The filing deadline for the mayoral position in Ocean View has come and gone, and incumbent Mayor Walter Curran was the only one to throw his hat into the ring.
We’ve heard two predominant theories on why people don’t apply to run for local seats: The first is that people simply don’t care enough about what’s going on around them to get involved, and the second is that people are pretty happy with what’s going on around them and don’t feel a need to rock the boat.
Judging by the often-cantankerous climate in Ocean View in the past, we’re going to go ahead and guess that people are pretty satisfied with the status quo.
This is not to say the town doesn’t have its issues. They are in the process of crafting a new budget, and recently approved a salary survey. That survey revealed that Town employees should see a bump in their salaries, which we could probably say about nearly every professional path in the country, but that’s a hard thing to digest during budget-planning season. There are also the oft-discussed issues of sidewalks and drainage that never really go away in many of our towns. There’s a big ocean, a river, canal and some bays that factor into those issues.
But, all in all, things have gone fairly smoothly in Ocean View over recent years, and one could argue that consistency in leadership with the last two mayors is a reason for that. In Curran’s case, it can be opined that things are going well because he often assumes a leadership role in town council meetings, keeping meetings on topic and giving council members an opportunity to weigh in on all matters. A council that feels engaged and respected is often more excited and enthusiastic.
Doesn’t that go for all of us.
We congratulate Walter Curran on his new three-year term as mayor of Ocean View, and wish him and the entire town three years of prosperity, harmony and energy.
Well, this zealot-driven nastiness that has infected the rest of the nation has now infected our cozy little oasis by the shore.
The Indian River School District is holding a current-expense referendum on Thursday, March 2, asking for approximately $100 more a year on people’s property taxes to make up for state budget shortfalls, an expanding student population and, to some extent, what I personally felt was (at the least) gross mismanagement of the District’s money under their former financial czar.
There is one side of the aisle that is screaming we need to do all we can to provide our local students every opportunity to succeed, and to go to school in as safe an environment as we could possibly provide them. The other side is equally vocal, opining that the District can not be trusted with money, that any increase on property taxes is a burden that some people just can’t afford and that an influx of illegal immigrants is what’s causing the problems — a burden that shouldn’t have to be paid for by hardworking taxpayers.
Both sides have interesting arguments, right?
Then why do so many of us have to act like the other side is filled with drooling incompetents who either, a) don’t care about our local children, or, b) want to destroy our quality-of-life? Like so many across these fruited plains, our community has clearly divided into two camps — and if you are on the other side, well, you’re wrong, and should seek an immediate and comprehensive mental examination.
People, we are allowed to have differing opinions. For the love of God, we are human beings. We should have differing opinions. And in this remarkable country we have a right to voice those opinions, to share information in support of those opinions and to enter intelligent discourse with someone of differing opinions. But we consistency waste those rights by not opening our eyes and ears to other thoughts. We demand people think like we do, and we destroy them if we disagree.
We recently received an email from someone who actively participates in a local forum on Facebook. This person had shared his or her opinion on the referendum and the response from individuals on the other side of the argument was an effort to get people together to boycott that person’s business. I watched another person in that forum state an opinion and get labeled a liberal lunatic that just wants to take everybody’s tax dollars and waste them.
When and where did we lose our way?
I am in no way trying to downplay the significance of this referendum. On the contrary, I truly believe it’s a massive issue, and we have run numerous stories on it in our news hole — from the early stages of school board members discussing the need through the first failed attempt last November and multiple informational meetings by the District, to the current status of impending public vote. It’s big, and it’s vital in any democracy, particularly ours, that passionate people on both sides of major issues share the information they have so it is an informed public that takes to the polls.
But passion and hubris often intersect at dangerous points. Knowing in your heart that what you believe is right for you and yours is admirable. Not understanding that other people have different circumstances, backgrounds and opinions, and might have equally-sound reasons for their beliefs, is dangerous and close-minded.
Have you ever changed your opinion on something when new information is presented? I sure have. The designated hitter and asparagus come to mind immediately, as do my personal opinions on national trade and health care. I felt one way, then very differently when I either found more information or stopped dismissing it as another smelly green thing taking away valuable real estate on my plate from more macaroni-and-cheese.
I know how I’m voting in regards to the current-expense referendum. I know because I’ve read countless inches of copy on the issue from our reporter Laura Walter, and because I’ve spoken with people on both sides of the argument. I’ve juggled the fact that I have a young daughter who will be starting with the District in a few years with the notion that I am a fiscal conservative who deplores wasteful spending and increased taxes.
Please, take out the emotion for a moment and really sit down and think about your decision before you vote. Try arguing for the side you believe you oppose and see if your opinion still remains the same after looking at it from all sides. If it does, then feel comfortable and strong going into that polling place. If you notice you have some doubt, go through the exercise again.
And if you are certain you are on the side of righteousness, express your opinions to others and try to rally support. If nothing else, you’ll be better prepared to handle the arguments presented back to you if you have already considered all angles.
But, please, please, please... do so with respect. Otherwise you are just spewing noise.
Letters to the Editor
Teacher argues that kids are the future
“Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.” — Author unknown
As we face a state budget crisis and a critical referendum for Indian River School District students, I want to share my reasons to vote Yes on Thursday, March 2. First though, to those who are disappointed with our district’s recent financial issues: I understand your frustration and won’t make excuses. Money was misspent and mistakes were made. We can’t change the past.
However, the district has taken responsibility for those errors and outlined specific procedures to ensure finances are now secure and transparent to you: our community and biggest supporters. I am confident you will see the results of these strong fiscal policies in coming months, but changes take time to fully implement. Unfortunately, our students can’t wait. As one of the fastest-growing school districts in the state, we need your support now.
More than 10,300 students walk into our classrooms every morning and we, as teachers, take very seriously our responsibility to give them the best possible educational experience. We want to give our students every resource we can to help them prepare for their futures.
I know I speak for many educators when I say I teach because I truly want to make a difference in the lives of children. Yes, they are more than students to us; they are our kids as well. While some will graduate and move away, many others will stay because we love this area and our “Sussex County” way of life.
I’ve had the privilege of living here my entire life, except for my college years. I’ve seen the unwavering support we’ve had from our local families, business owners, retirees, civic organizations and elected officials.
We want to raise our children the same way we grew up: in a small, caring community that supports our children. As a kid I recognized almost every face when grocery shopping at Hocker’s; people still smile and say hello. I can walk into Warren’s Station and see current and former students working where I did 20 years ago. It’s a satisfying experience to see our students “in the real world” learning firsthand the results of hard work.
At Lower Sussex Little League, I see many former classmates coaching and volunteering, but have had the opportunity to meet many other parents who have recently moved to our area for the same reasons I stayed: because we are a close-knit community of people who genuinely care about each other and want the best for future generations.
Over the past 30 years I have seen our community explode with growth. Young families, as well as retirees, are moving here because of our beaches, low taxes and our schools. As a life-long resident of the Ocean View area, I say welcome. We are happy you have decided to call our community your new home.
As a resident, you want to live in an area where you feel safe and secure. You want to be confident that when you go out to dinner, buy groceries or receive treatment at a doctor’s office or hospital that the people who serve you are knowledgeable, professional and respectful. This all starts with our schools.
I have seen the results of our district’s academic excellence in my own life. Sarah worked tirelessly to sell our first home. When Dennis, J.C. and Chris installed the electric and HVAC systems in our new home, they were incredibly efficient. When it comes to women’s health in our area, my former classmate Carrie, a nurse practitioner with Beebe, is a terrific resource.
When my husband and I get a date night, there is no better place to go than my friend Carlie’s restaurant in Fenwick. You need landscaping help? Look no further than Amy, a fellow IR graduate. She knows anything and everything about plants!
Stephanie and Mandi are my daughters’ teachers this year, and I am constantly amazed at the work they produce. More importantly, my children love to go to school every day! Our graduates (past, present and future) are integral to the success of our community.
The Indian River School District is, and has been, doing a lot of things right over the years. Please support our children in the March 2 referendum. A Yes vote is critically important. In my opinion, supporting children is the smartest investment you will ever make!
Betsy Dupont Bare, Teacher
Selbyville Middle School
Bennett weighs in on IRSD referendum
I have lived in this community for 38 years as a business owner. For 20 of those years, I taught elementary school in the Indian River School District. Both of my sons graduated from this district, where they received the best possible education, left for college and returned home to live and work on our family farm. I believe this foundation is what we want for all of our children.
As a teacher, I witnessed firsthand the challenges, opportunities and rewards of meeting the needs of our diverse student population. The point I want to make here is that the success of today’s children is also linked to the success of everyone in this district. They are interdependent. They are one and the same.
For example, many retirees move here because this district enjoys the lowest school property tax rate in Sussex County. These seniors then require a population of service providers to come in as well, to meet the needs of the increasing retirement population. The first question these families will ask prior to relocating is, “How are the schools in this district?”
If the schools are marginal, these families will move to other districts instead, like Cape Henlopen, where a recent school referendum was successfully passed. Ask any Realtor or someone who’s trying to sell their house what impact the quality of the school district can have on the local economy.
This brings me to another important point: Strong schools build strong communities. For the average annual property tax increase of $95, you can ensure the wellbeing and future of our children for less than the average person spends on fast food in a year. Seniors also benefit from a $500 school tax credit in Delaware.
The population of this district is 10,500, growing at a rate of 300 students per year. Without the passage of this referendum, the district would lose 150 teachers and support staff, as well as funding for programs, supplies, technology and school safety. As a former teacher, I can assure you that class sizes of 30 or more are simply an injustice to all of the little kids we see waiting for the school bus each morning.
Let me reiterate:
(1) Seniors in this area will need to rely on a well-trained, compassionate generation of future caregivers.
(2) Growth and development will depend on a strong school district to support our local economy and keep property values high.
(3) Finally, the children of this district are worthy of this investment. Our growing economy needs a well-educated work force to sustain our community and to serve all of its citizens.
Reader asks for proper road planning
In the Friday, Feb. 17, Cape Gazette, in the “Briefly” items, is the easily missed notice that the County Council would be discussing the concept of a Transportation Improvement District (TID).
It is tempting and understandable to want to short-cut the decision process especially when it involves transportation issues. However, this is one time where faster and outside the box is not the answer.
Right now, by every indication, Sussex County is in the midst of serious consideration of the land-use plan update. Meetings have been held, and more planned, involving seeking public input. Any discussion of potential transportation improvement planning must be done within the context of the land-use element and the drafting of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan.
We must recognize the consequences and impact of land use decisions. A supposed tax benefit today may not be a benefit a year from now. Further, any transportation decisions based on road re-alignment, including widening, needs to take into consideration how the road or intersection actually functions, including most recent traffic counts.
That information must be folded into current land use, potential land use, how configuration impacts emergency response time, bike and pedestrian access, ability of our major roads to accommodate bus transportation. Also, what fixing one intersection or area means in terms of the next down the road. Traffic flows — the starts and stops cause the hiccups. In other words, place transportation planning in the context of lane use. Do not put the cart before the horse.
LWVCS keeps focus on comp plan
On Feb. 7, 2017, I served as the League of Women Voters of Sussex County (LWVSC) observer when consultants McCormick-Taylor presented their draft of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan goals and objectives to a joint public meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission, the County Council and a host of county officials, including County Administrator Todd Lawson.
The recently appointed county director of Planning & Zoning, Janelle Cornwell, AICP, oversaw the lively exchange of ideas, which followed virtually every goal and objective listed. The amount of preparation invested in this project and the frequently cited effort to represent the diverse concerns of the public was evident throughout these discussions.
It was a tremendous asset for members of the public to have been provided with the document under review prior to this meeting. Although this meeting was open to the public for observation only, it would have been difficult to comprehend the exchange of ideas without this document in hand.
On behalf of the LWVSC, I would like to thank Janelle Cornwell and her team, the Planning & Zoning Commission and the County Council members, for their ongoing commitment to develop an innovative 2018 Comp Plan which will serve the needs of current and future Sussex County residents.
The public can review the draft document on the www.Sussexplan.com webpage, where they can also make their viewpoints known. The League encourages residents to attend the P&Z Commission meetings, where the public’s comments are welcomed and recorded. The P&Z agenda, the meeting calendar and audios of prior meetings can be found at their website: https://www.sussexcountyde.gov/agendas-minutes/planning-%26-zoning-commi....
Consult the LWVSC website (http://www.sussexlwv.org/) for information on scheduled forums to assist the public in understanding these and related issues.
Sue Claire Harper, Chair
LWVSC Land Use Committee
Reader voices concern over Trump
For all those folks who saw their home values sink at the end of the Bush administration and voted for Trump this time, are you aware of what he is doing to the consumer protection laws put in by Obama?
Trump is trying to wipe out our consumer protection from big banks and investment groups that advise us on our retirement accounts. He says that we don’t need this protection, and it’s too costly.
Too costly for whom? Costly for the big banks maybe, but we need that protection to keep us from going back to those days when people lost their homes in foreclosure. Tell your Congressman you’re worried. I am.
Reader upset with current POTUS
Trump claims that he’s working for the common, working person, but this is a smokescreen. All of his nominees for government agencies have histories of opposing the very agencies they’ve been nominated to lead.
Trump is trying to deregulate the financial/banking industry (no wonder the stock market is soaring), gut environmental protections, destroy public education, defund the arts, intimidate the media, do away with labor unions and worker protections, and terrorize immigrants — which, with the exception of Native Americans, we all are.
Our Congress, to their eternal shame, are enabling this hopeless, nihilistic agenda. It should be resisted at every turn.
Reader: Democracy is under siege
This election cycle has been rife with discord, unpleasantness and acts of unbelievable hubris. The mantra of Trump supporters where I live say the one trait they most admired is that “he tells it like it is.” However, the current liar-in-chief has taken lying to new depths or heights, depending on your perspective.
The media and the Republicans share equally to his ascendency to the White House. They focused mainly on what he said, as opposed to what he does. My mother used to tell us that “talk is cheap” and that “actions speak louder than words,” which partly explains the deafening silence from the Republican establishment. While many may not say so publicly, I can only imagine the euphoria they privately hold.
The power that they covet and wield is a threat to all of us. The fear and distrust of those institutions that protect us from foreign dangers are being trampled upon by this unqualified, unprepared and unstable individual.
He has surrounded himself with people with no professional expertise in the area they have been charged to lead. Miller, Bannon and Flynn have created an atmosphere of chaos and danger. Just six short weeks ago we were admired for our values and way of life. With the stroke of a pen, the range of executive orders is staggering in scope, creating doubt and confusion with our allies.
Under Bannon’s influence, Trump is blowing up our democracy. The swamp has been widened and deepened so that the richest and most incompetent cabinet ever assembled will have the opportunity to create more havoc and discord.
Dismantling the very fabric of what America is and stands for has been the goal of this administration. From the environment, education, civil rights, voting rights and human rights, financial protections and assault on the press, etc., the list is great, the end game being to make America white again and to elevate those men who feel displaced a return to a more lofty place in our society.
The document known as the Constitution is the main source that governs our society and shouldn’t be ignored. The resistance to this president is growing and the people will demand to know what role the Russians played in this election and FBI Comey. When at last the people have the last word and say, “You’re fired.”
Reader inspired by local responders
My thanks to the Coastal Point for such a fine article honoring our local heroes for their valor in the line of duty. I was particularly pleased to see not only the amount of print you dedicated to this article, but the placement on the front page of your newspaper.
Congratulations to Sgt. Sharp and all the Valor Award recipients. Our community is blessed to have such dedicated civil servants who put their lives on the line every day in order to keep us safe. May our community rally in support of these fine, dedicated men and women and always treat them with the respect and gratitude that they deserve.