Sunday, April 5, 2009

Commissioners neglecting libraries and education

Stunning, and saddening, statistics in Gil Smart's front page story, "Where we stand in a shaky economy."

The article continues on page A4, where there is a graph and table showing various information about the funding and use of the library by the residents of Lancaster as compared to the region and the state. Here in Lancaster, "cardholders as a percentage of population" are about 10% higher than the region and higher than the state average.

Lancaster's "per capita circulation" is higher than the state average by about 10%.

Smart notes F&M professor Antonio Callari's observation that "Lancaster County lags significantly behind both the region and the state, as it long has," when it comes to spending for education and learning, as evidenced by it's library expenditures.

This article goes on to quote Commissioner Martin as stating that "everyone is struggling right now and having to do more with less." Perhaps I missed it, but I don't recall the commissioners cutting their own salaries.

More evidence of the wrong mentality by county officials. It's as if he is proud of Lancaster's backwards attitude on spending for education and learning, particularly as it applies to children in the city of Lancaster. But then, with his large county salary, I suppose he can afford to buy his children their own books and doesn't need to rely on the public library as a resource.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lest we forget: New Era editorialized against State hotel subsidy

Folks that's right !!! The New Era wrote an editorial that said inpart, "But $10 million is not a grant. It is a windfall. It is a lottery jackpot. It is an unconscionable amount of money for one facility in one city."

Oops that was the year before their bosses started pushing for their own largess that would make that 10 million look like a pittance!

The complete editorial: LANCASTER NEW ERA (LANCASTER, PA.) January 14, 1997, Tuesday

It's old news that Gov. Robert Casey, on his last day in office, signed over millions of dollars in taxpayers' money to his home town friends and political supporters. The going-away gifts that he used your money to buy included a downtown hotel and conference center in his hometown ($10 million); a Lackawanna County visitor center ($1 million), and an arena in a Luzerne County business park ($1.2million).

Two interpretations have been made of his largess: (1) that thegovernor used the power of his office to give a figurativenose-thumbing to the rest of Pennsylvania; (2) that the governor courageously provided one final economic boost to an area ofPennsylvania that has been struggling to revitalize itself.

An argument could be mounted for answer number 2, but the facts that the governor waited until the final day in office to sign the give away and that the money was targeted for his home area are convincing evidence for the nose-thumbing.

Now, years later, his give away is the center of a controversy in - of all places - his hometown of Scranton.

Specifically, the $10 million he designated to turn a derelict Scranton hotel into a downtown conference center/hotel is being attacked by other hotel owners in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.

Their protests make sense. How can they compete, they ask, with a hotel that is being infused with $10 million of public funds? How can they pay the going rate for renovations in their own hotels, and pass those costs to customers, when the operators of Casey's project don't have to worry about recouping their renovation costs?

Of course, one purpose of state grants is to help boost downtowns inPennsylvania cities. Lancaster is hoping to obtain a small grant to help change the vacant Bon-Ton building into a branch of Harrisburg Area Community College.

But $10 million is not a grant. It is a windfall. It is a lottery jackpot. It is an unconscionable amount of money for one facility in one city.

If the convention center is built with that grant, we have no doubt it will be filled with tourists from Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. Thanks to Congressman Joseph McDade and former Gov. Casey, the Scranton area has been the beneficiary of millions of dollars in public funds. If for no other reasons, tourists will flock there just to visit their money.

As for the other hotel owners who have to deal with unfair competition....well, they can join the rest of us on the other side of that nose-thumbing.

(Editor's note: The Scranton hotel referenced above has been in economic trouble and on the market place virtually from the time it opened its doors.)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

PRESS RELEASE:'Taxed Enough Already' Party Gathering

Taxpayers in Lancaster County Gather for a 'Taxed Enough Already' Party Gathering in Musser Park on Tax Day, April 15 from 4pm-7pm

Taxpayers in Lancaster County will gather on April 15 at 4pm in Musser Park to meet others who might be outraged, scared, confused, feeling alone, or who take exception to their freedom being threatened because of actions occuring in Washington DC. Attendees are asked to bring sealed Tea items for donation to the Milagro House.

The party is another outpouring of grass roots activism, joining with over 1,000 other Tea Parties nationwide. More information can be found here.

Lisa Armellino comments: “We are being taxed for almost everything, and in return we have been forced to finance the toxic assets of shady business practices performed both domestically and internationally. If we don't stand united against this now, there is no telling what could happen tomorrow. Please join us, and let the movement begin.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Everyone likes something for nothing

No offense but your most recent story with the barber shop "CC straw poll" fails to ask the most important question, and lacking that question, your story could have just as easily come from the hallowed pages of LNP.

When inquiring of downtown merchants regarding the CC and its potential impact on their businesses, I want to know if they would be willing to charge a tax/fee, turned over to the LCCCA, to each and every one of their customers on each and every day of the year for this potential benefit?

I think that question would change quite a few opinions about the CC. When its free, or paid for by the hardwork of others, it is easy to say it will be a positive, you have no downside. When you, or your customers are forced to pay the tab, reality sets in quickly.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

State list missed Walmart

Saw your article on drugs. The State apparently doesn't list Walmart.

Walmart has an awesome deal - $4 a month or 10$ for three months on hundreds of prescription drugs as well as 1000's of non-prescription drugs.

I personally saved over $100 a year on two prescriptions!

Bulb-outs not a good idea

City administrators are planning curb extensions (called bulb-outs) at East King and North Queen Streets as well as other downtown locations. Bulb-outs were recently completed at the intersection of S. Queen and Vine Sts. However, there are numerous reasons why bulb-outs, especially at intersections, may not be a good idea. Some of these are:

When bulb-outs (curb extensions) are placed at intersections on narrow streets, they tend to make left or right turns from one street to the other more difficult and dangerous. If at mid-block locations, they will eliminate some parking spaces. Bulb-outs have other disadvantages, including:

Bulb-outs can cause accidents. Cities are liable for personal injuries and damage to vehicles caused by bulb-outs. "I hate bulb-outs – they do nothing except increase the likelihood of an accident (put a nozzle on a wide hose and you merely increase the pressure)" – comment from a citizen of Atlanta, GA.

Bulb-outs make snow removal and street cleaning more difficult and also more expensive in terms of time and labor. (Tax dollars pay for these services.)

Bulb-outs are expensive to build. Each pair of bulb-outs may cost $7,000 to $10,000, plus the installation of warning signs (quote from the Va. Dept. of Transportation, year 2002 report). In addition, storm drains may need to be re-located or rebuilt, at taxpayer expense.

Bulb-outs are expensive to maintain. Bulb-out curbs are frequently struck by large trucks as well as snow plows and street cleaners. (Take a look at the chipped and cracked bulb-out curbs on College Ave. and at the intersection of N. Prince and W. Chestnut Sts., near the Police Dept. building). Maintenance is paid for with tax dollars.

Bulb-outs pose a clear danger to bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles. "What’s dangerous about bulb-outs is that they make it necessary for a biker to veer towards moving cars at certain points, and the motorist and/or the cyclist may be unprepared for that" – a biker in Atlanta,Ga. "Bulb-outs may make it difficult to accommodate bicycle lanes" – The PA Traffic Calming Handbook.

Bulb-outs constructed in mid-block locations for the purpose of traffic calming result in only a small reduction in speed. "Most curb extensions result in speed reductions of 1-2 mph." – quote from The PA Traffic Calming Handbook, Pa. Dept. of Transportation.

Reason HDC is sticking with CC date?

I couldn't help but notice that the head of HousingDevelopment Corp that is sticking with the convention center is none other than Mike Carper - the FORMER executive director of LCCCA before David Hixon.

He left after only six months and I speculate they bought his silence with another cushy job.