Saturday, June 30, 2018

NCC Ethics Commission letter of dismissal

Our many followers have been asking us for the details of this complaint's outcome, so we are posting the letter (though listed as "confidential") by the New Castle County Ethics Commission formally dismissing STOP's complaint against Executive Matthew Meyer. An email to the representing attorney for approval, dated June 21, went unanswered -- so we take that as confirmation that there are no objections that the letter be posted here. Because this complaint was filed on behalf of the entire Community, our neighbors, and STOP followers, we feel obligated to share the letter in its entirety.

The complaint was lodged because when Meyer took office in 2016, he set up a "Parks Transition Team" whose Chair and members would  have direct involvement in the prioritization of regional parks for those without one. We alleged that a serious conflict of interest occurred when Meyer assigned Chair and other positions on the team to both the developer of the Orphanage Property, and an attorney from Tarabicos-Grosso, the law firm representing the Felician Sisters in their effort to sell the land.

We completely disagree with the outcome regardless of how it came through. No one looks at our situation and doesn't immediately call "conflict of interest!" We were approached numerous times by Community members, who questioned how this could not be a conflict of interest. We were encouraged by everyone who knew about it to lodge a formal complaint, which we did. The fact that the NCC Ethics Commission would dismiss such a blatant conflict of interest raises serious questions as to their true purpose. It makes one wonder if they are even perhaps provided instructions to ignore infractions committed by the region's legislators and others with a vested interest in development.

We have come to the absolute, undeniable conclusion that from Day 1, the STOP fix was in. The evidence is overwhelming. The region's Legislators (County & State) were already in the pockets of developer interests as far back as 2011, when it was first apparent that the Sisters wanted to sell and/or develop the land. They knew that by July 2015, when hundreds showed up at Holy Family Church in protest, it was too late for any citizen advocacy effort to stop it.

What they failed to grasp was that the community wasn't stupid, and wasn't going to roll over and just go away. Once they realized the strength of the STOP movement, and the in-depth knowledge that folks now had about their filthy land-use laundry, they moved quickly to shore up everyone and everything that could be used against them and the Chestnut Hill "Preserve". As we're seeing now, this also included the NCC Ethics Commission, members of which were appointed by Exec Meyer himself (conflict of interest #2).

As written in a previous article, we remain hopeful that no one who supported STOP will be taken in by the region's 3 elected Legislators and Meyer himself -- the 4 of whom caused this travesty. Each is highly skilled at defense of the indefensible, and turning an argument completely around until it implicates the innocent or what's justifiable. Nothing about throwing away the Orphanage Property -- forever -- is justified, nor are the years of inaction on the part of the Legislators and keeping it from the public (and then Exec Gordon for a chance to save it). The evidence is clear that these "leaders" never once had the community and their constituents in mind and at heart; It would appear that the bottom line is much more important. And the end result is a massive tragedy that will impact Ogletown, and its surrounding communities, forever.


See Also:


Conflict of Interest is not enough for Ethics Commission

Friday, June 8, 2018

Meyer's deceit on full display at Glasgow Park

By Angela Connolly

New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer spent part of Friday, June 8th on WDEL's Susan Monday show, attending the Pets In The Park event at Glasgow Park. He was speaking on air about the virtues of county and regional parks, and how valuable they are. He said they are a source of healthy physical activity, and that NCC's focus is to now make connections between different parks so that people can walk and bike to them. He spoke very enthusiastically of parks, almost convincing one that he actually supports them.

What a colossal joke Meyer is, and what a slap in the face to the people of Ogletown.

Meyer, himself a cyclist -- or so he claims -- willingly sacrificed the Orphanage Property in Ogletown-S.Newark, which was the region's last chance to have walkable and bikeable access to such a facility. The nearest access is, and always will be a ~20 min car drive away in either Glasgow or Pike Creek. Meanwhile, Meyer continued on -- talking about the benefits of Rockwood Park, the Delaware Greenway in Wilmington, possibilities for parks in Middletown, etc. He will need the votes of N. Wilmington (and Middletown, the Parks Transition Team's #1 priority for parks) for re-election, and seemingly, has them locked up.


Meyer will not be getting votes from the humble people in Ogletown-South Newark and beyond, unless they enjoy losing open space, more noise, more light pollution, dirtier air, and sitting longer in traffic -- yet he seems accepting of that fact. Before the actual construction takes place, we in the Ogletown region are condemned to the huge dump trucks and heavy machinery, and the dead animals that line the roadway are the region's new reality. There will be no beautiful park for us to enjoy, unless we drive to one that isn't ours. And having to drive to a park is contrary to the Liveable Delaware initiative that former Governor Ruth Ann Minner wanted for us, one where everyone would have access to clean, healthy spaces, and be protected from excess development.

Meyer knowingly threw away saving the Orphanage Property. He had a STOP buyout deal in the palm of his hands, but simply wouldn't close it, which is a crime in its own right. But had Senator Townsend, Rep Osienski and NCC's Diller engaged the Community when they first learned the Sisters wanted to build (as far back as 2011), and had they engaged the then County Executive Tom Gordon, who had a stellar record of obtaining parkland (including Glasgow park!), our outcome could have been entirely different. Instead, those three local Legislators were secretive about the Sister's plans, when going public could have made all the difference in the world.

So the public didn't know that the Orphanage Property was facing destruction until it was already committed, but the Legislators sure did. They knew of the project as early as 2013, over two full years before the public gathered at Holy Family Church in July 2015 to learn about the plans, already well underway. When confronted by Advocates and trying to defend himself, Rep Ed Osienski even arrogantly stated on Facebook "Many feel more public notice and a four-year, instead of a two year, community grassroots campaign would have made the difference. I don’t believe that." Additionally, long periods of time went by where Townsend and Osienski failed to touch base with the Sisters, to check on the progress of their plans. And so this is why we hold ALL four Legislators accountable. The Chestnut Hill "Preserve" should NEVER have got to the advanced stage that it did. Steps to save it should have been taken years earlier, with Legislators putting their jobs on the line if necessary. That is the mark of true leadership; putting the greater good ahead of your own political aspirations, which we now know is a foreign concept to Townsend, Osienski, Meyer and Diller. The focus now must be replacing these Legislators with leaders who will truly look out for the citizens that they are supposed to protect.

Friday, June 1, 2018

ChangeLab: Creating an Equitable Parks System

Cross-posted from Changelabsolutions.org, on what could have been for Ogletown-S. Newark. Too bad the region's Legislators didn't think and act likewise. 

No matter where you live, there should be an appealing park nearby. A Complete Parks system ensures that all people can enjoy a great local park. As common venues for sports games, farmers markets, and festivals, parks are important places to gather, exercise, and relax, whether to socialize or to have time for ourselves. Parks enhance communities, promoting health and relationships. The Complete Parks approach is a way to make the benefits of parks available for everyone in your neighborhood, town, city, or county.

Start improving your parks system, using this suite of Complete Parks tools:
  • Complete Parks Overview introduces the Complete Parks approach, the goals of a Complete Parks system, and the 7 Complete Parks elements. Examples from Houston and Philadelphia illustrate key features of the Complete Parks approach. This document is written for people who are interested in improving parks in a comprehensive, collaborative, and strategic way.
  • Complete Parks Playbook describes in greater detail the 7 elements of a safe, connected, and healthy parks system. It suggests policies for improving each element and presents success stories from California cities. An abbreviated Spanish-language version of the Complete Parks Playbook—Los sistemas completos de parques—is also available.
  • Complete Parks Indicators recommends indicators for assessing a parks system and measuring its evolution into a Complete Parks system.
  • Complete Parks Model Resolution provides sample language that a city or county government can use to commit to creating a Complete Parks system and establish a formal process for developing a Complete Parks plan.
  • Funding Complete Parks presents ways for local agencies in California to fund a Complete Parks system or increase funding for parks.
What makes a park successful depends heavily on neighborhood context, so a Complete Parks plan calls on many sectors to improve people’s entire experience with parks -- getting to a park, spending time there, safety and maintenance, and proximity to quality schools, affordable housing, local businesses, key services, and more. This comprehensive take on parks and its multi-sectoral focus make the Complete Parks approach especially relevant for people who want to advance equity initiatives, community engagement, and multi-agency coordination within local government. See the overview HERE.

Poster's note: A neighborhood's "community" park doesn't qualify. In NCC, these are usually a small to mid-sized grassy expanse with maybe a basketball or tennis court. Yet some on NCC Council believe that, because some of these exist in the region, Ogletown-S. Newark has "more than enough parks already". What a farce these legislators really are.