2014 Update—October 1st to 18th

On Wednesday the 1st I hosted my monthly coffee at Panera on Main Street from 7:30-9am.  The next one is November 5th.  I had a call with Secretary Coupe to discuss prison funding, to help me understand the conditions of the Howard Young (Gander Hill) and the James T Vaughn (Smyrna) prisons.  I had lunch with Rick Deadwyler and then had a tour of the UD’s health campus on the STAR campus that afternoon.  On Friday the 3rd I co-sponsored and attended the fundraiser for John Mackenzie, who is running to be the next State Representative in the 22nd RD.  I ran the Main Street Mile on Saturday the 4th (hampered by my shoes’ equipment malfunction).

On Monday the 6th I had coffee with Mayor Sierer, went to Dover for a midwifery subcommittee meeting, and attended the monthly meeting of the 23rd RD Democratic committee.  On Tuesday the 7th I met with Kathleen Macrae of ACLU-DE to discuss several issues.  On Thursday the 9th I spoke on WDEL on the topic of death with dignity, in light of a recent national story on a woman in her late 20s who, due to her fatal disease, is moving to Oregon to utilize that state’s laws.  Later that morning I joined the ground breaking ceremony for Alder Creek, the redevelopment project for Cleveland Heights, the former affordable housing community on Cleveland Avenue.  The new community is so overdue, and will be wonderful.  I was so pleased to be able to address the gathering.  That afternoon I attended the celebration of Newark’s award presentation into the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Habitat program, led by NWFs President Collin O’Mara.  That evening I went to Maclary Elementary to participate in the candidate night.  On Friday the 10th I attended the meeting of the Greater Newark Interagency Council, which works to coordinate the area’s services to the low-income and homeless communities.  On Saturday the 11th I attended the pancake breakfast that fundraised for the 24th RD and the AFL-CIO’s food closet.  Afterwards I worked with the coordinated campaign which was door knocking and dropping literature in the district.  On Sunday Pam and I went to Laurel for an annual pig roast, and then joined the annual Diwali (festival of lights, a new year’s celebration of sorts for Indian-Americans) Party at the Nur Temple.

On Monday the 13th I met with Lindsay O’Mara, education advisor to the Governor, to discuss student-weighted funding for our public schools.  On the 14th I met with DSEA on the same topic (and on the 15th I had a conference call on this topic with two members of the Controller General’s office).

On Thursday evening, the 16th, I went to Dover for a midwifery committee meeting.  On Friday the 17th, I attended and spoke at the ribbon cutting for the Curtis Mill Park on Paper Mill Road.  On Saturday Pam and I attended the Homecoming football game at Delaware State University.

I have had many email and phone conversations on the Governor’s Priority School initiative.  I am pleased that the two school districts have committed to working with the stakeholders (teachers, parents, community leaders, elected officials) in developing both an MOU (memorandum of understanding) and an improvement Plan, utilizing input that the Governor and DE Department of Education appears to have neglected to consider.

As my meetings noted, I am working on the concept of replacing the failed unit-count public school funding system with a more common student-weighted funding system, which provides more funds for schools that serve students from low-income households and those with special-needs, in proportion to the needs of and cost of instructing these students.  I believe that this is a far superior, proven, approach to ‘turning around’ our inner-city schools than is the Priority School proposal.

I am also continuing my efforts on midwifery licensure for midwives with the national CPM and CM credential.  I believe that the bill which I wrote that passed the House this year is very well-suited to be introduced in January, and I am working to help all interested parties to better understand what the bill does and does not do, how it accomplishes its goal of properly establishing a mechanism for Delaware to license and oversee these midwives, which creating a professional council to develop appropriate regulations.

I have worked a little with the University of Delaware to learn of its sexual harassment policy, and the efforts it is taking to review and perhaps improve this policy.  I am hopeful that the Newark traffic committee will consider my proposal for adopting a Don’t Block the Box campaign in downtown Newark to reduce rush-hour gridlock.  I have reviewed a draft Investment Policy Statement for the Delaware Land & Water Endowment, and submitted my suggestions for improvements.  I continue to work with the administration to promote an improved approach to determining how much money the state spends annually on infrastructure (roads, bridges, and schools).  I have obtained information that a resident requested on how the Residential Energy Credits are valued for those with solar panels on their homes.  I have worked with the Newark Housing Authority (NHA) and the Governor’s office to help get NHA commissioners approved.  I have inquired as to the status of an alcohol license for the Wood Fired Pizza shop on Cleveland Avenue.  I have also passed onto the Attorney General’s office a complaint about a bank improperly submitting a lien, due to robo-signing forms.

I was able to have our Division of Revenue respond in a timely manner to a resident’s six-month old request for a correction to three years’ of state income tax returns.  The Division was very prompt in their attention to this matter.

I have raised several issues with DelDOT.  Most have been resolved well, although I am still waiting for DelDOT to complete a speed study on route I-95, to consider raising the speed limit to 65 south of Wilmington, and for them to consider making the intersection near Maclary Elementary School a four-way stop, for safety purposes.

There have been a few manufactured housing concerns raised in the past three weeks.  The most notable was the Sussex Superior Court decision upholding the a community’s residents claim that the community owner failed to work in good faith with them on a rent increase request, as required by the law we passed last year.  This decision is very affirming of the hard work that went into the 2013 passage of SB 33, the rent justification bill.