by Vivian Houghton
Green Party Candidate
for Attorney General
Phone: (302) 239-2572
Delaware & Corporate
State Poultry Industry & the Treatment of Hispanic
Economy and Social Justice
and Comparable Worth
Race in Delaware
Gay and Lesbian Rights
Attorney General’s Office & Renewable Energy
the following pages, I have stated as straightforwardly as possible my
positions on crucial issues. I
have done this so that anyone who is interested can study my thinking and
decide whether or not to support me.
You may not agree with everything I say, but this much at least I
think many of us do agree on: the need to reinvigorate politics by putting
“we the people” at center stage and by grappling in detail with many
of the major issues facing us.
is why I’m laying my cards on the table in this platform.
I refuse to be a candidate who talks in sound-bites and
opportunistic slogans. Instead, I have spelled out for you some of the major issues
that an Attorney General should deal with but that Republicans and
Democrats either avoid or deal with inadequately.
the platform summation below isn’t exhaustive, it gives a clear
indication of the political vision that will fuel my campaign from now
until the Nov. 5 election. Note:
All statistics, unless otherwise noted are taken from census or government
you have additional questions, please phone my campaign at the number
listed on page 1, e-mail me at my e-mail address, or visit my
you very much.
Delaware & Corporate Welfare
Delaware’s most noticeable economic feature is its character as a
most recent stage of Delaware’s corporate-friendly policies began
slightly more than two decades ago with the state’s successful attempt
to turn Delaware into a banking center. The crucial event in this effort was the passage of the
Financial Center Development Act (FCDA), a bill designed to attract banks
to the area by giving them tax breaks.
The FCDA wasn’t written by a group of legislators who brought
different perspectives to the question of how far the state should go in
doing financial favors for the banking industry.
It was instead drafted by a single individual:
Irving Shapiro, the ex-head of the DuPont Co.
surprisingly, Shapiro wrote a piece of legislation with which banking
executives were extremely pleased. Fourteen years later, a 1995 report – “Consolidated
Plan/City of Wilmington, Delaware” – stated that in Wilmington alone
“commercial office space . . . grew from 4.5 million square feet prior
to 1980 to over 7.4 million square feet today” as a result of the FCDA.
64% rise in office space use during the years following the FCDA’s
passage reflected the legislation’s role in encouraging 15 nationally
known banks (Chase Manhattan, Morgan Trust, etc.) to relocate to, or
dramatically expand their operations in, the Wilmington area.
to its passage, the FCDA received community support because a public
relations campaign advertised the proposed law as a job-creation vehicle.
What the FCDA’s supporters didn’t mention in their press
releases and speeches was that the majority of jobs to be created were
low-level jobs (maintenance, clerical, guards, telemarketing, etc.) which
paid less than the manufacturing jobs that were disappearing from the
state. Although in the wake
of the FCDA’s passage the state’s unemployment rate remained
relatively low, economic insecurity increased over the following decades
as Delaware’s banks prospered while job losses
multiplied at industrial work sites like the Wilmington Port, the
General Motors plant and DuPont, among others.
Census 2000 numbers for the state show, from the late 1970s through the
beginning of the 21st century the income gap between the
wealthiest 20% of Delaware’s families and the poorest 20% has grown by a
the Delaware Connection.
Most people are familiar with the Enron story’s basics. The
company’s collapse traumatized the nation’s economy, put thousands out
of work and ruined their
retirement savings. It also exposed the influence-peddling relationship that too
often exists between elected officials and their big business supporters.
role that Delaware’s pro-corporate environment played in the Enron
scandal is an example of how the state’s bias toward big money creates a
context in which it is easy for corruption to operate invisibly.
As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer (1/31/02, Joseph DiStefano), Enron’s rise to
power was facilitated by the company’s good luck in finding in Delaware
a constellation of laws that amounted to a corporate welfare system.
According to the Inquirer, these laws allowed Enron to “avoid local taxes” and
also to “shroud high-stakes deals from investor scrutiny” by setting
up 685 Enron subsidiaries in
Delaware. The newspaper also
detailed how Delaware caters to big money with a thoroughness that not
only makes the state a corporate haven but also “a haven for foreign
money launderers” like those associated with drug trafficking.
is this survival-of-the-fittest economic climate that makes Delaware so
attractive to companies like Enron, which wanted to find – and did find
in Delaware – a place where it could hide its true financial status from
its investors, including thousands of employees who were encouraged to
invest in Enron stock for their retirement even while the company was
the end, many of Enron’s Delaware subsidiaries featured prominently in
the losses that led to Enron’s fall.
One such subsidiary was Joint Energy Development Investments L. P.,
a Delaware-chartered business that invested in foreign power plants and
which over the last four years
lost more than $400 million. Another
$1 billion in losses, simply reported as equity losses,
were apparently well hidden in Delaware as well.
people know, the scare of financial ruin isn’t just a problem for Enron
employees. Just recently, it
was revealed that the workers’ pensions at the Metachem chemical company
in Delaware City are in jeopardy because of the firm’s bankruptcy
filing. Not only is the
company leaving these workers in potential ruin, but it has also
contributed to the ruination of the local environment by leaving behind
millions of tons of by-product materials and chemical waste.
Too often such companies are respecters of neither their workers,
the communities they inhabit, nor the environment.
is wrong with economic priorities – and interpretations of the law –
that allow such things to happen.
for Reforming Delaware’s “Corporate Welfare” Environment. Richard Geisenberger, head of the State Division of
Corporations, believes business should continue as usual in Delaware and
nothing should be done to inhibit the state’s pro-corporate policies.
Vivian Houghton Attorney General campaign, however, disagrees with this.
believe that in order to guarantee fair treatment to all under the law it
is mandatory that the law be applied as forcefully to companies as it is
The state must be aggressive in bringing both civil and criminal
suits against law-breaking companies.
The state must be willing to
cancel a company’s corporate charter if the company’s either commits a
gross violation of its charter or repeatedly violates state business
The attorney general’s office must probe DNREC.
to determine why state companies ranging from Rodel to Motiva to
General Chemical have been allowed to break state environmental laws on a
regular basis without receiving sufficiently stiff penalties to stop their
All companies that receive tax breaks, land grants or other
economic incentives to do business in Delaware must be monitored to make
sure they fulfill their part of such arrangements:
job-creation. Companies that do not
fulfill this obligation yet remain in Delaware, or that relocate to
another state after benefiting from such concessions without fulfilling
their end of the bargain, should be prosecuted.
Also to be prosecuted are any individuals who have been found to
illegally benefit from incentives designed not for individuals but for
The state must more closely scrutinize the type of “industrial
racial profiling” that results in a high concentration of toxic waste
sites, incinerators, landfills and so on in black neighborhoods.
Example: in 1999, long after
it became clear to local residents that DNREC wasn’t doing its job of
protecting local citizens from toxic wastes, the EPA came into Wilmington
and discovered hazardous materials along the Christina river in
low-income, predominantly African-American districts where children had
built makeshift seesaws and swings. Three-quarters
of Wilmington’s toxic sites are situated in those districts.
The state must also investigate possible criminal misconduct on the
part of companies like Perdue which rely on a predominantly immigrant (and
economically vulnerable) workforce while pursuing production strategies
that have been shown to damage the state’s ecology.
The State Poultry Industry & the Treatment of Hispanic
water from chicken farms, and from fields fertilized with chicken manure
which originally came from those farms, contaminates Delaware’s
waterways, turning them into danger zones for marine life.
Meanwhile, as the poultry industry’s output grows, so does the
Latino population, from which the industry draws a significant portion of
its workers. According to the
Delaware Population Consortium, from 1990-1996 Sussex County’s Latino
population grew by 242%, from about 2,3000 to approximately 7,900, a high
concentration of them Mexicans and Guatemalans.
Although the poultry industry needs these workers for their chicken
processing plants in order for their chicken processing plants to thrive,
the workers are not paid accordingly; instead, their pay is the equivalent
of 60% of the national average for a manufacturing wage, and this is in
spite of the fact that processing productivity has increased by at least
25% since the mid-1980s.
addition to these economic realities, Latino immigrants are often
victimized by racist and/or anti-immigrant bias.
For instance, in 1996 the state legislature cut $600,000 that was
earmarked for pre-natal care for immigrant women from the state budget.
The rationale for the reduction was the
state’s belief that it was inappropriate to do anything to
encourage immigrant women to get pregnant.
“Why worry about the health of such ‘disposable’ humans?”
seems to be the message. Yet
neither state government nor the Delaware Chamber of Commerce seem to mind
letting legal or illegal immigrants work in Delaware, just as long as they
don’t cause “trouble.” Trouble,
as defined by the powers that be, means causing a problem for them,
as the following example shows.
1997, a group of poultry industry workers, most of them immigrants,
protested working conditions after a workplace injury to a fellow
employee. The injured worker was soon fired when the company suddenly -
and quite conveniently - realized that his illegal alien status meant he
shouldn’t be working for the firm, a fact which hadn't bothered the
company's ownership previously, just as long as the worker and his
coworkers were perceived to be docile.
distressing is the denigration of Latino life that was expressed by Newark
mayor Hal Godwin in response to public concern about Pedro Martinez’s
death. Martinez, a Mexican
immigrant, was asleep in the back seat of a car that had been stopped by
the police. As the car sat on
the railroad tracks while the police stood off to the side consulting with
the driver, a train smashed into the vehicle, killing Martinez.
Over the following days, when questions were raised concerning how
this tragedy could have occurred while Martinez was under police
supervision, Godwin snapped at his questioners, insisting the incident had
been blown out of proportion and that the controversy stemmed from
"reporters and sensationalists all around Newark who like to make
sensational-looking stories out of nothing.”
So, Pedro Martinez’s life was “nothing.” It’s doubtful the mayor would have made the same comment if
the killed person had been a UD professor or a member of Mr. Perdue’s
footnote to this discussion about the racial/economic dimensions of police
and poultry industry treatment of Latinos is the fact that this treatment
reflects another, but connected, issue: a lingering manifest-destiny
assumption among certain U.S. government and economic leaders that the
lives of darker skinned people in undeveloped countries, like the lives of
their counterparts here in the U.S., are less valuable than the lives of
the world's "leading" race, people of European background.
Guatemala as an example, since it's the origin place of many of Delaware's
Latino immigrants. Not only did the State Department persist in an
ethically questionable relationship to Guatemalan death squads for
decades, the U.S. business community has shown no shame in its willingness
to exploit the Guatemalan people. For
instance, in the early 1980s Guatemala passed legislation that was
intended (a) to encourage mothers to breast feed their children and (b) to
educate them about the health risks to children who were fed breast milk
substitutes. With the exception of one company, U.S.-based Gerber Foods,
every major domestic and foreign supplier of infant formulas in Guatemala
abided by the legislation.
of the legislation, after its passage Guatemala’s infant mortality rate
declined. Yet even after this decline, Gerber Foods continued to resist
the legislation and the health programs to which it gave birth. Gerber’s
position was that the legislation unfairly limited its advertising methods
and therefore its free-market right to convince potential purchasers of
the superiority of their product. To strengthen its hand in this debate, Gerber threatened to
go before the World Trade Organization and bring suit against the
Guatemalan government for violations of international law. After receiving repeated threats along these lines,
Guatemala, believing there was no way it could win before a U.S.-dominated
tribunal, finally (in the mid-1990s) redesigned its infant food
advertising and labeling policies in ways that were satisfactory to
Gerber, whose interest in looking out for the health of babies obviously
stops the moment that interest interferes with its profits.
the disturbing nature of Gerber’s behavior in Guatemala, it’s hard not
to consider the possibility that there’s a link between that attitude
and some of the things already in this section of the platform:
working for sub-normal wages in Delaware's poultry industry.
for the pre-natal health of Delaware’s immigrant women.
Martinez dead on the Newark railroad tracks.
companies’ lack of concern about their contamination of the
is clear from the above facts, looking closely at the Delaware poultry
industry opens the door to a variety of issues –
social justice, environmental concerns, workers’ rights,
immigration, U.S. policies abroad – that a strong Attorney General must
be aware of in order to perform her or his job effectively.
Economy & Social Justice
Just as mainstream economists make much of the U.S.’s current
relatively low unemployment rate, so local mainstream economists make much
of Delaware’s low unemployment rate.
Unfortunately, this emphasis on low unemployment occurs at the
expense of highlighting other economic indicators that tell a bleaker
story of what’s going on in our changing economy.
This other story draws a picture of a United States in which,
although unemployment is low, the current job market is characterized by a
downward trend in real wages. Since 1979, the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs has
decreased by more than 20% whereas the number of service jobs -- which on
an average pay about one-half of what manufacturing jobs pay -- has
increased by approximately 40%.
is typical of this phenomenon. More than a decade ago in 1988, the
Delaware Department of Labor issued a report which correctly predicted
that the creation of service sector jobs would outpace the creation of
manufacturing jobs in the state by approximately a 5 to 1 ratio.
Not surprisingly, local politicians stressed the job creation part
of this predicted change but under-emphasized the low wage part.
What politicians from both parties ignored was the impact this
trend would have on the people they supposedly represented.
Wilmington as an example. Already
in the early 1980s, it was becoming clear in Wilmington that having a job
was no guarantee of financial security.
From 1979-1985, the number of Wilmington households living at
poverty level increased by 25%, although the population increased by only
3%. In keeping with
modern-day trends, this rise in poverty had little to do with who did and
who didn’t have jobs. By
the early 1990s, 49% of
Wilmington residents stricken by poverty worked full-time.
the 2000 census showed, this same pattern has continued throughout
Delaware. The number of
Delawareans holding lower-paying service jobs has risen whereas the number
of people working at better-paying manufacturing jobs has continued to
decline, as has the average wage (now only $11.79 per hour) in the
remaining, mostly lower-paying manufacturing jobs.
People are employed, but the better-paying jobs are disappearing.
This is why the income gap between Delaware’s highest earners and
lowest earners has increased by almost 40% over the last two decades.
facts are in keeping with national economic trends which were fueled by a
legislative agenda that encouraged (a) the decline of better-paying
unionized manufacturing jobs, (b) the rise in lower-paying service sector
jobs, and (c) the growth in low-wage non-unionized production jobs,
thereby increasing, by over 50%, the number of people who worked full-time
yet lived in poverty.
impact of such facts on Delaware life is obvious.
High school graduates are less likely today to get a relatively
decent paying job at DuPont or GM’s Assembly Plant than they were in the
past. They’re more likely
to end up in minimum wage positions in the fast-food industry or in other
low-paying service occupations.
Wage Legislation. As the above data reveals,
the state’s pro-corporate climate has contributed to a growing
polarization between the state’s economic elite and the rest of the
population. From 1990-2000
the number of Delaware families living in poverty increased 23%.
A programmatic effort must be made to reverse this trend.
Working-class and low-income state residents must be made to feel
that their economic security is a prime state objective.
The state’s prevailing wage law, under which the Delaware
Department of Labor establishes and enforces the payment of above-minimum
wage rates for laborers and
mechanics who work on state-funded construction projects, is a step in the
right direction but only a feeble one, since it is only relevant to a
narrow range of workers. Delaware
must now take the next step by replacing the state’s prevailing wage law
with a living wage law with some real teeth.
Living wage laws are broader in scope than prevailing wage
legislation and therefore affect the lives of larger numbers of people.
fall 2002, at least one dozen living wage packages have been passed around
the country, raising the total to approximately 80.
Locations that currently have such legislation include New Orleans,
Louisiana; Bozeman, Montana; Hartford, Connecticut; Miami-Dade County,
Florida; Tucson, Arizona; Chamberlain County, New Jersey;
and Los Angeles County, California.
basic premise behind living wage legislation is that full-time workers
should never earn poverty level wages.
The campaigns for such legislation have varied from state to state,
depending on variables like poverty level, etc. in each location.
But the main objective of each campaign is similar – i.e., to
guarantee that every business that earns a certain amount of money by
contracting its services to local government be mandated to (a) pay its
employees a specified wage or salary that is above the poverty level and
(b) provide employee health benefits (or the money value of said
benefits). As in San Jose,
California, Detroit, Michigan, Cambridge, Massachusetts and other places,
living wage legislation often includes language which mandates that
businesses receiving local government financial assistance also be
required to meet the standards set by points (a) and (b) above.
Living wage victories over recent years have ranged from
approximately $8 per hour to $12 per
the specifics of Delaware’s economic situation, a reasonable living wage
law would compel companies that do business with municipal, county or
state government, or which have received tax breaks and/or land grants
from such governments, to pay a wage of at least $11 an hour plus health
and dental benefits or $12.25 an hour if no health benefits are provided.
The initial wage should be adjusted annually on the basis of the
Consumer Price Index, cost of living data and poverty guidelines.
wage legislation is mandatory if we want to stop the expansion of the
state’s poverty and near-poverty populations.
Changing Economy and the Creation of Mild-Mannered Cows.
There used to be more dairy farms in Delaware.
But although we now have less, the remaining ones are more
productive. Under the right
conditions, a cow can produce almost 20,000 pounds of milk per year, twice
the output of a few decades ago. In
fact, cow productivity has mounted as the number of dairy workers has
Because, as a result of greater mechanization, which includes
computerized cow-feeding and milking techniques, fewer humans are needed
to do dairy farming’s physical work.
Another factor in the industry’s transformation is
agribusiness’s belief that it’s better to have fewer, but bigger,
dairy farms so special cows, bred for their productivity, can be collected
together, then “milked” for all their worth.
because dairy farming is a rural activity, city dwellers shouldn’t view
it as irrelevant. The forces
which govern farm life also govern urban environments.
Wilmington’s General Motors’ plant as an example.
The same philosophy controls the dairy farm and the auto assembly
line. In each place,
technological “advances” have caused increased productivity and fewer
workers. In 1985 the
Wilmington plant had a 5,000 person workforce; today, the factory needs
only 2,500 people to run two shifts and still produce enough cars.
Meanwhile, according to Labor Department statistics, 65% of all
people who lose their jobs to technology-related downsizings like the one
at the Wilmington plant end up in jobs that pay less than those they
while cow udders get squeezed by robotized milkers and car chasses are
welded together by computerized welding machines, millions of people end
up with a downsized standard of living.
trend isn’t accidental. Increasingly in our economy, people’s needs are
subordinated to corporate needs. One
local agricultural “expert,” in praising the value of mechanical
harvesters for gathering pickle cucumbers, claims that, although picking
cucumbers by hand produces higher yields than mechanical harvesting,
machine harvesting is better “because of the high cost of labor
associated with hand-harvesting.” In other words, eliminating human
labor is worth it even if this elimination means lowering the per-acre
first, people last, that’s the message.
at Mr. Perdue’s operation. A force-fed Perdue chicken lives out its brief life in an
overcrowded poultry tenement as rancid with the inevitability of death as
a big-city crackhouse where the hopeless go to die. After the chickens are hauled to slaughter, tons of chicken
feces are bulldozed off the chicken-house floor, to be used later as
fertilizer. Some of this
manure is carried by runoff water into Delaware’s waterways where it
prompts a chemical reaction which kills algae. As the algae decays, it
drains the water’s oxygen and chokes fish.
Chicken manure also endangers fish by providing nutrition for
pfiesteria piscicidia, a microbe
which leaves open sores on fish bodies.
did it come to this, that chicken, fish, people and the environment are
all secondary to corporate profits?
don’t forget cows.
to George Haenlein, who for thirty years tended the University of
Delaware’s cow herds, selective breeding and genetic manipulation are
important in producing the ideal dairy cow.
In Prof. Haenline’s view, such a cow is a “quiet,
mild-mannered” creature that doesn’t disrupt a dairy with
may be agricultural animals, but the science of turning living beings into
docile creatures isn’t confined to agriculture.
In today’s world, urban workers are expected to meekly accept
longer hours, inferior health care and an increasingly polluted
environment. Like the perfect
dairy cow, people are expected to be mild and well-mannered, no matter
in other parts of the country, the most problematic aspect of Delaware’s
criminal justice system is the degree to which blacks and other minorities
are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated.
For every white person incarcerated in Delaware, 9.4
African-Americans are placed in jail. This ranks Delaware no. 19 among the states in its ratio of
black to white incarcerations.
The death penalty debate in Delaware and the rest of America is
often a coded dialogue about crime, punishment, economic status and race.
As all the data show, if you’re a person of color or poor
you’re far more likely to be executed for a capital crime than is a
wealthy Caucasian. Additionally,
who you kill plays a significant role in determining what punishment you
receive, since the death of certain people is viewed as less important
than the death of others. Although
blacks make up approximately 50 percent of the murder victims in the US,
the killing of a black is punished less harshly than the killing of a
white. From 1977-1998, of the 500 prisoners who were put to death 81.80
percent were convicted of the murder of a white. (Killing with
Prejudice: Race and the Death Penalty in the USA, Amnesty
International) During a
similar period (1976-1993) only one of the executions that took place
nationally was of a white murderer who killed an African-American.
(The Future of the Death
Penalty in the U.S., Richard C. Dieter, Esq., Executive Director Death
Penalty Information Center, 1994) As
these numbers indicate, killing whites is viewed by the criminal justice
system as a more heinous crime than killing blacks.
In Delaware, which has a person of color population of
approximately 20 percent, over half those on death row are non-white, a
execution of Abdul Tanzil Hameen was an example of how political cowardice
can result in carrying out an execution even when an astounding array of
people, including parole board members, prison officials and concerned
citizens, state that the sentence should not be carried out.
Yet in spite of this, Hameen’s appeal was rejected and he was put
to death because too many pro-death-penalty politicians in Delaware would
rather use the capital punishment debate as an opportunity to grandstand
for the public than closely study the death penalty’s serious
shortcomings, both in terms of individual cases like Hameen’s and in
there are elected officials who have retained their honor on this issue.
Delaware State Senator Simpson has authored a bill, Joint Resolution No.
3, which would establish a non-partisan commission to investigate the
death penalty’s use in Delaware and its future applicability to the
state. Among the major
reasons cited by Simpson for his bill are the fact that “income and
resources of the defendant play a significant role in the death penalty
process” and statistical evidence that “racial bias continues to have
an impact on which defendants are chosen to face capital charges.”
spite of such realities, Senate President Pro-Tem Thomas Sharp blocked the
bill by refusing to release it from the Judiciary Committee which he
attorney general, I would use my influence to oppose the death penalty.
The issue here isn’t an academic debate about the theoretical
usefulness of the death penalty in stopping crime; the issue is that the
death penalty is applied so unfairly in Delaware and the United States
that no impartial person can reasonably support its continuation.
Sentencing and Drug Abuse (Brady's Sentencing Proposals). Attorney General Jane Brady's recent sentencing proposals are
halfway measures intended to derail other legislation, such as the bill
proposed by Stand Up for What's Right and Just (SURJ) to restore
sentencing authority to judges in certain drug offenses.
This bill, which has been endorsed by a variety of organizations
including the NAACP, Heroin Hurts and the state AFL-CIO, has been ignored
by legislators who have chosen to follow Brady’s and Sharp’s lead in
steeling the criminal justice system against serious reform. Meanwhile, Delaware’s trend of increasingly overcrowded
prisons continues as tax payers are forced to pay the high costs of
incarcerating non-violent drug abusers when the fact is that medical
treatment programs are a cheaper
and more effective way of addressing the drug problem.
further limitations of Brady’s reforms are as follows.
the reforms reduce the mandatory penalty for some
drugs-with-intent-to-deliver cases, the same reforms reduce the amount
of drugs that must be in person’s possession in order to charge
her/him with “trafficking” in drugs, which is a more serious crime
than possession with intent to deliver.
This will not diminish the prison population, but is likely to
the proposed reforms would permit judges to reject minimum mandatory
sentences in some instances of first-time drug use, there are no
contingency plans for handling relapses.
Since relapses are a frequent part of addiction recovery, only
allowing judges to set aside minimum mandatory sentences in a fraction
of first-time offender cases does little to address the real problems
associated with addiction as a disease.
The moment a first-time offender is released from jail and has
a relapse, the state will refuse to treat him as an ill person but
instead identify him solely as a criminal. In other words, he or she
is back in jail with tax payers forking up the money for room and
of these reform limitations will contribute to further prison overcrowding
and the continued ineffective handling of drug abuse.
SURJ’s mission document states, “Now we face the challenge of over six
thousand Delawareans languishing in overcrowded, understaffed, and
ineffective prisons, costing our state hundreds of millions of dollars per
year. This crisis is largely due to mandatory minimum sentencing and a
disastrous drug war. A huge
proportion of prisoners are non-violent drug offenders.
Many of the rest are substance abusers, as well.
Sixty-four percent of all prisoners are people of color.
All researchers agree that substance abuse treatment is a proven
public safety and health measure and that drug dependent offenders who
receive treatment are much less likely to abuse drugs or commit new crimes
and are likelier to live healthier, more productive lives.
Meanwhile, Delaware incarcerates 23 per cent more of its citizenry
than the national average.”
time has come for the state attorney general to set the tone for solving
such problems rather than supporting their continuation.
Eric E. Sterling, one of the national creators of the mandatory minimum
sentencing idea, rejected his original thoughts on the matter when
confronted with the idea’s unintended side-effects.
of relevance to Delaware is the mounting national awareness that
well-designed community-based drug treatment programs cost taxpayers less
money and also have a higher cure rate than do prison-centered solutions.
Such awareness was the propelling force behind Arizona voters’
1996 two-to-one decision to implement treatment rather than incarceration
for drug offenders. After the
measure was put into effect, the Arizona Supreme Court
reported that the new orientation has resulted in “safer
communities and more substance abusing probationers in recovery."
California’s Proposition 36 places that state also on the list of
those choosing treatment over jail.
on Criminal Justice Issues. As an
attorney general candidate, I support the following actions.
of the death penalty in Delaware, or,
at the very least, a moratorium on the death penalty until a
commission like the one suggested by State Senator Simpson reports its
findings, at which time the death penalty’s future in the state can
elimination of mandatory sentencing and
the creation of a policy of drug abuse treatment rather than jail time
for dealing with addiction.
racial diversity in police departments.
6. Health Care
the exception of one nation, every one of the 29 industrialized nations in
the world provides comprehensive health care coverage for all of its
citizens. The U.S. is the one
nation that doesn’t.
vast majority of these nations provide such health coverage through
what’s called a single-payer health care system.
The basic idea behind a single-payer system is simple: instead of
viewing health care as a “product” to be sold for profit by insurance
companies, health care is viewed as a basic right of all citizens and, as
such, is paid for from government funds. If such a system were implemented in Delaware, the state and
federal funds currently available for health care costs in the state would
be spent directly on citizens’ medical needs rather than on hiring
insurance companies to decide what procedures are and are not “valid”
for a particular patient. By
eliminating insurance companies in such a way, health care costs are
reduced because of the abolition of insurance company expenditures on
salaries, lobbying, marketing, processing claims and so on.
Simultaneously with such cost reductions, the adoption of a
single-payer health care system places health decision back where they
belong: in the hands of health care professionals as opposed to in the
hands of insurance company administrators who prioritize profit-making
over the provision of expensive medical procedures.
details of exactly how such a single-payer health care system can be
implemented in Delaware are available in the Delaware Health Security Act
which is currently before the Delaware General Assembly.
That there is a need for such a system in Delaware (as elsewhere in
the country) is clear from the facts.
Approximately 100,000 Delawareans or 12.8% of the state’s
population in 2000 have no health care insurance and another 100,000
have sub-standard health care.
Poor Suffer Most.
Not surprisingly, the lack the lack of adequate medical
coverage falls disproportionately on low-income whites and people of
color. Delaware is 44th
among the states in the percentage of low-income children without
health insurance. Additionally,
the uninsured rate for black Delawareans has increased over recent
years from 14% in 1995 to 20% in 2000, which is one of the reasons the
death rate from strokes was 21% higher among blacks than among whites
and the death rate from diabetes was 117% higher among blacks than
Of the nation’s fifty states, Delaware ranks number 4 in
death from cancer. Approximately
26% of all the state’s deaths are due to cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates that over 4,000 new cases
of cancer will be diagnosed in the state by the end of the year and
that approximately 1,800 cancer patients will die by the end of the
Infant mortality is also a serious Delaware problem.
For the U.S. in general the infant mortality rate from
1995-1999 was 7 infant deaths per 1000 live births.
In Delaware during the same approximate period (1993-1997) the
infant mortality rate for whites was 5.6 per 1000 and for blacks 14.7
per 1000. In Wilmington,
the mortality rate for African-American newborns was even worse than
in the state at large: 17.8 deaths per 1000 live births.
The U.S.’s overall infant mortality rate of 7 deaths per 1000
births is high enough to give our nation one of the worst infant
mortality rates in the industrialized world.
The mortality rate for Delaware’s African-American newborns
is so bad that there are 46 nations in the world that have lower
infant mortality rates than black Delawareans.
In fact, babies born in poor countries like Bosnia, Croatia,
Cuba, Chile, Estonia, Malaysia, Lithuania and Jamaica have a better
chance of reaching their first birthday than does a black infant in
and Health Care in Delaware: the Disparity. Delaware ranks number 7 in the nation in per capita income
but only 32nd in the quality of health care.
Medicine Down the Drain.
In a 1998 survey conducted by the College of Human Resources at
the University of Delaware, 42% of Delaware’s uninsured acknowledged
that they needed to see a doctor but the high cost of office visits
prevented them from doing so.
above facts paint a stark portrait of the inadequacies of health care
delivery in Delaware. The
for-profit insurance industry has shown itself unable to solve this
problem while most politicians are simply not bold enough to publicly
support a single-payer system.
Delaware Attorney General, I will scrutinize insurance companies’
behavior and vigorously prosecute any individual company or group of
companies that illegally deny customers health care procedures,
medications or office visits that the customers’ health warrants. I will also use my position to advocate for a system of
justice that includes a vision of health care as a basic human right that
should be taken out of the hands of for-profit insurance companies and
overseen instead by a single-payer system.
In this regard I support House Bill
552, The Delaware Health Security Act.
Women, Low-Paying Jobs
and Comparable Worth
Delaware, women receive on average 22% lower pay than men.
Occupational differences are one of the primary reasons for this
income gap between men and women. These
occupational differences are brought about by workforce hiring practices
that slot women into certain kinds of work
and slot them out of other kinds of work.
the example of skilled crafts and precision repair work.
This job category includes carpenters, electricians, plumbers,
precision metal production workers, and so on.
For the most part, no blue-collar jobs are better paying than
these. Yet women, in spite of
making up approximately 50% of Delaware’s workforce, have barely
established a toe-hold within this job category.
Females hold only 8.1% of such positions.
as women fail to gain access to such prestigious non-traditional jobs,
they remain the dominating presence in traditional low-paying “women’s
work” occupations like typist, records processing, and low-level health
the income gap between men and women does not just stem from the sexes
doing different kinds of work. Pay
gaps often exist even when they perform the same or similar tasks.
an example of this, let me briefly discuss two different job categories.
The first category is that of stock and material movers. The second
category is the packers and packagers category. Both job categories
require approximately the same level of physical conditioning.
The one difference between them is this: that whereas packers
sometimes require a slightly greater level of hand-eye coordination and
motor skills than do movers, movers sometimes require a slightly greater
level of upper body strength than do packers.
Given that these two distinctions basically cancel each other out,
the jobs are for all practical purposes the same in terms of skill, energy
expenditure and so on.
in spite of this equivalence between the jobs, the packers and packaging
category is filled predominantly by women and the stock movers category is
filled predominantly by men. What makes this problematic is that the mostly male stock
movers earn more than $12 per hour while the mostly female packers earn
only $9.75 per hour.
a wage difference is not surprising once we realize how deeply ingrained
it is in our economy to pay women less for their work than men are paid,
even if the work is equivalent. As
more and more companies downsize and temp companies like Manpower, Inc.
become some of the country’s biggest
employers, women can expect to feel the power of such wage biases grow
even stronger, unless, that is, we fight back.
One fight-back method is to support comparable worth legislation,
which I do. The comparable
worth principle maintains that people doing the same or similar work must
receive equal pay. This
principle should not only be applied to men and women but to all people.
A worker’s pays should in no way be a consequence of her or his
gender, race, nationality or sexual preference.
Race in Delaware
takes pride in the “colorfulness” of its various Polish, Greek,
African-American, Italian, Hispanic, Indian and German festivals.
Yet beneath the surface of this mosaic of colors and ethnicities,
there lies a blemish: the lingering fact of racial inequity, particularly
as it affects the African-American community.
only does the black community suffer from disproportionate (and
unjustified) incarceration rates and a disproportionate (and unjustified)
presence on death row as mentioned earlier in this platform, but the
community also experiences the disadvantage of trying to survive within an
economy that has historically favored whites.
There is no sense mincing words about this issue since the problem
of inequity can’t be solved unless the facts are addressed
per capita income in Delaware is only 60% or three-fifths of
white per capita income.
African-American unemployment rate (8.2%) is more than twice as high
as the white unemployment rate (4%).
rate of home ownership among blacks is 20% less than among whites.
every white person who is imprisoned
in Delaware, 9.4 blacks are imprisoned in spite of the fact
that blacks make up only 18.6% of the population.
needs an Attorney General who isn’t afraid to confront head-on the
criminal justice consequences of such economic data.
If black incomes are artificially pushed downward by age-old hiring
practices that funnel blacks into less-skilled lower-paying jobs, the
state’s lead prosecutor must be willing to move forward boldly to stop
racially biased hiring practices wherever they are found, whether in big
companies or county police forces or public school systems.
if racially based discrimination is discovered in banks’ lending
practices, or health providers’ medical decisions, or judges’
sentencing patterns, then these problems must be addressed as problems to
be solved immediately, not as academic issues to be discussed endlessly.
Racial bias at the economic and government level is not something
that can be solved merely by trying to heal each symptom one at a time.
Instead, one must approach racism as a large-scale problem that
infects most of the institutions that affect our lives.
This means that we must move on multiple fronts at once in order to
get at the root of the issue.
Attorney General, I will be diligent in doing this.
Gay and Lesbian Rights
against people because of sexual orientation is intolerable in a
democratic society. Therefore,
wherever necessary, the existing body of law must be added to or amended
in order to guarantee gays, lesbians and bisexuals full protection under
Delaware has not done this yet.
House Bill 99, which would have extended protection against discrimination
in employment, housing, public contracts and public accommodation on the
basis of sexual orientation, should have been passed, but wasn’t.
Although the bill was passed in the House in March 2001 by a
21-20 vote, the bill did not receive Senate approval this year because
Sen. Robert L. Venables, a Democrat from Laurel, refused to let the bill
out of his committee for full Senate consideration.
This effectively killed the bill.
move was not only a strike against equity in the state, it raised
questions about legislators’ responsibilities to constituents.
As the Hickman Brown research firm discovered when it conducted a
Delaware poll this year, 78 percent of the state’s electorate thought
the full Senate should have been allowed to debate and vote on the bill,
and 69 percent said they supported the
polls cannot be relied upon to provide answers to all equal rights
questions (during the Civil Rights movement, there were polls that showed
the opposition of white majorities to black equality),
in this instance the poll on House Bill 99 indicated strong public
support for the broadening of the anti-discrimination concept to include a previously
excluded group. Legislators
who stand in the way of the public’s desire to expand democracy shirk their duties as guardians of people’s constitutional rights
to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and self-determination.
area of concern pertaining to sexual orientation rights is domestic
partner benefits. Domestic
partner benefits entail the right of a gay or lesbian partner to receive
the same benefits as would the spouse of an employee of a certain company,
business or government agency.
partner rights are usually extended in one of three ways, or in some
combination of the three ways.
Some municipalities allow homosexual couples and other
unmarried couples to register as domestic partners.
Such registration, although it often bestows no benefits on
either partner, allows for a symbolic public recognition of the
couple’s shared life. To
register as domestic partners, a couple usually has to satisfy certain
requirements include that the parties be at least 18 years old, have
lived together for a specified length of time, are not part of an
existing marriage or domestic partnership, are not related by blood ties closer than would bar marriage in the state,
and share basic living expenses.
These or similar criteria are also used for determining
eligibility for 2 and 3 below.
with limited benefits.
Sometimes the registration procedure described above is
accompanied by limited benefits like hospital visitation rights in
case of a partner’s hospitalization, shared occupancy rights in
public housing, and also as proof of a domestic partner relationship
for other purposes – e.g., employee health benefits.
or Corporate Domestic Partner Benefits.
Some municipalities and companies recognize domestic
partnership for the purpose of allowing partners to receive benefits
traditionally received only by married couples.
Bereavement leave, sick leave, health care and dental plans are
some of the typical benefits allowed to partners where domestic
partner legislation is in place.
Delaware companies that have domestic partner benefits include
General Motors, Daimler-Chrysler and The News Journal.
support domestic partner benefits as described in no. 3.
Delaware government should take the lead in furthering domestic
partnership rights by passing legislation that provides domestic partner
benefits to state, county and municipal employees.
number of issues pertaining to education are important to this campaign.
Neighborhood Schools Movement.
I favor local schools and local control of schools.
Schools close to home mean safer children and more involved
parents. However, I do have
some fears concerning the neighborhood schools law.
Those fears are that the costs of implementing the law will be much
too high, that it will effectively resegregate our school system, and that
Wilmington residents will get an inferior educational system because
effectively segregated city schools do not function as well or get funded
as well as their suburban counterparts do.
Testing is valuable if it is part of a broad array of evaluation
techniques that provide a solid overview of a of a student’s
performance. Such a
multidimensional evaluation method also can help teachers focus their
teaching on materials which need to be covered.
Unfortunately, Delaware’s new high stakes testing has a number of
potentially bad consequences. For
instance, faced with the new accountability rules, teachers may feel
pressured into teaching how to take tests, rather than teaching the
subject matter. What’s more, many capable students don’t test well,
which means that a method of evaluation that is based solely on tests
would inaccurately label them as inferior students.
to Higher Education.
Increasingly, many Delaware families are unable to meet the cost of
tuition and room and board at the University of Delaware, let alone at
more expensive private colleges or universities. As tuition at the
University of Delaware and elsewhere has risen steadily over the last 15
years, the number of poor students able to afford college has decreased
dramatically, yet the only assistance that the state of Delaware provides
economic hard-hit students is a tax-deferred savings account, which helps
the middle classes, not the poor. Because
of this, I support state scholarship aid for families who have difficulty
paying the high costs of a university education for their children.
problem is that the university recently changed its admissions
requirements in such a ways that only around 30% of its freshmen students
come from Delaware. Moreover, in 1955 the University was forced to
desegregate by court order, yet its student population of
African-Americans remains in the 4%-5% range as does its number of
African-American faculty; its percentages of other people of color groups
is also low. As a consequence
of such imbalances, I support proposals that would guarantee admission to
any Delaware student with at least a “B” average and to ensure that
the student population of African-Americans and other people of color more
closely approximates their percentage of the state’s population.
Children’s Education: Who’s
Controlling it and Why?
Theoretically, the public education system’s purpose is to
educate children. Too often,
however, this “education” is based less on the texts teachers teach to
students than on the social values that the powers that be want to instill
in students’ minds. What those powers want from the Delaware school
system are graduates who behave in ways that are amenable to the corporate
world. As Delaware’s
Richard H. LaPenta, president of Insurance and Financial Services Ltd.,
wrote in a 1995 education-related News Journal article, “Personal
bearing, communications skills and ‘agreeability’ are critical in how
the individual gets along with clients, teammates and is productive.”
schools teach these skills. If a student does not rise to the occasion and prove
her/himself to be on the road to proper bearing, the development of good
communication skills and the art of agreeability, she or he is labeled an
inferior student, an antisocial loner or a discipline problem.
Not surprisingly, in the school districts serving Wilmington, a
disproportionate number of suspensions, expulsions and special education
participants are from minority and low-income families.
As the NAACP, the Rainbow Coalition, People’s Settlement and
other city organizations have pointed out over the years, public school
disciplinary procedures and special education programs are often used as
garbage disposal systems for unwanted students – i.e., students who,
because they distrust authority and question the merit of existing social
hierarchies, adopt “improper” behaviors, thereby making themselves
“unworthy” of the school system’s and the power elite’s blessings.
These are not the kids LaPenta wants working at his company or
gaining influence in the community at large.
Instead, he wants them exiled from such opportunities even before
their adult work lives begin. Like
many other corporate leaders, LaPenta expects public schools to play a
pivotal role in making sure these young men and women are kept in their
takes little imagination to see how the LaPenta approach reinforces
existing economic and racial divides.
this business approach to public education is more widespread in Delaware
– and therefore in Wilmington – than some people think.
Education Reform: the
Background. As most
people know, Delaware has passed an education reform bill.
This bill was the culmination of years of education-related debate
in the state. The biggest
proponents of the reform idea argued that unless local public schools were
redesigned to better serve the business community, the state’s economy
the reform issue was essentially about giving the state’s business elite
greater say in structuring Delaware’s public education system was made
clear by reform supporters’ comments.
October 19, 1999, at a public hearing on reform, then-Governor Carper
responded to heated questioning about the big push for reform legislation
by arguing that “the business community has stressed the importance of
implementing student accountability” as soon as possible.
the education debate, The News Journal acted as the business community’s voice.
When in early 2000 it looked as if the reform push was in jeopardy,
a Journal editorial lashed out at opponents by stating that “the
education reform movement in Delaware is in a pathetic mess” because of
certain special interest groups and ignorant parents who didn’t
appreciate how “the business community initiated the reform movement and
. . . nurtured it faithfully over the years.”
The News Journal’s
suggestion for how to solve this “pathetic mess” was for the state
business elite to “energize its members” since “only they can
demonstrate the crucial link between improved public education and
economic growth in Delaware.” When
it finally became clear that an education reform bill was going to pass,
The News Journal once again drove home the point that the reform
crusade’s virtue resided in the fact that it was primarily a
business-oriented crusade. In
a March 20, 2000 editorial, the paper reminded readers that “it was the
state’s business community that first declared the public schools were
not doing the job. They
provided money for research and development and its members kept constant
pressure on educators and political office holders to keep on the task.”
surprisingly, The News Journal
and other reform supporters didn’t raise certain issues pertaining to
the possible negative influences the business community might have on
public education. What level
of “agreeability,” for instance, does DuPont think should characterize
its employees and how can the public schools best promote this value?
Is it likely that DuPont wants to promote the kind of critical
thinking skills and analytical strengths that would encourage students to
question the negative environmental effects of pesticides or the possible
harmful consequences of genetically engineered crops?
Or what about MBNA? Is
the credit card company, which doesn’t support affirmative action,
likely to promote a public education system that encourages students to
develop the kind of sociological insight that would view programs like
affirmative action as sensible structural remedies to problems like
institutional racism? Or
would MBNA encourage social studies dialogues about the meaning of
democracy in a society where the board members of a company like MBNA make
huge campaign donations to the members of the very Senate and House
committees which are meant to oversee MBNA and other banks?
It’s doubtful that MBNA wants an educational system that
encourages the kind of critical thinking abilities that could eventually
lead students to question the possible dangers to democracy of MBNA having
financial relations with 17 out of the 20 members of the Senate Banking
Committee and with 28 of the 60 members of the House Banking and Financial
Services Committee. (The
Sunday News Journal, 3/12/2000, p. A1)
issues return us to LaPenta’s quote above concerning what business
people are looking for in graduates: “Personal bearing, communications
skills and ‘agreeability’ are critical in how the individual gets
along with clients, teammates and is productive.” In other words,
businesses want to hire graduates who have been trained in the public
schools to understand that the key to success in the business world
isn’t critical thinking or creativity, but the right appearance
(personal bearing), the aura of education (communication skills) and
agreeability (conformity to the corporate world-view).
state needs at least one public official willing to raise such issues in a
fearless way. If not, serious
damage can be done to our youth over the long-term. For instance, under
the new “reformed” educational system three different kinds of
diplomas will now be given to high school graduates: (a) graduates who get
passing grades but who do not pass a 10th grade proficiency
test will receive a standard diploma,
(b) graduates who get passing grades and pass the 10th grade
proficiency test will receive an academic
diploma, and (c) graduates who get good grades and score high on the
10th grade proficiency test will receive a distinguished
academic diploma. Given
the disproportionate number of minority and low-income students who
receive suspensions and
expulsions and/or are placed in special education, it is interesting that
none of education reform’s supporters raised questions about how the new
three-tier diploma system might very well support the same imbalances.
Certainly no one will be surprised if minority and low-income
students end up receiving a disproportionate number of standard diplomas,
which are the least prestigious of the three diplomas that can be earned.
Then our corporate leaders and government officials will give nice
speeches about how sad it is that the world seems to be so unfair.
am opposed to such a reckless playing around with our children’s and
Attorney General’s Office & Renewable Energy
There is increasing national agreement that renewable energy and
energy efficiency are crucial to future development.
In Delaware, with our water- and air-quality problems, the need to
use renewable energy sources and to develop greater energy efficiency are
greater than in some other states.
energy and energy efficiency aren’t just environmental concerns,
however. They also have
economic implications. The
development of related resources has the potential to create jobs for both
skilled and unskilled workers. Also,
funds invested in the installation of the relevant renewable energy and
energy efficiency technologies are funds that will remain in Delaware, as
opposed to sending funds out of state by paying for fossil fuel shipments.
these facts, it is clear that renewable energy and energy efficiency are
good for both the physical and financial well-being of the State of
what does all this have to do with the attorney general’s office?
Although the attorney general job clearly is not an energy
development position, it is nonetheless true that the AG’s mandate is to
enforce state laws and provide the legal contexts in which we evaluate
individual, government and corporate behaviors.
In this light, there are several areas in which AG oversight with
regard to renewable energy issues would benefit the state.
attorney general should assure that net-metering, which was
established in Delaware’s Electric Utility Restructuring Act of
1999, is available to consumers without financial or bureaucratic
act allows homeowners to sell back solar or wind generated power to
the power company at the going price – in other words, individuals
and families are given the equivalent of a cost reduction if they use
alternative energy sources. Consumer
incentives like these should be pushed as aggressively as tax breaks
and land grants for corporations.
AG’s office should oversee the process of making sure that Delaware
laws promoting renewable energy as an option aren’t allowed to
degenerate into token legislation that exists but is ignored.
For instance, the annual
$1.5 million Public Benefit Fund should be spent, as intended, to
promote awareness of renewable energy.
Yet presently this fund isn’t being utilized profitably but
instead has been left to languish in the absence of clear direction
for its use from the Public Advocate's office or the Economic Development Office.
AG should certify that the terms of PEPCO/Conectiv
merger are followed and that Delaware residents are protected from
collusion, price hikes, and monopolistic behavior designed to prevent
outside competition. As
part of the merger arrangement, a $200,000 fund was set aside for the
purpose of promoting renewable energy. This fund, however, is inactive. Although the fund is
basically a public relations gimmick developed to defuse
Delawareans’ concerns about the merger’s possible consequences -
e.g., mounting costs, job cuts, environmental problems - the attorney
general should nonetheless make sure that the $200,000 is used for its
intended purpose, as opposed to stagnating in an account and then
eventually defaulting back to the company for use on other projects.
attorney general should form a task force to study all state laws
which might unnecessarily restrict installation of wind generators,
solar panels or other alternate methods of utilizing sun and wind
power. In other states, laws
governing radio towers and billboards have been invoked to prevent
wind or solar projects. If
the task force were to find laws in Delaware that are unnecessarily
restrictive or which have been applied frivolously in other states to
prohibit alternative energy projects, those laws should
be amended to clarify their application to renewables.
three years of deregulation, not one certified Green Power provider
has set up shop in Delaware. In
contrast, PA and NJ each have several such providers that offer an
electric supply based on a renewable energy.
When finally a similar company is enticed to Delaware, the AG's
office must verify that no incineration of municipal or animal waste
or landfill gas is used to generate what some marketers misleadingly
call "green" energy in spite of the fact that it’s not
the AG could insist that Salem Nuclear plant operators meet
all federal and state guidelines as they apply to Delaware residents.