Plan for Wilmington

It is said that if you want to get rid of the weeds in your garden that you kill them at the root, not just cut them back. To trim a weed means absolutely nothing, because it will just grow back, usually stronger and thicker than it was before. It also spreads silently, to where your entire garden is surrounded.

The same can be said for violence and crime in a city. You can push it out of the business district, to make that area safe, yet it continues to grow, get stronger, and soon, will overtake the area you are trying to protect.

This is what is happening in our beloved city of Wilmington right now. According to the latest crime rating, Wilmington scores a 3. No, that is not a typo, it is the actual number. It means that it is safer than only 3% of the cities in the US. The crime rate is also roughly 203% higher than the rest of the state of Delaware combined.

Here is the projected data for 2014 according to the City Rating Crime Statistics:

2014 Crime (Projected Data)* Incidents
Aggravated Assault 705
Arson 0
Burglary 1,033
Forcible Rape 47
Larceny and Theft 1,523
Motor Vehicle Theft 253
Murder and Manslaughter 26
Robbery 621
Crime Rate (Total Incidents) 4,129
Property Crime 2,798
Violent Crime 1,400

So, what can we do about this you might be wondering. I will admit I am not the “expert” in this matter, though I bet my plan will get a lot more traction in weeding out the problem than requesting a study by the CDC, or pulling officers from the gang and narcotics squads to protect the business district.

To cure the problem, you need to start in the neighborhoods. The reason why the community won’t do anything, or testify against someone is fear. They are afraid for their lives, and the lives of their family. They know the police are slow to respond. How to you curb this fear? Give the police the tools and officers they need to patrol these neighborhoods more frequently, work with the residents, and street by street take the city back.

To help this, put all of the officers that were reassigned to jay walking and babysitting duty back onto the narcotic and gang task forces. Let them go in mass and purge the weeds from the city. It doesn’t take a math teacher to tell you that 12 or 14 is more than 3 or 4. It is also common sense that if you cut off the drug supply, and take the gang members off the street, that crime drops, and the safety level rises.

Of course, people have no faith in the judicial system either. They know that as soon as these people get arrested, they will be released back out onto the street in a short amount of time. In most cases they will never see jail time either. To cure this, make examples of them. Give them the maximum you can under the law.

Oh I know, that raises the argument that it will cost tax payers more money to keep them locked up. Well, think about all of these beautiful neighborhoods in our city that have been reduced to slums. Houses boarded up and abandoned throughout the highest crime rate areas, that no one wants because it is to dangerous. The price to keep someone locked up is small in comparison to what it is costing us as a city and a state.

Lets face it, before any community watch program or outreach program will work, we need to crack down on the problem, and give the people faith and hope that everything is getting better.

This is just my 2 cents of the problems facing our city.

Remember, together we can build the future.

A Helping Hand for Charities

In some of my recent posts, I gave you a quick preview of our new venture, The Charity Wishlist. I am happy to announce that the site is now live, all of our systems are in place, and we are ready to roll full steam ahead with what I hope becomes a philanthropic movement that helps to change the world.

The concept is a simple one: Helping charities and organizations expand their donation and fundraising needs.

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Sadly though, this simple act of kindness has been twisted and morphed into something that benefits their bottom line of many of the businesses that claim they help these organizations, with some of them keeping as much as 60% of the donations to cover “administrative, marketing, and processing costs.”

The Charity Wishlist is here to change all of that. Our hosted donation solution allows us to provide charities and non-profits, even those without a website or online presence, a way to accept monetary donations online through our site.  This costs them nothing up front, no monthly maintenance fees, and the organization is guaranteed to receive a minimum of 90% all monetary donations.

Our wishlist system is another solution we offer. It allows the organization that is in need of goods and supplies the ability to build a list of these items. We set the pricing to cover the cost of shipping, fees, and any applicable taxes, and the public can purchase these items through our system for the organization from the comfort of their own home.

How can you offer something like this you might be wondering? The answer is simple. I am a firm believer in helping charities with their needs. For years I have volunteered at numerous organizations, been involved in their fundraising efforts, and have experienced the joy and gratitude first hand of the people whose lives these groups touch with their efforts. It is not something that you can put a price tag on, and absolutely not something to be taken advantage of just to make money.

In conjunction with our donation and wishlist systems, we are also offering web site hosting and site design to these organizations for a fraction of the cost of what the other “technology providers” in the industry would charge.

In the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, which personally impacted many friends and families of ours, The Charity Wishlist has also set up a disaster relief fund. The purpose of this fund is to purchase items needed by the victims of natural disasters, and have them drop shipped directly to the first responders for distribution to those impacted. We work directly with these groups, and where ever possible, purchase these good from local businesses, to help make sure the economy of the area is sustained.

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It is time to change the world. Are you ready to help us in our mission?

Let’s build the future together.

For more information about The Charity Wishlist, visit www.thecharitywishlist.org, follow us on Twitter @charitywishlist or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheCharityWishlist.

Parking Authority Corruption in Rehoboth Beach

Today I want to share a story with you, about an underhanded practice that the meter readers in Rehoboth Beach do on a daily basis. It is the fraudulent act of ticketing vehicles on the streets that have less than 10 minutes left on the meter.

This is a true story that happened to me, and I hope you share in my distaste and anger.

On July 24th, I went into Rehoboth Beach with my daughter, for a quick visit to the boardwalk to pick up something for my wife. The beaches were packed that day, and of course parking was at a premium. I drove down Maryland Ave, a car was pulling out of their parking space, so I waited, and pulled in. I opened my Parkmobile app, and went to connect to pay for my time. Of course I got that dreaded “Unable to connect to server” message, so I went the old school route and got quarters out for the meter.

Now, the meter still had 14 minutes on it, so I was fairly happy about that. I proceeded to pump in 6 more quarters, to add on an hour.

The time on my phone was 11:10, so I knew I had till 12:24 to get back to my truck. More than enough time for what we needed to do.

We conducted our business on the boardwalk, and headed back to where we had parked. My daughter was window shopping, so I had to shuffle her along a little, since I knew we were close to time being up. Low and behold, as we approached my truck, there was a yellow envelope on my windshield. A parking ticket. I stormed up and snatched it off, and the time said 12:15. It was now 12:20, and my meter stated I had 4 minutes left. I was furious, and looked down the street. There was the meter reader about 100 yards down.

I ran down to R83 (that was their designation number) to complain, and was told “Take it up with the parking authority office”, and they kept going.

As I walked back to my truck, angered beyond belief, I noticed 2 other vehicles that ticket on their windshields, and there was still some time left on their meters. I realized as I was driving out, that I should have taken pictures. In my anger, I wasn’t thinking to clearly.

I guess this “officer” (and I use the word loosely), figured they were not going to get back to their vehicles in time, and ticketed them to save the extra walk back back. Either that, or they were afraid the owners would come back and feed more money in after time ran out, and they would miss out on writing a ticket.

I immediately called the number for the Rehoboth Beach parking authority (302-227-6184), and got a busy signal. I called every 4 minutes until I finally got through on the 9th try. I let loose on the guy that answered, and said I wanted to file a formal complaint. He took down my information, and I heard nothing back, until yesterday, when I received a letter in the mail telling me the meter is functioning fine, and my parking fine was due immediately.

I then spent the next two hours calling the pretty much every department for the City of Rehoboth, first to the City Managers office (I was told to send an email), then to the manager of the parking authority (I was told to send an email or a letter, though the fine is still due). Next call went to the department of public works (I was told they maintained the meters, and they told me to send an email), and finally to the mayors office, where I was told to I could email in my complaint. Low and behold, they all gave me the same email address, that dreaded general information@cityofrehoboth.com email address that pretty much will get you nowhere. Last time I sent an email into that, they signed me up to receive their daily email blasts, and no one ever responded back to my original email.

It also makes one wonder why they have a link right there on the main navigation for “Pay Your Parking Ticket”. Maybe because they pass out tickets like clowns hand out balloons at the circus.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love going to Rehoboth Beach. The shops and restaurants down there are some of the best you will find in the state. The people are friendly, and it is truly a family oriented place to visit.

My problem is with the underhanded practices of the parking authority, and how the local government turns a blind eye to what they do, because in the end, it is revenue. Got to make that summer money while you can.

So, if you are in Rehoboth, don’t let your meter drop below 10 minutes, because they will either ticket you, or stand there waiting for it to expire. You will never get any justice by calling or writing either. Oh, and if you pull into an expired meter, and the meter reader is around, jump out and drop a quarter quick, because they can ticket you for parking in an expired space. They can even do it if you are leaving.

The Charity Wishlist

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, we celebrate as a nation, our independence. I decided to start the celebration off early, and announce the launch of our new business: The Charity Wishlist.

What is The Charity Wishlist? The Charity Wishlist is an organization that provides both no cost and low cost options for nonprofit organizations and charities to support their fundraising and donation needs on an ongoing basis.

Through the use of our hosted technology, we have designed a system that gives nonprofit organizations and charities a way to support their donation needs, whether monetary and/or physical goods, with no up-front costs, or monthly fees depending on the options they choose. We have also designed a web site management engine, that allows us to give these groups a way to have a web site for a fraction of the cost that most development companies would charge them.

For those of you that know me, you know that I am a huge believer in philanthropy, and have worked with many organizations over the years to help support their causes. This new business is the ultimate expression of my desire to help all charities and organizations in need. It is reflected in our chosen tag line: “Bringing the World Together Through Charity”.

The Charity Wishlist also has another key service it will provide. We have created an opportunity for the public to contribute to a Disaster Relief Fund, which will be used to purchase and send needed goods to areas that are impacted by natural disasters.

What sets us apart from other companies that do similar things? The Charity Wishlist is in the process of filing for our own 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Status. We literally are going to be a charity helping charities.

Our new website will be live in a few short weeks, and available at: www.TheCharityWishlist.org. You can also follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/CharityWishlist) , and like us on FaceBook (www.facebook.com/TheCharityWishlist).

We hope you share in our excitement and enthusiasm.

Helping Charities For The Right Reasons

Today I wanted to take a step back from discussions of technology, and the day to day life of a small business owner, and talk about something that is a core belief of mine, helping charities. For those of you that know me and my family, you know that we help raise money for the Delaware Breast Cancer Collation, help with food collections for the Delaware Food Bank, support Relay for Life, and participate in multiple MS Society walks. We have had friends and family that these organizations have helped over the years, so it is only right that we do what we can to help them reach out and help more people.

In the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, our eyes were opened to a larger community of organizations and charities we never knew about. We also came to learn quickly that many of them struggle on a daily basis to not just help others, but to keep their doors open. The realization hit while we were talking to them, that while many people are quick to help in the event of a large natural disaster, many of these groups get forgotten in the normal day to day lives of people.

Given the philanthropic spirit that we embrace, we set out to figure out a way to help raise awareness for these organizations and charities. Then the idea came, quite by accident, on a call with my brother. He literally gave me the foundation to build a system tied together with an awareness campaign, that can help charities and organizations of any size.

Now of course the argument that immediately got put on the table was that there are companies out there already that do this. After some in-depth research, and discussions with groups that these companies help, we learned that the charities get very little of the money these companies raise. For example, less than 20 cents of every dollar raised by the fundraising company for the US Veterans Association actually goes to help our Veterans, they keep the rest for “administration and operating expenses”.  The very people that put their lives on the line to help keep our country free see almost nothing. This very practice is why many people have been turned off to making donations to these organizations.

So what makes what we are getting ready to launch any different from these other companies? The answer is simple, the new business we are launching, will to do this as a non-profit entity itself.

We firmly believe that charity is just that, charity. We set out to help others, and wanted everything done for the right reasons, not for monetary reasons.

Stay tuned for the announcement of our launch. Let’s build the future together.

Solution Ram Rod

Today I want to share with you something that happened recently, that quite frankly has left me angered. It is a practice that my team coined the “Solution Ram Rod”. It is the practice many underhanded technology companies use when they want to sell their client on a specific solution, regardless of the viability for their needs.

To give you some background, last week I was contacted by a technology company, asking if I was available to help them with a short term eCommerce project. As you know, we often do work for other technology companies, so I set up a call to discuss their needs. They have a client here in Delaware that is looking at eCommerce solutions, and retained the services of this group to help them complete their business analysis, prepare solution reviews, make a solid recommendation based upon their needs, and help with the implementation.

Since my company has worked with numerous eCommerce solutions, this was a project that was right up our alley. After a lengthy discussion, they asked if they could schedule a call with their “evaluator” to make sure this would be a good fit for the project. So, later on that day, this lady calls me from India to conduct her “evaluation”. Well, after 10 minutes on the phone with her, and all of the questions she was asking with regards to Magento Enterprise, I stopped her and asked if she was going to discuss other solutions. Her response was “I understand there are other solutions, though we want to recommend Magento Enterprise for this client, and want to make sure you know enough about the platform to make it stand out.”

I was stunned. Here is a company with a new client that has not conducted business on the internet before, and they want to recommend a solution that will cost the client a minimum of $15,550 in licensing fees right out of the gate.

I got off the phone with her, immediately called the project manager, and asked him if he could disclose some information, just to make sure we were on the same page. He said it depended on the questions, so I told him the primary one was “How many products does the client have?” He said “I believe a few hundred, though we haven’t gotten that far in the analysis.” So next came the obvious question: “Then why are you pushing Magento Enterprise?” His response was “They have both client and business facing needs, and Magento is what our people know.” At this point I was a little dumbfounded, so I asked the question that stood out in my head “If you have a staff that knows the system, why do you need me?”

Readers, the answer he gave me is one that drove home what I have preached about with regards to working with a company half a world away. He said “To be blunt, they are hesitant to work with an India based company, so we wanted a local American face there to work with them, and set their mind at ease about buying the solution we want to offer them.”

I said thanks for the info and hung up. The realization burning in my mind that all they cared about was selling the client exactly what they wanted to sell them at any cost, and in the process take more jobs away from Americans. It made me sick thinking about it.

If your company is getting ready to become a victim of these type of ram rod practices, stop before it is to late. I have seen way to many companies get sucked into this type of situation, and in the end it winds up costing them more than they ever imagined or budgeted for.

If you need help making a decision on a solution that is right for your business, we here at Delaware 302 can help. We will offer you honest unbiased advice, and help you choose the right solution that will not only fit your needs now, but one that can grow with your business.

Let’s build the future together.

 

Up-charge aka Price Gouging

For those of you that know me, you know that I believe in being very open and honest with people, in both my personal life and in business. I am also not afraid to speak my mind, especially when it comes to something I am very passionate about.

The same belief is carried over to my business. Delaware 302 is built on both honesty, and offering affordable solutions to our clients. We set our prices lower than the competition because our business is about helping businesses grow, not how much money we can make. We also never charge our clients something they don’t need. Not every technology company has these same beliefs though.

What many people don’t know, is that my company is also the development arm for numerous technology companies here in Delaware. To date, we have 4 that we work with on a fairly regular basis to build web sites and applications, host, and create graphic designs for. This is actually a fairly common practice when a technology company doesn’t have the staff or resources to handle the work.

This has led to numerous challenges that we have had to address, the primary of which is maintaining the illusion of being the technology company that the contract was signed under. The other one, which is the focus of this post, is pricing.

As I said in my opening, not every technology company has the same beliefs as we do. We have watched in disbelief as companies we did business with in the past took our project scopes and quotes, and up-charged the work as much as 115%. I will point out I did say DID work with. We no longer do business with these companies because of their practices, and insane price gouging to make as much money as they can from each bid.

It is the client that ultimately suffers from this practice that has no rules or regulations in place to stop it. Web site solutions, and the prices charged, seem to be at the complete whim of the company quoting the build. The type of client, and the perceived revenue stream they have also comes into play. Many technology companies charge more if the potential client is a well know store, law firm, or financial company, compared to a local mom and pop shop or a start up.

To drive my point home on this, I will share with you a recent project we quoted for another technology company. The client is a fairly well known company with locations in both Delaware and Maryland, and they wanted a new web site. I was invited to attend the meeting with the client’s marketing person, and she came to the meeting prepared with research she had done on their competitor’s web sites, and a wish list for the new site based upon this.

Armed with her research and wish list, we scoped out the project, calculated in the needed custom development, and wrote up a quote. We then sent the quote over to the technology company we were working with, so they could work it into their proposal. About 2 weeks later the owner of the technology company called and said the client had some sticker shock, and asked if we could cut our prices on the project. I came to find out shortly after that call, that they tacked on almost $11,000 to my quote.

I was in shock when I found this out. Who in their right mind would up-charge 115% on a site build when they are doing absolutely nothing, except generating a contract. Then have the brass ones to call me and ask me to cut my prices on top of it.

No wonder companies have such a bad taste left in their mouth when dealing with technology companies like this.

At Delaware 302, we strive to be different. We charge the same for our solutions no matter who the client is, without any up-charges. We also offer the same level of exceptional service to all of our clients.

If you are ready for a change, contact us and let us help you build a solution that works for you.

Let’s build the future together.