Posts Tagged ‘Councilwoman Joan Deaver’

Deaver backer aiding Cole’s opponent

September 15, 2010

The upcoming Nov. 2 election got a little more interesting with the filing of Democrat Russ Melrath for the District 4 seat against Republican George Cole, who has held the seat for 24 years.

Republican Council President Vance Phillips, seeking a fourth term in District 5, also has a challenger in Democrat Dennis Cordrey.

Melrath and Cordrey are newcomers to the world of politics. Cordrey does know a lot about the inner workings of Sussex County government as a retired employee. Melrath seems to have a passion for everything he gets involved with, but his name is by no means a household word in District 4. He has a lot of work to do.

A sidelight to the Cole-Melrath race is that Betty Deacon, who lives near Lewes, is Melrath’s campaign manager. Deacon also  helped Joan Deaver become the first female elected to Sussex County Council.

Deacon, who worked on political campaigns in Maryland before moving to Sussex County, is a strong organizer who knows the right buttons to push.

One has to wonder how all of this sits with Cole since he and Deaver, although from different parties, agree more than they disagree on council issues, especially those pertaining to growth in eastern Sussex.

Now a friend of the Deaver camp is actively working against him. Knowing Cole, he will take it in stride and place it in the category  politics as usual.


Joan of Sussex County

May 21, 2010

Sussex County Councilwoman Joan Deaver was a little upset with a recent blog when I called her a liberal. She said it’s hurtful to place labels on people, and this one didn’t fit her anyway. Now a Democrat, Deaver said she was a registered Republican before moving to the Cape Region from Annapolis.

I based my claim on her voting record, comments at meetings, her associates and actions. I think asking for the word “Easter” to be replaced on a council meeting schedule falls a little left of center, but that’s just me. In addition, she is not in the same ballpark with two other council members who disagree with almost everything she says – and they are conservatives.

You could argue that county council members don’t fit the true definition of a politician. Granted, politics is not as major a factor at this level of government, but it does sneak in from time to time. No matter how you slice it, elected officials are politicians.

Joan Deaver

Deaver is right that putting labels on people can be hurtful, yet it’s part of the landscape of American politics. It’s not meant to hurt but to let people know what side of the fence elected officials tend to spend most of their time.

Mrs. Deaver has stepped out of the role of Joan the Citizen to Joan the Politician. Elected officials are right-wingers, left-wing radicals, moderates, conservatives, ultra-conservatives, pro-development, anti-development, fiscal conservatives and the list goes on and on.

So why did she change her party affiliation? I think it’s a safe assumption that she was told by her constituents she would have a better chance of winning an election in her district with a big “D” before her name. Those around her, many who are transplants from the Baltimore and Washington areas, side with the liberal agenda on many issues. There is nothing wrong with that, but it’s the way it is.

Mrs. Deaver changed her affiliation to take on a different label, and once again, there is nothing wrong with that. Politicians do it all the time.

My own label would be conservative, which most people would find odd since I work in a profession with a liberal label. No matter how hard we try, it’s impossible to escape the labels all around us. Sorry about that Joan. Is moderate better?

Deaver comes clean on ‘real zoning’

January 27, 2010

Joan Deaver

During Sussex County Council discussions about land-use issues, Councilwoman Joan Deaver refers to “real zoning.” During those discussions, no one ever asks her what she means. So I did. Here is what she says:

“Real zoning. Real planning. Assign zones to the land. Plan how you want the county to look and zone accordingly, especially around the towns. Around the towns it’s a regional plan that’s put together by the town and county with public comment. Of course that’s a long procedure designed by planners and presented at a series of public hearings.

“But leaving the county all zoned AR-1 is absurd. AR-1 gives no one any peace unless they have purchased a home surrounded by a state park. Then I hear that state parks may also be used in the future to accept treated wastewater, so there’s little peace to be had without proper zoning.”

AR-1, or agricultural-residential, is the base zoning for the entire county with about 75 percent of the land zoned AR-1. Under Sussex County’s AR-1 zoning, two homes are permitted on one acre of land. That particular zoning is among the least restrictive on Delmarva, yet it has been in place since zoning was established in the county some 35 years ago. During that entire time I don’t think any council member has made a serious move to amend that zoning ordinance.

A failure to communicate

January 12, 2010

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

That famous line from “Cool Hand Luke,” a movie filled with quotable lines, applies to what it occurring behind the scenes of Sussex County Council.

The recent nonaction on the Lingo-Townsend rezoning application is a prime example of what occurs when public officials stop communicating or choose whom they speak with.

It was Councilwoman Joan Deaver’s mission to get the application, which, if approved, would pave the way for the Village Centre shopping and office complex, on the Tuesday, Jan. 12 agenda.

And according to council protocol, because the application is in District 3, which she represents, she has the right to set the timetable for it. Deaver said she spoke with Council President Vance Phillips about placing the item on the first agenda for the New Year, but conceded for the second meeting.

Somewhere along the line, it was either taken off the agenda or never placed on it without Deaver’s knowledge. That’s gap number one in the communication miscues related to this matter.

Deaver said she did everything she was supposed to do according to the rules of procedure to get the application on the Jan. 12 agenda. But because Councilman Mike Vincent requested a few more weeks to mull the matter over, it was not placed on the agenda. That was after Deaver told her constituents and announced in public it would appear on the Jan. 12 agenda.

No one told Deaver of Vincent’s concerns; she read his comments in the Cape Gazette. That was the second communication miscue.

Phillips claims Deaver did not instruct the clerk of the council to place the item on the agenda; Deaver claims she did. There is another communication question.

It appears in this case, Deaver did not have the final say when the application is placed on an agenda.

Vincent asked for 60 more days back in October and he was granted the time; the 60 days expired the last week in December. That motion implied the matter would be placed on the first agenda to start 2010.

She said the matter should be on the Tuesday, Jan. 19 agenda.

There is a bigger issue here than an application on an agenda. It appears Deaver is not privy to some communication between other members of council. Regardless of which side of the fence council members sit, open communication is paramount to proper governing of the county.

And another oft-quoted line is apropos as well: communication goes both ways.

Some Christmas wishes come true

December 17, 2009

I’m betting that Sussex County Councilwoman Joan Deaver is the first to publish an official Christmas wish list.

Remember, this is the same councilwoman who tried to get the council to remove the phrase Easter vacation from its annual calendar because it alienated her Jewish constituents. She has since apologized for the action.

Casting that irony aside, it’s impressive that she bothered to send Santa Claus a list for the benefit of those who live in Sussex County. She has included some wishes from her constituents as well.

Deaver has some great “wants” on her list. Included are the following that I would put at the top my list as well: a county board of ethics, with rules outlining when a council member should recuse himself or herself for  conflict of interest; and providing more detail for agenda items to alert people about pending applications – at least offering an address and a better description of a project.

I would include the board of adjustment and planning and zoning under code of ethics review as well.

You can see a complete list of Deaver’s wishes on her website at You really need to check out her list.

Here is my Christmas wish list:

Councilman Sam Wilson would sit closer to his microphone so he could be heard.

Council watcher Dan Kramer would break his silence and speak at council meetings. He will speak during public hearings but not during council meetings since council adopted a new public participation policy.

Council and planning and zoning would institute a policy that all speakers sign in with their address and make that list available to the press.

Councilman Mike Vincent would stop tabling issues. Prior to his election, the table process was rarely used. He has used it at least twice in the past few months.

Do you doubt that any of these wishes will come true? They do. One of my wishes came to fruition last year. Thanks to Council President Vance Phillips and Chip Guy, director of public information, the council now provides a packet of pertinent information to the press for each meeting. The packet has become an invaluable tool to help disseminate information to the public.