June 22, 2007

Thompson, Giuliani tie in Delaware GOP Presidential Straw Poll

Posted in Kent County Politics, National Politics, New Castle County Politics, State Politics, Sussex County Politics at 8:39 am by Paul Smith Jr

WILMINGTON, DE – According to a two-day survey of more than 500 registered voters, there is a tight race between Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson for the GOP Presidential nomination in Delaware.

“With the 2008 Delaware Presidetial Primary less than a year away, I thought it would be helpful to start getting a feel for where Delaware voters stand on the candidates,” said Thomas S. Ross, Chair of the Wilmington Republican Region. “We plan to continue tracking with similar surveys on a regular basis in the coming months.”

The Presidential Poll was conducted via e-mail between June 19, 2007 and June 21, 2007 with more than 500 respondents. The Majority of respondents are registered Republicans in Delaware, some Democrats, Independents, and those rigistered with other parties also participated.Respondents were given a choice of candidates in alphabetical order. The candidate list includes all registered Republicans who have announced their candidacy for the Presidency as well as those who have formed exploritory committees. Not included were those individuals who have publicly stated they will not run for President in the 2008 election.The following are the results of the first Delaware Presidential Primary Poll:All Respondents

Rudy Giuliani 25%
Fred Thompson 25%
Mitt Romney 13%
John McCain 10%
Newt Gingrich 6%
Mike Huckabee 3%
Duncan Hunter 2%
Ron Paul 2%
Tom Tancredo 2%
Sam Brownback 1%
Chuck Hagel 1%
Tommy Thompson 1%
Tom Coburn <1%
Jim Gilmore <1%
George Pataki <1%

New Castle County

Rudy Giuliani 29%
Fred Thompson 23%
Mitt Romney 12%
John McCain 11%
Newt Gingrich 7%
Mike Huckabee 3%
Ron Paul 2%
Tom Tancredo 2%
Sam Brownback 1%
Tom Coburn 1%
Chuck Hagel 1%
Duncan Hunter 1%
Tommy Thompson 1%
Jim Gilmore <1%
George Pataki <1%

Kent County

Fred Thompson 28%
Rudy Giuliani 27%
Mitt Romney 16%
Newt Gingrich 6%
Duncan Hunter 6%
John McCain 6%
Mike Huckabee 5%
Sam Brownback 2%
Ron Paul 1%
Tom Coburn <1%
Jim Gilmore <1%
Chuck Hagel <1%
George Pataki <1%
Tom Tancredo <1%
Tommy Thompson <1%

Sussex County

Fred Thompson 38%
Rudy Giuliani 17%
Mitt Romney 13%
John McCain 8%
Ron Paul 6%
Newt Gingrich 5%
Duncan Hunter 2%
Tom Tancredo 2%
Jim Gilmore 1%
Mike Huckabee 1%
Tommy Thompson 1%
Sam Brownback <1%
Tom Coburn <1%
Chuck Hagel <1%
George Pataki <1%

Anyone interested in participating in future polls should send their e-mail address to tomross_de@hotmail.com

Look for the next tracking poll on July 10, with results released July 13.

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June 6, 2007

Freebery to plead guilty

Posted in National Politics, New Castle County Politics, State Politics at 2:48 pm by Paul Smith Jr

The News Journal is reporting that Sherry Freeberry will plead guilty to felony bank fraud and the prosecutors will drop charges of racketeering and fraud.

 An interesting angle: as part of the plea, will she testify against Tom Gordon? This could be fun….

Guess it wasn’t all some Karl Rove plot after all.

March 28, 2007

New Castle County Council rejects cost-cutting proposals

Posted in New Castle County Politics at 11:05 am by Paul Smith Jr

NCCo rejects cost-cutting proposals

Here’s some of the cost-cutting measures they refused:

1. canceling catered dinners before council meetings
2. freezing pay for certain employees (apparently non union employees, who got the same percentage raises as union staffers, typically 5% raises and 3% cost of living adjustments. Can I become a County employee?)
3. reducing the money council members give away in each community grant from $15,000 to $10,500

Let’s leave aside the second issue just because I don’t feel like dealing with it at this point.

The first issue is crazy. Councilman George Smiley suggested that council members could bring their own food to the meals or have potluck dinners. But, “Some council members balked at the idea, saying the meal was not a luxury during busy meetings days during which they often don’t have time for a long dinner break.” Notice that this objection doesn’t actually address the point Smiley was making. How does the busy day prevent them from bringing food with them when they show up? I do it every day at work. (They could also have ordered food in, if they’re really busy.)

The third issue is also ludicrous. Why should we be giving any money to legislators to dole out as they see fit? Is this really any different from the earmarks that are so controversial in Congress right now? This system is rife with potential for scandal and abuse, as office holders could pass out these community grants as favors to political allies or to buy support. This should be abolished completely, but Council refused any cut.

These refusals to cut needless spending come at a time when County residents face a 17.5% property tax hike. While this isn’t a back-breaking hike for most, it is illuminating that our elected officials don’t seem to think they need to share the pain they’re about to inflict on their constituents. I can picture the ads now:

Oh, that would be sweet.

Crossposted at Gazizza

February 12, 2007

New Castle County Residents should prepare for an 18% tax hike

Posted in New Castle County Politics at 7:10 am by Paul Smith Jr

As I predicted, New Castle County is preparing for a large tax increase in their next budget. Ron Williams reported in today’s News Journal that “County Executive Chris Coons is reportedly asking council for an 18 percent tax increase for next fiscal year.” While there does not yet appear to be a majority on Council for such a large tax increase, even the best case scenario would expect a few percentage points shaved off that amount in exchange for the 7 votes needed to pass this huge increase.

January 11, 2007

New Castle County Residents should prepare for a large tax increase

Posted in New Castle County Politics at 4:16 pm by Paul Smith Jr

New Castle County Council voted Tuesday night to repeal a law that puts a 5 percent cap on how much property taxes can be raised each year.

The 10-3 vote in favor of lifting the cap means County Executive Chris Coons now can put together a budget for the next fiscal year that could include a larger tax increase to balance the budget.

County officials are downplaying fears of a large tax increase, but would they really have taken this step if they weren’t willing and planning to do so?

Read the whole article

November 11, 2006

NCCo residents may face tax hike

Posted in New Castle County Politics, State Politics at 2:44 pm by Paul Smith Jr

New Castle County residents should brace for a property tax increase next year that likely will top 5 percent.

The county raised property taxes by 5 percent this year, the first hike in 10 years.

County law prohibits the executive from recommending a property tax increase higher than 5 percent in any given year, but that ordinance can be repealed with a simple majority vote by the 13-member County Council.

Council President Paul Clark said a repeal is something the council will consider.

“We’re going to be as frugal as possible,” he said. “But it may be higher than 5 percent.”

The county’s $230 million operating budget for this fiscal year, which began July 1, included more than $4 million in across-the-board cuts, no new capital projects and other spending reductions.

The group is looking at the possibility of selling county assets such as Carousel or Rockwood parks, or conducting a real estate re-assessment to adjust property values, which has not been done since 1983.

The group also plans to commission a study that will compare salaries and benefits of county employees to those in other counties and the private sector. Salaries and benefits account for more than 60 percent of the operating budget.

Source

If you notice the date this article was published, it was the Friday after Election Day. Open government advocates like to focus on opening negotiations over the contents of bills to the public, but this is the more important information the public needs when making its decisions. The news was held back until after Election Day. It’s hard to believe that it’s been unknown that this was coming until after Election Day. The public should have been informed of this prior to Election Day so they could make a truly informed choice.

Now, this likely would not have made a difference in the results since only two county councilmen were opposed in this race and in neither case did either of their opponents break even 37% of the vote. But there at least would have been a public debate about the issue so the citizens could have been aware of the extent of the problem. Instead we get an article on a national holiday after Election when few people are likely to read it.

We seriously need to take a look at spending cuts and renegotiating some of these contracts with union personnel. Perhaps some positions can be left vacant through attrition if we’re not able to renegotiate contracts. Adn we’ll have to be tough in future negotiations so that we can reduce positions that aren’t needed any longer.

This problem isn’t a new one; it’s been building for years. Unfortunately, the problem was greatly exacerbated during the Gordon-Freeberry years where spending increased like there was no tomorrow. With the great spending increases in the state government over the past few years, we need to make sure that similar events don’t happen state-wide.