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Crime Featured Public affairs Scene About Town

Wilmington moves 2 steps closer on police body cameras

Axon body camel

Wilmington has made two major advances on equipping all of its uniformed police officers with body cameras.

City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a contract for equipment and installation, WDEL reported. The vote was on the same day the city announced a $630,000 federal grant for body cameras.

The issue goes back a while. Police officials had tested several camera models in recent years, Delaware Public Media reported in June 2019.

Councilman Trippi Congo in September 2019 introduced measure calling for a five-year, $1,954,836 with Axon Enterprise, an Arizona company.

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By June of this year, with protests escalating over the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police officers nationwide, city leaders were pledging to “to support police and racial justice reforms.” Those reforms include police body cameras, review of use of force policies, establishing a police review board and release of additional police procedures

With the grant coming from the United States Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, Police Chief Robert J. Tracy said the next steps include discussions on policies with the FOP Lodge No. 1, the police union.

The department’s authorized staffing will increase to 319 officers from 315 to supervise the program. Tracy said the policies have been developed on program operations, storage and sharing of video and other administrative requirements. These policies are being reviewed by the city’s law and human resources departments and will be made public later. 

The news generated praise by all three of Delaware’s Congressional delegation and by state Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “The next step is clear: funding and deploying body-worn cameras on every officer across our state,” she said.

Axon’s home page says its cameras “capture truth. Connected cameras that tell the full story.”

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Business Featured Scene About Town Top Headlines

Forward Delaware must move forward quickly on training

Forward Delawarea massive plan to train Delawareans who are unemployed or underemployed from the pandemic, has some training clearly defined and ready for job hunters. For other sectors, though, it’s not easy to find the promised training to enhance or gain skills on their landing pages.

Improving the landing pages is critical because the $10 million in federal CARES Act funds must be allocated by the end of the year and fully spent by the end of March, William Potter, executive director of the Delaware Workforce Development board, told Delaware Business Times.

Training is subsidized on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The initiative, announced on Oct. 7, focuses on five sectors that officials said have strong jobs potential: health care; computers and information technology; hospitality and food services; transportation and logistics; and construction and trades. 

Here’s the current situation on Forward Delaware for job-seekers.

Health care

Delaware Technical Community College is the main trainer for health care, with Polytech and Sussex Tech also participating. 

Delaware Tech’s landing page lists seven careers: certified clinical medical administrative assistant, certified nursing assistant, dental assistant, hemodialysis technician, patient care technician, pharmacy technician and phlebotomy technician. The college’s programs in these fields run 550 to 1,880 hours.

Information technology

Tech Impact is the main trainer for information technology. Its landing page says applicants will get “an initial screening interview. During the interview, we’ll determine which program is the best match for you based on your interests and skillset.”

Partner programs come from Delaware Tech, ITWorks, Tech Elevator, the University of Delaware, Wilmington University and Zip Code Wilmington.

The training is in database management and development (Oracle and SQL); networking and security (Cisco Certified Entry Level Technician I and II); general IT (CompTIA A+, CompTIA Net+, Microsoft); and programming (JAVA, C# and JAVAscript).

Hospitality and food services

The Delaware Restaurant Association Educational Foundation is the main trainer, with the Food Bank of Delaware and the University of Delaware participating. 

The foundation’s landing page at this point is just a listing of jobs.

“We are building out a large-scale training portal that will go live December 1st!,” said Carrie Leishman, CEO of the foundation and its parent association. “Our training will cut deep into Delaware – huge win for our citizens!!!”

Transportation and logistics

Polytech Adult Education Division is the main trainer, with Delaware Tech, New Castle County Vo-Tech, Sussex Tech and the Food Bank of Delaware also participating.

Its landing page connects those seeking training with “program advisors who will help them identify which program is the best fit for their specific needs,” said Jeremy McEntire, assistant director of adult education. “We are in the process of setting up a specific landing page for the Forward Delaware programs and anticipate we will have it available this coming Monday.”

Construction and trades

The Delaware Skills Center of New Castle County Vo-Tech is the main trainer, with Delaware Tech, Polytech and Sussex Tech participating.

Its landing page goes to the skills center’s home page, but job seekers really want to go to another page on the center’s cite for the programs. 

The enter offers welding, HVAC and electrical programs. Delaware Tech offers HVAC certification and construction technology programs. Polytech offers welding and MIG/TIG welding and three building construction core programs (electric, HVAC and plumbing).  Sussex Tech offers pre-apprenticeship programs in electrical core plus and plumbing core plus. 

Categories
Art Featured Health Music Scene About Town

What’s a choir to do? Sing in a Delaware parking garage

garage sing
The choir members were spread out over 40 feet and wore masks while performing, sometimes to piana music powered by a (really) long extension cords.

Accustomed to gathering regularly to make music, those of us who are choral singers have had six months without this (often weekly) source of comfort and joy.

You can sing along with recordings, embark on some sporadic ventures on YouTube, or even warble in the shower. But it’s not the same as joining with others to craft something that’s greater than yourself. 

Ensembles everywhere are looking for ways to stay connected, and throughout the pandemic, conductor David Schelat has been Zooming with members of his three ensembles – Mastersingers of Wilmington, Center City Chorale and the Chancel Choir of First & Central Presbyterian Church – to keep their collegial spirit alive.

But recently, he decided it was appropriate and timely to sing again. 

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In mid-September, David invited members of these groups to meet downtown. Strictly adhering to gathering requirements, he required masks and RSVPs and limited us to 30 of a potential 70 singers.

The response was – not surprisingly – enthusiastic.

And so, on an early October Saturday morning, with the generous assent of facilitys owner Buccini/Pollin Group, we trudged up steps to the top level of a downtown Orange Street parking garage. There we picked up prepared packets of music, arranged ourselves in four voice sections on our blue tape marks, pulled out the five chosen choral works, and began to sing. 

Choral singing is universally loved by its worldwide participants, who cite the sense of community it creates as they breathe together, listen to one another and seek a unified sound.  It embraces singers of all types – from enthusiastic volunteers to professionals – and our group was no exception.

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Several were highly trained, sought-after paid singers; others were (as one singer self-described) “a church choir soprano.” But we were all there for the same reason, and it was heartening and moving to gather once again.

David chose a variety of music, and we began with a work many of us knew – the motet “Rejoice in the Lord Always,” written by that famous composer Anonymous sometime in the 16th century.

Each singer was at least 6 feet from the next person (sometimes more), with the entire group spreading about 40 feet from side to side.

Garage sing
Members of three choirs arrive to spread out and try to blend their voices in a concrete parking garage.

Choir members normally like to be in proximity, so at first our attempt to achieve a blended sound across those distances was challenging – even humorous. But oddly, the garage’s vaulting open spaces and its drab concrete surfaces were surprisingly cathedral-like – one singer called it “the Garage Majal” – and slowly, we got a group sound going.

After we acquired some choral equilibrium, we sang David’s own 2006 composition “If Ye Love Me,” a touching anthem, especially in these times, and a favorite of his singers. Then we launched into the lively “Soon-Ah Will Be Done” in an arrangement by William Dawson, a Black composer who was one of the first to bring spirituals into the concert halls. 

Next, David led us in Louis Vierne’s powerful “Kyrie” from his “Solemn Mass.”. Vierne was the organist at Notre Dame from 1900 t0 1937, and the work was written to be sung in the vast spaces of that Parisian cathedral (alas, no music there now after the great fire). It sounded surprisingly resonant in our “garage acoustic.” 

And we finished with a rousing Zulu song, most probably murdering that liquid language but reveling in its triumphant music. 

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Some of these works were sung a cappella (without any accompaniment), while for others David played on an electronic keyboard powered by a really, really long extension cord. The hour-long gathering felt safe and welcoming.

Above all, even though we couldn’t greet one another with the usual hugs or handshakes, it was powerful to be once again in a musical embrace.

“People who love singing together have missed it a lot,” said David, “and I felt that this was a way to pull these singers together in a way what would be both safe and meaningful.” 

Our enterprising conductor is planning another garage gathering Saturday, and he’s expecting another enthusiastic response.

Gail Obenreder is a member of Mastersingers of Wilmington and writes about the arts for various publications.

 

Categories
Business Featured Food & Dining Health Scene About Town

Eat up: Brandywine Valley Restaurant Week returns

 

When Brandywine Valley Restaurant Week debuted in 2014, it gave independent restaurants a chance to showcase their cuisine.

With only a few exceptions, most of the eateries have been locally owned and managed. 

Today, that mission has an increased emphasis. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on most restaurants, said Dan Butler, owner of Piccolina Toscana in Trolley Square, who helped start the first restaurant week.

Running from Oct. 12 to Oct. 22 this year, the promotion is a way to increase business during this challenging time. 

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Eighteen restaurants are offering fixed-price (prix-fixe) meals. Lunch, if available, is $15; dinner is $35.

At Piccolina Toscana, for instance, you can have an appetizer, entrée and dessert. Selections include tuna tartare, all-day braised short rib over hand-rolled gnocchi in a gorgonzola cream sauce and tiramisu. 

Although restaurant week just started, Andrea Sikora has seen a boost in sales at the restaurants she owns with her husband, Bryan. 

The couple’s participating restaurants include Crow Bar in Trolley Square, La Fia in downtown Wilmington and Hearth Kitchen in Kennett Square.

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“So far, we’ve been busier this week than we have been normally at this time,” said Sikora. “It’s absolutely bringing people out.”

Some people don’t know about the promotion when they make reservations, but they decide to order the special when they see the menu, Butler said.

 It works both ways, however.

“From my experience doing restaurant week, most diners come for the prix-fixe menu but order off our regular menu,” said Dan Tagle, executive chef of Krazy Kat’s in Montchanin. “It opens new doors to customers that we haven’t had before.”

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The catch is that Delaware has limited restaurants to 60% capacity to curb the coronavirus’s spread. 

“We can’t accommodate as many people as we normally would during restaurant week,” Sikora noted.

This year, guests can also order the special meals to go. Sikora’s restaurants, for instance, have added them to their online ordering platform. 

The promotion is presented by the Greater Wilmington & Convention Visitors Bureau, the Delaware Tourism Office, the Wilmington mayor’s office, Mispillion River Brewing and Standard Distributing.

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“Connecting with friends and family over a meal remains a top activity for visitors and residents alike,” said Sarah Willoughby, executive director of the Greater Wilmington & Convention Visitors Bureau, in a press release. 

Butler, for one, is thrilled that the organizers brought the Brandywine Valley Restaurant Week back despite the pandemic. 

“You can still dine out safely. My goal with the promotion is to, in some way, call people back. ‘We get it. You need to feel safe.’ If you put your toe in and the water is fine, maybe you will go out to dinner again — safely.”

Paul Bouchard, managing partner of Tonic Seafood & Steak, didn’t hesitate to sign up for the promotion. “We felt it was important to join with the other restaurants and create some feeling of normalcy,” he said.

This year, the featured restaurants include Agave Mexican Cuisine, Bardea Food & Drink, BBC Tavern & Grill, Café Mezzanotte, Chelsea Tavern, Columbus Inn, Crow Bar. Cromwell’s American Tavern & Taqueria, Eclipse Bistro, Harry’s Savoy Grill, Hearth Kitchen, Krazy Kat’s, La Fia, Mikimitos, Piccolina Toscana, The Back Burner, Tonic Seafood and Steak, and Walter’s Steakhouse.

For more information, go to brandywinetaste.com.

Categories
Environment Featured Scene About Town

DCH honors some great gardens, outdoors and indoors

Gardens of all shapes and sizes have been honored in the Delaware Center for Horticulture’s first virtual garden contest.

This contest is proof of how healing and powerful the simple act of gardening can be for the mind, body and spirit at any age,” Vikram Krishnamurthy, executive director of the Wilmington nonprofit, said Tuesday in announcing the winners in three categories among the 64 entrants.

The competition was tough among the 64 entrants. Twins Eric and Jason Hoover only merited second place for their inspirational work, “created by tenants who do not own their home, in a very small space in the city, with zero direct access to ground.”

Barb Rosen's Fairfield Garden
Barb Rosen’s Fairfield Garden.

Our Fairfield Garden has just turned 12 years old,” said Barb Rosen, creator of the winning flower garden and a blogger about it. “When we first moved to this 60+ year old home there were only large pines, a Zelkova tree, some shrubs and masses of pachysandra and English ivy.”

In the front, she stared with a large island bed, a shade garden under the Zelkova, plantings along the driveway and bigger front beds. A gazebo, raised bed vegetable garden, more flowerbeds, a small conservatory greenhouse and cold frames followed. The garden is now a certified wildlife habitat.

““It has been our joy and solace, especially since retirement and during this pandemic,” she said.

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd community garden
Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd community garden.

The winning vegetable garden was at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Brandywine Hundred. The produce from seven raised beds goes to St. Stephen’s Food Pantry in Wilmington, and people who rent the 30 community garden plots are asked to tithe to the food pantry.

Its mission has expanded beyond just going vegetables and has become its own community whose members care about food insecurity and each other,” the church said. “In this time of isolation it has been a safe and peaceful place for people to be outside and be involved in serving ministry.”

Gigi's houseplants
Gigi’s winning houseplants.

Growing houseplants is the closest way to bring home a feel of living with nature,” said Gigi, the winner of the houseplants category.

In my tiny apartment, I’ve tried to make sure I see a little bit of green anywhere I look,” she said. “My husband and I are from India, and we have large rice fields and coconut groves along with vegetable patches by our house.”

The winners

Flower gardens: Our Fairfield Garden by Barb Rosen, first place; Small Wonder Urban Garden by Eric and Jason Hoover, second place; and Rock Garden Sanctuary by Jane Brooks, third place.

Vegetable gardens: Shepherd’s Community Garden by Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, first place; Half Acre Garden by John and Shannon and In the Garden with Gail by Gail Hermenau, tied for second place.

Houseplants: Green Grove by Gigi, first place.

Categories
Economy Featured Health Scene About Town

10 million pounds of food for the needy in Delaware

A Food Bank of Delaware drive-thru mobile pantry
The Food Bank of Delaware this month is on schedule to have given out 10 million pounds of food since the pandemic began.

The Food Bank of Delaware this month is notching a disturbing number: 10 million pounds of food distributed to families struggling to afford food since COVID-19 restrictions began.

The food bank is scheduling drive-thru mobile pantries in all three counties, Oct. 19-22, to make its critical support more accessible.

“We saw a dip in number of visits to our on-site food pantries and our drive-thru distributions over the summer, but we are seeing those numbers increase,” said Kim Turner, communications director for the food bank.

Since March 16, the food bank has served 23,218 households at drive-thrus and 20,803 households at its Healthy Pantry Centers in Newark and Milford.

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Year to year, the numbers look bleak. For Jan. 1 through Oct. 2 of 2019, the food bank distributed 7.8 million pounds of food. For the same dates this year, it distributed 13.2 million pounds.

“Prior to COVID-19 there were 121,850 food-insecure Delawareans,” she said. “We now estimate that due to the pandemic there will be 171,930 food-insecure Delawareans this year.”

Gov. John Carney declared a state of emergency on March 16, and the pantry gave out more than 950,000 pounds of food that week – by far the highest so far this year.

The numbers don’t trend neatly. Distribution the first four weeks of the pandemic was the highest, at 1.9 million pounds, followed by 1.3 million pounds the next four weeks (roughly mid-April to mid-May), then 1.6 million pounds, 1.3 million pounds, 970,000 pounds, 1.2 million pounds and 1.2 millions in successive four-week periods.

Households helped at its Healthy Pantry Centers in Newark and Milford don’t trend neatly, either, from a low of 353 a week to a high of 1,055.

A Food Bank of Delaware drive-thru mobile pantry
A Food Bank of Delaware drive-thru mobile pantry in August.

The plans for the drive-thrus

Each mobile pantry can handle 1,000 households. Advance registration is available, and so is on-site registration. Service will be first-come, first-served. Assistance is limited to one per household, and recipients must bring proof of ID and Delaware residency.

New Castle County, Thursday, Oct. 22 starting at 11 a.m. at Glasgow High School, 1901 S. College Ave, advance registration and a request for volunteers.

Kent County, Wednesday, Oct. 21 starting at 11 a.m. at Dover International Speedway, 1131 N. du Pont Highway, with advance registration and a request for volunteers

Sussex County, Monday, Oct. 19 starting at 11 a.m. at Crossroad Community Church, 20684 State Forest Road, Georgetown, with advance registration and a request for volunteers.

Categories
Delaware Nonprofits Featured Scene About Town Top Headlines

Wilmington area called a hotbed of America’s culture

The Grand Opera House

The greater Wilmington area has just been named one of the “hotbeds of America’s culture.”

Or more bureaucratically, it’s ranked No. 6 among medium-sized metropolitan areas on the sixth annual Arts Vibrancy Index Report from SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research, at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

The study analyzes counties so Wilmington actually means New Castle County; Cecil County, Maryland; and Salem County, New Jersey.

A map in the report of the top 10 areas in each population group is dominated by places in the Boston-Washington corridor and along the West Coast.

“This report is based on 2019 data and does not reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but its findings help illustrate the critical role of the arts, both socially and economically, in cities and towns around the nation,” the Grand said in a statement on Monday announcing the ranking.

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“At this historic moment, the report serves as a pre-pandemic benchmark of where the most arts-vibrant communities are located and may offer cause for celebration during these difficult times.”

The report name-drops the Delaware Art Museum, the Wilmington Art Loop, the Wilmington Drama League, the Delaware Theatre Company and the Elkton Arts & Entertainment District.

It also cites the Delaware Arts Alliance and three state agencies: Delaware Division of the Arts, Delaware State Arts Council and Delaware Department of Education.

“The region boasts 23 organizations dedicated to historic preservation, assisted by Delaware’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, which has helped preserve over 230 historic buildings since 2001,” it said.

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Greater Wilmington is ranked 22nd among all 900 or so areas in arts dollars, 41st in government support and 99th in arts providers.

It ranks eighth in program revenue, 19th in total expenses and 19th in total compensation, based on nonprofits’ federal tax forms and other research.

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Featured Health Scene About Town

90,000 cloth face masks being given out by Highmark

Highmark face mask

About 90,000 cloth face masks are being given out to Delawareans by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware, as part of its multi-pronged approach to help confront the pandemic.

“A free face mask on us,” Highmark says in the flyer that accompanies the masks mailed to “at-risk and vulnerable” customers. Highmark did not respond to the question of how much it is spending on 1.3 million masks for people in Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“Our first distribution in Delaware was in May during EMS Appreciation Week,” said Denée Crumrine, corporate communications manager for Highmark Delaware. The total: 2,500 masks.

“We partnered with the United Way to get coverings out to the organizations and communities that are in most need.”

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That’s not all that Highmark has been giving out.

At the end of September, it announced that it’s donating 11,500 face coverings to Delaware nonprofits that will distribute them to communities in need.

West End Neighborhood House in Wilmington received 1,000 masks. “We now have the breathing room to provide additional protection for West End’s staff, volunteers and customers,” said Paul Calistro, executive director.

Highmark sent kits to school districts across Delaware that include face coverings, face shields, disinfectant hand wipes, one-gallon pumps of hand sanitizer and resource guides.

West End Neighborhood House masks
West End Neighborhood House was given 1,000 masks.

A special grant cycle is under way to hand out $1 million in its BluePrints for the Community fund, managed by the Delaware Community Foundation. Applications focusing on “the economic and social conditions that influence health” are due Oct. 21.

In September, the fund gave out more than $1.1 million to nine Delaware nonprofits. They are the Bayhealth Foundation, for its family medicine residency; the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence, for its community health worker collaborations; the Delaware Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, for its impaired driving simulator program; Family Counseling Center of St. Paul’s, for expanding it continuum of care program; Mental Health Association in Delaware, for community education and training; Pressley Ridge Delaware, for expanding its foster youth returning home program; St. Francis Foundation, for its enhanced ambulance services; the University of Delaware, for Veterans & College Athletes Together; and the YMCA, for its LiveStrong cancer support program.

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Earlier this year, the fund gave out $1.3 million to ten organizations, $200,000 to two Delaware COVID-19 funds and $196,000 to 13 other organizations.

“Highmark remains committed to keeping as many people as possible safe and healthy during the ongoing pandemic,” said Nick Moriello, president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware.

“Our nonprofits continue to provide important services and resources, and we want to make sure they are able to do so safely, as well as ensure folks throughout our state are equipped with face coverings.”

Categories
Featured Public affairs Scene About Town

Influence & Integrity in American Politics

The Founder’s Folio is an editorial series for Delaware Live by Founder and DE Entrepreneur and Family Businessman Chris L. Kenny. You can visit his website and blog at chrislkenny.com

Our political season is in full swing. We are bombarded daily with political ads, breaking news and trending topics. Our national media platforms court sponsors to fill their 30-second commercial slots, selling them on their massive audiences who are tuned in eating the popcorn. In turn, candidates spend exorbitant amounts of money to communicate their side of the story and to compete for the control of the narrative. To fund these complex campaigns requires significant resources, and to have any shot at any level of office—whether it be local, state or federal—you have two choices: compete for what you feel is right in the competition of ideas that is our Democracy or step aside.

“How did we get to this point in American Politics?” Many ask. When did money equate to influence in politics? How did money become so intricately involved in politics? Has it always been this way?

The answer that may be surprising to some is quite actually yes. Since the beginning of our nation, money and its influence have consistently played a role in the workings and foundational building blocks of American Government.

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The merits of money in politics have so too been debated from the very beginning. As the details of our Constitution were deliberated in 1787 Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin questioned money’s influence in politics. He was concerned about Greed and how greediness could steer decision-making. His concern was one of ethics and morality and is a question we should all ask ourselves anytime money is involved in a situation. Benjamin Franklin was a thoughtful, musing philosopher who could see both sides of the coin. When he started the Leather Apron Club in Philadelphia, a business and networking club that met regularly to discuss how to work together for mutual benefit, he saw how money and influence could be essential tools for the positive advancement of local city and community.

The correlation between having strong resources and success in politics goes back to our first President. George Washington’s Presidential campaign was funded in large part by getting voters liquored up on rum punch with a healthy side of his famous ginger cakes. Then while in office, the focus on productive industry and a strong economy became a key component of his administration. Backing his Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton’s strategy to provide capital and financial stability to promising businesses, merchants and manufacturers, President George Washington realized from the beginning how to best use money and influence in politics to ensure the success and long-term stability of the country.

Then Andrew Jackson fought with the banks and their elite backers who spent thousands pushing the President as a dictator before the next election. He fought fire with fire on a campaign that remarked it takes money to fight the rich. To fight for what you believe in, you’ve got to find the means.

Perhaps our great President Abraham Lincoln would not have won the uphill 1864 election were it not for contributions from thousands of businesses who supported and worked with the government. Later even the great President Theodore Roosevelt, a champion of the common man much like Franklin, realized the need for campaign funding from wealthy donors to win the presidency.

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The second half of the twentieth century saw the explosion of radio and tv media, and the playing field where influence is an important key to political success remained the same but on a larger scale with greater reach. Now as we make our way through the new digital age of social media, we must continue to discuss how to best use our influence in advocating for policies and leaders we feel are truly the right choice.

We should keep these questions on our minds as we try to make our community as best as it can be. Are we keeping integrity in the process? Is there transparency in the chain of influence? When capital is pushing disingenuous, false claims is when we should be concerned. But when truth and facts are promoted however, that’s our democracy at its healthiest. An informed republic is one that makes the best collective decisions. When leaders and influencers practice transparency in their actions, they keep the public in the know, so that they can exercise their rights, too.

So as we turn on our TVs and scroll our feeds, let’s continue to push the conversation of influence and capital in politics. Keeping an honest conversation going will keep our leaders on their toes and ensure that they are listening to us. These discussions help hold our leaders accountable. It forces them to keep the common people in mind as the political fabric of our Democracy is shaped.

Categories
Featured History Public affairs Scene About Town

A Columbus Day question: Where’s his statue?

Christopher Columbus statue
Wilmington removed this statue of Christopher Columbus and placed it in storage. City of Wilmington photo

In June, in response to protests that started after the death George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, Wilmington removed statues of Christopher Columbus and Caesar Rodney and placed them in storage. Here’s what has happened since.

Nothing.

No evaluation of their future, according to John Rago, deputy chief of staff for policy and communications for Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki.

No public hearings.

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The public has offered unsolicited input. “A variety, as you can imagine,” he said. “Keep them down, put them back up and everything in between.”

“The mayor said at some point the climate will be right to publicly discuss statues, public commemorations, etc.,” he added.

The Columbus statue was on Pennsylvania Avenue, and the Rodney statue in Rodney Square.

Purzycki said in June the statues were being removed and stored “so there can be an overdue discussion about the public display of historical figures and events.”

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Joe Sielski founded a Facebook group calling for the Columbus statue to be removed. “People who truly understood his history saw his presence as a threat,” he said in June.

Since then, the group has acquired 480 members. Postings lately have been more about indigenous peoples and progressive causes rather than the statue.

A celebration of “the rich culture of indigenous people in the Americas” is planned at noon Sunday at Peter Spencer Plaza, according to a posting from Jea Porter Street II to that group. It says the plaza is in Garvey City, with a ZIP code that matches downtown Wilmington. Garvey City has its own Facebook page, indicating it was named for Jamaican Marcus Garvey.

Oct. 12 is governmentally recognized as Columbus Day. It is also Indigenous Peoples’ Day.