This page includes posts from
May 27-June 16, 2007 in the usual reverse
Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these archive pages.
June 14, 2007
Some words sound very similar, but have quite different meanings.
Here's an example from today's State News, reporting a proposal to boost fines for traffic offenses and send the new money to the state's Transportation Trust Fund:
Some other legislators might think that idea is pretty palatable to them, instead.
Or maybe not.
June 13, 2007
Last night’s thunderstorms helped create the conditions to maintain an early summer season tradition.
The downpour kept me off the golf course for my usual league match, and sent me home far earlier than expected.
The place was quieter than usual. Younger daughter was busy at her restaurant job, while older daughter and my wife were meeting at another local restaurant in town.
After finishing my golf column for the week, and running up and down the TV channel selector a few times, it dawned on me that I hadn’t completed a longstanding June family ritual.
So I drove into town, and found a parking spot in the ocean block of Delaware Avenue, immediately adjacent to the Funland amusement center on the Boardwalk. I put two quarters in the meter, which still had about 20 minutes on it, because what I was about to do could take a while. If I was lucky, the combined 50-minute interval might just be enough time.
I had to win a prize at Skeeball.
I exchanged smiles with Mr. Fasnacht, the owner of Funland, as I walked past one of the old kiddie rides. Standing in his familiar red jacket, he was watching over a new batch of very young children and their parents.
There wasn’t an overwhelming crowd that night as I walked through the building. It’s still early in the season, and the real crush won’t come for a few more weeks yet. That was fine with me, because I knew I’d have a great chance to avoid a long wait at the Skeeball alley on the other side.
My luck continued. There were several open alleys. I walked right up between two little girls, perhaps 6 and 9 years old. They were concentrating so hard on their own games that they hardly gave me a glance.
I put in a quarter and the rack of familiar brown balls rolled to the open slot.
I used my tried and true method for scoring, and the first ball worked just as I planned.
I roll them toward the left bumper on the alley about three quarters of the way to the end, and on the rebound the ball rolls up the ramp. This one popped directly into the 40-point hole.
The next two balls did the same, and I began to think about scoring more than the minimum 250 points required for the smallest prize.
As with any other sport, of course, that kind of anticipation had its usual effect. The next few balls bounced off the 40-point rim and rolled back to either the 20-point circle or, worse yet, the 10-point section.
Chastened once again by the challenge of Skeeball, I tried to return to my original composure. The balls started returning to the 40-point spot, with an occasional bounce-out to add an anxious moment or two.
I was down to the last ball, and only needed a 30-point score to make the 250 points. It went right in, and the red light atop the alley began flashing.
The Funland attendant, who was maybe 19, grinned as he handed me the precious prize:
This plush dog is about 5 inches long. It fit perfectly inside the front pocket of my dress slacks as I walked out.
I can’t remember the last time I won a Skeeball prize on the first quarter. Sometimes I’ve gone through several dollars on the attempt, which of course is perfectly fine for the Funland folks.
Mrs. Schranck was also highly pleased at receiving another small furry animal for her growing collection.
Some traditions are way more enjoyable than others.
The ongoing debate over sidewalk responsibility in Wilmington continues to be unresolved.
The News-Journal ran a front-page story today about this lingering controversy.
Previous City efforts to have the General Assembly adopt the charter change have not gone anywhere, and the current effort is also stalling. The City’s political troubles with this year’s bill appear to be caused by the fact that many Wilmington residents, including some who are pushing an online petition on this issue, are deeply uninterested in accepting this responsibility.
The subhead for the story says that Wilmington is “in ‘legal limbo’” since the 2004 Supreme Court ruling that wiped out a jury verdict in a sidewalk case brought against an adjoining property owner. The decision also wiped out the prior city ordinance that attempted to put this burden on these and similarly situated citizens.
It’s not really a limbo situation, however. It’s more of a step shuffle, as the City government and its residents squabble over who should pick up this particular tab.
In the meantime, there are other funds available for this purpose. A lot of folks have taken advantage of that fact. For example, most if not all of the General Assembly delegation with districts within City limits provide sidewalk replacement money through the Community Transportation Fund.
To me, this particular tussle simply illustrates the routine tension between communitarian goals and the methods chosen to achieve them.
Not many people argue against having sidewalks in an urban environment like Wilmington. Nonetheless, it’s also easy to see why the debate over how to pave these paths has become so bitter. Most folks have no trouble suggesting that other people should pay for a common benefit, instead of making their own direct contributions.
And for the City government, it’s often easier to seek a charter change that affects those choices through the General Assembly, instead of asking its own citizens to make that decision for themselves.
That’s some kind of dance.
This morning I posted my newest golf book review at Hole By Hole.
Michael Bohn's Money Golf: 600 Years of Bettin' on Birdies is a comprehensive look at the symbiotic relationship between golf and gambling.
Two to one says you'll like it.
For more golf stuff, you might also like the most recent golf columns, including a travelogue about Myrtle Beach and more than you might think could possibly be written about a single high school golf team.
However, the Cape Gazette is justifiably proud of its sports section and its local angle focus.
Here are the column links:
Our friends at Lehman Brothers are pretty obvious.
The financial giant, as predicted here, recently argued before the Delaware Supreme Court against paying their Delaware bank franchise taxes, based on its Delaware bank's highly profitable role in funding a huge run of mortgage debt the bank financed.
As discussed in a December 2006 post, the trial court didn't think much of the bank's arguments that it shouldn't pay Delaware for the privilege of enjoying the state's relaxed attitude about the business operations of financial institutions that choose to headquarter in the Diamond State:
The News-Journal story about the appeal included a fun quote from the bank's attorney. On his client's behalf, he highlighted the Delaware Bank Commissioner's decision to charge $5,200 in penalty assessments for each day Lehman failed to meet its Delaware obligations:
Some arguments lawyers make are rich in unintended irony.
Consider this other financial piece in today's Washington Post about some of the fee and interest practices of the nation's credit card issuers. When the consumer complaints described there are combined with the Lehman lawyer's beefing about who is doing the "piling on," I just can't stop smiling.
May 24, 2007
A while ago I wrote a story about a fight in Chancery Court between the Dewey Beach Lions Club and some folks who owned properties lying just east of a playground lot owned by the club.
The lawsuit involved a tiny alleyway between the parcels. Because of the summer rental crowds using these properties, the owners argued that they had a right to use a portion of the club property for an even wider path.
Master Sam Glasscock disagreed:
As I noted at the time, this decision affirms the point that "your parking problem is not your neighbor’s responsibility."
According to a news story tonight, however, it appears that one of these neighbors was not exactly graceful in defeat.
The tree's now dead, and according to one worker the tree will cost at least $3,000 to be replaced.
I hope the new tree grows quickly, thickly, and high.
Official small print disclaimer: This is, after all, a personal web site. Any opinions or comments I express here are my own, and don't necessarily reflect the official position of my work as a government attorney or any of my clients.
That fact may become obvious later on, but it needs to be said here anyway.
© Frederick H. Schranck 2002-2007