Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Buying Back Delaware's Courthouse

One of my favorite places in the City of Wilmingon is the old Daniel L. Herrman Courthouse, which was sold to MBNA four years ago when the Courts had decided to move to a new building.

The Wilmingon News Journal is reporting that the State is considering buying back the courthouse.

MBNA had purchased the building to use it as their corporate headquarters. MBNA was one of Delaware's true business success stories, starting out in a small shopping center in Ogletown, Delaware. It found success by partnering with affiliates, first Georgetown University and then many others, to become the world's largest independent credit card issuer specializing in affinity marketing.

At the time of the purchase, the building next to the Courthouse was the Bank's headquarters, and they had purchased additional buildings on blocks surrounding that building. Overall, they had seven buildings located in this central part of the City, and were planning on spending over $32 Million to renovate the old Court site.

After starting some construction on the Courthouse, including creating elevated walkways adjoining the building to other MBNA buildings, they halted construction after some internal changes in management including the retirement of the founder of the company, Charles Cawley, in 2003.

In 2005, MBNA was purchased by Bank of America, and developmental plans in Wilmington appear to have changed. Bank of America is contructing the Bank of America Tower in New York City to act as its headquarters. Rumors started circulating around then that the State might seek to repurchase the old courthouse.

Much of Delaware's history is tied to the Courthouse across from Rodney Square, in Wilmington. The tenth street side of the building was the long time home of the Mayor of the City, and an inscription above the door on that side read "City Hall."

The other side of the building had an inscription above it reading "Court House" and was home to a number of Delaware's Courts, including the Court of Chancery, and Delaware's Superior Court. Municipal Court, the Court of Common Pleas, the New Castle County Sheriff's Office, the Prothonotary, the Recorder of Wills, and many other offices held homes in the Building. A long hallway, from one side of the building to the other was where were people could come visit the Row Offices of the County.

A News Journal Article from 2003, MBNA pays homage to the past, notes that the building was constructed in the early 20th Century as part of an effort to beautify Wilmington, and provide it with a social center. As a place where one might conduct almost all business one could, with both the City of Wilmington, and New Castle County, it filled that role well. Add to it a central public square across the street in Rodney Square, named after Caesar Rodney, and you had a good start. The nearby Wilmington Library on another side of the Square, and a post office on the opposite side worked to help complete this social center for the town.

I've felt that the moving of the Courthouse brought a lose of a center to the City. Maybe it can refind it's focus if it goes through with this purchase.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Kilroy was here... and he talked about education

Another Delaware Blogger... at Kilroy's Delaware tonight is talking about Delaware's high drop out rates. Depending upon who you believe, they range from 18% to 39%.

Delathought Ducks for Deep Cover

I was saddened today to see that a fellow Delaware Blogger has been forced to close his/her blogging. I was sad because of a sense of loss as to our right to freedom of speech.

For fear of reprisals, Delathought indicates that he/she must give up this right. When Delathought gives up this right each of us, you and I, lose a little of ours.

I don't know what the issue is - who Delathought is said to have exposed - and frankly I couldn't care less. Part of it seems like an ongoing drama of petty politics. And politics are so disgusting that I can't bear to read as much about it as I should, in the fulfillment of my civic duties.

As long as Delathought was lawfully and responsibly exercising this right, then I support it. If instead there was maliciousness involved, then by dang it's a good thing it stopped.

The free (and responsible) exercise of our rights to free speech is our most important defense from tyranny and oppression. And if you think that there are not those in our government that would leap at the opportunity to oppress us, then you just haven't been paying attention.

I for one, would rather see your blog up and running constructively criticizing me, than to see someone sink into silence for fear of reprisals upon family and friends. But I am sometimes a realist too, and if necessary to protect my family and friends I like to think I could bring myself to shut up. It's a balance of idealism and realism that we each must at some point strike.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Attorney General Hopefuls Blast Prison Defense Hiring

An election for Attorney General of Delaware looms on the horizon, and the candidates both appear to be fairly well qualified for the position. Long time Delaware Prosecutor Ferris Wharton, and bright younger hopeful Beau Biden both seem to be inspired choices from their parties to fill the role of chief administrative lawyer for the State.

I was happy to see an article in the Wilmington News Journal which asked both about a recent hiring by the State of Delaware of an Attorney to help the State in an investigation of Delaware's Prison system.

Both responded the way I hoped they would, in Top prosecutor hopefuls blast D.C. lawyer hire, with intelligent and reasonable arguments why outside counsel probably wasn't appropriate or necessary, especially at $425 an hour.

This is the campaign that I want to see from both sides - thoughtful, intelligent expressions and sharing of opinions on issues that matter.

It's not necessarily what we've been getting so far.

There's been some sniping from one side that the other candidate isn't experienced enough for the position, and it's the kind of dirty campaigning that I'm not sure they should really be proud of engaging in.

We see a "Paid for by the Republican State Committee of Delaware" at the bottom of a site titled Beau Biden for Delaware Attorney General ? Beau's Not Ready. I don't think that this kind of site is really necessary, nor does it make the Republican State Committee of Delaware look all that good.

One of the things that the "Beau's not ready" page does is question his qualifications on the basis of the fact that he could not hold the position of Family Court Judge (five years bar membership required), Arbitrator in Superior Court Civil Cases (five years bar membership required), or preceptor (mentor) to a law school graduate hoping to become a member of Delaware's Bar (ten years bar membership required).

I want to explore those "qualifications" briefly.

They are based upon length of time as a member of Delaware's Bar. So, a lawyer who becomes a member of Delaware's bar and handles only real estate settlement cases for ten years would be qualified for any of those positions under that definition of "qualifications." But, they just might not be qualified to be an administrator of a large law department prosecuting criminal cases, and civil disputes.

If a retiring Supreme Court Justice of the United States moved to Delaware, he or she also wouldn't be qualified to hold the position of Delaware's Attorney General according to the "Beau's not ready" page.

Those standards for Family Court Judge, Arbitrator, and Preceptor have different motivations behind them than the standards that are set for Attorney General of the State of Delaware. Under the requirements for Attorney General, the person running doesn't even have to be a lawyer. Yet, how unlikely would it be that a political party would put someone up for contention for that office who was so unqualified that they couldn't even make a race of it?

I'm happy to hear statements on the issues from both candidates. As for the determination that either candidate isn't ready for the position, maybe it's better for both parties to let the people voting make that determination on their own.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

New Crime Deterrent

Rockdale, Australia , a suburb of Sydney, has a new plan to keep kids from loitering in public parking lots: blasting Barry Manilow songs over a loudspeaker. The Guardian is reporting that the town council has decided to annoy teen hooligans (or "hoons" as they are known in Australia) with mellow songs like "Mandy" and "I Write the Songs" after a similar experiment was successful using Bing Crosby to keep teens from congregating in a shopping mall.

If you are able to convince your own town council to try this experiment, has a wide range of Manilow albums to choose from.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Movement towards Medicaid reform

There is an ever-so-slow movement towards Medicaid reform in some states, which allows the elderly or infirmed individual to stay at home with subsidized care rather than mandating nursing home residence.

A recent Wall Street Journal article, as presented by the American Association of People with Disabilities, shows us several States' rational changes to allow this common sense option.