There might be a financial savings in having our governors actually living in the Dover residence provided for them and conducting nearly all their business from the Capital City.


    Despite the major challenges facing him, Gov. Jack Markell started off his tenure in office with a confident and optimistic attitude, while still acknowledging the state’s tremendous economic difficulties. Good for him. He knows he will have to make decisions that will not be popular. He will need all of the understanding we can give him.

    And he did declare his intentions at ceremonies in Dover, following a brief post-midnight taking of the official oath of office as Jan. 20 began. That was at the University of Delaware in Newark.

    From all the news coverage about how crowded the nation’s capital was for President Barack Obama’s swearing-in it is understandable that the new governor, who naturally wanted to be on hand for the D.C. event, chose to make special arrangements to comply with state law and yet go to Washington with full credentials as governor. From my comment in last week’s column it is obvious that I did not understand what was happening.

    What tends to make me sensitive to official state events happening north of the canal, however, is the fact that many previous governors have chosen to spend much of their time at the state’s offices in Wilmington. Yes, even though Delaware is only 100 miles from north to south and 35 miles wide “at low tide,” as the saying goes, we have a set of offices for the governor in Wilmington plus the official one in Dover.

    Is the state’s population heavily weighted to the north, and above the C&D Canal at that? Yes, it is, but there just might be a financial savings in having our governors actually living in the Dover residence provided for them and conducting nearly all their business from the Capital City.

    Ruth Ann Minner has just finished eight years of living in the Governor’s House, Woodburn, on King’s Highway instead of at her home in Milford but Tom Carper didn’t live there during his two terms, Mike Castle didn’t for his two terms, and Pete DuPont didn’t for his (although he and Elise did throw great parties there). For 24 years it was sometimes a place to stay.

    The last governor besides Minner to be a full-time Dover resident was Gov. Sherman Tribbitt, who served one term, 1973 to 1977. His wife Jeanne enjoyed the house immensely and decorated it wonderfully well.

    Perhaps the new governor has announced his intentions about the official residence but if so I have missed it. Despite the awkwardness of having two homes in the state, it would be very welcome if the Markells were regularly seen on the streets of Dover.

    *****

    The governor’s inaugural address in Dover was well done and well received but the remarks of the new lieutenant governor, Matt Denn, also were thoughtful as well as eloquent. Consider this paragraph, which followed an acknowledgement of the hard choices ahead:

    “We will choose security tomorrow over comfort today because that is prudent. We will choose to take special care of those who cannot care for themselves, because that is right. And we will be vigilant in protecting the state’s children, who have no paid lobbyists, make no campaign donations, but have a pre-eminent claim on our conscience.”

    *****

    And finally, while recognizing that all of these comments are in a favorable category, and that this should not and does not rule out possible critical comment of some action taken later,
Delaware citizens could take pride in the way that Vice President Joe Biden handled his first full television interview in his new role as the person “a heartbeat away” from assuming the presidency.

    It came Sunday morning from the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington and was a flawless performance for a national audience, clearly the mark of a man with long experience in handling national and international issues.

*****

    Hoping that this might be the year a Delaware contestant won the Miss America contest, I forced myself to watch the event Saturday night. It was a struggle, of course.

    From my point of view, the swimsuit competition could have been won by nearly any of the contestants, and it was that part of the elimination sequence that apparently dropped Delaware’s entry, Galen Giaccone of Wyoming, from the group of 15 finalists. She had already won the talent competition earlier with her outstanding piano playing.

    This may come as a surprise, but I would have picked her as Miss America.

    *****

    My news last week that I had seen a very large black cat near the St. Jones River turned out to be not as unusual a sighting as I thought it was. Perhaps seeing the cat from a distance helped deceive me about its size. When I later saw it much closer it was definitely an above-average big cat, no mistake, but certainly not one that had escaped from a zoo or a circus.

    It belongs to a neighbor who lives on the same street as we do.

*****

    In light of some of today’s national news, you might have heard about the convicts who gathered together in the exercise yard of a national prison.

    One of them suddenly mentioned, “You know, this is the first time that our entire board of directors has been together at the same time!”