Since the announcement of my imminent replacement as New Castle County Planning Board Chairman, I've gotten many telephone calls and e-mails thanking me - - and congratulating me - - for my 13.5 years of service. It's been a privilege to serve. I've enjoyed most of it immensely and some of it I've enjoyed less. There's a need to recognize some realities, and a need for an understanding and compassionate shoulder for my successor to lean on, that I have already offered to him (and he has welcomed the offer). I'm flattered that so many think he has a tough act to follow. Let's give him the chance. I expect that he'll give HIS successor an even tougher act to follow.
I've responded to most of the thank you messages with short versions of what I've said to my children. Following is the longer version.
When I was appointed Chairman of the Planning Board in early 1998 by Tom Gordon (then the County Executive), I fully expected that a signed but undated resignation letter would be a condition of the appointment. I was surprised that it was neither required nor even mentioned. I expected to serve for the remainder of Tom's first term and was surprised again after his 2000 re-election when I wasn't replaced.
When Chris Coons was elected in November 2004 to succeed Tom, I fully expected that undated resignation letters would be requested from all who served on an "at the pleasure of . . ." basis, to be dated when accepted and filed if not accepted. When Chris was elected to the US Senate in 2010 and Paul Clark moved from President of County Council to County Executive, I was again surprised that undated resignation letters were not requested from all who served on an "at the pleasure of . . ." basis.
When Paul told me that my service would end when my successor is confirmed by County Council - - probably in September - - I told him that I had been thinking about being replaced for a decade, and had long earlier decided that I would respond to advice that replacement would be imminent with a sincere and heart-felt "THANK YOU."
That's what I said to Paul, and I meant it. The PB typically has a hearing the first Tuesday evening of every month and a business meeting the third Tuesday morning of every month. I have missed exactly zero meetings of the PB in my 13.5 year tenure. I attended one of those, a 9 am Tuesday morning meeting, after leaving a hospital bed at 8 am the same morning. Each hearing and each business meeting required the Chairman to be intensely familiar with each Application or Appeal before us, because the notion that somebody else would do the homework couldn't be relied upon.
By law, each PB report on the disposition of each matter considered at the business meeting is due six days later. What that meant to me was that unless I planned to miss a hearing or business meeting, the opportunity for post-retirement travel was substantially constrained. After nearly 11 years of retirement, I still have quite a bit of remaining frequent flyer free air travel mileage credit left. We want to use it up before we become too feeble to enjoy it.
So it really is a relief to FINALLY retire. From here on, this Don Quixote will PICK which windmills to joust with rather than being obligated to deal with each one that appears, whether it's grain or chaff (to mix metaphors).