Archive for April, 2010

Phillips never shies away from controversy

April 22, 2010

Sussex County Council President Vance Phillips has never been one to shy away from controversy, and to his credit, he usually faces it head on, like a sailor in a gale.

This time he has really stepped into it. Critics are coming out of the woodwork asking for Republican Phillips’ resignation from council because of his new part-time, or full-time temporary job, as campaign advisor to Congressional candidate Glen Urquhart of Rehoboth Beach.

Granted, some of the criticism is coming from Democrats who are in feeding-frenzy mode. Phillips has been a leader and activist in the Republican Party for two decades. Discrediting him is also a shot at the party.

He’s also getting grief from some members of his own party.

I’m not crazy enough to jump on either side, but there are two unequivocal facts that no one can hide from:

1. It’s bad timing for Phillips because he is running for a fourth council term. He has come under tough scrutiny for his strong stand on property rights and his pro-development attitude. It may not matter, because most complaints are coming from people outside his district. But, you can bet your bottom dollar that those folks are working hard to find someone who lives in District 5 and shares their views to face Phillips. Now they have a little more fodder for their battle against the incumbent.

The bottom line is this: Phillips does not need this controversy, even if he doesn’t see it as one.

2. Urquhart, who is a successful developer who started with nothing and built up several companies in his lifetime, stands a good chance of never getting another project approved in Sussex County. Phillips has stated on several occasions he will never vote on an Urquhart application. If council stays the way it is today, just about any major development in the Cape region would be a 2-2 vote if Phillips abstains from voting.

This may not matter either. If Urquhart wins, he will have a new career with little time left to devote to developing projects in Sussex County. He may be scaling back that part of his life anyway.


Red Hannah reminder of the past

April 21, 2010

Sussex County whipping post.

Less than a block off The Circle on the side yard of the old Sussex County courthouse is a relic of criminal punishment. People walk by it everyday and don’t even notice it’s an original Sussex County whipping post.

Dubbed Red Hannah by county blacks, the whipping post was not officially abolished in Delaware until 1972, although the last official whipping occurred 20 years prior on June 16, 1952. Delaware was one of the last states to do away with the post.

The whipping post was used as source of corporal punishment for male criminals for centuries.

Criminals could receive 40 lashes for a variety of crimes including wife beating, maiming with intent to ravish, poisoning, assault, embezzlement, robbery, counterfeiting, stealing a horse, ass or mule and showing false lights to cause a ship to wreck.

There were 600 whippings between World War I and World War II, but only five from 1946 to 1952 as the public and key politicians took stands against what was called a barbaric form of punishment.

The following is from an article written by Hal Roth in 2006, which was reprinted from a 1910 newspaper:

“Here in the United States there has been a widespread delivery of sarcastic comment every time one of the three Delaware jails ties up a horse thief to the historic whipping post and squares accounts with him by literally taking it out on his hide.

“Delaware has listened to the voluminous lecturing upon the theme of her Dark-Age barbarism but has defiantly held on to her uncivilized method of dealing out justice. And now the French government, doubtless after a profound study of the Delaware scheme, is proposing seriously to introduce the whipping post as a restraining terror to a certain class of offenders.”

Color your world

April 12, 2010

Enjoy the color in Robert Hinkle Sr.’s yard. He has more than 4,300 tulips around his home near Lewes.

So, how wet is it?

April 3, 2010

Dairy Farm Road River.

It’s wet. So how wet is it?

It’s so wet ducks are swimming in people’s front yards.

That statement would be funny, if it weren’t true in some cases.

With the highest water table in recent times and rain that won’t seem to end, there is water, water everywhere in Sussex County. Some places are so bad I can’t see how the water will ever drain.

Some areas have had standing water since November. I can’t begin to imagine the crop of mosquitoes we will face; it’s been a perfect storm for those nasty critters.

Many farm fields have new ponds on them and standing water is tearing up roads.

People are screaming for relief, but there is little coming.

Less rain and warm temperatures are the only solution for many.

I’ve written several stories about flooding issues and have tramped through many areas where the water was over my boots. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” is what people are saying over and over again.

I’ve also spoken with many experts in the field of stormwater management and drainage, and one comment hit me like a rogue wave. A DNREC official told me people are building in areas, including some wetlands, where houses shouldn’t be. If the houses weren’t there, water would not be a great concern.

No duh.

Perhaps someone should take a serious look at that.

In fact, many more areas in Sussex County should be left alone ­– more than people realize. It’s only when Mother Nature steps up to the plate that we realize how vulnerable we really are.

The sad part of the story is that, for the most part, those with water issues have no one to turn to. Folks along Hudson Road near Milton who have suffered flooding problems for months are taking matters into their own hands, but their story is an exception.

Of course, there will be a drought this summer.