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July 31, 2012     Cape Gazette
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Cape Gazette VIEWPOINTS TUESDAY, JULY 31- THURSDAY AUGUST 2. 2012 7 Letters >> Continued from page 6 (6) How can it justify its pro- posed new mosquito control poli- cy that ends 20 years of effective partnership with the state and that potentially have a major qual- ity of life (and perhaps health) im- pact on bay communities as well as inland communities like close- by - as the saltwater mosquitoes fly - Milton and Milford? Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Gov. lack Markell just weeks ago at Slaughter Beach cel- ebrated their joint vision of the Delaware Bayshore Initiative. That vision, encompassing some 200,000 acres, includes the Prime Hook and Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuges. In order for the Bayshore Initiative to be success- ful, CCP management plans for both refuges must be completed this year and done right. You can't have one without the other. To achieve this, a new paradigm of seamless collaboration, shared and sufficient resources, and a higher level of honest engagement and outreach to the public is going to be essential. The public will look to the state to ensure that its federal partner lives up to the promise of the Bayshore Initiative. There will be no better measure of commitment to this initiative than how well the state and its congressional delega- tion hold the Fish and Wildlife Service accountable for develop- ing a final CCP for the Prime Hook refuge that is both compli- ant to its mandate while respon- sive and responsible in meeting the legitimate interests of its neighbors. The state should begin speaking out on all the issues in play with the Prime Hook CCP. It has made an excellent start in publicly chal- lenging the service's proposed mosquito policy. Let's see it continue with that challenge and now step up on all the other issues. Richard S, Allan Prime Hook Beach 6overnment must do right at Prime Hook My wife and I live on Shore Drive in Prime Hook Beach. We bought our house 10 years ago when Units 2 and 3 were freshwa- ter and beautifully lined with many deciduous trees and with pink/white marshmallow and cat- tail plants along with ducks and other waterfOwl; that is, before it became open water lined with skeletons. See this video on YouTube as the this beauty no longer exists: http://www outube.com/watch?v =axLblllnnuM .... These were the units the refuge had sustained for years, which ex- isted in harmony with the grow- ing community of homes at the end of Prune Hook Beach Road and its neighboring farmers to the west. When the refuge was estab- fished in 1963, a press release from the Department of Interior stated the following: "In explaining the Department of Interiors' plans for the preservation of the Primehook marshes, John Gottschalk, [direc- tor of the Northeast Region] said 'the severe storms of the recent years have shown that this barrier beach can be breached so as to flood the marshes with saltwater. Front Street and Savannah Road in Lewes140 years ago PHOTO COURTESY OF LEWES HISTORICAL SOCIETY/LEWES STUDY-GEORGE NOCITO COLLECTION THE INTER$ECTBON OF FRONT STREET and Savannah Road in Lewes has changed dramatically in the past 40 years. The Graves Building has replaced the former Wes's Harbor House on the corner (check out the price of gas back then); the 1812 Park parking area looks entirely different, and the view down the street then included the landmark Lou lanire's Restaurant, which has long since been converted to the Inn at Canal Square. Lewes Historical Society Executive Director Mike DiPaolo explained the George Nocito Collection of photographs: "The George Nocito Collection-Lewes is a unique resource that documents Lewes' architectural, historic, and natural resources between 1972 and 1974. Dr. Noc- ito (a professor of art at the University of Delaware) saw an opportunity to incorporate his interests in Urban aesthetics with a real problem being faced by Lewes in the 1960s and 1970s- how to welcome economic development without sac- rificing the aesthetic beauty that Lewes held. It is a question that Lewes is still grappling with:today, but through the lens of George Nocito, Lewes has both saved and irretrievably lost much of its architectural and natural heritage. And, as his- tory often teaches us, we realize that we are not the first generation to face such choices." If left unprotected, these inva- sions of saltwater would damage the dikes and rum the impound- ments of freshwater which are so necessary for waterfowl manage- as a protection against storm ment. Therefore, we plan to stabi- tides.'"' lize and maintain these barrier Moreover, the mission state- beaches at their optimum height Continued on page 8 efore taking his oath of office as president of the United States, George Washington wrote, "I should consiter myself as entering upon an unexplored field, enveloped on every side with clouds and darkness." What an odd comment, I thought. Yes, he was the first president of a brand-new nation, but at least he had the Constitu- tion as a guide. And he had to know exactly what the Founding Fathers meant when they outlined the powers of the office, because he was there. He had presided over the Constitutional Convention only two years before. But as Ron Cheruow makes clear in his superb biography, "Washington: A Life," the first president had good reason for trepidation. While the Constitution was clear in some areas - the presi- dent was commander in chief of the Army and the Navy, he could appoint ambassadors and Supreme Court judges - it was vague on details. (Among Washington's more unheralded achievements was how well he made the presiden- cy work in practice. Not that it was a smooth ride. Far from it.) Cheruow even recounts an episode where Washington asked Madison what a portion of the Constitution meant. How extraordinary! The men who produced the Constitution weren't always sure themselves what it meant, and they often ar- gued about it. Compare that to today's politi- cians (and yes, I'm getting to a local, modern political point). SheriffJeff Christopher and his supporters invariably cite the Delaware Constitution as the source for his claim to full police powers. Please. Here's what the state Consti- tution says about the office of sheriff. It describes the sheriff as a "conservator of the peace." That's it. The U.S. Constitution may be hazy about the scope ofpresi- dential powers, but compared to the Delaware Constitution's treatment of the sheriff's role, it's a detailed job description. (The phrase "conservator of the peace" has been used to de- scribe a variety of officials and has never been defined.) This doesn't bother Christo- pher. Unlike Washington, he be- trays no hesitancy in asserting his powers. My point is not that the state constitution prohibits the sheriff from becoming the chief law en- forcement officer of the county. It's that people who want the sheriff to assume that role have to make the case for it. They have to persuade the citizens that it's in their interest to, in ef- fect, create a county police force. According to a county report, creating a 100-person police force - much smaller than New Castle County's 400-person de- partment - would cost nearly $14 million and result in a 100 per- cent tax increase. Who wants that? My guess is, nobody. But if you want a county po- lice force, that's the case you have to make. Merely invoking the state constitution and as- suming your opponents have to bend to your will doesn't cut it. Sheriff's charge of political retalia- tion doesn't hold water On the subject of the sheriff, I wanted to return briefly to the hearing for Sheriff Deputy Is- mael Torres Jr., whom the coun- ty terminated for falsifying his daily log to qualify for overtime pay. Among the side issues at Tor- res's hearing was a serious charge: Sheriff Christopher said that because he had bucked the county government, Administra- tor Todd Lawson had retaliated by not replacing two. departing deputies, thus jeopardizing the timely delivery of important court documents. It certainly sounded plausible - political payback, the oldest story in the book. But one of the more arresting = so to speak- exchanges of the hearing provides a different ex- planation. Torres's attorney lulieanne Murray had Karen Brew'mgton, Sussex County human resources director, on the stand. Earlier, the county had provid- ed GPS evidence demonstrating that Torres wasn't working as many hours as he claimed. One of the most amazing statistics: During one eight-week period, Torres's car had been left idling for a staggering 143 hours. That adds up to more than three and a half40-hour workweeks. And yet, according to testimo- ny, Tones had not been behind schedule delivering court pa- pers. Murray called on Brewington to explain this apparent contra- diction. "If Deputy Tortes is messing around and cheating the county of tinae, how did he stay current [delivering the court documents]?" Brewington said simpls "I can't answer that." She declined to supply the ob- vious explanation, which I will offer here: Tortes was able to keep up with his workload - de- spite working fewer than 40 hours a week - because there wasn't that much work to do. Which means the county had no reason to replace the deputies until it was clearly nec- essary. Sometimes what appears to be political payback may just be prudent management of taxpay- er money, Don Flood is a former newspaper editor who lives near Lewes. He can be reached at floodpolitics@gmail.com.