Saturday, January 24, 2009

Progressive Update--01/24/2009

Lots has happened this week, with the inauguration of Obama/Biden and Markell/Denn. Last Saturday there was a ‘whistle stop’ in Wilmington with Obama/Biden. I shook Joe’s hand, and a good friend shook Obama’s (and this is recorded on CSPAN). Remember me? It’s been two months, so I guess that it is time to get working again!
Bob Herbert in today’s NY Times writes of Obama: But I’ve seen charismatic politicians and pretty families come and go like sunrises and sunsets over the years. There was something more that was making people go ga-ga over Obama. Something deeper.
We’ve been watching that something this week, and it’s called leadership. Mr. Obama has been feeding the almost desperate hunger in this country for mature leadership, for someone who is not reckless and clownish, shortsighted and self-absorbed.
Yes, we liberal Democrats are on cloud nine these days, and for good reason.
Newark—There is an open government resolution before Newark City Council on Monday night. The meeting begins at 7:30pm at the city building (Elkton and Apple Roads), starting at 7:30pm. Herbert’s column notes: “Transparency and rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,” he said. It was a commitment to responsible behavior, and a challenge to the public to hold the Obama administration accountable. It reminded me of the wonderful line written into a federal appeals court ruling in 2002 by Judge Damon Keith: “Democracies die behind closed doors.” If you can, especially if you are a city resident, show up and let your city council know that you believe that open government is worth taking a stand.
Newark City Council’s February 9th meeting is expected to include public comments on equal rights proposals (benefits to domestic partners, recognizing gender identity, etc). Please plan to attend and be heard.
New Castle County—Stephanie McClellan left council to join Markell’s administration. The Democratic Party selected Lisa Diller to vie for the spot. You can learn more about Lisa at . I voted in favor of Lisa, which isn’t notable, as the vote was unanimous. If the Republicans put up an opponent, reach out to Lisa to help. If opposed, the election will be on February 19th.
State Democratic Party—This is the season that our local Representative District (RD) committees select their members. The RD committees generally meet monthly, and are wonderful groups to join and serve on. I have served on the 23rd RD committee for several years (Lisa Diller has served on it for a decade).
How do you join? First, find out which RD you live in. Go to and enter your nine-digit zip code. Under State Legislative, you’ll find the State House District you live in. Next, go to and select Calendar on the left. Look for the date of your RD Committee Caucus. This is the meeting where committee members are elected. Bring friends and neighbors—‘stuffing the ballot box’ is permitted!
King Corn—There is a showing of King Corn ( at the Newark Unitarian church ( this Tuesday night at 7pm, cosponsored by the Sierra Club.
Ethics Forum—The Newark Unitarian church ( is hosting an ethics forum on Wednesdays in February and March, from 7-9pm. Speakers include several UD professors, including Richard Hanley, Alan Fox, Muqtedar Khan, and Jennifer Lambe. Go to for the current flyer.
Spaghetti Dinner—The 23rd RD Democratic Committee is hosting its annual Spaghetti Dinner and Auction on Friday April 3rd from 6-9pm. Save the date!
The Progressive Democrats for Delaware ( have their monthly meeting in 11 days, on the 4th, at DelDems HQ in New Castle, at 7pm. Come join us!
There are some good bills coming before Delaware’s General Assembly this season. House Bill 1 calls for open government, removing the legislature’s exemption from the Freedom of Information Act. This has already made it through the House committee. Let your representative know that you want it approved without amendment. Good senators will need to work on preventing this from dying in Thurman Adams’ desk drawer. Let your senator know that you want them to ensure that HB1 gets a vote on the senate floor.
House Bill 27 calls for a one-year waiting period between the retirement of a legislator and the time when they are permitted to lobby. Thanks to Rep. John Kowalko for introducing this.
Senate Bill 7 calls for reasonable limits to ‘eminent domain’, the ability of the government to compel landowners to sell their property to the government, whether for public or private use. SB7 calls for ED to only be used for public reasons, not for private development reasons.
What I’d like to see is a bill to enact non-partisan redistricting. The RDs and SDs are redrawn every ten years. Typically, the ruling party (yes, Democrats for both houses now) play games (aka gerrymandering) which lead to insanely drawn districts. There is a simple, and good, solution, a bipartisan commission with public input (and public meetings). There is deep academic work in this area (state senate candidate John Mackenzie is a proponent), which makes terrific sense. Two years ago Common Cause of DE championed this, but since them CC has gone dormant. Who will lead this cause?
Enough for now. Thanks for reading. Be the change!

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