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©_2002_Authorized and_paid_for_by_the Committee_to_Elect Vivian_Houghton Attorney_General, 800_N_West_St., Wilmington_DE_19801

Platform Statement 
by Vivian Houghton

Green Party Candidate 
for Attorney General



Phone: (302) 239-2572

E-mail:  agcandidate@vivianhoughton.com 

Website:  www.vivianhoughton.com/vivian 


Table of Contents

  1. Introductory Note 

  2. Delaware & Corporate Welfare

  3. The State Poultry Industry & the Treatment of Hispanic Immigrants 

  4. Economy and Social Justice

  5. Criminal Justice

  6. Health Care

  7. Women, Low-Paying Jobs and Comparable Worth

  8. Race in Delaware

  9. Gay and Lesbian Rights

  10. Education

  11. The Attorney General’s Office & Renewable Energy 

1.  Introductory Note

In 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.  

This 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.  

Although 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 reports. 

If 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 website. 

Thank you very much. 

2.  Delaware & Corporate Welfare 

The FCDA.  Delaware’s most noticeable economic feature is its character as a corporate-friendly state. 

The 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.  

Not 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.  

This 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.  

Prior 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.  

As 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 staggering 39%. 

Enron, 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.  

The 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.  

It 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 collapsing. 

In 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.  

As 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. 

Something is wrong with economic priorities – and interpretations of the law – that allow such things to happen.  

Steps 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. 

The Vivian Houghton Attorney General campaign, however, disagrees with this.  

I 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 to individuals.  

This means:  

a.  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 regulations. 

b.  The attorney general’s office must probe DNREC.  The reason:   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 violations.  

c.  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 private companies.  

d.  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. 

3.  The State Poultry Industry & the Treatment of Hispanic Immigrants 

Runoff 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.  

In 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.  

In 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.  

Equally 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 family. 

A 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. 

Take 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. 

Because 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. 

Given 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: 

  1. Latinos working for sub-normal wages in Delaware's poultry industry.  

  2. Disregard for the pre-natal health of Delaware’s immigrant women. 

  3. Pedro Martinez dead on the Newark railroad tracks.  

  4. Poultry companies’ lack of concern about their contamination of the state’s waterways.  

As 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.  

4.  Economy & Social Justice 

Economic Data.  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%. 

Delaware 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. 

Take 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.  

As 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.  

Such 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.  

The 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.  

Living 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.  

Since 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.  

The 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 hour.

Given 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.  

Living wage legislation is mandatory if we want to stop the expansion of the state’s poverty and near-poverty populations. 

The 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 decreased.  Why?  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. 

Just 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.  

Take 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 lost. 

So, 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.  

This 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 cucumber yield. 

Profits first, people last, that’s the message.  

Look 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.  

How did it come to this, that chicken, fish, people and the environment are all secondary to corporate profits? 

And don’t forget cows.  

According 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 unpredictable behaviors.  

Cows 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 what happens.  

5. Criminal Justice

As 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. 

Death Penalty.  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 startling disproportion.  

Delaware’s 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 general.  

Fortunately, 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.”  

In spite of such realities, Senate President Pro-Tem Thomas Sharp blocked the bill by refusing to release it from the Judiciary Committee which he heads.

As 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.  

Mandatory 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.  

Two further limitations of Brady’s reforms are as follows.   

  1. Although 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 increase it.  

  2. Although 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 board.  

Both of these reform limitations will contribute to further prison overcrowding and the continued ineffective handling of drug abuse.  

As 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.”  

The time has come for the state attorney general to set the tone for solving such problems rather than supporting their continuation.  

Even 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.  

Also 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.  

Stands on Criminal Justice Issues. As an attorney general candidate, I support the following actions.  

  1. Abolition 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 be determined.  

  2. The elimination of mandatory sentencing and the creation of a policy of drug abuse treatment rather than jail time for dealing with addiction.  

  3. More racial diversity in police departments.  

6. Health Care

With 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.  

The 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.  

The 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.  

  1. The Uninsured.  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.  

  2. The 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 whites.  

  3. Cancer.  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 year.  

  4. Infant Mortality.  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 Delaware.  

  5. Wealth 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.  

  6. Preventive 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.  

The 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.  

As 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.  

7.  Women, Low-Paying Jobs and Comparable Worth

In 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. 

Take 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.  

Meanwhile, 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 services work.  

But 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. 

As 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.  

Yet 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.  

Such 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.  

Comparable Worth.  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.  

8.  Race in Delaware 

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.  

Not 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 straightforwardly.  


  • Black  per capita income in Delaware is only 60% or three-fifths of white per capita income.  

  • The African-American unemployment rate (8.2%) is more than twice as high as the white unemployment rate (4%).  

  • The rate of home ownership among blacks is 20% less than among whites.  

  • For 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.  

Delaware 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.  

Similarly, 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.  

As Attorney General, I will be diligent in doing this.  

9.  Gay and Lesbian Rights 

Discrimination 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 the law.  

Unfortunately, Delaware has not done this yet. 

Delaware’s 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.  

Venables’ 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 bill.  

Although 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.  

Another 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. 

Domestic partner rights are usually extended in one of three ways, or in some combination of the three ways.

  1. Public registration.  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 criteria.  Typical 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.  

  2. Registration 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. 

  3. Municipal 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.  

I 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. 

10.  Education

A number of issues pertaining to education are important to this campaign. 

The 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. 

High Stakes Testing.  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.  

Access 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. 

Another 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. 

Our 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.” 

The 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 place.  

It takes little imagination to see how the LaPenta approach reinforces existing economic and racial divides.  

Unfortunately, this business approach to public education is more widespread in Delaware – and therefore in Wilmington – than some people think. 

Delaware 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 would suffer.  

That 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.

On 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.  

Throughout 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.”  

Not 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) 

Such 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).  

The 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. 

I am opposed to such a reckless playing around with our children’s and grandchildren’s futures. 

11.  The Attorney General’s Office & Renewable Energy 

Background.  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.  

Renewable 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. 

Given 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 Delaware. 

But what does all this have to do with the attorney general’s office?  

Suggestions.  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. 

  1. The 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 barriers.  This 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.  

  2. The 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. 

  3. The 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.  

  4. The 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

  5. Despite 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 environmentally sound.  

  6. Finally, the AG could insist that Salem Nuclear plant operators meet all federal and state guidelines as they apply to Delaware residents.