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One of those Bridges You Do Not Want To CrossThe Other of Those Bridges You Do Not Want To Cross
Courtesy of Protect Our Bridges

This nation has not taxed itself enough for 13 years.  As a result, we have not spent enough on our infrastructure….Driving on roads with potholes, doesn’t scare me that much.  But being on a very tall bridge, knowing it can collapse any second including the ones in which I’m crossing it,  does scare me… With my luck… it will be the I 95 bridge across the Susquehana at Port Deposit, Maryland. That one always scares me. If you haven’t heard, a bridge just collapsed in Washington State, on Interstate 5 north of Seattle.  The Republicans running that state had gutted all maintenance to cut expenses. Now they have one big expense to pay for. The accident occurred 3 hours prior to this writing.  So far there was no loss of life, just many loss of cars.

Being afraid of bridges, I immediately checked Delaware…. Out of our 862 bridges across this state, we have  53 that are listed as severely deficient, just as was the one in Washington State that collapsed…. We are lucky.  Only 6.1% of our bridges are severely deficient.  Nationally, eleven percent of our bridges are severely deficient.  Neighboring PA with   5,540 bridges out of 22,669, comes in with a 24.4% deficient bridge ratio.

Just remember that the next time you drive up into the sky across the Schuylkill River. One of of every 4  Pennsylvanian bridges, can drop out from under you into the water at any second…  one out of four.

The time for wringing hands is over.  It is time to make our bridges safer and the wealthy to gladly foot the bill…  Actually if you ask those people who 3 hours ago found themselves in the Skagit River, … it’s way, way past time.

 

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If you are like me traveling through this interchange is exciting since with every commute, and nightly lane closure, something new and different has been erected.

It has gotten hard with all the complexity, to visualize just where each bridge and ramp will lead…

Hope this helps… It does make one proud of Delaware, … “where roads get thought out first…..”

Port of Wilmington Is In Need of Some Investment
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Is the economic model being used to evaluate the impact of privatizing the Port of Wilmington, the exact same one used to determine the economic benefit from both Fisker and Bloom Energy?

Delawarean’s probably ought to know.

If yes, might it be possible that here could be some flaws inside that formula?

In 2005, the Delaware Department of Correction signed a contract with the company Correctional Medical Services (CMS) to provide medical services to inmates in state prisons. The promise of cost savings quickly evaporated, and the state was left with low quality healthcare for inmates. Inmate health deteriorated under the new contractor and several deaths resulted from lack of adequate medical care. The contractor’s performance has forced the state to spend extra time and money associated with litigation arising from the substandard care.

Today the Port of Wilmington faces the same fate… as it is about to be privatized by a large oil/gas conglomerate: Kinder Morgan

LET US BRIEFLY REVIEW THE MYTHS REGARDING PRIVATIZATION.

Myth #1: Privatization saves money.
The Truth: Privatization often raises costs for the public and governments.

Myth #2: Private companies do a better job than the public sector.
The Truth: Many examples show declines in service quality under private contractors.

Myth #3: Privatization allows governmental entities to better anticipate and control budgetary costs.
The Truth: Cost estimates are extremely unreliable and privatization can cause result in unforeseen budgetary consequences.

Myth #4: Privatization allows governmental entities more administrative flexibility.
The Truth: Privatization requires substantial administrative resources for monitoring and oversight.

Myth #5: The public still maintains control over a privatized asset or service and the government retains the ultimate ability to make related public policy decisions.
The Truth: Privatization can bind the hands of policymakers for years, allowing private companies significant control of a privatized asset or service and the ability to dictate important policy decisions.

Myth #6: If anything goes wrong, the government can easily fire the contractor or adjust the contract.
The Truth: Reversing privatization involves huge costs and service interruptions.

Myth #7: Companies are chosen for privatization contracts on the merits, not based on political or financial connections.
The Truth: Government for profit opens doors to unscrupulous behavior by politicians and businesses.

These were compiled by the group In the Public Interest and if you wish further information or explanation, I would suggest a deeper reading here.

The one truth coming out of all privatization plans, is that privatization winds up costing taxpayers more, as well as disrupt the services we need to survive.

Here is what the EPA says….

Kinder Morgan Transmix Co. has agreed to pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $600,000 to resolve numerous violations of federal air and hazardous waste regulations, including mixing hazardous waste with gasoline.

Keep in mind that any accident, even a tiny small one of a gallon or two, affects the entire Delaware Bay and its unique biodiverse shoreline.

Now Imagine a tanker taking a hole.

Outlined here are the violations Kinder Morgan got hit with…..

A. The illegal mixing of a RCRA hazardous waste with gasoline, and from failing to sample and test gasoline to ensure compliance with CAA emissions standards.

B. Kinder Morgan failed to comply with a number of sampling and testing requirements of the CAA and fuels regulations to ensure the environmental and quality standards of fuel they produced.

C. KMT failed to notify EPA or the State of Pennsylvania prior to storing the cyclohexane mixture, a hazardous waste, at its Indianola Transmix Facility.

D. KMT failed to perform or obtain a general waste analysis upon receiving its first shipment of the cyclohexane mixture as required

E. KMT accepted the hazardous waste cyclohexane mixture at its Indianola Transmix Facility without first obtaining a RCRA Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility Permit, and therefore violated the following federal and state hazardous waste requirement…

F. KMT produced gasoline at the Indianola Transmix Facility that was not “substantially similar” to any fuel utilized in the certification of any motor vehicle or engine sold in the United States,

G. KMT failed to collect and analyze representative samples of conventional gasoline that it produced at the Hartford Transmix Facility, in violation of the anti-dumping regulations…

H. KMT failed to collect and analyze representative samples of conventional gasoline that it produced at its Hartford Transmix Facility for the purpose of determining the sulfur content of these batches of gasoline..

Result of Kinder Morgan’s actions?

Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC (Marathon) reimbursed repair costs to owners of many vehicles that sustained damage. EPA understands that KMT reimbursed Marathon for the costs that it incurred in responding to these consumer complaints.

Obviously Kinder Morgan came up with the idea that they would rid themselves of an expensive waste product by burning it off in the cars that used its gas. It was cheap and untraceable. To accomplish this, they went dark on their self testing until the product had passed through their lines…. It would have worked, and they would have gotten away with their little scheme, except…. the fuel filters clogged with the waste product, and the traces began.

So, is this the epitome of ethics we want in Delaware? Of course ethics like this exists in Texas. That’s where they filmed Dallas. But do we need them here in Delaware?

No doubt, Alan Levin was not privy to this information. He is now.

Business Is Up At Wilmington's Port
Courtesy of Maersk Lines

To privatize or not privatize Wilmington’s own ocean-going port; that is the question now up for debate. Talks begin next week.

One the port loses money; turning it over saves money the very year it gets dumped.

Two, privatizing the port, will cost union jobs and their pension fund, dearly. There is no way any company will not want to “own” that pension fund.

Three, as a private business, the port must be taxed, earning revenue for the city.

Four, safety, upgrades, competitiveness with other ports, all take back seat to revenues acquired per quarter.

Five, the city will have another major business knocking its doors down asking for new major concessions.

Bottom line, is whether the city wants to sell out those working, taking the financial hit that will cost it, or to pay the extra each year to keep the port running….

In this day and age, it appears selling out the people, carries far greater risk and impacts the area with a greater negative, than simply paying for the shortfalls year after year.

Let’s us remind ourselves what actually “is” privatization….

In privatization schemes to outsource traditional governmental functions, taxpayer dollars are diverted from the building of public assets and institutions to create long-term revenue streams for corporations. Privatization has resulted in the loss of public sector jobs that have been crucial to the growth of the middle class, and instead has created a system that favors lower wage jobs and new profit centers for CEOs and investors.

Here is how privatization works. I buy a field next to your house. I live in a tent. I watch your house while you are away on vacations. You’ve paid off the house, and now, having retired, you live in Florida, and the house taxes are backing up here in Delaware. You sign the deed over to me, so you don’t pay taxes anymore….

I just stole your property. All that money you put into it, was essentially, wasted. Your assets, drop by $500,000. Mine jump $500,000. You could have put the house on the market… That is what most people do… But no. You just gave it away. Thank you, btw.

That is privatization. Giving something free to corporations, a handout, that they only get, because they just happened by at the right moment…. Here you go, bud… have $45 million dollars… Run a business! Welcome to corporate America.

That is privatization. Of course, it is framed these three ways: …. “let me take that off your hands…;” “I could take care of that awful problem for you;”…. ” You, know, I could make that “problem” go away..”.

And in the heat of the moment, that investment that years of hardworking people have put into, gets whisked away…. So of course privatization is going to be sold hard. Who wouldn’t want a free $50 million dollars?

Bottom line, there are some entities in public society that are there for the common good. The public funds them… Take roads for example. If Delaware privatizes 95 into to Wilmington, every commuter pays an extra $2 a day to make the trip. Every commuter pays $2 X 5 X 50 on the average, or $500 a year. At roughly 60,000 commuters a day, $30,000,000 is sucked from all other businesses in New Castle County per year, and given to the new owner of interstate 95…. Primarily to prevent that, was why a long time ago public funding and ownership, was deemed to the better approach. Furthermore, repairs and potholes, suddenly get low priority status; skimming off the top becomes number one…..

The choice of privatization boils down to the following…. Which is better? A choice of higher business activity, or a choice of keeping the wages of those working now?

This can best be seen in Greece. The Greeks farmed one half of this port, the container side, over to a Chinese company. They kept the lucrative part, the cruise ship side, for themselves. What has happened is that business on the Chinese side as doubled. It is becoming one of the busiest ports in the world. The Greek half is languishing. Lacking the money to invest, their side has, by not going forward, fallen backward.

The Chinese have invested in new ideas and new technology. But, being Chinese, one can rightly expect they don’t invest in human capital.

On the Greek side, some worker’s salary and benefits amount to $181,000 a year. Obviously a full work force paid that much would soon force closure of the port. The Chinese pay $23,000…. and have no job security plan. They also do not abide by Greece’s union regulations and safety requirements. Currently they have no trouble filling workers when they need them. (Greece is in the imploding stages)…

And there you have it. One simply has to plug in whether the lease amount and tax revenue from a thriving port on top of the diminished payroll purchasing power of all its ex-employees, is greater or less than…. the diminished tax revenue from a mediocre port, on top of the purchasing power all it’s unionized employees possess…..

It appears that the one best option, is to have Government upgrade the port, meanwhile keeping government ownership, thereby keeping its workers employed and their money flowing through their economy… That option maximizes the most money flowing out of the port, and into the city.

The problem for unions is, that as long as wages are consistently high across the Seaboard, then that is the price of doing business in America’s ports. But let one port hire 7/8th less per worker, then in all other ports to remain competitive, all workers will soon also have to be working at that level. 7/8ths less of economic clout per worker, needs to be quantified in dollars, before knowing the full economic benefit.

There is one more thing. If the business running the port loses money, even one dollar; they can just shut the port down and walk away…. Then there are no winners.

Imagine…. you need some bread… So, you hop in your car, turn on the ignition, back out into your street, and almost hit someone. You get out and see a long line of cars in your normally empty street…. After about an hour, you come to the end of the road in your development, where it empties onto the highway….

Flashing lights. Oh, no, you think… a terrible accident. There at the head of your development stands a policeman holding up traffic. You crane your head out the side window, looking for the accident… You want to know if you can avoid it by going the opposite direction… It must be out of your view, you decide… You can see no activity. And ….. to your surprise, trucks are speeding up and down the highway… They usually don’t go that fast, the occasional ones who venture there, but today there are a lot of them, and they are flying…

The policeman seems to have gotten word on his headsets, and he motions five more cars forward, including yours.. You are on a wide open road and you go straight to the store, now 2 hours behind…. As you pull into the store, you notice a policeman there too, standing on the corner, letting traffic out to go back to where they came….

You notice that if there are trucks on the road, you get held back… Only when there are none, do cars get allowed upon the highway… That’s not fair you think..

So you ask the store clerk, who seems tired of answering the same question…. He tells you…

“Congressional Republicans passed a law that disbands highway neutrality.

“Highway Neutrality? you say…”WTF is that”……

He says, “Well, the roads used to be neutral… that means anyone could use them to go anywhere they wanted. They were just there; you could just drive on them… But the Republicans said that since trucks pay more in taxes, a lot more, the roads were for them… They have first priority.. If they aren’t using the road, then they’ll let cars on them. It’s kinda nice; for the first time here in the city, I actually got my delivery on time. But my sales are about 20% of what they usually are on a Sunday…. Guess people are stayin’ put and don’t want to deal with it…

You say, “:Let me get this right… Because trucks are bigger, they get priority over cars?”

“Yeh, but for a lot of money you can upgrade to truck status, and ride with them…” the clerk volunteers. I think it’s $50 a month…. If you want to go for free, you have to wait for the gate keepers to let you on….

You say. ” but that’s extortion! Since man has been around,… the highways were always free, unless they were a toll road… How can they suddenly take what’s always been free, and start charging an arm and a leg for it?

He says… “People voted Republican… That’s all I can say… I guess the truck lobby sort of owns Republicans… at least they contribute money to their campaign, and to pay them back, we now have lost our highway neutrality… and if you want to go somewhere quickly, you have to pay, and pay, and pay, and pay, and………..

By now you’re boiling mad… You get a lot of groceries because you know, you are not going on the highway for a long while…. It takes you two hours to go one mile…..

While all eyes were on the budget bill and threats of government shutdown, the Republicans two days ago ( 4/8/11) found time to remove neutrality from the internet. Yep, the House voted on a terse statement that says the FCC must rescind their net neutrality policy immediately.. … Once this is done, preference will be given to the large providers, and small ones like all of us, will have to await our turn.

Unless we pay for the upgrade….

This was just an political exercise. It won’t pass the Senate and Obama will veto if it were to ever make it that far… But the vote was unsurprisingly, along party lines. The usual 6 Democrats crossed over to the Republican side, and two Republicans joined the Democrats on this issue…

So though this won’t pass, it is reminder that if Republicans win in 2012, this will be the future of the internet…

And I don’t know about you, but the internet has become more of a basic right to me than my free speech…. We have a right to free, unrestricted internet. This is a people’s right, not a decision to be left to business…

We need people in Congress who support people instead of big business….

Some of us can remember the old Stuckeys, near the barren hotel, that used to give a free box of candy with a fill-up…..

Fast forward to now…… Thursday night was the soft opening with the officiating done Friday morning and noon, Friday, June 25, a new era was begun……..

(Right click on each individual photo to view full image)

Night on the Outside

What's on the menu?

Looks and Smells like a new mall

Nice pictures of Delaware on the wall. Oh, there's Kevin Flemming!

Wow, great design!   Form Follows Function

This could not have been possible without Stimulus Money,

Voted in: by Democrats.
Voted against: by Mike Castle.

Courtesy of DelawareLiberal.net

courtsey of DOD
Courtesy of Department of Defense

Seems to be a quiet week in blogger land, at least in Delaware. Perhaps everyone is resting for the high intensity moments arriving exactly a week away, in the special election to fill the seat of Jim Vaughn. The wind controversy gears up tomorrow as well when the letters released today become public. (I had better hurry, it’s out now.)

Delaware Liberal: Although headaches are usually bad, it looks like one spared Jason from an even bigger headache caused by one snooze of a Jefferson-Jackson dinner. Bottom line: it does not look good for John Carney. His association with Minner is too hard to disconnect. Like a Siamese twin, he is attached at the hip. DWA and a comment provide more insight. But to stop a blogger from live blogging, now that IS bad……..
Sorry John.

However Joanne Christian, (Dave’s girl) politically speaking, actually spoke to Jason 330, a brave act for a Republican. I think it speaks highly of her character and courage that she did. I don’t think I would have the guts to do so; (especially if I had to wear a dress). Has Ennis sat down with Frank Knotts, in a dress? No?

Perhaps I was looking for more local opinions facing those living in that area, but Jason’s interview was a good start. Perhaps light can be shed on whether the interview was carefully screened by Dave while live, or screened by Jason during editing. For me it did not answer enough questions such as: How do you feel about Bluewater Wind’s proposal? How do you feel about funding SCHIPS to 300% poverty level. How do you feel about requiring the Bond Bill and Budget to be available for public scrutiny at least three days before it is voted upon? How do you feel about funding charter schools, or at least allowing them to borrow money to continue their existence? Do you think and would you support, keeping committees and caucuses open under FOIA and would you support Karen Peterson’s Bill as is, next year? Where do you draw the line between the rights of developers and the rights of current residents of a locality. Which of their sides will you favor?

Not to dis the interview. But with only a week away, these questions have not been answered, by EITHER CANDIDATE!!!!!!

Dana hints of this by calling Bruce Ennis on his “Tricky Dick” defense. Is it just me, or is Dana attempting subliminal electioneering. Tricky Dick…..B. Ennis……Tricky Dick ……B. Ennis….

What does that say about us as Delawareans? What does that say about us a bloggers? How dare we have the right to complain later once the election is over, when we can’t even get information out to voters to make even an educated guess as to how the candidate will vote next general assembly.

Perhaps there is no discussion because it is already common knowledge and I was out that day and missed it. If so, sorry. But from my searches, we have much more available to us today about the Millsboro election last spring. The really big question is: do voters have adequate access to facts to make informed choices?

No offense intended to fellow bloggers. Just addressing the fact that there is a 800 pound gorilla in the room.

Almost to prove the point, we had our own version of a early morning CBS/Bob Barker game show, titled ……”Who Stole The Sign ?…..” Again sign vandalism is important, only for the fact that it pushes real discussion off the front page…..

Bounce back: Delaware Liberal, at least it founder Jason 330, throws his support for Bruce Ennis here. This is the first informative piece of information on either candidate so far. Hat’s off for doing so. Bruce has a lot going in his favor. I just don’t know how he will vote on the issues I and my neighbors think are important. Has he, as of yet, distanced himself from Joe Hurley??? Inquiring minds want to know…….

Liberalgeek (Welcome Back: this time I know our side will win.) writes about Health Insurance invoking one of the greatest movies made during the Bush Administration’s tenure: The Incredibles. It is a must read as we consider how our Health Care should evolve after 08.

FSP surprised everyone by changing his banner. He says it was for fall, but speculation abounds that since Mitt Romney did not show up in a knit sweater at the top of his website, something else is afoot. Dave has allowed the speculation to continue by not reiterating his avid support for this year’s Bob Dylan candidate. Also at FSP, one of their crowd tries to mimic Dean, but instead creepily reminds one of the movie Deliverance.

A must read at FSP is this post by the other David, David Anderson which shows that cheap sources of energy and its environmental effects are far too serious of a solution, to be played with by wannabe career politicians…..As someone once said, based on the term paper given by Bluewater Wind, “For twenty five years, we will pay less for electric, than twenty states now…” When it comes to Delaware’s competitive economic future, a fixed cost for energy from wind, cheaper for twenty five years than twenty states offer now, would certainly not hurt…..I wish that in 1982, during Reagan’s first term off-election year, someone had the foresight to lock US into a price of gasoline that was cheaper than twenty states paid then……I believe it was somewhere around $1.30? Hat’s off to David. (Proves what I have always said: being wrong on tax policy does not make you wrong on everything.)

DWA has this important Public Service announcement. I wish I could provide the irritating Comcast siren sound as it does for weather watches, but I was unable to keep the link formated from going 401. Consider yourself spared.( It was pretty cool while it lasted, if your geek age was 6 or under). His distinctive glasses……that should give him away. We’ve never seen him in contacts…..

Cathcart is in a tizzy over missing another Public Service Announcement. Actually the comments here are insightful, should you be somewhat historical and interested in the Atkins Affair.

DWA also provides significant background on what will become a big story now that the PSC has changed tack on the Wind Farm, and that is the influence of one shadowy Joe Hurley. His play-book was leaked on line here.…..

Dana provides his take on Bidens comments. But as Loudell comments, the timing was all wrong………Dana however goes mainstream this week, landing a televised appearance on WHYY. It is about time they put some “learned” people on some of their panels. If WHYY keeps continuing to use bloggers, I may watch more often. Prior to this, their panels supported the Incumbent Party of Delaware.

Kilroy takes an educational piece of legislation in New Jersey, and turns it into a damning indictment of educating by rules. When will they realize student learn by teaching? He also shows us a seagull just before it gets killed by an offshore wind farm….

Jerry shows us that all the news about the Bush Administration is NOT bad. Painstakingly he has done the opposite of what critics accuse the MSM of doing: showing only the dark side…….

Nancy continues to focus on Delaware’s local politics. Working stories in both MOT and Sussex County, she has two controversies that have one thing in common: DELDOT. FSP tries to pin the latter on Minner. Why do they blame men and not nature when Democrats are involved, and then turn around and blame Nature when republicans are involved?

As if to prove a point I made earlier today, the the Main Stream Media is alienating itself from both the right and left at the same time, The Colossus of Rhody does his take on how the media is favoring Democrats. But try finding anything negative about Cheney, even read glowing reports excusing his shooting someone full of bird shot…..It’s republican control, I tell you……

For fans of his global warming posts he has this take. He also noticed as did I back in September while looking for one Israeli airbase, that using Google Earth to target missiles into Israel would be a bad idea. It appears it may also be a bad idea to go door to door this Halloween should you happen to live in an area where they kill people.

Most importantly to fellow bloggers as well as any new entrant into our small world, is

Your [un]abashedly thorough guide to the Delaware blogosphere!

Where do you stand? I have to agree with his perceptions and good taste, (example: Dave Burris is the right’s answer to Dana Garrett and Mike Matthews) except to note he definitely overrates this humble blog

That is probably the best news on our local scene. There are some things that should not be missed. Laugh now, for next week between wind and an election, we will all be very serious indeed….Matt Marshall at the Soapbox found something that at least describes me, and may apply to some of you as well. Duffy has some profound items here at Pencader Days. Bingo anyone?. The Fantastic Forefathers almost fill in for Hube’s lack of Marvel cartoon commentary…….

Update: And I almost missed it in my hurry to revisit the formula I footage I previewed last week. But my vote for the best post this week goes here, and if there was anyone who drives blogger’s ire more then Minner, then it may be this local hero. There are a lot of funnies on Delaware’s blog scene, but Duffy had me rolling on the floor. (Warning: appreciation of fine writing, with special expertise in sarcasm, required for first time viewing.)

Mikes Musings left his usual laid back comfortable mood on all who dropped in this week. As Delaware’s photographer laureate, at least in volume, we understand how special this state is, or was before the wind blew…..

Shirley, our cantankerous Curmudgeon, leads with Ron Paul’s assessment of our future relations with Cuba. As usual, he makes more sense than the usual prattle echoing off the walls of congressional committee walls. Again like Dorothy in Jerry McGuire, he has me here: “It’s time to stop talking solely in terms of what’s best for the Cuban people. How about the wishes of the American people, who are consistently in favor of diplomacy with Cuba ?” She follows with three more Ron Paul articles, then does a dust up of FSP, which may not get the coverage it deserves….especially this line which if I were not genetically programed to cause salacious trouble, I would leave unpublished……(I can’t help it….The Rockies lost…and it’s Mischief Night!!! ) The line was this: “Now, I don’t know FSP, but this reply sort of sounded like this to me: “Now, now there honey, don’t worry your purty little head about setch and setch. Leave it to the menfolk, darlin’, and grab me a beer. “

Poor Dave. He’s done it now…… But nothing defeats a hearty laugh like bad economic news. And sometimes enjoying the fruits of life requires a momentary lapse of facing reality. Alan Coffey uses the Digital Federalist to profile an article that should give every American pause, if they can pull themselves away from “Dancing With the Stars” long enough. Tough times, are coming. Many will not pay their mortgages. Such sullen news brings the phrase: “There, but for God, go I.”
What is interesting to the local scene, is that the company profiled in the article, Goldman Sachs, tends to be the consulting firm whenever one considers privatizing Delaware’s or any other state’s toll roads…….scary……….

And since tomorrow is Halloween I must, in deference to Jason330, end with something scary…After all, it is Halloween. As I struggled to figure out what was the scariest scenario with which I could close this post, I had to choose between Freddy Kruger, The Scream, Ghosts, Skeletons, Jabba the Hut, it was a complicated choice, involving the search of many images. And after much thought, and frightful consideration, I finally settled on this, which at least for Delawareans, would be the scariest thing possible……Happy Halloween…..