Democrats, Santa Claus and New Castle County Council

December 9, 2011 By

Results from a new poll suggest yet another disturbing partisan divide in this country of ours: apparently, Santa Claus is less popular among Democrats than Republicans.

 

According to the survey by Public Policy Polling, Jolly ole’ Saint Nick enjoys a reasonably healthy 75% favorable rating among trickle-down GOPers while he only rates a paltry 61% among members of the party that brought us the New Deal and Great Society.[1]  (Among all Americans, Santa has a pretty disappointing 67% positive rating with 13% negative.[2])

 

There could be a lot of ways to interpret this data; is it possible that redistributionist liberals feel competition from the North Pole?  Or perhaps dastardly one-percenter conservatives view the Big Guy and his elves as a laudable example of an effective, private sector social program?

 

Whatever the rationale, here in Delaware it would appear that Santa remains quite popular among the political class, or at least New Castle County Council.  Indeed, our friends in both parties on Council clearly consider Santa Claus as a worthy model for their public service, as demonstrated by their recent vote to appropriate $100,000 dollars from the County Contingency Fund for their personal use in playing Kris Kringle.

 

The resolution, opposed only by the unlikely dynamic duo of Republican Council President Tom Kovach and Democrat George Smiley[3], authorizes the transfer of funds “in order to make $7,500 available to the President and each of twelve council members to provide grants to worthy non-profit entities in New Castle County pursuant to rules adopted by County Council  (emphasis mine).”

 

Now, given that the county a.) is seriously cash-strapped and b.) has an unfortunate track record of getting tangled up in conflict-ridden non-profit activity (exhibit A: the Police Athletic League (PAL), a private non-profit that has essentially become the County’s financial ward), this is a curious and brazen grab for taxpayer funds that were designated for use only in cases of serious, unplanned-for financial crises.

 

It also raises questions about how exactly these funds will be distributed, what, precisely, a “worthy non-profit” entity is and how the Council’s “rules” are adopted and overseen.

 

Once upon a time, during the salad years of real estate transfer taxes aplenty, individual council members were allotted $15,000 to distribute to non-profits.  That amount was cut then eliminated entirely as county revenues fell through the floor a few years back.  To his credit, earlier this year County Executive Paul Clark killed the remaining funds in a similar account under his control.

 

As I understand it, Council’s rules require the entire body’s approval of the individual member’s funding choices (horse-trading anyone?) as well as the oversight of the dispensation of funds by the County Financial Advisor (a position that apparently no longer exists and is now the responsibility of council staff).

 

I think we can all appreciate Councilman Jea Street’s intentions for the proposal he authored — a desire to help the needy at a time when there is a lot of helping in need.  But is this a serious way for a government body to be allocating funds or is it really just a bush league Tweed-like play for politicians to play Santa in their districts? (Actually, funds are not even restricted to their districts.)

 

In this holiday season, it is good to see that the New Castle County Government continues to be the gift that keeps giving.

 



[1] The poll was actually designed to see if anyone was more popular than Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who boasts an 89% approval rating in Wisconsin.  Santa came up short vs. the QB, but the real Mr. Christmas, Jesus Christ, as well as Abraham Lincoln would both take Rodgers down in a head-head matchup.  So far as I’m aware, they did not poll Tim Tebow’s numbers in Denver, although they are probably higher than his passing percentage.

[2] Sixty-seven percent?! This is depressing!  Did that many people get coal last year?  Is this the rise of a new “Scrooge Party?”  Or perhaps Ken Grant’s tireless bah-humbugging is paying dividends?

[3] Which means, for those keeping the Santa Score, a majority of both Democrats AND Republicans (for heaven’s sake!) supported this shameless grab for cash.

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    Wilmington resident Michael Fleming is a marketing and communications executive.

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