Letters to the Editor — Sept. 15, 2017

Date Published: 
Sept. 15, 2017

Reader proud of Operation SEAs the Day


We were minding our own business, driving east on 54 last Friday, when first we noticed all the pedestrians waving flags, and then we saw strobing police lights and heard the horns. All the cars stopped as the parade came towards us. We soon realized it had to do with SEAs the Day.

We were astonished at all the motorcycles, old jeeps and police and fire department vehicles that were part of the escort to Bayside. Everyone was waving and honking, but when we saw the military children hanging out of the buses, waving flags at us, it brought tears to my eyes.

I am so thankful that, by happenstance, we were on Route 54 to see the parade, because I will never forget it. As the wife of a retired military officer, I was proud to be part of something so special for these families who have been given a vacation from their troubles. Thank you to everyone who gives their time, money and support to SEAs the Day.

Lisa Einsel


Reader says the silence is deafening


The acts of heroism, resilience and perseverance of Americans hit by Harvey are heartening evidence that the things we allow to divide us in our daily life become irrelevant in crises. These blessedly normal human responses are both self- and group-beneficial. We do things best when we work together.

From the perspective of someone not directly impacted by these monster storms, local and federal response seems to be well-coordinated. Congress did the right thing and allocated monies to help with cleanup and restoration. The wearisome, missing piece is that neither major cable news nor the Administration are connecting the dots between the increased severity of storms and climate change.

Climate change is real. Climate change is now. The earth’s natural and cyclic changes do not explain the weather patterns we are now experiencing. Global temperatures are rising. All of the earth’s land and water surfaces are warming. Global temperatures have been recorded for 137 years; 2016 was the hottest year on record. Of the 17 hottest years ever recorded, 16 have occurred since 2000.

Ninety-seven percent of the world’s climate scientists agree that human activity related to the burning of fossil fuels, which spew millions of tons (110 million tons every 24 hours!) of heat-trapping gasses into the air, is a primary factor in the warming. The rapidity with which the heating is occurring is overriding the earth’s natural ability to adjust and heal. We are not being good stewards of this magnificent planet on which we live. We can do better.

No one is suggesting that one hurricane or other major storm event is the result of global warming and climate change. Such a conclusion will come only from years of experience and scientific research. But we do know enough about water and wind properties to understand how warmer water and land masses affect storm characteristics.

Warmer air absorbs more water, which feeds more rain into storms. As the seas become warmer, the heat (energy) powers fiercer hurricanes and tornados. A warmer climate amplifies the impact of storm surges from hurricanes by pushing more water farther onto shorelines. That water doesn’t just come in and go out, but accumulates and stays, like a tide, until it covers large areas of land.

The Trump administration has made every effort to silence references to climate change in websites and educational materials. Scientists in federal agencies working on climate change projects have been reassigned. Virtually every major EPA initiative related to environmental and public health safeguards have been delayed or reversed. Word has gone out from the White House that public information releases are to avoid using the phrase “climate change.”

The Centers for Disease Control quietly pulled out of hosting the 2017 American Public Health Association meeting in February. The focus of this year’s meeting… “Climate Change & Public Health.” America has pulled out of the 2015 Paris Agreement. We now stand with Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries in the world which have not committed to national efforts to mitigate and slow climate change. The administration has gone out of its way to nominate climate-change deniers in powerful positions with authority to set policy.

None of this makes us stronger or safer. It makes us weaker and less safe. It cripples economic growth. It deprives the world of American leadership on this critical issue. It paves the way for China to take the lead, which it has wasted no time doing.

Patricia Frey


Bipartisan House group urges protection of CHIP

Editor’s note: The following letter from the Health Committee of the Delaware House of Representatives was addressed to U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (all D-Del.), and was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

We often talk about how critical it is to invest in our future generations, to prepare them so they can pursue productive, successful lives and advance our society as the whole. Access to quality, sometimes lifesaving healthcare for our children is a vital part of that investment. A healthy child is more productive in school, at home and in all aspects of life.

Children should not be frivolous pawns in the budget and political negotiation process. Nor should ensuring their health be a partisan issue.

That’s why we, members of the Delaware House Health & Human Development Committee, write to you on behalf of the thousands of Delaware children and their families who depend on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a program that could be tragically upended without action by Sept. 30. It’s a program that has provided much solace and security to lower-income families as they grapple with emergency treatment, life-altering diagnoses and the everyday health needs from a flu shot to cold medication.

There is much uncertainty when it comes to budget planning, but for the nearly 10,000 Delaware kids and nearly 9 million lower-income children nationwide who depend on CHIP, there is no question — this program is needed and necessary to their livelihoods. It helps families not be forced to decide whether to pay for groceries or medication and basic treatment. It gives parents a sense of security and peace in knowing that coverage is in place when a need for care arises.

Delaware is in the process of reforming its healthcare system, but it is not prudent or responsible to limit access as we move forward. Without an extension by Congress, a federal policy commission estimates that CHIP funding could be exhausted in the state by February 2018 (https://www.macpac.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Federal-CHIP-Funding_W...).

We acknowledge that Congress has many difficult decisions to make through the end of the year. However, this is one decision that should not be gambled or left to early-morning debates. Lives could very literally be at stake. We urge you to take action to extend and fully fund CHIP so that Delaware children and children throughout our country will have the security and healthcare access they need.

David S. Bentz, Health Committee Chair

Debra Heffernan, Health Committee Vice-Chair

Health Committee members Reps. Paul S. Baumbach, Earl G. Jaques, John A. Kowalko, Sean M. Lynn, Sean Matthews, Edward S. Osienski, Kimberly A. Williams, Ruth Briggs King, Kevin S. Hensley, Harvey R. Kenton, Joseph E. Miro and Lyndon D. Yearick

Reader weighs in on monument talk


Although it was not intended, we owe thanks to the Sussex County branch of the NAACP for drawing public attention to the monument commemorating soldiers and civilians who served the Confederate cause prior to and during the Civil War.

The monument, situated behind the carriage barn of the Marvel Museum, is an obelisk bordered on one side by two large stones which have names inscribed as on the obelisk. Two flag poles, one for the American flag and the other with a Confederate, complete the picture. A plaque gives credit for the monument to the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Delaware Grays.

I’ve never heard anyone complain about the bucolic, pleasant setting of the Gettysburg Battlefield, and there is no question that the Georgetown monument in any way suffers with its setting with a view of the farmland framed by a white railing fence. It is truly a rural setting for a monument recalling a rural agricultural past.

Names inscribed on the obelisk and accompanying stones give evidence of strong support for the Southern cause of secession, especially in the central and western portions of the county.

For Georgetown, we find the names of two of the crew members of the famed and feared sea raider, the CSS Alabama. One is Russell Baker Hobbs, quartermaster, whose gravesite can be found in a Georgetown cemetery and whose collateral descendants continue to live in Georgetown. The other is David Henry White, crewman. Another is that of the young Capt. Caleb R. Paynter, who was to play a prominent role in post-war Sussex County.

Seaford, near the head of the Nanticoke River, was well-represented. Four have the surname Martin and two with the name Horsey. Other single names are Bradley, Allen, Price, Hessey, Messick, Marvill and Vickers. Other notables from Seaford include a Confederate sympathizer from Delaware, former Gov. William H. Ross, whose home and plantation were just north of Seaford. Also inscribed is that of Caleb Ross, private, 9th Virginia Cavalry, a son of former Gov. Ross.

Seaford sympathizers included men of the cloth with that of John L. Gray of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. An especially prominent inscribed name is that of Leonidas Polk, lieutenant general of the Trans-Mississippi Army, the portion of the Confederacy west of the Mississippi River. Georgetown Historic Society President Jim Bowden suggests that Polk’s name is among those who attended the Seaford Academy.

Laurel, located on the Broad Creek flowing into the Nanticoke River, has six entries, with names Giles, Hearn, Bell, Cooper, Palmer and Collins. Pre-war Kent County sheriff and post-war Delaware congressman William Atkinson is listed as a sympathizer, as is Thomas F. Bayard, son of war-time U.S. Sen. James A. Bayard.

Evidently, the post-war political careers of U.S. Sens. Bayard and Willard Saulsbury did not suffer from their sympathy for Southern secession. Indeed, this writer knows from other sources that both men were among the Northern Peace Democrats who held that the Southern states should not be coerced into staying in the Union. It is of interest that Saulsbury made his home in Georgetown, at the southeast corner of Pine and Front streets.

One scrutinizing the hundred or so names finds none from Lewes. Another Atlantic seashore town similar to a situation like that of Lewes was Chincoteague, Va. It was the only town of Virginia that did not vote for secession. Could the two towns, less dependent on agriculture and vulnerable from sea, have seen their prospects in a similar light?

Georgetown’s Confederate monument is a valuable learning tool for visitors and children. The break-up and even Balkanization of our great American country is always a potent threat. At least in this instance it did not succeed.

William McCauley


Is this Delaware’s idea of ‘shared sacrifice’?


In the Great Budget Reset of 2017, the legislature and the administration of our state made two decisions. One was to end the estate tax, protecting inherited wealth, and the other was to end the state prescription assistance program, which aided low-income seniors and disabled Delawareans with drug costs.

The justification for eliminating the estate tax was that it didn’t really raise that much revenue for the state — $9 million one year, 1.3 another. As for the state prescription assistance program, the governor and his supporters argued that it wasn’t really necessary for recipients — they could get discounts and rebates for their drugs from drug makers, and cutting the program would save the state about $2 million a year.

Now, as of Aug. 31, around 3,500 people in our state have lost help with their drug costs. The program paid their drug coverage premiums and deductibles, helped with copays and coinsurances, and chipped in if they went into the infamous donut hole, during which the beneficiary pays more out of pocket for drugs.

For the remaining months of 2017 and beyond, these folks have to find the money to pay their premiums and deductibles, in addition to copays and coinsurances. The governor and our legislators said that would represent no real problem for these citizens. Just get a rebate or a discount from the drug company.

Most drugs don’t have rebates or discounts available. You will need to go through your drug list, identify the manufacturers of each drug, search the website of each manufacturer to find if any assistance is available for your specific drug, and then make separate applications for every drug for which an assistance program exists. The eligibility rules and the application process will be different for every rebate and discount program. Furthermore, no drug maker will provide premium and deductible assistance.

The state prescription assistance program filled a real need. The people using it were living on an income between a bit more than $16,000 to $24,000 a year in 2017. That amount makes them ineligible for federal assistance with drug plan premiums, deductibles and copays. The people benefiting from this program are the elderly and the disabled. They’re not users or abusers of the system. They’ve worked, paid taxes, raised families. Now, in their time of need, why are they being required to “share the pain” of the budget reset?

For the former estate tax to kick in, you had to have at least $5.49 million in inherited wealth. The legislature voted to protect wealthy families when our representatives and senators voted to abolish the estate tax. When they voted to cut the state drug assistance program, they showed a deep unconcern for the beneficiaries and their families.

The governor’s budget recommendations claims the people losing state prescription assistance would be able to substitute rebates and discounts from for-profit drug makers, but the State has no plans take sure that actually happens. The people who are being cut off are effectively being abandoned.

The inheritance tax was attacked as a “death tax.” But levying a tax on inherited wealth of more than $5.49 million wouldn’t kill anyone. Cutting off financial assistance for life-saving drugs really can hasten people’s deaths. Some children will get to inherit their parents’ and grandparents’ wealth without being taxed by the State; other children will have to watch their parents and grandparents struggle to pay for their insulin and inhalers.

Deb Schultz


New councilman greets our readers


As you probably know, the Town of Bethany Beach will not hold an election this year for town council. Three seats were eligible for election, and only three candidates filed by the July deadline. Two incumbents choose to run for re-election, Joe Healy and Jerry Morris. I was the third candidate.

My name is Patrick Sheplee. Since I didn’t have an opportunity during the campaign, I would like to introduce myself to the residents of Bethany Beach (and anyone else who might be interested).

My wife, Karen and I just celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary. We live full time in Columbia, Md. We have three grown children and five grandchildren. All of them spend time in Bethany every year. We have owned our house in Lake Bethany since 2000 and spend as much time here during the year as possible.

I am a graduate of the University of Maryland and a CPA. I have spent my career in both public practice and the private sector. I am the treasurer for our local homeowner’s association here in Lake Bethany. I have been active in the town government for the past five years. I have served as chairman of the Bethany Beach Audit Committee and am a member of the Charter & Ordinance Review Committee and the 4th of July Parade Committee. I have volunteered for several years to help with the Beach & Bay Cottage Tour, as well as the Operation SEAs the Day activities.

My interest in running for a council seat this year is due to my desire to get even more involved in Bethany Beach’s policies. I love this town. I have seen firsthand how the council operates and deals with issues, and I would like to continue that effort. I believe my primary objective will be to keep the town the family-friendly, quiet resort that we have all come to love, while staying alert to our changing world. I am fiscally conservative and believe that we must remain on a solid financial footing.

I feel strongly that all opinions need to be heard and can assure all the residents of Bethany Beach that I will listen to your concerns, questions and suggestions. I may not agree with you, but I will listen to you. I will take your thoughts into consideration before making any vote.

I encourage you to contact me on issues that are important to you. I can be reached by mail at P.O. Box 115, Bethany Beach, DE 19930, by email at psheplee@townofbethanybeach.com, or by phone at (301) 806-5030. I look forward to serving all the residents of Bethany Beach to the best of my ability.

Patrick Sheplee

Bethany Beach