Alert 622:Squeaky wheels get greased, silent citizens get screwed….

Dear Friends:

Out of some 600 Alerts from Green Delaware, this one somehow feels the most important, and maybe the hardest to write.

Many of us feel as if we’ve come out of a long nightmare.  In Obama, and in Markell, we’ve elected new leaders with a mandate for “change” and, seemingly, the smarts to deliver it.

What sort of “change” can we expect, and what do we need to do now to get it?

Let’s think for a minute about how the world really works.

When “progressive” candidates get elected, activist citizen supporters tend to sit around and hope for the best.  Meanwhile, the fat-cat interests bore right in with their demands and contributions, doing all they can–a lot!– to keep things as they are.

The citizens hear “be patient, be reasonable, change takes time….“  Mostly they buy this line.

Why?  As citizens, our responses to candidates are mostly emotional.  We like them, or we don’t.  We have faith in them, or we don’t.  We respond to slogans and hints and personalities, projecting our agendas onto the candidates.  Because we are running more on emotion than logic, our desire to believe–out hopes–overrides the reasoning parts of our brains.  On some level, we can’t or won’t believe that our heros might not deliver the goods.

On the other hand, the corporate lobbyists are coldly logical and pragmatic in their approach.  They are professionals, not amateurs. They act more rationally.  They know candidates have campaign debts–maybe not Obama and Markell–they could need help with, and their corporate clients know they have to spend some more resources to buy into the winning team.

The role of the mainstream media …..

While heading up to the Democratic victory celebration, we tuned in WDEL–a very Republican radio station–and heard Allan Loudell interviewing Rich Heffron of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and right-wing ex-House-Majority Leader Wayne Smith, who resigned to become a health care lobbyist.

It would be hard to think of two Delaware actors who have done more to promote the crimes of Bushism, or are more opposed to what the people are hoping for–universal health care, progressive taxation, peace…..  Their message:  the incoming pols “know how things work in Delaware….”  No need to worry…nothing’s really going to change.  Did listeners notice they were hearing the excuses of the losers not the  hopes of the victors?  Is there a subtle (?) expectation-lowering message here from the corporate media:  “try as you may, it will never really matter….”

What a contrast to the outpouring of hope we saw at the DoubleTree hotel that night.

In the Nov 8, 2008 Wilmington News Journal, there’s an article about potential Markell cabinet members.  It’s based on rumor and gossip, so don’t assume it reflects what Markell and his people are actually considering.  It may, it may not.  But the names mentioned could discourage anybody:

Carl Danberg, present at the creation of the ongoing shameful prison scandals, to keep running the prisons?  Nick DiPasquale, former DNREC head tied to numerous scandals such as the cover up of Rodel’s cancer emissions, to run DNREC again?  Skip Schoenhals, who runs a bank that used to belong to it’s customers before it was stolen from them (“demutualized”), to run the schools?

Many other crucial appointments get little attention.  For example, the Judicial Nominating Commission, unbelievably, is chaired by Mike Parkowski, Delaware’s top polluter lawyer.  Parkowski wrote an article about how there is too much public participation in Coastal Zone matters.  Will Parkowski be replaced by someone decent?  What about housing, in a state where more and more people can’t afford a decent place to live?

Will people wanting universal health care, affordable housing, land use reform, etc., will come together effectively, demanding a real place at the table and offering new ideas?  On past experience, Delaware’s mainstream “environmental community” will not.  15 years of sad experience leaves no doubt in my mind.  It will suck up, beg for crumbs, and work at marginalizing Green Delaware.

With all our economic problems–likely made worse by bailing out the perps–it will be hard to keep focus on anything else, like health and the environment.  These issues were little-mentioned in recent campaigning, either state or federal.

A cautionary tale:

Jon Corzine, a rich banker (Goldman Sachs) was elected to the US Senate in 2000.  His environmental record as a Senator was good, and he helped us on a couple of things involving the Delaware River.  He then got elected Governor of New Jersey with support from environmental interests.  He looked around at the New Jersey government’s economic problems and said, in effect, “stop bothering me with that environmental stuff.”  His record since has been a near-total disappointment.

This doesn’t have to be.  Environmental protection helps, not hurts, the economy.  It takes, though, some vision to see this and act on it.   Will the status-quo polluter corporations like DuPont and Premcor make the decisions?  Or will Delaware be turned around?

Point:  THIS is the time to be the squeaky wheel.  THIS is the time to make your voice heard.  Who do YOU want running Delaware agencies and sitting as Delaware judges?

And if you want Green Delaware to be an effective voice, we are going to need your continuing support.

Jack Markell, Delaware State Treasurer and Governor-Elect:  302.744.1002,,


Alan Muller

Green Delaware is a community based organization working on environment and public health issues.  We try to provide information you can use.  Please use it.  Do you want to continue receiving information from Green Delaware?  Please contribute or volunteer.  Reach us at 302.834.3466,, , Box 69, Port Penn, DE, USA

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