The important month of June:
Come to Dover on June 5th
House Bill 195–ban on raw sewage dumping
“WHYY pay more”–oppose the $618,000 giveaway
House Bill 39 and the future of Sussex County
Is Muller or the City of Wilmington
Is the water at Delaware’s beaches healthy?
Delaware River dredging “workshop”–
should DNREC be there?
Media: John Rago and the revolving door
The coming month.....
June is a crucial time for legislation–only about 13 “legislative days”
remain before the 141st General Assembly adjourns on June 30th, and
General Assembly is somewhat distracted by reapportionment–which happens
only every ten years.. Of course, Green Delaware’s main priority
195, to stop raw sewage dumping. Volunteers have donated hundreds
over a period of several years handing out flyers, taking pictures,
researching obscure files, questioning officials, and otherwise laying
groundwork for HB 195. Now, they need your help. Please
call and email
your legislators, send a letter to the editor, call a radio talk show,
to Dover But many other bills, if passed, could improve life
and provide some small protection to our threatened environment.
these is HB 39, below.. Green Delaware will be sending out a
usual volume of emails in June. Please bear with us and do what
Tuesday, June 5th: three reasons to come to Legislative Hall in
.....Let them know where YOU stand!
Support House Bill 195, to stop
raw sewage dumping in Delaware;
Oppose a $618,000 taxpayer giveaway
Support House bill 39, to protect
Eastern Sussex County.
Your presence any time can be helpful. Volunteers will gather
around 1:00 to give a message about the sewers. WHYY is having
at 4:00 or so to lobby legislators. We’ll be there at 3:30 or
so with our
own message. Call Green Delaware for more information.
HB 195–banning raw sewage dumping. Where do “they” stand?
HB 195 has strong support among legislators and the public. It’s
by the City of Wilmington and (behind the scenes) by Delaware regulators
(DNREC), and by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Gov. Minner is
taking no public position. Wilmington’s position is easy to see:
operates its water and sewer systems as “cash cows,” taking money out
other purposes and refusing to invest in improvements. This will
go on as
long as the City can get away with it.
The negative attitude of environmental regulators might seem more
puzzling. Why would those charged with cleaning up our environment
a bill that would help do that? Consider: The Clean Water Act
is in the
hands of those same regulators. By the its terms, our waters
were to have
been “fishable and swimmable” many years ago. Obviously, they
because regulators have not been able to carry out their responsibilities.
Sad to say, their main activity often seems to be issuing permits for
continuing pollution. Certainly this is true of DNREC’s
discharges Section, probably the worst regulatory body Green Delaware
has ever encountered. In fairness, we suppose that a secret poll
DNREC staff would show overwhelming support for HB 195.
The problem lies with upper management, who are political appointees
reporting to Governor Minner, and are also influenced by the General
Assembly. The League of Women Voters of Delaware is supporting
“WHYY pay more?” opposing the $618,000 giveaway
WHYY Channel 12 TV is licensed “to” Wilmington, DE. WHYY FM is
“to” Philadelphia, PA. Revelations of the high salaries paid
to WHYY top
managers, their lack of responsiveness to Delaware needs, and their
servility to corporate/development interests, have produced a strong
response. But, “deregulation” of the telecommunications industry
last 20 years has gradually eliminated many of the former legal
requirements for fairness and community service. The opportunity
to taxpayer funding of WHYY is one of the few real opportunities citizens
have to influence WHYY. If you are concerned about this
legislators and Gov. Minner (email@example.com), and (2) come
for the WHYY “reception” on June 5th. WHYY has one annual board
Delaware. This year’s is on June 12 at 8:00 am (!) at the WHYY
625 Orange Street. ACTION: Try to be there!
House Bill 39 and the future of Eastern Sussex County
This bill would set up some rather mild planning requirements for big
developments, in the most rapidly growing and perhaps most ecologically
vulnerable part of Delaware. See previous Alerts and News for
is usual for any bill that would constrain “development” in any way,
opposition is harsh and unscrupulous. The lead sponsor, Rep.
Price, has been taking a lot of heat. The bill is scheduled to
and voted on in the house next Tuesday, June 5, at 4 p.m., although
could change. Here are some excerpts of an email that came out
apparently from the “Positive Growth Alliance:” “HB 39 is a serious
to our freedoms and free enterprise ... If this bill passes, IT WILL
A BUREAUCRATIC NIGHTMARE. It is a dagger in the heart of our free
enterprise system, destroys the concept of local government control
(replacing it with state control), and will destroy property rights
economy of Sussex County. On Tuesday, June 5, we have chartered
a bus to
go Legislative Hall to lobby against HB 39. We will leave at noon from
K-Mart parking lot on Route One between Lewes and Rehoboth. We are
this trip on an emergency basis because right now HB 39 looks like
serious threat to pass the House....” Green Delaware has testified
favor of this bill two years in a row. It deserves the support
Delawarean who cares about the future of our state. Please let
legislator know you support HB39.
Arrest News–is Muller the criminal, or City of Wilmington?
Many people have asked for news about the arrest of Green Delaware
Executive Director Alan Muller for stenciling “danger raw sewage” on
Wilmington’s Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) #26 in Brandywine
Park. Two highly competent lawyers, David Finger and Dirk Durstein,
given pro-bono assistance. Finger came down to the police station
advise us after the arrest, and Durstein will represent us in court.
is scheduled for June 27th at 1:30 p.m. in Justice of the Peace Court
in Wilmington, but this could be rescheduled. Facts: the City
Wilmington is required by EPA guidelines to label its sewer overflows,
hasn’t done so, and show’s no sign doing it. DNREC’s Peder Hansen
DNREC considers the City to be “in compliance” but admitted DNREC had
inspected the CSOs. DNREC videotaped the stenciling but has refused
Freedom of Information Act request for the tapes. Mayor James
Wilmington can be contacted at 302.571.4160, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are Delaware beaches healthy? Opinions vary...
Port Penn, DE, May 28, 2001. Bruce Schimmel of radio station WSCL
(www.citypaper.net/bruce/–readers equipped to download and play MP3
can listen to Schimmel’s story.), and the Surfrider Foundation
(www.surfrider.org/stateofthebeach/main_pages.htm) have raised doubts.
Delaware’s standard for the amount of enterococcus bacteria allowed
water before beaches will be closed is about 22 times the recommended
Federal standard. Delaware allows 2212 colonies/100 milliliters
water. Jack Pingree, who has run Delaware’s beach testing program
years, says the Federal guidelines aren’t appropriate for Delaware
they were based on waters contaminated with human sewage, which Pingree
says Delaware’s beaches aren’t. Delaware will have to use the
standards next year, which are supposedly based on the assumption that
people per thousand should be allowed to be sickened by going in the
water. This may mean more beach closings.
On the other hand, the Surfriders note that: “Delaware is the first
in the nation with rainfall advisory standards. Delaware has
advisory that will close a beach for at least 12 hours when rainfall
exceeds a certain level.” This makes sense because heavy rain
increases the amount of runoff delivering pollutants to beach waters.
On May 18th the “Clean Beaches Council” (www.cleanbeaches.org) released
“official list of beaches which have been certified for public safety
environmental quality.” Among the 62 beaches are five in
Bethany Beach, Dewey Beach, Fenwick Island Beach, Lewes Beach, and
Beach. Repeated calls to the Clean Beaches Council yielded no
More information on beach pollution is available from the US Environmental
Protection Agency (www.epa.gov/ost/beaches/)
Delaware River dredging “workshop” June 6th should DNREC be there?
The US Army Corp of Engineers has been trying for many years to dredge
“main channel” of the Delaware River five feet deeper--from 40 feet
feet. This seems to have little economic justification and poses
environmental concerns. It’s opposed by a wide range or organizations
including Green Delaware, the Dump the Delaware Deepening Coalition,
the City of New Castle. After a controversy, the Corp agreed
it needed to
get permits from the State of Delaware (DNREC) and we presume these
will eventually be issued for political reasons. (Former Gov.
supported the dredging, and the state voted money to help pay for
it. Gov. Minner has so far been non-committal, but we understand
funding hasn’t been withdrawn.)
The Corp has hired Windsor Associates, a Pennsylvania firm of
“facilitators,” to put on a “workshop.” The intent is to move
from categorical opposition to the project and get them arguing about
details. These “workshops” are highly effective because experienced
professional manipulators can usually control a meeting of concerned
citizens. Green Delaware sought information about Windsor Assoc.
lots of responses ranging from “They are nice folks, but you have to
remember who hired them,” to “I have no doubt they could lead an uninformed
group toward any specified result,” to “I know the Windsors from many
environmental projects and you will find them more biased than you
guessing. They have been really active in Phila, and they are definitely
the side of power,” to “a fair-minded and talented mediator,’ to “strongly
negative feelings,” to “Windsor Associates provided anything but a
democratic process.” We talked to Windsor, objecting to the proposed
of the workshop and seeking equal time for opponents or the dredging.
conceded some of our points.
From, a DNREC press release: “The workshop will be held in two phases
the Martin Luther King Auditorium, Delaware State University, 1200
DuPont Highway, Dover, Del. In the first phase, which will begin at
displays on different environmental and economic components of the
will be set up with Corps representatives available to discuss the
on a one-to-one basis. The meeting portion of the workshop will begin
ACTION: DNREC has to decide whether
to issue the permit. It’s role is
quasi-judicial, and it shouldn’t participate in a “workshop” put on
applicant to promote its project. This shows bias. Call
office: email@example.com, 302.577.3210, 302.739.4101
QUESTION: Windsor Assoc. offered Green Delaware 5 minutes to make a
presentation. Do you think Green Delaware should participate
in this workshop?
John Rago and the revolving door...
John Rago, as talk show host of radio station WDEL, was nice to Green
Delaware. He had us on his show from time to time, and personally
supported cleaning up the sewers. He used to say–on the air--that
some complaints when we got air time. This isn’t surprising,
pressure on Delaware media not to report independent points of view
constant and effective. Now it’s coming from Rago, who quit WDEL
to work as “communications director” for the City of Wilmington.
the other side now. For example, when we asked Rago for the City
on HB 195 he said he would get back to us, but didn’t. Then,
the City sent
a delegation to Dover to oppose the bill, contrary to Mayor Baker’s
assertions–which he and Rago have demanded we take on faith–that he
the sewers cleaned up. Why is there so little coverage of HB
replacement on WDEL so far seems neither well-informed nor supportive.
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