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Monday night, something good happened. Dover City Council added authorization for 10 police officers. Dover will still have a slightly smaller PD than Salisbury which has around 6000 fewer residents or around 15 short of Annapolis which has about the same population. The need is real. More important than the numbers is that the Chief has an intelligent plan to restaff community policing, restart PAL, restore interactions with neighborhood watches and other anti-crime groups, and staff a street crimes unit like the one in the successful end of year trial. I support the plan. Judging from an outpouring of citizens from business people to pastors to retired residents to college students that reflected the ethnic mix of the city, the citizens strongly support it. What I was not enthusiastic about was the change in strategy to implement it. Dover has a crime problem,not a crime crisis. Crime is down 3 years in a row. Our murder rate is below the national average. We have one of the best crime clearance rates in America. I knew we had 3 candidates for Academy and support sending them immediately. I also support adding a currently certified officer immediately. We have at least two retirements coming in the next 18 months and could have a dozen (unlikely). I also supported adding officers over the next year to get us to 102 officers. I also support adding the cadet program now so we can have 6 part time officers in the business district this summer which will add the equivalent of 3 more officers at 1/4 of the cost for routine patrol of the library and business district which are also covered by scores of cameras and 2 minutes from the police station. My problem was that adding 10 officers by September with 5 being in March is a budget buster. I wanted us to plan it as part of the budget process which starts in just a few weeks. We don’t even have that many prospects. We can recruit and by March 2016 academy have all 10. That approach would allow us to absorb the new officers and keep tax hikes for public safety to a minimum. I think if I were feeling better (I came down with both food poisoning and a sinus infection 2 days before), I would have been able to more forcefully make that point. Councilman Hutchinson proposed raising taxes 5 cents to cover it, which is 2 cents more than necessary by our calculations. I proposed that the tax hike be put to referendum and dedicated to public safety. That failed 4 to 4. His tax hike failed 4 to 4. My problem is that we did the right thing, but not the right way. Rushing this through in one night instead of following the normal two weeks between committee and Council was not the best approach. I honestly can’t figure out how to pay for it. I couldn’t sleep all night Monday as my mind raced and searched for ways to afford it. I have some ideas. We will have to make some cuts and raise the property tax 6% or so, but it will get done and hopefully with minimum pain. It needed to be done. It is like a dream 3 years in the making coming true. Now to make the dream a reality. Post navigation


A program allowing the Dover Police to recruit part time “cadets” to join the community police program and add patrols to the downtown business district is likely to pass Dover City Council in the January 12, 2015 meeting.

Bernat is proposing that the city hire at least six cadets, with an emphasis on bringing in local college students who are majoring in criminal justice. The cadets would be given up to three weeks of training from Dover police instructors, as well as additional, supervised on-the-beat experience. Bernat said each cadet would patrol downtown, including the city library, for about 20 hours per week, including weekends. The cadets would be uniformed and carry all necessary police equipment, with the exception of firearms, he said. Read more:

With its emphasis on local college students majoring in criminal justice, the program will have higher standards than the seasonal police hired by the Beach towns. Critics, including the ACLU which seems to find fault with every move to make Dover safer, focus on the minimum age of 18 to be a part of the program. 18 is old enough to be in the military. It is old enough to be a seasonal police officer. It is old enough to vote, buy property, get married, and own a long gun. The likelihood of many 18 year olds being hired is small, but that depends upon the pool of applicants. It is more likely that Juniors and Seniors would want to get an opportunity to break into policing beyond the summer. The cadets will get 3 weeks of training before they even go out including diversity training then appropriate supervision afterwards. They will free experienced officers to deal with more serious issues than walking around the business district. The real question is why do we need more patrols? Cameras have contributed to an amazingly high closing case rate. Crime is down in Dover each of the last 3 years. The answer is that it is not down enough. Downtown business people need people not to be annoyed by nuisance crime and having a visible presence that can radio in the early indications of serious crimes is golden. With crime as it is with corruption, sunshine is the best disinfectant. The more visible law enforcement presence, the lower the incidence of crime. If they see something, full time officers will be there literally in 2 minutes. The average response time in Dover is 2 and one half minutes. I have found the community response to be overwhelmingly positive to this idea. As Chief Bernat said, there is no downside. Dover also needs more full time police as part of a comprehensive crime strategy. Two community centers will be opening in 2015. We will tackle economic inclusion. I want to encourage private programs that teach people to build strong families. Security, however, is a basic requirement for economic growth. We need to maximize our reach, deploy our resources appropriately, and spend our money wisely. This is one such step.


On Wednesday, December 10th, nearly 30 officers took 24 under-privileged children to the Dover Target store to go Christmas shopping for themselves and family as part of the 2nd annual Heroes and Helpers event. Each child was given $125 to spend, in addition to arts-and-craft activities, free pizza for the children and families by Little Caesar’s Pizza, and free play day gift cards from Hoppin’ Good Time in Camden. While the children were shopping, Cpl. Mark Hoffman and Sgt. Chad Bernat surprised each parent with an additional $125 gift card which caused tears to flow in the room. Throughout the store, officers and children were seen laughing, smiling, and playing together as they went shopping. As the night ended, it was clear that the officers and other volunteers were impacted as much as the children being helped.

This is only one of many things Dover PD has done for the community just this week. I recently told the leadership of Dover PD to start documenting and sharing on social media what they do all of the time and I would post it. Among other activities this week, the FOP gave away 500 free coffees at WAWA that they paid for to citizens. The officers supplied Code Purple so the homeless could have needed supplies during the winter. It is what they do and who they are. I am proud of my Dover Police Department. I say mine because each citizen in Dover can say that. It is our Department and we can be proud of those who protect and serve us. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.


As usual, I am fighting the good fight for taxpayers. My friend, Councilman Tim Slavin developed a proposal that just makes sense. It requires a tax hike greater than 9.5% to go before the people in a plebiscite– a non-binding referendum before it can pass. This is not a radical proposal. It does not prohibit or even hinder a moderate tax hike that may or may not be necessary. What it does is put the brakes on wholesale looting of the taxpayers, destruction of confidence in the job creating business community, and a crushing surprise on families that are already on the edge. Passing this sends a message to those who want to invest in Dover that we will manage our finances well and give you economic certainty. Dover is poised to have nearly a billion dollars of private investment flow into the city in the next decade. Will the city risk it by not giving a measure of certainty? If we can’t say to our families and businesses that we can’t keep tax increases in the single digits then we do not know how to manage our city. In the competitive job market of the late 21st century, we need to compete with places that offer some measure of certainty for the cost of doing business. A cap on tax increases makes sense. If the need for a huge tax increase is vital to the people’s interest, we can trust them to ratify the decision of Council. Large tax increases are disruptive to people’s livelihoods, budgets, and confidence in their government therefore they should have a buy in from the people. Without that buy in, they will ultimately fail. The circumstances that one could envision such as a large natural disaster that requires bonds to rebuild would have people’s support. There already is a provision for a referendum to increase the general obligation debt beyond a certain level, yet poor fiscal planning gets a pass. So why should we have one to increase taxes because of debt, but not have one to increase taxes because of poor policy or management? The fear is that people would not support a large tax hike. I say that is good. Large tax hikes are bad policy. This is common sense. I have long favored referendum and tax limitation and will continue to fight for it. I fought to insure it goes to a floor vote in January and I hope that you all will take up the fight and get it passed. Here is the State News coverage.


Restoring Central Dover Releases Plan Dover, Delaware. The Steering Committee for Restoring Central Dover, “Our Vision for Vitality” is proud to release its comprehensive neighborhood plan hot off the press which establishes a blueprint and path forward for the revitalization of the Central Dover area. The Restoring Central Dover neighborhood plan is the culmination of twelve months of community surveying, public comments, open houses, interviews, focus groups, interactive exercises, and mapping. It lists a multitude of strategies for A Strong Community, Positive Development, and An Integrated Public Realm and Infrastructure. These focus on neighborhood building and safety, affordable housing, commercial development, and social services and transportation with many strategies under each. You will see that strategies are timed as short-term, intermediate-term or long-term and list steps to be taken. The plan is unique because of its resident and stakeholder engagement and successful efforts to receive local input to develop the strategies herein, its comprehensive and collaborative nature, and it’s very visual information presentation. There is no more detailed source of information on Central Dover than this plan. The Restoring Central Dover plan became the centerpiece for the City’s recent Downtown Development District designation application to the state. Moving Forward An Implementation Grant application was submitted to the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation on October 24 for 5-year funding to move these strategies forward. This would allow hiring an Implementation Director to oversee these various strategies. Other resources will be applied for through DSHA if Dover receives the Downtown Development District designation, and other state resources, as well as those from financial institutions and foundations. NCALL’s CDFI Loan Fund is already providing capital for housing and community projects in the plan area. Collaborators Neighborhood residents, NCALL, City of Dover, CenDel Foundation, Downtown Dover Partnership, Dover Housing Authority, Dover Police Department, Dover Presbyterian Church, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity, Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing, House of Pride, Inner-City Cultural League, Solid Rock Baptist Church, Wesley College, Wesley United Methodist Church, Dover Federal Credit Union, Capital School District, Bayhealth, Delmarva Black Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Delaware, Greater Kent Committee. You can find a detailed Executive Summary here. (It may take a few moments to open the document as it is rather large.)


The Dover Post Confirms the other candidates are open to tax increases, only David Anderson opposes them. Please vote on June 17th at the Dover Elks Lodge. Christiansen, Chevis Anderson and Webster said they would not be adverse to property tax increases, particularly if they were genuinely necessary, advertised in advance and slowly implemented. “A gradual increase with notification can solve a lot of these problems with taxes and with taxes going up,” Chevis Anderson said. David Anderson said he was against the idea of raising taxes to balance the city budget, particularly if there is money reserved elsewhere. He had made a similar statement during a June 9 city council meeting when proposing a $1.5 million transfer from an electric reserve fund to help balance the general fund budget. “I’m not going to tolerate tax increases being the first resort,” Anderson said. “They should always be the last resort.” Read more:


In Newark Delaware, a movement exists to stop anything that resembles progress. People who think they have theirs doesn’t care about the next guy. Wawa, the Data Center, and other ventures have this group of a few hundred people who seem to find a problem with everything. They lost the last special mayor’s election after pressuring the last mayor out. Now the new mayor seems to be bending to them even though the people elected her because she wasn’t with them. Back in January, I said to the News Journal, if Newark doesn’t want the data center, bring it and the 300 jobs to Dover. I renew my call. Dover has incentives in place, a technology center that has the infrastructure for the power required in place, and a people who want to prosper. We cut our zoning time delays. We keep taxes and power rates among the lowest in the state. We have an economic development team that looks for how we can help not ways to put up barriers. No matter what your business is, check out Dover. If something presents a problem, don’t assume we will not address quickly it if you make a sound case. Dover has a new attitude which has resulted in hundreds of millions in new private investment and more to come. Our vacant properties are being reclaimed; our downtown is being renewed; and our industrial park is no longer a field. We have helped dozens of small businesses get off to a successful start. We have encouraged others to expand. Not everything is up in Dover. Crime is down. The size of government is down. The burden of regulation is down. Electric rates are down. Unemployment is down. Life is not perfect in the capital city, but we are ready for a new era and wise investors will rise with us.


I have requested that we focus our planning to make a real difference in the lives of our citizens. Today, City Council has responded with an agenda of economic development, homelessness and affordable housing, and youth services partnering with non-profits. I thank Councilman Bonar for letting me hijack his committee agenda today. It was an easy sell because he has the same priorities. Come out at noon to the large conference room to the Parks, Recreation, and Community Enhancement committee.


With no votes to spare, the City Council approved a deal which granted an historic conservation easement to the Federal Government for the lawn area of the Dover Green to create a national monument, but reserving all rights in the areas around it and removing all references to building while protecting the private property around it. The story is here in the Dover Post. This was done in spite of the majority of property owners expressing concerns with the deal. DOVER CITY COUNCIL VOTE ON THE GREEN YES Tom Leary David Bonar Wallace Dixon James Hutchison Beverly Williams NO David Anderson William Hare ABSENT Sean Lynn (recused himself) Adam Perza (late to meeting)


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