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
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.
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.
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.