Monday, April 14, 2008

An Open Letter to Mr. Michael E. Szymanczyk, Chairman & CEO, The Altria Group

Mr. Michael E. Szymanczyk
Chairman & CEO
The Altria Group

6601 West Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23230

Dear Mr. Szymanczyk,

I am writing in regard to the possible return of $708,000 from your subsidiary, Kraft General Foods, to the State of Delaware.

No, I'm not kidding.

Last week, Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner announced the award of this grant to help expand your plant in Dover, a project to which (as I understand it) Altria has already committed some $40 million. We appreciate the expansion of this plant, along with the forty new jobs it will create; like Governor Minner, I also enjoy Crystal Light Peach Iced Tea mix.

But as a parent of school-age children and as a Delaware taxpayer I'm asking you to consider returning the money.

Here's the situation: massive budget shortfalls in Delaware are about to result in the State having to ask each of our nineteen school districts to give back $8-10 million for the upcoming 2008-2009 academic year. This will translate into the loss of hundreds of teaching positions, the elimination of many desperately needed services for special needs students, and the curtailment of both after-school programs and athletics for thousands of Delaware school children.

I realize that the $708,000 Kraft received will only address a tiny percentage of Delaware's public education deficit.

I also realize that neither you nor any Delaware officials knew this would happen when you applied for the grant.

But I am equally certain that, given the commitment of the Altria Group to serving and improving the communities in which you have facilities (your website speaks of $1.4 BILLION in charitable contributions), you would not want to accept this money with the knowledge that it was funding plant expansion at the cost of educating the children of your workers.

My twins at HB DuPont Middle School and my grandson (who will start full-day kindergarten this fall if money can be restored to the program) appreciate your consideration of this request, as do I.


Steve Newton


Anonymous said...


I've been pretty hard on Kraft Foods over at Kilroy's. I don't blame them because Minner was waving $708,000.00 in their face.

I would say to the good people of Kraft Foods, please consider give back $708,000.00 is a form a a grant divding the amount and giving equal parts to each Delaweare School distrcits including the charter schools.
Things are so tight in our public schools even copy paper is rationed.

Minnernomics has ruined our state's economy and schools

Nancy Willing said...

Delaware politicians have the audacity to 'do' for constituents that which stands to hurt the rest of us. Minner's offering to pay for only state employees health care when Aetna was going to reduce procedural anethesia.
Minner's Kent loyalty comes into play for the 40 jobs and the factory in 'her' town.
In 2004 she quieted the angry Kent voices of Garrison Lake community but sealing a deal with Pam Scott-Paul Clarky, Nathan Hayward and Jay Sonecha, Garrison's developer for a trade where the state bought the golf course and the state will pay for many tens of millions worth of the City of Bayberry's roads(and enriching her campaign at the same time by tens of thousands from Jay Sonecha).

a most peculiar nature said...

Steve, this is a fantastic letter, and should serve as an example. I am going to write my own (it is difficult to improve upon perfection, so I will have to suffice with my own meager attempt).

Thanks for the inspiration.

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