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Quintessential Delaware - The stories you'd rather forget

This week's made gridlock across much New Castle Country due to what is affectionately being called "Pennies from Heaven" has prompted a review of Delaware's most morbid newsworthy events for the last twenty years.  If we miss any, please add in the comments.

1. Jack Markell.  Need we say more?

2. The Capanos. Delaware's answer to the mafia. Yes, yes we did.  For all of our out-of-staters and those millennials far too young to understand the Capano Dynasty. It all began in 1947 when an Italian immigrant, a carpenter, stated a small homebuilding company in New Castle County and especially in the sleepy suburbs of Wilmington.  Louis Capano Sr grew to be one of the most respected custom home builders in the state as well as one of our most respected citizens.  His early death in 1980 surprised many and the family business transferred into the hands of his prodigy son, Louis Jr.  Louis had three brothers, Thomas, Joseph and Gerry, Delaware royalty who've found themselves stripped of their crowns. Tom went from promising lawyer and politician to murderer when he killed his then-girlfriend and enlisted drug-addicted gun-owning, felon, brother Gerry to dump her body at sea in a small strip of water known as Maco Alley.  (A moment of respect for the deceased, we still mourn you and your family.) To boot, he dumped his bloodstained furniture in brother Joe's construction dumpsters and picked up new carpeting from Airbase Carpet Mart in his effort to hide his crime. It all would eventually unravel, culminating with two trials and Tom's eventual death in Delaware prison cell. (Respectful pause for the daughters he left behind and his sister Marion, who has kept herself and her family above the fray.)

  • Hotel Hell: If you thought the loss of Tom or horror of his crimes would lead the Capano brothers into some quiet obscurity, you thought wrong.  It took 10 years and four owners, but in 2011 the Sheraton Wilmington South along 141 and 195 finally opened to customers. The land use battle all began when Tom's brother Joe Sr, who in 2000, completed his Radisson Hotel but couldn't get Certificate of Occupancy because the hotel was 50,000 feet larger than the county approved plans. Some called for blowing expanding foam into the top two floors of the hotel to permanently prevent those guest rooms from ever being used.  It didn't happen. Instead, Capano's company defaulted the loan to its Florida-based bank. The bank sold it to the same folks who own Delaware Park, Parkside. Capano filed suit that the county had violated his firm's Civil Rights. Counter suits. More counter suits. Judgements that almost landed Joe a cool 2 mil were finally overturned by the Delaware Supreme Court. In 2010, Parkside finally received a certificate to open and three months later sold the hotel to the Hersha group out of Philly.  And we didn't even touch on how the hotel was built in a floodplain.
  • Joseph M. Capano. Tom's brother. Developer. Family man.  Wealthy. With a past that included kidnapping and rape charges that were eventually pled down misdemeanors. When Joe passed away in 2015, he was in the midst of battle with brother Louis over the company that his father had built. 
  • And just this month, the law finally caught up with Joe Sr., another Capano relative, who as the developer for the Riverbend Community (in yet another floodplain, dumpsters and floodplains, we love 'em in Delaware) was sentenced to 21 months plus a year of home confinement when he pled guilty to the 1 count of violating the Clean Water Act and 1 count of bank fraud.
3. Brian Peterson and Amy Grossberg.  Newsweek once described the New Jersey college co-eds as "...Perfect teens.  Then she got pregnant, they got scared - and the baby ended up dead." With a nod to our millennials, you're probably wondering about the connection with Delaware?  The University of Delaware,of course,  which spent weeks at the epicenter of the murder of Baby Grossberg after the freshman and her boyfriend birthed the child in a local motel and then tossed her out in a dumpster. (Two dumpster stories in a row, youda thunk Delaware really gigs on its trash conveyors.) Two two-year prison terms later, and a good twenty years, Brian was last seen in Florida working for his step-father and Amy was rumored to have started her own greeting card line sold at high end shops in New York.  Millennials - this is directed entirely at you - if you eventually have children and are lucky enough to have one of each traditional gender - do NOT name one Brian and the other Amy.  Fight the compulsion!

4. Newarker Eaten by Pet Lizards in Towne Court. Aside from the fact Towne Court is no longer Towne Court- although it will always be Town Court - likely in part due to this legacy story - these lizards were not your average pet Artemis. (My husband had small lizard once, he named her Artemis. H/T to hubby.) Ron leased a small studio apartment in Towne Court, but his seven, yes, seven, monitor lizards had the run of it, along with aquariums and smaller reptiles. But, it all came to a grisly end when Newark Police found Huff's already dead body being malled by his cold-blooded pets.

5. Bees.  Did you know that the state actually has a disaster plan for bees? They have a team of Apiarist ready to be dispatched at a moments notice which was particularly helpful when a truck loaded with bees in hives overturned at 896 and I95.  For days Delawareans were advised to keep their windows closed when driving on the interstate and residents in the corridor were advised to stay inside and be vigilant if you did go outside.  Swarms of bees travelled up the interstate to the sandbox by 141in search of queens, many who had perished in the accident.  Fortunately, bees can't function without a queen and after about a week, a handful of bees had joined local hives but most perished.

6. And now, the Pennies from Heaven or rather a nuclear bomb laden with unminted copper.  Who knew that an overturned tractor trailer carrying unstamped pennies could tie up Delaware's roads for nearly a full day? The pain was felt as far south as Dover. There's definately a lot we could learn from this.  Just think, Delaware's population is not even a million, yet, and the half the state was literally parked on the roadways.  Imagine what would happen if Delaware had to do a full evacuation?

Math lesson: Kavips, this one is for you. If any one can solve the following word problem, it's you!

And, no,this is not common core, it's far more relevant.  There are 454 grams of copper in a lb. There are 2.95 grams of copy in a penny.  What is the market value of the copper in the penny today?

So it happens that when the price of copper is $1.54 per pound, the value of the copper in a penny is nearly equal to one cent.

We are looking for the market value of the copper in a penny.  At today's exchange rates  1 lb of copper is selling at $2.1329. Thus the market value of the penny is ____________.

Although all are welcome to share their best answer in the comments section.

That's our top 6. Have a Great Week!

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Whole Brain Teaching DeBunked!

Sixteen years after Whole Brain Teaching was first marketed by Chris Biffle and some teacher friends, neuroscientists are looking at the program and the longitudinal data and some are even calling the technique child abuse.  Yeah, it's well marketed, but it's highly controversial.  Here is some of the body of criticism both from former "users" and highly respected edu/neuro researchers.

This method of “conditioning” children with authoritarian fear and intimidation is “abusive”. It is the same as “bullying”. It’s purpose is to “break” children. Adults who use and teach this method obviously grew up in a dysfunctional environment of “bullying”, so it is “normal” for them, but it is NOT normal by society’s standards.
WBT claims. Biffle (2010) asserted that when the whole brain is stimulated during the learning process, improved self-beliefs and achievement ensued. Biffle (2010) proposed the use of seven teaching techniques, referred to as The Big Seven, to address 32 student need for brain stimulation in the classroom. Before a description of these techniques and related literature are presented, a close examination of the resesarch link on the whole brain teaching website is warranted as caution is expressed among neuroscientists (Coch & Ansari, 2012; Immordino-Yang & Faeth, 2010; Willis, 2010) in the use of brain research for education as its implications were only suggestive. While brain research has been used to help guide educational interventions, it cannot predict the outcomes of these interventions. In addition, brain-based claims found in educational resources often appeared to be based on overgeneralizations and inaccurate interpretations of neuroscientific research (Coch & Ansari, 2012). While Biffle (2010) maintained that the seven teaching techniques were developed as a result of feedback received from WBT conference participants and from teachers via information from the whole brain teaching website, the brain-based claims throughout the WBT approach suggested that a neuroscientific foundation is present. This was seen in Biffle’s (2010) claim that use of the WBT techniques in the classroom would activate students prefrontal, motor, and visual cortex’s, Brocas’ and Wernicke’s areas, the limbic system, and the hippocampus. presents Annual Performance Index (API) Growth data from the Victor Elementary School District in California. The principal at 6th Street Prep in the Victor Elementary School District was referenced as attributing improved API scores at the school to the implementation of WBT techniques. The superintendent of Victor Elementary School District is quoted as stating that the district saw an increase in student learning results and teachers routinely using WBT practices were lending support to mastery learning for students. The assessment indicating increased student learning 33 results is not specified. However, the API scores were implied. While API data indicated growth in student performance in a portion of the district, there was no WBT implementation data providing record as to the WBT techniques used, which schools used them, and how long they were used. It would be appropriate then to question whether other factors contributed to API growth. Without data on the districts implementation of WBT techniques available, a true correlation between API growth and use of the techniques could not be made. These reports were merely informal observations, subject to bias, and hardly sound evidence of a correlation between positive achievement outcomes and the use of WBT techniques. While these outcomes must be considered with caution, as scientific inquiry into the data as it relates to WBT is not apparent, using this information as preliminary data for scientific investigation was warranted.

The method might be fun, engaging and popular, judging by teacher testimonials and company-conducted polls.
But the techniques are not validated by contemporary brain research, according to two experts in the relationship between neuroscience and education who reviewed the claims for the Akron Beacon Journal.
“Nothing I see here indicates that there is any neuroscientific backing for anything they’re suggesting,” said Dan Willingham, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Virginia.
The Beacon Journal also asked David Daniel, managing editor of the peer-reviewed science journal Mind, Brain and Education to examine the research page at
“I think he has these ideas that may or may not work, and he’s using brain stuff to market them,” said Daniel, a psychology professor at James Madison University. “The brain stuff on the web page is very cursory, very shallow. That could be just his way of communicating or it could be his level of understanding. Either way, it’s misleading.” 
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“Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken.” ― Orson Scott Card

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Oh Lorde!

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Clue: Take Two

The Game - Clue, The Delaware Way Version In 1944, Englishman Anthony Pratt filed a patent on a murder/mystery game he had invented to pass the time during air raid drills in underground bunkers Though it was quickly acquired by Waddington's, the game was not launched until 1949 when it was simultaneously released in the U.S. by Parker Brothers. Notably, the version that reached publication included 324 possible combinations of room/weapon/offender.

The Setting - Woodburn, the Governor's Mansion where a select few have been brought together to hash out Delaware's edu-political future over a dinner. The appetizers include the Organics Valley Veggie Tray and Goldens Gourmet Veggie Strips with entrees by Panera Bread. Desserts to be supplied by Serpe's Bakery. It should be noted that Woodburn's residents share their home with several benevolent spirits and one particularly evil manifestation - the ghost of a southern slave raider who died while hiding in a poplar tree that still graces Woodburn today.

The Rooms -

The Weapons - A Candlestick, Knife, Revolver, Syringe, Wrench, Lead Pipe, and Botulism

Mr. Boddy -
Image result for mr boddyThere is no doubt that Mr. Boddy will be played by Kathleen Davies, a top official in Delaware's Auditor's Office - subject hit piece published by the News Journal on July 30th.  In May, Kathleen's name was quietly removed from the department's website as she was placed on paid administrative leave b/c someone in OMB starting questioning her absolutely legal and appropriate reimbursement method for work expenses.  A footnote in the state's BAM manual states that direct reimbursement is acceptable despite the preferred method of P-Cards. She's still a state employee and has not been charged with anything.  However, she has laywared up and is obviously digging in for the fight of her life and career. She's known in local circles to have a high regard for integrity as well as for her commitment to transparency.  She recently testified to the legislature in support of a bill by Rep. Kim Williams that would have raised the bar for charter school audits. We also know that Kathleen was working on a charter school petty cash audit that has since been quashed by State Auditor Tom Wagner since Davies was put to pasture.

Current A.G. and former Lt. Gov. Matt Denn, rode the coattails of "change agent" Gov. Jack Markell into an office view of The Green. The two-term shadow and Education Advocate of the Del Dem Markell, he had already mounted a quiet campaign for Governor in 2016, the heir apparent to the term-limit-bound Markell. But, a surprising announcement that our state's Prince of the Political Dynasty, Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, would not seek another four years as Attorney General and was determined to go for Governorship derailed Denn's presumed candidacy. He filed for the Attorney General's race instead where he won hands down. Sadly, Beau passed away from cancer a year ago and the Democratic Party has been sputtering ever since.  Besides, Denn has his hands full, defending the state in an OCR suit brought by the ACLU  and the Community Legal Aid Society over whether or not charter schools are gaming the system to re-segregate minority, special education ,and poor students.

The Gov. Jack Markell who turned Kids into Rats was the campaigner for "change" eight or so years ago,when his successful primary split the Democratic Party wide open. He has strayed from his public platform and sold much of the state to the private interests that control the Star Chamber of Commerce and out-of-state private entities. Under Markell's reign, the Great Recession has taken hold in Delaware and the middle class has been decimated. Jack tells me that the Recession is over, yet thousands of Delawareans have yet to realize "this."  With many constituents offering votes of no confidence in this politician, it is widely hoped that the outgoing governor will receive his due political appointment in Washington D.C. essentially sending him packing.

The Honorable Auditor Tom Wagner, State Auditor of Accounts, has been elected a stunning seven times. He's identified millions of dollars in cost savings for Delaware residents with a special focus on Education and Transportation. He has a 100% conviction rate for the cases he's forwarded to the office of A.G.  Yet, he let his own home go to foreclosure - with a last minute save from friends at M&T Bank - and he's balked repeatedly when it comes to anonymous tips submitted by the public.  A lone Republican on the Dover "hill", Wagner's best agent was Kathleen Davies - a rising star - and as the public is soon to learn - Wagner's and OMB's sacrificial lamb.

Ann Visalli is Gov. Markell's former cherry picked leader of the Office of Management and Budget. Her appointment was no surprise, she's served now served the gov for a total of 17 years, dating all the way back to his Treasurer's years, when Jack was a mere speck on the political radar. Anne's claim to fame is that she has built the Gov's budget annually since 2008.  She was his number's gal, his Wonder Woman. She was also State Employee Public Enemy Number One for her efforts to redesign the state's  left her Governor for the private sector just before the Davies squeeze-out began.  What did Ann know?  And how many licks does it take to get to the center of tootsie roll pop?  The world may never know...

Brian Maxwell is Markell's replacement for Visalli.  Brian is no
noobie - he's Visalli's male counterpart.  He, too, dates back to the Gov's years as State Treasurer and prior to that he was an Assistant Vice President at Citigroup. You can read his letter to the public here:  This guy is so loyal to Markell, he sticks to him like sweaty underpants.

The Delaware Charter Network is one of the state's strongest lobbies.  Which is quite remarkable given its small staff of three.  But, it's efficient, fending off countless efforts to reform charter school law to level the playing field between charter and traditional public school systems.  What's often forgotten is that the choice law and the charter system was never meant to be equal to the traditional system - it was designed to create laboratories of innovation that would lead to new practices that would be shared with the traditional system. But, in-fighting between the pro-charter and anti-charter factions has greatly impeded these conversations. At the end of the day, all charter's are experiments and parents who engage them (this writer includeded) must accept responsibility for enrolling his/her child in a great experiment.  It's also notable that Charter's appear to be the only schools that the state can successfully close - Moyer, Pencader, Reach, and Met have all met demise at the hands of the Delaware Department of Education and the state's Gov-Appointed Board of Education.  It's also notable that a slew of charter schools have come under fire for financial mismanagement - Family Foundations, Academy of Dover, Providence Creek, Thomas Edison and more.  It would be foolish to think that Davies didn't have her hand in the audits of these schools, putting her high on the Network's Hit List.

New Castle Counties Collective Traditional School Districts, with the exclusion of Red Clay, have long shunned charter schools. NCCo districts have often cried foul on charter's, lamenting how they take funding away from traditional districts.  The problem with this argument is that the funding follows the students to whichever school he/she attends, absent home school and private and therefore, it's not really all that fair that traditional districts claim the money ever really belonged to them.  It belongs to the students.  The traditional's have also denounced charters for creaming and re-segregation of schools through selective enrollment processes and counseling out - which bolsters that ACLU OCR challenge. But, none of this has ever actually been proven with the exception of Charter School of Wilmington's famed "test."  Although the OCR finding might finally be the decisive opinion.  Conversely, Charter schools are the only schools the state has successfully closed in decades.  With a nod to the neighborhood schools law it is nearly impossible to take out a traditional public school.  But, that's not why the Collective makes the list of suspects - it's this:  it's the number of CFOs who proclaim he/she could steal money right out of first state financials -FSF, the state's accounting software - in a wink of an eye, if he/she really wanted to and no one would ever know better. Was this what Davies was about to learn?

Friends, the question is: Who did it and with what?  I'm guessing Markell with a Visalli and Botulism in Woodburn's Basement! 

Leave Your Guesses in Comments and We'll see how this political mystery plays out in the coming months!

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Ok - You guess, why this video?

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Let's Rock with ExceptionalDelaware - Ballads of 1979 - 1987

Hey Kevin,  I got  a few you missed - cut off the list because they were released in 1978, but survey worthy nonetheless!

Hey Readers, here's the link to KO's post:

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Greatest Hits of All Time! A Requiem for what legislative hall left unanswered...

C&E's Greatest Hits of All Times
Don't always trust the screen counter, it's there for fun, but internally we can track every individual and unique hit by country. And these hits represent the countries watching Delaware through my sad little blog.

United States     149352
Russia                13221
Ukraine              12545
Germany             9027
France                8928
China                  4905
Japan                  4000
Poland                2693
United Kingdom  2266
Turkey                1608

Total                  249,595

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Good Night Legislative Hall Courtesy Green Day!

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