Posts Tagged ‘Delaware’

Sen. Thurman Adams dies

June 23, 2009
Sen. Thurman Adams

Sen. Thurman Adams

Sen. Thurman Adams, a popular Bridgeville legislator and one of the most powerful leaders in Delaware, died at about 9 a.m., Tuesday, June 23. Adams is also Senate president pro tempore. House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said, “The state has lost and elder statesman, and I lost a friend.

He said Adams’ record speaks for itself. “He was one of the most powerful people in the state of Delaware. We didn’t always agree, but he was straight with me. I could walk into his office anytime and talk about anything. I will always cherish his friendship,” said Schwartzkopf.

Not only has the news shocked many Democratic leaders, it’s also sending the Senate into a tailspin, as legislators scurry to replace its leader.

Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Wilmington, said little information was given about his illness. She also said she believes the Senate will meet today, Tuesday, June 23, to determine a course of action without the Senate’s most senior leader.

“That’s a shock. The Senate leadership was getting conflicting information: he’s doing great; he’s not doing so well,” she said.

“Obviously, it leaves a huge whole. He was a gentleman, but he was a force,” said Peterson. Peterson said she heard Adams was dehydrated and when he was rehydrated, his coumadin levels shot up. She also said Adams had severe stomach problems.

“Here we are in the last four days of session without a pro tempore. For session purposes, the position needs to be filled. You hate to jump in there but we need to decide quickly. I imagine this will be the first order of business on the Senate agenda,” Peterson said. “I’m just shocked. He’s worked in the trenches a long time.”

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No pay cuts?

June 21, 2009

I am frustrated with Delaware state employees – and reluctant General Assembly members’ inability to pass state pay cuts at 2.5 percent. As I’ve written before, 34 states have introduced or passed state employee pay cuts. In Hawaii, about 15,000 employees had to accept a 16 percent pay cut and Delaware is looking at 2.5 percent. Would Delaware employees rather have layoffs?

House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, said if the pay cuts are not approved, it will result in layoffs for 500 workers. Perhaps that’s the way to go? It’s a heck of a lot easier to anger 500 people rather than 32,000. As House members seek re-election, pay cuts become a central platform – and potential barrier to re-election. Schwartzkopf also pointedout that House members are elected every two years and are less insulated than Senate members, who serve four-year terms, where one-third of Senate members face re-election

In the private sector, pay cuts have been issued, along with layoffs. At the Cape Gazette, employees have not seen pay raises in two years. The paper also laid off six employees last December. Clearly, the news business is facing its own battle with survival. But, I think pay cuts and layoffs are common at other private ventures.

I think state workers need to buck up to the plate.

Sussex lawmakers show no support for new racino

April 27, 2009

DOWNSTATE legislators at a Monday, April 27, press conference, spoke out against a proposed Millsboro racino.

Rep. Biff Lee, R-Laurel, and House Minority Whip Danny Short, R-Seaford, say they oppose any new racinos in Delaware. As legislature reconvenes Tuesday, April 28, they also say all bets are off for a proposed casino and family resort in Millsboro: Del Pointe Resort & Racino.

Lee, who voted against releasing the measure from the House Gaming & Parimutuel Committee, said if Del Pointe developers want to put in a racetrack that’s fine, but he said there’s not enough slot players in the state to merit building another gambling venue. He also said he voted against a substitute measure for expanded gambling because “there’s too much stuff in that bill.” He said a simple sports-betting bill would easily pass in the House.

As for the jobs the Del Pointe project might bring, Lee said, “If it runs some places out of business what good is it?”

He said legislators in Maryland are also struggling with whether to allow slots.
Short said the proposed resort and expanded gambling bill are both dead in the water.

“At this point, Del Pointe is being put off. I need to know economically what the financial impact is going to be compared to the rest of the gaming industry,” said Short.

Short favors a study to determine if demand would support another racino. “I think it’s good business to have the impact study. You can’t make these decisions in a vacuum,” he said.

Is the Legislature already gambling with open meetings?

April 16, 2009

IN MARCH, the House passed a bill that allows the public to access General Assembly meetings – except for those held in caucus. While the measure sits in a Senate committee, House lawmakers already met behind closed doors on April 7 for a House Gaming and Parimutuels Committee meeting, led by Chairman John Viola, D-Newark. House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, attended this meeting but later said he should’ve used better judgment. He said he thought the meeting was just Dems only.

He said only after he entered the closed-door session did he realize the meeting consisted of Republicans and Democrats – clearly not just one caucus.

He also said he if he hadn’t met with members of the gaming committee, they would have tabled voting on releasing a substitute gaming measure.

“When Viola called for a 5-minute recess I didn’t know what he was doing. It probably shouldn’t have been done. Nobody knew what Viola was doing. If I would not have agreed to meet them, they probably would’ve tabled the committee,” said Schwartzkopf. Instead, the gaming committee released the substitute measure on a 5-4 vote.

Speaker of the House Bob Gilligan, D-Wilmington, said he wouldn’t suspend Viola for not abiding by House rules. Said Schwartzkopf, “Lesson learned. It looked bad. I wouldn’t do it again.”