Delaware aims to cut greenhouse gases by 30 percent

By Amy Cherry 12:37pm, March 2, 2015 - Updated 5:31pm, March 2, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
Delaware has set its agenda for the next several decades when it comes to combating climate change.

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It's a lofty goal, but Delaware is aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

"It's a fairly aggressive target but we think one that is very achievable," said Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary David Small at the American Birding Association's North American headquarters in Delaware City Monday.

The recommendation is one of several contained in a new report released by DNREC that includes 150 actions, both large and small, to deal with climate change.

Small pointed to transportation as the major cause of greenhouse gases in the state.

"As the EPA works with the auto manufacturers on better fuel standards and efficiencies and higher-performing engines, those benefits will translate not only to Delaware, but to other states around us," said Small.

Small added air quality has no boundaries, and part of Delaware's ranking is the result of air in surrounding states that moves from east to west.

Delaware is one of the lowest lying states in the nation, and if the state doesn't act, Small said we will see the consequences.

"The longer we wait to implement proactive actions, the more vulnerable we are not only to weather, but to the additional costs that will come," he said.

"It is absolutely critical, and I think it's that way because we know that climate change affects all of us not only by impacting our natural resources and our environment, but it reaches across all sectors," added Gov. Jack Markell.

Markell pointed to increases in temperature, changes in rainfall and rising sea levels as proof that climate change is real.

"It's happening now, and it's expected to continue and become more serious in the future," said Markell.

He pointed to storms like Sandy and the costs associated with repairing and building homes, dykes and dams from flooding using taxpayer money. He said increased temperatures can cause power outages while more rain can compromise septic systems and wastewater treatment plants.

"In this part of the state, we've had to spend millions and millions of dollars in addition to what we've had to spend downstate in some of the bay communities as well as, of course, along the beaches," Markell said.

The state is seeking feedback from local government, stakeholders, and the public on its report. A workshop on the framework will be held next month and public commenton the plan will be accepted until May 30.

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Contact Amy Cherry at acherry@wdel.com or follow her on Twitter at @acherry13.


Sen. Peterson calls for AG Denn to investigate reports of voter fraud in Red Clay School District

By DJ McAneny/Amy Cherry 3:28pm, March 2, 2015 - Updated 5:31pm, March 2, 2015
State Sen. Karen Peterson announced Monday she's called for Attorney General Matt Denn to investigated possible voter fraud in regards to a referendum vote that took place in New Castle County last Tuesday.

According to a statement released by Peterson, a vote that passed to raise the school tax rate over a three-year period may have passed fraudulently.

Peterson said she received a report that a group of parents had voted at one polling place and then made comments they were on their way to a second polling place to vote again.

"In an election where nearly 12,000 people voted and 880 votes decided the outcome, it would only take 441 duplicate votes to change the results of the election," Peterson said. "Before Red Clay raises property taxes, I want to be assured that the election was not affected by fraudulent voting."

Since there are no specified polling places for school district referendums, residents can vote at any school in the district, meaning there's no way for poll workers to know if someone has already voted elsewhere.

"Did this happen anyplace else," she asked. "Was it an isolated incident or was it some concerted effort to vote more than once?"

The New Castle County Department of Elections requires each voter to sign an affidavit and the department has 15 days from the referendum to identify duplicate votes prior to election result certification. The rreferendum in question was held Feb. 24.

In a written statement, the attorney general's office said that the county elections department will conduct an initial investigation based on voter affidavits it possesses. DOJ will do any necessary follow-up fact investigation and will make any charging decisions based on the investigation.


WDEL EXCLUSIVE: Wilmington City Council President, members behind on taxes

By Amy Cherry/Tom Lehman 10:59pm, March 1, 2015 - Updated 3:19pm, March 2, 2015
Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory (WDEL/file)
A WDEL investigation has found that Wilmington's City Council President owes thousands of dollars in overdue property taxes and utility bills to the cash-strapped city--and he's not the only one.

Council President Theo Gregory owes the city more than $3,000 in city property taxes for 2013 and 2014 on two rental properties on the 2200 block of North Market Street, according to city records.

WDEL has learned Gregory, who serves as Vice President of the city's finance committee, also owes more than $4,000 in water and sewer taxes on those properties.

"They fell behind, the money is not taken out of my mortgage; the money, I have to pay directly," he said. "I have agreements in place to pay."

WDEL has obtained a copy of Gregory's agreement with the city. The agreement, dated September 22, 2014, shows Gregory pays $287.56 each month to cover these costs, with a chunk of that coming directly out of his paycheck. Gregory claims his bills will be paid in full by June.

"Due to, I guess, internal snafus--in getting (the bills) paid--it fell behind," he said. "I think I've responsibly put the agreements in place, which means they're not in default at this time."

Wilmington Finance Director Sheila Brown-Winfrey said payments are processed between two to three business days after receipt. She said the city's payment website would reflect a payment one business day after a payment has been processed.

Outstanding balances would reflect payment; however, there's no way on the site to track a history of payments or payments as they're made.

WDEL also brought to Gregory's attention Friday that he owes more than $4,000 in New Castle County property and school taxes on both North Market Street properties. At that time, Gregory initially said he was delinquent.

"The county? I have a deal with them, but I haven't paid in a couple of months, I'm getting ready to call (Friday) and get that straight," he said. "I would be delinquent because I haven't honored the agreement I put in place with them because they don't take it directly out of my pay, and they won't set it up like that," he said.

Within an hour, Gregory called back to tell WDEL he's rectified the situation.

"They were corresponding with me through a P.O. Box that no longer exists, and now I have gotten that straight, but again, I have an agreement to pay in place, so technically, it's not considered delinquent because of the agreement to pay," he said.

Gregory said he pays $600 per month towards his overdue New Castle County taxes on both properties, but could not provide proof of the agreement for WDEL.

Gregory was asked why he didn't realize he wasn't receiving county tax bills before being confronted by WDEL.

"So I could've done that, certainly, I could've done that, and I believe one or two times I did do that, and then I got busy and didn't get back to it, but I've gotten back to it, but you make a good point, I'm not going to quibble with you on that."

When asked whether the public should hold Gregory in a position of higher accountability due to his position as city council president, he was flippant.

"I think that one-third of the people will hold you in a higher accountability, one-third of the people won't, and one-third of the people don't really care," he said.

Gregory didn't have an explanation on why he fell behind in the first place.

"Why? I don't know why I fell behind. I'm a busy man, I'm like a shoemaker's kid with no shoes," he said. "I can't explain that. (...) I'm not blaming it on anybody. I'm taking full responsibility that as things happen in line, some things get offline. You responsibly put them back online, and you move forward."

Last week, it was also discovered that Councilwoman Loretta Walsh (D-At Large) had also not paid her county property and school taxes, valued at $2,000 combined, including penalties, on her home along Woodlawn Avenue for the previous year.

When asked about the unpaid balance, Walsh said she had mistakenly believed the bills had already been paid. In a follow-up call, she said she called the county to pay her taxes.

Both bills had been paid as of Saturday night, according to the county's website.

"I'm embarrassed," she said.

In addition to the unpaid county taxes, Walsh was listed as of Thursday as having more than $370 dollars in unpaid utility bills dating back to last July. The most recent one was due Feb. 6.

She said normally, her utility bills are paid twice a year along with any accrued penalties.

"I pay twice a year, and I always pay a late fee," she said.

Although she said the property and school tax delinquency was unintentional, the councilwoman noted that both fees should have been paid on time.

"If others have to follow the rules, I have to follow to them too," she said.

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Contact Amy Cherry at acherry@wdel.com or follow her on Twitter at @acherry13.

Contact Tom Lehman at tlehman@wdel.com or follow him on Twitter at @teelehman.





Wilmington revises weekly trash pickup schedule after an icy Monday

By Ruth Bryna 6:08pm, March 2, 2015
Monday's inclement weather prevented sanitation crews for the City of Wilmington to collect recycling east of I-95, City officials said.

Wilmington has adjusted its schedule as result, and will follow an updated collection schedule for the remainder of the week, listed below.

Tuesday March 3: east of I-95 recycling collection
Wednesday March 4: west of I-95 recycling collection
Thursday March 5: east of I-95 trash collection
Friday March 6: west of I-95 trash collection

Residents can follow @wilmingtondegov on Twitter for updates.




Trio charged in Newark RadioShack strong-arm robbery

By DJ McAneny 4:36pm, March 2, 2015
Vaquan Williams, left, and Shamayah Thomas, right/Courtesy Newark Police
Newark Police announced Monday the arrest of three suspects in connection to a strong-arm robbery that occurred at an area electronics store back on February 16, 2015.

According to authorities, suspects identified as Shamayah Thomas, 20, and Vaquan Williams, 24, and a 16-year-old juvenile, all of the same Carnaby Hall address, entered the RadioShack at 211 College Square at approximately 8:24 p.m. on the date in question.

They allegedly began acting suspiciously and asked to see an iPad Air 2. A clerk held out an iPad Air when one of the suspects snatched it out of the man's hands then fled out the store and jumped into a waiting silver Honda minivan where a driver was waiting for them, police said.

Authorities said a search warrant was executed at their mutual address on February 27 and multiple items linking the suspects to the crime were recovered. The suspects were taken into custody without incident.

Thomas and Williams were committed to Howard Young Correctional Institution in lieu of $18,000 and $13,000 bond, respectively. The juvenile was sent to New Castle County Detention Center in lieu of $15,500 bond.



Harker stepping down as University of Delaware President

By WDEL staff 1:57pm, March 2, 2015 - Updated 6:01pm, March 2, 2015
Harker/WDEL file
University of Delaware President Patrick T. Harker announced Monday morning that he will be stepping down from his position effective July 1.

In a message delivered to the UD community, Harker, 56, said he'd be stepping down from the position with "mixed emotions." Also an Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics professor, he'll become the 11th president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as president of this University," Harker said in his written statement. "Working with our motivated students, illustrious faculty and dedicated staff has been inspiring, invigorating and unforgettable."

Governor Jack Markell thanked Harker Monday afternoon for his "outstanding service in leading one of our state's most important institutions." He went on to wish him continued success in his next role.

"President Harker leaves UD in an outstanding position to continue as a leader in research and innovation and, most importantly, in preparing present and future classes of Blue Hens to realize their potential," Markell said in a statement. "From the growth of highly-skilled jobs and university activity on the STAR campus, to the instruction and cutting-edge scientific research at the new ISE Lab, to UD's recently-launched cybersecurity initiative, President Harker's tenure has been marked by progress in areas most important to building a stronger economy and workforce."

Harker, president of the university for the last eight years, said he's happy with all he has been able to accomplish at the school and will work with the Board of Trustees and university administration to "ensure a smooth transition in leadership."

As president of the Philadelphia Fed, Harker will "participate on the Federal Open Market Committee in the formulation of U.S. monetary policy and will oversee the 900 employees at the Philadelphia Fed," the bank said in an issued statement.

Harker has served as a nonbanking Class B director of the Philadelphia Fed for the past three years, and will succeed Charles I. Plosser, who retired Mar. 1, 2015.

"As a lifelong native of the Third District, I am honored and excited to be asked to serve as the president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia," Harker said in the statement from the Reserve. "I look forward to working with the Bank's dedicated staff to continue the Philadelphia Fed’s vital service to the District and the nation."



Delaware's most highly-concentrated unique job: Chemists

By DJ McAneny 2:54pm, March 2, 2015
A screenshot of the interactive map made available by Stateline
According to Stateline, a Pew Charitable Trust, if you're a Delaware resident and you have a job classified as "unique," it's highly probable you're a chemist.

Their research said, in Delaware, there are 12.7 times more chemists than would be expected based on the national average. There are 3,460 chemists in the state, Stateline said.

In the study, Washington, D.C., had the highest concentration of a unique job title with 120.5 times the national average of "political scientists." There are 3,370 in the state.

With 3.4 times the national average, Ohio was the state with the lowest concentration of one particular unique job, with 10,430 "tool and die makers."

To check out the prevalent unique job in each state, check out their handy interactive map made available below:




Dover Police search for suspect who held women, child at gunpoint in library parking lot

By DJ McAneny 11:26am, March 2, 2015
Matthew Gannon/Courtesy Dover Police
Dover Police announced Monday the search for a man they said robbed two female victims, one of whom with an 11-month-old child, at gunpoint on March 1, 2015.

According to authorities, 30-year-old Matthew Gannon was identified as the suspect who approached the victims as they prepared to exit their vehicle in the rear parking lot of Dover Library, at 35 East Loockerman Street.

He allegedly approached the women, stated, "This is a stick-up," and pushed the gun against one of the women's sides while she was still in the vehicle's driver's seat.

The woman removed her wallet from the vehicle's center console and turned it over, police said.

Gannon, along with an unknown black male, then fled toward East Reed Street, according to police.

The warrant charges Gannon with first-degree robbery, possession of a deadly weapon during commission of a felony, aggravated menacing, second-degree conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child.

Anyone with information on Gannon's whereabouts is urged to contact the Dover Police Department at 302.736.7111 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.


Man shot in Wilmington

By Andrew Sgroi 9:07am, March 2, 2015 - Updated 11:09am, March 2, 2015
Wilmington Police are looking for the gunman who shot a man driving a car late Sunday.

Police said the 49-year-old victim flagged down officers at 22nd and Spruce Streets just before midnight Sunday and told police he had been shot in his left shoulder.

According to police, the man was driving his car at an unknown location when he was approached by several teens. One of the assailants was armed and reportedly shot the driver.

The victim was taken to Christiana Hospital in stable condition, police said.

The investigation is ongoing.


Middletown holds Mayor, council elections

By Tom Lehman 12:32am, March 2, 2015 - Updated 11:11am, March 2, 2015
A race for mayor and two council seats are featured on the ballot in Monday's municipal election in Middletown.

Mayor Ken Branner, first elected in 1989, faces challenges by Sanjay Patel and 18-year-old University of Delaware student Shlok Desai. The race is for a two-year term.

Four newcomers, Alton Irvin, Marc Pipari, James Royston and Robert Stout, are competing to finish serving the remaining year left in the term of the late Councilwoman Robin Burgess, who died in December.

Two incumbent council members, Jason Faulkner and Andrew Chas, are also running for reelection. They will have to earn the two highest vote totals in a field of four that includes Kristin Linke and Howard Young Jr. in order to retain their seats.

Polls are open from noon until 8 p.m. and located at Town Hall Council Chamber, located at 19 Green Street in Middletown.

You can find more information about the election on the town's website.

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You can contact Tom Lehman at tlehman@wdel.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook..


Businessman sentenced for illegal oyster trafficking

By Associated Press 4:00pm, March 2, 2015
A Maryland businessman convicted of trafficking in illegally possessed oysters from Delaware Bay is now headed to prison.

Mark Bryan, of New Market, was sentenced in federal court in New Jersey.

Bryan received a 26-month sentence and must serve three years of supervised release once he's freed. He also was fined $62,500 and must pay New Jersey $140,000 for the restoration of oyster beds in Delaware Bay.

Bryan's Delaware-based company, Harbor House Seafood, was fined $250,000 and sentenced to five years' probation.

Bryan and his company were convicted in 2012 of multiple felony crimes related to dealings in illegal oysters from 2004---2007. Prosecutors said they conspired with two New Jersey oystermen to cover up the overharvest of oysters from the Delaware Bay, and created false health and safety records.



Cops: Man taped nude women in fitting rooms, shared online

By Associated Press 3:42pm, March 2, 2015
Radnor Police released this shot of Sean Moses in an online video where they say the 37-year-old Main Line man can be seen secretly recording video of himself having sex with an unsuspecting woman.
A Pennsylvania man faces 86 counts of invasion of privacy, and one count of child pornography, stemming from what detectives said was a years-long effort to videotape naked young women and post them on on-line porn websites.

Police said Sean Moses would get on his hands and knees outside fitting rooms, and videotape women getting changed at the King of Prussia Mall.

Police showed video of Moses lying on the floor reaching under the door to record women.

Radnor Township Police Superintendent William Colarulo said detectives found his videos posted on on-line porn sites, and tracked them back to Moses.

Police have worked to scrub his videos from the Internet, but Colarulo said he had such a following his fans would repost them.



DelDOT snow plow snags power lines, causing outages, road closures

By Frank Gerace 10:07pm, March 1, 2015 - Updated 5:40pm, March 2, 2015
Crews work to repair traffic lights and wiring after a DelDOT snow plow brought them down under icy conditions Sunday. (WDEL/Mike Phillips)
A DelDOT snow plow brought down some power lines, knocking out electrical service for some Delmarva Power customers and closing parts of two roads Sunday afternoon.

The state transportation agency said the plow's raised bed snagged some low-hanging wires along Route 100 southbound around 3:30 p.m. The wires made contact with a traffic light at the intersection of Routes 100 and 141, knocking out the light and bringing down several poles along Route 100, DelDOT said.

As a result of the accident, the southbound lanes of Route 141 from the Tyler McConnell Bridge to Route 100 are closed, and Route 100 is closed from Buck Road to Route 141. Both closures are expected to last through Monday morning's commute.

About 40 Delmarva Power customers lost electrical service as a result of the mishap.

The snow plow driver wasn't hurt.


Brrr! February brought record cold, snow to Northeast

By Associated Press 6:48pm, March 1, 2015 - Updated 5:40pm, March 2, 2015
February 2015 was one for the record books in the Northeast - the coldest month ever for four cities in New York and the snowiest ever for Boston.

The Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University says the New York cities of Buffalo, Syracuse, Binghamton and Ithaca shivered through their coldest months ever.

The average temperature was 10.9 degrees in Buffalo, beating the 1934 record of 11.4. The monthly average was 9.0 in Syracuse, 12.2 in Binghamton and 10.2 in Ithaca.

Boston's 64.8 inches of snow easily beat the city's old record of 41.6 inches.

The month also broke a record in New Castle County. A record low of 2 degrees was recorded at New Castle Airport on Feb. 20, breaking the record of 5 degrees set in 1978, according to the National Weather Service.

Record lows for the month were also set in Hartford, Connecticut, at 16.1; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at 20.9; and Portland, Maine at 13.8.

Providence, Rhode Island, had a February record 31.8 inches of snow.


Overnight lane closures I-495 starting Monday

By Jim Hilgen 6:39am, March 1, 2015 - Updated 11:15am, March 2, 2015
For the next few days, motorists will see some overnight lane closures on Interstate 495 in Wilmington.

The closures will be in effect 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, March 2, through Thursday, March 5.

The left and center lanes on I-495 northbound will be closed along with the left lane of southbound I-495 while the construction takes place. DelDOT crews will be working to remove temporary steel girders used to brace the bridge last summer.

Last June, an inspection showed four support columns were out of vertical alignment which led officials to close the bridge for several months.


Samsung, HTC unveil newer smartphones at tech show

By Associated Press 6:51pm, March 1, 2015 - Updated 6:08pm, March 2, 2015
The new Galaxy S6, right, and S6 Edge are displayed during a Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2015 event on the eve of this week’s Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, March 1, 2015, unveiling a new phone that ditches its signature pl
From the outside, the new HTC One smartphone looks and feels like last year's model. But there's a huge difference inside - the camera.

For years, HTC has kept its main camera to 4 megapixels so that it could make each pixel's sensor bigger to capture more light. That's great for low-light situations, but results in dull shots otherwise. The camera's low resolution is particularly noticeable when cropping photos.

The new HTC One phone announced Sunday will have a 20-megapixel rear camera - on par with other leading Android phones.

HTC also is unveiling a fitness tracker, the Grip.

HTC's announcement at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain comes hours before Samsung is expected to unveil a new flagship smartphone.

Samsung ditches plastic design, adds mobile pay in new phone

Samsung is departing from its signature plastic design and producing its next flagship phone with a metal frame and a glass back. The new Galaxy S6 phone looks stylish, not cheap.

Samsung also unveiled a premium model, the S6 Edge, with side displays. Both models will have technology for mobile payments, though Samsung isn't unveiling a service to rival the iPhone's Apple Pay until this summer.

Previous Samsung phones had removable plastic backs, which made it possible to replace the battery with a spare. Samsung now joins Apple, HTC and others in favoring better design over that replacement capability.



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