Patterico's Pontifications

9/19/2010

Leftist Activist in Delaware: Chris Coons Harassed Me Due to My Political Activism

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:24 pm

Tonight I spoke with Alan Muller, who runs a site at Green Delaware — and thinks Chris Coons should be defeated. Mr. Muller wrote a blog post about how he had been harassed by Chris Coons for his local political efforts — in actions that Muller terms evil in a small place:

This is about evil. It could be a lot worse. . . . But it’s evil enough in [its] own little way and the person currently causing our problems, New Castle County Executive Chris Coons, wants to be a United States Senator and apparently has the support of many people who don’t know what he really is.

A key point I want to make is that Coons, a rich boy with a law degree and a Master’s in Ethics from Yale Divinity School, is actually a much nastier, more manipulative, more dangerous, more special-interest-serving person than his thuggish predecessor Tom Gordon.

Criticism from a far-left liberal

Sounds like a Republican with an axe to grind, huh? Not so much. On the phone, Mr. Muller told that he is “way over on the lefty liberal end of the political spectrum,” but would never vote for Chris Coons because, he says, Coons has “no respect for his constitutents.” Muller told me: “I am one of those people who thinks the world is safer with the Democrats in control of the Senate, but I could never support Coons, because he is personally malicious.” He said that Coons is “very bright and he knows how to jerk off the public while representing special interests.”

So what did Chris Coons do to Alan Muller? Well, Muller says that he was an activist who often spoke out at city council meetings — until his ownership of a historic property gave local authorities the chance to use the power of the government to harass him:

Few things are more destructive to the integrity of a place than using the courts to harass activists and poor people. . . . Green Delaware [Muller’s organization and web site] has often criticized New Castle County and things around it. This is easy to do. New Castle County has a long history of corruption and scumbaggery. We have often–but not any more!–testified at County Council meetings and suchlike. . . .

Muller got the attention of the local government authorities, including Chris Coons, with his outspoken activism. He testified at City Council meetings. He wrote action alerts. He wrote blog posts with titles like The unending disgrace that is Coons’ County and CHRIS COONS AT IT AGAIN….AFTER ALAN MULLER.

In short, he was a gadfly. Chris Coons may have regarded this gadfly as something of a pest.

And what do you know? Once local authorities had their chance to get their regulatory hooks into him, they did so with a vengeance.

Harassment as retaliation for political activism

Muller writes:

But we also did something stupid in the circumstances: Bought a historic house threatened with demolition. This opened us up to unending harassment. . . . [T]hey charge us ten or twelve times for the same “offense,” and we are convicted for each “offense.”

Muller believes the harassment was directly tied to his activism. In one post, Muller said: “When Muller spoke out at a County Council meeting about the inadequacy of the proposed County Comprehensive Plan, violation notices were posted on his door within days.”

What’s more, the “code enforcement” violations were extremely overbearing:

The county ordinance apparently allows bringing a separate charge every day. So the county could charge a person 365 times for having a cracked windowpane and then deliver these charges all at once, without prior notice, and demand a fine for each “violation.” A minimum fine of $100 is prescribed for each “violation” and “the court shall not suspend the sentence of any person …” Welcome to Delaware!

Abuse of code enforcement power has often been used to harass people. Since, obviously, every property has some technical code violation, anyone could be harassed. While the evil of Coons in abusing these laws is obvious, it is also obvious that the Delaware General Assembly has itself done a great evil by passing such laws for the County, and by failing to maintain the integrity of Delaware’s courts.

The documents support Muller’s contention. Muller links to a court document that contains numerous charges against him for unpermitted work to his roof. Each of the charges contains the same verbiage and makes the same accusations. But each charge is alleged to have occurred exactly one month apart. The first is on March 10, the next is on April 10, the third is on May 10, the next on June 10 — and so on, and so on, and so on.

I told him it looked like they were charging him every month for work that he had done once. He said it was worse than that — they were still coming after him even after he got everything fixed.

We never know when more charges will arrive in the mail. We never know when warrants will be issued for my arrest. I have a criminal “rap sheet” pages and pages long. This is the reward for being an activist in Delaware in these times.

One of the things that amazed me, in speaking to Muller, is that the local government actually proposed issuing pepper spray to its code enforcement officers during Coons’s reign. He told me he had written about it, and reader JD found the link for me:

Some time ago there was a movement before the County Council to give “code enforcement” officers pepper spray, etc, to fend off enraged citizens. We don’t know what happened to that, but it’s a fair indication of the real attitude of the County towards non-wealthy human residents.

But what indication does Muller have that Chris Coons is behind all this — the harassment of Muller for his activism, the movement to arm building inspectors with pepper spray, and such? Muller told me that, as a keen observer of local politics, he believes that “this sort of thing doesn’t happen without direction from the top.” As he said in one of his posts: “Coons, a wealthy person running for re-election, has made ‘code enforcement’ part of his campaign. He, more than the County Council, controls what the County legal office does.”

Interestingly, Muller notes that, since the election has been in full swing, “they haven’t done anything since the last time I wrote it up” on his blog. Muller suspects that Coons is embarrassed by what Muller is writing, and has given the order to lay off Muller lest it have negative consequences for his campaign.

Media blackout

However, Muller said, there has been no media coverage since the campaign started. I asked Muller if anyone has contacted him regarding his story. Local newspapers? National newspapers? Magazines? TV stations? Bloggers? The answer was no, at least not during this election. Nobody contacted him until I did. “There’s very little in the way of journalism happening in Delaware these days,” he told me. “Delaware is a political wasteland.” He said that maybe someone on the outside writing about his situation would cause the local media to focus on it more. “People of Delaware have been failed by the press by failing to cover Coons,” he told me. “Here is a county executive who has a degree in divinity and goes to the local ACLU meetings, so why would he be involved with this?” Muller complained. “Nobody seems to want to look into that.”

Views on this election

Muller — who, keep in mind, is a far-left environmentalist activist — said that he could not vote for Christine O’Donnell because of her views. He said: “That kind of right-wing nut orientation is not the type that resonates in Delaware. The Tea Party sent in organizers and money, who appealed to the type of people who would vote in the primary.” But he did not think O’Donnell could win. He said that her “wingnut Republican views are detached from reality,” as she would “intervene in people’s sex lives” and “would be in favor of shutting down environmental regulation” and such. “Her history and reputation is that of a marginal candidate.”

Mike Castle, he thought, would have won. “Mike Castle was looking at his 8th term.” Muller said he thought Castle might be able to win as an independent, as he is an “extremely well-estabilshed political figure,” but he didn’t see any evidence that Castle was interested in doing so.

“I’m not conducting a crusade here, because he’s going to win now,” Muller told me, referring to Coons, “because he doesn’t have a credible opponent.” Then Muller equivocated a bit. “I’ve met Coons and Mike Castle,” he said, “but I haven’t met Christine O’Donnell. I don’t know her personally and I don’t anyone should speak with confidence about what will happen.” He said that his views of her as a “wingnut” are based on the “views she represents,” but he suspects she is sincere in her beliefs . . . and who knows? She may have a chance to win.

If anything is clear, it’s that this far-left activist doesn’t want to see Chris Coons in the Senate. Because he has abused his power in local government to harass a citizen for his political activism.

And that should give Delaware voters pause.

Thanks to d. in c., who raised the issue in comments, and JD, who provided key links and did excellent research.

UPDATE: Thanks to “pragmatic” squishy RINO sell-out Ace for the link.

UPDATE x2: Thanks to Michelle Malkin, Treacher, and Mary Katharine Ham for the links.

The Freepers have mentioned a second instance of someone claiming that Coons retaliated against him for First Amendment activity. This court decision (.pdf) sets forth the complaints of Thomas Neuberger, who said that Coons and others retaliated against him for prosecuting lawsuits against the county, by releasing his private medical information. Will Delaware media investigate to see if his complaints have merit? Does Coons have a pattern of such activity? Time will tell.

Is the Case for Christine O’Donnell Better Made on Character or Issues?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:06 pm

At Ace of Spades, they’re running a poll on the question of whether they should cover negative news about Christine O’Donnell. I find it disturbing that they’re even asking the question, as if burying our heads in the sand is a viable option. However, the results are encouraging: a solid majority (80%) says yes — although less than half of the “yes” votes say only if that is counterbalanced by negative stories about Coons:

Are 80% of the people at Ace’s RINOs? I’d venture to say they are not. So why do people want to know negative stuff about their candidate? Because it’s news, and because we can’t ignore it.

Me, I don’t decide what to write about based on the answers to polls, and I suspect they wouldn’t actually do that at Ace’s. But it’s good to know that people want to hear the truth.

That brings me to the title of the post. There’s a saying among lawyers: if you have the facts, pound on the facts. If you have the law, pound on the law. If you have neither, pound on the table.

In politics, the corollary might be: if you have character, pound on character. If you have issues, pound on issues. (Never mind the table. We have the issues.)

If my candidate had a picnic on a bloodstained Satanic altar in her youth, it doesn’t bother me. It’s not going to bother Tea Partiers and fiscal conservatives. I think it could make a hell of a campaign commercial for Coons, though, and low-attention voters may be persuaded. Even if you’re determined to defend that, we have deeper problems. If my candidate lies to a radio interviewer about how many counties she won in the last election, that bothers me. It indicates a lack of character.

We have a problem with her character. And we have to discuss the attacks on her character to realize that.

We’ll get bogged down if we make it about character. For example, a commenter pointed out that Ted Kennedy was forgiven his manslaughter. That’s a good point, but it just raises the question: is the standard for our candidates (and our defense of their shortcomings) going to be that, hey, at least they never killed anybody??

I don’t think that’s a winning argument.

So we pound on the issues.

And that is a good argument in this election. To me, this election is about issues, and the only way I would not vote for O’Donnell if I were a Delaware voter is if I thought she was to the left of Coons. I’ll take someone who worships at a Satanic altar five minutes before voting against cap and trade over a guy who prays to Our Lord Jesus five minutes before he votes for it.

And I think a lot of people feel the same way.

I think making this a character battle and talking about bearded Marxists and such is doomed to fail. This has to be about the issues. This is a wave election. What are voters upset about? Things like the stimulus, cap and trade, and ObamaCare.

So I suggest that we not make this a race about character, but rather issues.

So, you want to help? Prove that Chris Coons has the wrong position on those issues. We know he does because he’s a Democrat, but somehow proof is better. And this blog is about truth and evidence. So here you go: Coons’s positions on three key issues that matter to voters.

Coons on the stimulus? He’s for it:

a critical, strategic investment that stopped the rapid slide of our economy into a second great depression

Coons on cap and trade? He’s for it:

Chris is also calling for a nationwide cap and trade program that will help establish a price on carbon and unleash the creativity of American ingenuity to help solve the increasing effects of Greenhouse gases on the environment.

Coons on ObamaCare? He’s for it:

Although he does not believe it is perfect, Chris supports President Obama’s landmark health care legislation and is committed to working across the aisle to make it better.

Some of these links are from Coons’s own web site. He thinks these are winning positions in Delaware. (Although you can sense the weakness on ObamaCare, huh?)

I guess we’ll see. Spread the word.

We can’t bury our heads in the sand. Let’s assess our strengths and weakness honestly and not paper them over with transparently weak arguments. Let’s be clear-eyed about what ground we should fight on.

And then let’s fight on that ground.

UPDATE: Here is O’Donnell’s response regarding the witchcraft. See what you think of it:

Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell responded to old clips that surfaced over the weekend where she said she had once “dabbled in witchcraft,” clarifying at a GOP picnic in Delaware Sunday, “I was in high school, how many of you didn’t hang out with questionable folks in high school? But no, There’s been no witchcraft since, if there was, Karl Rove would be a supporter.”

H/T to John Hitchcock.

UPDATE: You want to know why else the “bearded Marxist” shtick won’t work? Because it’s mendacious. As it turns out, the reference does not withstand further scrutiny. Don’t take Weigel’s word for it, follow his link to the Politico article, which I refuse to link because of my boycott, and make up your own mind.

It pains me to pass this along, because I have no desire to support the guy, but having made the reference to him as a “bearded Marxist,” I feel I have to pass along the truth. It was a humorous reference to something his friends said. You can pile on all you like. I still refuse to pass along something I know to be deceptive.

His positions are bad enough. I’m sticking with the truth on those.

My Letter to the L.A. Times Readers’ Representative Regarding Errors in Carol Williams’ Article on Judicial Confirmations

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:15 pm

Ed Whelan says the paper is refusing to correct their error:

Eight days ago, I explained in detail that the assertion by a Los Angeles Times reporter in an August 30 article that President George W. Bush had 87% of his early judicial nominees “confirmed during the first 18 months of [his] administration” was wildly wrong. I also showed that, contrary to the reporter’s charge of a massive 40-point gap, there was no meaningful difference between the pace at which President Obama’s lower-court nominees were being confirmed and the pace at which President Bush’s early nominees had been confirmed. The following morning—that is, seven days ago—I e-mailed my post to the reporter, Carol J. Williams, and highlighted the fact that the very expert (Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution) whom she had quoted on other points had documented that Obama nominees were being confirmed at the same pace that Bush nominees had been.

Yet eight days later Williams’s article remains uncorrected—and her wild error continues to be quoted and credited.

Now it’s of course possible that Williams didn’t read my e-mail (though I’ll note that she has previously consulted me). But it doesn’t seem possible that the editors of the Times are unaware of her error: As Patterico pointed out two weeks ago, the Times’s own follow-on editorial substituted a 60% figure for Williams’s 87%.

In my earlier post, I encouraged readers to write the paper to complain. Well, none of you took me up on it, so the onus is on me. I just sent this to the Readers’ Representative:

Hi. I am writing to question the factual accuracy of a recent article by Carol J. Williams, relating to the speed of confirmation of President Obama’s judicial appointees.

In that article, Williams said:

Obama’s judicial confirmation rate is the lowest since analysts began detailed tracking the subject 30 years ago, with 47% of his 85 nominations winning Senate approval so far. That compares with 87% confirmed during the first 18 months of the previous administration, 84% for President Clinton, 79% for President George H.W. Bush and 93% for President Reagan.

Oddly enough, that 87% figure for George W. Bush was changed in a later editorial to 60%:

According to the White House, at this point in his presidency Obama has had 48% of his nominees confirmed, compared with 60% for George W. Bush and 68% for Bill Clinton.

Ed Whelan, a former clerk for Antonin Scalia and a blogger at National Review, wrote a post which said:

The article’s assertion that President George W. Bush had 87% of his early judicial nominees “confirmed during the first 18 months of [his] administration” struck me as farfetched. And it turns out that it is wildly wrong. Specifically (by my quick count, which may not be perfect but should be very close), President Bush nominated some 112 judges during his first 18 months (32 to the courts of appeals and 80 to the district courts), and 64 of these (13* to the courts of appeals and 51 to the district courts) were confirmed during the first 18 months of his administration. That yields an overall figure of 57%, not 87% (and the figure for the courts of appeals was just under 41%).

He sent a link to his post to Williams, but no correction has issued.

Could you please look into this and get back to me?

Yours truly,

Patrick Frey
patterico.com

I’ll let you know what I hear back.


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