The City of Newark, DE (not to be confused with Newark, NJ), is in the midst of an ethical and political crisis.
The essence of it is that city officials have connived with the University of Delaware, the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), Gov. Jack Markell, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Control (DNREC), and others to bring a large (279 megawatt) power plant into Newark under false pretenses. The same officials apparently concealed this from city residents as long as they could. The most visible perp is Newark City Manager Carol S. Houck.
This scheme upset lots of people, especially those living near the proposed power plant. The controversy seems to be getting more intense, with various unions whipped up with the notion that thousands of jobs will be available if “The Data Center” power plant scheme goes ahead. Many capable people looking into the scheme are finding much misrepresentation and little substance.
At the same time, Newark is having a special election for mayor on November 26th, to replace resigned Mayor Vance Funk. Seven people are running, or at least have filed.
Newark has a city-manager form of government and the Mayor is supposed to be many a titular position. However, the Mayor, if inclined and capable, can exercise a lot of moral authority.
The most interesting candidate is Amy Roe, Conservation Chair of the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club. I have a personal interest in this because back in the 1990s I held the same position before being kicked out for opposing Delmarva Power and committing other offences. Since then the Delaware Chapter has mostly been a public nuisance–the very model of an industrial-stooge “environmental org. Roe is different–someone who actually seems to want to fight for the environment. She’s been a leader in investigating the “Data Center” power plant. It’s nice to see, for once, a leader of the Delaware Chapter actually doing the job. Roe appears to be a person of considerable ability and substance.
On the other hand, ever-disgraceful Jim Black, former Delaware Sierra, and “Clean Air Council” leader, is flacking for the power plant. He’s previously promoted a garbage incineration in the City of Wilmington and a “biomass” incinerator in the Town of Newport, DE. A guy who epitomizes all the worst of the US “environmental movement.” A statement from Delaware Sierra is here.
It is not entirely clear where all seven candidates stand on the power plant and other issues. The Delaware Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) sent a questionnaire to the candidates and the responses are here. The ADA also has links to other candidate stories and profiles.
Stories about candidate Polly Sierer illustrate how sick the US political system has become.
She may be the chosen candidate of the Corporate/Union establishment–especially those promoting the “Data Center” power plant. I say that because:
o Her campaign materials look like professionally produced political drivel;
o A PAC supporting her called I Like Polly’s Plan is raking in money although she has offered no plan.
o Sierer seems to be denouncing the same PAC that is the essence of her campaign.
The Newark Post has an interesting story on this:
‘Polly’s Plan’ PAC funded by group supporting data center, documents show
OK, enough. Again: If you live in Newark, DE, go and vote for Amy Roe on Tuesday. Get your friends to do the same. This is an election that matters.