Author: Guest Columnist Jim Angus, DCRAC Volunteer attorney
At bottom, Delaware is becoming an increasingly hostile environment for both its residents and quality of life. And what makes this so scary is that, without exception, political affiliation and level of elected position (congressional representative or senator, governor, attorney general, state senator, state representative and county councils) render the same consistent tone-deaf reply to a population that asks government to do what only government can do, i.e. provide for the general welfare, provide a free public education and protect the citizenry. Many of our elected officials wonder: where can I go that tells me what I am supposed to do? Simple - the Preamble to the State Constitution:
. . . . all people have by nature the rights of . . . enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring and protecting reputation and property, and in general of obtaining objects suitable to their condition, without injury by one to another; and as these rights are essential to their welfare, for due exercise thereof, power is inherent in them; and therefore all just authority in the institutions of political society is derived from the people, and established with their consent, to advance their happiness; and they may for this end, as circumstances require, from time to time, alter their Constitution of government.
Now down here in Sussex County we have a County Council that is oblivious to demographic trends. About 14 people a day move into Sussex County and have been doing so for over 8 years, roughly 41,000 people, rain or shine, and they are greeted by an infrastructure typified by 1950s nostalgia: in roads with ditches for shoulders and telephone poles for guardrails, in fire and police protection guaranteed to arrive at a second scene in 45 minutes, in overcrowded schools with no relief or adequate budget in sight, and the list goes on. Confront our County Council or local state representatives with this reality and blame is heaped on the other buggers: that nasty DELDOT, that mean state legislature, etc. Nary one will acknowledge the County’s tsunamic approval of building permits and zoning changes over the last 10 years as the culprit. In the face of this emerging catastrophe, with the exception of Mr. Cole, our county council members stare into the distance, emotionless and mute as if emulating Easter Island Moai.
The latest embarrassment to community living in Delaware is that clean water is not a resident’s right. Ask 50 Delawareans on the street how important clean water is to them and you should get a positive response by 90%. In Dover, the case for clean water can’t even get out of bed and tie its shoes. Our riches of elected officials seem content to relegate the demand for clean water to the dustbin of PTA revenue generation. In Sussex County, if you have a septic system and/or a well for water, you had better get busy with Sunday bake-sales if you hope ever to get access to treated water and sewer.
Easter Island was settled by a Polynesian seafarers who sailed great distances even by today’s standards. After settling Easter Island, the core of their craft was the availability of enormous trees ripe for ship building. And yet, when Easter Island was discovered by Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen on Easter Sunday in 1722, not one large tree remained on the island with which to build a sea-worthy vessel. What were Easter Islanders thinking when they felled the last 50 foot tree?
Delaware had better find leaders with vision and courage soon or the tourist traffic will babble about the “Delaware revenge” if one drinks the water, the biological dangers of swimming at our beaches and that “catch and release” is not a conservation adage but a warning to eat your catch at your own risk. And we all know how disappointed our private businesses would be if that were to occur!
To all our legislators, rise to the issue of clean water, put people first, Pass HR 270 and perhaps a snippet of wisdom will migrate to the stoic gazers of the Sussex County Council.