Category Archives: civil liberties

A Dark Day in Delaware Politics Guest Post by Senator Bryant Richardson

By State Senator Bryant L. Richardson This past Tuesday was one of the darkest days in Delaware politics, as Senate Bill 5 passed in the House of Representatives with 22 votes. With 41 state representatives, only 21 votes were needed to pass the bill by a majority. The vote was along party lines. There are 25 Democrats and 16 Republicans in the House. Three Democrats went not voting or voted no. Two Republican representatives were absent for the vote, including Deborah Hudson, one of the sponsors of the bill. The fact that Hudson’s name was on the bill is one of my biggest concerns, since she is minority whip, in other words, part of the House Republican leadership. SB 5 was fast-tracked through the Senate by state Senator Brian Townsend as the prime sponsor. In the Senate the bill received 11 yes votes, the minimum number needed to pass. Again, votes were mostly along party Read more

The real issue with Kim Davis

"Conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right." Pope Francis when asked about Kim Davis I agree in general and specifically. America has been a nation that recognizes the right of the individual to walk to the beat of a different drummer while respecting the right of the majority to have standards. Right now we seem to have a court that over rules the majority in almost every vote, its own precedent and case law, and Federal law which restricted its jurisdiction to suddenly change the rules. At the very least, those caught in that current should be treated with the deference to their conscience. It is not hard to find ways to allow some individuals to exercise their new rights while allowing people who believe that they are being made to participate in a fraud to go their own way. Not doing so creates unnecessary conflict. Those who object Read more

Markell Is Right to Veto The Jail Zoe Hart Bill

Delaware is absurdly strict already when it comes to regulating consensual relationships between therapists and patients. They cannot have sexual relationships for 3 years after the professional relationship ends without risking losing their license. That is of course absurdity. 6 months is more than enough cooling off period We should be moving toward respecting adults and their choices. Representative Williams introduced HB 130. She must be jealous of Dr. Zoe Hart so she introduced the jail Zoe Hart bill. (See the popular show Hart of Dixie). The popular show is perfect the illustration for my point that health professionals are just people. No one would pass a law like this for lawyers, plumbers, ski instructors, mechanics, ministers, or real estate brokers. The idea that the aftermath of criminal activity on rare occasions should be used to criminalize legitimate relationships Read more

First State Animal Shelter/SPCA Proposes Public Contract Extensions

Controversy Remains By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer In an apparent change of strategy, First State Animal Shelter/SPCA Director, Kevin Usilton, has proposed a one-year extension (to June 30, 2016) of all public animal control contracts in Delaware after previously announcing that they would be terminated by September 15, 2015. Currently, about 40 FSAS/SPCA animal control officers and other employees are scrambling to find new jobs in anticipation of the termination, as the State of Delaware moves to assume direct administration of animal control functions through the Office of Animal Welfare. Annual FSAC-SPCA annual contracts ranged as follows: Sussex County ($682,616), Kent County ($895,041.12), New Castle County ($1,035,000), Wilmington ($600,000), City of Dover ($40,000) and the Delaware Department of Public Health for rabies ($275,520) and cruelty reimbursement of ($106,000); Read more

First State Animal Shelter Terminates Public Animal Control Contracts

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer The Board of Directors of the First State Animal Shelter and SPCA (formerly known as the Kent County SPCA) has voted (14-1) on Monday, July 13 to terminate all public animal control enforcement contracts in Delaware, effective 15 September 2015. Instead, the organization (based in Camden, DE) will switch to an "animal rescue and no-kill shelter" operation. The board's decision potentially leaves a gap in related services in the event that various state, county and local officials do not formulate an alternative operational strategy. This includes setting up an animal shelter, training and outfitting of personnel, implementation of legal framework, administrative operations and soliciting bids. The Delaware Office of Animal Welfare recently announced that it would assume direct responsibility for animal control enforcement operations at an estimated Read more

Domestic Surveillance: Where do the Presidential Candidates Stand?

Would you believe Yahoo News has a cutting edge article on the Presidential Candidates and the renewal of domestic surveillance? I encourage you to read it. Hillary Clinton is all over the map and not answering questions just like every other issue. This woman is so risk aversive that I wonder how anyone can support her for President. She is afraid of her shadow or maybe the ghost of an election lost. One of the strengths that Hillary had was that people saw her as a strong leader. She is not honest and trustworthy, but she was perceived as a strong leader. Today, I question even if that is true. Bernie Sanders opposes it. Scott Walker is out of the country and can't answer questions, they seemed to have forgotten Dr. Carson and Carly Fiorina did not respond. The rest of the GOP field is lining up on one side or the other. On the side of liberty are Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Read more

USG Offers Redress for NO-Fly Listees

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer No longer will persons on the infamous DHS/TSA NO-Fly List be legally left "hanging in the air". The US Government, in response to legal challenges, has revised its redress procedures for persons placed on Department of Homeland Security's NO-Fly List, according to an article in FAS Roundup. The US Department of Justice announced in an April 13,2015 court filing that persons placed on the NO-Fly List will have new opportunities to challenge the denial of boarding on commercial aircraft. Before the ruling, the government steadfastly refused to confirm or deny that persons were placed on the list for reasons of national security. Challengers argued that the procedures were constitutionally deficient or otherwise improper. The entire article by Steven Aftergood can be read here: http://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/2015/04/no-fly-redress/ Read more

Delaware Animal Control Reform Petition Available On-line

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer A Petition to Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Attorney General Matt Denn et.al. to "Immediately investigate violations by and clarify authority of the contracted dog control agency, known as Kent County SPCA, First State Animal Center & SPCA, Camden SPCA and Delaware Animal Care & Control" is available on-line at: https://www.change.org/p/governor-jack-markell-attorney-general-matt-denn-delaware-governor-jack-markell-delaware-attorney-general-matt-denn-delaware-office-of-animal-welfare-delaware-s-148th-general-assembly-immediately-investigate-violations-by-and-clarify-authority-of-t . NOTE: This information was contributed by D. Meier in a comment regarding a previous article: “Talk Show Host Legally Challenges SPCA”. Read more

Saga of “Millie” Continues

by: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer The Dog Panel hearing in the Jake and Nancy Smith case, involving their pet, "Millie" is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, April 13 in the Sussex County Council Chambers, located on 2 The Circle in Georgetown, DE according to a 4/7/15 article in the Cape Gazette. "Millie", a white and brown Jack Russell Terrier mix, alleged to be a dangerous animal by a few of Smith's neighbors, is reportedly being held incommunicado at the First State Animal Shelter, located on 32 Shelter Circle, Camden, DE 19934. We are unable to confirm this due to a judicial gag order, issued in this case. The panel is charged with determining the dog's ultimate fate, up to and including possible euthanasia. Read more

** UPDATE ** Smith v. SPCA

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer A judicial gag order has been issued on all parties concerned in the case of litigation of John "Jake" and Nancy Smith (plaintiffs) against Delaware Animal Care and Control, filed in Delaware Superior Court over possible illegal impoundment of their dog, "Millie" under guise of authority. Attorney John Brady, representing the Smiths contends that the 1981 state statute that excluded Sheriffs and Sheriff's Deputies from certification as police offices by the Delaware Council on Police Training also did not include animal control officers as police officers. The litigation essentially argues that only sworn and certified police officers can legally execute arrest and search and seizure warrants under the present Delaware Code, Title 11, Chapter 19. Both Kent and Sussex Counties have contracted animal control services with the First State Animal Read more

Talk Show Host Legally Challenges SPCA

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer In a legal effort to assert citizens constitutional rights against unlawful search and seizure, well-known Delmarva radio personality and Milton area resident, Jake Smith has filed a legal challenge against Delaware Animal Care and Control. The action centers around the organization’s recent impoundment of his Jack Russell Terrier mixed dog, “Millie” after incidents with neighbor’s dogs. On 7/5/2012 in the first incident, Millie was attacked by one neighbor’s Yorkshire Terrier. A separate incident occurred involving another neighbor’s Yorkshire Terrier on 3/16/2015 in which he paid her resulting veterinary and medical bills, according to Smith, who was interviewed by Dan Gaffney on WXDE 105.9 FM, yesterday morning Subsequently, animal control officers continually visited Smith’s neighbor (involved in the first incident) on numerous Read more

Citizens Rally At Leg Hall In Support Of HB 50

HB50, It's All About The Right To Choose To Opt Out Of Testing Co-written By Don Ayotte and Wolf von Baumgart An Education Rally at Delaware’s Legislation Hall, drew an eager crowd of parents and children, wanting their voices heard in support of HB50. The short version of HB 50 states in the synopsis, “This bill creates the right for the parent or guardian of a child to opt out of the annual assessment, currently the “Smarter Balanced Assessment System.” This is a requirement of the new Common Core education system being implemented in Delaware Schools. The primary sponsor of the bill, Rep. John Kowalko (D-25) and Senate sponsor, Sen. David Lawson (R-15), along with House co-Sponsors, Reps. Baumbach (D-23), Keely (D-3),Matthews (D-10), Spiegelman,(R-11), K. Williams (D-19), Yearick (R-34) and Sen. Henry (D-2). Kowalko stated to the crowd outside of Legislative Hall Read more

Sussex Tech Property Tax Increase?

By Staff Writer: Wolf von Baumgart General Assembly Considers Options The Delaware General Assembly met twice earlier this week to consider funding options for Sussex Technical High School District. The Sussex County Delegation (consisting of nine state representatives and five state senators) continues to study Sussex Tech’s impending financial crisis. Five budgetary proposals were originally included in a study attendant to House Concurrent Resolution 2, previously passed in January. Subsequently, other options have emerged for consideration. Sussex Tech administrators have been steadily seeking legislative approval to more than double the STHSD’s current property taxes over the last two years above the current limit as currently permitted by statute. Delaware's three state-created countywide vocational school districts are legally empowered to raise school taxes (with the Read more

Holder Slams Ferguson Police Discrimination

Exoneration of Darren Wilson Brings more Protests for Ferguson Residents, In The Wake Of DOJ,s Announcement http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ferguson-policing-eric-holder-implicit-explicit-racial-bias/ Eric Holders scalding speech of the Ferguson Police Department's racial practices incited more protests that resulted in two more people being arrested. Holder quoted statistics and individual accounts of police brutality and bias while enforcing the law. After an extensive investigation, the DOJ found that there existed, an extreme imbalance in the way law is enforced when it came to African Americans and European Americans. It was found in an investigation by the Justice Dept. that a disproportionate use of force was used toward blacks by the city's police force. "The highly toxic environment created by years of problems explains why Ferguson was set off like a power keg, after Michael Read more

Civil Liberties or “Le Nouveau Police State,” The People Must Decide

This question has quickly become the issue that is on the front burner of American politics. There are clearly two sides to this question and they are sharply divided on the question of how the country should proceed. One side originates with the law enforcement community and their supporters. According to recent casual conversation with one DSP Officer, he feels that the world has changed and disagreed with my statement that, "I don't believe that state and local police should have become a para-military force that stifles the citizens' civil rights." He believes that police are being unjustly targeted. I agree with him on some of the recent situations that have gone down. Especially on the issue of the two officers in NYC that were simply doing their job when they were assassinated. Many, including myself do not agree that attacking innocent police that are simply doing their Read more

Consequences, Elections have them and so does Legislation by: Larry Mayo–Guest Post

As we look forward to the new legislative session in Dover, to see if the newly elected and also the re-elected Representatives and Senators fulfill the promises they made during the campaigns. I have to wonder to myself, what will change? My best guess is, next to nothing! Why? Well I’m glad you asked. You see, during the election, nothing changed. We, the voters, continued to ask our politicians to solve problems our government has neither the ability nor the authority to solve, and they continued to promise to do just that. After all, the purpose of civil government is what? To do for us what we can’t do for ourselves? No. To level the playing field? No. To spread the wealth around? No! The purpose of OUR government is simply, to secure our rights, those rights which were given to all of us by our Creator. Period! I know this because the men who created our government Read more

The Corporate State and Administrative Regime

We ratified the United States Constitution this day in 1788. 226 years later, we are still governed by this beautiful expression of American self governance. Happy Constitution Day! Tim wrote a good post on the Constitution so I will not duplicate it. I would like to discuss the challenges to it. I think everyone recognizes that perpetual war is a constant challenge to civil liberty and the scope of government. Thanks to the global situation, this is a reality and we must guard ourselves against over reach in the name of national security. I will continue to advocate for civil liberty in time of war. What is often less though of on my side of the aisle is the rise of the corporate ownership of power and wealth. On the left, what is often not thought of is the rise of the Administrative bureaucracy supplanting elected officials. Over the coming months, I would like to challenge Read more

Time for Grand Jury Reform

They lost their minds in Austin. They indicted Governor Perry for exercising his legal and constitutional authority in an open and transparent fashion. They claimed he abused his power. Now that is not a criminal issue, that is a political issue taken care of by legislative overrides, court injunctions, elections, or in extreme cases impeachment. When you start to criminalize the political system, you become either third world or Italy. The people who did this need to be indicted for a misuse of the criminal justice system and false charges, better yet Perry should call a special session and the prosecutor should be put on impeachment charges. Perry had no personal benefit and was acting in what he believed was the public interest of not having a drunk who allegedly resisted arrest as head of a prosecutorial unit. I personally think arrest is not a conviction and people should have their Read more

E-Privacy: The Next Big Issue

Sometimes the biggest stories that shape our lives are the ones that it will take years for the big media to catch on to. Two ballot measures received overwhelming support in Missouri Tuesday, E-privacy and the constitutional expansion of the right to bear arms. A note to the gun control advocates, the vote is not close at 61%. Voters wanted the right not to be infringed including mag size, and concealed weapons. This sort of absorbed the oxygen so the other big story was overlooked. The media missed the biggest win of the night with 75%. Liberty minded Republicans and civil liberty minded Democrats formed a coalition to put the following question on the ballot. "Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, Read more

The Loyal Opposition looks at HB 187

Welcome to a new column.  I will be analyzing bills and initiatives in a new column called the loyal opposition.  Under this column, we will also have guest opinions.  The first bill we scrutinize is Delaware House Bill 187 which is purported to safeguard charitable donors. The synopsis of the bill is as follows:"This Act will require, among other things: (1) the registration of all charitable organizations soliciting in this State or engaging in solicitation activities directed to Delaware citizens and the annual disclosure of certain financial information relating to these entities; and (2) the registration of professional fund-raising counsel and professional solicitors soliciting in this State or engaging in solicitation activities directed to Delaware citizens and the annual reporting of certain financial information relating to these entities. The purpose of these regulations Read more

Random Thoughts Locally, Nationally, and Internationally

Some people dared exercise freedom of speech and advocated for a pro-business mayor of Newark. Hundreds of jobs were on the line and their side won. Now some people are decrying the notion that a group "bought" the election by spending a mere 45k. What really happened? Some people got motivated, worked the streets, bought advertisement, and made contact with like minded individuals on their own. The last time I checked, that is their right. I am glad to see people stand up and fight for their future as they see it. Labor and business joined with private citizens to fight the anti-job mafia in Newark. I say, good for them. Dover wants to tear down one of its parks and recreation buildings when space is at a premium. It can't afford to spend 80k to repair it, but watch out for proposals to spend millions to build another one. Talk has already started. Senator Rand Paul R-KY Read more

What Became of ‘America the Beautiful’

The America I grew up in had value. It had emerged as a nation 150 years before, from the feudal oppression of England and Europe. People had fled , seeking freedom from religious, economic and physical slavery. They had come to the new America with vision to build communities where families were strong and values meant something. They came from every walk of life but each had the opportunity to succeed according to the vision they held within themselves. Although I was born in 1946, I grew up in the 1950's and 60's, in a nation that was strong, proud and united.. I grew up in an America that was known for the quality of its manufacturing. Blue collar workers looked forward into a future of a prospering nation where their children could have any future they envisioned. The America I grew up in, we camped out in state parks, having fun sitting around campfires trading humor and Read more

Is it time to Amend the Preamble?

The visionaries who gave us the model republic for humanity summed up their intention for that inspired document called the U.S. Constitution this way in its preamble. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. It is simple, profound, and visionary. It is a mission statement for the federal government. What other government had as a primary purpose to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity? It is part of what made us unique in the world. The purposes of the federal government could be counted on the fingers of one hand, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide Read more

Our Bill of Rights and the Curious Case of Dr. Jahi Issa

Guest Post by: Doug Beatty On March 1, 2012 Dr. Jahi Issa of Dover was arrested at Delaware State University for failing to be a white female on horseback. That's a provocative statement that demands support. In 2010 Delaware State University threatened to cut the equestrian team. The all white all female equestrian team protested by riding horses in front of the administration building and attending a public board meeting. There was no permit issued or sought for this protest. Campus public safety personnel didn't approach or apprehend anyone. March 1, 2012. Dr. Issa and his class meet during class time at the Martin Luther King Student Center to walk to the public board of directors meeting to voice their concerns. A guest speaker was on hand for any of Dr. Issa's students who didn't want to participate in the organizational activity. Previously, Dr. Issa and his Read more

Picturing A Future Socialistic America

A socialistic America would have restrictive implications that even progressive liberals would take serious exception to. This may sound a little like "Big Brother" to you, but the groundwork is now being laid for the scenario I am about to unfold before your eyes. Surveillance would be the "rule of the day" with cameras on every street light and drones monitoring traffic on interstates and major highways. Imagine receiving an "insta-ticket" from you car's dashboard printer for entering an intersection as the light was changing to red and the funds being instantly and automatically debited from your account by the state. Imagine applying for a permit to travel from state to state and being told when you apply for your permit that you and your family have not earned enough "Good Citizen Credits" to earn this travel vacation. That can't happen Think again. Think about earning Read more