Saturday, January 30, 2010

Yes Another Winter Wonderland In Progress

For those who may be on vacation in Mexico once again it is snowing in Delmar, for those of you in Delmar you already know it. Delmar weather is forecasting evil things for the area. At least it is on the weekend and people semi have an option to stay home or go to the supermarket for bread and milk.

Mr. Nicklewick, the Gnome and friends an hour ago. I thought it would have stopped by now. The birds are in a panic trying to dig in the snow for birdseed, but they have had their daily allocation - can't spend my entire social security check on birdseed. I wish our government would try and follow that line of reasoning.

scenic backside of Delmar postoffice
Much like the birds, sitting around on days like today makes you want to snack all day. Plays Hell with my diet. Makes me want to run a skinny person down, bitch slap them and force them to eat cake all day - naw - they would still be skinny and I would still be fat.

What a difference an hour makes. Just shot a few minutes ago. Mr. Nacklewick is going to have to dig out before this is over

Botswana and The No. 1 Detective

When you say Africa what usually comes to mind; war, corruption and disease?

I have been reading some of the Alexander McCall Smith series of books based on his book "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency." There are a number of them and they are good, easy reading. Usually only about 200 pages they can be read in a day or a week depending on how much time you allocate to reading.

The books are set in Gaborone Botswana, that land locked country in South Africa. The main character is Precious Ramotswe, Detective, daughter of Obed Ramotswe, and wife of Mr. J L B Matekoni, who is the Proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. She is assisted by Grace Makutsi who scored a 97% at the Botswana Secretarial College. The books are a delight to read as they describe normal situations people everywhere end up in. Her detective investigations are not of the major criminal types and usually involve husband/wife running around, finding missing people, stealing from employers and background investigations.

One of the things that you realise in reading his books is maybe all of Africa is not involved in war and corruption. Botswana appears to be a very well organized country.

In his book "The Kalahari Typing School For Men" he writes;
"She (Makutsi)should remember who she was - which was a citizen of Botswana, of the finest country in Africa, ....your country had never done anything of which to feel ashamed. It had conducted itself with complete integrity, even in times when it had to contend with neighbours in a state of civil war. It had always been honest, too, without that ruinous corruption that had shamed so many countries in Africa, and which had bleed away the wealth of an entire continent.."

I must say it would be nice to say that; your country had never done anything of which to feel ashamed. It had conducted itself with complete integrity

Okay so the "No. 1 Detective" Books are fiction, but in looking at the world wide web I see Botswana really seems to be a decent country - something I didn't think I would say about an African country.

The Botswana Tourism board website describes;

Welcome to the very best part of Africa. Botswana, a country better known for peace and tranquillity, diamonds and beef, holds a lot of surprises for you

Well the books are good and I recommend them and perhaps the country really is the best in Africa.

Walter D. Barrall and the Delco Light Electric Plant

Walter D. Barrall, his wife Nettie and sons Russell and Elmer moved from Pennsylvania (along with his mother-in-law) to Delmar. He worked as a mechanic and than became the Delco Light Electric Plant dealer. The above ad is from 1929.

In the late 1800’s electric power was being installed in towns thru out the United States. These electric power systems ended up being a standardized 110 volt AC system. Outside of town however there was not any electric and the farms had to make do with kerosene lights and maybe a six- volt wind generator to charge the battery in the family radio. Enter Charles Kettering and Edward Deeds, they formed the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO) and invented a number of things for cars (electric starters, ignition system etc) and also invented the Delco-Light in 1916. Deco-Light was a line of electric generating plants.

The Delco-light Electric Plant consisted of a single-cylinder vertical engine (10 HP) connected to a bank of sixteen glass cased lead acid storage cells. To keep things simple, the engines were air-cooled. To make things easy, Delco, drawing on its expertise in small motors, fitted its light plants with electric starters. The customer only had to fill the tank, close the switch, and the light plant did the rest. The engine started automatically, charged the lead-acid storage batteries and, when the batteries were charged, shut itself down. The engine was restarted only when needed to bring the batteries back up to charge. The electric plant produced 32 volts DC power sufficient to handle 40 or so light bulbs.

There were some 100 different models built over the years but the 850-watt, 32 volt DC unit accounted for 75% of the production. Being a unique 32-volt system, DELCO also sold the appliances to go with the light plants

The DELCO Company was purchased by Billy Durant in 1916 and placed under his company, United Motors Corporation (UMC), and in turn UMC became part of General Motors in 1920.

Most of the electrical appliances we have at hand today were available to the 1930s/1940s farm household. From mixers, toasters, hot plates, coffee pots, electric irons and refrigerators to vacuum cleaner, fan, sewing machine, radio to butter churns, washing machine, Electric milkers and sheep shears, saws drills etc. All of these appliances ran on 32-volt DC electricity! They were bought from Sears and roebuck, Montgomery Wards, J C Pennys and the Delco Light Plant Company.

In 1936 the Roosevelt administration in an attempt to pull out of the depression, put cheaper electricity in rural homes and farms, and “create jobs” (the policies of today’s government is merely a repeat of history – which must mean it never worked to begin with) passed the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) act. REA oversaw low interest loans for rural electric cooperatives which included stringing power lines out into the country. This pretty much killed 32-volt DC power and with the exception of some special applications such as marine equipment it is not found today.

Converting a farm from 32–volt DC to 110-Volt AC could often cause some unexpected excitement. Usually, the farmer simply removed the battery cable from the input side of his house service panel, and then the power company connected the new 110-volt AC feed to the same point. The plugs and receptacles inside the house were the same for both voltages, so there was no need to change any inside wiring or fittings. That frequently resulted in a rude surprise when those old 32-volt DC appliances were turned on!

As buyer’s of old items at auctions and thrift stores can tell you, occasionally you still come across a 32-volt DC radio or fan. Not knowing any better and plugging a 32-volt DC fan into a 110-volt AC outlet can produce a number of excited epithets from your mouth.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hurlock Clerk Sentenced

I picked up this little blurb by way of the Cecil Whig;

CAMBRIDGE -- A former Hurlock deputy clerk received a 30-day jail sentence this week for stealing residents' water and sewer payments to fuel her drug habit.

According to Maryland State Police in Dorchester County, 48-year-old Berlin resident Deborah Abbott pocketed $1,237.57 in cash payments to the town over the course of several months in 2009, if not longer.

It is amazing how little punishment they get stealing.

Delmarva Model Railroad Club

The Delmarva Model Railroad Club has a blog and it can be found here.

Auto Sales and Service - 1959

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Laurel School Bond Issue

Signs are popping up in Laurel about the up coming special election on Feb 10th to authorize the school district to issue bonds to fund school construction.

The cost is $137 million to build four schools. The State of Delaware is going to supply $101 million of that amount. Laurel school district is going to supply the remaining amount by floating 20 year bonds. Regardless where the money is coming from I can assure you it is going to come out of the pockets of the tax payers. My assumption is the State of Delaware is going to float bonds also for their share as I doubt they have $101 million sitting amount (well maybe they do they just aren't going to spend it on schools in Laurel). As usual the school board is passing the buck back to the state instead of saying it is our ideal. They are saying the state requires us to replace the schools - same as Delmar did for their referendum. The big push in Laurel is technology also the same push as Delmar did. You know anything related to technology is good for five years, the remaining 15 years of the bonds is just a waste.

Now Laurel School District is where William Hitch worked. He admitted to taking some unauthorized money and altho Tom Wagner, Delaware Auditor of accounts is busy looking at the funds. I think we can say there is a big cover up going on in Laurel to protect Bill Hitch. I would not be surprised to see him working as a contractor for the school district once this dies down.

My question is; is he going to collect his full pension? I would think at a minimum they would say the amount he took had to be paid out before he collected any pension or take his pension to pay it back. I don't think he is even entitled to that much.

This pension issue is a problem in all government entities. I am sure the Delmar school district does not have a policy on how they would handle a similar situation (this is a good place for Dr Ring to Chime in -no pun intended - and say I am wrong). It would seem government people can steal and still collect pensions that the taxpayers have paid at least a portion of. That is wrong, simply wrong.

I hope the taxpayers of Laurel vote this four school replacement plan down and make them come up with a more realistic plan.

The Tommy Young Delmar Historical Society

In this week's Morning Star (Laurel Star) is a guest column opinion piece by Tommy Young. In this column he talks about the lack of a Delmar Historical Society and how the Delmar Alumni Association would be a good group (actually the only large group with several hundred members in town) to take on this task.

Well he is correct about the size of a group to make up a historical society - 300 to 400 paying members. I belong to one genealogy society that has about 200 members, but there are only about 30 that are active so it limits what the group can do. Delmar has had a Historical Society before and it failed due to lack of active paying members. They had a small bank account and who ever has control of it has decided to donate it to the Delmar Historical Building. The building is at a stand still due to lack of volunteers and lack of money. Remember any building now days pretty much has to handle disability people etc. so it cost money to renovate one. The Seaford Historical society is one of the best in the area. Have you been to their museum - very professional displays? I think they have about 600 paying members. The Laurel Historical Society is another good one but frankly they seem to have more than they can handle with the amount of historical buildings they have. I think they have about 300 paying members. The Double Mills Grist Mill group and the Barren Creek/Mardela Springs are also another good groups and I don't how many members they have.

I would certainly want to join a Delmar Historical society but a small inactive one, poorly funded, is a problem rather than a help to the town. If you recall the previous Delmar Historical society had a building they were going to turn into a museum and it was not kept up and eventually the town had the building burn because vagrant people were using as a drug den and party place.

With the down town renovation group (mainly Chris Walters) and the Delmar Historical Building I think the time could be ripe to start another Historical society. As I said before if you can't get at least 200 paying members (prefer 300) that are young enough to do some work than it would be a waste of time to form a historical society. As any volunteer group will tell you there is about 10% that are hard core always there to do the work and than there is another 10% that may show up infrequently and the other 80% only show up for photo ops, but at least they pay their dues.

The Football Fundraiser Last Night

My wife went to the Football Fundraiser last night in the auditorium the Delmar High School. The game was projected on the big screen and Coach Hearn gave highlights and comments on the game. There was a large turnout for the event. Donation were accepted for state championship rings, the VFW gave a donation and the fire department is having an "all you can eat" spaghetti dinner for them of which the proceeds will go to the team for rings. Coach Hearn is also making DVD's of the game for $5.00 - contact him. My wife will be buying a couple copies to send to our daughters, who are away - cheap enough.

Sixteen Tons

In January of 1956 topping out the charts was "Sixteen Tons" sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford. Don't we all feel like this song some days?

Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said "Well, a-bless my soul"

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain
Fightin' and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol' mama lion
Cain't no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't a-get you
Then the left one will

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

Authorship of "Sixteen Tons" is generally attributed to Merle Travis, who also recorded it in 1947.

Tennesse Ernie Ford was a singer comedian and became best known when he appeared on the "I Love Lucy Show" playing a the country bumpkin routine. In 1955 he recorded "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier". He had his own TV show from 1956 to 1961 and was known for his catch-phrase "Bless your pea-pickin' heart!"

One of the differences between radio shows today and back in the 1950's is instead of playing a constant stream of music, in the 1950's they would throw in recorded (as in recorded on a record which you could buy) comedy skits. Most seem to be of a country bumpkin style of comedy. Some of these comedy skits played on radio were by Tennesse Ernie Ford, and Andy Griffith. Andy Griffith's "What It Was, Was Football!" has always been my version of what football is all about.

The Challenger Explosion - 1986

January 28, 1986 - at 11:39 AM 73 seconds after launch from Cape Canaveral, the U.S. space shuttle Challenger exploded, killing seven astronauts. After a flawless liftoff, the Challenger, traveling at a speed of 2900 feet per second, soared nine miles into space when suddenly the ship’s liquid hydrogen tank exploded. Millions watched the tragedy unfold on TV. This catastrophe took the lives of Commanders Francis ‘Dick’ Scobee and Michael J. Smith, Dr. Judith A. Resnik, Dr. Ronald E. McNair, Lt. Colonel Ellison S. Onizuka, Gregory B. Jarvis and school teacher Christa McAuliffe.

I heard the news on the radio as I was driving over to Ocean City from Ocean Pines to make a Bank deposit for a company I worked for. As you recalled we watched the explosion on TV over and over again for the next two weeks. The explosion, started by the failure of an "O" ring seal, brought home to us how complicated rockets are and how the smallest part is just as important as the largest part.

Ronald Reagan The Space Shuttle "Challenger" Tragedy Address delivered 28 January 1986
Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.

Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But we've never lost an astronaut in flight. We've never had a tragedy like this.

And perhaps we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle. But they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.

We mourn their loss as a nation together.

For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, "Give me a challenge, and I'll meet it with joy." They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.

We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for twenty-five years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and, perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.

And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's take-off. I know it's hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.

I've always had great faith in and respect for our space program. And what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don't hide our space program. We don't keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute.

We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue.

I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA, or who worked on this mission and tell them: "Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it."

There's a coincidence today. On this day three hundred and ninety years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, "He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it." Well, today, we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."

Thank you.

Ronald Reagan The Space Shuttle "Challenger" Tragedy Address delivered 28 January 1986

Hotel Somerset - Crisfield - 1937

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The State of The Union - 2010

Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. For two hundred and twenty years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.

It’s tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable – that America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements; our hesitations and our fears; America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, and one people.

Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history’s call.

One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So we acted – immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.

But the devastation remains. One in ten Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. For those who had already known poverty, life has become that much harder.

This recession has also compounded the burdens that America’s families have been dealing with for decades – the burden of working harder and longer for less; of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college.

So I know the anxieties that are out there right now. They’re not new. These struggles are the reason I ran for President. These struggles are what I’ve witnessed for years in places like Elkhart, Indiana and Galesburg, Illinois. I hear about them in the letters that I read each night. The toughest to read are those written by children – asking why they have to move from their home, or when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work.
For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don’t understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded but hard work on Main Street isn’t; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems. They are tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can’t afford it. Not now.

So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope – what they deserve – is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics. For while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories and different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared. A job that pays the bills. A chance to get ahead. Most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.

You know what else they share? They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity. After one of the most difficult years in our history, they remain busy building cars and teaching kids; starting businesses and going back to school. They’re coaching little league and helping their neighbors. As one woman wrote me, “We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged.”

It is because of this spirit – this great decency and great strength – that I have never been more hopeful about America’s future than I am tonight. Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength.

And tonight, I’d like to talk about how together, we can deliver on that promise.

It begins with our economy.

Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there’s one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it’s that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal.

But when I ran for President, I promised I wouldn’t just do what was popular – I would do what was necessary. And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today. More businesses would certainly have closed. More homes would have surely been lost.

So I supported the last administration’s efforts to create the financial rescue program. And when we took the program over, we made it more transparent and accountable. As a result, the markets are now stabilized, and we have recovered most of the money we spent on the banks.

To recover the rest, I have proposed a fee on the biggest banks. I know Wall Street isn’t keen on this idea, but if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.

As we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who had become unemployed.

That’s why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans; made health insurance 65% cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA; and passed 25 different tax cuts.

Let me repeat: we cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95% of working families. We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college. As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas, and food, and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers. And we haven’t raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person. Not a single dime.

Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. 200,000 work in construction and clean energy. 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, and first responders. And we are on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year.

The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act. That’s right – the Recovery Act, also known as the Stimulus Bill. Economists on the left and the right say that this bill has helped saved jobs and avert disaster. But you don’t have to take their word for it.

Talk to the small business in Phoenix that will triple its workforce because of the Recovery Act.

Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created.

Talk to the single teacher raising two kids who was told by her principal in the last week of school that because of the Recovery Act, she wouldn’t be laid off after all.

There are stories like this all across America. And after two years of recession, the economy is growing again. Retirement funds have started to gain back some of their value. Businesses are beginning to invest again, and slowly some are starting to hire again.

But I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our number one focus in 2010, and that is why I am calling for a new jobs bill tonight.

Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America’s businesses. But government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers.

We should start where most new jobs do – in small businesses, companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides its time she became her own boss.

Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and are ready to grow. But when you talk to small business owners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they are mostly lending to bigger companies. But financing remains difficult for small business owners across the country.

So tonight, I’m proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. I am also proposing a new small business tax credit – one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. While we’re at it, let’s also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment.

Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. From the first railroads to the interstate highway system, our nation has always been built to compete. There’s no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.

Tomorrow, I’ll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help our nation move goods, services, and information. We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities, and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, which supports clean energy jobs. And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it’s time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs in the United States of America.

The House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps. As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do the same. People are out of work. They are hurting. They need our help. And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay.

But the truth is, these steps still won’t make up for the seven million jobs we’ve lost over the last two years. The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long-term economic growth, and finally address the problems that America’s families have confronted for years.

We cannot afford another so-called economic “expansion” like the one from last decade – what some call the “lost decade” – where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion; where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs; where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation.

From the day I took office, I have been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious – that such efforts would be too contentious, that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for awhile.

For those who make these claims, I have one simple question:

How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold?

You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China’s not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany’s not waiting. India’s not waiting. These nations aren’t standing still. These nations aren’t playing for second place. They’re putting more emphasis on math and science. They’re rebuilding their infrastructure. They are making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.

Well I do not accept second-place for the United States of America. As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may be, it’s time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.

One place to start is serious financial reform. Look, I am not interested in punishing banks, I’m interested in protecting our economy. A strong, healthy financial market makes it possible for businesses to access credit and create new jobs. It channels the savings of families into investments that raise incomes. But that can only happen if we guard against the same recklessness that nearly brought down our entire economy.

We need to make sure consumers and middle-class families have the information they need to make financial decisions. We can’t allow financial institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that threaten the whole economy.

The House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes. And the lobbyists are already trying to kill it. Well, we cannot let them win this fight. And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back.

Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history – an investment that could lead to the world’s cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year’s investment in clean energy – in the North Carolina company that will create 1200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put 1,000 people to work making solar panels.

But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. This year, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.

Third, we need to export more of our goods. Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America. To help meet this goal, we’re launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security.

We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. And that’s why we will continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea, Panama, and Colombia.

Fourth, we need to invest in the skills and education of our people.

This year, we have broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools. The idea here is simple: instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform – reform that raises student achievement, inspires students to excel in math and science, and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to inner-cities. In the 21st century, one of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education. In this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than their potential.

When we renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we will work with Congress to expand these reforms to all fifty states. Still, in this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job. I urge the Senate to follow the House and pass a bill that will revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families. To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer-subsidies that go to banks for student loans. Instead, let’s take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants. And let’s tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only ten percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after twenty years – and forgiven after ten years if they choose a career in public service. Because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college. And it’s time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs – because they too have a responsibility to help solve this problem.

Now, the price of college tuition is just one of the burdens facing the middle-class. That’s why last year I asked Vice President Biden to chair a task force on Middle-Class Families. That’s why we’re nearly doubling the child care tax credit, and making it easier to save for retirement by giving every worker access to a retirement account and expanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg. That’s why we’re working to lift the value of a family’s single largest investment – their home. The steps we took last year to shore up the housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments. This year, we will step up re-financing so that homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages. And it is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform.

Now let’s be clear – I did not choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn’t take on health care because it was good politics.

I took on health care because of the stories I’ve heard from Americans with pre-existing conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; patients who’ve been denied coverage; and families – even those with insurance – who are just one illness away from financial ruin.

After nearly a century of trying, we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans. The approach we’ve taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market. It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care. And by the way, I want to acknowledge our First Lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make our kids healthier.

Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses. And according to the Congressional Budget Office – the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress – our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.

Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering what’s in it for them.

But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time I’m finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber.

As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we’ve proposed. There’s a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo. But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. Here’s what I ask of Congress, though: Do not walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people.

Now, even as health care reform would reduce our deficit, it’s not enough to dig us out of a massive fiscal hole in which we find ourselves. It’s a challenge that makes all others that much harder to solve, and one that’s been subject to a lot of political posturing.

So let me start the discussion of government spending by setting the record straight. At the beginning of the last decade, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion. By the time I took office, we had a one year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. That was before I walked in the door.

Now if we had taken office in ordinary times, I would have liked nothing more than to start bringing down the deficit. But we took office amid a crisis, and our efforts to prevent a second Depression have added another $1 trillion to our national debt.

I am absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do. But families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same. So tonight, I’m proposing specific steps to pay for the $1 trillion that it took to rescue the economy last year.

Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don’t. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will.

We will continue to go through the budget line by line to eliminate programs that we can’t afford and don’t work. We’ve already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we will extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, investment fund managers, and those making over $250,000 a year. We just can’t afford it.

Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we will still face the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. That’s why I’ve called for a bipartisan, Fiscal Commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad. This can’t be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The Commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline. Yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I will issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans. And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason why we had record surpluses in the 1990s.

I know that some in my own party will argue that we cannot address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. I agree, which is why this freeze will not take effect until next year, when the economy is stronger. But understand – if we do not take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery – all of which could have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes.

From some on the right, I expect we’ll hear a different argument – that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts for wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, and maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away. The problem is, that’s what we did for eight years. That’s what helped lead us into this crisis. It’s what helped lead to these deficits. And we cannot do it again.

Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it’s time to try something new. Let’s invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let’s meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let’s try common sense.

To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust – deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we must take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; and to give our people the government they deserve.

That’s what I came to Washington to do. That’s why – for the first time in history – my Administration posts our White House visitors online. And that’s why we’ve excluded lobbyists from policy-making jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions.

But we can’t stop there. It’s time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my Administration or Congress. And it’s time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office. Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.

I’m also calling on Congress to continue down the path of earmark reform. You have trimmed some of this spending and embraced some meaningful change. But restoring the public trust demands more. For example, some members of Congress post some earmark requests online. Tonight, I’m calling on Congress to publish all earmark requests on a single website before there’s a vote so that the American people can see how their money is being spent.

Of course, none of these reforms will even happen if we don’t also reform how we work with one another.

Now, I am not naïve. I never thought the mere fact of my election would usher in peace, harmony, and some post-partisan era. I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, have been taking place for over two hundred years. They are the very essence of our democracy.

But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We cannot wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about their opponent – a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants should not be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual Senators. Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, is just part of the game. But it is precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet, it is sowing further division among our citizens and further distrust in our government.

So no, I will not give up on changing the tone of our politics. I know it’s an election year. And after last week, it is clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need to govern. To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills. And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. So let’s show the American people that we can do it together. This week, I’ll be addressing a meeting of the House Republicans. And I would like to begin monthly meetings with both the Democratic and Republican leadership. I know you can’t wait.

Throughout our history, no issue has united this country more than our security. Sadly, some of the unity we felt after 9/11 has dissipated. We can argue all we want about who’s to blame for this, but I am not interested in re-litigating the past. I know that all of us love this country. All of us are committed to its defense. So let’s put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough. Let’s reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values. Let’s leave behind the fear and division, and do what it takes to defend our nation and forge a more hopeful future – for America and the world.

That is the work we began last year. Since the day I took office, we have renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation. We have made substantial investments in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to take American lives. We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with better airline security, and swifter action on our intelligence. We have prohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the Pacific to South Asia to the Arabian Peninsula. And in the last year, hundreds of Al Qaeda’s fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killed – far more than in 2008.

In Afghanistan, we are increasing our troops and training Afghan Security Forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011, and our troops can begin to come home. We will reward good governance, reduce corruption, and support the rights of all Afghans – men and women alike. We are joined by allies and partners who have increased their own commitment, and who will come together tomorrow in London to reaffirm our common purpose. There will be difficult days ahead. But I am confident we will succeed.

As we take the fight to al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people. As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war, and that is what I am doing as President. We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August. We will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity. But make no mistake: this war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home.

Tonight, all of our men and women in uniform — in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world – must know that they have our respect, our gratitude, and our full support. And just as they must have the resources they need in war, we all have a responsibility to support them when they come home. That is why we made the largest increase in investments for veterans in decades. That is why we are building a 21st century VA. And that is why Michelle has joined with Jill Biden to forge a national commitment to support military families.

Even as we prosecute two wars, we are also confronting perhaps the greatest danger to the American people – the threat of nuclear weapons. I have embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons, and seeks a world without them. To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades. And at April’s Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring forty-four nations together behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists.

These diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of these weapons. That is why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctions – sanctions that are being vigorously enforced. That is why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran’s leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they, too, will face growing consequences.

That is the leadership that we are providing – engagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people. We are working through the G-20 to sustain a lasting global recovery. We are working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science, education and innovation. We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change. We are helping developing countries to feed themselves, and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS. And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bio-terrorism or an infectious disease – a plan that will counter threats at home, and strengthen public health abroad.

As we have for over sixty years, America takes these actions because our destiny is connected to those beyond our shores. But we also do it because it is right. That is why, as we meet here tonight, over 10,000 Americans are working with many nations to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild. That is why we stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan; we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran; and we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea. For America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity.

Abroad, America’s greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.

We must continually renew this promise. My Administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. We are going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws – so that women get equal pay for an equal day’s work. And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system – to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nations.

In the end, it is our ideals, our values, that built America – values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe; values that drive our citizens still. Every day, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and their employers. Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbors and give back to their country. They take pride in their labor, and are generous in spirit. These aren’t Republican values or Democratic values they’re living by; business values or labor values. They are American values.

Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions – our corporations, our media, and yes, our government – still reflect these same values. Each of these institutions are full of honorable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper. But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people’s doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith. The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates into silly arguments, and big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.

No wonder there’s so much cynicism out there.

No wonder there’s so much disappointment.

I campaigned on the promise of change – change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change – or at least, that I can deliver it.

But remember this – I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I can do it alone. Democracy in a nation of three hundred million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That’s just how it is.

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths. We can do what’s necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what’s best for the next generation.

But I also know this: if people had made that decision fifty years ago or one hundred years ago or two hundred years ago, we wouldn’t be here tonight. The only reason we are is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed even when success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and grandchildren.

Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year. And what keeps me going – what keeps me fighting – is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism – that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people – lives on.

It lives on in the struggling small business owner who wrote to me of his company, “None of us,” he said, “…are willing to consider, even slightly, that we might fail.”

It lives on in the woman who said that even though she and her neighbors have felt the pain of recession, “We are strong. We are resilient. We are American.”

It lives on in the 8-year old boy in Louisiana, who just sent me his allowance and asked if I would give it to the people of Haiti. And it lives on in all the Americans who’ve dropped everything to go some place they’ve never been and pull people they’ve never known from rubble, prompting chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A!” when another life was saved.

The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people.

We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don’t quit. I don’t quit. Let’s seize this moment – to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.

Thank you. God Bless You. And God Bless the United States of America

Hard To Believe

The Daily Star reported this article of a 16 year old Bangladesh girl who was raped and is now pregnant was sentenced by the village Muslim elders to 101 lashes and received them. The rapist was not given any sentence as he was from another village.

The Daily Star is an on-line daily Bangladesh newspaper in English.

A Shoe For Gov. Markell

The News Journal reported that Union protesters threw shoes at legislative hall today in protest. Gov. Markell had to climb up on a vehicle and speak to them thru a megahorn and the police were called in to get them to disburse. They were protesting unemployment in the construction field. As a child of the 50's and 60's there is nothing better than a shoe throwing protest. If you go to the online version of this article beware as there is a popup called vibrant that gives additional information on subjects. It locks my computer up and is making looking at the online News Journal dangerous and not worth the time. The comments to the article are always interesting - as usual they degenerate down to name calling etc

Howard Johnson's - Salisbury - 1958

1967 Astronauts Die In Fire

On January 27th 1967 a flash fire occurred in the command module of the Apollo/Saturn space vehicle and three astronauts, Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, Lt. Col. Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chaffee died in this fire. The cause of the fire was never determined but it was felt it was caused by a momentary power failure followed by several arcs but no single ignition source of the fire was conclusively identified. Numerous Memorials, Schools, Streets, Planetariums, hospitals, stars, and postage stamps have been named for these three astronauts and most school children have no idea who they were.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Born Today

Today in 1756 Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart was born and gave the world music.

Commercial Real Estate in Delmar Delaware

I was looking at some of the commercial properties for sale in Delmar Delaware this morning and see Building Blocks Daycare ($895,000)and the Old Bread Company building ($695,000) has been added to the list. Both could be used as a casino, poker parlor, strip club etc.

Lack Of Money Doesn't Stop The Giving


Sussex County grants $5,000 for Haiti relief

Georgetown, Del., Jan. 26, 2010: Sussex County is extending a helping hand to those affected by the earthquake in Haiti.

County Council, at its Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010, meeting, approved a $5,000 grant for disaster relief efforts in the earthquake-stricken nation, where thousands have died, many remain missing, and others struggle to recover.

“This is such an overwhelming disaster that we all have to do what we can, give what we can, whether it’s a little or a lot,” County Council Vice President Michael H. Vincent said. “Even though times are very tight for all of us today, we must rise to the occasion and support those who need our help now more than ever.”

The earthquake hit the Caribbean island nation Jan. 12, registering 7.0 on the Richter scale. Government officials and humanitarian organizations believe as many as 200,000 died in the quake, which devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

Lending aid to communities and nations suffering major disasters is nothing new for Sussex County. The Council has given grants to previous recovery efforts, including, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Indonesian tsunami in 2004, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The County will direct the funds to appropriate relief organizations to provide victims with basic supplies, including water, food and medicine as well as tents, blankets, and other necessities.

We've Got money - almost


Sussex County deficit in 2009 far less severe than once projected, audit shows

Georgetown, Del., Jan. 26, 2010: An independent audit shows Sussex County ended the 2009 budget year in better financial shape than what had been forecast earlier in the year, thanks largely to sweeping reductions that narrowed the multi-million-dollar gap between expenditures and revenues.

Sussex County Council, at its Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010, meeting, accepted the Audited Financial Statements for Fiscal Year 2009 from Jefferson, Urian, Doane & Sterner, P.A., Certified Public Accountants. The auditors released an unqualified report noting that the financial statements “present fairly, in all material respects, the respective financial position” of Sussex County as of June 30, 2009.

The audit report is presented annually to detail the County government’s finances in the previous fiscal year. The latest report shows Sussex County’s financial numbers are accurate and meet generally accepted accounting standards.

For Fiscal 2009, Sussex County ended the budget year with a $1.9 million deficit, the third in as many years, the audit shows. Yet, that’s actually better-than-expected financial news compared with what loomed a year ago.

In January 2009, the midpoint of the fiscal year, the County was faced with a nearly $8 million shortfall for the remainder of the 2009 fiscal year. To counter that, County Council approved numerous reductions, including suspending capital projects, parking County vehicles, not filling vacant positions and freezing non-essential overtime, all of which eventually helped pare the deficit by about 75 percent.

“You never want to operate in the red, but looking at the positive side, this is the smallest of the deficits we’ve experienced in the past three years,” County Finance Director Susan M. Webb said. “And, just as important to note, it’s much better than what we could have been left with had the County not taken immediate action last year. Hopefully the County is turning the corner to better financial days.”

The report shows the continuing effects of the slumping economy, particularly in the housing sector. One of the most significant sources of revenue for the County’s general fund in recent years, the realty transfer tax, continued its downward slide, netting $13.6 million, a decrease of $7 million, or 34 percent, from Fiscal 2008.

County leaders were not entirely surprised by that decrease, though, as they conservatively budgeted $17.9 million for realty transfer tax. Other related revenues, including fees collected through the Recorder of Deeds office, building permits and building inspections, also declined by a total of about $2 million, or 21 percent, from the previous year.

County Administrator David B. Baker said the report reflects many tough choices and plenty of hard work during the past year. “Our staff deserves thanks for their incredible effort in the past year to trim spending,” Mr. Baker said. “And we’re going to continue those efforts as we go through 2010 and as we look ahead to the 2011 budget.”

Meantime, the current budget year is showing some signs of progress. After outlining the audit Tuesday, Ms. Webb also issued a mid-year financial report for Fiscal 2010 that shows modest budget gains are being made. For the six months that ended Dec. 31, the County is up $500,000 in revenue over budgeted expenditures.

Council President Vance C. Phillips said the audit and the latest quarterly figures highlight the magnitude of what has been achieved in the past year. Mr. Phillips said both reports should give taxpayers confidence in the financial health of the County government and how their money is being managed.

“Beginning with the new council that took office one year ago, the timely manner in which the administration is now providing critical financial information to the council and public has allowed everyone to understand the magnitude of our crisis and take immediate and decisive action,” Council President Vance C. Phillips said. “Today we are seeing the fruits of this labor.”

Sussex County will submit the 2009 audit report to the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for consideration of its Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting award. The County has received the award the past seven years. Ms. Webb said she is optimistic the County will receive the same recognition for the Fiscal 2009 audit report.

The complete report and other information will be available on the County’s Web site at

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Bargain Bill Auction

I stopped by the new auction at Bargain Bill's Fleamarket today. It is at 1 PM each Tuesday.

This is the first time so there was not a large crowd there, maybe 50 people. It was also cold. Part of it is outside and part is in inside

With all the rain I had expected the place to be knee deep in water but it wasn't too bad. A couple places had some standing water but otherwise it was dry. I think it will turn into a good auction. I will just have to remember it is on Tuesday afternoon. The auctioneer said he accepted consignments on Monday until 3 PM and on Tuesday morning.

Albert E. Brown and Bro - Sailmaker -1937

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Delmar Joint Council Meeting for January

The Delmar Delaware and Maryland Joint Council had their meeting tonight - all elected officials were present.

Dr. David Ring and Tom Luffman were sworn onto the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Frankly the town meetings are at best boring and I found tonight's to be even more so. The only thing of any significant was Dr. David Ring telling the council that the Delmar Elementary school would not be included in the Wicomico County re-districting. In order to achieve this he had to say he would accept the fifth grade into Delmar middle school (provided the state of Delaware supplies the funding).

Meeting over with at 8:30 PM.

Pre Valentine Day Breakfast

Casino Contributions

I read today in the News Journal about how many Delaware lawmakers accepted a campaign contribution (more than half of the General Assembly) from the casino at Delaware Park via it's political action committee Delaware Racing Association.

William Fasy, chief operating officer at Delaware Park, said the casino donates the maximum to any lawmaker who will accept it as frequently as the law allows. Those gifts have nothing to do with pending legislation, he said.
"We donate to campaigns because we understand the difficult jobs legislators face and believe it is the right thing to do," Fasy said. "We don't expect anything in return."

Fasy said it was a coincidence that a dozen House members received donations in March and April. He said checks were cut then because the casino had held group fundraisers or because they audited their books at that time and determined those lawmakers had not yet received donations.

Clifford "Biff" Lee was the only one from our district to receive the max. contribution of $600 in 2009.

Football Fundraiser Wednesday

On Wednesday Jan. 27,2010 at 6:30pm in the auditorium the Delmar High School football team will have a fundraiser for the cost of the state championship rings. The state championship game film will be shown along with a highlight film of the entire season. After the film players and parents will have the opportunity to ask questions about the game along with different related topics to the entire coaching staff. The price of admission will be any amount you are willing to donate.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sam's Club layoff

This morning at 8 AM Sam's Club laidoff over 11,200 employees nationwide. Employees at the Salisbury Sam's Club were included in this layoff. The layoff consisted of workers who demonstrate products in its Sam’s Club stores and membership recruiting jobs. The demo job is now outsourced to Shopper Events. I have always thought it was odd that Sam's Club employed their own people to do food demonstrations as most other companies outsource that type of thing. Of course the company whose food they are serving as samples pay Sam's Club to do that. I guess I don't have to think about that anymore.

Northwood Bar 1960