Shorebird Player and Pitcher of the Month: September 2021

If you didn’t know me or didn’t read my website on a regular basis for years, it would be hard to guess what Jacob Julius, Nick Haughian, John Ruettiger, Dariel Delgado, and Mike Burke have in common. Yes, they all played for the Shorebirds but these are the five previous players who were honored in September as a Shorebird of the Week. In years past, whenever the season stretched for more than a handful of days into the month, I would have one last SotW honoree who oftentimes was the best of a small group who were left over as players who hadn’t yet been selected from the season.

This year is different, and may be unique once again. Given the delayed beginning to the season thanks to the CCP virus, we played a total of 17 games in September. It was a meaningful enough number that I decided to have one last crop of Shorebirds of the Month despite the shortened season and this season will be my first without a repeat winner.

If there’s one thing that can be said about Coby Mayo, he certainly has a game face to put on. But the kid had a September to remember, outgunning the more reputed Colton Cowser to be this season’s last Shorebird Position Player of the Month.

In the middle of August, the Shorebirds got a shot in the arm with fifteen new players, most of whom were draftees from 2021. One exception in that group was a player who was drafted in 2020 but was kept in Florida after spring training was completed this season to get a little more seasoning at that level. But all Coby Mayo did for the Shorebirds was slash .344/3/17/1.018 OPS for the month, terrorizing the various pitching staffs of Salem, Carolina, and Fredericksburg along the way.

Drafted in the 4th round of 2020’s abbreviated draft out of Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida (yes, it’s that high school), Coby has given those fine folks something to be proud of as he finally made his long-awaited pro debut in the Florida Complex League back in June. Playing mostly for the FCL’s Orioles Black team, Mayo slashed .329/4/15/1.005 OPS in 26 total games before moving up to Low-A as a 19-year-old (he turns 20 in December.)

The third baseman showed no signs of stopping once he arrived here, hitting .311/5/26/.963 OPS and holding down third base in the 27 games he played here (out of 30 possible, a stretch where the team overall went 20-10.) Even with those gaudy numbers, though, there’s no guarantee he’ll be moving up to Aberdeen as the Orioles’ system is suddenly flush with a lot of great prospects on the left side of the infield. Mayo may well be here next April to start the season, but if he keeps up those numbers he won’t be finishing here.

On the other hand, my Pitcher of the Month may remind readers more of those obscure weekly honorees I alluded to earlier.

Coming out of nowhere as a minor league Rule 5 draftee, Rickey Ramirez showed the Low-A East what experience can do. We’ll see if he can return to High-A in 2022 after getting a taste of it in 2019.

Rickey Ramirez didn’t have the dominating month that some prior pitchers of the month have had, but instead was the steadiest of performers and rated high enough in all the categories to win the honor this month. His 10 innings of work this month was sterling, allowing just one earned run and seven hits, striking out 13 while walking three for a WHIP that was an even 1. He even picked up two victories for the month.

Rickey was another pitcher who was started slowly, making five appearances in the Complex League before moving up. And something about his approach must have resonated with the Orioles because the numbers in Florida were pedestrian at best, allowing five earned in 5 1/3 innings. For Delmarva, though, Rickey ended up 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA in 18 appearances covering 28 innings. He closed out 16 of his 18 appearances, garnering 4 saves (which joined a three-way tie for the team lead with Thomas Girard and Shelton Perkins.)

Unlike Mayo, who was a prized prospect, Ramirez was drafted in the 15th round by the Minnesota Twins out of Fresno State back in 2017. The Californian pitched two seasons in the Twins’ system, topping out at then high-A Fort Myers to begin 2019 but was eventually demoted to low-A Cedar Rapids.

He came to the Orioles as a minor league Rule 5 selection last year, and while these players are often footnotes to their new organizations, the Orioles put the comparative veteran (he turns 25 next month) in some prime spots. But it’s likely his time is running out unless he can latch on with Aberdeen next season because there aren’t many 25-year-old prospects toiling at this level.

As advertised, next week I’ll be revealing my Shorebird of the Year as I wrap up this most unusual of seasons.

The final day

This post is intended to be a pictorial diary of a day in the life, but it’s more than that.

I jokingly refer to Arthur W. Perdue Stadium as my “summer home” since I spend a lot of time there each season. Last Sunday they played their final home game against the Fredericksburg Nationals, and while I normally take my 35mm camera to get the player photos I use for Shorebird of the Month, I also have my cell phone to get the obligatory picture I take and share on my social media.

In years past, though, I did more of a social media story on the last day but since I had companions for the game this season I was a little bit too engaged for that. In fact I sort of forgot I took these until I cleaned out my cell phone photos today – luckily, the pictorial is still appropriate because today was the Shorebirds’ actual finale as they finished on the road at Salem.

So most of the rest of this goes in with my long-standing “pictures and text” format. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this fan’s perspective.

Here we are, the front entrance to Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. Through those front doors awaits another episode in the continuing saga of young men living out their dream of being paid to play baseball. One thing I’ve noticed this season is that the steps have seldom been used for gates to the upper levels. That may have been a staffing shortage issue.
My first stop on this last game – which is always Fan Appreciation Day – was to drop my name into a bucket for full- and half-season ticket holders to have a chance to win prizes. It was a little different this season, probably due to the pandemic, in that winners didn’t randomly select their prizes on the dugout between innings.
This was a sampling of what all the fans, including but not limited to season ticket holders, could win. This year I kept alive my 16-season string of never getting my ticket number or name drawn, as did those who I was there with. It didn’t look like the swag was quite as valuable as it was in prior years but that’s all up to the sponsors and they’re probably feeling tough times as well.
This concession stand, which was renamed this season, is generally my first stop once I get situated at my seat. I’ll get into this aspect more when I do “picks and pans” next month, but I have no complaints about Carolyn and her helpers. A lot of times this season this was one of only 4 or 5 stands running when the park has (by my count and memory) 8 concession spaces. I’m sure that’s another staffing issue.
Back at my seat, with the teams warming up. You can see part of the 9/11 tribute they painted onto the field after the game on the 10th. I was thinking about it, and since 9/11 occurred in 2001 this is probably the first time they’ve played at home on the date – the season normally ended Labor Day and since 9/11 occurred they had not made it beyond the first round of the SAL playoffs, meaning our games was done well before the 11th of September. The delayed start this season allowed us to play that late in the summer for the first time.
He’d probably hate me for putting this up because he’s a “behind the scenes” type, but Shorebirds General Manager Chris Bitters always takes a few minutes before the final game to thank the fans and staff. It’s hard to believe that, in a field where staff turnover is the norm, that we’ve had Chris around for almost 15 years (and his assistant Jimmy Sweet for about as long.) This season he acknowledged what a difficult campaign it was to put together given all the uncertainty and lack of staff (like about 30 food service workers in a summer where the normal number is over 100) but was pleased the fans came out. And, most importantly to me, we actually played this summer.
I know this wasn’t the first pitch, but it was early on in the action. It was a nice afternoon for baseball but the Shorebirds were down 2-0. The FredNats got an early lead off pitcher Jean Pinto, who came on in the second inning to relieve the rehabbing Ty Blach, who pitched a scoreless first. Pinto eventually settled down to allow just the two runs in six innings.
The game progressed on a warm, sunny afternoon. One difference, though, between this and most other games was that there were no between-inning promotions because they were drawing winning numbers for the raffles at those times. So Sherman got to skip out on a couple things he was normally involved in, like the mascot race where he always figures out some way to overconfidently snatch defeat from the jaws of victory over a little kid. Yet one tradition that remained was the chicken dance that came at the end of the seventh inning, a frame where the Shorebirds finally got the lead for the first time, 3-2. They were primed to make a winner out of Pinto.
Instead, it turned out to be an exciting finish after all. The FredNats tied it in the top of the eighth but the good guys got a single by Connor Norby to lead off their half then, two outs later, Billy Cook singled him in to give the Shorebirds their winning 4-3 margin. Despite giving up the tying run in the eighth, Daniel Lloyd picked up the win.

As you can see, this one was closed out almost in record time as they finished in 2 1/2 hours. We were leaving the park at about the same time we would come in for a normal Sunday game in the summer that starts at 5:05. (In the spring months, they start at 2:05 like this one did.)

Also unlike a lot of seasons, we have not yet seen the schedule for next year. (We knew what the 2020 schedule was supposed to look like in mid-August 2019, for example.) From the schedules I have seen for the AAA level, it looks like minor league baseball will retain its six-game blocks for the most part as well as the Monday day off, with the exception of playing on Memorial Day and Independence Day. Teams will be switching venues between Sunday, July 3 and Monday, July 4 so that all teams will have a chance at a fireworks night (which was an omission on the 2021 schedule.)

It also appears we would go back to a more traditional schedule where the season begins in April and ends on the Sunday before Labor Day. Having a 22-week season (132 games) as we are now supposed to have for low-A ball would then slot the opener for us on April 5, 2022.

If so, then my count for waiting is anywhere from 198 to 205 days, depending on where we open. Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be there.

As I’m finishing this, the Shorebirds are finishing as well. They held on to win the finale 9-7, knocking their opponent Salem out of the playoffs as well. We finish the season 68-52.

Total recall

While the final result wasn’t unexpected, the political news over the summer was the fate of California Governor Gavin Newsom, who survived an effort to recall him Tuesday by gathering over 60% of the vote so far – enough to safely assume he will stick around to finish his term next year and perhaps help propel him to re-election against whichever hapless candidate the California GOP will throw on the ballot. Interestingly enough, had Newsom somehow been recalled, the overwhelming winner of the race to replace him would have been black Republican, columnist, and talk show host Larry Elder. Larry received nearly half the vote in an exceptionally crowded replacement field with one caveat: it did not boast a major Democrat, probably because no connected Democrat would risk crossing the state’s political machine. (Yet the field did have the athlete formerly known as Bruce Jenner, who ran as a Republican.)

But the reason I’m bringing this up is the theoretical one: here in Delaware, Governor John Carney has led his state in much the same way that Newsom has governed California, using the heaviest of hands last year to browbeat individuals and businesses into attempting to stop the spread of the CCP virus. While things have eased up somewhat in recent months, Carney is running a state that is fat and happy with federal largesse at the moment but one that doesn’t seem to be sharing in the economic recovery from COVID all that well. While recall isn’t an option that’s available to Delaware voters, the question is whether such a bid could succeed if it were.

In California, the Newsom recall (which, by the way, was the 55th such effort, with success coming only in 2003 when Gray Davis was recalled in favor of Arnold Schwarzenegger) needed about 1.5 million signatures on a petition drive. (The number is 12% of the number of voters who participated in the previous gubernatorial election.) Based on the 2020 election, such an effort in Delaware would need a little over 59,000 signatures – and I think we could pick up a lot of that in Sussex County. One thing that would help is that Carney is not too far along in his term, so whoever succeeds him would have a long time to be in office.

But the question would be twofold, just as it was in California: could a Delaware recall vote of John Carney succeed, and who would run to replace him?

If you listen to the political pundits, they will say that the reason the recall failed (after looking somewhat promising initially) was that once Larry Elder emerged from the field as a contender, the contest became less on Newsom’s record and more like a standard election, which in California accrues a huge advantage to Democrats. If the system were set up in such a way that the Newsom recall would have been done first, then the election to succeed a few weeks later (with the lieutenant governor stepping in for the interim) it may have had more of a chance to succeed. Chances are that, in the end, the LG would have run for the top spot in the second election and won, but the key goal of getting rid of Newsom would have been achieved.

Here in Delaware, there are no shortage of Republicans who would have likely thrown their hat into the ring for such an election, with the top-tier candidates being the last two who the GOP has nominated for governor, Julianne Murray and Colin Bonini. But I suspect there may have been a high-profile regressive Democrat who jumped in as well, figuring he, she, or they would motivate their far-left voters to join in the recall effort and rid themselves of a more centrist Democrat. That would make things a lot more interesting and give a whole bunch of heartburn to the Delaware Democrat Party.

In a best-case scenario, the two forces combine with independents who are sick to death of “Governor Carnage” and push him out of office – say 35% of the total are Republicans and independents and 20% are those far-left Democrats. Assuming the GOP didn’t shoot itself in the foot and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by running enough people to split the vote, it would put a Republican in the governor’s chair even if he or she had to face a strongly Democrat General Assembly.

The more likely outcome, though, would find the Democrats having enough party discipline to prevail. That’s one thing they do pretty well, given the fact both their incumbent U.S. Senators have run against a “progressive” candidate recently and crushed that opposition. (By that token the regressives must be happy with LBR because no one with any significant bankroll or support base opposed her in the last two primary elections.) It would probably be something on the order of the California outcome, with over 60% voting against their best interests to retain.

Now if I were still in Maryland and recall were possible, THAT would be an intriguing coalition trying to recall Larry Hogan. I’ll just leave it at that.

Shorebird Player and Pitcher of the Month: August 2021

This month’s contests were a battle of attrition.

Because the position player roster had a significant upheaval in the middle of the month, I had a dilemma: the new players wouldn’t be on the roster long enough to qualify (I use 2/3 of the games as a criteria) nor would the players they were replacing. Fortunately, I had a pretty good candidate who stayed all month and that guy was Darell Hernaiz.

One of the few Shorebirds to be around for the whole month, Darell Hernaiz kept his share of playing time despite the influx of new talent.

In August Hernaiz hit .272/1/16/.667 OPS, playing in 20 games. He had a few breathers when the new kids came to town, but has settled into regular shortstop duty in the latter part of the season after splitting time between second and third while Jordan Westburg and Gunnar Henderson were here manning short. Having just turned 20 during the season and not putting up quite the numbers the more highly-touted Westburg and Henderson have, it appears the Orioles are quite content to leave Hernaiz here for a full season and give him a chance to move up to Aberdeen for 2022. For the campaign, though, the Puerto Rico native (who was drafted out of Americas High School in El Paso, Texas) has slashed .270/5/44/.673 OPS, and has been perhaps the most consistent performer we’ve seen as his monthly average numbers have held between .256 and .281 for the season. In addition, Darell has 16 steals on the season.

Darell’s always been a contender for the position player of the month honors, but had Colton Cowser started a week earlier and stayed on pace he may well have been the honoree. Cowser was the best of a large group of (mostly) newly-drafted players to make the leap from the Complex League in August and will surely be a player with a good chance of being my first-ever September position player of the month.

As for the Pitcher of the Month, it was an easy choice for me and probably about that easy for the Low-A East League, which is also honoring Jean Pinto.

Jean Pinto was a key addition to the Shorebird pennant push as he took the Low-A East by storm in August.

Pinto, whose modest career had heretofore been three brief starts in the Dominican Summer League for the DSL Angels’ team, was half of the player haul the Orioles received in their trade of Jose Iglesias last December 2. And while Iglesias has wore out his welcome with the Angels, who released him last week (since signing with the Red Sox) Pinto is coming into his own as a 20-year-old pitcher for the Shorebirds, who received him when he was promoted from the Complex League July 27.

While Jean, who hails from Valencia, Venezuela, did not get a decision in his five August starts, he did pitch a team-leading 26 2/3 innings, allowing but 13 hits and four earned runs for a 1.35 ERA, striking out 29 and walking only 6. (That’s a WHIP of just 0.72 – mighty stingy.) His two best starts in August were matching six-inning, two-hit dominations of Down East at home and at Lynchburg where he also struck out six in each start without walking a batter. That’s the kind of consistency that will get a 20-year-old talent promoted eventually. And for the season, including his FCL stints, he’s sporting a 1-2 record with a 1.95 ERA, allowing batters an anemic .149 average along with a 65/13 strikeout-to-walk ratio overall. While newly-acquired Gregori Vasquez also had a pretty good month, Pinto was by far the cream of the crop.

I’m penciling Jean into Aberdeen’s rotation next season since he’s pretty much proven himself at this level.

It looks like, at this point, I will be doing the September Shorebirds of the Month on the 23rd since they are (as of this writing, on their off day) 5 games back of a playoff spot with 12 to play. That may sound insurmountable but the two teams directly in front of them are in the midst of playing each other and the Shorebirds play the current second-place team in their last series. So a good run may be enough depending on what else happens.

But unless they make the playoffs, I will do the Shorebird of the Year on September 30 and picks and pans on October 7. All that will be left for the year then will be the Hall of Fame induction post for my (so far) four members of the Class of 2021 in December.

Beggars and hangers-on with both sides

Over my last (infrequent) series of posts, I’ve taken time on a couple occasions to pick on grifters from the left so in order to be equal opportunity I decided to take on a right-leaning outfit looking to part the gullible and their money.

To set up the story, I heard from an old friend of sorts the other day. Over the years I’ve blogged quite a bit about the Tea Party Express (TPX) on my site, but that wasn’t many pixels compared to when I wrote Rise and Fall. (It’s scary to remember that just about five years have now passed since I first embarked on that project, which came out almost 2 1/2 years ago now.) As part of that book I wrote a much more comprehensive history of the TPX, covering its evolution from being the Our Country Deserves Better PAC in the 2008 election through its chance encounter with a TEA Party rally in Sacramento to being a Presidential debate co-sponsor three years later. After that peak, the TPX slowly declined as they laid off the bus tours they were most famous for after the 2014 primaries and became just another political insider organization subsisting on handouts.

So it almost hurt to read the well-worn script imploring donors to help the TPX “ensure conservatives take back the House in 2022” and promising “we ensure donations ONLY go to proven conservatives, NO RINOS.” What they’re not counting on you recalling is that some of those RINOs were surely people they backed in the first place.

Of course, they mention how “Nancy Pelosi and her lap dog Adam Schiff disgracefully assaulted President Trump,” and that the Left’s goal was not just silencing Donald Trump, but our voice as well. Yeah, yeah, I get all that.

But, you see, the blogger of 2021 is not the gung-ho TPX backer he was back in 2009-10 when he pined for the TPX to make a stop on the Delmarva. Perhaps I saw the light when onetime TPX chair Amy Kremer decided to drop it like a bad habit due to a strategy disagreement and eventually latched onto the Trump phenomenon as her grift. They definitely lost their luster with me as time went on and they moved on from what made them great.

Speaking of the TEA Party, it’s funny that this TPX appeal came a day or two before I listened to a new podcast from an old conservative blogging friend I know, Jen Kuznicki. I think she may be a little more bullish about the TEA Party than I am, but I learned that she was once again in the belly of the beast as a county GOP chair. Yet she points out the difficulty of working behind enemy lines, as it were, in a rural part of Michigan analogous to the situation we here in Delaware and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland face. (The part about having four votes for her little rural county vs. dozens for the big cities – hey, that sounds vaguely familiar! Just the numbers are a little different.)

I know Jen’s been writing for awhile, so I also know she was a participant in the TEA Party’s attempt to take over the GOP (much like I was, several states away) just as she now advocates the Trump backers to do the same. Yet there always seems to be an issue with getting “establishment” people out of the power positions, regardless of how well you try and take over the local groups. Those in control are not above spreading rumors and innuendo or inserting stalking horses into the race to maintain their hold.

So if it’s true that insanity is believing that you can do the same thing and get different results then the same is true with handing money to the Tea Party Express. It’s money that would be far more useful to the conservative cause if it were donated to a local conservative candidate or traditionalist slate running for school board. That goal amount of $50,000 donated to the TPX will, if they indeed entice the sum from the unwashed, likely fatten the coffers of chosen consultants who will work on the periphery with messaging spots against the Democrats that get tuned out by the electorate instead of going to the candidates who wear away their shoe leather and burn their gas seeking votes where they can find them.

With my sincere apologies to Jen, it’s all a movie I’ve seen before and I really want a different script this time. Maybe the initial organizers of the TEA Party were right in wanting to stay away from the two-party system – after all, once a side assumes they have a group in its pocket (such as the black vote for Democrats or the evangelical vote for Republicans) that’s when they know they only have to provide lip service to your issues. And the TEA Party got a LOT of lip service over the decade it was prominent.

So it was easy to give a hard pass to the TPX. My local patriot group isn’t begging me for money but I bet they’ll work harder for their chosen candidates.

Editor’s note 8-21-21: Jen has promised me she will address this in her next podcast, so keep your ear to the ground.

On growth in a post-growth small town

Like a lot of small towns, the town whose zip code I reside in is looking to expand. Recently a developer came to the town with a proposal to add several hundred dwelling units behind a group of retail shops fronting along the major highway that runs on the eastern outskirts of town.

Come to think of it, this could apply to any of the four communities in Sussex County along the U.S. 13 corridor. In each case, Bridgeville, Seaford, Laurel, and Delmar have an older downtown area which was bypassed when U.S. 13 was rerouted around those towns decades ago. Now all of them have development along the new highway to some extent, with grocery stores, restaurants, shops, and convenience stores clustered in varying degrees along that major north-south route. (Despite the traffic lights, it’s generally considered a lower-hassle alternative to taking I-95 through Baltimore and Washington, D.C.)

Now I’m not sure just when the current four-lane U.S. 13 was constructed, although I know its predecessor route is still extant from Delmar, Maryland up through a point north of Seaford, and again through Bridgeville where it met up with SR404. But with the exception of Delmar, which centered its downtown around the railroad track that runs just west of 13, all these towns once had the highway serve their central business district. There is still quite a bit of commerce in these areas, but (with the exception of Seaford) nowhere near as much as there is along the newer highway.

Anyway, back to my point about Laurel, which is the subject of this essay. Here’s what I wrote about this development to a local message board:

Interesting that some of the other Laurel message boards seem to be filled out with the NIMBY crowd. But let me add a couple pennies here.

One thing I haven’t seen (it may be in subsequent news coverage, though) is what the buildout schedule is. People think “omigosh, we’re getting all these housing units” but not all of them are built at once. If it’s a popular development then buildout is still probably 3-4 years, and if it’s like Heron Ponds in Delmar they may take 20 years. So the new population will come in gradually.

And to speak to (a local citizen’s) concern, there was a random Friday a few months back when I drove through North Towns End and I counted 15 houses in various stages of construction. In just the couple years since we moved out here we’ve seen several houses put up on Mt. Pleasant (we looked at one of the new ones before we bought ours) so someone must like our end of town.

Maybe it’s a function of what I do for a living, but I’ve always said that if an area doesn’t grow it dies. East side of Laurel could use some construction, too.

Message on a local social media group board.

Yet a lot of the messages have a different but legitimate complaint: Laurel needs better jobs, more retail options and things to do, and less crime. The fear seems to be that the new development will bring less of what’s already lacking and more of what we don’t want, so I want to use my forum to revise and extend my previous remarks.

First off, I’m an outsider looking in. I really never dealt much with Laurel before I moved here except for driving through it, either on the main highway or occasionally the alternate through town. I actually still don’t do a lot of business there because I work in Salisbury and my wife works in Seaford, so any quick shopping is more likely to be done in those two towns or in Delmar since that’s on my way from work. But we often have occasion to eat out in Laurel and when we are home it has the closest grocery store.

By geography, we live closer to Sharptown, Maryland, but there’s nothing much there that I’m aware of except a convenience store and a Dollar General. That’s a town which is really off the beaten path, so very little commerce occurs there and the population has remained remarkably steady over the decades at around 650 people. (The same goes for Bethel, Delaware, which is also pretty close to us but even smaller.) So Laurel or Seaford it generally is, despite the extra distance.

In the case of many rural communities, their approach to job growth is as follows: set aside a plot of land with improvements and parcels of several acres and call it an industrial park. Promise some sort of tax abatement and then apply the Field of Dreams mantra: if you build it, they will come. I’m not saying that idea doesn’t work, since there are several industrial parks around and some are rather full, but a town can’t put all its eggs in just that basket.

So here is Laurel, with an investor who wants to put his money into the town but is getting grief from the NIMBY crowd. Ignore them. Presuming the developer will pay for the improvements required on the side road (up to and including the traffic signal that may be necessary at 13) this is a pretty good idea, at least in concept. I may be inclined for a smaller mix of townhouses to single-family, though, because one thing the area needs is property owners who will presumably take pride in their surroundings.

Once this development is underway, what the town needs to do in my opinion is create a way to make investment in its older areas just as worthwhile. Let’s look at one pivotal block of downtown Laurel as an example, the block on the southeast corner of old 13 and SR24. (Central Avenue and Market Street.)

From what I can gather, if you look at the block from the park across the street, there is a Chinese restaurant, a storefront church, a thrift store, and a building whose storefront I think is vacant but used to be a Mexican grocery. Thanks to the magic of Google Maps images, I found out that block was amputated sometime around the beginning of the last decade to accommodate extra parking for the Laurel Public Library. (At least now it owns the parcels.) The other two sets of parcels are owned by private individuals, one living in Laurel and another living in another town in Sussex County. But if you go back into the state archives, you’ll find that these two streets were completely built up in the early 20th century. Now the only corner left relatively the same is the one with the bank – the other three corners are either parking or the small downtown park.

Of course, I don’t know the back story of how all that came to pass, but it just seems from my perspective that, in the most recent case, the library could have worked out a deal with the bank on parking and left the buildings there, unless they had fallen that far into disrepair. (I’ve seen some references to a fire so I’m wondering if that had anything to do with this puzzle, too.)

But don’t you think it would make efforts to revitalize Laurel’s downtown better if that little bit of parking were moved across the street and someone invested in that corner with a mixed-use project of a storefront and apartments above? Build something new and fresh, but with the look of a historic structure, and maybe that encourages the neighbors to spruce up their buildings. Now perhaps that may not happen, but just like those who are down on the proposed development, if you do zero to improve things there’s a zero percent chance of improvement. I realize it’s nowhere near all that we need, but someone has to take the leap and I’m glad there’s a person out there who does.

Make yourself available and receptive to people who want to invest in good ideas and you just may find prosperity in something that benefits all parties involved.

Quick fix, simmering realizations…

Every so often I get blog feedback, and generally when I mention it I like to poke fun at it. But in this case it brought back a memory that, upon reading, could really have been written in August 2021 just as easily as it was in May of 2017.

In this case, the feedback was from an outfit that must like to check my links and suggests that I prune dead links and redirect them through their site. I appreciated their advice, but instead I found an archived link for what I needed.

But it gave me the opportunity to do a throwback Thursday on Sunday the other night when I wrote this piece. At that point in life 4 1/2 years ago I was still skeptical of a Trump administration that was just starting out while I was then working a job and a half. And it was this passage that stopped me cold:

I’m no economic genius by any stretch of the imagination, but I would suspect having GDP growth exceed inflation is good, but having government spending (which is a component of GDP) increase more quickly than either is a bad sign. If you take away the government spending component the question is whether GDP growth is still ahead of inflation. Maybe it’s not.

But who profits from that? I will grant there is certain government spending that adds value: if someone in the federal DOT had the gumption to have an interstate highway built between here and I-95 by Wilmington, not only would the money create local construction jobs on Delmarva but the greater ease in access to and from points north like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia would be good for local tourism and industry by making it easier to get here and transport there.

On the other hand, simple wealth transfers from rich to poor (welfare, Medicaid) and young to old (Social Security, Medicare) don’t add much in the way of value except in the sense that their care and feeding keeps a few thousand paper-pushers employed. But they are not creating value as their wages are extracted from those dollars others earn with work that adds value like mining, manufacturing, services like architecture and construction, and so forth. (Did I mention that I’m once again a registered architect in Maryland?)

So if you know this and I know this, why is the system remaining as is? I believe more and more that there is a group of well-connected people and entities who make their fortunes by gaming the system. Instead of government being a neutral arbitrator, they seem to be putting their thumb on the scale to favor those who now participate in an ever-widening vicious cycle of dependency and rent-seeking. To me, things should be fair for everyone with equal treatment in the eyes of the law but greed and lack of respect for one’s fellow man has changed the Golden Rule to “he who has the gold, rules.”

“About my hiatus,” May 5, 2017.

And remember, I wrote this before anyone outside of a Wuhan lab had ever heard of the virus that became the CCP virus and its fourteen variants that seem to come out whenever the news is bad for the Democrats. It was a pandemic where the rich, led by Walmart and Amazon, got richer and the middle-class got pretty much wiped out by unemployment and seeing their businesses die, or both. Remind me again who determined which businesses were deemed “essential” and which were forced to close? And this doesn’t even consider stimulus packages 1-48, which have added trillions to our deficit and debt.

(Side note: I was on a roll back then with my thoughts, because the next piece just nailed health insurance. I even called Andy Harris’s margin of victory eighteen months ahead of time. I really need to write like that more often!)

So, “Ella Miller,” if you are a real person (and I’m guessing by the search engines that you are sending these out under a pseudonym), I want to thank you for bringing the dead link to my attention so I could be reminded of just how consistent I’ve been politically and how I sometimes have the spider sense working just right.

True lies from the opposition

I haven’t written much about Indivisible of late because they’re continuing their predictable slide into grifter status, perpetually begging for money from the unwashed but certainly collecting their real cash from the same monied interests that keep the entire political Left afloat.

That support is a subject surely to be avoided by an initiative I was alerted to a few weeks back that they portrayed as a “truth brigade.” Get a load of this:

Big news! We recently publicly launched a massive volunteer program to counter right-wing disinformation: the Truth Brigade. You may have seen this campaign featured in the Washington PostForbes, and other outlets — we’ve been running a pilot program for several months that has already engaged 4,750 people, driving posts that together generated over 82 million impressions on social media.

Now, because the stakes are so high, we’re taking this plan public and expanding even further, as the right wing continues their crusade to poison the discourse and undermine our democracy…

(Pause for fundraising appeal…of course.)

The Truth Brigade is our answer to the right-wing disinformation machine. Research shows that one of the best ways to counter disinformation is through interactions with real people in your network — so thousands of volunteers are getting the training and the tools they need to shift the narratives in their own communities.

We provide resources on best practices, from how to structure messages to understanding how social media amplifies lies. Then, every two weeks, volunteers receive careful explainers about the latest issues and work on a campaign tailored to push back against messaging trends from bad actors. And leaders are constantly evaluating success to build more effective campaigns.

Just like all our work, it’s guided by experts who monitor right-wing circles, follow the spread of disinformation, and build tested tactics to fight back. And it’s powered by real volunteers, channelling (sic) their anger into action to protect our democracy.

Indivisible, “Project Launch: The Truth Brigade,” July 16, 2021.

So do you get it? This “grassroots” group that works from the top down is sending out “careful explainers” (read: misinformation) to “push back against messaging trends” (in other words, the real truth) from “bad actors” (people like us.) In a different era, we would know these people for what they are: useful idiots. And those “experts” are the trolls who “fight back” by regularly invading our political discussions with their tired talking points. (They’re the people I call the “traveling roadshow.”)

And the thing is: most of these local people Indivisible is really targeting – as opposed to those like me who only follow to know what the other side is up to – aren’t bad people, they’re just misguided. (Sort of like the unsaved who live in a worldly manner because they haven’t yet understood the Good News. I’m betting many of them get caught up in the center of that Venn diagram, too.)

On that thought, there is one other passage which sticks out: “channeling their anger into action to protect our democracy.” Setting aside the incorrect assertion that we are a democracy, one needs to question what they are angry about? Are they angry because they aren’t in with the powerful and privileged and seek some Other to rectify the situation? Since it’s not likely those chosen few are going to allow you to join their club without selling your soul in the process, maybe you simply need something to dissipate your anger. All anger seems to do these days is to get people in trouble. As a conservative white male, one would think I have the most to be angry about but I let it roll off me like water off a duck because I know I have a higher purpose and better destination in the end.

So if I were to guess, the real truth is probably a little closer to what I’m telling you than the “careful explainers” that Indivisible is churning out.

But what got this post elevated from something that was still simmering on my back burner as a piece worth barely worth more than an odds and ends mention to actually writing it was this gem from Indivisible yesterday. The sender was Meagan Hatcher-Mays, who I gather is part of their policy team:

Normally we wouldn’t email you twice in one day but we just heard some very important intel on the For the People Act, and with the Senate headed for recess literally any day, it couldn’t wait.

This afternoon, our policy team (that’s me and my colleagues) heard from multiple sources that Delaware’s two senators, Tom Carper and Chris Coons, are both holding out on eliminating or even reforming the filibuster, effectively stalling passage of the For the People Act (S. 1). We’ve known for a while that they were both reluctant to upset the status quo even for important legislation — they’ve been telling Indivisible groups so for a while — but this is the clearest confirmation we’ve heard that they’re willing to put arcane Senate rules over the legislation the American people elected Democrats to pass. 

Having them standing in the way also provides cover for Sens. Manchin (WV) and Sinema (AZ), who can now pretend they aren’t the ones blocking progress. If you’re not part of the solution, Senators, you’re part of the problem. 

Depending on where you live, here’s what we need you to do:

If you live in Delaware, call Senators Coons and Carper at 1-877-684-7760 and tell them you’ve heard information that they’re wavering and it’s time to pick a side: Democracy or the filibuster. Remind them you’re paying attention. (If you want, fill out your information here and we’ll call you with a script and patch you through to their office directly.)

Indivisible, “Important new intel re: Delaware (and the country),”August 6, 2021.

First off, insofar as I know that’s not actually a Senate number. I suspect it’s part of Indivisible’s fundraising efforts. Secondly, maybe they finally figured out I live in Delaware because a lot of their other stuff was targeted more to my previous zip code. (Or maybe they figured I’m close enough.)

But this is a rare time I actually agree with my Senators because they understand the function of the Senate insofar as it’s constituted in the modern day. (If they wanted it to truly function properly, they would call for repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment but we all know that’s not going to happen.) They’ve figured out that the filibuster that may hold them back in this cycle could well be their protection next time when the pendulum swings back.

So perhaps we should call their offices or drop them a line to commend them on that stance in keeping the filibuster. Why let the Indivisible minions have all the fun?

Shorebird Player and Pitcher of the Month: July 2021

Okay, I lied. I managed to find a little time this week to get the post in so you don’t have to wait until the 12th. Truth be told, it was a pretty easy decision insofar as the position player went, but the pitcher was a razor-thin margin between two guys.

Let’s start with the position player, who ironically came up to replace a previous Shorebird of the Month.

TT Bowens in his game preparation before a recent game against Salem.

When J.D. Mundy got his well-deserved promotion to Aberdeen, he was replaced at first base by another undrafted free agent, part of the bumper crop of 2020 UDFAs. Even better, he also goes by his initials and brought a lot of the same game, slamming 12 home runs in his first two months. While TT Bowens doesn’t quite have the same batting average, he’s done his best to carry the team in July and those offensive numbers were enough to earn him the honor of Shorebird Position Player of the Month.

As noted above, TT came as a non-drafted signee last summer, so his June 1 debut also began his professional career in games that count. A Connecticut native and product of Central Connecticut State University, he probably wasn’t going to attract a ton of notice in an area that wasn’t a baseball hotbed (although he played on a NCAA-qualifying team in 2019.) But he had a June that put him in the conversation for that month’s position player honors and continued his solid play in July, winning the month’s Triple Crown. On the season (including a game in August) Bowens is hitting .235/12/37/.806 OPS, which puts him among the Shorebirds’ leaders for the season overall and particularly the players who have been here most of the season.

Slotted in behind Mundy in the Oriole organizational pecking order, it wouldn’t shock me to see TT finish the season here and see if he can eclipse the 20 homer mark. Normally consigned to organizational player status, the crop of UDFAs signed by the Orioles last year may have contributed more to the organization so far than the six guys they actually drafted.

Now let’s look at this month’s pitcher, who definitely earned the honor.

Noah Denoyer dominated the opposition in July, and on this August night would continue by tossing three shutout innings against Down East.

Like Bowens, our pitcher is an UDFA, but unlike him this guy was passed over during the entire 40-round draft in 2019. Coming out of San Joaquin Delta College in California, Golden State native Noah Denoyer signed with the Orioles on August 5, 2019 and was soon brought cross-country to throw a few innings for the Orioles’ former Gulf Coast League squad, 4 to be exact. (In that time he allowed 2 runs on 3 hits, fanning five while walking just one.) And losing a season because of the pandemic meant that Denoyer probably lost a campaign that may well have been split between the GCL and Aberdeen, with maybe a shot at the Shorebirds late in the season.

In five July starts, Noah only went 1-1 but pitched 24 1/3 innings, allowing just 5 runs on 19 hits. He did not allow a walk in his last 21 innings but struck out 27 overall (vs. 3 walks.) That’s the sort of control which makes for a successful pitcher, and thus far his lowest game score in a start has been 47. (For comparison, a minimal “quality” start where the pitcher allows 3 runs in 6 innings, with six hits allowed, six strikeouts, and three walks would net a game score of 49 in the Bill James version that Baseball Reference uses.) A little more luck and Noah may have had a couple more wins.

For all of 2021, Noah has a 5-3 record, a 3.02 ERA in 14 appearances (10 starts), and just 21 runs and 43 hits allowed in 57 innings. He has struck out 67, walking 25 – although he’s on the aforementioned stretch of starts where he’s allowed no walks, which will eventually give him a solid ratio of maybe 3 walks per nine if he keeps it going. Not bad for a small college guy passed over in the draft; perhaps the Oriole scouts have found another diamond in the rough who will be ready for advancement before the season’s out.

While the position player was a fairly easy choice, I agonized between Denoyer and Houston Roth for the pitcher honors. Both had sensational months (Roth picked up four of Delmarva’s ten wins for July) but Denoyer was just a tick better overall.

Because September begins on a Wednesday again, this time I will wait until September 9 to announce my August winners. Depending on whether the Shorebirds make the playoffs or not, the September winner will be announced September 23 or 30, with the Shorebird of the Year selected the week afterward and the return of my annual picks and pans the week after that.

Scary to think we only have seven weeks left in the season, and just 15 home games after tonight!

A sobering CRT discussion

As the storm clouds gathered, it was a full parking lot at the Crossroad Community Church for a Thursday evening seminar. The lot looked like a Sunday morning should.

On Thursday night a quiet megachurch in Georgetown, Delaware became a center of the Critical Race Theory (CRT) opposition universe as Heritage Action held a panel discussion before a well-packed house and many more online.

While I took quite a few notes, I would almost rather write this more as a summary than as a blow-by-blow since the topic was fairly familiar among the audience and most of you who read here know their stuff about it as well.

This gives you an idea of the attendance. The two center sections were fairly full, while the side I was on was about half-full, with the edge seats being empty. I would estimate about 400 people there, and it looked like a TEA Party crowd without the Gadsden flags.

Moderated by my friend Melody Clarke of Heritage Action, the event featured a diverse panel that looked at CRT through a number of lenses: its history, its impact on our educational system, and the effects it’s having on our military and workplace. In order of appearance, the panel was comprised of six participants:

  • Jonathan Butcher, who covered both the history of CRT (as a pinch-hitter for author Mike Gonzalez, who was a scheduled participant but could not attend) and its impact on education. Butcher is the Will Skillman Fellow in Education at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Xi Van Fleet, who I found was the most fascinating member. She’s not an academic per se (although she has an advanced degree) but based her testimony on her life experiences as a young child during the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Shawntel Cooper, a concerned parent from Loudoun County, Virginia. Her school district has been a battleground in this struggle against CRT, and she’s involved in a local group called Fight for Schools that is seeking to recall members of the county school board.
  • Joe Mobley, a fellow concerned Loudoun County parent in Fight for Schools who also works as a motivational speaker, among other tasks. He was the most humorous panelist by far, although he was serious enough to make good points.
  • Jeremy C. Hunt, a West Point graduate and former Army officer who is now enrolled at Yale Law School. He was point man on the impacts of CRT in the military.
  • Stephanie Holmes, who operates a HR consulting firm called BrighterSideHR, LLC. Obviously she spoke on the impact of CRT on businesses, and Melody noted a speaker on that topic was the most difficult one to find given the political correctness climate. As a self-employed consultant, I thought she was an ideal pick.

The look at the history initiated by Butcher stretched back to the origins of Critical Theory in the 1930s. Created by the Frankfurt School, a group of academics who fled Nazi Germany and found teaching positions at several elite colleges, their Marxist students and proteges eventually evolved and branched off Critical Theory into Critical Legal Theory by the 1970s, adding the element of challenging the rule of law that we have based our republic on since the beginning.

While Critical Race Theory came after Critical Legal Theory, it shares more of the Marxist origins of Critical Theory, with the distinction of a substitute proletariat of race for economic class. The way Butcher illustrated it: it was oppressors vs. oppressed, and truth was what they came up with at the time. As another has put it: we have always been at war with Eastasia.

The economic class part of Marxism had already been tried, as Van Fleet illustrated in her remarks. As a young girl she witnessed the beginnings of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, when Mao decreed that all the old ways had to be eliminated and students (the Red Guard) became the enforcers. She remarked that there was no difference between our social justice warriors and the Red Guard, and that our woke revolution was the “twin brother” of the Cultural Revolution, a continuation and “an American tragedy.”

One thing she’s noticed about America is that we’ve learned a lot about Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s fascism, but comparatively little about communism. Van Fleet believed that was intentional since communism was closer to the Marxism that academics would prefer we adopt, so they hid the truth. Xi believed that a CRT ban was “only the first step in the culture war.”

She concluded by pointing out that Mao’s initial backers were the peasants who were promised free land once the revolution was successful, only to have it become the property of the state after the previous regime was overthrown. “What the state gave you for free, they can also take it back.”

What our state of Delaware is giving us, in certain areas, is CRT as part of education. That was the assessment of Butcher as he returned to the podium to give his scheduled portion of the presentation. Noting that schools are often doing their best to hide their involvement (because they’ve realized it’s not popular among parents who learn about it) he went over several “myths” about Critical Race Theory: that it was just about history, that it wasn’t being taught in our schools, and that we needed it to teach compassion.

More importantly, though, he preached a response: center the opposition around (ironically) the federal Civil Rights Act. As I would say it: for now equality – not equity – is the law.

Cooper and Mobley, the two Loudoun parents, had their own perspective from being in the trenches, so to speak. Cooper, who came from an upbringing of being raised poor, exclaimed that “my strength allowed me to be a victor and not a victim,” unlike her sister. She seemed very determined to emphasize her beliefs that, “sexuality, religion, and politics should never be taught in school” and that CRT “is abusive.” One thing she brought up that none had noted prior was that teachers often have an in-classroom library of books that don’t go home with students, so parents don’t realize what their kids may be reading. On the other hand, Mobley was more motivational but came across to me as something of a huckster. He did state the obvious: “the environment has changed” due to CRT.

Mobley made a couple interesting Biblical references though: warning us not to be like Belshazzar was in Daniel 5 (the writing on the wall chapter) and more like Daniel 3, which is the account of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and the fiery furnace. He further encouraged us to be strong and of good courage, referring to Joshua 1:9.

While his charge was that of giving a military perspective, Hunt reminded us that, “racism is a sin problem” and urged us to pray about it. He warned the audience that Joe Biden has a “serious agenda” and we must protect our military from it. He believed, though, that “we win at the end of the day,” and like any good soldier, promised he is “not giving up my country.” While the military is trained to follow orders, Hunt reminded us there is now a whistleblower site where those enlisted can file complaints.

The final panelist, Holmes, made the case that CRT training now more common among corporations was creating risk for those companies and poor morale for employees, with the risk coming because of possible Title VII violations. It became a question of whether diversity goals were turning into a quota system. She also brought up the issue of off-duty conduct, such as postings on social media, and how that can affect employees.

The length of these presentations only left a short period for questions and answers that were either placed in advance or sent in from those watching the presentation from home, which oftentimes were dealt with in something of a rapid-fire fashion.

One weakness of the format, however, was that it had more of a federal focus and not so much of a state focus, as Delaware passed House Bill 198 – a bill mandating CRT training under the guise of black history – this session. It was explained to me afterward by Jonathan Butcher that the omission was a function of Heritage Action’s (c)(3) status; so I explained the law briefly to him. (But I also got to renew acquaintances with the lovely and gracious Melody Clarke, so that was a bonus.)

So I want to end with the beginning, when we were welcomed by Pastor Andrew Betts of Crossroads. In his invocation he prayed that America would “hold on to truth.”

But he also opined that CRT “has no place in the church,” and made another great point: “if you want to be politically powerful, you need someone to hate.” It would be better to bless those who curse us and pray for those who persecute, said Betts. “Pray for the deceivers.”

I think we have a lot of praying to do right now.

Odds and ends number 105

Well, it’s that time again. It seems like my e-mail box fills faster than ever despite the fact I’ve dropped off a number of lists, and of course I save the stuff I find interesting (but not long enough for a full post) for use here. So here are the few sentence to few paragraph dollops of bloggy goodness.

Manic suppression

I’m sure I’ve told you all that I write for The Patriot Post, and they’re like many other businesses that have shifted their marketing strategy to rely more and more on social media. But what happens when their very name becomes a liability in some circles? As Mark Alexander explains:

The net result in terms of our advocacy for and outreach on behalf of Freedom and Liberty: After 25 years of year-over-year record growth, which increased dramatically on social media platforms since 2010, starting in June of 2020, Patriot Post incoming traffic from those platforms precipitously dropped by more than 80% — the direct result of shadow-banning and suppression of our reach on those platforms. That deliberate and demonstrable suppression of our content necessitated a complete alteration of our marketing model over the last 12 months. As a result, our ranks continue to grow at a good pace.

But there is NO recourse for the violation of our Civil Rights because Republicans in Congress are too busy focusing on “cancel culture,” which is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Cancel culture is a much easier political soundbite, but it is only a minuscule part of the real First Amendment threat. The deliberate systemic suppression of conservative websites on social media platforms would make the old Soviet commissars of truth proud. Until Republicans get beyond the cancel culture soundbites, this suppression will continue unabated.

Mark Alexander, “The Big Tech Assault on The Patriot Post,” July 28, 2021.

Basically, since social media “fact-checkers” have deemed them incorrect, they’ve had to retreat to their former pre-social media process. Recently I decided to help them out a little bit with a second widget on my sidebar, this one more toward the top.

Knock on wood, but I’ve personally not had a lot of issues on social media. We’ll see how long I can press my luck.

On a related note, a June article from Erick Erickson reveals just how much the social media folks have on you. It’s an interesting listen, but I’m still wondering how I get so much stuff on Montana when I’ve never been there nor plan on visiting. Maybe I came across a paper from there in doing my reading?

The leftist grifter

One e-mail list I didn’t drop off was that of a guy named Rick Weiland.

Back in the day I somehow ended up on his list, and for quite awhile I was getting e-mail from him as he ran a few failed campaigns up in South Dakota. (Now watch, I’m going to get all sorts of social media stuff from that state.) But the reason I’ve held on to several of his missives is that it’s a good way to see what concerns the woke candidates of this nation – even in “flyover country.”

In the last couple weeks, he and his “Take It Back” group worried that:

  • Toyota gave political donations to not just Republican candidates, but ones who supported the “insurrection.” (July 5)
  • Social media was not banning ads from fossil fuel companies. (July 11)
  • The Supreme Court was not being packed with liberals. (July 12)
  • We weren’t backing the runaway Texas Democrat superspreaders. (Okay, the last part was my addition.) (July 13)
  • Medicare wasn’t being expanded in states which refused it, meaning the federal government has to force them to. (July 14)
  • Democrats are not standing strong on climate change and “equity.” (July 15)
  • We weren’t going to expand Medicare by adding dental and vision and making it available to younger people. (July 18)
  • President Biden should block all new fossil fuel projects. (July 28)

It’s almost like Christmas every day as I read what far-loony-left idea they have now. I need the good laugh – until I realize these people are serious.

Deluded, but serious. How about rightsizing government for a change? If there’s anything that needs to be taken back, it’s a proper interpretation of the Constitution and role of government as intended by the Founders.

The grifting part comes in where they are trying to petition Medicaid expansion to the ballot in South Dakota and are looking for donations. Why, if people are just clamoring for this, shouldn’t this initiative be significantly volunteer-driven? Between him and Indivisible now becoming a money-begging national scam that’s taken what the TEA Party became and tripled down on it, I wonder how much stimmie cash the unwashed far left has remaining.

(Late edit: how about one more for the road tonight, as they complain this time about the need to rein in Wall Street private equity firms. Any complaint for a buck, I guess, since the pitch was there.)

Back to the home state

Subtitled, when the majority tyrants get pissed. I’ll let Rep. Bryan Shupe explain:

Months ago I created a bill that would allow for no excuse absentee ballot voting in the State of Delaware while requiring that any changes to our absentee process would have to remain in the Delaware Constitution, a 2/3 vote over two consecutive legislative sessions. This legislation safeguards the integrity of our elections by not allowing the majority, either Democrat or Republican, to simply make new voting rules that will benefit them in the next election cycle.

Unfortunately the discussion was not welcomed and leadership has tried to create this as a partisan issue. EVEN WORSE, after the current absentee bill, HB 75, was defeated, my Municipal Voting Rights bill, HB 146, which was on the agenda, was not heard on the House floor.

HB 146, which had bipartisan support, eliminates the requirement for double voter registration for Delawareans to vote in their local elections, expanding voting right across the state. Retaliation is an old game that serves no one.

Rep. Bryan Shupe, “Political games hurt Delaware’s people,” June 14, 2021. Slightly edited for clarity.

Maybe we like the absentee balloting the way it is. I know the other side is adding early (and often) voting in 2022 – it was funny, the reaction I got from the BoE worker at the state fair when I said that as I passed by their booth – yet, they wouldn’t make it easier to vote when they lost in the General Assembly because the GOP got smart and realized they can use their minority for a good cause once in awhile. My fine friends in Laurel shouldn’t need to register for both state and municipal elections – isn’t that voter suppression?

And considering the state is primed for both slow population and economic growth thanks to the policies in place – this according to Dr. John Stapleford, who is the Co-Director of the Center for Analysis of Delaware’s Economy & Government Spending – maybe we need some reform and elections are a good place to work.

By the way, here are two interesting factoids from Dr. Stapleford:

In Sussex County, net migration accounted for 102% of the population change (deaths exceed births) compared to 67% in Kent County and only 12% in New Castle County. Young people move into counties with good job opportunities while older folks migrate to counties with warmer weather, amenities (e.g., beaches, lakes), and lower taxes…

Sussex County’s net migration will slow as a growing population clogs the roads and the beaches. Regardless, the population growth in Sussex County will continue to add to consumption demand while doing little to boost economic productivity in Delaware. Burdened by strict environmental land use regulations and poor public schools, net domestic out-migration from New Castle County will continue. Ultimately, below-average population growth will constrain future Delaware economic growth.

Dr. John Stapleford, “Delaware Population Numbers Promises Low Economic Growth,” Caesar Rodney Institute, June 24, 2021.

While the state as a whole only grew at 0.9% in population, Sussex County increased 2.2%. (As a trend, the center of population continued its southward march.) And if there are two areas of Delaware which need an economic boost, they are New Castle County and the western end of Sussex County (the U.S. 13 corridor.) Unfortunately, NCC tends to vote against their own interests while the west side of Sussex can’t progress because they don’t have forceful leadership – witness the defeat of local right-to-work legislation as an example.

Finds from the Resistance Library

If there were someone who personifies the concept of resistance, I think I could get Pat Buchanan to qualify. I know Republicans didn’t have a lot of use for him when he was more politically active, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have fans. In reading this short biography, you could surmise Buchanan was Donald Trump before Donald Trump was cool. (However, people tend to forget we can’t speak of Pat in the past tense, since he is still around.)

But even better in my mind is their longer piece on The Great Reset. Doing what I do and knowing some recent experience, this portion of Sam Jacobs’ report stuck out the most:

BlackRock is a private equity firm that has been offering absurd prices for residential homes in the suburbs. They don’t plan to flip them and turn a profit. Rather, the plan is to buy homes at 50 percent above asking with the purpose of transforming these homes into rental properties. BlackRock’s acquisition of the suburbs is part of a larger issue that grew out of COVID-19, but is closely related to the Great Reset – the increased centralization of the American economy…

One company, or a handful of them, who dominate the housing market are dangerous for a variety of reasons. Chief among these reasons is the ability to weaponize this control over housing against critics of the regime. Who needs the government to enact a social credit system when the national landlord has one? Of course, the usual dummies will defend this because it’s being done by a private corporation.

(Also) It is worth briefly noting that the eviction moratorium favors large landlords who can go months or years without an income over smaller ones, who cannot. The moratorium was enacted by the CDC, which apparently now has the authority to control rental properties in the United States.

Sam Jacobs, “The Great Reset: The Global Elite’s Plan to Radically Remake Our Economic and Social Lives,” undated.

Let’s consider this for a moment: we have two paths to prosperity under assault. From the time I was young I was always urged to buy a house and build equity and wealth. Property was an asset that generally held its value and, in a dire emergency, had worth which could be borrowed against. Making people perpetual renters makes it that much more difficult to have something of lasting value since the worth of the property remains with the owner.

Congruent to that is the notion of those who purchase a second home intending to keep it for a rental property – I know several people who have (or are) doing that, and just because there’s an eviction moratorium doesn’t mean there’s a moratorium for owners to pay their own mortgages and upkeep. (Heaven help the landlord who doesn’t address issues in the house, even if the rent isn’t being paid.) It’s understandable that some renters are having issues, but obviously there are enough who are simply taking advantage of the system that it’s become a concern.

So that leaves me with a few items that will be promoted to post status over the coming days. Not a bad evening’s work.

A way to build Delaware manufacturing

I kept this article around for a potential upcoming “odds and ends” post, but the more I thought about it the more I believed it was enough for a standalone article. It’s a couple weeks old but certainly evergreen enough to be a timely piece.

Charlie Copeland, who used to be the Senate Minority Leader in Delaware once upon a time, is now the co-director of the Center for Analysis of Delaware’s Economy & Government Spending. (Yes, that’s a mouthful – so we’ll call it CADEGS.) So the CADEGS head wrote a post on the blog of the Caesar Rodney Institute that told me two things, one of which I knew and one I did not: number one, the one I knew, is that Delaware got a crapton of $ from the federal government thanks to Uncle Sam’s CCP virus spending spree – so much so that it’s remarkably not all been spent. But number two, which is the one I did not know, is that “Northern Delaware has over half a dozen former industrial sites waiting to be cleaned up and waiting for infrastructure upgrades.”

How does Charlie put one and one together? He adds, “By making a one-time investment from one-time federal funds into these sites, Delaware can create a magnet for private sector business investments in these locations. Imagine close to a dozen industrial sites ready for new, clean American manufacturing.” And this makes sense, since presumably these sites either already had the infrastructure needed onsite or it was there but needed a little updating and TLC. After all, if the company I work for can update a forty-odd year-old restaurant that had no grease interceptor (meaning it was dumping grease right into the system) I suspect piping at these sites which dates from the 1940s or 1950s can be replaced.

But the second part of Copeland’s wish list is just as important.

This true infrastructure investment would be a good start, and the next step will not cost any money. Delaware needs to dramatically improve its permitting process for business site investments. This requirement was made clear in a 2019 report released by the Delaware Business Roundtable on Delaware’s job-killing permitting process. 

As stated in the report, “The permitting process plays an important role within the site selection process. Site selectors and investors often view the process as a barometer for measuring how business-friendly or supportive a state or local community is to economic development and new investment.” And Delaware is viewed as unfriendly. As a matter of fact, one national manufacturing site selection expert stated that “Delaware is not on anyone’s list.” 

Adjacent states can often complete site and business permitting in six months. In Delaware, it can take as long as two years. Job creators have options, and they are opting to go to other states where they can get their businesses operating in one-quarter of the time than it takes in Delaware. The proof of Delaware’s failure is in the continued decline in our manufacturing employment, while nationally, manufacturing has been growing as the US continues to on-shore production from China.

Charlie Copeland, “Delaware Manufacturing Job Growth Opportunity“, Caesar Rodney Institute, June 30, 2021.

Having dealt with the First State for a few commercial projects, let me restate louder for those in the back, “Delaware needs to dramatically improve its permitting process for business site investments.” For example, we spent a ridiculous amount of time dealing with site improvements for a project on a rural corner that didn’t even see 1,000 cars a day and might only gain 50-100 because of the development. Business people who have borrowed thousands to make their dream a reality don’t want to wait an extra three months to open because state and county agencies can’t get their sh*t together.

What Charlie suggests is that the “site and business permitting process could be quickly streamlined by reassigning a few State employees into ‘permitting-process concierges’ who would keep track of the status of major projects (e.g., over $5 million in investment). At the same time, the State should create a government website ‘dashboard’ giving the status of all aspects of investments in the permitting process detailing when permits were submitted, the amount of time waiting for initial comments, and what agency is currently holding a permit (and for how long). These two steps – the concierge and the dashboard – would bring transparency and accountability to a very diffuse process.”

In other words, do what certain private-sector businesses do with high-profile clients who generally receive just one point of contact. That’s not to say that smaller guys should get a runaround, but if the red tape is pushed aside for the big guys, maybe that learning curve is made easier for the small fries.

I will say, though, that Copeland was thinking mostly about the northern part of the state. I would be curious to know if this same principle could apply to whatever portions of the old DuPont facility in Seaford remain unused now that Amazon has made plans to use part of it for a regional hub. Regardless, if gaining jobs in the Wilmington/NCC area makes them just that much more prosperous, then the burden on Sussex County taxpayers should be lightened too. As it is said, a rising tide lifts all boats – and this state could use a lift.