Monday, May 20, 2019

Lisa Diller, Matthew Meyer, Edward Osienski, and Bryan Townsend: The Epitome of Corrupt Government in DE

Corruption is a cancer: A cancer that eats away at a citizen's faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity"
~ Joe Biden

For the record, Saving the Orphanage Property (STOP) was a three year grassroots campaign (2015-2018) to save the last significant open space in Ogletown, Delaware, for a regional park. A host of other reasons -- some critical -- also existed for why the land should have been preserved, and was not suitable for development. However, the effort was crushed and defeated by government corruption on the part of New Castle County (NCC) and State elected legislators with financial ties to development interests, and a newly elected pro-development County Executive.

The below fact collection tells the entire story. No actual evidence was ever presented to disprove them. These legislators -- Councilwoman Lisa Diller, Rep Edward Osienski, and Senator Bryan Townsend -- then acted to deceive the electorate prior to the 2018 election, campaigning that they did everything possible to bring a park and place-making (180 acres of trails, critical habitat area, and open space) to Ogletown, and that these facts are in some way "unsubstantiated". All three then went on to resounding victories in their re-election bids, despite the dire environmental and socio-economic consequences.

If any of the 16 facts below -- in BOLD font -- are false or inaccurate, please comment with the evidence and/or proof otherwise, and we will eagerly retract and update this blog.

FACT: News of the Felician Sisters desire to develop the Orphanage Property was NOT brought to the public for over 2 years (documented) than it could have been. And discussion about the possibility of development was brought to Councilwoman Lisa Diller, Representative Ed Osienski, and Senator Bryan Townsend at the very beginning of that time. Additionally during the 2013-2015 time frame, Diller and NCC Council raised $150,000 to help the Felician Sisters get a plan approved, with virtually no public knowledge.

FACT: From the time that the July 2015 public meeting was held at Holy Family Church, Councilwoman Diller and Rep Osienski were heard on many occasions referring to the development or their help in saving the Orphanage Property as "Done", "Finished", and/or "It (the Chestnut Hill "Preserve) is going to happen, it’s going to happen", etc. Osienski in particular made it clear in writing that a STOP campaign started years earlier -- in 2013 before the exploratory plan was even drawn up -- would have made no difference in the outcome.

FACT: The Traffic Impact Study (TIS) was carefully scoped to exclude nearby signalized intersections that fail level of service (LOS). In contempt of the Unified Development Code (UDC), they used driveways, median cut-throughs and residential T streets along Route 4 to fulfill the "three intersections in each direction" mandate. This underhanded action insured that the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" would move forward with no chance of traffic concerns taken seriously.

FACT: (Provided via expert opinion from a now former NCC Council member and expert in the field, and in a meeting between Advocates and officials from the NCC Dept of Land Use): The Orphanage Property sits atop one of the highest water tables in the State, and would be very difficult to build on without exasperating flood-prone issues in adjacent communities and a FEMA "100 year" flood plain down on Leathermans Run/Christina River.

FACT: According to NCC’s GIS mapping tool, all 180 acres of the Orphanage Property was shown as “Low Density Suburban”, in terms of future land use. Somewhere along the way, without public notice, it was re-purposed as mainly High Density for the approximate 60 acres of open field space abutting Route 4. The rest (120 acres of non-buildable wetlands, woodlands, and vernal pools) became a “gift” from the developer, to be used to fulfill what is normally a very small percentage of open space mandated in the UDC. So, in essence, when considering what was actually “buildable”, and the fact that the Chestnut Hill “Preserve” does indeed clear and pave over a portion of the forest and wetlands, the result is a negative contribution to open space.

FACT: In a blatant conflict of interest, Exec Meyer appointed Joseph Setting (Orphanage Property developer at the time, according to the WNJ, and still vested via multiple LLCs) and Michael Hoffman (of Tarabicos-Grosso, firm representing the Felician Sisters) to Chairman and sub-Chair positions on the NCC Parks Transition Team. Their job was to help Meyer prioritize parkland needs for every region of NCC. This was a clear conflict of interest, and Save The Orphanage Property (STOP) Advocates filed a formal complaint with the NCC "Ethics" Commission (NCCEC). The NCCEC would not go beyond a "preliminary" investigation, basing their conclusion on hearsay and/or very minimal inputs. They ruled that it was not a conflict of interest and did NOT appear improper, when in fact, placing Ogletown-S. Newark (aka “Route 4 corridor”) at #3 priority guaranteed the Orphanage Property would be lost to development based purely on lack of funds. The Parks budget barely had enough to cover #1 and #2 – Red Lion and Middletown – whose land was either donated or already owned by NCC. Purchase of the Orphanage Property should have easily been #1, given the one chance-only opportunity it represented.

FACT: Senator Townsend and Rep Osienski would NOT intervene, assert themselves and/or participate in Orphanage Property buyout negotiations; instead, they trusted and allowed their NCC Democratic colleague -- newly elected County Executive Matt Meyer -- to handle all negotiations on behalf of saving the Orphanage Property. Despite pleas from Advocates to oversee Meyer's negotiations, and the chance of losing this one chance-only opportunity for a park, both would not get involved and they wouldn't even enlist the highest office for help - the Governor.

FACT: (According to Townsend through emails and phone calls): Exec Meyer FAILED to include several basic conditions in his written buyout offers that he had personally promised the Sisters in prior meetings (i.e. who's going to plow the snow at the entry road, etc). According to Meyer, there were four buyout offers -- but it was later found that only two were in any way usable. Because Diller had publicly stated in public and in an e-mail to her Constituents that she was “Done and Finished” and would not support the objections to the development -- and there was no State Legislator oversight in spite of them sharing constituents and being equally vested -- none of this was rectified.

FACT: (According to Townsend through emails and phone calls): Meyer refused to offer above appraised value for the Orphanage Property, despite approx $1M dollars already spent in developer planning, engineering and labor that would have to be absorbed. The Felician Sisters, in favor of the park themselves, offered to "meet halfway" on that, as long as Meyer produced a viable offer with basic conditions met. Meyer hesitated, sticking to his non-viable offer, then he waited a couple of months for the Sisters to "counter". Upon not hearing from NCC and Meyer, the Sisters had to commit one way or the other. With so much uncertainty surrounding Meyer and government funding in general, the last Orphanage Property deadline passed and the land was locked in for development. Again, because there was no State Legislator oversight -- in spite of them sharing constituents and being equally vested -- none of this was or could be rectified.

FACT: The Ogletown-S. Newark region does NOT have a regional park, and now thanks to Diller-Osienski-Townsend (and Meyer 11th hour) they never will. This is in contempt of the State's supposed Mission included in such programs as "Livable Delaware" (Minner), Trails & Pathways (Markell), along with endless studies and data that proves the value of such facilities to the health and well-being of the communities that surround them. The economic benefits of parks are also invaluable, and they more than pay for themselves. These three Legislators went the entire opposite direction, compromising an entire region's health, happiness, property values, and right of access to healthy exercise. Instead, they chose an increase in congestion and the stresses of over-development, and to require residents to drive 15-20 minutes to use another region's park.

FACT: All 3 of the region's Legislators and Exec Matt Meyer accept numerous and generous campaign contributions from developers, land use attorneys, and others in the construction and building industry. Although STOP did receive a Resolution from the Civic League of NCC (CLNCC) in support of saving the Orphanage Property, Advocates are unaware of any efforts on their part to call out the enormous level of corruption that took place throughout the STOP campaign, most notably the above-mentioned conflict of interest and the NCCEC's failure to cite it.

FACT: A highly esteemed past president of the CLNCC had repeated to Advocates on several occasions that it is 'normal' procedure for NCC Govt and the involved Councilperson to give the genuine appearance of helping citizens and Advocates in matters of land use and conservation. Then approval of the development project goes to a vote, at which point the entire Council -- minus the Councilperson whose district it is -- votes to approve it. This, in effect, helps said Councilperson salvage their job since they voted against approval, while the others voted to approve, making it "not their fault". Citizens watched this exact scenario unfold as Councilwoman Lisa Diller was the lone vote against the Chestnut Hill “Preserve”.

FACT: (Stated by CLNCC members on several occasions): The NCC Dept of Land Use and NCC take in enormous sums of money from development projects, but in the long term, tax revenue from each new home ends up being 10-20% less than the County pays for needed civil and other services. This initial cash infusion drives NCC Council and their Legislators to act in the interest of short term self-preservation, not their constituents interests and regardless of whether existing home inventory is high or if parkland is needed.

FACT: Councilwoman Lisa Diller voted YES with NCC Council to pay above appraised value for the land that the new Route 9 “Library and Innovation Center” now sits on. This facility – while welcome for a community well outside NCC Dist 5 -- ended up costing NCC nearly $30M after what was originally projected as a $20M expenditure. Diller, however, defended Meyer’s stance that NCC will not pay a dime over appraised value for the Orphanage Property, despite a relatively small amount being clearly justified and benefiting her own constituents.

FACT: In Senator Townsend's on-line timeline "Ogletown Park", and in person and in emails, he and Rep Osienski tell a very different story from Exec Meyer of what took place during negotiations with the Felician Sisters. According to "County Efforts" -- an article published on NCC's website -- it appears certain that Meyer and NCC gave it their all in the buyout attempt. Townsend and Osienski, on the other hand, describe how Meyer was anything but sincere and genuine in wanting a regional park. Both have provided many examples supporting their positions, with Meyer going so far as to say that Townsend had originally secured $6M toward the Orphanage Property in the State’s bond bill. So in a game of "Name that Liar", we have two attorney politicians representing the County and State, with two very conflicting stories.

FACT: For all intents and purposes, the July 2015 public meeting hastily arranged by Diller was already TOO LATE for constituent involvement in terms of best use for the Orphanage Property. It was also too late for Advocates to change the outcome to a park, given so much time and money already invested in planning the Chestnut Hill "Preserve". The Public and the Constituents, most importantly those in the communities adjacent to the project, were not notified, nor asked for their input.

Counciloman Diller, Representative Osienski, and Senator Townsend refuted these facts throughout their 2018 campaigns, through hearsay or by applying their own political spin and/or attorney-speak to these events. Never once were these facts formally contested during STOP’s three year campaign, yet in what appears overwhelming fashion, the people approved of their job performance by re-electing them in a landslide. It should be noted, however, that this landslide (an average 2-1 margin for all three) represented about 20% of their district's citizens; about half are registered voters, and of those, about 2/3 turn out and vote. Then you have their legislative districts that are gerrymandered to ensure out-of-region participation. It is not clear how someone living in chateau country northwest of Newark, or someone living on Orchard Avenue near the University of DE, for example, has the same needs and interests as those living in, say, Brookside or Todd II. But then, the "system" is designed to ensure victory for these politicians, even those who commit the worst crimes against their constituents, because what effects one region likely won't affect the other (re-election chances saved).

Absent were Delaware's key so-called "environmental conservation" and civic organizations, who either refused or could not be bothered with endorsing STOP after repeated appeals to do so. A few including Delaware Nature Society, White Clay Creek Watershed, and even the UAW's CAP Council jumped on board immediately with vocal and written support of three concise Orphanage Property preservation statements. Delaware Audubon, Sierra Club, and Wildlands either declined or ignored the campaign completely. STOP Advocates were also met with resistance from Newark area "environmental" advocacy leaders, who not only didn't support STOP, but were troubled that their email list was used to reach out for endorsements.

Among the few bright spots was the Civic League of New Castle County,
that did endorse STOP. But actual support from that organization fell woefully short and/or turned negative as the campaign struggled late. Vic Singer, their most prominent and respected board member (and 13 years past Chair of the NCC Planning Board) maintained from the outset that Advocates were conducting an "emotional" campaign doomed to failure, instead of "simply" asserting the letter of the law as written in the UDC. According to Singer, the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" could be halted at the 51st NCC building permit. 51 housing units is all that the Unified Development Code allows dispensation for when level of service (LOS) is in failure mode -- as it most definitely is along Route 4 and at its intersections. The truth is, nothing was going to stand in the way of the full development; not Vic Singer; not DelDOT, and certainly not the State legislators, who could have easily secured the funds and stopped this travesty over the 6 years they knew about it. It was completely moot, and served only to create a false sense of hope; once all the key infrastructure elements (streets, curbing, sewer, drainage, etc) were in place, even if Singer was legally correct, a way to complete the entire development would still have to be found. In spite of this difficulty, there were a few on the CLNCC that did work with the STOP campaign when there was actually a chance (before construction began) to stop it, and their efforts were appreciated -- alongside several other citizens, organizations and Advocates that gave a hand.

Given everything written above, the overwhelming odds are that a carefully orchestrated plan was in place to ensure that the Orphanage Property was developed. The Legislators mentioned above, acting on behalf of their campaign donors and/or other monetary interests, acted together to keep themselves safe from any form of judicial or disciplinary authority. NCC Exec Matt Meyer was granted exclusive control to "negotiate" on behalf of a County-State buyout, and would take the fall since he didn't need the Ogletown-S. Newark region for positive NCC-wide approval ratings. On the citizen end of things, a few folks residing in the adjacent communities of Todd Estates II and Breezewood were outstanding. But support from fellow Advocates, from so-called "environmentalists", and from local civic groups wasn't even lukewarm. That apathy, combined with rampant government corruption is what cost us this land, and given that, the Ogletown-S. Newark region will forever be at a loss -- a HUGE loss.

People's indifference is the best breeding ground for corruption to grow"
~ Delia Ferreira Rubio


“The politicians are put there to give you the idea you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land, they own and control the corporations that've long since bought and paid for, the senate, the congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pocket, and they own all the big media companies so they control just about all of the news and the information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them.” ~ George Carlin

* * * DELAWARE GOVERNMENT, AT ALL LEVELS, IS CORRUPT. MOST OF THE ELECTED, AND MANY IN ITS REGULATORY AND SO-CALLED "OVERSIGHT" AGENCIES ARE CON-ARTISTS AND LIARS, AND ARE SKILLED IN THE ART OF DECEIT FOR THEIR OWN PERSONAL GAIN. THOSE WHO BELIEVE THEM ENABLE THEM, AND ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM * * *

Saturday, April 13, 2019

An Exchange With Senator Jack Walsh, (D), District 9

This is the latest in a string of emails regarding speed bumps (aka "sleeping policeman", since NCC has virtually no law enforcement to speak of). But one thing leads to another, and before long, the Orphanage Property travesty takes center stage.


Above: What should be named "Medley Raceway" in Ogletown. Medley "Drive" is one of 3 streets making the connection across Harmony Woods with clear sight lines. A "speed study" indicated maximum speeds of 29 mph, which is utterly false as motorists sometimes speed in access of 35 -- especially those cutting across the development north of SR 4. But this isn't unexpected when you have a government that will do everything in its power to skirt/skew the facts and deny quality of life to its residents.

[to Senator Jack Walsh]
To wrap this up, I'm just going to say that Piano Dr, narrow and shaped literally like a grand piano, HAS speed bumps. The sight lines are SO poor that 15~ mph is about the max one can drive without risking a head-on. How did that happen? Piano isn't even a meaningful connection to anything. Yet Medley, one of the few in Harmony Woods that's long, straight, with an open sight line and "pedal to the metal" doesn't qualify? Really?

Why is it that Medley is going to be the only street of 3 that are long and straight (Diminish, Harmony Crest the others) that make the connection between Harmony and Red Mill, yet unlike these others, it doesn't qualify for speed bumps?

What genus of Magic Mushrooms are you/they sniffing? Answer me these questions coherently, and I'll "go away" as surely you are hoping now I will.

Your system STINKS worse than a 2 week decomp. I'm reminded now why I gave up going to HW civic meetings; it's impossible to get anything done. I don't even recall when I made my own push for speedbumps, to no avail; I'm thinking 5-7 years ago. Maybe Mark [Luszcz, DelDOT] (the only honorable and truly decent human being and public servant working in DE Govt as far as I'm concerned) can check the records for Medley, if they keep one.

Sheldon is an unadulterated crook (par for the course in NCC Council) and that's putting it mildly. Rep Bentz? Never had the chance to work with him; he seems like a nice kid. If he has a conscience and actually cares about something -- anything -- in DE, I feel sorry for him as he'll surely be "sucked in" if he hasn't already been handed his marching orders. Sad, as you, Jack, seem like a pretty decent person. None of that matters, though; DE and NCC (and presumably Kent and Sussex) govts are so thoroughly corrupt, Al Capone himself is staring down with a smile.

As Diller [NCC Councilwoman Dist 5] squawked so loudly and clearly, numerous times, in a penguin-like manner, at the very onset of trying to save the Orphanage Property after it was too late, "I am completely done and finished". Given cretinous wretches like her, and Meyer, Osienski, Townsend, and the rest of the Democraps matasticizing deep in the bowels of State and County Govt, you can take this "small blunder" POS State of yours, and all its narcissism, con-artistry (Townsendesque), money-laundering, profiteering, etc and shove it straight up your ass, and the collective asses of all your corrupt and self-serving colleagues.

Insincerely yours,
Frank Warnock

Thursday, November 15, 2018

OPPOSE opening of Creek Road north of Newark to motor vehicle traffic

The Honorable Shawn Garvin
Secretary, DNREC (Dover?)
(physical mailing address unknown)

Greetings, Mr Garvin,

It has come to our attention that a petition is circulating to, among other things, shore up and re-open Creek Rd north of Newark to vehicular traffic on a limited basis.

In response, and in opposition to this petition:

  • We oppose the re-opening of the road into the White Clay Creek. We feel that any and all vehicular traffic will have a detrimental impact on the existing infrastructure, and the nearby wildlife.
  • As cyclists and walkers/hikers, as well as concerned environmentalists, we will support any decision by DNREC to designate Creek Road and/or Thompson Station Road as permanent trails, excluding any and all vehicular traffic.
  • We absolutely oppose re-opening, and any vehicular use of the dirt section of Creek Road between Wedgewood Rd and Hopkins Rd. This area should remain closed to any and all traffic that is not human powered, either by bicycle or walking/hiking.

Let this be for the record that, as hikers and bicyclists who endorse minimal use of motor vehicles, we vehemently oppose any notion at all of vehicular traffic through the White Clay Creek Watershed and Valley. We additionally object to spending multiple millions -- possibly $6M or more dollars -- to complete such a project. Not only will this serve a very small minority of users on a limited basis, it further cements the fact that portions of Newark are shown favoritism, while other nearby areas suffer disenfranchisement. The road will also be subject to continued erosion and will eventually suffer the same fate it is currently undergoing -- falling into the river. What remains is doing just fine now, with its remaining ROW serving the purpose of a walking and biking trail. If provisions must be made for the elderly and/or disabled, the State should consider EV rentals (i.e. tractor, golf cart, or other) as the only option.

As you may well know, the entire region SE of Newark lost their last and only hope -- forever -- of a regional park on the site of the former Our Lady of Grace property as a result of blatant Govt corruption on the part of NCC AND the State of DE -- including DNREC, who could have done so much more to protect this living, carbon-sequestering, natural environment. Those forested and wetlands areas, as well as the open space, had been home to many species of birds and wildlife, some of them endangered. Even if not endangered, some species will suffer lessened population as they lose precious habitat areas. In the current environment we face, with the ever-rising threat of over development, loss of biodiversity, and climate change, every species of wildlife is worthy of our consideration and protection.

We chronicled and have presented factual evidence where this land should have been saved from development on our page, and we invite anyone to dispute anything found in our history of what occurred over the 2013-2018 time frame. But given what this region is suffering right now, and the regional park facility forever denied to it (traded instead for lost home values and zero recreational opportunities within walking/biking distance), we cannot endorse any of these efforts and will move to fight in opposition to them if necessary.

It is noteworthy to say that the corrupt legislators and govt officials that allowed this horrible travesty in Ogletown are in no way represented by the results of the mid-term election results. Low budget/little known opposition, Low voter turnout, gerrymandering, and national political scare tactics virtually assured their re-election. The system allows for disenfranchisement of certain neighborhoods, and we have seen firsthand how Legislators favor those living in the more affluent sections of their Districts.

In closing, WE will not forget what they have done to us, nor will most in the region surrounding the Orphanage Property-Rt.4 corridor. And we will continue to object to disenfranchisement and wasteful spending of Government monies where we see fit.

Respectfully yours,

Angela Connolly
Pedestrian, Bicycling, and Land Conservation Advocate
My3dogs1975@comcast.net
(302) 545-2797

Frank Warnock
Pedestrian, Bicycling, and Land Conservation Advocate
frank@1stbikes.org
(302) 420-2198


CC: Senator Jack Walsh, Rep. David Bentz, Jim Ireland (Trailspinners), Arabella Bianco, Charles Salkin (DNREC), Leslie Reese, David Bartoo (DNREC), Charles Salkin (DNREC), Matthew Chesser (DNREC), Mary Clare Matsumoto (WCBC), David McCorquodale (Green Party, DE), Rep. John Kowalko, Rep. Paul Baumbach, Linda Stapleford, Senator David Sokola, Bernard August (Green Party, DE), Tyler Capana (Preservation DE), J.W. Haupt (White Clay Bicycle Club), Wilson, Xerxes (WNJ).

Thursday, November 8, 2018

STOP defeat complete: Ogletown-S. Newark Legislators win re-election landslide

From the Newark Post - 7 November 2018:

"New Castle County Councilwoman Lisa Diller earned her third full term, easily defeating Republican John Richard Thomas in the District 5 race."

"State Rep. Ed Osienski emerged victorious in District 24, easily defeating Republican newcomer William Dilks."

"Incumbent State Sen. Bryan Townsend cruised to victory against his Republican challenger Daniel Kapitanic, securing his seat for another term in the District 11 race."

Easily defeating. Emerged Victorious. Cruised to victory. 

What can we say, friends? Except that today, we are taking the first healing steps forward, in trying to recover mentally and physically from the advocacy efforts that we have put forth for you, our neighbors, and for the wildlife, and quality of life, that this development now brings. It was hard work - gathering and presenting the facts and evidence, spending hours researching and writing. But today, this will be our last post, and the Facebook page deleted forever. There is nothing more for us to say and do. We now know that, except for those in adjacent communities, no one's listening, and nobody cared. That's a hard fact to accept . . . that there are so few of us. We were outnumbered by others who were willing to forgive the three Legislators responsible for this preventable tragedy -- or worse yet, simply didn't care about the quality of life that will now be compromised for us in Todd Estates 2, Breezewood, and other communities along the Route 4 corridor. The numbers proved that last night. Not only did the challengers lose, but it was a resounding defeat -- an electoral massacre that was made even more bitter by the fact that two of the challengers -- William W. Dilks Sr. and Dan Kapitanik -- worked very hard. They canvassed, met with Constituents, went to civic meetings, etc. We are grateful to them that they stepped up, and gave us hope that those who did this to us would be voted out.

We want to say a very big Thank You to those few of you who were with us every step of our 3.5 year journey, fighting for our region's last precious parcel of bio-diverse land that so few thought worthy of saving, and that was abundantly clear in the votes we saw on Nov. 6. We will now focus on our website Ogletown Resilience, where we will share our ideas for gardening, encouraging wildlife conservation and protection, permaculture, sustainability, and active transportation with like-minded folks. Our goal is limited now to preserving our own properties, making them even more eco-friendly, and to share ideas with others who cherish the environment, as we do. We hope that you will think to contact us sometime, and maybe visit us there. Thank You especially to those of you who consistently "liked", commented on, and shared our posts and articles. There are too many of you to mention by name, but you know who you are. You are among the very best and honorable among us, because unlike the Legislators and those who voted for them. you cared. Unfortunately, caring about anything in DE anymore has become a crime -- the like the wildlife whose crime it is to cross the highway. We wish all of you peace, especially those of you who will now suffer the consequences of this environmental crime, both in your home values as well as further increased traffic congestion and property taxes. Life for you will change, forever.

During this effort, we experienced corruption and appalling Legislator behavior that we didn't imagine possible, like their tantrums and unprofessional behavior at meetings, which we were unprepared for. We were helpless as key large Environmental orgs refused to endorse and help us. Unlike with Newark's advocacy community (that also ignored the STOP campaign), no attorney would even look at our situation, never mind assist pro-bono. At almost every turn, we were discouraged, and even berated, as it was reported to us that the Legislators, particularly Townsend and Osienski, were telling our neighbors and others that we were liars, conspiracy theorists, etc.

And finally, please - always remember that the Legislators did this to us. The destruction of the land and the unnecessary development will forever remain their legacy, even though their reputations have emerged unscathed and even improved over the STOP outcome. For the few STOP followers that did care, we will always know this happened under THEIR watch. We will be forever convinced that Senator Townsend, Rep Osienski, and Councilwoman Diller deliberately kept plans for the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" hidden from Constituents for over two full years because they wanted this development to happen as donor payback. Then, stunned that anyone would oppose it and want a park instead, they went into overdrive to silence those voices . Based on the evidence, there can be NO other explanation. Don't forgive them for that, ever. Not only is the region forever devoid of a regional park because of them, but all the innocent wildlife, including the threatened and endangered, will be dying in vain as their home in the forest and open fields are forever destroyed, and what's left degraded by pesticides, fertilizers, Chem-Lawns and other suburban runoff.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

STOP's Greatest Memes: Part 3

By wildly popular demand, here is the third installment containing the most poignant, revealing, and/or disturbing MEMEs published during the STOP campaign. Each has its own story to tell about failed leadership, hypocrisy, trashing democracy, and throwing constituents under the bus. There is so much shame to go around, we have to publish these in a series.



While not a direct quote, Rep Osienski's actions/non-actions with STOP speak volumes about his union ties. The fact that he helped hide the Nun's plans from early 2013 thru mid-2015, then went on to say it was impossible to stop the Chestnut Hill so-called "Preserve" at such a late stage -- well, what more can we say. It's clear he had promises to fill for his union pals in the building industry.



Clearly, Senator Townsend did NOT put his constituents first by allowing Exec Meyer full control over buyout negotiations. Before that, he didn't put them first by failing to formally notify anyone in surrounding communities of the Nun's plans to build starting in 2013 -- fully 2 years before Diller leaked it in July 2015. When it comes to political leadership, the man is inept, incompetent, and little more than a cartoon character if there ever was one.



The Orphanage Property sits atop one of the highest water tables in the State, and is very difficult to build on without exasperating flood-prone issues in adjacent communities -- and a FEMA "100 year" flood plain down on Leathermans Run/Christina River. According to the NCC Dept of Land Use in a meeting with Advocates, that's exactly where all the water will be heading. Senator Townsend lives in or near the Wood Shade community, adjacent to Leathermans; maybe karma will have a say after all, if his house sits low and close enough by.



Delaware Wild Lands is another cartoon of an "environmental" advocacy organization. They are hypocrites that, like Sierra Club, just couldn't find it in themselves to assist in a grassroots effort to save the Orphanage Property. At least Sierra had the "decency" to come right out and say they "generally" don't endorse such efforts, but Wildlands thought it best to simply ignore Advocate's pleas. If it wasn't for DE Nature Society's enthusiastic support of STOP, we'd of all but written off DE's environmental community altogether.



Senator Townsend and Rep Osienski would NOT intervene, assert themselves and/or participate in Orphanage Property buyout negotiations; instead, they trusted and allowed their NCC Democratic colleague -- newly elected Exec Matt Meyer -- to handle all negotiations on behalf of saving the Orphanage Property. Despite pleas from Advocates to oversee Meyer's negotiations, and the chance of losing this one chance-only opportunity for a park, both would not get involved and they wouldn't even enlist the highest office for help - the Governor.



Not only did Senator Towsend not challenge the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" failed traffic impact studies and the blatant contempt for established land use code, he also didn't see fit to challenge what should go down in history as one of the worst conflicts of interest ever recorded in NCC govt. Further evidence that Mr Townsend thought that the development would simply sail on through without community backlash. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

STOP's Greatest Memes: Part 2

By wildly popular demand, here is the second installment containing the most poignant, revealing, and/or disturbing MEMEs published by the STOP campaign throughout the first 3 years. Each has their own story to tell about failed leadership, hypocrisy, trashing democracy, and throwing constituents under the bus. There is so much shame to go around, we have to publish these in a series!


Councilwoman Lisa Diller kept no secrets about her disdain of former Exec Tom Gordon, and her love of newly elected Matt Meyer. It is widely suspected that she kept the Sister's development plans a secret, just to deny Mr Gordon any opportunity to get involved early on in saving the Orphanage Property as a regional park. If so -- and it's definitely plausible -- she literally threw her constituents under the bus in an act of retribution toward her boss.


The very fact that Senator Townsend and Rep Osienski knew the Orphanage Property was threatened as far back as early 2013, and did virtually nothing to inform the community and to try and save it as a regional park is absolutely appalling. But most expect that they will win re-election this Nov, because their skills as liars and con-artists are likely to have enough voters convinced that they "did everything they possibly could" with regard to STOP. Nothing could be farther from the truth.


It became abundantly clear upon his election that Exec Meyer was fiercely pro-development. His campaign donor list contains a wealth of construction interests as well as land use attorneys and others in the building industry. Not only did Townsend-Osienski stand back and let Meyer throw away STOP all by himself, he also awarded his developer friends a bonanza in Port Penn farmland and crtical migratory habitat area. The Brandywine and Cavaliers Country Clubs will also be replaced with almost a thousand more houses and the traffic congestion that goes with that will be staggering.


While some key organizations such as the Delaware Nature Society, Coalition for Natural Stream Valleys, and White Clay Creek Watershed endorsed STOP without hesitation, those of highest clout would not. Sierra Club DE Chapter, DE Audubon Society, DE Wildlands, and others were asked repeatedly to sign on to 3 simple statements, supporting preservation of the Orphanage Property as habitat, a regional park, and open space. They ignored the opportunity, in spite of the devastating environmental consequences. Without their support in matters like this, people question what their purpose is, or what they bring to the State in terms of environmental conservation.


Senator Bryan Townsend, Rep. Ed Osienski, and Councilwoman Lisa Diller share constituents and are sworn to act in their best interests. This trio knew in 2013 -- a full two years before Diller leaked it to the public -- that the Orphanage Property was under threat of development, yet they saw no value in saving it as open space. They failed to recognize that geographically, a regional park was very much needed, and this was the last opportunity in their districts. And to top it off, Osienski himself stated that 2 years of additional notice would not have made a difference in the outcome -- STOP's fate was sealed from the very start.


Putting developers and land use attorneys in positions to prioritize parkland -- for the very land that they own and plan to develop -- would be a conflict of interest anywhere else in the U.S. But not if you're the NCC "Ethics" Commission, supposedly a watchdog group overseeing NCC Govt ethics. And worse, the NCC Civic League has accepted this and moved on after having endorsed STOP and a regional park. "Route 4" (Ogletown-S. Newark) was indeed prioritized as #3, behind Red Lion and Middletown. Saving the Orphanage Property for this region should have been #1 priority, because the land was not yet owned and secured and this was the last chance. #1 and #2 are regions with properties that NCC already owns or had gifted to them; they just need the amenities. With only a couple million left over in the parks budget, and Meyer unwilling to add anymore, a #3 priority was as good as ZERO priority. But no, Setting and Hoffman on Meyer's Parks Team, helping set priorities wasn't a conflict of interest according to this farce of an "Ethics" Commission, whose attorney members are appointed by Meyer himself.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

STOP: Townsend, Osienski in damage control mode

How ironic is it that Rep Osienski and Senator Townsend sent out letters to adjacent neighborhoods, that they are working on 'permission' from the new Orphanage Property owner and developer (Bob Sipple) to allow the building of public trails through the remains of the Orphanage Property woods?

Imagine if they had the foresight to send a letter in 2013? Imagine had they sent this before any of the development plans were even drawn up, to give residents and Advocates a chance to intervene? Beyond any shadow of a doubt, they would have begun working with the Felician Sisters and Tom Gordon for a regional park, and the odds of success overwhelming. But no, they did not, because as Advocates have so clearly demonstrated time and time again, they wanted this Chestnut Hill "Preserve" to happen.

The letter accuses Advocates of putting out "inaccurate information" No, they did not. They posted speculative information here and on social media pages about what could happen, in light of the fact that Gender Road access will likely be cut off, due to the Adverse Possession lawsuit pending. And don't be fooled; a connection to Todd II or Breezewood would still happen if it became a matter of building the development by code, or because safety demanded it. Remember, when needed, Emergency Services and Police will need to be able to get into the development quickly and safely. Right now there is only one access - the developer wanted two, and in the end, DelDOT will have the final say.

IF Townsend and Osienski have so much power to over-rule DelDOT and NCC in this matter, why didn't they intervene and demand Meyer make a good faith effort to Save The Orphanage Property? Even if they are correct, and they manage to stop any other connections, the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" is 269 Dwelling Units. The Unified Development Code calls for a bi-directional, signalized intersection for over 300 DUs, so we're looking at just under that number. It is a foregone conclusion that at some point in the future, DelDOT will upgrade Route 4 to better accommodate congestion and close-call issues at the CHP, using tax payer dollars.

Like so many other facts we've stated -- and not once have been disputed -- another glaring fact is how these two (and NCC's Diller, equally at fault) refuse to take one ounce of responsibility for the disaster unfolding. They refuse to acknowledge the fact that the region is completely disenfranchised because of them; that they held the only ever opportunity for a regional park in the palm of their hands, and threw it away. The time to save it was when they first learned of the smallest possibility of development - but instead, their inaction, disinterest, and lack of public engagement allowed the CHP to move forward to the point where it would be difficult, though not impossible, to stop it. So what did they do? Handed responsibility to newly elected NCC Exec Mat Meyer, himself bought off by construction interests and having zero vested interest in the region or a park.

So now it's election time, and they're in full damage control mode. Their folly is unfolding right here in front of us. We see it, and it's time for new leadership. Don't be taken; vote all 3 -- Diller, Osienski, and Townsend -- OUT of office on Nov. 6!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

STOP's Greatest Memes: Part 1

By wildly popular demand, here are the first half-dozen of our most poignant, revealing, and/or disturbing MEMEs published by STOP Advocates throughout the first 3 years of the campaign. Each has their own story to tell about failed leadership, hypocrisy, trashing democracy, and throwing constituents under the bus. There is so much shame to go around, we have to publish these in a series.


The Catholic Church is a self-proclaimed charitable organization, supposedly putting the greater good first, ahead of the wealthy few. They claim to uphold Christ's mission of peace and love, and of late, Pope Francis and his encyclical concerning environmental stewardship. Or so they say. Apparently, it never occurred to the Nuns to give, or even partially gift the land to their neighbors in the form of accepting Meyer's inadequate buyout offer. The church put maximizing profits first, and to hell with the people, planet, and wildlife.


With Councilwoman Diller
publicly stating that "she didn't own the property and couldn't make them sell it", she declared herself "DONE" and "FINISHED" on numerous occasions, unwilling to support STOP Advocate's efforts. It fell on NCC Executive Meyer, who had multiple opportunities to clinch a buyout with shared funding between the County and State, and as we know, he failed miserably.


It is far from clear why all 3 legislators -- Diller, Osienski, and Townsend -- trusted Exec Meyer to negotiate all by himself. Meyer was only elected in 2016. He isn't from the area, and took numerous campaign donations from developer and construction interests. Though he lies to the contrary, as quoted here in an email to us, he has no respect or regard for open space and the natural environment -- never mind quality of life in Ogletown-S. Newark.


Shortly after Diller leaked news of the Orphanage Property's impending doom in July 2015, Rep Ed Osienski admitted that he and the other legislators were following the Felician Sister's plans for at least 2 years prior. This came as a total shock to residents and Advocates, who were just now confronted with a completed exploratory plan and the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" marching forward, full steam ahead.


Like Diller being "done" and "finished", Osienski held nothing back in 2015, quoted at various meetings that the development "is going to happen" regardless. At the end of the STOP campaign, he played a very different tune, expressing sorrow, regret, and disappointment that STOP didn't "happen".



One of the very first excuses from Senator Townsend. He did little or nothing to inform the public and Advocates of impending development for two years (2013-2015) because, well, he just didn't think it would happen. However, he insists that he told a few constituents in adjacent communities that were present at their local HOA meetings.


When 8 acres of prime habitat area in his district came under threat of development, Rep Kowalko not only notified his constituents, he went public, ensuring that Advocates were aware of the threat. Even those outside his district were well in the know, early in the game.

Friday, August 10, 2018

STOP price tag was 10% the cost of the Route 9 Library


Isn't it shocking
to think that the Legislators only needed to raise approx 1/10 the cost of the Rt.9 library (that's right ... 1/10) to save the Orphanage Property? All three -- Councilwoman Diller, Rep Osienski, and Senator Townsend were first aware of the Nun's intentions to sell and build low income housing in 2013. They should have known the grave threat that presented to the entire open space, especially given certain ordinances. These include "workforce housing", compliments of Penrose Hollins, where this vast buildout (Chestnut Hill "Preserve") was actually a condition of the Nuns receiving a tax credit. Is that crazy or what?

Instead of keeping this all a big secret, the legislators should have known that the most appropriate use of the land was for parkland, and immediately enlisted constituents and advocates to oppose it. A fight could have been led against NCC, demanding that they waive (they can do that) Hollins' ordinance. Instead, the legislators stayed mum, waiting until it was too late -- 2 years later in fact. Then Diller leaked it in 2015, leading to the bloodbath at Holy Family Church that July.

If the property appraised at $5.9M, less than 3M would have been required from the State side for an even 50/50 match with NCC. Instead, Townsend and Osienski go around taking credit for achieving $1.25M in the bond bill, with only their promise of a second installment a year later. That gave Meyer all the excuse he needed to throw the Orphanage Property away, at one point even saying that Townsend lied having promised $6M in the bond bill.

How much clearer can it be that they wanted the development to take place? That their developer friends and donors came first? 2013-14-15-16 -- the first three with Gordon -- and both Osienski and Townsend couldn't round up a $3M match for NCC funds. Yet they just love to blame NCC Exec Meyer (who arrived late in the game) for screwing the pooch. Had the alarm sounded in the 2013-14 time frame, Gordon would have jumped at the chance of State matching funds, and worked with the Nuns to rezone as necessary for the low income housing, and spin off the rest for a regional park. We know this because Gordon called us in the Summer of 2016 and we talked in person about it. He just needed to defeat Meyer in the primary and the rest would have been history we're sure. But that didn't happen; Meyer narrowly defeated Gordon.

In no way does this excuse Meyer, because he could have made STOP happen in the 11th hour. Obviously, his campaign donors dictated otherwise. But it never should have come down to Meyer in the first place; Both State Legislators and Diller had a clear opportunity to wrap this up years before he arrived at the scene.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

STOP: No word yet on the Adverse Possession Claim

By Angela Connolly and Frank Warnock

There has been no official word yet on the Adverse Possession claim/lawsuit, which threatens to reduce the Chestnut Hill "Preserve" development to only one access point in one direction on Route 4. It is difficult to imagine everyone U-turning in or out and not effecting safety and congestion issues through Ogletown now, including existing LOS failures at intersections. That, and having to navigate through low income housing as a daily routine. Both of these issues, for every new resident's average 9 car trips per day, per household according to FHWA statistics. The McMansion people back in the woods are just going to love that, aren't they?

The question we are asked daily is this; how will Sipple (the developer) deal with this; will he simply accept the limited access and go forward with the full plan anyway? Or will he look to buy ROW from Holy Family Church, perhaps through their parking lot? An off-alignment connection, that can only use Gender Rd, is seen as a critical part of the plan -- not just to Sipple, but to DelDOT as well.

According to the Unified Development Code (UDC), a signalized 2-way intersection is compulsory when a development exceeds 300 dwelling units (DUs). The Chestnut Hill so-called "Preserve" is 269. They seriously want this second connection out to Gender and that's why this lawsuit is taking place (supposedly it is; Advocates have heard nothing).

Assuming the case is genuine, and Mr Stranahan isn't bought off, our prediction here at STOP is that he -- the plaintiff -- wins his claim for Adverse Possession. Sipple's "Tree of Heaven Way" is now blocked from Gender. Sipple then goes to Holy Family Church; if they don't give up enough ROW for a through road segment, they will refer back to their original plan of connecting to Waverly Rd in Breezewood, making Skyview the through road out to Gender. Townsend has already insisted this won't happen, however, he and Osienski have proven time and time again that they are a joke; they are weak and ineffectual at stopping or standing up for anything, unless they or their minions profit from it, of course.

The other thing we should look for -- assuming all these second connection ideas fail -- is DelDOT reconstructing Route 4 at that location and adding a signalized intersection. If not now, then inevitably down the road. That would come at taxpayer expense, of course. But then hey, why not, right? They keep raising taxes to pay for all of the services that these new DUs require, that NCC cannot afford. The Legislators and County Council have already lowered property values on area residents by allowing Section 8 housing, and stripping any notion of a regional park -- which would have enhanced quality of life and increased property values. They're just batting a thousand, aren't they?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Flashback 7/17: Legislators blow off final chance to STOP

By Frank Warnock and Angela Connolly

Memories of 1 year ago, and the colossal failure on the part of our "legislators" to save the Orphanage Property, and the last chance ever for a regional park in Ogletown/Rt.4.

NCC Exec Meyer offers to buy the land on behalf of the County and the State, at appraised value only, despite close to a million dollars in developer planning, engineering and labor that would have to be absorbed. The Sisters offered to "meet halfway" on that, as long as Meyer produced a buyout agreement containing basic conditions (i.e. who's going to plow the snow at the entry road, etc) that they previously agreed upon in prior meetings. But Meyer wouldn't budge, instead producing a buyout agreement that doesn't address said conditions. District 5 Councilwoman Lisa Diller supported Meyer's stance, saying that paying above appraised value would be unfair and unacceptable to taxpayers, even though Diller herself endorsed paying over appraised value for the land required for the $30M Library on Rt.9. On the other hand, saving the Orphange Property -- in Diller's own district -- would have cost NCC a mere 10% of that!

Wow; they knew EXACTLY how their constituents felt, in that they would rather have the "Chestnut Hill Preserve" than spend a little over appraised value!

WNJ: "In an interview Saturday, Meyer declined to directly address his correspondence with the Sisters or say whether negotiation ends with this rejection. He did indicate his administration is done making offers for now and it is up to the Sisters to counter".
  • Where was Diller, Rep Ed Osienski and Sen Bryan Townsend during these negotiations? Since they were absent, why didn't they insert themselves during and after, and demand that Meyer write a fair and viable buyout offer with the conditions he had already promised the Sisters?
  • Why was it incumbent on the Sisters to "counter", when they already had a much better offer from the Developer with a finished plan? They were agreeable to a park, but it was the Legislators that SHOULD have wanted it most on behalf of their constituents, and thus fervently pursued it.
  • Two months passed while Meyer waited for the Sisters to "counter", and with that, the final buyout opportunity expired. During that time, he came on a tour of the Orphanage Property with area residents, resolute that he would save the land if his apprenticeship reform bill was passed by NCC Council -- of which a modified version did.
  • Townsend was having "nightly phone calls" with the Nuns over this period. Why wasn't HE and Osienski livid, insisting that Meyer accept the slight over-appraised cost and include the conditions he promised them, or they would call on Gov Carney to act? The State has ultimate veto authority, and can invoke Eminent Domain if called upon.
The whole thing is foul, wretched, stinking of collusion between each of the NCC and State legislators. They knew that development was coming all the way back to 2013, and now they had to cover themselves -- that they were actually trying to stop it. But from Osienski's very words alone ("it [the development] is going to happen, it's going to happen"), we knew they weren't trying; not even close.

If the Legislators truly made a mistake by waiting until July 2015 to spring the completed exploratory plan on the public -- too late for residents and advocates to stop it -- they would have been an overwhelming presence at Meyer's negotiations and demanded he complete a fair purchase of the Orphanage Property. That or involve the Governor and overrule Meyer and NCC from the State side. Instead, they stood idly by, trusting Meyer to go it alone; a man who was just elected, isn't from the area, took numerous campaign contributions from developer and construction interests, and has no respect or regard for quality of life in Ogletown-S. Newark.

November can't come soon enough, folks. Let's boot these cretinous profitmongers from elected office; please help by spreading the word, sharing our posts, and joining in future action calls and alerts.