Archive for May, 2010

New Law Makes Strangulation a Crime

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Senate Majority Leader Patricia Blevins (7th Senatorial District) has been a strong leader against domestic violence.  I invited her to write a guest post to help raise awareness about a serious issue and highlight the excellent initiative shown by two of our State Troopers. 

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Senator Patricia Blevins

Strangulation is a dangerous crime that can be hard to spot and that, until now, often flew under the radar in the criminal justice system.

While the popular view of strangulation is that of killers, like the Boston Strangler, the truth’s different – and a lot more chilling. Strangling is also used as a way to control a victim and make them submit to their attacker.

Without proper training, the signs of this crime can be hard to spot and sometimes they don’t show up immediately. In some cases, strangulation can be fatal a day or more after an attack.

But thanks to two dedicated state troopers, Master Cpl. Carol Parton and Cpl. Stephen Fausy, it’s a crime that’s been brought into focus and that we’re now addressing with both training and by making strangulation a felony crime in its own right.

Until now, the combination of strangulation’s subtlety as a crime and its lack of status in the criminal code meant that this crime that can cause serious injuries to its victims was too often charged as a misdemeanor. To make their case, Parton and Fausy, who are assigned to State Police Troop 3, made a four-month study of strangulation cases in Kent County. More than half of the 33 reported cases of strangulation during that period wound up being prosecuted as misdemeanor offensive touching cases.

That’s why I sponsored Senate Bill 197, which was signed last week by Gov. Jack Markell. Now prosecutors can attack strangulation as a felony in its own right. Under the law, people convicted of strangulation will face up to five years in prison. Repeat offenders, people whose attacks cause serious injuries to their victims or who use a deadly weapon while committing the crime will face up to eight years behind bars.

I’m grateful that my fellow legislators and Governor Markell took the time to listen and understand the threat this crime poses, then decided to act to make sure people who commit this crime will get proper attention from the criminal justice system.

Sen. Blevins, Gov. Markell, Cpl Fausy and Master Cpl. Parton after SB 197 is signed into law.

Ann Visalli: Celebrating “Public Service Recognition Week” All Year Long

Monday, May 10th, 2010

On a daily basis, our lives are touched by the actions of committed public servants, and I am so proud of the quality of service Delaware state employees provide to those in our care or in need of our assistance. To all state employees: whether you protect our communities, care for our vulnerable populations, maintain our roadways or provide other important support to the residents of Delaware and beyond, you have answered the call of public service and are helping us build a better state.

I invited Director Ann Visalli of the Office of Management and Budget to join me in recognizing all of our state employees, including the recipients of the 2010 Delaware Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service. – Jack Markell

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OMB Director Ann Visalli

As many of you know, states across the nation celebrated Public Service Recognition Week from May 3-9, 2010, in honor of the hundreds of thousands state and federal workers who have devoted themselves to careers in the public sector. The recognition week was originally established as a way to raise awareness about all of the vital and compassionate services public servants provide to citizens everywhere.

On Friday, Delaware’s Public Service Recognition Week culminated with the 2010 Delaware Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service ceremony, which recognizes the exemplary efforts of state employees in service to the residents of Delaware. This year, we recognized the significant and outstanding actions and accomplishments of 26 employees from 13 different agencies who were nominated by their agency. From the 26, 4 individuals and 1 team were chosen to receive the 2010 award. These employees truly serve as a model of excellence in public service for all of us.

The 2010 winners are:

Lisa Shaw, Department of Safety and Homeland Security – Under Lisa’s coordination of the Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign, Delaware saw a significant decrease in alcohol-related fatalities from 43 percent in 2008 to 31 percent in 2009. Through her efforts, lives are saved on Delaware roadways.

Butch Weakland and Bob Daniel, Department of Transportation – Butch and Bob ran to the assistance of an elderly man they saw collapse in his yard. They responded immediately, contacted emergency medical services and provided assistance to the man and his wife until help arrived.

Denise Hudson, Department of Health and Social Services - Denise went above and beyond for an elderly, disabled client and his family during the 2009 holiday season. She organized community and business resources to make his home safe and livable, helped him obtain adequate medical care and contacted Toys-for-Tots for children in his care.

Robert Cooke, Department of Correction – Robert serves as a great role model for young correctional officers to emulate because of his perfect attendance record, exceptional work ethic, superior problem solving skills and enthusiasm.

Vernon Kirk, Department of Finance – Vernon led efforts to realize additional revenue for the State of Delaware from sports lottery during the last quarter of 2009. Vernon was also instrumental in leading the State Lottery Office’s efforts in table gaming as a complement to video lottery at Delaware’s three racetracks. 

This event has special meaning for all of us in state government because it gives us an opportunity to take a moment and thank so many people for the great service they provide all year long.

Delaware’s state employee workforce is among the most resilient, steadfast and dedicated groups of people in the country, so let’s extend public service recognition far beyond a week in May and make our appreciation for public servants a priority each and every day.

Justice Henry DuPont Ridgely; Rep. Darryl Scott; Lisa Sipple (OMB); Nominees Jowonna Thomas, Kelli Stepler, and Hope LaChance from DHSS; Lt. Governor Matt Denn; Governor Markell

Justice Henry DuPont Ridgely; Rep. Darryl Scott; Lisa Sipple (OMB); Nominees Jowonna Thomas, Kelli Stepler, and Hope LaChance from DHSS; Lt. Governor Matt Denn; Governor Markell

Two Ways to Save a Lot of Money

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Delaware government must become more cost effective and, day by day, it is. Two recent efforts will save the state $23.455 million dollars and demonstrate how demanding fiscal responsibility creates real savings.

Buying Cheaper, Cleaner Power

The first transaction will save Delawareans $13.165 million over three years, while also increasing the proportion of clean power we use.

The state joined together with school districts, volunteer fire companies, all three counties, universities and other entities to increase our purchasing power for electricity through an innovative reverse auction. The agreement with Washington Gas Energy Services reduces the state’s electricity rates by approximately 18 percent.

The agreement will also enable us to achieve our 30% renewable energy target ahead of schedule.  The state currently relies on renewables for 8 percent of our electricity, but that number will rise to 30.5 percent by Fiscal Year 2011 and 35 percent by the third year of the contract.  We’ll be saving money, reducing our environmental impact, and creating clean energy jobs in Delaware. (More information here.)

Strong Credit Leads to Low Interest Rates

The second transaction was completed last week: the State of Delaware refinanced general obligation bonds to save $10.29 million, most of which will occur in Fiscal Year 2012.

We were able to take advantage of lower interest rates following the reaffirmation of Delaware’s triple-A credit rating by all three national bond rating agencies. We are one of only eight states currently rated at the highest level.  This is a great example that shows how responsible financial management can save us money. (More information here.)

Thank You to Our Teachers

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Logo for National Teachers Appreciation Week

This is Teacher Appreciation Week, and I hope that there were apples – locally grown, of course – appearing on teachers’ desks across Delaware.

 

Our teachers earn our appreciation each time they help a student unravel a tricky formula, see the world through Hemingway or Hawthorne, learn to compete with good sportsmanship, or understand why Newton was hit on the head.  They deserve to be told every day that they are appreciated.

 

To all of our teachers, I want to say: Thank you for preparing and inspiring the next generation of Delawareans.  Thank you for taking care of our most precious assets.  Even if your students rarely say it, many of them will carry the gifts you give them for the rest of their lives.  They will not forget you.

 

It’s been a long time since I was in school, and I still think about the teachers who helped me become the person I am today.  I hope you enjoy the photos below of the teachers—and the hairstyles—from my school days.

 

I also want to thank you for your efforts to help us win the Race to the Top grant.  I look forward to working with you as we build the best state education system in the country.

 

If you have a moment, please check out my weekly video message.  Dr. Lillian Lowery, Secretary of the Department of Education, joined me to record a special message for our teachers.

Special thanks to Principal Jason de Jonghe and Ms. Anrea Frederick from Shue-Medill Middle School, as well as Mr. Roy Brubaker (one of the teachers featured above), for going above and beyond to help find the right photographs.