The News Journal is only 2 months late in reporting a startling fact that may have turned the tide of the November elections. In an article printed today (January 5th 2011), columnist Ron Williams laid out the news that New Castle County is flat BROKE! This news did not come from the Caesar Rodney Institute or a conservative think tank but straight from the incoming County Executive Paul Clark’s own transition team. A report from Dace Blaskovitz, a member of Clark’s transition team, shows that now Senator Chris Coons lied to the citizens of Delaware when he said that New Castle County’s finances were in good shape and misrepresented the job he did as County Executive. Despite calls by Coons’ opponent, Christine O’Donnell to investigate the actual state of the county’s finances, the Wilmington News Journal ignored the obvious dire straits that New Castle County faces and instead relied on a report by credit rating agencies that New Castle County received a AAA bond rating as proof of sound fiscal practices. The same rating agency that gave New Castle County a AAA bond rating failed to anticipate failures at the nation’s top banks, AIG and GM/Chrysler.
Williams goes on to point out that Clark’s transition team has recommended yet ANOTHER increase in property taxes. Coons raised them three times during his terms in office including a 25% spike in 2009 coupled with a 5% pay cut for County employees. The alternative to another tax increase is a combination of leaving open vacant positions and/or the laying off of more than 120 workers. Blaskovitz confirmed what Ms. O’Donnell and her campaign staff had been saying though out the campaign, that the County’s fiscal situation was much worse than Coons was admitting to. According to the report filed by Blaskovitz and former House Majority leader Wayne Smith, the county’s debt has more than doubled in the last 5 years while property taxes went up 55% and sewer fees went up 60%. These numbers are in line with what the O’Donnell campaign had told the public and what the News Journal had refused to point out throughout the election. Despite claims by Coons that he had cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the county budget, Blaskovitz points out that “government spending outpaced revenues”. Blaskovitz writes, "while the county's unfunded accrued actuarial liabilities increased over $140 million. Retiree health cost is nearly $250 million," and he points out that pension assets went up by $9 million since 2000 when Coons took over as County Council President under Tom Gordon.
Coons had spent the campaign telling Delawareans that he had managed to keep New Castle County’s head above water despite a tumultuous economic time period. In retrospect, Coons succeeded at simply burying the problems NCC faces. Blaskovitz goes on to say, "So after years of delaying executive decisions hoping an economic bounce would magically undo the dilemma, dwindling reserves are now forcing a day of reckoning." As O’Donnell had pointed out repeatedly throughout the campaign, much to the chagrin of those listening, Blaskovitz (whose financial resume is extensive), suggests that these problems cannot (and never could) be solved by raising taxes and fees but instead by “immediate belt-tightening”. This report shows that Chris Coons and his Democrat comrades lied to the people of Delaware during the campaign and it shows what Coons will do as a U.S. Senator. At a time when we need MORE fiscal responsibility, we have sent someone with less. At a time when we need MORE openness and transparency in Washington, Delaware has added more deception and “creative accounting”. At a time when we need real leadership in Washington, we have sent a man who buckles under pressure, lies to his constituents and buries the truth. In the end, this may have been averted if the people of Delaware had heard this kind of unbiased information from an independent source like, the Wilmington News Journal. Unfortunately, this information came 2 months too late for Delawareans to really understand the man they sent to Washington. Perhaps they should have sent a woman.