In Delaware, over 80% of the roadways in the state fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation. However, subdivision streets do not fall under the purview of this department. The work on these is undertaken using funds from a special program under which cash allocations are made to 62 members of the General Assembly. Using these funds, the members carry out required improvements and repairs in these streets. Now, this system is being questioned by a legislator who has taken up this issue with the DelDOT Secretary.
Legislator questions the delegation of duties
Rep. Sean Matthews has written a letter to Jennifer Cohan, DelDOT Secretary, and Nicole Majeski, Deputy Secretary, raising his points. According to Matthews, the practice of giving the General Assembly members the responsibility of carrying out maintenance works on subdivision roads is improper. He explains that in his view, this is an improper delegation of duties that the DelDOT is expected to carry out. According to the legislator, this practice is a clear violation because it does not conform to the mandate of ‘absolute care, management, and control’ invested in it and instead hands these responsibilities over to people who are not its employees.
The potential issues
The point that the legislator wishes to make is this- all work related to Delaware roadways are taken up by this Department, including maintenance work. The works are undertaken on a priority basis by the department meaning that issues get sorted out according to their severity. However, since subdivision road maintenance is handled by General Assembly members, a degree of subjectivity creeps in. In effect, work may not be initiated unless and until the lawmaker decides to use the funds allocated to him or her. In main, the issue is that lawmakers tend to utilize the funds to carry out work in those areas where they believe the work will attract the most attention and translate into more votes.
In his letter to the DelDOT, Rep. Matthews has clearly pointed out the loop hole that the lawmakers can use to redo the same maintenance or repair work again and again or just decide not to use the funds at all. They could also decide to spend the funds elsewhere, leaving their subdivision roads in bad condition. The Secretary has rejected Matthews' stance, saying that lawmakers are the ones best acquainted with the issues in their own constituencies. Allowing them to have the freedom to do as they see fit is in the best interests of the public.