Symptom of Disease
NOTE: Sussex Beat is a log of news briefs and commentary by Eric Magill, publisher of Sussex County Online, with contributions from Sussex County Online users.
Never has our bloated government spending become so apparent as in the current plan by State Supreme Court Chief Justice E. Norman Veasey to set up a task force to study the ethical and legal feasability of corporate and private donations to fund our state court system.
Under the category of "Duh ...", Veasey has enlisted the assistance of 16 state lawmakers, attorneys and business people to try to devise a system that is simply impossible.
In no way, shape or form can such a plan be set up that won't compromise the state's judicial system or at least give the appearance that the system has been compromised.
And the amazing thing is Justice Veasey claims he has the unanimous support of his fellow Supreme Court members to study this preposterous proposal.
Others, such as Frederick W. Lobst, president of the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association, supports the idea. I'm sure his association will be first in line with its donations.
Another, William D. Johnston, president of the Delaware Bar Association, calls the idea "forward-thinking". Actually, it's backward-thinking, back to the days when justice was purchased behind the scenes.
Even Sussex County's own William Swain Lee, the retired Supreme Court Judge from Lewes, made the ridiculous comment that using private money could enable the executive and legislative branches of government to avoid their responsibility to pay for court operations.
Why should they be given an opportunity to avoid one of their primary responsibilities?
Veasey says the state's judicial system needs an $11.9 million increase this year due to the construction of a new courthouse in Wilmington, a recommendation for a new computer case-tracking system, and other new expenses. The task force's report is due by Dec. 31.
He says that under Gov. Ruth Ann Minner's orders to cut budgets across the board, he doesn't believe the General Assembly will come up with the additional money the justice department needs.
That intelligent people such as our State Supreme Court justices have been reduced to seeking handouts for a primary government responsibility like administering justice is not so much an indictment of them as it is of our bloated government.
As a primary responsibility of our state government, the administration of justice shouldn't be short-changed by lawmakers looking to fill up their pork barrels with projects that are not primary responsibilities, such as farm land and open space preservation.
The General Assembly should take care of the state's primary responsibilities first, and let everyone else seek the private donations.
The State of Delaware continues to take a leading role in web site utility (can anyone say, "It's good being first ...") in the country with the introduction on Friday, Jan. 11, 2002, of its state park campground reservation system.
Although not the first state in the union to provide (Virginia, for instance, started its service last year) an online camping reservation system, the move to online reservations for campers at the state parks illustrates the state's continued commitment to moving as many of its services as possible online.
The state's legislative section (click the General Assembly link under Featured Items) provides complete text of all House and Senate bills that will help clear up any confusion you may have listening to the rhetoric from both sides of an issue.
And with newspapers going through an economic crunch that has severely reduced their news holes, it becomes more necessary than ever to have access to the full text of those bills rather than just the brief descriptions that newspapers can provide.
For all the criticism the Delaware Department of Transportation gets, its web site provides valuable services for First Staters such as its traffic cams. This service becomes a matter of survival in coastal towns during the summer for those of us who must use Route 1.
The state took another positive step online when it introduced its school delays and closings site this year. Now, if it can just get all of the schools to participate, it will be another valuable service for the state's residents.
As for the camping reservation system, the state park system will begin accepting reservations for its 850 campsites on its web site at www.destateparks.com some time on Friday, Jan. 11.
By clicking on a "Campground Reservation" button, the state says, you'll be able to view or print campground maps and reserve a site at the Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore, Trap Pond, Killens Pond or Lums Pond state parks.
Even if you're a local, camping at our state parks is a treat.
Credit cards will be accepted for payment.
We've used online reservation systems to make reservations at Kiptopeke State Park near Cape Charles, Va. If the Delaware system is anything like that, even though it won't be first, it will be an extremely valuable service to campers.
For more state web sites, visit www.delaware.gov.
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