Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Special, Unauthorized Around-the-Horn Veto Override Failure Edition

Since I couldn't get free to ride the freedom bus or stand in the gallery with my fellow bloggers as the Delaware Senate cravenly failed to override Grandma Ruth Ann's eleventh-hour veto of eminent domain reform. . . .

. . . . at least I can brag on the rest of the Delaware Blogger Mafia for the rest of you who stop by from other locales.

Possibly it's because we are such a small state that literally everybody knows each other that the Delaware Blogosphere has developed into a truly unusual breaking-the-boundaries-of-political-orthodoxy community.

We run the gamut from progressive Social Democrats to traditionalist social Conservatives, classic liberals to pragmatic libertarians, skeptics to conspiracy theorists ... and with (usually) good nature and (mostly) remarkable wit, we fight like cats and dogs over political theory, the presidential election, and public policy. . . .

But there is at least one issue upon which virtually all Delaware political bloggers agree: political transparency and accountability. Staunch liberal Democrats and loyal neo-con Republicans will link hands and throw hypocritical, lying scum of either party under the bus, and then get in and back the damn thing up over their mangled carcass.

This year, in the statewide controversy of wind power, Delaware bloggers united to keep Delmarva Power's corporate shils (and their favorite purchased politicians) from weaving a skein of lies and misinformation, and were recognized for that achievement in an unprecedented segment on WHYY public television that you can view here.

So when Tyler Nixon reported here that our lame-duck, machine-politician, disgrace-to-the-State-regardless-of-your-Party Governor Ruth Ann Minner vetoed SB 245, protecting property owners from eminent domain seizures for economic development (a bill that passed both houses of the Delaware General Assembly with only one dissenting vote), the blogosphere began to mobilize. It became evident that the fix was in when everybody realized that the Guv had done the dirty deed in such fashion as to leave only a single day in the legislative session to override her veto, and rumors began to surface that the fix was in.

So citizen opponents of the bill organized a Freedom Bus to get to Dover, so that no matter what deals were made, no matter how the public good would be tossed aside as political pay-offs, the bastards would not be able to do it under the cover of darkness.

In Delaware we have only one major newspaper (and it's a Gannett paper; no luck there), and no commercial radio station.

If bloggers (and a few intrepid talk show hosts) don't get the word out here, nobody finds out the truth.

So this is the wrap-up of what might have been the biggest legislative sell-out of the decade, but--ironically, the Delaware Blogosphere's finest hour yet. In no particular order:

Shirley Vandeventer of The Delaware Curmudgeon had nothing but outrage, first in her post Eminent Domain: Jerry Garcia Has It Right:

"Somebody has to do something. It's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us."

Now is the time for the pathetic, the disenfranchised, the jaded and unengaged, to do something.

Governor Minner has vetoed the Eminent Domain law that was passed by our legislature. She is riding roughshod over the property rights of all.

A man's home (and business) is his castle. If we allow this to happen, we are mere sheeple and deserve the gooberment we get.

Read Tyler Nixon's post on Delaware Libertarian for details. I'm getting to the Christiana Mall come hell or high water. Anyone from northern New Castle County that is going, either by bus or car, give me call. I'll split the gas with you (my car is a little P.O.S. which is why I am begging). No matter what, I'm getting there.

She wrote an open letter to her representatives, and then provided a very personal narrative of riding the Freedom Bus to watch the outrages [details in a moment], culminating in the cowardly, pre-arranged failure of 12 Senators to sustain their previous votes, and leaving the Freedom Riders, well:

The saga has been reported extensively in the blogosphere and the News Journal. We all know how it went. Needless to say, when I heard my Senator’s vote (Cloutier), I was crushed beyond belief.

A weary and disappointed troop of Freedom Fighters boarded the bus for the trip home about 8 PM. Ed Osborne came to thank us all. In his hand he had the list of the Senators who voted against the override.

“These are the people we need to vote out !”, he exclaimed ! “This isn’t over !”

And it isn’t. To the person, the young and the old, the black and the white, the rich and the not-so-rich, each and every one of us vowed to ourselves that it isn’t over. And we’ll be back next year, stronger and madder than ever.

May God Bless Ed and Cindy Osborne for giving this old girl a fresh breath and a renewed reason to go on. The incessant whittling away of our Constitutional rights by the favored and powered few will not be allowed to happen. Not while I still have a breath in me.

Lest we forget:

“No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

[Ed Osborne is one of the main property owners who is being victimized the City of Wilmington's abuse of eminent domain in the name of economic development.]

Dana Garrett of Delaware Watch gave us Injustice Served:

It was soon clear that the veto would be subject to an override vote and I got excited, prematurely as it turned out, at the prospect of the veto being overridden. But my excitement was logically based. After all, the entire Senate, except Sen. Tony DeLuca, had voted for SB 245. Nothing in the bill had changed since the Senators had voted for it. The only difference was external to the bill itself and, in my view, mostly insignificant: viz., a lame duck and woefully unengaged Governor had vetoed it for no discernible justifiable reason whatsoever....

Montgomery reminded everyone that Wilmington rarely exercised eminent domain and when it did so, it never abused its power. Ergo, the bill wasn't needed. Of course, that left discerning listeners perplexed as to why the City of Wilmington would object to a bill to protect people against an abuse the city never commits. The bill, therefore, constituted no abridgment of the city's usual practice. But there was Bill Montgomery objecting. Why? Perhaps the answer is Bill Montgomery was inveighing against a limitation on the city's power it has never abused SO FAR. After all, tomorrow is, as they say, another day. New days and new circumstances and new pressures on governments are precisely why vetoes of bills like SB 245 need to be overridden.

But Gov. Minner's veto wasn't overridden. It was sustained.

Those voting to override the veto were Bonini, Bunting, Copeland, Ennis, McBride, Peterson, Simpson, Sokola, Sorenson, Still, and Venables. 11 in all.

Those voting to sustain the veto were Amick, Blevins, Cloutier, Connor, Cook, DeLuca, Henry, Marshall and McDowell. 9 in all .

As if to add surrealism to a disastrous event, "Slick and Slippery" Thurman Adams voted "not voting."

13 votes were needed to override the veto.

Bulldozer, in Wilmington thy name is injustice.

Ed Osborne bolted out the door.

The whole crowd at Delawareliberal (including some regular commenters along with the posters) set up live-blogging at Leg Hall, and gave all of us who could not be there the blow-by-blow of the betrayal.

More to the point, on the day after, the newest of the Delawareliberal team, DelawareDem, posted This Isn't Over:

Those are the words of Ed Osborne after the Senate failed to override Governor Minner’s veto of the Eminent Domain Bill last night.

So true those words.

Politics isn’t easy. Civic participation in our government isn’t easy. If it was, more people would do it. And this country would either be a utopia or a hellhole (depending on your ideological perspective of what policies are easily enacted). But instead Delaware, and America, chugs along, inspiring hopes and dreams in millions by the opportunities and freedoms that exist here, while at the same time frustrating those hopes and dreams through obstacles and setbacks that are ingrained in our system of government and in our politics.

You got to want it.

And I am not talking about just the Eminent Domain Bill. It took years to get the Bluewater Wind deal done, and when the deal was finally done, it still wasn’t all we could have hoped for. ...

But enough grandiose bloviating from me. It is enough to say it ain’t over with respect to the eminent domain bill. And I write this to put John Carney, Nancy Cook, Steve Amick, Patricia Blevins, Cathy Cloutier, Dori Connor, Anthony DeLuca, Margaret Rose Henry, Robert Marshall and Harris McDowell on notice. Do not dare say anything in any future campaign, whether it be this year or in 2010 or 2012, that in any way gives an implication that you were supportive of Senate Bill 245 or protecting the property rights of Delawareans. Your vote last night washed away any prior yes vote on Senate Bill 245 or any prior supportive statement of property rights.

I will be watching all future statements and campaign releases from you to make sure you tell the truth on this. And we bloggers get that politics isn’t easy. We are in it for the long haul. And we have terrific memories.

Mike Matthews of Down With Absolutes took his webcam and captured various uncomfortable representatives (here and here) who had just sold out their constituents, including the biggest target of them all: Lieutenant Governor John Carney, who--in the immortal words of 1970s Virginia populist Henry Howell--proved that "the big boys have made their deal" and have no intention of talking about it to the peons. (I should also point out that it was Mike who first posted the rumor of the imminent sell-out of eminent domain and substantiated the union connections to the Senators who betrayed their constituents.)

David Anderson checked in at Delaware Politics with reactions from the various gubernatorial candidates, in which Republican Bill Lee, Republican Mike Protack, and Democrat Jack Markell condemned the act, but John Carney's office put out the statement that tells you everything you need to know about Grandma Ruth Ann's Little Boy:

John Carney, his office called me back. They said that the Lt. Gov. believes in private property but when it comes to economic development the government has the right to maintain control. They could not give me where he would draw the line, but he was uncomfortable with SB 245.

Hube, at The Colossus of Rhodey, also covered the Governor's veto and Bill Lee's reaction, while directing traffic to the appropriate sites for more information.

And finally, kavips in (what else?) kavips, captured both the attitude of our legislators:

Actions speak louder than words. Here are what her actions and those of Adams, Deluca, McDowell, Copeland, are saying. Their ghoulish choir voices all echo the same refrain:…..


And kick John Carney in the teeth while you are at it.

As well as the most poetic and pointed eulogy for SB 245:

What’s done, is done.

We move on.

Remembering what we saw,

Wiser to what is needed,

In the Fall.

In the fall....

In the Delaware blogosphere we will fight all the way to the general election over Obama v. McCain, and we will swing away with wild abandon.

But in regard to Senators Adams, Amick, Blevins, Cloutier, Connor, Cook, DeLuca, Henry, Marshall and McDowell, we are a community united.

There's a lesson in here somewhere, and if I were a better writer I would be able to capture it. But I do know that it has something to do with citizen-driven, bottom-up democracy that simultaneously involves and transcends party politics. It has to do with ordinary (but extraordinarily talented) people who have taken a new medium and turned it into a potentially powerful force in a way that has nothing to do with Money Bombs or PACs, and everything to do with this important truth:

We are American citizens and we own the goddamn government. We are not about to let our so-called public servants become our public masters.

***Special note for out-of-Delaware readers: Around the Horn was a weekly Friday round-up of the Delaware Blogosphere originally created by Delawareliberal's Liberalgeek. For a long time it ran exclusively in DL, but the demands of compiling it became increasingly onerous as the Blogger Mafia continued to grow. For awhile we tried rotating it among different blogs, but even that proved difficult to maintain. So I have resurrected it here to commemorate the reportage of the Delaware bloggers who have invested the energy and integrity to keep our state political decision-making out of the smoke-filled rooms. Hopefully, from time to time, others will discover the need or the opportunity to revive it again.


LiberalGeek said...

In the words of Danny Glover and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon II (I think):


Thanks for reviving my lost Around the Horn. Jason actually invented it, and I perfected it...

Ironically, Jason and I discussed the revival of Around the Horn on my ride to Dover last night. More to come on that.

Anyway, enough inside baseball, Your roundup is excellent. I do take issue with one point. You said that you are not a good enough writer to capture it, and with that, I thoroughly disagree. Thanks.

kavips said...

Whew....Glad you did this.

Now I don't have too.

I think yours is much better than mine would have turned out being...

It is truly,... very well done.

Shirley Vandever said...

Great job, Steve !

Nancy Willing said...

I feel so left out! I have been dealing with a crisis at People's Settlement community center to try to avoid a hostile take-over for political ends and I had to attend a DNREC public hearing to face-off on Pam Scott-Paul Clarky about the historic La Grange farm all it the last 36 hours non-stop.
So great to have a robust blogosphere to where it isn't just Alan Muller doing the heavy lifting any more.

Great work bloggers!

Anonymous said...


You underestimate your writing abliity, I thought your piece on Civil Unions was excellent.

Tim said...

Good Job! :)