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What’s New

Hospital Intrusion is not a lifesaving infusion of capital for Delawareans

By: Ruth Briggs King, Board Member, A Better Delaware

For years I was the only member of the Delaware General Assembly with any medical education or experience. I brought my insight and ideas to improve the quality of care, access to care, and avoid unnecessary interference that is costly or unnecessary.

As a result of my experience, I am very concerned about S1(Substitute 1) for HB 350, now pending in the General Assembly. This misguided legislation purports to create control over the State’s health care costs. What it clearly demonstrates is that some State law makers have misdiagnosed the problems with existing health care costs in Delaware. They are proposing to try to control the finances of a complex entity and private, non-profit community hospital which, by any other unqualified individual, would be considered malpractice. This bill will create a chilling effect on quality and patient centered care in our State. I call on our legislators to consider the ramifications of HB 350 and to vote “No” on this bill.

First and most importantly, the legislation has misplaced the blame for increasing health care costs on the hospitals. This effort is clearly simply a look at the bottom line and not intended to address many other significant issues in the delivery of health care in Delaware.

A candid look at past performance demonstrates that the State cannot appropriately manage the health care services it currently seeks to deliver, and therefore should not, in any way, intrude into our private health care system. There has been much media coverage and internal discussion about the problems and woes in the State run hospitals, such as the home for the chronically il, the veteran’s home and the correctional facilities health care. Despite years of poor performance, the State has not fixed their own health care delivery problems.

Hospitals do not operate in a vacuum or an isolated environment. They are not immune to the impact of escalating energy costs; wage increase demands and government regulation imposed by multiple State and Federal agencies. Additionally, our hospitals provide emergency care at no cost to those who are uninsured. And we, the people who are served by these hospitals, expect the best care, the latest technology, and the best outcomes. This all comes at a cost.

The legislators are blind to the impact the very legislation they pass has on the cost of healthcare and, therefore, the hospital community. Delaware’s expanded Medicaid eligibility provisions have forced Delaware taxpayers to pay $20-30 million more each year for the last 4-5 years. At the same time, the Medicaid reimbursement to the hospitals, as well as long term care facilities, has not accelerated to cover the costs. For example, a small community hospital in Sussex County loses money on each Medicaid newborn delivery. And they lack the volume of deliveries to make it “balance” the cost. Should they stop delivering babies? No, in fact, the hospital voted to continue the service at significant loss. Will the State cover the “loss” on those services? No. The State expects the hospitals to do more with less and then is critical of their budgets.

Let us be specific. Hospitals have to plan for increased demand. They hold aside reserves in anticipation of future construction and equipment needs. Would the proposed legislation affect these, and other, capital budgets or simply operational budgets? And what happens when real-time operational decisions have to be made? How could this arrangement “manage” a 20-car pileup on I95, or, worse, a pandemic, such as COVID?

Our current hospital boards are, generally, well governed and represent the community in which they are located. The remedy for increasing healthcare costs is less government intrusion and for lawmakers to understand how their decisions impact the cost of care and services. Healthcare and hospitals are not in a cloistered environment that protects them from escalating costs.

Hospital boards face complex decisions and need skill and expertise to make the sophisticated analysis to develop a strategic plan to serve the community. They anticipate population growth and need. Our Sussex County community hospitals recently established residency programs to address the lack of supply and high demand for primary care physicians. Furthermore, it is the hospitals that have sought and funded consulting firms to discuss the need for a medical school in Delaware. The State’s medical resources, including at DHSS, are severely inadequate and rely on the professionals and the local community boards to be the driving force for superior health care. Why would legislators seek to cripple a system that is not on life support?

Did anyone consider that hospitals get bonds to fund their projects based on operational performance and balance sheets? Legislative interference would stifle a hospital’s ability to grow and demonstrate the need for bonds to invest in healthcare expansion when needed.

No one is mentioning the liability and potential detriment of care. The hospitals absorb the risk and liability resulting from poor decisions or inadequate care. Will the new Commission accept the risk if their approved budget affects the hospital’s ability to provide the care, they believe is necessary?

Further, consider the message and effect on health-related industries, such as pharma and biotechnology industries in Delaware. After all, who is next?

Healthcare is more than a balance sheet. Our hospitals are forward thinking and continually investing in current and emerging issues. Did the legislators listen to the healthcare industry or work with hospital leadership to develop a path forward? If not, beware. Government intervention in our hospitals’ budgets is a slippery slope that will require emergency intervention, and resuscitation at a far greater cost to Delawareans than, I believe, the legislature anticipates.

Ruth Briggs King just retired from the Delaware General Assembly, where she served the 37th District, and the State, since 2009. She has extensive experience in finance, banking and organizational development and owns Workforce Solutions Today, LLC with her business partner. She recently joined the Advisory Board of A Better Delaware.

 

 

Are Health Care Benefits Intended for Veterans Being used to Benefit Illegal Immigrants?

By: Hon. William L. Witham, Jr., Advisory Board Member, A Better Delaware

Veteran benefits, including health care, are not just a nice perk for veterans. They are something earned through the service, and often sacrifice, of our armed forces, dedicated to defending our country.

Recently, there has been a lot of debate about access to appointments and health care provided to veterans, here in Delaware and around the country. There is a great deal of concern that the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is diverting resources from veterans to provide health care for illegal immigrants in the custody of Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE)

There has been a long-standing arrangement between the VA and ICE to process claims for illegal immigrant medical care. It is an interagency agreement with the VA and ICE Heath Services Corps (IHSC) to provide health care claim processing and referral services for illegal immigrant patients. The cost of the care is to come from the ICE budget. Although it has been in place since 2002, members of Congress, prior senior level VA administrators, border control agents were recently surprised to learn of this arrangement. When they became aware, they held hearings, and proposed legislation to be sure no resources are diverted to prevent or delay health care for our veterans.

Darin Selnick, who served as Veterans Affairs Adviser on the Domestic Policy Council during the Trump administration and also as a senior adviser to the VA Secretary, said the arrangement was a surprise to him and others he knew that served during the administration. He believes it would have been stopped if it were more widely known among officials. He further points out, “In my position, we would have stopped this, because if the VA had the extra ability to do this, then they should have been doing it for the veterans and not for another agency.”

It has been difficult to know exactly what the costs are, how they are adjusted, and whether VA health resources are diverted from veterans. The administration claims that the VA does not provide any funding for health care to ICE detainees. It claims that only 10 employees are funded by ICE – the same number that was funded in 2002. But the increase in numbers is staggering. In fiscal year 2021, ICE budgeted more than $74 million for payment to the VA for referral and medical claims processing. And, in fiscal year 2022, the VA staff processed 161,538 immigrant health care claims. These numbers call into question the claim that there are only 10 people at the VA handling these matters. At the same time, the VA reports that, in 2023, there was a backlog of 378,000 claims by veterans, and that they took an average of over 125 days to process. The VA expects the backlog to grow in 2024. It strains credibility to suggest that there has not been an adverse impact on veterans and their access to timely health care as immigrant claims seem to have been prioritized.

Further, the VA allows illegal immigrants to access the Community Care Network Providers, a system that allows veterans to receive care, covered by the VA, at non-VA facilities. The use of these centers is intended to provide more timely medical care to veterans. Adding additional demand on those resources necessarily affects access to care for our veterans.

All these circumstances lead to ever increasing pressure on federal resources, particularly the VA, to provide assistance to the unlimited inflow of immigrants. We cannot and should not divert the limited resources we have to provide health care to our veterans. They should be our first priority.

Witham is a retired Kent County Resident Judge who has served over 40 years in Delaware’s justice system. He is also a former leader in the US Army Reserve and National Guard with 34 years of service.

 

Delaware’s Labor Drought: Challenges and Solutions

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware 

We are all aware of the ridiculous amounts of money that the federal government was offering states during the pandemic. Many of those states, including Delaware, used the money to increase unemployment benefits, far exceeding any amounts paid in the past, and to continue those payments far longer. After the pandemic was declared to be over, our workforce was significantly smaller than before the pandemic. There are several reasons for that. Many workers enjoyed working from home and did not want to return to the office. More remarkably, in some instances, the worker would have had to take a pay cut to return to work. And, of course, expanded workers’ compensation payments were a big reason for that.

As time has gone on people are still leaving the workforce. According to WalletHub, in February 2024, Delaware has the highest rate of job resignations in the country. Last year, we were number 6 among all the states for job resignation rates.

Each year, the US government calculates the labor participation rate, which is the number of people over 16 years of age who are employed or actively seeking employment, divided by the total number of people in that population who are available or eligible to work or actively seek work. Students, retirees, disabled individuals or people who are voluntarily not interested in working are not included in that calculation. In Delaware, approximately 60% of all eligible and available workers are not seeking work, according to the Federal Reserve Economic Date (FRED).

So, against these facts, what has the government done to try and create incentives for people to go back to work? Well, actually, the government has acted counter to that objective. First, Delaware has continued increased unemployment payments, making it more feasible to not go back to work.

Are we administering those payments accurately and with good integrity to be sure those claiming unemployment meet the requirements to receive it? Were we careful with the literally, more than a billion dollars that passed through the unemployment office’s system? Well, we don’t know.

Delaware’s State Auditor, Lydia York, recently issued a report criticizing the financial management, or rather, the lack thereof, in Delaware’s unemployment insurance office. York identified a lack of oversight, outdated systems, and limited training of the staff, so severe that independent auditors could not even determine where all the money in the system came from. Employers pay into the unemployment insurance fund for the benefit of those employees who leave their workplace and are determined to be eligible to receive unemployment compensation. A great deal of money passed through the unemployment insurance fund as a result of the Covid pandemic and federal monies. In fact, $1.4 billion, according to the Delaware’s unemployment insurance office, was paid to over 100,000 people in the first two years of the pandemic. Poor training, the influx of significantly more money, expanded eligibility and an increase in claimants all served to overwhelm the capacity of the computer management systems and staff alike. It is not known how many people are receiving payments who should not be, and how much money those payments represent. Steps need to be taken to improve the hardware and better manage the monies paid into the fund by Delaware’s businesses.

Abut at least as significantly, Delaware’s occupational licensing requirements, which is a form of government regulation, affects workforce participation. Delaware has among the strictest licensing requirements for certain occupations in the country. These types of regulations have been found to deprive millions of Americans of opportunities and career advancement, and as a result, drive up the cost of goods and services. A recent report by the Institute for Justice found that the effects of licensing regulations impact particularly low-income Americans, who already struggle to find work and open small businesses. The training or classes to comply are expensive and take time to complete.

These regulations also limit employment mobility, especially across state lines. Delaware’s current shortages of teachers, doctors, nurses and other professional service workers has been attributed to outdated licensure requirements which are too restrictive. We all want capable and competent professionals in those jobs, but our requirements keep entirely capable and competent workers from locating here or advancing in their careers. One of the most recent examples is Naaman Center, which has been working for nearly a year with Delaware’s Health and Social Services Department to secure the certificates and licensure the agency requires to provide substance abuse treatment. This is an organization that has other facilities in Pennsylvania and has been in the business of providing treatment for over 2 decades.

Delaware needs to make a commitment to improve opportunities for workers in order for businesses to attract and retain quality employees, and for businesses to locate here and thrive. We have written about the shrinking economy in Delaware, many have written about the fact that our kids leave the state for better employment opportunities and there is much documentation about the shortages of professionals in our schools and hospitals. It is time for leadership in Delaware’s government to recognize we need to improve our schools, reduce regulation and red tape, and provide the kind of work and business climate that attracts and retains the best and brightest for the benefit of our citizens.

 Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.

 

 

 

Government Running Business Is a Bad Idea

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware

Delaware’s Government clearly does not run like a business. It never has. But some in our state’s government think they can run a business better than the business can.

HB 350, a bill pending in the Delaware General Assembly would give a review board, comprised of five members appointed by politicians, the authority for “review and approval of annual hospital budgets” according to the synopsis of the bill. In the interim, before the review board is appointed and ready to undertake responsibilities, the bill limits what the hospital can charge for services.

There are a number of problems with the concept. First, the sponsors assume that the cost of health care is governed by hospital costs. There are many factors other than the cost of hospital services that affect the cost of health care, including the costs of prescription drugs, shortages of doctors and nurses and lack of competition.

The sponsors also ignore several less intrusive ways to manage the issue and to better address their concerns.

This bill is not about the quality-of-care patients are receiving and does not expand access to that care. It is prompted by the high cost of health care for state employees and retirees. There has not been an increase in premiums for state health care recipients in about seven years. Regularly adjusting the premiums to costs makes sense in every other employer’s office. Our government should try it.

Studies have consistently shown that eliminating the Certificate of Need Laws would lower costs and improve access. Delaware is one of only a few states that still retain this harmful law. We should repeal it.

Delaware hospitals should comply with federal requirements and adopt practices that make the cost of procedures more transparent so patients can make informed decisions regarding where to seek treatment. Resistance to competition could result in a state takeover of health care, as this bill demonstrates.

Our hospitals are non-profit entities and are required to file reports with the state each year identifying what money they raise, how they spend it, how much of it they retain and for what purpose. Government officials can easily review those to be sure the hospital is performing the public services it promises. If they are showing a profit, or do not have designated, service-related purposes for reserves, then action can be taken.

But the way this bill would work is to substitute the judgment of political appointees over that of the experts and administrators of these facilities. Indeed, the primary sponsor of this bill said that she believes “hospitals should invest in doctors, nurses, medical equipment and the health of our citizens.” If they don’t do so in a way that meets her, and others’ approval, the politicians will decide how the money is spent. And there is no contention that will improve quality of care or access to care. Indeed, several professionals testified in the legislative hearings expressed concern that the bill would “create an environment where programs serving people with special needs, such as those with Down syndrome or cerebral palsy, would be sacrificed due to cost.”

This is socialized medicine by any other name. But this is not the first time that the government has intruded into the business of business. The federal government decided you should not be able to buy incandescent lightbulbs anymore, and they are gone. More recently, Delaware’s government has told car dealers what kinds of cars they must sell. There is no justification in the financial return or consumer demand for these state-imposed requirements. Not surprisingly, it is not going well. Manufacturers are cutting back on the number of electric vehicles they are making because the demand is simply not there.

These decisions made by our government to intrude into the corporate board room are not based on public safety concerns or citizen welfare. They are based on preferences or the costs for government. This is a dangerous precedent. We have a robust corporate community in Delaware because we have carefully crafted our laws and practices to make it desirable to incorporate here.

The State is intruding into the hospitals’ business because the State thinks it has to pay too much. What is to prevent the government from deciding to tell contractors (construction, IT, etc.) what they can charge and review their budgets to be sure the state is getting a good price, and the owners aren’t keeping too much of the profits for themselves?

There is a legal concept called the “business judgement rule.”  In essence, it allows a business to act in its best judgment. Those making the decisions are, generally, well trained and experienced in the business practices and nuances of their industry. Government has never had to meet a bottom line. It can simply raise taxes or spend in deficit. Businesses should not be run by individuals who are uninformed and lack the expertise to exercise good judgment in the business world. We are jeopardizing our standing as a place to do business if we enact this bill.

And, while we are discussing budget scrutiny, perhaps we should put together a committee to review the Governor’s budget and examine how the state of Delaware spent nearly $4 billion in surplus dollars (surplus means more than we needed to meet our budget) over the last three years. I expect there would be resistance.

HB 350 is a bad idea for all Delawareans. It puts our government in charge of private matters, creates a precedent that jeopardizes our economy, and continues a bad trend to inject priorities other than the success of a business into decision making.

Jane Bady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.

 

 

 

 

 

Students: A Hidden Homeless Population

By: Beth Conaway, Advisory Board Member, A Better Delaware

We have all seen pictures of homeless encampments, under bridges or on the streets in an urban downtown. But unfortunately, there are many homeless individuals that are not so evident to the public. One group of such individuals is students in our public schools.

These children are often displaced from stable housing by domestic violence, poverty or uninhabitable living situations, which could be the result of neglect by a landlord, but also often results from crime or other events that cause damage to their home.

During the 2021-2022 school year, the Delaware Department of Education identified 3,434 homeless students in Delaware. These students face a range of challenges that can impede their education and overall well-being. The Department of Education has worked to address those challenges.  The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is a federal law that provides certain protections and support for homeless students. All public schools in Delaware must adhere to the provisions found in the Act.

The Delaware Department of Education defines homelessness as a lack of a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This includes children who make a temporary move to live with others as well as children who live in motels, hotels, campgrounds, transitional shelters, or public or private places that are not designed for, or ordinarily used, as a regular sleeping accommodation.

Every school district has one or more staff that is designated as a school liaison with these homeless students. The liaison is responsible to inform parents or guardians of educational and related opportunities that are available to their children.  This information includes services provided under the McKinney-Vento Act.

One of the main tenants of the Act is the term “school of origin”. Under the McKinney- Vento Act, a child or the parent or guardian has the right to request to remain in the same school they attended before they were displaced. This can result in long rides to and from schools and costly transportation expenses. For example, a student attending a school in Dover may become homeless and find temporary housing in Georgetown. When this occurs, the McKinney-Vento act requires a “Best Interest Meeting”, between school’s liaison, school personnel and the parents or guardians of the student.  Those guardians may very well be the state’s social workers if the student is at risk of harm and the state takes custody.  The meeting must be held before a student is removed from their current school and before any school placement decisions are made.  Its purpose is to ensure continuity in the child’s education.  Schools can provide transportation services such as picking up students at their homes in vans, providing bus passes or vouchers, and even offering flexible school start times to accommodate travel arrangements. This transportation is paid for by the original school district. In some cases, enrollment disputes occur between the families and the schools. These disputes are mediated in accordance with the Enrollment Disputes section of the McKinney-Vento Act.

Students who are classified as homeless are also entitled to additional services, such as immunizations, and many schools also have established food pantries, clothing closets, and hygiene product distribution programs.

Even with these supports, homelessness often disrupts academic progress and social connections.  According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, 75% of homeless elementary school students in Delaware perform below grade level in math and reading, and 85% of high school students do. They often also face health and safety risks associated with living in unstable or unsafe environments. In addition, stigma and social isolation may result due to their housing situation.

As a result, providing targeted responses and accommodations can help ensure that homeless students have the support they need to succeed academically and thrive despite their housing instability.  The cost for these supports is high and must be recognized by state and local officials to ensure that the necessary funds are present to support the students, the families, and the schools.

Beth Conaway is a former teacher, who served for eight years as Principal of the Morris Early Childhood Center and then as Principal of Milton Elementary School for five years. She retired after 31 years in the Delaware public school system. Currently she teaches graduate courses at the University of the Cumberlands and volunteers in the Indian River School District.

Balancing Chemical Regulations with Safety is Vital to the Health of Delaware’s Infrastructure and Economy

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware

In the world of construction, safety and innovation go hand in hand. Recognizing the critical role the construction industry plays in driving a robust and thriving economy, we must strike a balance between strong regulation grounded in science and fostering growth. Recent discussions about the EPA’s overreach in regulating chemicals, particularly formaldehyde, have sparked debates about the future of construction in our state. While ensuring the well-being of our workforce is paramount, it is essential to recognize that overregulating chemicals like formaldehyde could have detrimental effects on Delaware’s construction sector.

Formaldehyde is a chemical compound widely used in various construction materials, including plywood, insulation, and adhesives, because of its unique ability to strengthen materials and improve their durability.

Concerns have arisen about its potential health risks, particularly with prolonged exposure of workers to high levels of formaldehyde. Protecting the health and safety of construction workers is a top priority for the construction industry. We are committed to upholding the highest standards for worker well-being and safety. In our state, stringent regulations are already in place to monitor and limit exposure to substances, including formaldehyde. Companies are required to adhere to strict guidelines, conduct regular safety training, and provide protective gear to workers. We take these measures seriously, and we are continually working to improve them.

However, overregulating chemicals like formaldehyde could inadvertently harm based on flawed science the construction industry in Delaware in several ways. Firstly, excessive regulations can drive up production costs. When manufacturers are forced to invest in costly alternatives or redesign their products, these expenses are often passed down to contractors and, ultimately, the clients. Higher construction costs could lead to reduced economic activity, decreased job opportunities, and potentially hamper the growth of our industry.

Furthermore, overregulation can stifle innovation. The construction sector is continually evolving, and chemical compounds like formaldehyde play a crucial role in developing new, more efficient building materials. Restricting or banning such chemicals could hinder the development of sustainable and environmentally friendly construction materials vital in our journey toward a greener future. We must balance environmental concerns and fostering innovation within our industry.

In Delaware, we pride ourselves on our open dialogue and collaboration with regulatory agencies and environmental organizations. We believe that a balanced approach to chemical regulation is essential, one that considers the industry’s need for innovation and growth, while also ensuring the health and safety of our workforce and the environment. We must avoid knee-jerk reactions that could have unintended consequences.

It’s important that we support measures that promote responsible chemical management, worker safety, and environmental stewardship. However, we should urge policymakers to engage with industry experts, conduct comprehensive risk assessments that consider all of the science, and consider the broader implications of chemical regulations on our state’s construction sector and others.

Chemicals like formaldehyde are integral to the construction industry, offering durability and innovation while supporting job creation and economic growth. While it is crucial to prioritize worker safety and environmental health, overregulating these chemicals could have detrimental effects on our industry. We must work collaboratively to strike a balance that allows us to continue building a brighter future for Delaware while protecting our workers and the environment.

Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.

 

We’re Not Ready, So What’s the Rush?

By Bob Ricker, Guest Contributor

On January 29, 1886, Carl Benz applied for a patent for his gasoline powered vehicle, creating the birth of the automobile. In 1901, Connecticut created the first statewide traffic laws. In 1910, New York introduced the first drunk driving laws. In 1950, Nash Motors included the first seat belts in American cars. But it was not until 1968 & 1970 when Federal Safety Standards were adopted and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was established, setting and enforcing safety performance standards for motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. Ultimately, with a product that was efficient, inexpensive, and profitable, it took American industry and the governing agencies nearly 85 years to smooth out the bumps in the gasoline automobile industry. What makes us now think we can do the same with the electric vehicle (EV) industry in 10-15 years?

EVs have been around for nearly 100 years as well, but unlike gas powered vehicles, repeated efforts at an efficient, cost effective or reliable product have failed.

But, regardless of the practicalities, there is a movement in our great State to force Delaware citizens down a path that is nowhere near ready to be traveled: The Electric Vehicle Mandate.

I will not comment on the political aspects of this decision, as I am not in politics. But I do have something to say regarding the negative impact of EV’s on the Delaware Fire Service. I will stick to the facts.

While the Delaware Volunteer Fire Service strives to keep up with the ever-changing job of just being a firefighter, we now find ourselves in a uniquely precarious situation. The electric vehicle industry presents the fire service with challenges that we are not 100% prepared to deal with properly, electric vehicle fires and electric vehicle accidents.

EV fires, most often originating in the batteries, are extremely dangerous, a risk to the environment and, many times, uncontrollable until they burn themselves out. They burn in a jet-engine like fashion and can easily explode, sometimes that happens in a garage and affects the entire dwelling.

In the event of an EV battery fire, fire companies must apply thousands of gallons of water to cool the batteries and to try to stop a very dangerous situation called “thermal runaway”. This occurs when one cell fails in the battery, producing heat, causing other cells to catch on fire and create an uncontrollable increase in temperature. Typically, a gas-powered vehicle fire only requires a few hundred gallons of water to extinguish. Furthermore, the runoff from these thousands of gallons of water can be highly toxic and may require environmental management.

I know there are those who will say that EV batteries are perfectly safe, and in a perfect world they are. But so is dynamite until you light it. Lithium-Ion batteries, which most EVs rely upon for power, are totally safe until a user either over-charges, over-draws, modifies or damages the cells, or the battery encounters a human being who tries to plug their EV charger in a 100’ 16/3 extension cord, because the cord on the charger isn’t long enough to reach around in back of their chest freezer in the garage.

The point is, misuse or failure to properly use EVs have consequences far more serious than we have seen with gas powered vehicles, and require different equipment, tactics, and safe response protocols, for which we have not yet been fully trained.

EV accidents put both the victim and the rescuer at risk and present other multi-faceted problems.
First, to the best of our knowledge, there does not exist across the board standards of the location, routing, color, and size of the high-voltage transmission lines sending the 600 volts of electricity to the drive units of the vehicle. This poses a life-threatening dilemma when the rescuers try to determine where to cut or pry to free a victim from the wreckage. Time is of the essence in these cases, and an incorrect choice or a delayed decision may cause a catastrophic event injuring or killing the firefighter or crash victim.

Finally, we all know the wonders that the “Jaws of Life” have achieved when used to extricate injured victims from a damaged vehicle, but there are serious issues with an EV and using the jaws of life. Spreading, Cutting or Ramming in the wrong place could result in damage to the battery, thus putting the rescuer and the victim further in harm’s way.

While there are several Facebook scribes who have endeavored to suggest solutions to these issues, they invariably lament “this procedure may not work on every EV” or “Refer to the Manufacturers ERG (Emergency Response Guide).” The fact remains there are no nationally approved tactics or strategies yet developed to get seriously trapped Delawareans out safely.

In defense of the auto industry, they are finally making strides to make the rescue process safer, but we still have quite a way to go.

Fortunately, EV incidents, so far, have been few due to the small amount of EV’s on the road but the forced mandate will result in a quick and significant growth in those numbers.

The Delaware Fire Service has always found a way to safeguard those we serve, and I am certain one day we will have the resources, skills and training to properly address EV challenges. But, in all candor, give us a fighting chance, what is the rush?

Bob Ricker joined the Georgetown Fire Company in 1975 and has served as Fire Chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief, Vice-President and Board of Directors and currently serves as Secretary. Mr. Ricker served as Mayor of the Town of Georgetown for two terms, Vice-Mayor for one term and 5 years on the town’s planning Commission. In 1985, Mr. Ricker and his wife purchased the family business, Baker’s Hardware in Millsboro. Together they have transformed a small hardware store into one of the most successful Outdoor Power Equipment dealerships on the east coast.

 

 

 

 

Carbon Dioxide and Air Temperature: Who Leads and Who Follows?

Which came first:  The chicken or the egg?

By: David R. Legates

In the era of climate change, this age-old question has received a new facelift. Now it becomes—Which came first:  The rise in carbon dioxide or the rise in air temperature?

Since the dawn of climate change alarmism, we have been told that carbon dioxide is the driver of climate change. Increase carbon dioxide, and consequently, air temperature increases. So, if we decrease the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it stands to reason that global warming will be abated. It’s just that simple.

Or is it? Many climatologists have noted that carbon dioxide is not the climate change driver alarmists purport it to be. An article in the Epoch Times suggests that a fixation on carbon dioxide ignores the real drivers of air temperature, which include the Sun and natural variability. But the idea that carbon dioxide is somehow the climate change control knob does not die easily.

In 2007, Laurie David and Cambria Gordon published a book entitled The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming. It was billed as “from the producer of [Al Gore’s] An Inconvenient Truth comes a powerful, kid-friendly, and engaging book that will get kids get [sic] interested in the environment!”  On page 18, a flap instructs children to “lift to see how well CO2 and temperature go together.”  The graph that becomes exposed shows that as time passes over the last 650,000 years, “the more the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the higher the temperature climbed…the less carbon dioxide, the more the temperature fell…by connecting rising CO2 to rising temperature scientists have discovered the link between greenhouse-gas pollution and global warming.”

The figure is from an article in Science by Fischer and colleagues in 1999.The problem is that the axes are mislabeled in The Down-to-Earth Guide—the air temperature axis is labelled “CO2 concentration in the atmosphere” while the carbon dioxide axis is labelled “climate temperature”. As the Science article noted, “High-resolution records from Antarctic ice cores show that carbon dioxide concentrations increased…600 ± 400 years after the warming of the last three deglaciations.”

Subsequent research has confirmed that carbon dioxide follows and does not lead to atmospheric air temperature. For example, in an article in Science in 2001, the authors include a graph that shows carbon dioxide concentrations following air temperature by a period of less than 1000 years. Another article in Science in 2003 concluded that “the CO2 increase lagged Antarctic deglacial warming by 800 ± 200 years”. A review paper in 2007 concluded that little evidence exists that greenhouse gases “have accounted for even as much as half of the reconstructed glacial-interglacial temperature changes”. Another paper in Science in 2007 wrote that the East Antarctica ice core “shows no indication that greenhouse gases have played a key role in such a coupling [with air temperature].”  A more recent study by W. Jackson Davis in 2017 concluded that “changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration did not cause temperature change in the ancient climate”.

I have been writing that CO2 is not a magic climate change control knob for more than a decade. Rather than being a pollutant, carbon dioxide is food for plants. This is good news for animal life and humans as well. We must stop the demonization of carbon dioxide and embrace its effects as the whole biosphere benefits from additional carbon dioxide.

David R. Legates is an emeritus professor at the University of Delaware and is the Director of Research and Education at the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He also is an Advisory Board Member of A Better Delaware.

 

 

WHAT WOULD ABE LINCOLN THINK ABOUT OUR SCHOOLS

By: Nancy Mercante, Guest Contributor

Perhaps Abraham Lincoln gave the best description of the underlying authority of our government in his Gettysburg Address when he said it was “of the people, by the people and for the people.”  Of all the layers of today’s government from federal, state, county, and city, the one intended to function closest with the people is the local school board, elected to work on behalf of and with parents in overseeing the education of their children.

This function is so important on so many levels — children, families, future work force, and the nation — that it seems unconscionable for a community not to take an active interest in the workings and performance of the school board. But here we are in Delaware where the voter turnout in school board elections is a dismal average of five percent.

School board members wield considerable power over the education and social development of children. While their primary function is to elect and oversee the superintendent, let’s drill down on what that includes.

  • Allocation and oversight of millions of taxpayer dollars.
  • Construction and maintenance of extensive infrastructure.
  • Selection and implementation of curriculum and textbooks.
  • Ensuring the safety of students and teachers.
  • Maximizing student outcomes to the highest degree.
  • Promoting the involvement of parents and community in education.
  • Personnel and Human Resource management.

 So, why is voter turnout is so low when the stakes are so high? Could it be that every aspect of our school system is working so well that we face the threat of being overrun with doctors and rocket scientists? Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Here are the alarming facts based on information taken from the Delaware Dept. of Education and National Assessment of Educational Progress:

  • Delaware spent an average of $20,230 per student in 2023. 13th highest in the nation.
  • Students being promoted through Delaware’s schools simply cannot read, write, and do math at grade level.

   Nationally, Delaware ranked:        

  • 47th in fourth grade math
  • 46th in sixth grade reading
  • 45th in eighth grade math and reading.

High cost and poor outcomes! Are we getting what we are paying for and what must we do?

Study the issues, follow the candidates, spread the word, and vote. It’s that simple.

 You can visit Citizens For Delaware Schools – A Grassroots Organization founded to help us improve the quality of education in Delaware, (C4DS) for up-to-date information on what’s happening and information about the school board candidates. Candidates were asked to submit their positions on key issues in their own words by March 28th. Their responses will be included in the C4DS Voters Guide to be published on our website in early April. C4DS invites you to ask questions, make suggestions, and lend a hand.

 Honest Abe once said, “Upon the subject of education, …I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we, as a people, can be engaged in.”  Surely, he was right!

Get out and vote in the School Board elections on May 14th.

 Nancy Mercante had a career in corporate communications for major companies in the financial, pharmaceutical and telecommunications industries. She founded Citizens for Delaware Schools, a nonpartisan nonprofit, two years ago to advocate for a better education for every student in Delaware.

School Funding Referendums: What Every Taxpayer Should Know

By: Jane Brady, Chair, A Better Delaware

Five school districts are scheduled to hold a referendum between now and the end of April. A referendum is an opportunity for you to vote for or against raising your property taxes to support the schools in your district. All individuals over the age of 18 who reside in the school district are entitled to vote. The specific date your school district is holding a referendum, if they are one of the districts doing so, can be found at citizensforDelawareschools.org. Additionally, dates of town halls and other informational meetings are posted there as well.

As you consider whether to vote to increase the tax burden that you share for the students who live in your district, you may want to consider how the school is doing and how the district is proposing to spend your money.

If you have children in public school, you probably assume they are getting a good education. But what comprises a good education? It should be learning results. There are good people in the school system, teachers, administrators and coaches, but results are lacking. Indeed, most of our school districts are doing dismally when it comes to student learning.

There is a way to find out how the schools in your district are doing. The Delaware Department of Education website has a “report card” for each school. The website says it is provided “to enable parents and stakeholders to engage meaningfully in public education decisions.” Perfect! Enter a school in your district and see what results are displayed. I have to warn you – you will likely be shocked. Almost every public school gets a failing grade – most below 50%.

Let’s look at the districts that are asking you to vote to increase your taxes. A snapshot of Red Clay School District (referendum on February 28) reports 32% of students work at grade level in Math, and 42% do so in English. Colonial School District (referendum February 29) reports 15% are at grade level in Math and 26% in English. Smyrna School District (referendum March 9) reports 31% at grade level in Math, and 39% at grade level in English. Cape Henlopen School District (referendum March 26) reports 49% of students perform at grade level n Math and 55% in English. Finally, Appoquinimink School District (referendum April 23) reports 40% of students perform at grade level in Math and 48% in English.

The numbers can be numbing but put them in perspective. When was the last time your child brought home a 40 on a test and you were satisfied with that result? The sadder reality is that there are actually more than a dozen schools in Delaware with single digit proficiencies. That means that out of 100 students in an auditorium, 10 or fewer can read at grade level. Lack of competence in reading and math – in all learning – is harming our children’s opportunities for success. We need to insist on improvement.

This information is not intended to persuade you not to support your district’s effort to increase the money it has to spend. But certainly, you should know how well the district is performing its job, and insist, if you give it more money, that the school board outline how that money will help improve student performance. Attend the town halls and informational meetings and make your school administrators aware that you expect better student performance results. Look back over the history of your school district and see what the performance has been. In many districts, student performance has declined while spending has increased significantly. And then attend school board meetings and continue to ask about meeting their core mission.

A referendum gives you an opportunity to more directly affect funding and policy than any other election in which you might vote. Be informed, be engaged, and demand better in exchange for your vote of confidence. If you do not see improvement, then the opportunity to select new school board members comes in May each year. Be heard! Our students deserve our best advocacy on their behalf.

Jane Brady serves as Chair of A Better Delaware. She previously served as Attorney General of Delaware and as a Judge of the Delaware Superior Court.