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 (http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/LIS145.nsf/vwLegislation/HB+10?Opendocument) . Use www.votesmart.org, 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.