Delaware's not the First State when it comes to open government

January 23, 2012

A few years back, when I was editor of the Dover Post, we ran something about a legislator whose spouse worked for the state government.

The legislator didn’t appreciate the comment and came in to speak to us. Her beef, basically, was that everybody was doing it and she began naming all the legislators whose family members also held state jobs. It was jaw-dropping. The problem was far worse than I realized.

House Bill 232, according to Kara Nuzback’s article in the Cape Gazette, would requite “public officers to disclose family members who work for any entity that receives state funding.”

This would be a tremendous step forward for Delaware. Delaware has many things going for it but open government isn’t among them. I recall talking to an Associated Press reporter about the issue. Among the states where he had worked, he ranked Delaware last in government transparency.

BRIDGING A DIVIDE: The Washington Post ran a disturbing article Saturday about how Americans increasingly pay attention only to news sources they know will support their views. The new slogan might be: “All the news that makes you feel comfortable.”

The saddest part for me was a quote from a woman, whom the article described as “gracious, willowy and chatty” and who described herself as Christian. She seemed like a nice person. Nevertheless, she said it was her “honest opinion” that President Obama “hates our country and is trying to destroy it.”

I am at a loss at how to bridge such a divide, and it seems this attitude is common among those opposing Obama. Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina by tapping into this hatred.

Now I don’t like Gingrich. He’s a phony. He pretends to be a Washington outsider despite making a fortune milking his position of former speaker of the House. He uses his daughters from his first wife to protect him from charges made by his second wife about their marriage. A real class act. And I could go on.

But I don’t think Gingrich hates this country and I don’t think he’s running for president for the opportunity to destroy it.

Anyone who seriously does believe such things about candidates from either party needs to search for new sources of information.

RAVEN REHOBOTH: Raven fans descended on Rehoboth Convention Hall Sunday to cheer on Joe Flacco and company. A sizable contingent of Patriot fans also showed up for the event sponsored by the Rotarians, which included all kinds of great tailgate food.

Watching the Ravens march down the field in the presence of hundreds of other supporters was the next best thing to being in the stadium. (Probably better, since it was warm inside and we had all the food we could eat.)

Flacco played well enough to win, though that’s cold comfort for Raven fans. But it will help the team build confidence for next year. (I’m a Redskins fan, so I know all about waiting for next year.)

MINI-REVIEW: “The Iron Lady,” with Meryl Streep. Streep’s performance as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher lives up to the hype, but it’s an odd movie, not your typical film biography.

It’s a sad and haunting look at her final days – which haven’t ended by the way; she’s still alive but suffering from dementia – interspersed with brief glimpses into her past, both personal and political. It seems more concerned about the price Thatcher paid to follow her ambition rather than her place in history.