Two Delaware stories overshadow Governor's Inaugural upstate: The death of Judge Murray Schwartz; the arrest of perennial candidate Richard Korn on child porn charges
I can't remember another Governor's Inaugural Day where other local stories quickly overshadowed our Inaugural coverage during P.M. drive.
But two stories grabbed our first two headlines, although oddly, both actually occurred on Friday, but were not released until now (In the case of Richard Korn, a Friday raid; a Monday arrest)
First, the death of retired U.S. District Judge Murray Schwartz at Cokesbury Healthcare.
It's easy to make the case that Judge Schwartz had a greater impact on life in New Castle County than ANY other local judge of the last 40 years.
Judge Schwartz was noted for many rulings, but the one which sealed his position in Delaware history was his sweeping 1978 desegregation order, which consolidated nearly a dozen districts and created the four north-of-the-canal New Castle County school districts we know today.
Depending on how you look at it, Schwartz boldly went where few judges anywhere would go: Forcing city/county, "pizza wedge" districts which addressed the inequities of city & suburbs. But in the process, he accelerated the flight of affluent (and not so affluent) families from the public schools, which denied them support in referenda; provided the impetus to the creation of new private schools (Caravel and some others); and otherwise expanded northern Delaware's wide niche of non-public schools. We can debate to the death whether it was simple racism, simple fear, or just instinctive parental pushback to the concept of a son or daughter being bused many miles from home to achieve a social goal, however theoretically desirable.
You old-timers can tell the story better than me. Depending on one's viewpoint, Schwartz - the recipient of many death threats - was either a hero or a scourge. A courageous, principled jurist or a judge who created social chaos from the bench.
The uniqueness of Judge Schwartz's "pizza-wedge" discrimination framework becomes evident when you consider some of the U.S. cities/counties which contemplated metropolitan government during the 1970's and '80s. So often, metropolitan consolidation schemes collapsed over the fear that some judge would order city--county school amalgamation and desegregation busing as a result. (I remember this from my time in Memphis / Shelby County, Tennessee.)
Northern New Castle County got city/county school consolidation WITHOUT an amalgamated city/county government.
Feeder patterns had a profound impact on the desirability of certain neighborhoods, and consequently, property values.
It tells you something about the politics of the time that President Nixon appointed the Republican Schwartz to the Delaware Federal bench.
To be fair, Judge Schwartz was also known for many other things, including providing the impetus behind Delaware's current Family Court system.
Then, an even greater bombshell:
Perennial political candidate Richard Korn faces charges for dealing in child pornography and sexual exploitation of children.
At last report, Korn was a guest of the Young Correctional Institution, lacking $750,000 secured bail.
Of course, these are accusations; Korn remains innocent until proven guilty. But this case underscores how people accused of such things can come from either side of the political spectrum, in contrast to Sussex County's recent political convulsions.
Korn has been known for two things, actually: Running unsuccessfully for office (New Castle County Executive, State Representative, and State Auditor) and slapping lawsuits against governments and political officials.
Forget his vast legal problems. Some observers had regarded Korn as simply unelectable in Delaware, whether it be for his brash style and New York accent; questions about his past; his progressive ideology (making 'nice' with the Venezuelans); or even personal things like wearing a lot of cologne. Pejoratively, a "slick New Yorker" (albeit from Long Island). To more than a few observers, Korn's brash, back-slapping style was subterfuge.
"Delaware Dem" at "Delaware Liberal" neatly captures the crosswinds about Richard Korn...
For anyone here who's an NCIS fan, I just discovered a website with ALL 10 seasons! I just finished watching the first ever episode, and the video played perfectly. Here's the link. Enjoy to your heart's content, commercial free!
Mike from Delaware
Tue, Jan 15, 2013 11:56pm
Judge Murray Schwartz desegregation plan was bad news for both the City of Wilmington and New Castle County above the canal (remember Middletown was exempted).
Allan's assessment above was good.
Wilmington, Louisville KY, and Boston, had deseg. forced on them, by the courts, but unlike Boston that had serious violence with, as I recall, a school-bus full of kids involved where kids got hurt, etc. Don't remember hearing about any violence in Louisville.
Thankfully Wilmington remained peaceful, but neither side was happy. City parents didn't like their kids being bused to the far side of the county (most didn't have cars and back then and DART didn't run to as many suburban locations as it does today). Suburban parents didn't want their kids bused into the poorest urban ghetto areas. Of course, the wealthiest part of the county, Greenville, Hockessin, and Pike Creek, kids were bused to the schools by Monkey Hill (near Baynard Stadium area), one of the nicer parts of the city, whereas working-class families of the New Castle/Bear area kids were bussed to the east side of Wilmington. The North Wilmington (Concord Pike area) kids were bused to the PS DuPont school and that part of Wilmington. Newark kids were bused to the center-city schools near downtown.
We were told originally that deseg was to help bring the black students up to the level of the white kids and how the corrupt Wilmington Public Schools were given more money per student and the teachers were paid more than the suburban districts, yet city kids just weren't being given a fair quality education that the suburban kids were getting so these kids needed to come to the suburban schools.
Actually I didn't have a problem with the city kids coming to our schools in the suburbs, but the city didn't want THEIR schools closed, so to be "fair" the suburban kids got to be bused into the city. This way, all kids were exposed to both city and suburban schools. I think this was the biggest thing that upset suburban parents. It was one thing to help the city kids, but why did our kids have to go into the city that we worked so hard to move away from?
Later we were told that desegregation wasn't to improve the education of the blacks from the city, but to help both groups get along better. It was a social experiment. Well as it turned out, their experiment worked. The generations of kids since deseg started in 1978 kind of did merge, as you'll notice that in most of our public schools now in NCC, the kids have a "ghetto" attitude, dress in a "ghetto" style, listen to Rap music, and speak Ebonics.
These kids do not have the lack of trust between the races that previous generations had, so in that sense, their social experiment was a success.
Good thing it was a social experiment, because the education sure didn't improve as the test scores continue to show. Black students generally are still far behind their white counterparts. Sad thing is: Now, those urban kids don't have the excuse of being in an all-black school in a poor neighborhood, because all kids got the same teachers, same books, same school buildings, and yet those same minority students still didn't learn well enough to close the gap.
With all of this, you wonder why suburban parents lost interest in their "local" public school and stopped supporting the referendums? I remember that prior to deseg, it was rare if ever that a referendum in the suburbs failed, because the local folks took real pride in their schools. Now, it's a tougher thing to get the referendums passed, because folks see no value for the end product the public school is producing. The schools didn't deliver on their promise.
The other thing deseg. did was cause almost every student to have to ride a yellow school-bus, which also adds to the cost of educating our kids, as a new cottage industry was born in NCC, school-bus transit. It also caused the roads to be far more congested due to school bus transit. Both city and suburban parents were upset to find out that their kids were riding school-buses without seat belts on I-95. When Deseg first started, the Christina School District had the largest bus fleet in Delaware, it was even larger than DART at that time.
As Allan mentioned, another cottage industry also was born, private schools, both secular and Christian. Also Home Schooling became popular. The Catholic Bishop had promised that he would not open any new Catholic Schools for a five-year period, so as to discourage white flight from the public schools. Later, after the five-year period had passed, a couple new Catholic schools opened in the suburbs.
Judge Murray Schwartz wasn't a man of his word either. He said he'd keep his daughter in the public school system, because he believed in this plan, etc., and so that what we all were going through, his daughter would also go through. You know how long that lasted? One school year. Then Schwartz pulled her out of public school and put her in a private school (remember Bill Clinton saying the same thing when he first became Prez that he'd keep his daughter in the DC public schools, because he and Hillary believed in public education, etc., etc., and a year later Chelsey was in private school).
It's not nice to speak ill of the dead, but Judge Schwartz really messed up NCC schools and families with this ill-conceived plan.
What I've never understood was, why Wilmington, and not Philly, Baltimore, DC, NYC, Trenton, Atlantic City, Newark NJ, etc., etc?
The sad part is, other than the suburban kids learning Ebonics and learning "ghetto culture", all that turmoil and tons of money spent didn't achieve anything as black kids are still far behind white kids in educational achievement. If the urban kids had benefited by catching up to their suburban peers, then the case could be made that it was worth it, but that's not what happened.
It is this sort of thing that caused the conservative movement to grow in popularity, and where folks really started to distrust their government (Reagan was elected in 1980). This deseg plan was liberalism at its worse. When I think of the desegregation of the New Castle County schools, it reminds me of a Ronald Reagan quip: "Hi, I'm from the government, and I'm here to help".
Wed, Jan 16, 2013 6:59am
Richard Korn would make a great cell mate for Earl Bradley.
Wed, Jan 16, 2013 7:23am
Ever since I can remember, when liberals can no longer make excuses for one of their own, they always use the cop-out "Republicans do it too." Well, when it comes to kiddie porn, looks like Democrats do it too! Now ain't that a hoot?
By the way, does anybody know what Bradley's and Sandusky's political affiliations are?
Wed, Jan 16, 2013 8:09am
Judge Schwartz's forced busing plan illustrates why quotas don't work, neither in schools nor the workplace. Why are people so focused on having 4.5 whites, 5.3 blacks, 6.0 Latinos, and 2.2 LGBT in every group? Even today, the discussion about Obama's cabinet isn't about the quality of the leadership, but the color of their skin.
As MLK's birthday approaches, let's try to challenge ourselves to truly have a colorblind society.
Mike from Delaware
Wed, Jan 16, 2013 10:15am
Well said Teatime.
Wed, Jan 16, 2013 12:30pm
Judge Schwartz is high on my list of least favorite humans of all time. I trust he is now receiving his just reward. I find it hard to believe that any human could be such a disgusting racist. Ruling that a Black child cannot properly learn unless that child is surrounded by a particular percentage of White children is racism at its worse.
This was only one decision that had a notable impact on Delaware. He also ordered prisoners to be freed. Another ruling had an impact on the state election ballot by ordering that any group of people who wanted to call themselves a political party must be given access to the Delaware ballot.
But none of these rulings came without ample advanced warning. The General Assembly was told to take action to reform the school population. In true Delaware style, no action was taken by the politicians, so he acted. He advised our elected officials that we needed a plan to reduce the prison population. Again, we did not take action. So again, he acted. Finally, several minor political parties sued for access to our state’s ballot. Politicians again failed to act, so again he acted for them. As the state chair of one of the minor parties with ballot access, I was asked to participate in the drafting of a bill to resolve the problem. There have been a few revisions over the years, but the basic law remains.
My strong dislike of the judge remains. But I have to be a little respectful. I have always heard he was a Republican!
Wed, Jan 16, 2013 2:54pm
Breaking news: Obama unveils gun control package, but media reports say assault weapons ban may have difficulty getting through Congress.
Why on earth would anybody want an assault weapon?
Wed, Jan 16, 2013 4:54pm
Sounds like Schwartz here (on this thread by all its regulars) is getting more bad press than the child pornographer. I actually learned more here about Schwartz's dealings than I've heard all the previous days of my life.
The current school system's problems are being blamed on one judge. To be fair, I have used that same attack in my past. However, when putting myself in the same position as Judge Schwartz, I doubt that I would have done what needed to be done, against the backlash that was sure to occur.
We can never know if inner city blacks now have a better education than they "would have had" in an all-black, income-malnourished, totally-urban district. We just don't know how the other side of the coin would have ever panned out...
We are basing our contempt because the decision made turned out to be not-perfect in every regard.
We bleed Schwartz's decision for all the little things is did wrong.
Bottom line, it took great courage. When mankind gets faced with insurmountable odds, when all before us is impossible, it is only on great courage we can fall back on. With that courage comes the first step, ... and then another, and then another... and somewhere down the line, we realize a journey has been started.
Based off the evidence of Schwartz's courageous experiment, we now have data to use with which we can possibly undo Schwartz's districting and actually achieve better results. For example, we could return Wilmington's District to Wilmington, and have it totally state/corporate/federally-funded out of state revenues, skipping the original problem that blacks in most urban dwellings could barely pay for their own living expenses based off the low wages then being paid to them, much less support all the investment required to bring an antiquated school infrastructure into the 21st Century....
Schwartz will be admired for courage. Very much liken to General Patton, I'll add. An amazing person, vilified for some actions, shunted to the sidelines, but, when looked at closely, against what odds they had to cross, the accomplishments they achieved, were indeed truly remarkable....
We human beings have a dark side to our nature. We see what is wrong and attack it. Often we fail to consider all alternatives....
It is as if we are some impotent middle manager of some unknown firm, looking down at a satellite image of North-Central Nepal comparing a ruler to the map's scale, and castigating a lowly employee for spending a month to go back and forth the distance of 5 miles.....
It takes someone with the capability to turn that image sideways, show the vertical scale involved, the challenges met, and the impossibility of the task, ... before the true value of the accomplishment can be appreciated....
I think that is the case with Schwartz.
Mike from Delaware
Wed, Jan 16, 2013 5:18pm
Kavips: I must disagree. Judge Schwartz made decisions that badly affected all of us in NCC, yet he chose to pull his child out of the mess he made. THAT's not courage. IF he realized how bad it was, why not reverse it or do something different? But that would have required him to admit he made a mistake. One thing I've learned is people in power, be they politicians or corporate executives, NEVER admit they made a mistake unless by doing so keeps them from serving time in the barbed-wire hotel. The one man who had the power to fix the mess chose to do protect his kid and too bad for all of us. He's no hero.
Wed, Jan 16, 2013 6:38pm
It occurred to me today as I was just going about my normal routine how unfortunate it is that Richard Korn didn't beat Tom Wagner for the state auditor job in 2010. Had he been elected, he could have single-handedly brought down the Delaware Democratic party the same way Christine O'Donnell brought down the Republicans.
Wed, Jan 16, 2013 9:59pm
Teatime: Don't forget about the 2.5 children per family too. If they're boys, they could become "two and a half men"!
Thu, Jan 17, 2013 2:10am
Lol. Mike. You made me realize that you tend to work on principle when it is no longer practical, and I work off the practical even when it goes beyond principle... lol.. That cracked me up, so I thought: why not share it and spread the joy?
What caused me to think that, was... gee, I would have done the same thing! If my child could get a better education outside the system, and I didn't pull that child, I might satisfy a few moral pundits, but I would have not done my proper duty as a father.
Btw, in your opinion how could progress have continued to occur if he hadn't enacted the school plan that he did? What options were available which you would have proposed instead of his? Just curious especially since you seem familiar with tiny details....
Mike from Delaware
Thu, Jan 17, 2013 10:33am
I agree Kavips, I too would have tried to get my kid a better education, but since I was the judge who forced this miserable program on the rest of the state, I would then do the judicial thing, and would have reversed the decision or modified it to make it work for the kids and their families, not punish them. THAT's the difference. He was selfish, and as I recall, came across in a rather arrogant manner, but unfortunately he had the authority and chose NOT to use it for the public good, in my opinion.
Thu, Jan 17, 2013 9:35pm
But what could he have done. If he'd reversed the decision 5,10,15 years later... Then what?
There were hundreds of thousands of parents in New Castle County. Why over the past 30 years was never another alternative offered? Even after he'd retired and his successors who could have easily flipped the decision, looked at it and didn't?
The point is, what could have been done differently?
Allow me to use this metaphor. If you walk out your front door, and an airplane part hits you on the head, what could you have done differently. I'm sure every man's peanut gallery home would quip up..."well...it wouldn't have happened if you hadn't walked outside.... " :)
Mike from Delaware
Fri, Jan 18, 2013 8:27am
Kavips: There were groups here, the largest had Jim Venama (sp) leading it, who tried over and over again to get the deseg order overturned. Judge Schwartz would NOT allow it. This is good for the people, but my family is exempt.
What the judge did is what makes conservatives hate the court system. Activist judges, making laws (not their job) and then to add insult to injury, his family doesn't have to comply as the rest of us (only because he has enough money [that we paid him in taxes] to move his daughter out of the "crappy" system HE set up) ???
Trust me Kavips, if Judge Schwartz had overturned his original order and reinstated the Wilmington School District with some sort of oversight to insure that city district was doing what it should have been doing for the city kids to start with, they'd have moved Caesar Rodney's statue out of Rodney Square and put his statue there and we'd now be calling that piece of land "Schwartz Square". He could have been a great hero to the people of New Castle County which includes the city of Wilmington, but instead his attitude (like so many liberals) was "We know what's best for you." He was dead wrong.
Again it was this kind of crap the liberals were forcing on folks back then that really helped get conservatives active in politics and helped to create the Reagan victory in 1980.
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