaware: HB 671 (not yet passed) will stop the City of Wilmington from dumping raw sewage into our rivers; HCR 55 sets up a task force to seek solutions to development pressures in the Port Penn Area; HB 571 (not yet passed) offered zero-interest loans to farmers; and HB 427 told state regulators to make water companies deliver a good quality product to their customers. 

    Bethany Hall-Long, Cathcart's Democratic challenger, is an accomplished person, but seems to be politically aligned with a small group of development-minded individuals who want to prevent protection of farmland and open space. Cathcart deserves re-election.

    Harris McDowell v Lee Murphy-1st Senate District

    McDowell has been a fanatical proponent of incinerators. He admits he is personally involved in selling "European combustion technology." [= incinerators] He doesn't support Green Delaware's bill to clean up the Wilmington sewers. McDowell was also a leading force behind a bad electric deregulation bill that could be one of the most expensive errors ever made by the Delaware General Assembly. In a recent "score card," the Delaware Sierra Club gave McDowell "extra credit" for "SB373-Green Energy." This bill was actually intended to give state subsidies for building incinerators. (Apparently the Sierra Club, like too many gullible environmental groups, doesn't get the difference between truly green technologies such as wind, and solar, and bogus polluting technologies such as the defeated
    Philpower incinerator.)

    Lee Murphy is a newcomer to politics. His campaign has done many "lit drops" critical of McDowell's incineration stands. These materials look to many people as if they come from Green Delaware, and aren't identified as from the Murphy campaign. We asked him to stop this to avoid confusion. Murphy has issued press releases proposing actions to correct Delaware's high cancer rate.

    Green Delaware's steering committee is divided on this race. Some, who have known McDowell for a long time, feel his actions on other issues justify overlooking his bad-actor environmental record. This writer's personal opinion: McDowell's endless conniving for incinerators is a threat to Delaware. Give Murphy a shot. 

    Dori Connor v William McMurray-12th Senate District

    Connor replaced her husband Bob, a long-time legislator who died of air-pollution-related illnesses. Connor has been a passionate supporter of anti-incinerator bills, and a valuable pro-environment force in the Senate Republican caucus. Her opponent has actually talked about "stopping" over-development. This of course, is what needs to be done, but few in Delaware are willing to say it. McMurray is an interesting candidate, and we hope he stays around, but we also think Connor has earned re-election.

    Whoever you vote for, please vote.

    Green Delaware Wish List

    Things we need:  Storage building (shed), contributions for our electric car project, more 
    solar panels for office power, volunteers to help with fund raising and mailings and everything else.


Let us know what you think.

Email us at


or contact
Alan J. Muller, Exec. Director
P.O. Box 69
Port Penn, DE 19731
302-834-3466 Voice
302-836-3005 FAX

This page was last updated on March 25, 2001.



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