July 13, 2017 at 11:06 am EST | by Frank Cooper
In defense of Rehoboth Mayor Sam Cooper
Fourth, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, gay news, Washington Blade, Sam Cooper

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

I read with interest the column written by Peter Rosenstein about the upcoming mayoral election in Rehoboth Beach (“Paul Kuhns for mayor of Rehoboth Beach,” July 3). The column is so full of inaccuracies, falsehoods and dangerous innuendo, it is necessary to respond with facts.

The first, and most frequent, inaccuracy is that the incumbent mayor made several decisions regarding the need for, and construction of, the new City Hall. This could not be further from the truth. A City Hall Task Force was formed to oversee its design and construction. The Task Force includes every city commissioner, including the candidate Rosenstein endorses, Paul Kuhns. This group met over five years and held dozens of meetings, all open to the public. The minutes and presentations from these meetings are published on the city’s website. The budget for the City Hall, including an increase due to higher than expected construction bids, was approved unanimously by the mayor and commissioners, again including Paul Kuhns. And funding for the City Hall was approved by a public vote of the citizens.

Rosenstein alleges that the incumbent mayor “does not understand nor want to acknowledge how the business community in the city drives tourism.” Let’s look at the facts. Some of the gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses patronized by tourists like Rosenstein and the readers of the Blade, are celebrating many decades in business, including the Blue Moon. Others are expanding, by buying existing businesses or opening new establishments. This only happens in a city in which businessmen and women find a vibrant, active business community, and an environment where the city leadership allows them to be profitable and flourish.

The column alleges that Mayor Cooper does not have adequate relationships with local, county and state peers. This is also untrue. The good relationships Mayor Cooper and the city have with federal, state and county elected officials and agencies have resulted in well over $35 million coming to the city for important projects like the Rehoboth Avenue Streetscape and boardwalk improvements, dollars the taxpayers of the city are not asked to pay through local taxes.

Throughout the column, accusations are made of fiscal mismanagement or “incompetent” decisions. On this point, Rosenstein does not even agree with the facts as characterized by the candidate he supports. At a public meeting in March of this year, Kuhns stated, “The fiscal management that’s been going on over the past 25-30 years has been spectacular.”

Finally, and perhaps most dangerously, Rosenstein implies that the incumbent mayor is homophobic. There is absolutely no evidence offered to support this, because the inference of homophobia is simply not true. Rosenstein simply states, without specificity, that the mayor “has made homophobic remarks” over the years. I suggest he talk to the many LGBT business people who have prospered in Rehoboth Beach, the LGBT officials who have served with Mayor Cooper on commissions and boards, LGBT members of the city staff, and many ordinary LGBT citizens with whom Mayor Cooper and his wife have business and personal relationships. He will find that there is simply no evidence of homophobic beliefs or behavior.

Rosenstein states that people like himself who have been coming to Rehoboth Beach for decades “love that it is still in some ways the town we first fell in love with.” No one is more responsible for that than Mayor Cooper. I do not doubt that he loves Rehoboth Beach. However, he is seriously misinformed. Perhaps this is because he does not live in Rehoboth Beach, does not pay taxes in Rehoboth Beach, and has almost never attended a meeting of the City Commission or any other city agency. I suggest that he do more research. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said, “’Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Let’s not follow the national political trend of repeating falsehoods about political opponents and hoping they stick. Let’s deal with the truth.

Frank Cooper is a resident of Rehoboth Beach, Del. He is not related to Mayor Sam Cooper.

  • Cole Carter

    Wow…puts a different light on Mr. Rosenstein.

  • Richard Perry

    Frank Cooper’s defense of Mayor Sam Cooper came as no surprise to me. As a former candidate for the board of commissioners in the past two years and as someone who closely follows the issues and politics of Rehoboth Beach, I, like many others, know Frank Cooper to be an apologist for, and a proponent of, Mayor Sam Cooper and whatever policies the Mayor promotes. What is also no surprise to me is that Frank Cooper does not understand that his “half-truths” are no less “fake news” that he claims is now common place in the media. As to Mr. Rosenstein’s qualifications to comment on the issues affecting the citizens of Rehoboth Beach, one should know that Mr. Rosenstein spends as much time here, if not more time, than a lot of people who actually are property owners and even registered voters in Rehoboth Beach.

    Frank Cooper should do some fact checking. Contrary to his assertions that Mr. Rosenstein’s article is full of inaccuracies, falsehoods and dangerous innuendo, Mr. Cooper’s defense of Mayor Cooper suffers from exactly those deficiencies. For starters, Frank Cooper’s assertion that Paul Kuhns, the person running against Mayor Cooper, served on the City Hall Task Force is absolutely false. Mr. Kuhns has never served on the City Hall Task Force. While it is true that the new City Hall was the subject of numerous public hearings and discussion, Mayor Cooper has made numerous decisions on his own without the consent of the commissioners, including most recently approving and to paying for cost overruns amounting to millions of dollars – putting the cost of the City Hall project well over the $18 million approved by referendum of the property owners of Rehoboth Beach. Only when called out by certain commissioners has Mayor Cooper begun to involve our elected board of commissioners in these decisions. Moreover, the $18 million bond referendum, composed and orchestrated by Mayor Cooper, was clearly based on estimates of cost and contingencies that have proven to be erroneous and wholly inadequate. Today, many “budgeted” costs have been backed out to make it “appear” as though the project is closer to being on budget than it actually is. In fact, even using our limited reserves in the City’s treasury, the City doesn’t even have enough funding to pay for landscaping.

    As for Frank Cooper’s claims that businesses, including gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses, thrive because “city leadership allows them to be profitable and flourish” could not be farther from the truth. If you talk to business owners and proprietors, you (and Mr. Cooper) would know that they survive in spite of the City leaderships’ attitude and lack of interest in helping the business community prosper and survive. While it is not unusual in a resort community for some businesses to come and go, our business community struggles with the lack of indifference and lack of support shown by the City’s leadership and, in particular, that of Mayor Cooper.

    I am shocked by Frank Cooper’s assertion that “homophobia” does not exist. To be sure, we have come a long way in overcoming the “homophobia” that existed for years – but it was not without constant struggle and the hard work and dedication of many who suffered persecution along the way. I found it ironic as I drove down Baltimore Avenue this past Saturday afternoon to see Frank Cooper sitting on the patio of the Aqua Grill, a gay-owned and gay-friendly establishment. Perhaps Frank Cooper has forgotten, conveniently, that the owner of that establishment, as well as two of the owners of the Blue Moon, were once hauled off in handcuffs — one of only many ways in which these establishments and their owners were harassed by Mayor Cooper’s administration policies. These kinds of actions against these businesses and their owners could not have occurred in a community unless they were sanctioned by those in control of its government. And, if Frank Cooper had a real understanding of how the business community feels, he would also know that they suffer in silence for fear of retribution and retaliation. Anyone who is honest will tell you that is a fact. Thankfully, it appears that the business community has had enough and will now stand up and make their voices heard.

    As for Frank Cooper’s allegation that Mr. Rosenstein’s claims that Mayor Cooper does not have adequate relationships with local, county and state peers, perhaps he should talk with officials of our county, state and federal governments — he will learn something different. While I am not sure what line items Frank Cooper has included in his $35 million of county, state and federal assistance – it is simply untrue that taxpayers are not asked to repay through local taxes some of the amounts which the City receives.

    Frank Cooper does not spend much time attempting to refute Mr. Rosenstein’s accusations of fiscal mismanagement or “incompetent” decision-making. Perhaps the reason for his inability to refute these claims is obvious. The financial mess our City faces, witness the mismanagement of the new City Hall complex, is ample evidence that our City’s finances suffer from lack of financial planning, sound decision-making and project management, and a lack of pure common sense. It is no wonder that Frank Cooper cannot find his own words to claim otherwise. Make no mistake, this is a crisis of financial mismanagement that has persisted for far too long and must be brought to an end. It is time for the taxpayers of Rehoboth Beach to recognize that they will soon be asked to pay the piper. The buck stops at Mayor Cooper.

    I suggest to Frank Cooper that he take his own advice and “deal with the truth” – the whole truth!

    Richard Perry, full-time Rehoboth Beach resident

  • Richard Perry

    Frank Cooper’s defense of Mayor Sam Cooper came as no surprise to me. As a former candidate for the board of commissioners in the past two years and as someone who closely follows the issues and politics of Rehoboth Beach, I, like many others, know Frank Cooper to be an apologist for, and a proponent of, Mayor Sam Cooper and whatever policies the Mayor promotes. What is also no surprise to me is that Frank Cooper does not understand that his “half-truths” are no less “fake news” that he claims is now common place in the media. As to Mr. Rosenstein’s qualifications to comment on the issues affecting the citizens of Rehoboth Beach, one should know that Mr. Rosenstein spends as much time here, if not more time, than a lot of people who actually are property owners and even registered voters in Rehoboth Beach.

    Frank Cooper should do some fact checking. Contrary to his assertions that Mr. Rosenstein’s article is full of inaccuracies, falsehoods and dangerous innuendo, Mr. Cooper’s defense of Mayor Cooper suffers from exactly those deficiencies. For starters, Frank Cooper’s assertion that Paul Kuhns, the person running against Mayor Cooper, served on the City Hall Task Force is absolutely false. Mr. Kuhns has never served on the City Hall Task Force. While it is true that the new City Hall was the subject of numerous public hearings and discussion, Mayor Cooper has made numerous decisions on his own without the consent of the commissioners, including most recently approving and to paying for cost overruns amounting to millions of dollars – putting the cost of the City Hall project well over the $18 million approved by referendum of the property owners of Rehoboth Beach. Only when called out by certain commissioners has Mayor Cooper begun to involve our elected board of commissioners in these decisions. Moreover, the $18 million bond referendum, composed and orchestrated by Mayor Cooper, was clearly based on estimates of cost and contingencies that have proven to be erroneous and wholly inadequate. Today, many “budgeted” costs have been backed out to make it “appear” as though the project is closer to being on budget than it actually is. In fact, even using our limited reserves in the City’s treasury, the City doesn’t even have enough funding to pay for landscaping.

    As for Frank Cooper’s claims that businesses, including gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses, thrive because “city leadership allows them to be profitable and flourish” could not be farther from the truth. If you talk to business owners and proprietors, you (and Mr. Cooper) would know that they survive in spite of the City leaderships’ attitude and lack of interest in helping the business community prosper and survive. While it is not unusual in a resort community for some businesses to come and go, our business community struggles with the lack of indifference and lack of support shown by the City’s leadership and, in particular, that of Mayor Cooper.

    I am shocked by Frank Cooper’s assertion that “homophobia” does not exist. To be sure, we have come a long way in overcoming the “homophobia” that existed for years – but it was not without constant struggle and the hard work and dedication of many who suffered persecution along the way. I found it ironic as I drove down Baltimore Avenue this past Saturday afternoon to see Frank Cooper sitting on the patio of the Aqua Grill, a gay-owned and gay-friendly establishment. Perhaps Frank Cooper has forgotten, conveniently, that the owner of that establishment, as well as two of the owners of the Blue Moon, were once hauled off in handcuffs — one of only many ways in which these establishments and their owners were harassed by Mayor Cooper’s administration policies. These kinds of actions against these businesses and their owners could not have occurred in a community unless they were sanctioned by those in control of its government. And, if Frank Cooper had a real understanding of how the business community feels, he would also know that they suffer in silence for fear of retribution and retaliation. Anyone who is honest will tell you that is a fact. Thankfully, it appears that the business community has had enough and will now stand up and make their voices heard.

    As for Frank Cooper’s allegation that Mr. Rosenstein’s claims that Mayor Cooper does not have adequate relationships with local, county and state peers, perhaps he should talk with officials of our county, state and federal governments — he will learn something different. While I am not sure what line items Frank Cooper has included in his $35 million of county, state and federal assistance – it is simply untrue that taxpayers are not asked to repay through local taxes some of the amounts which the City receives.

    Frank Cooper does not spend much time attempting to refute Mr. Rosenstein’s accusations of fiscal mismanagement or “incompetent” decision-making. Perhaps the reason for his inability to refute these claims is obvious. The financial mess our City faces, witness the mismanagement of the new City Hall complex, is ample evidence that our City’s finances suffer from lack of financial planning, sound decision-making and project management, and a lack of pure common sense. It is no wonder that Frank Cooper cannot find his own words to claim otherwise. Make no mistake, this is a crisis of financial mismanagement that has persisted for far too long and must be brought to an end. It is time for the taxpayers of Rehoboth Beach to recognize that they will soon be asked to pay the piper. The buck stops at Mayor Cooper.

    I suggest to Frank Cooper that he take his own advice and “deal with the truth” – the whole truth!

  • Comment.

  • MyAss

    Hello Frank Cooper.
    I have been going to RB for 25 years every other week, and own property nearby, so I do have a say in the matter.
    I fully understand your local patriotism and your personal sympathy for the object of your defense.
    But let me tell you the obvious (since you have chosen to pretend it is not there).
    The last 10 years have been marked by:
    – unstoppable closures of gay businesses and their leaving Rehoboth;
    – continuous disappearance of gay venues;
    – regular undercover arrests of gay cruisers (although people like you are saintlier than thou, of course – those who cruise are human sh*t, right?);
    -very visible ageing of the gay contingent – both visiting and local;
    – very obvious “heteroization” of the place.

    Bottom line: today’s RB is a very pale shadow of what it used to be. The mayor has done a good job. And you know what? His toadies – like you – are to be profusely thanked. Yippee!!!

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