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The Cure

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How DOE Makes Policy and Chooses Vendors

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Salvation is Free

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When I Come Around

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Silence Cover

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The Shirt

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State Employee Healthcare Should be a No Brainer

$1 Billion.
That's the estimated health care cost for Delaware's state employees by 2020.  (Remember when 2020 was just a tv show?  I'm definitely feeling my age.)

Our Gov. wants to balance his budget on the backs of state employees.  And he's got it wrong.  At least that's the opinion of the working poor, the non-unionized and unionized alike.

Yes, not all state employees belong to a union.  And some are paid just dreadful wages.  Single parent supports a family of four on $20,000?  Who does that these days?  Imagine all the two earners families who don't ever see the light of day over $45,000?  And Delaware has a ton of them, under-employed earners who have yet to make a post-recession comeback!

If you are non-union, why even work for the State?  For the health insurance.  I am a SME - Subject Matter Expert.  I have a special set of skills and knowledge that the state needs to fulfill its commitment to our jointly chosen field.

When I was stay-at-home wife and mother, my husband carried our health insurance at the cost of $12,000/year.  Twelve grand was our share, plus co-pays and deductibles.  Thank you, private sector.  It broke us, b/c after paying the premium we couldn't afford to go to the doctors or medical aid units. While we tried to keep up with our children's healthcare needs, they went years without visiting a dentist or eye doctor.  A two day stint in the hospital under my husband's insurance cost us more than $3,000.00.

My job was our savior. Although the pay is low, the affordable insurance means my children and I can see our doctors and specialists.  My husband, however, is still capitated to his employer's plan.

I can't tell you how insulted I was to read Ann Visalli's comments in the News Journal this morning:

Ann Visalli, Markell’s budget director, who announced her resignation Friday to take a job with St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, said changes to the health care plan would ask employees “to be good consumers and have a stake in how their healthcare dollars are spent.”
Come on, Ann.  You can't seriously think that state employees are abusing their healthcare benefits? That's what you are insinuating, whether you publicly admit it or not.  Healthcare dollars are spent on HEALTHCARE! We, the employees of the State, don't set the co-pays and fees. YOU, the State do, when you negotiate with the INSURANCE PROVIDERS!  Do YOUR job and negotiate for savings from THEM.  Not US!

(the no-brainer part - Graduated premiums.  Make the state's $100,000 + employees pay more for insurance.)

St. Andrew's can have you!  Insult them for a while.


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Jake's Take on DE's Pooch Patrol Problem. With a special Nod To Patricia Blevins!

Jake left a fascinating comment on yesterday's satyric post on an animal welfare and the SPCA's serving Delaware.  I don't usually wade into this type of manure. I just wanted to make a point - ALL of the agencies and organizations claiming to be serving our state's unwanted, lost, and sick animals are playing politics when they shouldn't be. They should be playing caregiver.  Except, that would require certain politicians to stop playing God.  And some just can't...stop. Like a trainwreck, Patti.

And be sure to follow the link below to Delaware SPCA's response to yesterday's NJ story.  Their director is far better spoken that First State's Director Usilton.  (And I still think that someone's contract should be euthanized.)

Here ya go, Jake.  And Happy Autism Awareness Day!

Jake has left a new comment on your post "Playing Politics with Innocent Animals - Not an Ed...": 

The director at Delaware SPCA provided an excellent response to the inflammatory nature of the article. Fortunately residents can see what is happening, and a state contractor trying to strong arm other shelters to force them to do their job is completely innapropriate.

Before dog control contracts, Kent County SPCA (now known as First State Animal Center) was a small shelter and built the larger facility to do their job as dog control. Needless to say, the majority of their funding was pulled due to politics by the State, and as a result their are limited funds to hold animals. 

Capacity care for animals is based on the number of personnel and health resources needed to care for those animals, and Kent County has the smallest population in the state with under 170,000 people and with lower per capita earnings, so clearly the donation pool is much smaller than the shelters in New Castle County. As a result, FSAC is using boarding and daycare in the second building to supplement their donations to still remain a larger number of animals than they handled before dog control. Unfortunately Mr. Lamb doesn't have the business sense to realize that a shelter with a donation base under half a million can't handle the same number of dogs as they were handling when their revenue was $4 million with the various contracts. 

Mr. Lamb wanted the contract and has aligned himself with the folks that have been trying to put FSAC out of business for years, but what I think is odd is that those complaining about the SPCA's never spoke up when Faithful Friends wasn't taking dogs from FSAC, and was also importing animals from other states. In fact, BVSPCA also still imports dogs into their shelter, and where is the shock and awe about the fact he wants other shelters to do his job while he brings animals into his shelter from the south?

Maybe folks need to accept the reality that a handful of folks plotted and planned to get FSAC out of dog control and those folks and their new contractor need to assume responsibility for those actions. 

-Original Message----- 
From: "Blevins Patricia (LegHall)" 
To: Anne Cavanaugh 
Cc: "Ranji Jennifer (Governor)" , "jane@faithfulfriends" , "bengal98@aol" 
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2011 15:39:14 +0000 

Subject: RE: meeting tonight recap - confidential 
Maybe you could bid on Kent County at $3.52 per person, same as Wilmington. You would beat their bid. If they lost just one contract, they would be underwater for sure, because they are so drastically underbidding New Castle County.
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Christina School District's Other Route to Poverty

Wilmington is not the only place to find deep institutional poverty alive and well.

Route 40.  With some Northern New Castle County's last pastoral views sandwiched between shopping centers of various sizes and blight, where low-rise apartment buildings sprung up against the working class neighborhoods of the 1990s, before there was a mortgage crisis.

Where arsonists move faster than mobile home park managers when it comes to demolition...

Where residents fear retribution from their lot owners for speaking too loudly about the drugs, crime, homelessness, and the squatting that happens just next door, a few hundred feet from the Boys and Girls Club.

Further off the main Route, you can't miss the McMansions, where builders capitalized on cheap farmland.  But, most of us have to drive past at least one and often more than one trailer park to reach those well-manicured greenscapes. Those trailer parks and the older Section 8 neighborhoods that line the highway.

Where Brookmont Farms became Sparrow Run because sum years back some well-meaning political hack thought a new name might re-invigorate the suburbs version the projects.

And where Westside Family Healthcare led the charge into a poverty stricken corridor and opened the first clinic for un/under-insured residents.  Long before MedExpress put down roots or Glasgow Medical Aid grew its foot print.

The Route 40 Corridor is still a sleeper cell of poverty.  All the conversations in the world, and I am told there have been many, haven't made a dent.  The poor get poorer everyday.

Just Read This,

More importantly, look at the photos from the fire.  A picture tells a million stories.

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The Autism Post - World Autism Awareness Day!

It's World Autism Day! Shine Blue, Delaware.  

I want to depart some awesome and inspiring words to you today, tell you of a journey conquered, teach you something rare and humorous, move you to tears...

And Autism will do all of that. But, I am having trouble finding the words. Bear with Me.

Autism is Brutal.



Brutal.  Like the cat that shadows you wherever you roam. 

Get down, Brutal.  You may not climb the bookcases. They are not the ladder to the ceiling fan. No Ceiling Fans!

Oh! Brutal, please do not smother your baby brother in diaper cream and call him "snowman."

Brutal, please stop slamming your head into the stroller frame. 

No, Brutal.  The material inside the couch is NOT edible.

Stop, Brutal. You may not swing from the drapes in the living room. Nor may you use them to try to reach the ceiling fan. What have I told you about ceiling fans?

Please Stop Scratching Me, Brutal. Please stop Scratching Yourself!

Oh Brutal, (and then to the teenage store clerks) We will leave, Brutal, just as soon as you finish destroying the book section in Happy Harry's.  And you know what, Brute?  We won't ever come back. Promise.

Hands, Brutal? What is on your HANDS, BRUTAL?  (autism mom knows exactly what is on those hands)

Words, BRUTAL!  PECS? IPAD?  The last hour has been about a treat?  You want a TREAT? 

Yes, Brutal, you are a Treat.  Eat your perfectly white-yet-thoroughly-cooked pancake.

Autism is Brutal.  And you cling to the littlest things for longest times. 

And then, like a breath of fresh air, you realize and appreciate Awesome and Amazing! 

Mom, want to watch the Fault in our Stars?


Mom, will it make you cry again?

Hopefully not.  We've seen it 50 million times.

Mom, are you crying yet?  


5 minutes later and every five minutes thereafter,

Mom, Are you Tears?  Are you Crying? 

And sometimes,

     You just can't tell Brutal from Amazing or Awesome from Brutal.

Celebrate World Autism Day!

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Playing Politics with Innocent Animals - Not an Edu-Topic

When your state's two largest Animal Shelters refuse Stray Animals, you should start to worry and wonder,  

The reality is that most of us like sweet little animals, if only in pictures. 

So, what evil illness is spreading so quickly that these vicious animals can't dare to be mixed with the cute and cuddly ones?

Has it been a super-human spring where the world is suddenly overpopulated by billions of baby furry things?  

Are the shelters teaming with animals clawing at the windows for a fresh breath and a new home?

No? What, then?  Political Infighting.  It goes something like this:

Brandywine Valley SPCA won the state's animal control contract and opened a new facility right here in Delaware. Only, their inn isn't big enough for all the animals. 

Note: They've moved as many vetted guests as feasible to temporary mangers in other states, but it's just a short-term solution. 

Then Brandywine did the next reasonable things to do - the center reached out it's brethren Delaware SPCAs asking 1st State Animal Center and SPCA and the Delaware SPCA for help.

And got smacked down. 

I'm told it went something like this (fictionalized personification of email/text/phone calls between 1st State and B-wine):
"Yo, Kenny U., 1st State Got Space?
"Yep, I got, Lambchops.  But, I ain't sharing wit u."
"Ken, man, we gonna have to take Fido out if we don't get no help."
"Take out Fido, dude.  We in the doggie daycare bid-ness now."

Yes, you may vent the obligatory WTF now.

It didn't go much better with Delaware SPCA, they didn't respond, leaving B-wine and Lambchops hanging in the wind and animals lining up for Euthanasia.

So, here is the crazy - Despite sharing a name, SPCA, most of these organizations are not truly networked or even patchworked together.  There is no ladder to climb, no mother ship to beam up to when you have a complaint, concern, or compliment.  Yes, there is an ASPCA (A=American) but they literally have nothing to do with the little "chapters" that spring up in the states or elsewhere. 

Got Money? Got Space? U2 could open your own SPCA.

It all boils down to this (hold your Easter Bunnies close):

They have similar names and equivocal missions, with open cages and capacity; Yet, Delaware's SPCA's behave like politicians.  It's a pretty pathetic state of affairs when they'd rather see animals put to death even though they have mission statements that read like this:

The mission of the First State Animal Center and SPCA is twofold:
by prevention of cruelty and suffering, rescue of the trapped or injured, emergency medical treatment, temporary housing for homeless animals and the reduction of homeless pet overpopulation through targeted spay/neuter and education programs.
through our serious commitment in placing only stable, safe and well-adjusted animals into homes where they will thrive while simultaneously educating the public about responsible pet guardianship.  -

Let us all bow our heads and pray now that 1st State's board euthanizes  Director Ken Usilton's Contract for direct violation of the organization's mission.

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More on CSD's School Board Races, And a Conspiracy Theory, Hah!

The Newark Post is on top of the CSD BOE race.  This article recaps interviews with all four candidates:

It's worth reading, especially if no group steps up to hold a candidates forum.  In past years, the Downes Elementary School PTA has organized an event to provide access to candidates. As of now, The PTA facebook pages notes an upcoming "Meet the Candidate" opportunity. Stay Tuned.

Now, let's address the BIG election rumor:  It's been alleged that the two candidates were recruited to solidify a Board voting block.  Now, I haven't spoken to either candidate as of writing this. But, I have a hard time assigning Mason that profile.  As far back as my election, I can remember Meg talking about running.  The big hurdle: CSD employees cannot also be CSD BOE members.  There's a law against that. Meg wasn't in a hurry to retire, she was dedicated to developing Maclary post-NCS elementary school expansion.  More than that, she had certain respect for Dave Resler, the incumbent.  And it was rumor for much of the last year that Resler, having graduated all of his children from Newark High School was ready to retire from his seat.  It could be argued that Meg put-in even after Resler registered his run, and that somehow denotes a conspiracy.  But I would argue that this is just Mason moving onto the next phase in her life and in her devotion to the district.

As for Brady, she's the mother of two CSD students.  And works with hundreds more at the Boys and Girls Club.  Could she have been recruited to run against Paige? Sure, why not?  But, again I have hard time with the profile.  She's a working mom, like Paige, who was appointed and then elected - and neither of those actions had anything to do with a voting block.  In fact, it's tremendously hard to generate candidates for school boards.  In the last 10 years, CSD has seen far more candidates from the Tea Party than it has viable opposition to sitting members.  Many elections haven't been contested at all.  And as for Brady, just as it did for Paige, there comes a time for some when you are inspired to take on more in your life and deepen your commitment to your district and community. When all the stars align in your own personal star chamber. Moreover, I would like to suggest what Brady may bring to the table something that has been sorely missing for several years - a certain connection to the poverty that plagues the Route 40 corridor, to the suburbs.  And we are talking poverty pockets so deep that they echo the City of Wilmington and everything that the WEIC has been assigned to address.  While all of our attention has been diverted to Wilmington, Route 40 schools are at capacity and growing and serving children that are coming to school tremendously less prepared than their Downes Elementary counterparts.

Yes, it's said, when it comes to School Board candidates, whoever wins Downes wins the district. But, I wouldn't be surprised if this contest was truly run and lost right at home in District F.

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