Sunday, May 06, 2012

School Board election—May 8, 2012—THIS TUESDAY

If you live in the Red Clay or the Christina School District, then there is an election this Tuesday. PLEASE VOTE! This may not be a surprise to you, as many district voters are receiving a slew of flyers in their mailboxes, and robocalls and fake phone surveys. I hung up on one of the phone surveys when it was crystal clear that it wasn’t a survey, but rather a lame attempt to mislead me about school district issues. I am others are upset about out-of-state money being poured into this race, to support candidates with minimal ties to the district and its students. Christina—I live in Christina School District. I favor Shirley Sutton Saffer (my slogan, which the campaign rejected for some reason, is “Christina is Saffer with Shirley”). Her campaign website is at She has spent 16 years volunteering in the public schools where her kids went, and has been on the board for almost 5 years. She came to the district during the time that the district had to clean up the financial mess left by Superintendent Joe Wise. Read about her—she is impressive. My son graduated from Newark High School a few years ago. I do not stay as connected to the district as many others. In this situation, I strive to find those who do follow the issues closely. No one follows them closer than John Young, who serves on the school board with Shirley (remember, “Christina is Saffer with Shirley”). John is so dedicated to having the district be open in all its actions that he founded a blog devoted to the school district and related issues: Red Clay—I favor Kenny Rivera in this race (sorry—no catchy slogan here). He is the 2011 School Teacher of the Year, and loved by his Brandywine High School students. He has a five-point plan to improve our schools. He is endorsed by the Red Clay Education Association (and its 1000 district teachers). See his webpage at As with Christina, since I do not stay up on the Red Clay School District, I turn to those who do. There are two local internet folks—Mike Matthews (a past blogger and fifth grade teacher) and Steve Newton (see for his highlights on this year’s school district races). Mike Matthews enthusiastically supports Kenny Rivera, and Steve Newton feels that Red Clay will be well server regardless of which candidate is elected. DelawareLiberal just posted an article on this election cycle—read it at I end this post with a hat-tip to Kilroy, who runs THE education blog, at If you want to hear unvarnished opinions, primarily on Delaware education matters, Kilroy’s is your place. PLEASE VOTE ON TUESDAY!!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Speech at Civil Union Law Celebration--06/12/2011

I had the honor of speaking at a celebration of the passage of SB30, the Delaware Civil Union Law, jointly held by the Newark and the Mill Creek Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations, at the Mill Creek church this afternoon. Speakers included Mill Creek leader Linda Lucero, state Senator David Sokola, state Representative John Kowalko, and state Representative Mike Ramone.

My remarks follow:

good afternoon. my name is Paul Baumbach. today I am a man with three hats.

My first hat is as a UU. I am a Unitarian Universalist, a member of the Newark congregation, and chair of UUFN's social justice committee for seven years, through March of this year. During those years I have seen UUs from up and down the state join together, stand up, and speak out, often with one voice. And during those seven years I have seen our state become more just.

Today we are celebrating what we have done in the past. But what lies in our future? That is up to each of us here today. Will UUs and others, up and down the state, sit on our laurels, Or will UUs and others, up and down the state, remain committed to bringing justice to Delaware and our country?

My second hat today is as a Democrat. I serve as the president of the Progressive Democrats for Delaware. We have built and joined coalitions, and have succeeded in opening up our General Assembly, improving our drug laws, pushing for economic justice, environmental justice, and have generally worked to enable us to be proud of our government, or at least a bit more proud. Work like this isn't easy, and doesn't end. But it is very satisfying, and it is critical. What do you currently do, which is satisfying and critical? What new work will you begin tomorrow, that is satisfying and critical?

My final hat today is as a board member of Equality Delaware, which provided me with an opportunity to see an incredible collection of people and organizations. I really cannot say enough good things about Equality Delaware. A thesis could be written on the civil union legislation's game plan, and its execution.

The passage of SB121 required a League of Justice, a collection of super heroes. Many of them are here today, and i apologize for not mentioning each. I would like to spotlight just a few. Who can forget the sight of Representative Melanie George OWNING the floor of the house, as bad mendment after bad amendment was struck down? Several Republican legislators supported this bill, heroically standing up to their caucus colleagues, recognizing that doing the right thing occasionally needs to trump party unity. Charles Campbell King coordinated the phone-banking that empowered our wonderful volunteers to call the legislators who most needed to hear from SB121's supporters. For when the people lead, the leaders WILL follow. Mark Purpura dissected the state legal code, line by line, and created a bill that was incredibly thorough, and then he worked with every critical stake-holder to ensure that their concerns were addressed. The sign of a great leader is that after working together, you would sign up to work with them again in an instant. Lisa Goodman is such a leader, having led this incredible coalition with grace and respect.

Martin Luther king Jr made famous a wonderful quote from the Unitarian Theodore Parker, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Parker was speaking about slavery, but he could have been speaking about relationship equality, the right for each adult to share their life with the person they love.

The path that brought us to this point has been long, but it is unmistakable that in Delaware, it bends towards justice. What will you do to help it bend further toward justice?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Three Items of Note--05/09/2011

School Board Elections—Tomorrow is election day for our School Boards. The School Boards are typically non-partisan elections, HOWEVER, there are differences between candidates. In many cases, candidates who are Democrats support quality education in ALL schools, while candidates who are Republicans support vouchers, weakening our public education, and often strengthening charter schools (which redirect money away from other public schools, and which often reduce pay for teachers and other employees). In Red Clay District, I support Democrat Jack Buckley, a great progressive who has been active in PDD in the past. In the Christina School District, I urge you to vote for Democrats Gina Backus and Fred Polaski.

Fairness in State Budget—In my comments in the article, I noted my view of the proper priorities for utilizing the recently boosted state revenues. Within a few days, Governor Markell has released his proposal. I strongly disagree with it—most especially its tax giveaway to the rich. Read about this issue in the spirited Delaware Liberal thread . I suggest that you take Governor Markell at his word and share your views with his office at . In addition, please reach out to your state Representative and your state Senator, and Speaker Gilligan, and share your views. My view is that service cuts and state employee salaries should be restored before any Democrat should propose cutting tax rates for our state’s high bracket taxpayers. Democrats should be championing the rights of middle-class and lower-class Americans. Democrats recognize to boost hiring, employers need customers, customers with money in their pockets, and that restoring state services and salaries will more effectively boost our state’s economy and produce more jobs than will padding upper-income taxpayer’s investment accounts.

Civil Union Bill Signing—This Wednesday evening, May 11th, the Civil Union bill will become law. Learn the details of how you can witness history at . If possible (but not required), RSVP to

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Civil Union Bill--The Final Stretch--04/10/2011

Civil Union Bill—The Final Stretch

Senate Bill 30 (SB30) will introduce Civil Unions to Delaware, providing the rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-gender couples (but without it being marriage, as that would violate the federal Defense of Marriage Act). Miraculously, SB30 passed both the committee and the full state Senate last week. Onto the House.

It is expected to come before a House committee this Wednesday (the 12th) and the full House on Thursday (the 13th). You can find out more information on the bill at and

We need YOU. If you have just a little time, please reach out to your representative. Many of them are already sponsors—they need to be thanked! Those who aren’t sponsors may be ‘on the fence’ and need to hear from YOU to remind them that Delawareans, by a 2:1 margin, support Civil Unions. Go to to find out how to contact your representative—it even knows whether your representative is a sponsor or not.

If you have a little more time, we will be phone banking in New Castle and Rehobeth on Monday and Tuesday nights. If you have time, email and ask for details. Tell him Paul sent you.

Newark City Council Elections THIS TUESDAY--posted 04/10/2011

Newark City Council elections—this Tuesday the 12th

If you live in west Newark, you may live in District 1, in which case you will be able to vote in Tuesday’s election. Paul Pomeroy has been the council person for District 1 for several years, but he is not running for re-election. There are four (count them, four) candidates for this seat. Voting takes place from 7am to 8pm at Pilgrim Baptist Church at 1325 Barksdale Road.

I am not endorsing either candidate, but would like to share some information about them, especially the two which appear to be the most viable.

I heard three of the candidates at the UUFN/Newark Post candidate forum ( All three present candidates were very nice, and I appreciate each being willing to serve in this often-underappreciated role. Michael Conway did not participate. Kevin Brown did, however I did not find him as prepared to serve as the other two.

Robyn Harland is a very worthy candidate. She is retired, and has volunteered for area senior programs, and has served on a city committee. She has a passion for justice, and is always willing to stand up for her convictions. She is similar in her approach to Newark City Council to council person Ezra Temko, who has endorsed her. If you like Ezra, you will likely like Robyn.

Mark Morehead is also a worthy candidate. I would characterize him as similar to Paul Pomeroy, caring about the city and the community, and also placing fiscal responsibility as a high priority. I suspect that Mark will ‘work better’ with the rest of the current city council than will Robyn. This could be a good or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.

One of my top concerns with city council in recent years has been the balance between the city and the University. I have found that the city council has refused to stand up for itself, and has permitted the University to roll over it. The most egregious example is when the University Bookstore was approved by the council without requiring that the University provide the $1 million to be used to ameliorate the parking problems that have grown in recent years and which will be sharply worsened with the Main Street location of the new Bookstore.

If this same type of situation were to come up, I suspect that (if elected) Mark Morehead would side with the University, and Robyn Harland would oppose it.

Perhaps you will find this information useful when you cast your vote on Tuesday.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Time for Action on Civil Unions--03/28/2011

Last week we saw the introduction of Delaware's "Civil Union and Equality Act of 2011", which allows same-gender couples to have the rights and responsibilities on the state level that accrue to opposite-sex marriage. There is a nice article on the issue in today's Wilmington News Journal, at|topnews|text|Home.

The bill is now in the state Senate's Administrative Services/Elections Committee. To continue its progress and ultimately be successful, it must, as the first step, be voted out of that Senate committee, and be allowed to the Senate floor for a vote.

Three of the members of the committee are sponsors of our Civil Unions bill, so please prioritize contacting the other three members of the committee who are not sponsors and who have not publicly declared their support for the bill:
• Senator 302-744-4117
• Senator 302-492-1511
• Senator 302-744-4168

BOTH the State Senator and the State Representative for your district NEED TO HEAR from each registered voter in their district that supports the Civil Union bill.

Go to to find their contact info, and for a sample script for what to say.

Don't delay, please do this as soon as possible.
• If you do nothing else, it is vital that you contact Senators Booth, Lawson, and Marshall and ask them to at least let the bill go onto the full Senate floor for a vote.
• For further information and help, visit Equality Delaware and "like" Equality Delaware on Facebook.
• Feel free to forward this email, but only to friends and allies, not to your entire address book. Anti-equality persons should not receive this, and spam is unhelpful.

Thank you for helping Delaware move toward equality!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Delaware's New Civil Union Bill--03/22/2011

There's a link on the Governor's page at (try to find me in the second picture--next to Rep. Kowalko. Yes, our backs are to the camera.

There's coverage at at

Most importantly, Senate Bill 30 (SB 30) is now online, at

It is assigned to the Senate Administrative Services/Elections Committee--with three firm YES votes (sponsors/co-sponsors), including the bill's prime sponsor, Senator David Sokola.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

PDD Call for Action--03/12/2011

On Tuesday House Bill 19 (HB19), the Ned Carpenter Act, aka the Drug Law Reform Bill will come to the full House for a vote. It is the result of a large amount of work by a slew of stake-holders, including Attorney General Beau Biden and SURJ (Stand Up for what’s Right and Just). SURJ’s executive director Joanna Champney spoke to PDD at our February meeting on this issue, of returning discretion to our state’s judges, and of the process for this bill.

Please contact your state senator and state representative, and to urge their support for the Drug Law Reform Bill. I recommend that before you call, you go online ( and see whether your elected officials are already co-sponsors. If so, thank them for their support, remind them of the House vote on Tuesday, and encourage them to ask their colleagues to join them. If they are not already a sponsor/co-sponsor, ask them to read up on the bill, contact Representative Melanie George (the bill’s sponsor) if they have questions, and (if they are a representative) vote for its passage on Tuesday.

This upcoming week the Delaware civil union bill (not yet numbered, as we haven’t yet closed the doors on co-sponsors) is being finalized, to be introduced the following week. The lead sponsors are Senator David Sokola and Representative Melanie George (do you notice a trend here?). Again, please call your elected officials in Dover, and ask for their support. Encourage them to co-sponsor the bill by reaching out to either of the two lead sponsors. Please send your feedback (ie, they were lukewarm, hostile, supportive, whatever) to me ( so that I can pass it onto Equality Delaware, whose two board members spoke to us at the March PDD meeting (I am also the Treasurer of Equality Delaware).

There is a Rally to Save the Working Class at the Circle in Georgetown also on Tuesday the 15th, from 5:30-6pm. See For questions, call Ann Nolan at 302-644-7128.

By the way, as a result of the Press Release we issued on Thursday about the New Castle County Council’s recent actions, I am having an interesting e-dialog with Councilman Smiley.

Friday, March 11, 2011

PDD Statement on NCCounty Council--03/10/2011


(Wilmington) The Progressive Democrats for Delaware (PDD) commends the New Castle County Council's passage earlier this week of Councilwoman Lisa Diller’s proposal requiring rule changes to be submitted to council members in writing a week in advance and Councilman Dave Tackett's proposal to require that all agenda titles (including consent calendar titles) clearly describe the items to which they refer. The fact that these two measures were adopted nearly unanimously (Diller’s measure passed 12-1, and Tackett’s measure passed 13-0), shows how indefensible secretive and closed government, devoted only to the interests of developers, is. Delaware voters want open and transparent government, a cause which PDD has long championed.
The New Castle County Council should continue to adopt measures reforming the way it does business. The next action that must be taken is the reconsideration of the measure that led to this conflict: the unknowing waiver of a series of deed restrictions on the proposed site of the Governor’s Square III shopping center in Bear. This measure was passed secretly, without several members of the Council knowing that they had approved it, as it it was placed on a section of the agenda for noncontroversial items that are voted on in bulk and without discussion-it was a Trojan Horse. What’s worse, the public also had no knowledge that this measure had been approved at the meeting. PDD agrees with County Council President Tom Kovach's refusal to sign this measure, as it was approved in a dishonest manner. The County Council must reconsider this project, and allow for public discussion, debate and a public vote.
Open and transparent government is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It is a good government issue. We applaud the members of the New Castle County Council who have taken steps to make the council more open and transparent, rather than less so.
Progressive Democrats for Delaware(PDD) is a grassroots Liberal action group pledged to support a wide range of progressive legislation and candidates at the local, state and federal levels.
Contact: Paul Baumbach, President 302-562-4546
PDD Website:

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Environment-loving people needed next Wednesday morning in Dover--03/03/2011 post

Local environmental-focused blogger Tommywonk ( shares the following:

I don't know if you are aware of the concerted backlash against renewable energy here in Delaware.

The 9-12 Delaware Patriots, Progressive Growth Alliance and the Caesar Rodney Institute have been showing up for recent meetings of the Renewable Energy Taskforce (of which I am a member). They are pushing to roll back recent progress in promoting renewable energy here in Delaware.

We supporters of renewable energy to show up for these meetings.

The meeting is Wednesday, March 9 from 9:30 to 12:00 noon in the Public Service Commission office, 861 Silver Lake Blvd Ste 100, Dover, DE, 19901.

Here is the link:

The proceedings can be fairly technical, but citizens are given the chance to address the taskforce at the end of the meeting. We have seen in recent years that most citizens support renewable energy. It is important that supporters show up, and not allow a small, vocal and poorly informed minority divert us from moving forward.

According to the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) submitted to the Public Service Commission by Delmarva Power, the health benefits of reducing coal power and deploying more renewable energy will be $1.8 billion to $4.3 billion over the next ten years. The figure is based on epidemiological estimates for health effects (such as lung disease and cancer) of reduced emission of NOx, SOx and particulate matter from power plants.

This is why renewable energy matters, and why we need supporters to show up.

For more on the IRP, see


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Response to Comments on Inside Job--03/02/2011

As I prepared thoughts on the comments from Tom, I exceeded the limit for a comment, so I am instead presenting it here as a (new) full post.

On the big screen excesses appear larger than life. Scale is lost.

The incentives for Wall Street execs have been outrageous for many years, and this continues to grow--this was partially addressed by Sarbanes-Oxley nine years ago (well it was exposed then, not stopped). That said, their armor is chipped away with each blow-up, and society is slowly building up the resolve to stand up against it. It is close to a miracle that the financial reform law was passed last year. The process is painful to (almost) all involved, but as Martin Luther King, Jr, said, the arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

The money culture on Wall Street is unchanged (hence the Wall Street II movie last year). I agree that the culture on Wall Street is toxic. This became clear in the hearings after the blowup, where brokerage firms were selling what they knew was crap to their customers. One noteworthy such broker was Henry Blodgett from Merrill Lynch, who was banned from the industry, and yet is "now the editor and CEO of The Business Insider, a business news and analysis site, and a host of Yahoo TechTicker, a finance show on Yahoo." Slowly consumers are wising up to the built-in conflict of this culture, as witnessed by the decline in the brokerage industry.

Wall Street is indeed working (and spending) hard to dismantle the financial reform law. When I was in DC last April lobbying for the bill, I was impressed that the Delaware Congressmen and staffers that I met put more weight into the voice of Joe and Jane Citizen than the lobbyists (or at least the Democratic Congressmen and staffers). I am hopeful that this very battle becomes a clear line between the Republican and Democratic Party, and helps to strengthen the Democratic Party, which I feel is required to properly balance necessary Wall Street regulation.

I disagree with Ferguson on some of his attacks on Obama's team. First, I feel that there is a vast difference between Greenspan and Bernanke. Greenspan is a libertarian, laissez-faire, and was staunchly hands-off on the regulation front. Bernanke, in my opinion, was very proactive in addressing the meltdown, much to the country's benefit. Summers doesn't do anything for me, however I generally like Geithner. Note that if you refuse to hire someone with advanced public and private credentials, the highly-paid and highly-incented financial wizards will be able to dance around you.

I do agree with Ferguson that Mary Shapiro's appointment by Obama to lead the SEC was an awful choice, a true choice of a fox to guard the hen house.

On the issue of greater concentration of financial firms, Ferguson failed to mention a major development. Each of the investment houses changed their charter to become bank holding companies during the meltdown, to be eligible for bailout funds, subjecting them to additional regulation. The law still needs to be adjusted to build in 'too big to fail' protections, likely a 'pay your share' fee to cover adequate insurance against such failures, fees which could well be large enough for large firms to force them to split up.

When I said that much of the information didn't surprise me, I didn't mean to say that I knew that it was all going on. However, as Mark Twain noted, history doesn't repeat itself, it rhymes. Much of the excesses were uncovered and documented in the bust, which was largely co-caused by Wall Street excesses.

The crap inflicted on us by the evils depicted in Inside Job was ultimately overcome by 1) significant actions by governments and central banks across the globe, and 2) basic economics, which calls for goods and services to be produced as needed by the world's population. Despite the gross mismanagement of financial firms, the world's economy has grown (after inflation) by 3.3% since 2007 (pre-meltdown).

I know that I am an optimist. I consider myself more of a 'glass half-full' optimist, than a 'rose colored glasses' optimist.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thoughts on Inside Job movie--02/27/2011

I attended Saturday night’s showing of ‘Inside Job’, along with contributors Cassandra_M and Unstable_Isotope, and a pretty full Theatre N. As I work in the financial industry, there weren’t too many aha moments for me, but there were for many in the audience. The film does a nice job of presenting some pretty advanced financial shenanigans in a clear manner. The part that alarmed me the most was the indictment of the academic institutions, where some leading universities appear to have no conflict of interest policies, and turn a blind eye when their senior faculty publish ‘research’ paid for by those being ‘researched.’ It is quite reminiscent of the anti-global climate change research paid for by Exxon Mobil, and anti-lung cancer research paid for by big tobacco.

However what alarmed me more than the film itself were some of the concerns raised by the audience during the discussion that followed the film on Saturday night. One woman asked “don’t banks have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that a mortgage loan can be handled by the borrower?” That night I offered two comments. First, banks don’t worry about this when they have no plans to retain the mortgage on their books, if they plan to sell it off immediately afterwards. Secondly, I noted that, just as brokers, bankers (loan officers) are likely held to a ‘suitability standard’ rather than a ‘fiduciary standard.’

Fiduciary, per Wikipedia, is the ‘highest standard of care at either equity or law.’ compares this to the suitability standard (which in the case of brokers, means that ‘they must suggest investments that are appropriate for their clients, but could pick a suitable investment that also happens to earn them the highest commission’).

Now that 24 hours has passed, I recognized what a teaching opportunity I failed to utilize. Here is what I wished that I said

Bankers, and mortgage brokers do have a fiduciary responsibility, but not to the borrower, but rather to their shareholders. They are responsible to do their best to enable the company to earn the most money. If this means selling a high commission/high fee mortgage that would be flipped to an investment bank the next day, and which the borrower would be unable to afford in two years when the teaser rate expires, so be it.

Similarly, the over-leveraged investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers, had a fiduciary responsibility to their owners, not to the investors they ‘serve’ (by selling products to).

This is the fundamental premise of capitalism, that businesses operate to make profits for their owners. In many cases it is in their economic interest to make their customers happy, and in many cases it is in their economic interest to make their employees happy. However job 1 is maximizing profits.

Capitalism is fine, as long as its strengths and weaknesses are understood, and its weaknesses are addressed in other venues.

This is why we have government, to rein in the excesses that such single-minded focus on business profits can have over the welfare of consumers. The carmakers can make incredibly fast cars, however the government makes rules that ensure that all cars sold to our citizens are ‘street safe’.

The Financial Reform Law was an attempt to better rein in the excesses of Wall Street. This is why it is critical that this law, with its many, many weaknesses, is fully funded, and why we need to remind Congress that failing to fund the new regulations will shorten the time until the next Wall Street-led meltdown.

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