Committee to Elect
Vivian Houghton Attorney General
The News Journal, Oct. 20, 2002, Page A-11
their own words
Go after polluters and monied interests with equal vigor
By Vivian A. Houghton
The most important issue
facing the attorney general's office is fairness. From excess development
in southern Delaware to MBNA forcing of Wilmington to change city
ordinances, big money does what it wants. This is why the word in the
street is that the law, far from being impartial, is a commodity to be
purchased with cash. Slackers buy crack or X; the wealthy buy power and
exemptions from the law.
Look at Metachem. Recently
it was revealed that its Delaware City workers' pensions are in jeopardy
because of the company's bankruptcy filing. Not only is the company
leaving these workers in potential ruin, it has contributed to the
ruination of the environment by leaving behind tons of illegal chemical
waste. Yet in spite of the fact that companies like Metachem don't respect
their workers, the communities they inhabit or the environment, more often
than not they escape prosecution.
justice is easy for Delaware companies. It is an insult to the public that
the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
usually handles industrial contamination by making companies pay
relatively small fines that have little punitive effect.
Meanwhile, Claymont, known
for pollution problems stemming from Sunoco and General Chemical, has the
highest rate of respiratory problems among youth in the nation.
Because of such facts,
once elected I plan to establish a task force to investigate bringing
criminal charges against DNREC for failure to competently oversee
polluters. Incumbent Attorney General M. Jane Brady won't launch such an
investigation. And Democratic candidate Carl Schnee, who spent months
refusing to take a stand on corporate crime, only now has begun to imitate
me on such issues in the hope of getting back into the race.
Corporate crime isn't the
only problem the attorney general's office must confront. Racial inequity
also haunts Delaware justice.
For every white person who
is imprisoned in Delaware, 9.4 blacks are imprisoned in spite of the fact
that blacks make up only 19.2 percent of the population. Just as
disturbing is the fact that in Delaware, more than half of those on death
row are non-white. This is an unnerving disproportion.
aspect of the criminal justice system is disparity in time served. Take
the parallel cases of Amy Grossman and Brian Peterson, a white couple, and
Abigail Caliboso and Eric Jose Ocampo, a Filipino couple. Both young
couples were found guilty of the death of a newborn, but the Filipinos
were sentenced to twice as much prison time as the white couple. This was
in spite of the fact that they cooperated with police more than Grossman
and Peterson did.
Such racial disparities in
sentencing and incarceration are typical. Yet such facts haven't jolted
Schnee or Brady to speak out strongly, even though racial equity is
pivotal to justice.
money can buy power sometimes, it can't do so all the time. In spite of
Schnee's $350,000 campaign, I, with a far more frugal campaign, have
emerged as Brady's strongest challenger because people are tired of
politics as usual. As a result, voters have a real choice in the attorney
general election. They can vote for independence and a people-first
philosophy on the one hand or for more of what we already have on the
In the last 20 years, the
gap between Delaware's rich and poor has grown by 39 percent. Meanwhile,
the state spent millions of dollars to build more prison space into which
we stuff inmates, many of whom are nonviolent drug addicts who need
medical rehabilitation, not jail time.
On top of this, the
state's general health is deteriorating. We have the country's seventh
highest infant mortality rate, 100,000 people without medical insurance,
and the nation's fourth highest cancer rate.
cancer rate, people should consider this: if even only a fraction of our
cancer deaths are caused by industrial contamination, that means the
executives and managers of the responsible plants have participated in a
collective serial killing of far greater magnitude than any crime
perpetrated by any individual criminal the state has ever known.
Why should such corporate
criminals be left to wine and dine each other in the Hotel du Pont's Green
Room when in the same city someone can be photographed and fingerprinted
by the police for just standing on a street corner?
Delaware needs an attorney
general who isn't afraid to stick up for justice in the justice
Vivian A. Houghton is the
Green Party candidate for attorney general.
[web note: This News Journal page A-11 article included a picture of the candidate.]