Monday, October 11, 2010

Wednesday is Debate Night

Chris Coons and Christine O'Donnell are set to debate this Wednesday night at 7:30pm.

For those who did not get tickets to the debate (hardly anyone did!), here are two great ways to participate:

1. come to the front of Mitchell Hall on the UD campus, Wed from about 4-7pm. We will be holding a rally (and hoping for some TV coverage).

2. come to the Newark watch party, TImothy's in Newark.

Please RSVP, 302-650-3225 or

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Three Fundraisers--and trip to DC

Chris Coons--Wine Tasting Fundraiser for Chris Coons tomorrow in Newark--will I see you there?

Chris Counihan--next Wednesday the 13th in Wilmington

Debra Heffernan--next Thursday the 14th in Wilmington

There's a rally on Saturday October 30th in DC co-hosted by Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. There are two buses I know going down. DelawareLiberal's bus information is at

Lynn Winkler and Jill Gaumer are organizing a bus--$25 for transport, INCLUDING SODA/BEER/WIN AND MUNCHIES on the way home. Email Barbara Winkler at for seat reservation information.

Progressive Update--10/06/2010--Call to Action

Candidate Forum—The Newark UU church ( is hosting a candidate forum this Saturday. The flyer is at, and notes the confirmed candidates (Christine O’Donnell has not yet confirmed). Allan Loudell and Al Mascitti are sharing the moderation duties. Please join us from 10-3:30 on Saturday, and PLEASE TELL YOUR FRIENDS!!!

The UD has Carney and Urquhart debate tonight, and Coons and O’Donnell next Wednesday. For more information, go to

Chris Coons for US Senate—This is the race of the year, the race to get a strong, forward-looking Democrat into the US Senate, and prevent an irresponsible nutcase from winning. Chris needs your money, and your time. They phone bank every day, and they canvass every weekend. Senator Al Franken will be in town tomorrow at 2pm—go to to sign up for that event. If you want to go on the record to note that Christine O’Donnell is not you (despite what her witchy-ad states), go to

Chip Flowers for State Treasurer—A poll just released,, shows Democrat Chip Flowers in a dead heat with Republican Colin Bonini. This is a race that Flowers must win. Bonini, in his many years in the state General Assembly, has NEVER voted for a budget. This is governing by absence in its worst form. Colin Bonini exemplifies the Party of No Ideas. Chip Flowers has a real vision for the office of state treasurer. Perhaps some aspects overreach, but give me a candidate with a vision anytime over a candidate with no ideas. Please help Chip Flowers win the race for state treasurer. Go to to learn more.

Candidate Endorsements—The endorsements from the Progressive Democrats of Delaware are at They are all wonderful candidates, and deserve your support. Each of these candidates worked closely with the PDD to demonstrate their dedication to our shared, liberal values. Please do not hesitate to help them out, and get your friends to support them, too.

General Assembly—Both houses in Dover are in Democratic hands, but we can improve the legislation that the General Assembly passes by getting really good liberal Democrats elected on November 2nd. Please work on getting good Democratic candidates elected, such as Counihan, Peterson, Ennis, Keeley, Brady, Heffernan, Short, Johnson, Schooley, Osienski, Kowalko, and Westhoff, and let them know that in return for helping them, you are counting on their support in Dover, on equal rights for all, consumer protections, improved schools, you name it. I am especially hopeful for new candidates Counihan, Heffernan, Osienski, and Westhoff.

Progressive Democrats of Delaware—Five weeks ago I was selected to serve as Executive Director of the PDD ( in a close election. I am working on getting my hands around our organization, its mission and processes. If you don’t know about PDD, please go to the website. We have two primary missions—promoting progressive, liberal policies and legislation, and identifying, electing, and supporting progressive, liberal elected officials. Read the What We Believe section (left side). If it sounds like your kind of place, please attend our meetings (first Wednesday of each month at 7pm at DE Democratic Party Headquarters in New Castle, including TONIGHT), or email me and ask to be added to our members-only Yahoo Group.

Less than four weeks to go—get out there and get some great candidates elected!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Delaware Candidate Update--08/26/2010

Earlier this week the Endorsement Committee of the Progressive Democrats of Delaware (, of which I am co-chair, released their 2010 endorsements:

"Listed below are the PDD endorsements for the 2010 Primary election (those with Democratic Party opponents for the September 14th primary):

Richard Korn - Auditor
Rep. Helene Keeley – State Senate – 3rd District
James Maravelias – State Rep. – 27th District

The Committee found two races in which both candidates were strong progressives; therefore, we decided to await the Democratic voters' decision on September 14th. PDD shall endorse the winning candidate in the Democratic Primary race for:

State Treasurer - Chip Flowers or Velda Jones Potter and the
24th RD Representative - Kay Gallogly or Edward Osienski

Listed below are the PDD endorsements for the 2010 General election:

Chris Coons – U. S. Senate
Chris Counihan – State Senate - 5th District
Senator Karen Peterson – State Senate - 9th District
Senator Bruce Ennis – State Senate - 14th District
Rep. Gerald Brady – State Senate - 4th District
Debra Heffernan – State Rep. - 6th District
Rep. Bryon Short – State Rep. - 7th District
Rep. James (JJ) Johnson – State Rep. - 16th District
Rep. Terry Schooley – State Rep. - 23rd District
Rep. John Kowalko – State Rep. - 25th District
Jim Westhoff – State Rep. - 35th District
Renee Taschner - NCC Council - 3rd District
Lisa Diller - NCC Councilperson - 5th District
Mike Kozikowski - Recorder of Deeds

Obviously, any of the candidates we endorsed in the Primary who are victorious in their elections will be added to the list of endorsements for the General Election."

Let me add my two cents. First, this was a committee, and decisions were put to a vote. I voted with the majority in many cases, and in the minority in others. I firmly stand in support of the entire slate of PDD-endorsed candidates.

I'd like to address the two 'quasi-dual-endorsed' races. We found both Chip Flowers and Velda Jones Potter to be VERY supportive of PDD ideals, and we couldn't bring ourselves to endorse one and alienate the other. We therefore punted, by leaving it to the Democratic voters to determine who they would like to run against Republican Colin Bonini in November.
We faced the same conundrum for the 24th RD, where both Kay Gallogly and Ed Osienski are great candidates, and will make wonderful state reps. Note that retiring Republican Bill Oberle, from what I understand, is a nice guy, has been devoted to serving his constituents, and has been very supportive of many liberal causes in Dover during his tenure.

I'd like to next touch on a few of the new candidates. Chris Counihan is running against Republican incumbent Cathy Cloutier. He is a rock star as far as credentials. To meet him is to love him. Email to learn about his September 7th fundraiser (6-8pm, only $10 for 5th Senate District residents, $100 for other supporters). His site is
Debra Heffernan is president of the Brandywine School District (she would step down as President when elected), and is running against Republican incumbent Tom Kovach. Go to to learn more.
Jim Westhoff is running for the downstate 35th RD against Republican incumbent David Wilson. I and PDD worry that pointing out that Jim is a good guy could hurt him in this district. Go to for more information. He notes that downstate 14th RD Representative Pete Schwartzkopf needs an ally in Dover on critical issues such as coastal wetland issues (for Republicans the solution is to pave these over).

Let me point to what I consider 'important races.' I think that incumbents such as John Kowalko are likely to win re-election easily, due to the incredibly good job that they have done in the past. There is value to having them have blowouts, as they can have a bigger impact in Dover as a result. Nonetheless, I try to focus on races where the outcome is likely much closer, and where YOUR time and money can make a real difference in the race's outcome.
Chris Coons is running for Joe Biden's old seat, currently held by the wonderful Ted Kaufman. Most likely he'll be running against Mike Castle, who has served DE since the dawn of time, and who in recent years has voted however the Republican Party instructs. This seat going over to the Republicans will make it MUCH harder to prevent the US Supreme Court from looking after the disenfranchised (including women). This will be close, and is VERY IMPORTANT.
Chris Counihan, by winning, can help tilt the Delaware state Senate away from its 'old boy' ways. Michael Katz's victory in 2008 helped a bit. Wonderful state senators such as Karen Peterson and Katz need allies to fight against the (closed-door) Delaware Way. If you are upset/embarrassed about how the 'Democratic' DE Senate works, help Chris get elected.
Rep. Bryon Short, while an incumbent, won in a close special election, and is 'vulnerable.' As a north Wilmington district, the Republican challenger will be well financed. Bryon can use your help--see for more info.
Debra Heffernan--Like Chris Counihan, it is such a pleasure to meet Debra. She is so impressive. She would bring a great improvement to the culture in Dover. She is dedicated to constituents, and a 'roll-your-sleeves-up' problem solver, well grounded in the community.
State Treasurer--whoever wins the primary, Chip or Velda, they will need a lot of help to beat Republican Colin clue-less Bonini (there is no limit to what Bonini considers bad--but he has not a single solution to offer).
24th RD Representative--Again, whoever wins, Kay or Ed, will need help to beat the Republican challenger, who has the Republican party's financial backing to keep this seat in the R column, and Kay and Ed are both GREAT PEOPLE!

If you have very limited time and money to contribute, consider focusing on these six. If you have a bit more, ALL of these candidates, even those who will likely win comfortably, need a bunch of dollars and volunteer time to run their campaign, and will deeply appreciate your help.

Be warned--I plan to start regularly (weekly?) updating this blog, and perhaps issuing emails, on the upcoming elections.

Last note--Please reserve October 9th from 10am to 5pm for a candidate forum at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark ( It should be a wonderful event.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Coons Event at Paul's House this Thursday--08/16/2010

This Thursday the 19th from 7-8:30pm please join us to talk about the Chris Coons for US Senate Campaign with Mrs. Annie Coons. I am hosting this evening at my home, 38 Country Hills Dr, Newark, DE 19711. Please RSVP to or call 302-650-3225

Monday, July 19, 2010

Progressive Update--07/19/2010

Just a quick update with four events to put on your calendar.

Chris Coons Fundraiser—This Saturday from noon to 2pm at John Mackenzie’s 711 Fiske Lane in Newark ( Suggested donation $30 per person/$50 per couple. BBQ and beverages. Please come and help Chris keep the Senate US Democratic!

25th RD Fundraiser—Saturday July 31st from 7-9pm at Lois Hoffman’s 34 Oklahoma State Dr in Newark ( Tickets cost $15. Wine tasting and desserts (last year’s was lots of fun).

Candidate Forums—Sunday August 22nd from 1-5pm at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark at 420 Willa Road in Newark ( Free and open to the public. We have invited the candidates with a primary on September 14th, of both parties. Can you name the four people running for county sheriff? You will be able to say yes on the 22nd if you join us! Email me with questions.

Candidate Forums—Saturday October 9th from 10am-5pm at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark at 420 Willa Road in Newark ( Free and open to the public. We will be inviting candidates with an opponent in the November 2nd general election. Email me with questions.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Driving with Joe--06/28/2010

I was asked by the Chris Coons for Senate campaign to drive White House staffers during Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Wilmington yesterday. I had done this once (driving Joe's staffers) during the 2008 campaign. That time was a snore--show up early at a hotel in Wilmington, drive them to the Wilmington airport, return to the hotel. This time was different.

Three of us met two staffers at a Wilmington hotel. We had two vans to drive--I drove the large one, able to hold 15 passengers. We drove to the Wilmington airport. Nothing special.

But then the weather changed--the storm clouds came and the heavens opened. We learned that the plane could not land in Wilmington. They considered diverting to Philly, but decided on Dover. Times immediately got very interesting.

We joined a police-escorted motorcade down route 1 to Dover Air Force Base, lights on, flashers on, at fairly high speed in the left lane. I had to slam on my brakes once to avert an accident. We lost our police escort south of route 40 when other cars jumped in ahead of us (it is hard for a large van to accelerate as fast as a police cruiser).

We made it to Dover, and I talked my way through the gate, drove across many landing strips to Biden's plane. The staff came down and entered the van. VP Biden came down and went into his (presumably Secret-Service driven) van.

Now we were bona fide, we weren't driving to see the VP, we had the VP with us, and were behind schedule. On the way back north, the police stopped most conflicting traffic (yes, blame me for yesterday afternoon's traffic problems). As such, we were able to breeze into the Chase Center.

After delivering the White House staff to the Chase Center, the three of us drivers shared our white-knuckle stories. It was quite an experience!

Chris Coons did a great job on the first speech, and in introducing Biden. I tweeted a bit of Biden's remarks (I did not tweet while driving to/from Dover). After Biden's remarks, he worked the crowd, and then came backstage. He greeted and had pictures taken with law enforcement, with Chris Coons' volunteers, and with the three of us (individual pictures were taken by a White House photographer--that is going in a frame). When he spoke with me, he asked whether it was hard to keep up with the troopers (yes, very much so).

It was very hard to drive (almost) within the speed limit on the way home. It was also hard to not burst with the experience. We were given VP memorabilia--I have a Vice President of the United States baseball cap embroidered with Biden's signature on the back. VERY COOL!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Letter to Editor--06/16/2010--Financial Reform--Fiduciary Rule

Submitted this morning to the Wilmington News Journal

As a financial planner, the trust my clients have in my advice has been essential to the success of my business. As a result, despite the financial roller coaster of the last ten years, my business has grown for one reason and one reason only: trust. You might think the linchpin of my business, my fiduciary duty to my clients to act in their best interest, would be the same for the rest of our financial system. Unfortunately, you would be wrong.

Presently, as the Senate and House negotiate a final bill on financial reform, lobbyists from Wall Street want to weaken the most valuable asset a financial planner or advisor has, the trust of his or her clients. Big money lobbyists from Wall Street actually want to weaken House language that requires all financial advisors to put their client’s interest first, and want to weaken anti-fraud provisions.

This is crazy. Wall Street’s war on Main Street has crashed our economy and cost millions of jobs. Is it too much to ask financial advisors to actually act in their clients’ best interest? Haven’t enough savings and pension funds been wiped out already? The House language establishing a fiduciary duty for broker dealers should be a part of the conference report and final bill. Americans need a strong financial reform bill to put an end to financial fraud.

Paul Baumbach, CFA, CFP(R), ChFC
Mallard Advisors, LLC
Newark, Delaware

Monday, June 07, 2010

Letter to DE State Representatives--06/07/2010--HS1/HB10

I sent the following to several state Representatives, regarding HS1/HB10 ( . Use, enter your 9 digit ZIP code to find out who your state legislators are. This bill needs your Representatives to hear from you TODAY!

I write to you today to urge your strong support for passage of House Substitute 1 for House Bill 10. This bill would provide access to health and retirement benefits to domestic partners of state employees (state’s actual cost would be paid by the employee, similar to COBRA access to benefits). Last week HS1 was included to the bill to remove the fiscal note, by shifting the financial burden for this employment benefit from the state to the state employee, so the bill no longer has a fiscal note.

I would like to stress that this is not even about equality, as spouses of state employees receive this benefit free and clear—this merely makes the state less unfair. These couples are forbidden from marrying or forming domestic partnerships/civil unions in Delaware. This maintains the ‘separate and unequal’ treatment for the LGBT citizens and employees of Delaware, but it makes it less unequal. Again, HS1/HB10 would not make life fair for these couples, but would reduce how unfair it is, at no cost to the state.

Some of your colleagues in the General Assembly may point to sensationalism (such as the recent topless sunbathing incident at Rehobeth Beach) to rationalize their opposition to HS1/HB10. Don’t be fooled. HS1/HB10 has absolutely nothing to do with condoning illegal activity, zero, nada. HS1/HB10 does one thing, it makes it more attractive (or at least less unattractive) to be a state employee in Delaware, and does so without additional cost to the state.

Please stand up for state employees and their families, and insist that HS1/HB10 come to the floor for a full vote and passage this week.

Thank you very much.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Letter to Editor--05/13/2010--Financial Reform

Submitted May 13, 2010 to Wilmington News Journal

The Senate is debating a bill designed to fix many of the problems on Wall Street; it’s called the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 (RAFSA). We have all been affected, to some degree, by the Great Recession of 2008-2009, and thus we are all impacted by the proposed solution. There were many, many causes, and therefore there are many areas that need to be addressed in RAFSA.

The issue of conflicts of interest for financial professionals, and specifically the concept of fiduciary, has reached the headlines. This is due in no small part to the testimony of Goldman Sachs employees that they had no obligation to tell their customers what they knew about the doomed products they were selling. (This type of disregard for customers led to $400 million settlement between Orange County, California and Merrill Lynch regarding Merrill’s advice on managing the county’s cash flows, leading to over $1 billion of losses for the county.) defines fiduciary as follows: “A financial advisor held to a Fiduciary Standard occupies a position of special trust and confidence when working with a client. As a Fiduciary, the financial advisor is required to act with undivided loyalty to the client. This includes disclosure of how the financial advisor is to be compensated and any corresponding conflicts of interest.”

One of RAFSA’s goals is to protect investors. Currently, when brokers and insurance agents offer you investment “advice,” they don’t have to believe that it is in your best interest. They can recommend securities designed to line their own pockets instead of investments that would be best for you. One estimate is that this results in $25 billion being lost by investors annually that instead lines the pockets of such salespersons. The House version of RAFSA is stronger in this regard than the Senate version—the House insists on the fiduciary standards for all investment advice while the Senate version calls for an 18 month study. Fortunately, there is an amendment from Senators Akaka, Menendez, and Durbin which would insist on this vital investor protection, so that all ‘financial advisers’ that investors rely upon for investment recommendations are required to place your interests first.

I have practiced as a fee-only financial advisor for seventeen years, and have always acted as a fiduciary, as required of investment advisers under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The Akaka-Menendez-Durbin amendment is necessary to require all securities brokers who provide personalized investment advisors to retail clients to be held to the same standard. America’s investors deserve no less. The Financial Planning Coalition, comprised of NAPFA, the CFP Board, and FPA®, supports the Akaka-Menendez-Durbin amendment.

Without this amendment, the Senate version of the bill calls for (yet another) 18-month study, a delay that is exactly what stockbrokers and insurance agents want. What do you want? If you want a client-first fiduciary standard of care, let your US Senator know that we need the Akaka/Menendez/Durbin amendment added to RAFSA now!

Paul S Baumbach, CFA, CFP®, ChFC
Mallard Advisors, LLC
Newark, Delaware

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Progressive Update—5/9/2010

Note that at the end of this, I included a LONG discussion of two imminent Christina School District items. If you live in my school district, PLEASE read it!

Pennsylvania’s US Senate Primary Race—This Tuesday Pennsylvania’s voters will select whether US Representative Joe Sestak ( or US Senator Arlen Specter will be the Democratic Party’s candidate for US Senate. I strongly favor Joe Sestak. If you live in PA, and are a registered Democrat, please vote for Joe Sestak this Tuesday Go to to find out whether and how you can vote this Tuesday.

Delaware’s US Senate Race—I heard Chris Coons speak this Saturday at a Stonewall Democrats event. He did a great job of presenting the choice that Delaware voters face in November. Mike Castle is a nice guy, and has served Delaware for a LOT of years (too many?). In the past year, it has seemed clear that Castle lacks the backbone, the courage to stand up against the Republican Party leadership, as he has voted against the needs of Delaware voters time and again.
The Republican Party of 2010 is stuck in a time-warp, romanticizing about the days of our founding fathers. In this dream-world of theirs, they fail to remind us that times were good there only if you 1) owned land, 2) were male, and 3) were white. Today’s Democratic Party works to enable ALL Americans to pursue the happiness that the founding fathers offered.

Top reason to vote for Chris Coons—Chris Coons will support the nomination of Supreme Court justices who reject the time-warp view of Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas, and Castle has shown that he cannot stand up for Delaware when Republican leaders need his vote to try to move the country backward.
Go to to learn more, volunteer, and contribute.

Progressive Democrats of Delaware—I am co-chair of the endorsement committee of the PDD ( I am very excited about the current committee, and our plans to build upon the strengths of our efforts in 2008. PDD next meets on June 2nd at 7pm at DelDems HQ.

National Update—I went to DC last month to lobby for financial reform with Americans for Financial Reform ( I posted details of my trip on my blog. I am continuing to work with them to reach out to our legislators, and to the media, to help get real reform passed into law.

State Legislature—There is much going on in Dover in the coming eight weeks. The budget is one of the top issues. Keep an eye on the education dollars—whether the cuts are reasonable or unreasonable. Our children’s future depends on this.

The process called gerrymandering, involving the drawing of crazy district borders in order to ensure ‘safe elections’ to insecure legislators, would be replaced by an open process, if only Senate Bill (SB) 20 ( would pass. Guess who opposes it? Most legilslators, including Speaker of the House Bob Gilligan. Before you contribute a penny to a candidate for the state legislature, ensure that, if elected, they will demand that all redistricting meetings in 2011 are held in public. If they refuse, then refuse to support them.
With the 2011 meetings in the public, we will work on creating an open redistricting commission for 2021 and later cycles.

House Bill (HB) 10 ( is being adjusted to provide benefits to domestic partners AT COST the same benefits are provided to spouses FOR FREE. No, it’s not equal, but it is better.. Stay tuned, and prepare to ask your state legislator to support passage of the modified HB 10.

Equality for All, Relationship Equality—With Washington DC’s recent law to permit same-sex marriage, we are closer to bringing relationship equality (likely through civil unions, domestic partnerships, or same-sex marriage) to Delaware. The coalition mentioned earlier is very focused on this. Let me know if you’d like more information. Two groups that I really like, due to their work on this area is, and

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT)—It’s way past time to repeal DADT. We don’t need studies to know that inequality is wrong, and needs to be stopped, now. A bill is in the works in Congress. Be ready to speak up quickly and loudly when the bill is ready to be debated and passed.

Newark—Univ of DE Bookstore—The Newark City Council voted overwhelmingly to approve the University’s bookstore, moving the existing student bookstore from east campus to the central business district, essentially expanding the college campus into downtown. That was disappointing, but not incredible. What was incredible is that Mayor Vance Fund and five of the six of the council members (Paul Pomeroy, Jerry Clifton, Doug Tuttle, David Athey, and Stu Markham) approved the plan which waives the University’s obligation to pay the city $1.1 million for failing to include adequate parking in the plan. The 60,000 square feet of space will bring substantial cars and pedestrians to the center of town, and that $1.1 million would have been absolutely required to address the gridlock that the bookstore will bring to the city. After the council’s past mis-steps with the reservoir, it is unbelievable that the council took another financially reckless move. When do I get my $1.1 million waiver from the Newark city council?

Christina School District—lots to read here

I live in Christina School District, and I often neglect to keep up on school district issues. I regret this. When I catch myself, I try to catch up. This post attempts to catch me (and you) up.

This Tuesday is an election for one of the seats on the school board, currently held by George Evans. There are three candidates who wish to be elected, George Evans, Paul Falkowski, and Eric Anderson. I recommend that you vote for Eric Anderson.

I would like to say that I conducted deep research into this decision, but I did not. Here’s what I did, and what I found.

First off, I know nothing about Paul Falkowski.

I have met with Mr. Evans a few times in the past few years. He has been on the board for years, lots of years. I believe that he has served on the board for over thirty years. Yes, this means that he was partially responsible for hiring Joseph Wise, and the subsequent serious financial woes that the district has suffered (causing the state needing to bail it out and essentially ‘put it into receivorship’). If an election should be viewed as a report card, Mr. Evans deserves a failing grade. If you believe in term limits, then you can consider Mr. Evans to have exceeded his expiration date on the board.

I understand that there are at least two school board members who believe in transparency, a trait seriously lacking in too many government bodies, including school boards. One of these transparency advocates currently on the school board is John Young, who authors a blog sharing his observations of the workings of the school board, at . John is also a frequent contributor at . John supports Eric Anderson.

Eric Anderson is a school teacher (at the Charter School of Wilmington), has served as a teacher’s aide, coach, and substitute teacher. I imagine that for many of you, his credentials as an ‘in the trenches’ teacher makes him an excellent addition to the school board.

He has a facebook page at .

Newark blogger Nancy Willing, who attends both county council and school board meetings, endorses Eric Anderson, at

There is information at the bottom of on the election, who can vote and when (10am-8pm) and where you can vote.


The webpage has information on the referendum which will be decided on May 25th. There are three ‘community forums’ where you can learn more, including one tomorrow night. These are detailed at the webpage. There is good information on the web, including a fact sheet and a presentation.

My take—if transparency-advocate Eric Anderson is elected on May 11th, then I will vote for the referendum on May 25th. If anti-transparency candidate George Evans is elected, I will vote against the referendum. I don’t mind (at all) spending more money for the education of the district’s children, as long as I have confidence that the dollars will be responsibly spent. I will have that confidence if an additional transparency-advocate is elected to the school board. Elections matter.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Email to Senators--Financial Reform--May 5, 2010

This afternoon I sent this to aides of Senators Kaufman and Carper, aides I met last week:

This afternoon’s Wall Street Journal notes that a deal has been made “Under the Dodd-Shelby deal, Democrats agreed to drop a provision for a $50 billion fund to help pay for liquidation costs, collected from the financial industry. Instead, any costs incurred when the government winds down a firm would be recouped from the industry after the fact.
The agreement would require Congress to approve the use of debt guarantees by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Treasury. It would also tighten restrictions on the Fed's emergency lending powers.

I strenuously object to this arrangement. It calls for the survivors to provide the costs of winding down ‘bad firms.’ This irresponsibly fails to break the moral hazard problems which led to the Great Recession. Financial firms MUST be required to pay into the pool WHILE THEY ARE OPERATING, rather than only after they (or their colleagues fail). The proposed approach is analogous to having the living pay the death benefits to the family of John Smith when John Smith dies, rather than having John Smith pay the premiums during his life.
I recognize that this deal was apparently required by Republican Senators such as Senator Shelby. This does not mean that it is appropriate. From what I’ve heard from Senator Shelby, likely it means that it is bad for the country.
Republicans spend a lot of time decrying having responsible people pay benefits to irresponsible people. The Dodd-Shelby deal is exactly that—assessing no costs to a bankrupt financial firm, and placing the costs on the responsible financial firms.
The original concept of having financial firms pay into a ‘funeral fund’, with the payment consistent with the level of risk they are utilizing is economically, academically, and ideologically sound. Please ask Senator to work to restore the ‘funeral fund,’ and to terminate plans to ‘close the barn doors after the horses have fled,’ as built into the Dodd-Shelby compromise.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mr. Paul Goes to Washington -- April 28, 2010 -- Summary/Rambling

I joined in a lobbying day in DC organized by Americans for Financial Reform (, joining several folks from Delaware, along with folks from across the country (at least Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Louisiana, and Massachusetts), most of whom flew in on Tuesday night.
I got up Wednesday morning at 4:40am, got to the Wilmington train station parking garage by 5:15, and we headed out in a minivan by 5:30. Most of our group represented local non-profits, and ‘the little guy.’ I was invited to not only share what I have seen at the Code Purple program that opens our church’s doors to the homeless on cold, winter nights, but also for my knowledge of Wall Street issues, through my work. Additionally, I was asked by the national fee-only™ financial planners organization to promote the amendment that requires brokers who provide investment advice to be held to the higher fiduciary standard, and regulated by the SEC, as a necessary investor protection. Our van got to the Treasury building in DC before 8am, well in advance of our 9am meeting.
Unfortunately, a snafu between the White House and the security at Treasury meant that about a dozen of us were unable to participate in the orientation meeting held by a Treasury staffer. We stood outside, however we were joined by the executive director of AFR, and a White House staffer. We also were able to participate in a 15 minute AFR strategy session, where we learned that the Republican stubborn blockade was close to crumbling, and that if the Republicans uniformly sided with Wall Street during the 12:30pm vote today, Senator Reid would call for an all-nighter, including a fourth cloture vote at 1am. This was a guarded secret for the time being.
When the Treasury meeting completed, we headed to a bus for the ride to Capitol Hill. We prepared to meet with DE Senator Edward (Ted) Kaufman. One of the DE team’s members, Ed Osborne had a story about abuse of a customer by Citizens Bank, and the local NBC affiliate was interested in filming Ed’s discussion with Kaufman. We met with the Senator, WHO WAS WONDERFUL. Our main frustration is that he was 100% on our side, and seemingly needed nothing from us. There was little that we could do to share information that he did not already have, and, as a lame duck, there was no need to provide him additional support at home to combat repercussions of his terrific, principled stand. We had about 20 minutes with him, and an additional 10-15 with his senior staff members.
We then had lunch in a Senate building, and headed to DE Congressman Michael Castle’s office. Castle’s office was wonderful in arranging a meeting with his legislative assistant at the last moment. We had a very constructive meeting, noting our reasons for requesting stronger reform than Castle is currently preferring.
Next we headed to DE Senator Thomas Carper’s office, for a meeting with two of his senior staff. We knew that Carper was largely supportive of the reform bill, but was on the fence on several issues. I pushed for stronger restrictions over the “too big to fail” banks, and when the legislative counsel suggested that the Fed was the best regulator for the banks I noted that the Fed governors are largely made up of bank presidents, and that this arrangement did not serve the American people as well as an independent agency. I also pushed for stronger derivatives regulation, knowing the senators had been lobbied recently from ‘end users’ of derivatives. The banks/brokerages which make large profits from under-regulated derivatives knew that they are currently being portrayed as the bad guys, so they have pushed their customers forward to plead for less regulation, even though better regulation will be quite beneficial to these customers. I pushed Carper’s people for the value of bringing the light of day (transparency) to all derivative trading.
We ended the day at a press conference, with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), and Robert Casey (D-PA). I was about 5 feet from Senator Sanders when the picture on the front page of today’s Wilmington News Journal was likely taken. The conference was held to announce the abandonment of the Republican’s obstructionist tactics which was preventing debate on the bill. The press conference is at, and I was about four feet back (and to the right) of the podium--off camera. Afterwards, I spoke briefly to Senator Casey, noting that I had seen him speak in Downingtown when he was campaigning in 2008 with Barack Obama, when I was canvassing for Obama with UD students. First impression—either Senator Casey is very tall or I am very short!
It was a VERY long day (18 hours or so), in a very busy month for me. Nonetheless, standing up to speak with our legislators (local, state, and national) is the duty of each citizen, and yesterday was my day.
When is your day?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mr. Paul Goes to Washington -- April 28, 2010

I am heading to Washington DC tomorrow (leaving Wilmington at 5:30am), to lobby in support of financial industry reform, as part of efforts of Americans for Financial Reform (

This is a multi-state effort to speak with decision-makers. Some time will be spent with a Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. We then travel to Capitol Hill, to meet with Castle, Carper, and Kaufman, and/or members of their staffs.

Top issues are:
End 'Too Big To Fail', and the related need for taxpayer bailouts (championed by Senator Kaufman)
Bring Derivatives Into The Open
Provide Real Consumer Protection (no exceptions--car leasers, payday lenders, etc)
Bring Comprehensive Regulation to Shadow Banking--Hedge Funds, Private Equity, and Venture Capital--bring them under the SEC, with NO EXCEPTIONS
Reform Credit Rating Agencies (which failed so many investors)--hold them accountable, end the incestuous relationships
Investor Protection and Corporate Governance Reform--here I would like to see an amendment to require that broker-dealers who deliver investment advice to abide by fiduciary standards, not just suitability standards

Monday, April 26, 2010

Newark City Council Meeting - 04/26/2010 - My revised planned comments on proposed UD bookstore

Here is the current draft (revised 6pm today) of my comments planned for tonight's meeting of Newark City Council, to consider the proposed UD bookstore in the central business district.

A classic Calvin and Hobbes cartoon has the father coming home to find his son with a sign that reads 'love the sinner, hate the sin.'

I love the University of Delaware. I earned my first degree at the UD. I have lived less than 2 miles from campus for the past twenty years, 13 of those years as an owner of a business on Main Street. And yet I oppose this bookstore proposal.

What is wrong with being a schoolyard bully? You get your victims to agree to do what you want (give you their lunch money, do your homework, etc), even if those actions are certainly not actions the victims would have done without your pressure.

I'm certain that the UD doesn't feel that it is being a bully, however that is how it feels when we are repeatedly told that the UD has the court-affirmed right to do as they please in expanding their campus wherever and however they please, but are willing, for the time being, to work within the city's zoning rules.

So let me offer a novel request, let's take the UD at its word tonight. They claim to be dedicated partners with the city, the residents, and the business community, and they claim to be committed to abiding by the city's zoning code, for the moment. Thus I beg you, make your decisions tonight based on the UD's word, and therefore, based on the rules and procedures of our city as applied to the written proposal before you. View this as just any large development proposal affecting the central business district, from just any developer. Please make your best decision, based on merits (or lack thereof) of this proposal, not based on conjectures (such as what the UD would do if you reject this proposal, or what could have or should have occurred). Conjectures are not on tonight's agenda; this proposal is.

Are you satisfied that you know what you are approving? Is it a Barnes and Noble bookstore and Starbucks (the second in three blocks) that serves the non-student community but fails to provide enough parking for its patrons, likely refusing to pay its fair share of taxes and fees, taxes and fees paid by the rest of Newark's business community? Or is it a University bookstore that expands the college campus into the central business district, squeezing out economic activity that serves the community? When constituents spoke with you, did you explain that the University has yet to make clear which model it is following? Won’t your constituents be upset when they find that rather than a consumer Barnes and Noble, what is being built is merely a University bookstore managed by Barnes and Noble, taking up prime space in the central business district without serving them, your constituents? It would be no better than if a high-rise college dorm was built there.
Are you satisfied with approving a proposal that the city's Planning Commission rejected? The minor changes made this month don't come close to addressing the shortcomings noted at their meeting last month. What are you telling future developers about the Planning Commission's function?
Are you satisfied with the shellgame, the structure of the temporary conveyance from UD to the city of parking area which can be requested back by the UD at a moment's notice and without any compensation? Would you let any other developer give you property in return for moneys owed the city, subject to the developer's right to receive that property right back from the city whenever they wish?
Are you satisfied with approving a proposal that fails to meet the design guidelines on (quantitative, not subjective) issues such as building materials, guidelines created to ensure that such a new property would fit in well with neighboring properties? Have you considered how much more difficult it would be in the future when the next developer proposes another project that thumbs its nose at the design guidelines, if council ignores this proposals' total disregard?
Are you satisfied with waiving over $1.1 million due to the city, due to the proposals' woefully inadequate parking, when the introduction of this 60,000 square foot building will undoubtedly create massive changes to pedestrian, bicycle, and car/truck traffic, and to downtown parking, changes which will require a large amount of the city's money to lessen the negative impact on Newark's central business district? Where is the money going to come from to make the changes that this project will require of the city's infrastructure? How will you reject the next proposal that comes up 200 parking spaces short?
Will your constituents be satisfied if tonight you vote to give up the city’s right to $1.1 million?

Please take the University at their word. They wish to follow the city's zoning rules, at least for tonight. Have they satisfied our city's zoning rules tonight, with the incredible parking insufficiency, with the ¼ acre shell-game, and with the industrial building materials? If this were any other developer, would you approve this proposal? No they haven't, and no you wouldn't.

Admit it, each of you has thought 'even if I vote against this proposal, the UD will build it anyway.' Thus you have already considered accepting the role of the victim by approving this deeply flawed plan, based solely on the presence of the University’s bullying pressure. If the University needs to be a bully to build this project, then let it be clear to all, including to our legislators in Dover, that the University is that bully. Refuse to play the victim, and cooperate with the bully. Cooperating with a bully solves NOTHING, and merely encourages and empowers them.

You should only vote for this proposal if it meets the city’s zoning rules and regulations. It is clear that it doesn’t.

Vote against this proposal tonight.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Proposed UD Bookstore Downtown Newark - April 22, 2010

mailed today to the mayor and city council members:

April 22, 2010

Dear _____,

I wrote to you last month on the issue of the proposed UD bookstore in downtown Newark. I have testified before city council a few times, as a resident (since 1990), as a business owner (Mallard Advisors was established on Main Street in 1996), and as a representative of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark (established over fifty years ago). I see that this item is on the agenda for this Monday’s city council meeting. I would like to discuss it further.

Playing Fair and Paying Fair Share—You cannot negotiate with a partner when that partner has a gun to your temple. The UD must decide whether the development of this section of historic downtown, the central business district of our city, is subject to the city’s rules and procedures, including its zoning rules. If it wishes to claim exemption, then they should claim it immediately, suffer the severely negative public relations ramifications, and subject themselves to a lawsuit. Otherwise, irrevocably accept that the development of this property is fully subject to the city’s rules.

It is patently unfair for the UD to claim that they are working with the city, but at any point to hold the ability to reject what the city’s process requires. The City of Newark should refuse to work with the UD on this project until the UD irrevocably states whether this project is subject to the city’s rules or not. If they choose to work outside the city’s rules, then they shouldn’t waste the city’s or the residents’ time with what is essentially a farce.

40,000 square feet of this property would be commercial space, pure and simple. Establishments within that space will be competing for the same consumer dollars that other downtown Newark businesses are competing. That competition playing field must be level, and fair. It is unacceptable that commercial entities within that property, which compete with other downtown Newark businesses, have any unfair advantages, such as being exempt from real estate taxes (or paying rent to an entity that is exempt, as that rent would be artificially and unfairly low), paying lower costs for utilities and other services than do the other downtown Newark businesses.

Until the issue of whether (or how much of) the proposed facility is subject to real estate taxes, the council lacks sufficient information to approve the request. The council should table any approving action on this proposal until it knows exactly the tax impact of the property. You must have all relevant information before making any permanent decision.

Parking and Traffic—Council would be grossly negligent if it approved the requested $1.1 million parking waiver. Use of two parking areas, totaling fewer than 60 spots is worth far less than $1.1 million. I cannot stress enough the irresponsibility of council members voting in favor of granting such a waiver.

The parking waiver request is accompanied with a supposition that the vast majority of employees and customers who use this very large property will arrive on foot. Most other proposed property on Main Street can make the same argument, and yet all other proposed property on Main Street is subject to the city’s off-street parking requirements. Granting this million-dollar giveaway to the University would deal another body blow to fairness to downtown area businesses.

As a past UD student (and graduate), a twenty-year city resident, and as the owner of a downtown business for more than a dozen years, I have seen how automobile use for UD students has changed over the years. For that matter, as the father of a twenty-year-old, I understand how prices for textbooks have risen over the years. It is foolish to believe that today’s UD students will all (or even mostly) arrive at the bookstore to purchase $400 of textbooks on foot.

The Off-street parking requirements were developed based on reasonable expectations of parking needs of employees and patrons. City Council would regret for years refusing the $1.1 million that the requirements note are necessary to provide the city with the resources to supplement the downtown parking which will be overwhelmed with the addition of 60,000 square feet of space downtown. City businesses will suffer irreparable harm from the frustration that their potential patrons will feel when they cannot find parking, and when they encounter more and more frequent gridlock, that would result if the City Council approved this (or any) proposal for a 60,000 square foot space with only 36 parking spaces.

Process, One-Sided Partnership—The UD has over the years claimed to work ‘in partnership’ with the City and the community. In this proposal, they have failed miserably. At the February 18th Board of Adjustments meeting, Mr. Bergstrom ‘noted his disappointment with the lack of community involvement.’ At that meeting the Board was asked to approve an incredible 80% variance (from 35’ to 63’) on building height. I share Mr. Bergstrom’s disappointment that such a critical issue was requested to be decided without an advance public meeting. Two weeks later the UD went to the DNP Design Committee, not to work together to come up with a nice plan, but to get their blessing on a completed design.

In the March 2nd report of the DNP Design Committee, they noted that the project does not even attempt to follow the design guidelines. They note that it failed to meet the height guidelines, the roof and cornice line guidelines, the composition guidelines, the rhythm guidelines, the proportion of openings guidelines, and the materials and color guidelines. They urged the project to ‘look toward less ‘industrial’ looking materials.’ These are not subjective complaints (‘eye of the beholder’ issues)—these are clear violations of clear design guidelines, which our ‘partner’ has simply disregarded. That is not the behavior of a partner.

I fully support an owner of property in the central business district to develop that property, subject to the city’s rules. However, I object to the University’s disregard for maintaining a level playing field for area merchants, the University’s disregard for paying its fair share to the city for the services that the city provides, the University’s disregard for the parking and traffic implications of introducing a 60,000 square foot building to the central business district, the University’s disregard for including its so-called partners (the City and its residents) in its plans for this downtown property, and the University’s disregard for the design guidelines that the City has thus far successfully used to maintain the wonderful appeal of our downtown area.

I urge City Council to refuse to approve this process 1) until the tax-exempt status is known, 2) unless the University pays its full share for its plan’s parking which dramatically fails to meet the City’s Off-Street parking requirements, and 3) until DELDOT has prepared a traffic study to provide an unbiased report on the project’s impact on downtown parking and gridlock.

Changes to our City’s central business district and its most historic block should not be rushed. To make the best decision on this matter, you require more information than you presently have. For the sake of the City, I urge you to table this proposal until you are able to make a better-informed decision.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cecil County Planning Commission Meeting - April 19, 2010

The meeting began at noon, and our item didn't come up until 2pm.

Quick background. The owner/developer has proposed a PUD, a Planned Unit Development. PUDs have been added to the Cecil County code to permit high density residential developments, with a set of requirements. This proposal loosely follows the PUD requirements, but fails in three or more ways. The most egregious violation is the commercial space. For the 116 proposed residences (dwelling units), 1,160 square feet of commercial space is permitted, enough for a Wawa or 7-11. The commercial space provision is designed to cut down on vehicular traffic, to provide enough space to have one or two businesses within the community, which are in walking distance, but not so much space that external traffic will enter the community. Instead of 1,160 square feet, this proposal includes 19,600 square feet of commercial space, a set of medical professional office buildings.

The procedure is that the developer submits the plans, which go to the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which is composed of Cecil County government staff, members of the Planning and Zoning Department, Public Works Department, Health Department, etc. They met and have minutes from their review, which was fatally flawed.

The TAC report noted one of the PUD rule violations, and then attempted to make excuses for it (I thought that the staff’s job is to enforce rules, not to give developers free passes. Their review was silent on the commercial space violation.

Normally, the Planning Commission can rely on a TAC report to cover the highlights and lowlights of a proposal. As the TAC report was so flawed, the PC was completely unprepared for yesterday’s public meeting.

First the developer’s engineer present his pitch. The commissioners had a few minor questions. Then the staff (those who authored the TAC report) did some reporting, largely regurgitating what their staff report said. The commissioners had some questions, but did not press anything hard. NOTE THAT AT THIS POINT THE 17 TIMES 'OVERAGE' OF THE COMMERCIAL SPACE HAD NOT BEEN RAISED.

Next about five folks from the public spoke (first off, New Castle County Councilperson and nearby resident Lisa Diller). Lisa Diller's exchange was illuminating. This was the first time that the commercial space issue was raised. The lead commissioner was stunned, and asked Tony (staffer from planning & zoning) if this was indeed true. It took Tony forever to find the section of the code, and he reluctantly agreed that what Lisa raised was 100% accurate. Potentially, it showed that the commissioners were (rightfully) disappointed, that the staff failed in properly vetting the proposal, putting the planning commission in an unnecessarily awkward position.

Several other residents spoke up in opposition to the proposal (an additional resident (of New Castle) spoke in favor of it, and a yet additional resident spoke of COMPLETELY UNRELATED concerns). The rest of us hammered the proposal’s failure to follow the PUD rules. Closing words attacking the developer’s engineer’s report “They conclude with the following sentence ‘With all the above discussion providing justification we believe this site makes for a viable choice for a PUD.’ I agree. Let me know when you have a PUD to present, one that follows the county’s rules for a PUD.”

We knew that this was coming (the testimony). What we didn’t know was the result. Unanimous vote by the commission to deny a recommendation to approve the PUD exemption. The next step, if this were to proceed, is for the county Board of Appeals to consider the PUD exemption, which I believe could occur in June. While the board of appeals can potentially approve a development against the Planning Commission’s recommendation (and with rule violations in it), it is a much higher bar to clear.

Yesterday the county staff and commissions were put on notice—the people are watching, and the people demand that Cecil County planning staff and commissions are expected to do their jobs, and enforce their own rules.

Government is ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address did not mention developers, for a good reason.

Yesterday each of us were also put on notice—fail to pay attention to such matters at your own peril. If we had not spoken up, this project would have been one step closer to putting a 20,000 commercial space into an area zoned residential. As Harry Potter’s Professor Moody would say, “Constant vigilance!”

Consider this a clear victory, but only in a (second) battle.

Paul Baumbach

PS I would like to thank several folks, Sue and Ron for raising the issue to my attention, Lisa and Paul for being willing to use their roles in (Delaware) government to stand up for proper development, and Chris and David for sharing their expertise to help me better understand zoning and development issues. I would also like to note that the Cecil County planning department (not Tony but others) were extremely helpful when I went there last week (and in prompt email responses) to obtain plans and drawing, necessary for a proper analysis of the proposal.

PPS The meeting minutes are not yet posted, but I expect that shortly they will appear, at

Friday, April 16, 2010

Barksdale Development--04/16/2010

There is a new development being proposed for the corner of Barksdale and Valley Roads. It is actually a thinly veiled attempt to put commercial property into land zoned residential. There is a meeting in Elkton this Monday at noon. I have some random information listed below on this project, and various reasons to oppose it.

Thursday the 15th:

rough draft #1 of testimony

The Barksdale Village proposal should not be approved as Planned Unit Development. It violates the guidelines in many respects.

In Save Our Land, Save Our Towns, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Tom Hylton, presents Ten Rules for a Quality Community. Number 4 is 'every community should have places for people of all ages and income to live.... To make that possible, every neighborhood should provide a wide range of housing types.'

Barksdale Village includes units with a NARROW range of purchase prices, $180,000 to $250,000.

The PUD rules are violated in many significant areas, one minor, one major, and one gigantic.

The PUD rules call for no more than 12% of the parcel (40% of the 30% total space that is required to be open space) to be wetlands. The proposal contains 5.51 acres of wetlands, or 13%, and therefore violates the PUD rules by 8%.

The PUD rules call for no more than 20% units be Townhouses or Apartments. The proposal includes 44% Townhouses, more than twice the rules, and therefore violates the PUD rules by over 100%.

The PUD rules call for the gross floor area of business establishments not to exceed 10 square feet per dwelling unit. The proposal should therefore include commercial space not to exceed 1,160 square feet. The proposal instead calls for 19,600 square feet, and therefore violates the PUD rules by 1,690%. This is a GROSS violation.

The site report is silent on the wetland requirement violation.

The site report addresses the violation of the townhouse limit. It notes that if the recommended percentages were used, the density would be closer to 2 units per acre, and 'the intent of the PUD would then be contradicted.' This is patently false. If the goal was to meet the intent of the PUD, the proposal would utilize apartments (which would increase the diversity of housing types and affordability), and the proposal would utilize more duplexes (closer to the 30% maximum than the 19% proposed level).

The TAC failed to address the PUD wetland limitation violation, and the commercial space violation. In the TAC's comments on why it chose to not oppose the exclusion based on the townhouse percentage violation, they notes that 'the inclusion of a greater percentage of townhouses is a reasonable approach to maximizing the achievable density of the proposed PUD.' Again I point out that 1) there are other ways to reach the 'achievable density' within the PUD rules, and 2) it is not the TAC's responsibility to maximize the density of a proposal, especially by refusing to administer the PUD rules—that is the project planner's responsibility, a responsibility that was not met.

Further, the intent of a PUD is not to put a few houses around a 19,600 square foot commercial property. The intent is that for a PUD to support a 19,600 commercial property, it would require 1,960 units. Until this proposal includes an additional 1,848 units (and a few more acres), the proposed commercial property should be forbidden.

This proposal fails miserably in following the PUD rules. This proposal should definitely NOT be approved.

Friday the 16th:

The wetlands rules violation is minor. It could weaken our case if we raise it. While someone may wish to raise it, that issue should not a cornerstone of opposition.

The townhouse percentage is a clear violation. However, the most appropriate way to address it is to compel the planner to include a bunch of apartments, and I doubt that this is on the short list of priorities for nearby residents. I therefore suggest that we also NOT focus on this issue.

The 19,600 square foot size of the commercial space should be the cornerstone of opposition. It is more than 16 times larger than the PUD rules call for. PUD includes a provision for commercial space, to save residents the need to drive for some essentials. PUD specifically does NOT envision incorporating commercial space that will have 'outsiders' enter the community--this will increase traffic and PUDs are designed to lessen traffic.

The sixteen times overage is such an outrageous PUD violation that the plan should be stopped in its tracks. This land is zoned residential. The last time that such a large commercial space was proposed, the county rightly shut it down. They are now trying to use PUD to shoehorn the same commercial space into a residential zone. THERE IS NO DEFENSE FOR THIS.

Opposition should relentlessly hammer on the commercial space violation.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Questions for Chris Coons--04/10/10

I will be meeting with US Senate candidate Chris Coons tomorrow. I have prepared the following questions:

As Senator, what guiding principles will you utilize to address the difficult challenges facing our country, challenges that often come with several choices all of which are unappealing, challenges such as Medicare and Social Security reform, immigration reform, education reform, etc?

How do you expect to satisfy the wide range of supporters that you have today and will have in the future: centrists, liberals, independents, PACs, socially liberal fiscal conservatives, DLC/BlueDog colleagues, etc?

How will you help the country understand that Markets need to be overseen, that our country is better off with our Government, run well, and that a political party’s central theme should not be the promotion of Fear?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Progressive Update--04/06/2010

Tickets!—I have tickets to next Friday’s (April 16th) 23rd RD Spaghetti Dinner and Auction (from 5:30-9pm at Tickets are a steal at $10 each. Let me know how many tickets you would like. They’re going fast. The next US Senator from Delaware, Chris Coons, will be leading the auction. The food is good, the auction is fun, and you will get to meet a lot of wonderful Democrats, including many elected officials and candidates.

Delaware’s US Senate Race—New Castle County Executive Chris Coons is running for US Senate, against Republican Mike Castle (who has been Delaware’s lone Representative for ever). See the attached response to Mike Castle’s opposition to the Health Care Reform Bill that was recently passed. This response was created by DUSRS, Democrats United to Set the Record Straight. Rep. Castle has misled our state, claiming to be a moderate, while in the past two years doing the Republican Party’s bidding on vote after vote. His opposition to the Health Care Reform is inexcusable, as is his appearance for photo ops at programs created by the stimulus bill that he voted against (along with his fellow non-moderate Republicans).

Chris Coons’ campaign ( needs your time, talent, and treasure. My friend Carol Boncelet, who was running for the 3rd district of New Castle County Council, has backed out in order to be the volunteer coordinator for the Chris Coons for US Senate campaign. To find out how to help that campaign, send her an email at To donate money, go to

Progressive Democrats of Delaware—I am co-chair of the endorsement committee of the PDD ( I am very excited about the current committee, and our plans to build upon the strengths of our efforts in 2008. We meet tomorrow night at 7pm at DelDems HQ to discuss the endorsement process and to obtain input from our members of what issues are most important.

National Update—I have not been on top of these issues, but let’s recognize that President Obama has reversed the economic meltdown, stopped the growth of the jobless rate (162,000 new jobs created in March), and was able to get a health insurance reform bill to become a law. While the law is flawed, recognize that tens of millions of people are being covered who were not before the law’s passage. Also recognize that this was done despite the unified Party of No, despite the bill having tens if not hundreds of features that Republicans claimed they support. This was done while detailing the wind-down of our occupation of Iraq, and while conducting a much better considered strategy in Afghanistan. It was also done without burning bridges that will be necessary to institute meaningful energy policy, and education reform.

State Legislature—There is much going on in Dover in the coming months. The budget is the issue that the General Assembly is spending the most time on, however there are also other issues which really matter (such as the wonderful HB 357 handgun bill written by the NRA and not read by the Republican sponsors—sorry Adkins is a Republican in my book). I like the regular run-down of issues before the General Assembly that is posted at That is a great place to go to stay abreast of such issues.

I am working on two initiatives, Senate Bill (SB) 20 ( would end the insane district gerrymandering, by establishing a non-partisan commission to update our state legislative districts. This would TREMENDOUSLY improve our government, by making our representatives much more responsive to their constituents, by ending the ‘safe seats’ that many now occupy. The main stumbling block are, surprise, surprise, incumbent legislators who fear the loss of their seats (and livelihood). Following a good meeting with Senator Blevins and Representative Kowalko and others, Common Cause executive director James Browning has created a one-page talking point sheet on why Delaware needs this bill. Note that at this time, the best that we can likely hope for is that the 2011 meetings during which districts are redrawn will be open to the public (but still partisan), but that an independent bi-partisan commission is created for the 2021 process.

House Bill (HB) 10 ( would provide benefits to domestic partners the same way that benefits are provided to spouses. In Delaware (at this point), same gender partners are forbidden from being ‘married,’ which makes such benefits unavailable to them. This is simply unfair. Until we permit marriage equality, we need to provide this equality of benefits to state workers. HB 10 has hit a wall, as it has a cost (a fiscal note), and bills with fiscal notes are mostly DOA in Dover this season. I have met with a state-wide coalition of organizations pushing for true equality, including one meeting last week with Governor Markell. A compromise is being struck to make health care benefits available in a COBRA-fashion to state employee’s domestic partners, and in this manner have the fiscal note removed. Stay tuned, and prepare to ask your state legislator to support passage of the modified HB 10.

Equality for All, Relationship Equality—With Washington DC’s recent law to permit same-sex marriage, we are closer to bringing relationship equality (likely through civil unions, domestic partnerships, or same-sex marriage) to Delaware. The coalition mentioned earlier is very focused on this. Let me know if you’d like more information. Two groups that I really like, due to their work on this area is, and

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT)—It appears that this is close to moving forward (repeal of DADT). There is a petition at A bill is in the works in Congress. This awful policy is WAY overdue to be eliminated. I hear that the word could go out in the coming months (perhaps after the Defense Secretary Gates concludes his year-long review), at which time WE all need to speak up immediately and LOUDLY to help repeat DADT.

Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)—This bill will permit same-gender partners to sponsor their partner to become a US citizen, in the same way that an opposite gender partner can currently sponsor their partner (spouse) to become a US citizen. Visit Contact your Congress members and urge them to support the Uniting American Families Act in immigration reform. Make a donation to Out4Immigration or Immigration Equality so others can be informed of the issue and encouraged to work for fairness. Check with Tom ( if you are able to help bring equality to our immigration policy.

Newark—Univ of DE Bookstore—The University has proposed a new bookstore downtown. I have no problem with the concept, however the actual proposal is bad—really bad. I went to a planning commission meeting to testify against it, and the commission refused to approve the plan. The UD is revising the plan. I am skeptical that they will improve it enough to solve its serious flaws. If you live in Newark, and you care with how the downtown area looks, I urge you to learn more about the plans, and to let your city council people know how you feel.

Keeping Up with Paul—It is much easier to update Twitter than to send out these emails. You can find me at, and if you’d like, you can ‘follow’ me, and get my postings emailed or text’d to you. I have posted 13 tweets since I last blast-emailed, nine weeks ago. My tweets are predominantly interesting links, notice of an imminent event, etc. I do not tweet about stuff like my favorite flavor of Rita’s water ice.

I continue to post all of these blast emails to my blog,, and I also post there at times without sending emails, since sending blast emails is quite time consuming. There were six such posts since the last blast email (of January 26th).

I also am a regular reader of, and a frequent contributor. This website is dynamite for keeping readers informed on primarily state, but also national, issues, from a liberal perspective. The primary contributors are GREAT (the conservative trolls are mostly annoying but sometimes amusing/pathetic). I have begun VERY infrequent reading of, which is a national liberal site. My (thus far only) posting can be found at When life slows down for me (right), I’ll post a few more.

I therefore expect to stay in this current mode for now, posting regularly to DelawareLiberal (PBaumbach is my name there), Tweeting occasionally (once a week?), adding to the blog (weekly?), and sending a blast email (every other month)? Given that, consider how you would like to be kept in the loop, if at all.

See you on the 16th at the spaghetti dinner and auction!

Email me at to be added to the email list

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Comments to Governor Markell -- March 30, 2010

My comments to be shared with Governor Markell today during a meeting with advocates for equal relationship recognition for Delaware.

Two years ago a certain candidate for Governor quoted Martin Luther King Jr's 1963 Letter From A Birmingham Jail. It includes the passage: “Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

Full relationship recognition in Delaware is held hostage for many reasons. One major stumbling block during these tight economic times for our state is the financial impact, including the cost of providing health and retiree benefits to domestic partners equally as we provide to spouses of state workers.

What is the cost to Delaware to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act? What is the cost to Delaware to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act? Why do we accept those costs but reject paying the cost for full relationship recognition? We pay the cost to comply with those Acts because it's the law, and it's the law because brave leaders convinced the country that it is the right thing to do. Full relationship recognition in Delaware is also the right thing to do, and Delaware needs leaders to make this the law, and to pay this cost.

In addition to simply being the morally right thing to do, adding Delaware to the list of states that provide equal relationship recognition strengthens Delaware economically.

Large employers in our state, such as the University of Delaware, have already made the case that in order for our state to compete economically, we need to publicly stand for true equality.

Jack, when you were recruiting members to your Cabinet, didn't you want to be able to choose the best people? What if the state only provided spousal benefits to right-handed employees, and your best candidate was left-handed? Stop this injustice, and free state employers from the shackles of operating in a state that is unwelcoming to same-sex couples.

New Jersey offers civil unions, and Washington DC provides marriage to same-sex couples. How long can Delaware afford to refuse to offer equal relationship recognition? The time is indeed “ripe to do right.”

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Letter to Newark City Council--03/08/2010

I'm sending this out on Monday (this is a current draft--I could edit it before it is sent).

March 8, 2010

Dear Newark City Council,

I have testified before city council a few times, as a resident (since 1990), as a business owner (Mallard Advisors was established on Main Street in 1996), and as a representative of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark (established over fifty years ago). Today I am writing to you about the proposed UD Bookstore.

Last week I attended the Newark Planning Commission public meeting, to learn more about the proposed UD Bookstore on Main Street. I have several significant concerns with the proposal, and was pleased that the commission agreed that the proposal was not worthy of adoption. I encourage you to learn more about the project, and to give serious thought before approving it.

I was very disappointed in the behavior of Roy Lapota at the meeting. During much of the meeting he adopted the role of project cheerleader. I found this very inappropriate and unhelpful. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that he was on retainer for the University. He was certainly advocating against the city’s best interest in acquiring the best negotiating position to obtain the most favorable position in working out a parking resolution with the University for this project. His actions that evening will make it more difficult to obtain valuable concessions from the University.

Parking is a very serious problem with the proposal. Given how much building they are proposing to place on this site, there is only a minimal amount of parking The parking possible in their proposal would be even smaller if they solve the ‘truck delivery problem.’ As currently proposed, deliveries would involve the complete blocking of Delaware Avenue. Somehow they place the responsibility of this on the city with their solution—let us eliminate even more parking spaces and we’ll add a truck turnaround in the plans. Why is insufficient planning on their part the responsibility of the city?

They are therefore asking for more than a $1 million waiver, for their plans calls for only a small fraction of the parking spaces that such a large building requires. Their argument for the miniscule need for parking (as cheer-leaded by Mr. Lapota, thankfully without the pom poms and skirt) is that most of the clientele will be pedestrian. This is despite the fact that the entire third floor of the building is for academic purposes, and UD staff rarely gets to/from work on foot.

Those of us who have been in Newark for decades recognize that UD students have significantly increased their use of automobiles over time. When the 21,000 current UD students come to the UD bookstore to purchase a semester’s books, for hundreds of dollars, many will come and go by car. The handful of proposed parking spaces will be overwhelmed, as will the nearby parking lots. The city of Newark should insist on receiving the full dollar amount called for in our building code for this plan with woefully insufficient parking.

At a minimum, the city of Newark should insist that the University place the full amount called for with the parking waiver into an escrow account. If the eventual project does not cause measurable parking problems (and Mr. Lapota is correct and I am incorrect on this point), then release the money—no harm, no foul. However if the parking provided is indeed woefully inadequate, then the city will have the financial reserves to provide some remedy. The city will have no later opportunity to ensure that the University pays for the likely damage to downtown’s parking from this project. DO NOT LET THIS OPPORTUNITY SLIP THROUGH YOUR FINGERS.

Another weakness in the proposal is the refusal of the University to commit to paying fair real estate taxes on the property and paying the same utility rates that other Main Street businesses pay. Well over 50% of the proposed space will be used for commercial enterprises, enterprises that compete with area merchants. It would be a grave mistake for the city to approve of this project without obtaining a legally-enforceable commitment that this primarily-commercial space compete on a level playing field with the neighboring commercial spaces.

The University flexed its muscles to ensure that it could purchase the old Christina School District building without competitive bids. Part of the justification was that the deed indicated that it would be used for academic purposes. The proposal calls for the building to be retained (which is wonderful for the city), but to be used as a commercial cafĂ©. This certainly violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the deed restriction. The proposal should insist that the historic school building be used for the academic offices, and that the third floor (and the ‘tower’) be therefore eliminated.

The building is too tall. While the ‘pocket park’ sounds good, and looks good in the artistic renditions, it will be forever in the dark, for it is on the north side of a three-plus story behemoth. Local architect Will Hurd spoke up at the commission meeting, noting that a proper ‘shadow study’ would make this clear. The ‘tower’ is another mistake. It gives the impression that the designer was making a lego building, and had one block left, so they stuck it on top. There is no character or sufficient function for it, and it is sorely out of place.

The project is indeed completely out of character with that block, a block rich in historic buildings. It would be criminal to introduce such a grey, blocky, institutional monstrosity to this block. It was described as ‘adding architectural diversity’ to the town. That is merely a nice way to say that it fails miserably at fitting in. The Downtown Newark Partnership noted that it failed to meet its zoning guidelines. The Planning Commission refused to approve its plans. The artistic renditions make clear that it crowds out the wonderful firehouse on Academy street, that it uses colors and materials completely foreign to that block. The sheet metal on the Academy Street wall is atrocious. This is the most historic of Newark’s downtown blocks. This location requires respect to the surrounding historic sites. The proposed project thumbs its nose at its architectural neighbors, and destroys the wonderful historic feel of that section of downtown.

You can’t put a genie back in a bottle. City council has one opportunity to roll up its sleeves and consider both the immediate and long-term ramifications of the proposed UD bookstore. There are many very significant problems with it, and the University, in its haste to get it up by this fall, has failed to truly partner with the city, its businesses, and residents, in creating a superior property design. A good design can complement and enhance this critical block. The current design would permit development that we will regret for decades. Please ensure that Newark’s future is not rushed as the University is striving to do with the deeply flawed UD Bookstore project.

I apologize for sharing only negative factors about the proposal. I leave it to Mr. Lapota to speak breathlessly about its positive traits.



Friday, February 12, 2010

Progressive Update--02/12/2010

My friend Carol Boncelet has dropped out of the race for county council, to be the volunteer coordinator for the Chris Coons for Senate campaign

While she was excited to run for the 3rd district county council seat, she is even more excited about working to ensure that Chris Coons is elected our next US Senator and to prevent Republican Mike Castle and the Party of No from gaining the seat.

Friday, January 29, 2010

01/29/2010 - Joe Sestak for US Senate from PA

Meet Congressman Joe Sestak, Candidate for U.S. Senate

Philadelphia Jan 29 - West Chester Jan 31 - St. Davids Feb 1 - Glenside Feb 1

A Plan for PA Families Event with Joe Sestak
Friday, January 29 - 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Bricklayers Local 1 Union Hall
2706 Black Lake Place
Philadelphia, PA 19154

A Plan for PA Families Event with Joe Sestak
Sunday, January 31 - 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
West Chester University
Sykes Student Centre, Room 252
West Chester, PA 19383

Kitchen Call with Joe Sestak
Monday, February 1 - 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Eastern University
Harold Howard Center, 2nd Floor Atrium
1300 Eagle Road
St. Davids, PA 19087

Kitchen Call with Joe Sestak
Monday February 1 - 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Glenside VFW Post 676
2519 Jenkintown Road
Glenside, PA 19038

"I always enjoyed 'Captain's Call' with those I served with to discuss important issues."
- Joe Sestak, former Navy Admiral

More event information:
RSVP to email or call the office at 610-891-8956.
Joe Sestak for Senate:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Second Letter from Haiti -- 01/28/2010

January 22, 2010

To our dear friends and supporters who have been so present through this difficult time. I feel like I have a wall of love and protection around me knowing that you are all holding Haiti in your thoughts and prayers. I apologize for not having written for the past few days, it is partly that life here is so hectic and fast paced and partly because I find that writing about the situation brings all my emotions to the surface and brings me to a vulnerable space that can be rather overwhelming. That said, I so want to be able to share with all of you what we are experiencing and the important difference we have been able to make as a result of your generosity.

When I first arrived in Port au Prince I spent a day at the UN compound by the airport where NGO’s, doctors and soldiers swarm around talking on satellite phones and running from meeting to meeting. I learned about the massive amounts of food aid that arrived in the first week and was stockpiled at the airport. I learned of the aid trucks filled to the brim with supplies blocked at the border and sitting idle at the ports. Since that day I have not returned to the aid compound and chosen instead to go into the streets, into the camps where people hide from the sun, huddled together under tattered tarps waiting for the food that has yet to come, into the alleyways littered with the rubble of fallen dreams and the spirits of those we have lost.

I know that some of these stories of aid not reaching the victims are beginning to filter into the international media but I wanted to see if I can shed some light about why this is without casting blame. Everyone who has come here is devastated by this disaster, everyone wants to help but the slowness in distribution is not a question of intentions, it is a question of long standing fears and the security structures put in place in response to these fears.

A few days ago I got an email from Nicolas Kristof of the New York Times asking me to comment on the supposition made by many (not Nicolas himself) that Haitians have received large amounts of aid money over the years and have somehow squandered it. I responded to him by talking about fear, this same fear that is slowing the distribution of aid during this crisis. For centuries Haiti has been portrayed as a dangerous country filled with volatile and threatening people, unsafe for foreigners. This supposition, this fear and misunderstanding, has very deep implications for foreign aid and cross cultural understanding.

I have been amazed to visit friends working with large NGO’s in Port au Prince only to learn that they are forced to operate under security restrictions that prevent any kind of real connections to Haitian communities. One friend showed me the map, used by all of the larger NGOs where Port au Prince is divided into security zones, yellow, orange, red. Red zones are restricted, in the orange zones all of the car windows must be rolled up and they cannot be visited past certain times of day, even in the yellow zones aid workers are often not permitted to walk through the streets and spend much of their time in Haiti riding through the city from one office to another in organizational vehicles.

The creation of these security zones has been like the building of a wall, a wall reinforced by language barriers and fear rather than iron rods, a wall that, unlike many of the buildings in Port au Prince, did not crumble during the earthquake. Fear, much like violence, is self perpetuating. When aid workers enter communities radiating fear it is offensive, the perceived disinterest in communicating with the poor majority is offensive, driving through impoverished communities with windows rolled up and armed security guards is offensive and, ironically, all of these extra security measures actually increase the level of risk for aid workers.

As I said, this wall of fear is not a new phenomenon and it has had very serious implications for the distribution of the millions of dollars of aid that have been flowing into the country for the past 10 days. Despite the good intentions of the many aid workers swarming around the UN base, much of the aid coming through the larger organizations is still blocked in storage, waiting for the required UN and US military escorts that are seen as essential for distribution, meanwhile people in the camps are suffering and their tolerance is waning.

Over the past 5 days I have been grateful to work with a small organization unhindered by bureaucracy and security restrictions. I am so thankful to work with a courageous team of Haitian community leaders and a respectful and fearless group of Americans. Thanks to the generous donations of our supporters SOIL has raised approximately $30,000 for immediate relief efforts and we are committed to providing that relief as quickly as we can get the money into the country. The most striking thing I have noticed while visiting the many camps throughout the city is the level of organization and ingenuity among the displaced communities. Community members stand ready to distribute food and water to their neighbors, they are prepared to provide first aid and assist with clean up efforts, all that they are lacking is the financial means to do so. When the quake struck people’s savings were buried under the rubble of their former homes, banks are closed and no one has been able to access their accounts. Food and water are available for sale in the streets but no one is able to purchase them.

Our hope is that SOIL, AIDG and other small organizations will be able to help provide communities with the means to meet their needs in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, bridging the gap during the time it takes for the larger organizations to mobilize. I am honored to know a network of brave community leaders throughout Port au Prince whom I met during my human rights work from 2004-2006 and our team has spent the past several days visiting the camps with them and helping to distribute the resources that we have at our disposal. Each day we have been purchasing water trucks to deliver to camps that have yet to receive water, giving money to community organizers who are then able to purchase food from local businesses and distribute it to the areas most in need, bringing doctors and medical supplies into zones of the city that have none, providing our generator to community cyber cafes so that people are able to contact their families, driving patients from the camps to medical clinics that can receive them.

The magnitude of this tragedy is unimaginable and we are aware of our limitations and our inability to help touch more than a small percentage of those affected. While it breaks my heart to think about those we cannot help, it also fills me with hope to see the impact that we have been able to make. Each day I am awed and humbled by the dedication and compassion of my colleagues, both Haitian and international and touched by the outpouring of love and support that we have received from around the world. Please keep your love and donations flowing and we will do everything in our power to funnel that love and aid to the communities that need it the most.

With love from Port au Prince,

Letter from Haiti -- 01/28/2010

This is from a friend of a friend of my sister. She is in Haiti, and in her emails she shines a light into what is really happening in Haiti, not what the media is reporting:

This afternoon, feeling helpless, we decided to take a van down to Champs Mars (the area around the palace) to look for people needing medical care to bring to Matthew 25, the guesthouse where we are staying which has been transformed into a field hospital. Since we arrived in Port au Prince everyone has told us that you cannot go into the area around the palace because of violence and insecurity. I was in awe as we walked into downtown, among the flattened buildings , in the shadow of the fallen palace, amongst the swarms of displaced people there was calm and solidarity. We wound our way through the camp asking for injured people who needed to get to the hospital. Despite everyone telling us that as soon as we did this we would be mobbed by people, I was amazed as we approached each tent people gently pointed us towards their neighbors, guiding us to those who were suffering the most. We picked up 5 badly injured people and drove towards an area where Ellie and Berto had passed a woman earlier. When they saw her she was lying on the side of the road with a broken leg screaming for help, as they were on foot they could not help her at the time so we went back to try to find her. Incredibly we found her relatively quickly at the top of a hill of shattered houses. The sun was setting and the community helped to carry her down the hill on a refrigerator door, tough looking guys smiled in our direction calling out “bonswa Cherie” and “kouraj”.

When we got back to Matthew 25 it was dark and we carried the patients back into the soccer field/tent village/hospital where the team of doctors had been working tirelessly all day. Although they had officially closed down for the evening, they agreed to see the patients we had brought. Once our patients were settled in we came back into the house to find the doctors amputating a foot on the dining room table. The patient lay calmly, awake but far away under the fog of ketamine.

Half way through the surgery we heard a clamor outside and ran out to see what it was. A large yellow truck was parked in front of the gate and rapidly unloading hundreds of bags of food over our fence, the hungry crowd had already begun to gather and in the dark it was hard to decide how to best distribute the food. Knowing that we could not sleep in the house with all of this food and so many starving people in the neighborhood, our friend Amber (who is experienced in food
distribution) snapped into action and began to get everyone in the crowd into a line that stretched down the road. We braced ourselves for the fighting that we had heard would come but in a miraculous display of restraint and compassion people lined up to get the food and one by one the bags were handed out without a single serious incident.

During the food distribution the doctors called to see if anyone could help to bury the amputated leg in the backyard. As I have no experience with food distribution I offered to help with the leg. I went into the back with Ellie and Berto and we dug a hole and placed the leg in it, covering it with soil and cement rubble. By the time we got back into the house the food had all been distributed and the patient Anderson was waking up. The doctors asked for a translator so I went and sat by his stretcher explaining to him that the surgery had gone well and he was going to live. His family had gone home so he was alone so Ellie and I took turns sitting with him as he came out from under the drugs.

I sat and talked to Anderson for hours as he drifted in and out of consciousness. At one point one of the Haitian men working at the hospital came in and leaned over Anderson and said to him in kreyol “listen man even if your family could not be here tonight we want you to know that everyone here loves you, we are all your brothers and sisters”. Cat and I have barely shed a tear through all of this, the sky could fall and we would not bat an eye, but when I told her this story this morning the tears just began rolling down her face, as they are mine as I am writing this. Sometimes it is the kindness and not the horror that can break the numbness that we are all lost in right now.

So, don’t believe Anderson Cooper when he says that Haiti is a hotbed for violence and riots, it is just not the case. In the darkest of times, Haiti has proven to be a country of brave, resilient and kind people and it is that behavior that is far more prevalent than the isolated incidents of violence. Please pass this on to as many people as you can so that they can see the light of Haiti, cutting through the darkness, the light that will heal this nation.

We are safe. We love you all and I will write again when I can. Thank you for your generosity and compassion.

With love from Port au Prince,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Progressive Update--01/26/2010

It’s been awhile, so I will ramble a bit in this post.

President Obama Update—Let me begin with my premise that Democrats who are disappointed in what the President has done in the past year may have forgotten Obama’s campaign slogan, and most importantly the middle third. Yes, WE Can. Obama has not lied to us, or failed to get good health care reform passed, WE have, thus far, failed. WE have failed to have our US Senators act responsibly. WE have failed to define and execute a strategy to handle the Republican Party of NO.

So what do WE do? You can choose to be an ostrich. I refuse. I am committed to ensuring that my actions are worthy of the hopes and dreams that this country selected in November 2008. I begin tomorrow night at 7:45pm, when the President will give his State of the Union speech. I’ll be going to Timothy’s restaurant in Newark, which is an Organizing for America event ( Find (or better yet host) an event that’s convenient to you at

We have long understood that the media is largely a waste of time. One of the fictions they have been spreading is that the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate (until this month). That is false. There are two or three liberal Democrats (Franken, Feingold, any others?), about thirty moderate Dems, about twenty conservative Dems (BlueDogs, including Delaware’s Tom Carper who never met a lobbyist he didn’t like), and a few sellout Dems (such as Nelson) who are quite willing to threaten to withhold their vote on a core Democratic issue in order to extort money from the US treasury for their state alone. Don’t get me started on Lieberman. The US Senate is not led by a majority party of Democrats. Rather there is a loose coalition of factions, and lately it’s been quite ugly.

I don’t know the solution, but I know the problem. I believe that we need to 1) get better Democrats elected to the US Senate, and 2) to be clear about the impact that the Republican Party of NO is having on the country. Come to Timothy’s tomorrow night, and let’s discuss your ideas for solutions!

Delaware’s US Senate Race—We found out yesterday that Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden will run for re-election this November, and will not run against Republican Mike Castle for the US Senate seat. I expect that we will shortly hear of a leading Democratic candidate for US Senate, perhaps New Castle County Executive Chris Coons. I like Chris, and hope that he runs. Chris is smart and sharp, and won’t be afraid to call Castle on his Republican party-line voting record as our US Representative, despite his self-description as a moderate.

Castle would like nothing better than to follow in Massachusetts’ Republican Senator Scott Brown’s footsteps, and to campaign without mentioning that he is a Republican. We need a candidate who is smart and aggressive, and who will call ‘shenanigans’ on Castle’s lies.

Castle is well-known by Delaware voters (even if most don’t realize the fiction of his ‘moderateness’—Castle has been as moderate as W was a ‘compassionate conservative’). Castle is also well-financed. For Delaware to avoid being a Massachusetts, and giving the Republican Party another NO voter in the US Senate (a NO to a real energy policy, a real education policy, a real withdrawal from Iraq), WE need to select our Democratic nominee for US Senate from Delaware and WE need to contribute time AND money to them. If in 2008 you said ‘Yes we can,’ then THIS MEANS YOU.

Campaigns—I have agreed to chair the campaign of Carol Boncelet, who is a Democratic candidate for the 3rd district of New Castle County Council. Expect to hear more about this in the future, including how you can help. Email me if you are interested in contributing time or money to this campaign.

Progressive Democrats of Delaware—I am co-chair of the endorsement committee of the PDD ( I am very excited about the current committee, and our plans to build upon the strengths of our efforts in 2008.

State Legislature—There is much going on in Dover in the coming months. We are hopeful that Governor Markell includes progressive ideals in his proposed budget, ideals that were largely absent in last year’s budget, which was largely inherited by Jack last January.

I am working on two initiatives, Senate Bill (SB) 20 ( would end the insane district gerrymandering, by establishing a non-partisan commission to update our state legislative districts. This would TREMENDOUSLY improve our government, by making our representatives much more responsive to their constituents, by ending the ‘safe seats’ that many now occupy.

House Bill (HB) 10 ( would provide benefits to domestic partners the same way that benefits are provided to spouses. In Delaware (at this point), same gender partners are forbidden from being ‘married,’ which makes such benefits unavailable to them. This is simply unfair. Until we permit marriage equality, we need to provide this equality of benefits to state workers.

Equality for All, Relationship Equality—We have made good progress in the past year in relationship equality, although we have also had some setbacks. Two groups that I really like, due to their work on this area is, and

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT)—It appears that this is close to moving forward (repeal of DADT). There is a petition at A bill is in the works in Congress. This awful policy is WAY overdue to be eliminated. I hear that the word could go out in the coming months, at which time WE all need to speak up immediately and LOUDLY to help repeat DADT.

Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)—This bill will permit same-gender partners to sponsor their partner to become a US citizen, in the same way that an opposite gender partner can currently sponsor their partner (spouse) to become a US citizen. Visit Contact your Congress members and urge them to support the Uniting American Families Act in immigration reform. Make a donation to Out4Immigration or Immigration Equality so others can be informed of the issue and encouraged to work for fairness. Check with Tom ( if you are able to help bring equality to our immigration policy.

Keeping Up with Paul—It is much easier to update Twitter than to send out these emails. You can find me at, and if you’d like, you can ‘follow’ me, and get my postings emailed or text’d to you. I posted yesterday morning about Beau Biden’s decision to run for AG rather than US Senate.

I also am a regular reader of, and a frequent contributor. This website is dynamite for keeping readers informed on primarily state, but also national, issues, from a liberal perspective. The primary contributors are GREAT (the conservative trolls are mostly annoying but sometimes amusing/pathetic). I have begun infrequent reading of, which is a national liberal site. My (thus far only) posting can be found at . I plan to post on DailyKos in the coming week or two on how WE have thus far failed to deliver on OUR campaign promises.

I continue to post all of these blast emails to my blog,, and I also post there at times without sending emails, since sending blast emails is quite time consuming.

I therefore expect to stay in this current mode for now, posting regularly to DelawareLiberal (PBaumbach is my name there), Tweeting occasionally (twice a month?), adding to the blog (monthly?), and sending a blast email (every other month)? Given that, consider how you would like to be kept in the loop, if at all.