Posted: Jan. 22, 2003




James R. Soles, a political scientist recently retired from the University of Delaware, and some ex-students who went on to political or public office have formed a consulting firm and given it a name to live up to.

It is called The Rodney Group after Caesar Rodney, the Delaware patriot who rode his way into legend in 1776 with his arduous journey to Philadelphia through thunder and rain to vote for the Declaration of Independence.

The firm will provide coaching and strategic planning in career and business growth to individuals, corporations and non-profit organizations in politics and economic development. It will neither lobby nor run campaigns.

The firm intends to draw its clients from such groups as politicians trying to map out their future, corporations seeking to move into Delaware and non-profits whose growth has stalled.

"For organizations who want to come into Delaware from out of state or for anyone who wants to pursue a political career, we are able to provide them with insight into the operation of the state," Soles said.

The firm's partners are a bipartisan cast. Soles himself comes out of Democratic politics, as do Lawrence E. Windley, a former assistant secretary of state in the Carper administration, and Mark A. Kleinschmidt, a former president of the New Castle County Economic Development Corp. Robert E. Chadwick was an executive director for the Delaware Republican Party.

Chadwick will handle the daily operations. Windley and Kleinschmidt are keeping their day jobs -- Windley with a startup energy firm and Kleinschmidt with a management consulting firm. The Rodney Group has an office at 208 Delaware St. in New Castle, and Chadwick can be contacted at 302-345-7238.

The firm also has two affiliates who will work as needed: Richard S. Mroz, who was the chief legal counsel to former New Jersey Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, and Alan G. Davis, a Sussex County lawyer who handled legislative relations during the Carper administration for Transportation Secretary Anne P. Canby.

All are bound together by Soles' political science classes. "Most of us have known each other for 20 years. These are longstanding relationships," he said.

The firm currently is making presentations and expects to have two clients signed in the next several weeks, Soles said. Depending on the client, the contract will be public or confidential. For example, a candidate who uses campaign funds to retain the firm will have to disclose it under state law, but a business or non-profit group could keep its arrangement private.

Whether The Rodney Group will have as lofty a ride as its namesake remains to be seen. A. Richard Heffron, a senior vice president for government affairs at the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, says companies increasingly are looking for advice, either from staff or consultants, for strategic planning.

"More and more corporations are doing that. Obviously you're not going to have staff in every state, so you'd rather hire a group like this," Heffron said.

"I'll be interested to see how they make out."

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For Calvin L. Scott Jr., a Superior Court nomination and State Bar Night came together at the right time.

A deputy attorney general who was announced last week as Gov. Ruth Ann Minner's choice for a judgeship, Scott also is the vice president-at-large for the Delaware State Bar Association. It meant he had to be in Dover, anyway, on Tuesday for the bar association's annual dinner for the General Assembly, so he headed downstate early.

Scott got to Legislative Hall in the afternoon to introduce himself to the senators who will vote on his nomination. In the evening he got to hobnob more casually at the bar association event at the Dover Sheraton Inn.

If confirmed, Scott would take a Republican seat in New Castle County on the Superior Court, which hears both criminal and civil cases. He would serve a 12-year term, currently paying $140,200 a year, in replacing Judge Carl Goldstein, who retired.

The day appears to have gone well for Scott. Senate President Pro Tem Thurman G. Adams Jr., a Bridgeville Democrat, said the chamber plans to hold a confirmation hearing and vote on Scott's nomination next week, before the legislature breaks for budget hearings until March.

"I don't know of any problem," Adams said.

As always, State Bar Night provided an opportunity for cozy connections for Delaware lawyers with the three branches of government. Judges were there, legislators were there, and so were Minner and Lt. Gov. John C. Carney Jr., both Democrats. About 150 people attended.

Awards were given in bipartisan and bicameral fashion to two lawmakers -- Republican Rep. Gerald A. Buckworth from Kent County and Democratic Sen. Robert I. Marshall from Wilmington.

The bench and bar also recognized Edward G. Pollard Jr., the deputy state court administrator responsible for the new courthouse in Wilmington, even as Superior Court judges griped aloud about lacking hot water.

There was a special award for J. Dallas Winslow Jr., the chief of legal services in the Public Defender's Office and also one-term state senator until Republican Charles L. Copeland unseated him in September in a primary.

Yes, Copeland came to State Bar Night, but before Winslow was honored in the final presentation of the evening, he had slipped off quietly to another meeting. It made for another moment lacking in hot water.