Thursday, June 21, 2012

License to Work

The New York Times has a good article on over-regulation and excessive licensing.
“It is illegal in the state of Utah to do any form of extensions without a valid cosmetology license,” the e-mail read. “Please delete your ad, or you will be reported.”
At a time when so many of us are out of work and looking for productive ways to occupy our time and earn a living, excessive licensing requirements are shutting people out of a job that may not need to be regulated at all.  Delaware has a number of bills like this under the 146th General Assembly.  HB180 put electricians out of work.  HB361 seeks to extend the same fate to auctioneers. Title 24 of the Delaware Code is full of professional regulations for everything from landscape architects to adult entertainment establishments.  Some of these things may warrant regulation, some even very strict regulation, but all too often regulations are only created to protect the established interests of the bill's sponsors or a legislator's constituency of volunteers and campaign contributions.  Lost in the conversation are the regular people, often young and otherwise unemployed, looking to find work in these professions.

If a young person is looking to help out an electrician to see if it's something worth exploring as a career, enroll in a 4 year electrician training program and get an apprentice electrician's license from the Board of Electrical Examiners.  See if its appointees have any interest in making it EASY to start out and actually basing their decisions on merit rather than ability to manipulate the regulations or be grandfathered through them.  See if limiting the competition in this way drives prices for average consumers up or down, unemployment up or down, development of valuable skill sets in the local economy up or down.  These are not abstract concepts.  These are real people who are unable to earn a living.

With any luck, SB179 or HB301 will pass and will at least give young electricians a stay of termination.  The Board of Electrical Examiners hasn't even approved regulations for these new licenses yet.  Both are being held up in committee and both would give us more time to ensure electricians are properly credentialed and do not put us at risk with shoddy work, without putting good electricians out of work and making it impossible for new electricians to start out.

Health Care Security?

There was a pretty impressive response to the call for a grassroots assault on HB392.  Whatever the original intentions of the bills sponsors, it is pretty clear by now that an overwhelming response AGAINST the bill has all but guaranteed it will not be worked this year, even under suspended rules during June 30th's Midnight MADNESS! law-la-palooza.  The 9-12 Delaware Patriots played a big roll in organizing a direct response, mobilizing about 30 activists from their own organization, as well as other grassroots organizations around the state, to come out to Legislative Hall at 10am yesterday.  Their report can be viewed online here.  I was honored to be among them.

Thank you to everyone who attended.

For my own comments on the days events, I am satisfied that there is not enough support for a bill touching an issue with this many moving parts to be worked through the legislature this year, but this IS going to be a focus of Democratic campaign events across the state during the summer, billed out as public meetings to discuss the bill.  Representative John Kowalko, one of the bill's sponsors, invited us to email him with any questions we had.  That's next on my list of things to do.  Among the questions I will have for him are:
How will retirees who have health insurance provided through a private carrier as part of their retirement cope with the changes proposed under this legislation?  If private insurance carriers are not allowed to do business in the state when their services overlap those covered by the Health Security Authority (HSA), will retirees lose their current insurance plans and be placed on this new plan?

Do we have any sort of idea what the Health Security Board will choose to offer coverage for?  How will their offerings and their reimbursement rates compare to those currently on offer from private insurance, medicaid, and medicare?

Do the provisions of the PPACA and other federal health care laws allow Delaware to divert all Medicaid and Medicare payments into the Health Security Fund?

What organizations, exactly, will be qualified to nominate members to the Health Security Board and the various County Advisory Boards?  What kind of budget is anticipated to pay the administrative costs of the Health Security Board, specifically with regard to the salaries of those nominated to serve on the board?

What will Delawareans covered by the HSA do when they are out of state or required to seek treatment out of state?  Will the HSA reimburse all costs for treatment out of state even if such services are not available at the rates set by the HSA for in-state treatment?

How much of the HSA's funding is likely to be used for the development of an in-state capacity to handle more of Delaware's health care needs?  Is a board of 15 members and 45 advisory council members sufficiently prescient to make such decisions?  How effective are the mechanisms of preventing a conflict of interest in these decisions from diverting HSA funds to inefficiently expand the business interests of connected board members at the expense of the quality and efficiency of Delaware's overall health care capabilities?

What are the anticipated costs and revenue projections of the HSA?  The tax rates are included in the bill but the fiscal note is incomplete.  The only cost projections and revenue projections I have seen were generated by Steve Newton at the Delaware Libertarian.  Where are the flaws in his numbers and can we see the numbers used by the Controller General's office and the Secretary of Finance?

What are the likely consequences if costs are not effectively controlled and the quality or availability of local health care declines?  What are the likely responses of the Health Security Board?  Will they reduce reimbursements?  What effect is that likely to have on the number of doctors doing business in Delaware?  Will they reduce coverage?  What treatments will no longer be covered and how will the discretion of the Health Security Board coincide with the availability and marketability of private insurance alternatives allowed to operate where the HSA does not?  Will they increase taxes?  Which of the taxes will be increased?  The tax on heads of household?  The tax on high income households?  The payroll taxes?  On what sized businesses?  By how much?  Will they expand the applicability of the tax to all income earners, not just heads of household?  Will they plug budget gaps with general revenues?

What effects of increased taxes are anticipated?  Are any businesses tax sensitive enough and carrying low enough health insurance costs that such a transition may force them to downsize or relocate?  How is this likely to impact hiring by companies on the threshold of moving to a higher payroll tax bracket?  How is this likely to impact hiring generally as labor costs are increased through additional taxation and perhaps only partially offset by reductions in health insurance costs?  Will levying the personal tax exclusively on heads of household encourage additional "household" formation?

Finally, and most importantly, is this the best way to address our health care problems in Delaware?  Should we focus all of the decisions about what is covered and at what rates in the hands of 15 people who will be appointed by various politicians?  Or should we be trying to return more of the decisions about what we will pay for and what we are willing to pay to ourselves as individuals, families, and communities?

How would we go about doing THAT instead?
That's a whole new topic...stay tuned.

Previous comments on HB392 here.

Don't forget to read all of Steve Newton's stuff on the Delaware Libertarian.

Oh yeah, and one more question:
When and where are the public meetings going to be?  I'll be there.
Stay tuned for upcoming events and such.  There's a few good ones coming up.

UPDATE: This needs to be said.  I have heard rumors that certain individuals are saying that I have been "endorsed" by the 9-12 Delaware Patriots.  That's ridiculous.  That organization does not do endorsements.  I am honored to have the support of many people I have met at their meetings, the begrudging respect of others, and the downright loathing of some, but the organization is an open venue for all people, and particularly in the lead up to the election for all candidates.  I was grateful for the warm reception I received at their meeting on Tuesday, I was proud to stand with them against this legislation, and I have met a lot of people and learned a great deal by attending their meetings, but I have not been endorsed by an organization that does not do endorsements.  I suppose the rumor can only help me, but at their expense.  That isn't right.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cronyism in Bloom

A lawsuit has been filed by Cause of Action against the Markell Administration over the deal made with Bloom Energy.

WASHINGTON – Government accountability group Cause of Action (CoA) filed suit today in federal court to challenge Delaware’s sweetheart deal with Bloom Energy, Inc. (Bloom). Governor Jack Markell and the members of the Delaware Public Service Commission are unconstitutionally discriminating against Bloom’s competitors and taxing a segment of Delaware residents to subsidize the crony company.
My only concern is holding only the Markell Administration accountable when members of the General Assembly voted in support of the bill.
In late 2011, the Delaware Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act (REPSA) was modified solely to accommodate the state’s deal with Bloom. In return for Bloom’s promise to construct a manufacturing facility in Delaware, the state established a system of discriminatory eligibility requirements, subsidies, and energy-portfolio-standards multipliers that benefit Bloom. These requirements deny out-of-state companies equal competitive footing and increase costs for Delmarva ratepayers who might otherwise benefit from the competitive interstate market. According to a report by the Delaware Public Service Commission, the cost through tariffs to ratepayers will amount to $133 million.
 If fuel cells are so great, they should be able to stand on their own without regulatory carve outs.  We should not be offering these carve outs or tax benefits to any kind of energy and allow them all to compete on an even footing.  I admittedly don't remember seeing this bill in 2011, but I'll start looking for it on the Delaware Legislature's website.  If anyone remembers it or finds it first, please leave it in the comments section below, or contact me some other way and I'll post an update to this article.  kthxbye.

The bill was SB124, sponsored by our Senate Pro Tempore, Tony DeLuca.  Go offer him your thoughts.  Don't be too hard on him though, the bill was cosponsored by just about everybody and passed with 35/41 yes votes in the House and 18/21 yes votes in the Senate.  Making Markell the scapegoat for a General Assembly that rubber stamps legislation like this is missing the forest for the trees.  They passed NINE days after introducing it during the last month of the session before our legislators retire to the beach for the summer.  They must be held to account too.

We have met the enemy, and it is us.  We must demand better of ALL of our legislators and we must demand better of ourselves.  We must demand a process in the General Assembly that offers us the time to educate ourselves and our communities about these complex issues and inform our legislators of what is at stake for us.  We can do this.  We have the technology.  We should not introduce and pass a bill with such an impact in nine days.  9.  We are now left with one brave Delawarean rallying us to fight the will of the State of Delaware over whether or not this sweetheart deal will stand.  Where were our legislators?  Where were we?  Where will we be on September 11th this year when we cast our primary ballots?

In OTHER news, Kent County is the only county in Delaware where unemployment is still going up instead of down.  While the State is handing out special favors to the politically connected constituencies elsewhere, we're paying for it and being pushed out of our own jobs by increased red tape we can't circumvent with well timed and well placed campaign contributions, a wink, and a handshake.

It's the Delaware Way.  It is exceptionally unwise.  We need to do things differently.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Response to Delaware Liberal

There's an excellent article on Delaware Liberal today about the activities of the General Assembly.  I had attempted to leave a comment, but it seems it is being moderated for some reason, so I'll just paraphrase it here in the meantime.
I agree with El Somnambulo on dumping Booth and DeLuca. I met Bryan Townsend at a Common Cause presentation on campaign financing in a Citizens' United world and he seems like a great guy. We can all rest assured that Evan Queitsch has even less chance of being elected than I do, especially if Townsend manages to beat DeLuca in the primary, but my question is about Joe Booth.

There's no Democrat opposing him and his only primary opposition is frequently referred to on Delaware Liberal as "St. Bodie Girl". Do the Democrats have anyone waiting in the wings for the 19th SD? I'd love to put someone on the LP's ballot to pick up the pieces of a Booth/Bodie fight, but frankly, we can't win by ourselves and the only candidate we might have had was redistricted out. From my conversations with another prominent Bodie opponent, he's yet to find anyone willing to pony up the D filing fee. Hasn't been able to find someone to run on the L either, even though it's free. We'd be willing to nominate just about anyone. We'd prefer them to be able to pronounce the word "libertarian" but we'll teach them how to spell it.

Great insight on the bail bondsman bill. Reduce competition, protect a political rival, stinks to high heaven.

If I'm elected, fwiw, I can EASILY live on $43,605 and fully intend to serve as a full time legislator devoted to constituent service for the 7 months these clowns spend double dipping when they're not writing crappy legislation for teh lulz.

Surprised they didn't mention SB100 though. The bill is probably just posturing, but their rage faces would have made for an hour or two of quality entertainment.

Overall, great article. o7
Read it for yourself here.  I also agree 100% with El Somnambulo on the uselessness of the redistricting reform legislation being run by Senate Majority Leader Patti Blevins.  I made similar comments here.

Education, Broadly

I was having a conversation with a friend tonight.  He was fortunate enough to attend one of a few magnet schools with a very unique structure.  The business students ran a business fixing cars.  The auto shop class fixed the cars.  The IT students networked the business.  The business students also ran an event/catering business.  The agriculture classes grew much of the food.  Cooking classes prepared much of it.  Again, the IT students did the networking.

There were many other moving parts, as well as a relatively standardized college preparatory pathway.  The difference is the emphasis on earning concrete qualifications and on the job experience in many of these other fields in which credentials and experience are helpful, and a four year college degree is not.  The IT students left with certifications recognized nationally to work on networking equipment and write software.  I thought of the work that I did while I was in school for Computer Science and the work I did after I graduated, its similarity, and the value I actually got out of my college degree other than the piece of paper with a seal on it.

I had a good time at the University of Delaware.  I learned a lot.  Not all of it in the classroom, and not all of it terribly relevant to what I did for a living in the 3 years following my graduation.  Very little of it relevant to what I've been doing for the last two years, but I wonder how much more I could have achieved in that time if more of my high school years were spent pursuing the credentials that were available at my friend's magnet school.  I went to Caesar Rodney High School (Class of '03) and thought I had done pretty well for myself, but I failed to even imagine the possibilities and I do remember a number of conflicts between my best teachers' own recommendations and the regulatory requirements enforced by administrators.  I graduated before No Child Left Behind really came into full force and well before Race to the Top had even been conceived.  I can only imagine how much more complicated it has gotten for the average parent, student, and teacher, never mind students with special needs.

The lesson I took away from my conversation was that a GREAT deal more flexibility must be allowed into our educational system.  At present, our public education system little resembles a place where creative thinking is inspired, research and learning skills are developed, and basic skills are effectively imparted to new generations.

Instead we have tests.  We have statistics.  We have bureaucracy and administration.  Don't mistake my meaning.  Metrics are good, metrics are important, but they must be metrics that carry meaning to parents, students, and future employers.  Students who move through these educational programs must come out prepared to participate in a competitive job market where new skills must be constantly acquired and developed to keep up with changing needs of a constantly changing economy.

The key to achieving that is flexibility.  Teachers must be freed to develop relationships with their students.  Schools must offer a variety of pathways for students to follow that take advantage of their unique skills rather than forcing every student to follow the same process as if all of them were identical and headed inexorably for a predestined fate.  That is not the world we live in anymore and it is contrary to the empowerment we all deserve as free individuals.

What we cannot have are good teachers constrained by red tape.  We cannot have them frustrated by constantly shifting mandates from bureaucratic administrators who haven't seen a classroom in years, if ever.  We must find people who can facilitate the educational process and inspire our students, and allow them to do their jobs.  Parents know when their student has a good teacher, and parents should be empowered to work with their students and their students' teachers to ensure that we are getting quality for the approximately $18,000 per pupil we spend each year on education in Delaware.

Over the next few months, I will post additional articles on education policy in Delaware, but the overarching theme of where we must go from here is that we must work to increase the flexibility of our teachers, not decrease it with mandates from state and federal bureaucrats, racing to the bottom, and leaving ALL of our children behind.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Delaware State Health Care Takeover

More taxes and a total state take over of every aspect of our health care system. What am I missing that makes this a GOOD idea?  Edited for additional sarcasm.  From the synopsis:
This Delaware Health Security Act will provide all current and future Delaware citizens, our state's budget and future economy and job development a non-government run program and cost effective single payer health care system.
Government establishing a non-government program.  How's that work?  Is there such a thing as a "cost effective single payer health care system?  I've never seen one.
This system eliminates unnecessary multi-payer brokers and will save approximately 40 percent of total funds now wasted by a 30 percent loss to administrative/overhead costs (costly paperwork, profits, advertising, lobbying, etc.) and a minimum of 10 percent to unchecked health care fraud. These savings are research-documented by single payer health care systems used by our military services, Veterans Administration's health care system and our Medicare system. A typical research study by a Harvard University team showed a 33 percent administrative/overhead waste of our health care funds by insurance company brokers compared to 1.5 percent administrative/overhead cost of our single payer Medicare system. These Delaware annual savings and a stabilized funding structure with accountable budgets will enable our state to provide the following health care benefits to all citizens, our state's budget and future economic/job development:
Right, because there's no waste or fraud in government programs.  Monopolies have no incentive to drive these overhead costs down.  Competing independent businesses do.
(1) Comprehensive health care coverage (physicians and specialists, hospital needs, long-term care, pharmaceutical drugs, dental care, mental health, drug rehabilitation, special equipment and aids, etc.) from conception until death without any extra health insurance or out-of-pocket expense;
Liberals providing health care beginning at conception.  There's a can of worms for someone else to open.  Fifteen bureaucrats will get to decide what "comprehensive" means in that and every other context.
(2) Eliminate the huge double-digit annual increases in health care costs; only the smaller rate of inflation will apply;
Just flip them into double digit annual increases in the tax/surtax levied on individuals and employers.  Much better.
(3) Will return all health care decision-making to physicians, dentists and other professional health care professional staff;
As long as their decisions are approved by the 15 member board.
(4) Eliminates the pauper requirement that one must give up all savings and property before receiving Medicare/Medicaid funds for long-term care;
Why would we be giving government benefits to people who can afford to pay for it themselves in the first place?
(5) Will eliminate all health care debts, major cause of personal bankruptcies and the ability to buy or keep one's home;
Just foist all of those debts on the state and national governments.  It's cool, we can handle it.
(6) Will eliminate the destructive, debilitating effects of chronic stress on our uninsured, under insured and their families;
Add to the destructive, debilitating effects of  chronic stress on our unemployed and underemployed who are thrown out of work when their employers decide that a 4-9% tax to pay for this boondoggle is enough of a motivation to close shop and leave the state.
(7) Will serve as a magnet to both attract and retain private businesses competing in the global economy. This was the key reason we lost the Chrysler and General Motors automobile manufacturing plants;
As well as a magnet to repel any private business unable to cover the 4-9% tax to pay for it.
(8) In addition to providing comprehensive health care coverage for all citizens, this Act will save millions each year for our state's budget;
We'll see how those numbers balance out.  Color me skeptical.  The fiscal note is conveniently incomplete.
(9) Personal health care savings by our state's citizens will add hundreds of millions to our state's annual economy; and
Until you factor in the cost of the tax and the cost of getting care from out of state when the board of bureaucrats doesn't approve your treatment.
(10) Will significantly elevate our state's ranking of from 40th or lower among all states on health care challenges such as well babies, women's health care status, cancer, etc.
So you say.
This Act will provide funds for three years for training and economic assistance for displaced paperwork employees who choose to fill additional needed health care service jobs created by approximately a five percent increase in health care utilization caused by this reformed health care system.
We know we're going to put people out of work, but it's ok because we're going to give them some more of your money to train them to be government bureaucrats instead.
This Act will be administered by a 15-member Delaware Health Security Board comprised as follows: State Secretary of Health And Social Services, appointed by the Governor; Two members from both the State House of Representatives and State Senate Committees concerned with health care issues; Five members from state health professional organizations and five members from eligible consumer organizations in our state.
Plaques for hacks.
There will be a County Advisory Council in each of our state's three counties. The appointments and membership will be from the same sources as the State Health Security Board with the requirement that all Council members must be residents of the county they serve. These County Advisory Councils will work with and through the State's Board and four Divisions in more effectively implementing the planning, operation and evaluation of the Delaware Health Security Act.
More plaques for hacks.
Funding for the Delaware Health Security Act will be as follows:

(1) All state and federal funds available for health and health care costs in Delaware;
Put all of our eggs in this basket.
(2) Employer and employee graduated payroll tax from 4 percent for employers with less than ten employees to 9 percent for employers with 50 or more employees;
Tax people more.
(3) A Health Security tax of 2.5 percent on net taxable income (after deductions) for all heads of households and persons subject to Delaware's income tax; and
Tax people even more.
(4) An additional Health Security income surtax on net taxable income of 2.5 percent for persons filing a Delaware income tax return in excess of $250,000. Married couples filing a joint Delaware income tax return shall pay an additional income surtax of 2.5 percent on net taxable income in excess of $500,000.
Tax rich people even more.
A very important overall result from enacting and implementing this program and cost effective single payer system is that initial and continuous funding will be available to halt the deterioration of our current health care situation. Ample funds will be available for additional health care facilities, staffing, program improvement and both pre-service and continuing education investments in both professional and non-professional health care staff.
Instead that funding will be coerced out of the population to force the deterioration of our current health care situation.  Ample funds will be taken from you and made available for the corporatist political purposes deemed necessary by 15 hacks appointed by the governor.  Yippee.

Steve Newton at The Delaware Libertarian call this bill out for the political posturing that it is, so I've just been successfully baited by John Kowalko into fighting against health care, but so be it.  There's also a fight on at Delaware Liberal, and you're all invited.  Bring popcorn.

UPDATE:  My opponent hasn't said a word about this all day.  It makes me wonder if he's even aware it's happening.  The DEGOP's response to this kind of thing, in general, is sorely lacking.  Three out of four of the bill's sponsors don't even have opponents.  Anyone living in the 24th, 25th, or 27th representative districts who would like to step up can be placed on the Libertarian Party ballot for free.

UPDATE UPDATE:  DEFINITELY check out the comment thread on Delaware Liberal.  A poster purporting to be Representative John Kowalko himself just called me inbred and dyslexic rather than address my questions about his bill.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tanning in a Nanny State

More nanny state shenanigans from the General Assembly, via John Machurek.
If House Speaker Robert Gilligan (D) has his way anyone under-18 would no longer be allowed to use tanning beds.
John is the Libertarian Party's candidate in the 16th Representative District and a sign of the bright future the Liberty Movement has in Delaware.  Please support his candidacy in any way you can.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Want to know why the regulatory morass on Wall Street is so complicated that bad guys don't get busted for being bad and good guys get busted before they even get started?  JP Morgan-Chase can buy itself a Senate Banking Committee for less than $1 million.

It's good to be the king.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Redistribution of Wealth

Who are we trying to redistribute wealth TO, exactly?
All that debt Obama acquired, and all the stimulus did work to redistribute wealth and income — it worked to redistribute wealth and income toward the well-connected crony capitalist groups that funded Obama into office.
I suppose the argument could be made that Obama's just redistributing wealth "wrong", but history would seem to indicate this result is inevitable.

Europe's Slow Motion Collapse

From Zero Hedge:
Congrats Germany: you have now opened the Pandora's box of infinite moral hazard, bailout renegotiations and unconditional rescues. Anything less than a pari passu bailout to Spain's, which the economy minister touted as having no political strings attached, will incite a revolution.

Oh, and the IMF has just been made obsolete.
I wonder how long this can be kicked around the EU before it hits us.  At this point, everyone's buying US treasuries as a flight to safety, but US treasuries aren't REALLY safe when there's over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities on our balance sheet, before we even get started on the state, municipal, and household debts.  Then there's the dollar denominated derivatives market based on those debts.  The last number I heard there was $700 trillion.  Now we're talking about real money.

Race to the Trough

I haven't read all of this yet, but my first impression is:
  • There's a lot of fluff here
  • We REALLY want Federal money
  • We've made promises that will embarrass some people if RTTT money doesn't enable us to keep them
Read Delaware's "Race to the Top" application.  Courtesy of Transparent Christina.

Groupthink in Schools

Good article from the Washington Post, linked from Transparent Christina.
Within schools, there is pressure to join in the obsession over data, and this has intensified with recent “reforms” that require test scores to be used as a significant part of teacher and principal evaluations. Teachers who may have been willing to voice dissent in public in the past are now in fear of poor evaluations and possible termination. If one expresses a lack of faith in the latest curriculum or testing package, one might be accused of poor implementation, or worst of all, of the cardinal sin — “not believing all students can learn.”

When President Obama accidentally spoke the truth a little more than a year ago, and described how he felt we were overemphasizing test scores, and “using them to punish schools and students,” the mindguards at the Department of Education leapt to the breach. They insisted that “The President and Secretary Duncan are on the same page,” though clearly the president’s remarks were far different from his minion’s policies. And when President Obama assembled a roundtable of advisers on education, not a single actual educator was present.
Teachers are the ones on the front lines.  We need more of them calling the shots and less statisticians, curriculum coordinators, and administrators getting in the way.  Teachers can develop relationships with students and parents and figure out what will work.  Everyone else in the school should exist for the sole purpose of facilitating that relationship, not obstructing it with red tape to conform to some policy or another that doesn't speak to the experience in the classroom.  Corporate leaders, especially, are the wrong people to be talking to when basic proficiencies in math, literacy, and writing are falling behind.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Redistricting Reform

The Senate Administrative Services/Elections Committee has recently been assigned SB235, which would create an 11 member commission to conduct the House and Senate redistricting every 10 years following the census.  The synopsis reads:
This bill will create a process to have an eleven-member Commission appointed every ten years to redistrict the Senate and House of Representatives of the Delaware General Assembly. “The Redistricting Commission for the State of Delaware” would consist of ten voting members and one non-voting Chair. The ten voting members would be appointed by the leadership of the House and Senate majority and minority parties. The ten voting members would select the non-voting Chair. The Bill requires the Commission to “conduct an open and transparent redistricting process enabling full public consideration of and comment on the drawing of district lines….” No member of the Commission could be the holder of an elective office, a registered lobbyist within a year prior to appointment or selection, or an elected state official within two years of appointment or selection.

The bill contains a timetable for completing the redistricting process. The process would culminate in the submission of a Commission-approved Final Redistricting Plan to the General Assembly for enactment into law. The bill allows for the further submission of a modified plan, if the General Assembly fails to approve the Final Plan by a majority vote of both Houses. If the General Assembly and the Governor fail to enact redistricting legislation by September 30 of the year preceding the next election year, the bill calls for the creation of a two-person judicial panel consisting of the Chancellor of the State of Delaware and a Superior Court Judge appointed by the President Judge of the Superior Court. The judicial panel would be charged with issuing a final and binding redistricting plan for the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Chancellor and the Superior Court Judge assigned to the panel would have to be from separate political parties.

Among other things, the Commission is required to: 1. Create a website for review by the public which would contain comprehensive information about the work of the Commission, including the names of the Commissioners, the rules of the Commission, notice of public meetings, district maps for existing districts, any plan approved by the Commission, Census data, and demographic data; 2. Hold four public meetings, one in each county and one in the City of Wilmington; 3. Prepare rules to govern the Commission’s proceedings; 4. Abide by the State Freedom of Information Act; 5. Approve and issue for public consideration and comment a Preliminary Redistricting Plan and Report, 6. Approve and submit to the General Assembly a Final Redistricting Plan and Report; and 7. Before concluding its business, prepare and submit a written report to the General Assembly with recommendations for improvements to the redistricting process. After the Commission’s work is completed, its records are to be maintained by the State Commissioner of Elections for a period of at least twenty years. 
This strikes me as a vast improvement over the current process, conducted behind closed doors, before a bill is introduced and weaves through the standard, fairly obtuse, process of becoming enacted into law.  The problem is that the people choosing these commissioners are the same people taking the lead on writing the redistricting rules already.  Section 1 of the bill adds a new subsection to §805 of Title 29:
(c) The Commission shall be composed of eleven members, ten of whom shall be appointed. The Commission shall include at least one resident from each county and the City of Wilmington. By the third Tuesday of January of each year ending in one, the Speaker of the House, the House Majority Leader, the House Majority Whip, the House Minority Leader, the House Minority Whip, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Majority Whip, the Senate Minority Leader, and the Senate Minority Whip shall each appoint one member of the Commission. By February 10th of each year ending in one, the eleventh member of the Commission shall be chosen by a vote of the ten appointed members and shall serve as the non-voting Chair of the Commission.
Party registration totals from the Commissioner of Elections as of May 31st (posted by Ballot Access Delaware) indicate that approximately 24% of Delaware's registered voters are neither Democrats or Republicans, but you can know from the composition described above that all of the commissioners appointed to conduct the redistricting are likely to be a member of one of those two parties.  Republicans aren't even 29% of Delaware's registered voters anymore, yet they are set up under this arrangement to hold 40% of the seats, with Democrats holding 60%.  The non-voting chair will probably be a Democrat too, but that would have complicated the math.  Democrats comprise less than 48% of Delaware's registered voters.

Democrats and Republicans are still being put in a position to gerrymander their legislative districts in such a way as to "crack and stack" independents and keep them from effectively securing their own, truly independent, representation in the General Assembly and certainly on this redistricting commission.  SB235 is a good start, but it doesn't go far enough.  Just as with the county level redistricting commissions, the state redistricting commission needs to include independents.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Plot Thickens

Rep. Bennett, the incumbent Democrat in the 32nd District has announced that he will not seek reelection in November.  I am told that Mike Tedesco has filed in the Democratic primary to replace him, though the Dept of Elections site does not yet reflect that.  I also hear another person plans to file in that primary.  The Kent County GOP Executive Committee did the right thing tonight and opted not to endorse a candidate in my primary, but to let the voters make their own decision without interference.  All is as it should be.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Free Money!

Bet that got your attention.  It's not for you though.  It's for Goldman Sachs.
"our confidence that the FOMC will ease policy once more at the June 19-20 meeting has also grown... Our baseline remains that Fed officials will purchase a mixture of mortgages and long-term Treasuries, financed via balance sheet expansion..."
Yes.  That will work.  The rough translation there is that they're confident that the Federal Reserve Bank will create more money out of thin air and use it to buy their bad debts and save them from their own stupidity at our expense.  Move your money into a credit union.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Louisiana Drama

There was a lot of drama at the Louisiana Republican state convention, but even more concerning is this excerpt from the report by Doug Wead:
One was told, “I am so sorry but I will have to say no. You came back with a score of 87%. That’s too high.” It was explained to the applicant that the higher the score that greater the likelihood that they were a Ron Paul supporter and would thus not be allowed by the party to fill the vacant slot and participate in their state convention.
The score was based on age, occupation, know, the kinds of things that indicate you are a dangerous threat to ... something.  Thankfully the DEGOP wasn't QUITE this bad.  Not QUITE.

Gold, Bitches

From Zero Hedge.
Expect a formal announcement from the Chinese central bank in the months ahead, indicating the country's gold hoard has increased by at least 100%. What happens then to the price of gold is rather self-explanatory.
Wonder what happens to the dollar at that point.

Broke and Crazy

Steve Newton, interpreting Senator Lindsey "Strangelove" Graham of South Carolina over at The Delaware Libertarian.
“The debate on the debt is an opportunity to send the world a signal that we are going to remain the strongest military force in the world,” he said. “We’re saying, ‘We’re going to keep it, and we’re going to make it the No. 1 priority of a broke nation.’”
It's a wonder our credit was only downgraded the once.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Being a Libertarian, the Delaware Way

EXCELLENT article from Steve Newton about the Libertarian Party and other alternative parties in Delaware, and how we're different from other states you may have heard about.
We are a small state, and we are all outlaws.
Remember, remember, the 6th of November.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Endorsed by Gary Johnson

I was privileged to receive the endorsement of Governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party's nominated candidate for President of the United States:
Will McVay graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Computer Science and Psychology and a minor in Political Science. He has been endorsed by and is currently serving as the Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Delaware. He is currently running for this office as a Republican in the Republican Primary.

Governor Johnson states, “Will McVay will be a strong and firm voice in the Delaware House of Representatives. He is a strong stand against handouts to big business, federal interference in education, and a strong stand for new businesses, educational choice and fiscally conservative, socially tolerant good government."

Will McVay, “Governor Johnson and Judge Gray are the only candidates offering a real choice on the issues that matter most.”

CALL TO ACTION: Kent County GOP Executive Committee

I got an email this morning from Hans Reigle, the Kent County Chair for the DEGOP:
Dear Will and Ellis,

The Kent County Executive Committee is considering endorsing a candidate for 32nd RD State Representative. As a minimum, we would like to get to know both candidates better.

We would like you both to attend our Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday, June 6th at 6:00 p.m. It will be held at the KCRC Headquarters on Walker Road. We would like to have a question and answer session for about ten minutes each to determine who best will represent the Republican party and win this critical election. For the interviews, only members of the Kent County Republican Executive Committee will be present.

Thank you for your time.


Hans Reigle
Kent County Republican Committee
Now, I think it is INCREDIBLY inappropriate for the Executive Committee of the county party to be trying to influence the result of the primary election responsible for choosing the eventual nominee of the party.  I hope that my friends, whether they live in the 32nd Representative District or not, will contact their local Republican Party leadership and let them know that they are opposed to the Executive Committee making endorsements on June 6th, one week before the entire region meets, a week and a day before the 32nd RD meets, and over three months before the primary itself.

That's the reasonable, measured, sensible argument.  The rough, blunt, confrontational argument is that if the KCGOP declares war on me by endorsing my opponent, I'm not out of moves.  I still have a lot of cards to play.  Don't endorse me, I won't drop out, I won't play nice, I'll fund additional primary challenges to broaden the theater of war, and I will be 100% open about the reason why.  I just posted it on the internets.  I'm running to represent a NATIONAL movement, I'm 27 years old, and I am NEVER going away.  My opponent, on the other hand, is running to represent the Republican Party, and if you endorse me or at least refuse to endorse him, he might drop out and you'll save yourselves a primary candidate running around campaigning in your own party against all of your nominees.  From the president on down.  Wouldn't you rather I spend my time doing that to the Democratic Party?

Of course, there are good reasons to support me, not just the brute force politics of my ability to broaden the fight beyond the 32nd District and my willingness to run against the party as I do so.  My dad wrote some of them down.  They're good.  You should read them.

It occurs to me I haven't asked anyone for money in my recent articles.  There's a whole donate button on the upper right of the site.  You should click it.  Or here.  You can also help me out on that laser.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Karma's a Bitch

Steal money from the taxpayer and give it to your political allies, and Karma will come for you.
The luxury carmaker Fisker Automotive continues to signal it could ditch plans to build its next generation hybrid electric vehicle in the United States, despite the nearly $200 million in Obama administration loan money it has already received.

Fisker received federal funds in part to help purchase a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware, where it predicted it would one day employ 2,000 auto workers to assemble the clean-burning gas-electric family car, known as the Atlantic.
Thanks, Jack.