Archive for October, 2011

Let Nature Run Its Course

October 30, 2011

DNREC’s Policy of Inundation Unacceptable   

By State Rep. Harvey Kenton & State Sen. Gary Simpson 

 

 

Recent statements by some state officials suggest Delaware is charting a new and troubling course when it comes to the protection of our small coastal communities.

 

Background

At issue is the repair of protective dunes on Fowler Beach in the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.  About two years ago, several nor’easters produced wave action that over-washed the dune line south of Fowler Beach Road, forming a “mini-inlet” that caused severe erosion of the protective berm.

 

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Delaware Audubon Society have opposed the restoration claiming, among other things, that the government should not act to interfere with the natural process.  Although legal challenges launched by the group have been unsuccessful, they have delayed repairs.

 

Without the dune barrier, saltwater from Delaware Bay has intruded into a man-made freshwater impoundment, destroying habitat frequented by wintering waterfowl and upland animals.

 

During Hurricane Irene in late August, the breach allowed bay water to move inland, resulting in flooding that undermined the already fragile Prime Hook Road (CR 39), leaving it unsafe for travel.  Impassable for several days, the loss of the road severed the only public access to Prime Hook Beach, leaving some 200 homeowners unable to reach their properties.

 

In the wake of that flooding, DNREC moved sand to close the breaches.  The work was intended as a temporary fix until a more resilient barrier could be built.  Unfortunately, the repair lasted only a few weeks before high water and waves removed it.  This was not surprising given the project’s modest scope and the obvious drawbacks of using sand as the only building material.

 

In recently published remarks, Sec. O’Mara said: “We do not expect in the immediate term to take additional action. The bottom line is, there are a lot of different views about the appropriate level of taxpayer support that should be invested in a small community with only a few visitors.  It’s one thing to spend $20,000 to try to deal with a short-term problem.  It’s another to spend multiple millions of dollars.”

 

We have tried to meet with Sec. O’Mara and members of the governor’s staff to discuss this situation only to be disregarded. Based on Sec. O’Mara’s remarks, and the lack of response to our concerns about the property owners impacted by the damaged dunes, it seems clear Delaware is fashioning a new policy that could not only have dire consequences for those living in and around Prime Hook Beach, but which could also carry repercussions for the residents of many other similar coastal communities.

 

Government Takings

In the case of the breached dunes at Fowler Beach, DNREC is apparently abandoning its duty to protect residents’ welfare.  Allowing the dunes to break down and saltwater to intrude further inland will jeopardize drinking water and irrigation wells, and make some agricultural land impractical to farm. Also threatened is the continued viability of Prime Hook Road (CR 39) and access to Prime Hook Beach.

 

The state’s abandonment of its responsibilities will likely negatively affect property values, amounting to a “government taking by neglect.”  This could easily lead to legal challenges by landowners against the state, resulting in money being wasted in court battles and possible compensation payments.  In such a scenario, the repair of the Fowler Beach dunes becomes an increasingly cost-effective option.

 

Sea Level Rise

DNREC’s stance seems to be influenced by the belief of agency officials that the sea level along Delaware’s coast will rise by more than three feet over the next 100 years.

 

According to a federal document cited in a DNREC report issued in September, Mid-Atlantic states “should prepare for sea level to rise by at least one meter (3.28 feet) by 2100.”  That same report notes that the current rate of sea level rise actually measured in Lewes is 13 inches per 100 years.

 

Sec. O’Mara has already acted on the unproved prediction of dramatic sea level increase.  Earlier this year, he denied a sewer permit to a developer building The Landings, a proposed housing project west of Leipsic.  The denial was partly based on O’Mara’s assertion that the community’s sewage treatment facility would be subject to flooding during its expected service life from rising sea level.  In response, the developer filed a lawsuit noting that DNREC has no specific regulatory authority to allow it to consider a projected increase in sea level as part of its permitting process.  DNREC reversed its decision and issued the permit.  The lawsuit was dropped.

 

Elsewhere on the Coast

DNREC has posted on its website an interactive “Sea Level Rise Inundation Map.”  Visitors to the site can dial-up various levels of sea level rise and watch how much of our state will flood if our officials take no action.  Under the one meter scenario, Prime Hook Beach and Broadkill Beach would inhabit a narrow barrier island. Most of our state’s small coastal communities – Slaughter Beach, Bowers Beach, Kitts Hummock and Port Penn – would largely be underwater.  All of these areas could also be described in the same words Sec. O’Mara used to describe Prime Hook Beach: “A small community with only a few visitors.”  It raises the question: If DNREC considers it cost-effective to write-off the future of Prime Hook Beach, will these communities be similarly judged?

 

If the prediction of one-meter of flooding does come to fruition, most of Delaware’s resort communities would also suffer significant inundation, as would many of the residents of Long Neck and other communities bordering the Inland Bays.  With regard to state intervention, will a different standard be applied to these homeowners, or will the state take no action and let nature take its course?

 

While it is generally commendable to plan for the future, those efforts should not shackle our actions in the present.  It is possible the sea may rise by a meter over the next 100 years, but at this point that possibility is speculative.  What we know with a certainty is that if the Fowler Beach dunes are not repaired, access to approximately 200 homes will be threatened; saltwater intrusion will damage the value of agricultural and residential land; and valuable freshwater wetland habitat will be permanently lost.

 

The state has a duty to safeguard the welfare of our citizens and environment today, not base its actions on the hypothetical projections of what might happen over the next 89 years.


To view
DNREC’s interactive “Sea Level Rise Inundation Map,”  click here.
  

What Will Be The Face Of The Sussex GOP

October 11, 2011

   I am an Election District Committee person, and as such, I attended last night’s  monthly meeting of the Sussex County GOP Executive Committee.

  Let me first thank all who came out. Both members and guest. It is great to see the room so full of people who wish only to get involve.

  Well, we went through the usual meeting formalities of the Treasurer’s report and the like.

  But the real meat and potatoes of the meeting was the resolution that has attracted so much attention in the local press as of late.

  It was a resolution brought to the committee by the R D Chairman of the 37th R D, Eric Bodenweiser. The resolution was intended to show support for the Sussex County Sheriff’s wish to expand the training of his deputies. The point of my post is not about the resolution however. It was defeated and the issue has been passed by once more.

  I would like to thank all of those who participated in the discussion of the resolution prior to a vote being taken. For all who were able to have an intellectual debate about an important issue, and to do so without allowing it to become personal, thank you. For all who could not manage this, well if I were you I would work on that skill if you intend to continue to be a part of a political party.

  Even though last nights meeting was centered around an issue that was divisive, for the most part all were respectful of those whom they opposed. While there were opinions expressed from both sides, this was done in a manner that showed that it is understood that we are a party of differing views, on many issues.

  We must be able to have these debates, so that all view points have a voice in the party. It is when one faction believes that they have some entitlement to controlling the agenda or the message, that the party splinters. But when we have these debates, they must be about issues. To allow them to become personal will only lead to hurt feelings and division of the party.

 As a Republican I have the right to voice my opinion about things that will affect the GOP. As a member of the E C , I have a duty to voice my opinion on things that will affect the E C.  I also recognize that others will have differing views from mine. They are free to do so. I hold no ill will towards anyone who spoke in favor of the resolution last night. They felt that it was the right thing to do. I would hope that the same respect would be returned to me.

  Some may say that because of my stand on this issue I have somehow lost my conservative credentials. That I have become a RINO. Some may think that I should have sat quietly by and allowed a resolution to pass just so that everyone would like me. Let me say this here and now. No one gets to define Frank Knotts except for God and Frank Knotts.

  Those who wish to attack me for my positions on this or any other issue feel free. But I would recommend that you have your house well in order before you start trying to clean mine.

 

Is This The Death Of Liberty ?

October 9, 2011

  Recently  the United States was able to kill a high priority target in the war on terror. This was accomplished with an unmanned drone aircraft.

   The name of the terrorist was Anwar al-Awlaqi .  This man was an influential cleric, who was instrumental in recruiting others into attacking the U.S..

  Of course the first thing we think is that the U.S. is safer with this man out of the game.

  Only one problem. He was a U.S. citizen. There is no doubt that we are safer in the sense that there is one less terrorist in the world. One that was actively recruiting others. But have we put our Liberty at risk.

  I have heard that this man did not deserve due process under the Constitution because he was a terrorist. But this did not change his status as a citizen.

  I am concerned that people who normally argue to uphold the Constitution are now arguing that this man did not warrant a trial.

  Clearly he could have been charged with treason as stated in the Constitution. I am not sure what those who say it was okay for the President and the CIA to label this man an enemy and then have him summarily killed. In my view this sets a very dangerous precedent. If we believe that this kill was justified and legal, then what is to stop any president from labeling any citizen, an enemy of the state?

  I do not like the idea of arguing to protect a terrorist. But I am bound by my love of the Constitution to protect it. This act is an affront to the Founders. Conservatives should be appalled.

  Now let us ask this question. If Anwar al-Awlaqi was a terrorist and a citizen, and the fact that his being a terrorist somehow supersedes his citizenship. And so he was no longer deserving of a trial before being sentenced to death. And he was not afforded the protection of the court system and the appeals process.

 Why then was Timothy McVeigh? McVeigh’s act of terrorism killed 168 people and wounded 800 others. Both those who sympathized and condemned McVeigh’s act, considered it an act of war. McVeigh was hoping to inspire a revolt against what he saw as a tyrannical federal government. Even so, he was arrested, he was given a trial with legal council, he made use of the appeals process until he chose to stop his own appeals. And then he was executed.  McVeigh’s accomplice Terry Nichols also received a trial and was sentenced to life without parole, which he is still serving. Michael Fortier another conspirator  who turned states evidence was released in 2006 after serving just ten years.

  So I ask those who believe we did the right thing by killing Anwar al-Awlaqi without a trial, even though he was a citizen. Should we have shot McVeigh on sight? Or should he have been found hanging from the bars in his jail cell? Couldn’t we have saved the nation the time and money if we had simply blown up McVeigh’s home with a guided missile?

 After all McVeigh and his conspirators were terrorist in any definition of the word. Should that fact have negated their citizenship? And if not, why?

  This is not about whether Anwar al-Awlaqi  was or was not a terrorist, he was. It’s not about whether he deserved to die for his crimes against this nation. In my view he did. This is about the honor and integrity of our system of government. If McVeigh as a citizen terrorist was entitled to due process, then I need someone to explain to me how this is different. One has to ask the question, was McVeigh afforded due process because he was a white Christian, and Anwar al-Awlaqi  deserved to die because he was a Muslim?

 If this has become the criteria, then Liberty has died with Anwar al-Awlaqi . If so, then we as a nation have allowed our emotions to outweigh our understanding of Liberty.

  As I listen to my fellow citizens and my fellow conservatives expressing their joy at the killing of  Anwar al-Awlaqi , I am reminded of the statement by the fictional character Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in “Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith” as she watched Emperor Palpatine tell a cheering Senate that he had taken all power away from them to form a Galactic Empire.

“So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.”

The Chickens, Are Coming Home To Roost

October 6, 2011

  It seems as if Pres. Obama and his cavalcade of crooks are beginning to crack around the edges.

  His failed attempts to right a failing economy has his polling numbers falling faster than, well really there is nothing to compare them to.

   As he calls on congress to pass his tax bill, that he like to call a jobs bill, his pet Sen. Harry Reid has put the brakes on it while he guts the parts that would keep even tax and spend Democrats from being re-elected.

  Then there is the whole AG Eric Holder issue. You know the one. The one where the leading law enforcement agent in the nation lied to congress about his knowledge of the illegal gun running operation. The one being overseen by the DOJ.

  Of course we can’t forget the best demonstration of the President’s corruption. The $535 million dollar tax payer guaranteed loan to a solar panel company that the administration had been warned about as being in fiscal trouble.

  This of course is Solyndra,that  filed for bankruptcy. But the story doesn’t end there. Like any good horror show there is always the surprise at the end.

  It seems that the head of the Loan Programs Office, Jonathan Silver is resigning. Of course the administration is saying that this has nothing to do with the fact that Mr. Silver was in charge of giving away $535 million tax dollars to a failing pie in the sky green energy front for the Obama agenda.

  Mr. Silver plans to join the organization Third Way as a “distinguished visiting fellow.”  Well he certainly has distinguished himself with overseeing nearly $35 billion dollars of tax payer money being paid out to other green energy companies in the past two years. We have to wonder how many more Solyndras are out there waiting to go bust.

   So with all of these ongoing investigations into the Obama administration’s mis-handling of so many different things, it would seem as if the Chicago way, is going to bring Mr. Obama down like Al Capone.

Is Rick Perry On Drugs ?

October 2, 2011

  Presidential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry, on Saturday, may well have signed the death warrant of his campaign.

  At a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Saturday, Gov. Perry answered a question about the ongoing violence on the Mexican border related to the drug trade in Mexico.

   Gov. perry has come under some fire for being weak on illegal immigration in recent GOP debates. This may account for the answer he gave to the question of how a “President” Rick perry would handle the violence of the drug war in Mexico.

  “It may require our military in Mexico”, was Mr. Perry’s answer. Fellow GOP candidate Ron Paul must be eagerly anticipating the next debate. Mr. Paul, who has made his name speaking out against U.S. intervention in foreign countries.

  The idea that we would send our military into another nation as a para-police force should be troubling to almost every person of any political ideology.

  Many have supported the use of National Guard troops on the border. Many more have supported the idea of bringing home regular Army troops to be used on the border. But on this side of the border, to stem the ever-growing tide of illegal immigrants, as well as the incoming illegal drug trade and the violence associated with it. The presence of the troops would almost certainly reduce the amount of drug and gang violence that spills over the border into the U.S. .

 However to suggest that we send U.S. troops into Mexico raises some troubling questions. Not least of all, if our troops were sent to Mexico, who would they answer to? Would they be there under the command of U.S. General Staff, or operating under the orders of Mexico.

  I would also be concerned the further  lowering of the border in this fashion.  It could be seen as a union in the image of the E. U. .

  It doesn’t take much imagination to wonder who would fund such an expedition. At a time when we are attempting to reduce our debt and deficit. At a time when we are attempting to reduce our involvement in foreign affairs. Is this the time for a presidential candidate to be suggesting that we might consider invading Mexico. Because that is exactly what this would amount to. The Mexican government is not in charge of that area. The drug lords are. The U.S. would need to invade and occupy that part of Mexico. For how long? Who could tell. At what cost? Again, no telling.

  Mr. Perry has just alienated pretty much every group he would need to win not just the primary, but also the general election. If they haven’t stuck the fork in him yet, they definitely have it in their hand.

 Those who see themselves as libertarians will never support such an idea. Independent voters who are concerned over the economy and the debt will never support such an idea. Of course liberals of all parties will never support this idea. Conservative Democrats will not cross party lines with this in play. Only the most radical party hacks will support a GOP candidate who has said such a thing.

  Gov. Perry has a very short time to walk back from this. If not, then my prediction is, that he will be the main course to be served up at the next debate. After that we can count him out.