Thursday, January 31, 2008

Convention Center In Retrospect

Week after week I witnessed the abuse that Dick [Shellenberger] and Molly [Henderson] took at the Meetings. Me, I would have walked off the job and said whatever.

It is not easy to find a person to be the third commissioner. The overall atmosphere was like night and day after Shaub left.

In all respect, Ms. Nelson attended some of the LCCCA meetings to listen and get an idea of the project, knowing that after December she was gone.

This Center is what it is and it is going to get built. The board now has to get it done as cost effectively and timely as possible.

Looking back at the past board members of John Frey, Joseph Morales, the gentleman from the water department, Mr. Swenger, even the director and of course Mrs. Ware, all were the wrong people to initiate this Authority. That is why this project is a mess.

When I heard Mr. Morales say that he did not need to read the contracts that Stevens and Lee drew up for the board (when Douglass said she refused to sign anything without reading it first and approving it), I was disgusted. Ms. Nelson will probably add the same quality as Douglass to this board. We need to wait and see and realize that this project is what it is.

The Homeless

I just read your homeless article. Good stuff.

Morris A "Good Soldier" But...

May I suggest that Art Morris has been a VERY good soldier. He is trying to force the project to fit within the unreasonable constraints that were left to him by Ted Darcus, Dave Hixson, Nevin Cooley, and Dale High. Against all odds, he is making progress.

Where Art Morris has proven to be a total and complete failure is in his refusal to look out for what is best for the taxpayers and citizens of Lancaster City and County. Art Morris has repeatedly refused to re-examine the agreements which were forced onto the taxpayers, and has clearly stated on more than one occasion that he will not attempt to re-negotiate any of these agreements.

Art Morris has been very good for the project. In doing so, he has again and again ignored what is best for the people.

Unfortunately, Art Morris and other project supporters often (intentionally) confuse what is best for the project with what is best for the people - and for Lancaster.

Editor's Note: has found Morris to be cooperative in fulfilling requests for information concerning past activities.

Questions Sharron Nelson Appointment

I think the point is that it was clearly [Commissioner Pete] Shaub who was the problem, and it is likely that *whoever* was chosen to replace this lunatic would have had the effect of 'pacifying' the board. The bad behavior NEVER came from Dick or Molly. They always acted with grace and dignity.

As for Mrs. Nelson.... [For her] to not even form an opinion about the most costly (and divisive) project in the county's history is either disingenuous or willfully ignorant. In either case, Nelson hasn't been impressive at all on the issue.

Finally, Art Morris, it should never be forgotten, was *the* leader in the Conestoga View witch hunt that in the basest most disgusting way tainted the names of two commissioners who stood up honorably for the taxpayers. Arthur E. Morris has, as much as anyone, been responsible for this ridiculous project. And to lionize this person (as I read and hear so often) makes me sick.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Grading the New Commissioners

At today's Commissioner's meeting, I gave the three new Commissioners their first month's report card.

'A' for appointing Sharon Nelson to the board. She will ask the tough questions and is bi-partisan. She brought stability back to the Commissioner board after Pete Shaub went south.

As for their handling of 150 N. Queen and appointing a company to evaluate the situation, that will cost money BUT save in the long run.

'D' for the way they are handling the Lisa Sanchez situation.

Tomorrow evening will be interesting. It is too bad that there are three meetings of public interest at the same time: LCCCA, public meeting on the Sunshine Act, and Hourglass.

Concerning Sharron Nelson's Appointment

I am reminded that we will have Ted "Sick & Tired" Darcus to obstruct the public's right to know. Here Darcus responds to the public's cry for Stevens & Sleaze legal bills:

I am sick & tired of Darcus already...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Henderson suit has merit

Former Commissioner Molly Henderson's lawsuit against Lancaster Newspapers will rely on New York Times Co. vs. Sullivan (376 U.S. 254,1964), the landmark case which establishes the "actual malice" standard that a "public figure" must prove to win a libel action.

It is inconceivable to me as a professional journalist that the reporters, editors, and columnist named in the complaint were not aware that what they were publishing was recklessly false. The reckless part is important. The Grand Jury Report, and the earlier Myers-Hofmann report, clearly exonerates Henderson of any criminal activity. Yet the Lancaster Newspapers' staff continued to mislead the public and taint Henderson's reputation after the release of the reports. Either they read the reports and recklessly disregarded the conclusions, or they recklessly disregarded the truth by not reading them at all.

Lancaster Newspapers' continual trashing of Henderson had very real consequences. By libeling and defaming Molly Henderson, Lancaster Newspapers undermined the democratic process by painting this duly elected and honest official as a criminal. Henderson lost an election due in large part to the smear campaign led by Lancaster Newspapers.

The damage that the false accusations did to Molly Henderson was also personal, not just political. This is a person -- a woman -- who grew up in this insular little county, and was faced with the ignominy of having her fellow Countians look at her as a pariah with no good reason other than the press took advantage of its monopoly status.

Lancaster Newspapers took a good name and covered it with mud for more than a year. To my mind, a crime doesn't get more serious than that.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Authority Appointee

Julianne Dickson has always been the single most abrasive and abusive personality on Lancaster City Council.

LeCrone Resignation

As usual, I attended the weekly commissioner meeting. The resignation of Tom LeCrone makes this a sad time BUT I am thankful that, before leaving office, Molly and Dick did achieve getting the debt service paid first before the operating expenses.

I requested that the commissioners seek out a person with experience with trade shows and convention centers RATHER than someone to just fill the seat as an IOU. Responsible board membership is a very difficult task and very time consuming, as well as thankless.

Darcus was a 'yes man' from day one!

I told the commissioners that some of the past board members just signed document after document without reading them and justified their actions by publicly stating that, if the attorneys said they were in order, so be it. Look where we are today because of their neglect!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Authority can do NOTHING

It really doesn't matter any more.

The LCCCA board is *totally and completely powerless*. They can do NOTHING other than try to force the project to fit into the constraints imposed upon it by the agreements "negotiated" by Stevens & Lee.

I will truly enjoy watching Darcus and Dickson squirm when the magnitude of this fiscal disaster becomes undeniable, and they can do absolutely positively nothing about it.

LeCrone's departure bad timing

Tom LeCrone's willingness to serve on the LCCCA board and the expertise he brought to the board is commendable. But the timing of his departure in light of the serious charges against Art Morris is not.

Morris could very well have been (and should've been) pressured to remove himself from the board entirely, and certainly to step down from the Chair's seat. Now, with yes-man Ted re-upped and project cheerleader, Julie Dickson, replacing gentleman LeCrone, the composition of the board is weighted 5-2 in favor of
project enablers and apologists.

The board also lost a lot of civility.

And to think just a couple of months ago the citizens could have had a 4-3 majority. Pity.

Get used to Art Morris as czar of this project. Bad move, bad timing, bad day.

Editor's Note: 5/2 may be slightly pessimistic. But things could get worse. Ted Darcus may return as chair. This will be the ultimate attempt to squelch dissidents.

Whose "manor", whose wallet?

"We're not looking for anyone who would be divisive in any manor," Martin said.

Where exactly is this Manor located? Is this Robert Field's Manor?

"The days of sniping are over and the days of cooperation have begun," Gray said of his relationship with the new commissioners. "We're going to talk
about this for the good of all citizens of Lancaster County."

TRANSLATION? Hold on to your wallets people!

"I have never wavered in my support for this project," Dickson said this

Exactly the reason that I have questioned her ethics, intelligence and

Monday, January 21, 2008

Diminishing newspaper reporting

[The firing of the editor of the Las Angeles Times for refusal to further cut news staff is an indication] of how extensively the landscape of news reporting and publishing has changed.

Following the market development model of virtually all media and popular culture (communications) the strength of the principle players is diminishing. New technology permits niche-market interests to publish. Remember when there were only 9 active channels and three TV networks? Or a handful of magazines on the rack?

Fewer news consumers purchase paper news (except for the subway commuters). I would bet, in the near future, the line between online news reporting and broadcasting will blur completely.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Alms for the rich

Building permits are one of the main sources of income for most municipalities. Over the past few years, Lancaster City has waived millions of dollars of building permits for the big guys and the little guy is paying out of the nose. Building permits should not be waived for anyone.

Art Morris Must Step Down

The serious charges brought by former Commissioner Molly Henderson against the Lancaster Newspapers chairman and all of his top editors were also brought against three reporters and one columnist: Arthur E. Morris.

In the circumstance of Morris, it has created a serious conflict of interest which raises important questions about his fitness to continue in his current position of high responsibility on the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority [LCCCA] board.

Morris is the current acting Executive Director and Chairman of the LCCCA board. The project he is administering is at the heart of the charges against him. And they are very serious charges indeed, suggesting Morris either purposefully lied when he attacked Henderson, or recklessly disregarded the truth when he did so in print. From what I can see of the compelling evidence contained in the Henderson complaint, and from other observations, the standard of proving "actual malice" is met in this case.

Art Morris is now facing some very serious, and potentially very expensive trouble.

Morris's powerful position as chair of the Authority, and often its public spokesman, is clearly compromised due to this litigation. Whatever he puts on the agenda, whatever he proposes, whatever he says, and however he votes will be viewed with extra skepticism not leveled at other board members.

The public and other board members will reasonably wonder in whose interests Morris is working: His co-defendants' at Lancaster Newspapers, or the public's through the Convention Center Authority?

Might his writing protect his (and his bosses') financial interests?

Morris is vulnerable to these questions because, as a paid columnist employed by a co-defendant, his financial standing is conceivably impacted by this case. It is certainly reasonable for the public to ask these questions.

Finally, if the charges are true, it will mean that a mendacious and duplicitous "public servant" is getting away with leading a project that he and a partner in Penn Square Partners conspired to unscrupulously shove down the throats of the public.

Those who consider this extreme should read the Henderson complaint, which is posted at In that document, a clearer portrait of arrogance and a lack of professional ethics could not be painted.

There, laid out in meticulous and well-written detail, are example after example after example of Lancaster Newspapers "correcting" the false information in a place in the paper where people were least likely to see it. And after they "corrected" the record, Morris and Co. went about libeling Henderson on its front pages again ... and ... again ... and again.

If Morris really wants to serve the public, he should gracefully step down from not just the Chair's seat, but the board. While he's at it, he should apologize to Molly Henderson. Too bad there's not enough space in all three sorry papers to make that amends.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Litigation Very Interesting

Received a phone call from my attorney last evening giving me a heads up about Molly Henderson suing [The Lancaster Newspapers.] I am so proud of her and also she is smart to have it in another county.

A friend from the start suggested that the injunction action by the LCCCA against Dick and Molly should have been heard in another county. Then they probably would have won. This is going to be very interesting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"If It is Not Broken, Do Not Try to Fix It."

Does that sound familiar?

Lancaster County/City MAY be looking good but it is due to a lot of private investment money. Lancaster City will survive with a future of wealth and poor. The Middle Class will be forced as they are now to leave the city due to taxes and location of their homes. The conservatism of this County was sold a bill of goods by PSP (High). He was smart, get the newspaper as a partner.

The Steinman sisters were well intended as they are a very good employer of the area, very family oriented. BUT look at Fulton, they bailed out when there was any sign of trouble.

Back to the beginning, this project did not and does not have the neighborhood infrastructure to succeed, let alone make money. Putting that monster on that corner is going to affect the total historical, cultural and economic future of center city. The Mayor can clean up all he wants and promote the West Side BUT you will always have the rest of the city there.

The 140-plus* properties that Senator Gib Armstrong is part of will start to deteriorate which will cause more blight. I feel for Annie Bailey's and Yorgo's who invested dearly on the pretense of lots of business. It ain't gonna come.

The Brickyard is supposedly suffering since the new brewery opened on College Row. The students do not have to find parking and can just cross the street.

The Trolley may be a winner in Portland, Nashville, etc, but this is Lancaster County. We do not have enough room for two cars going down Prince Street let alone one car and a Trolley. Where is the common sense?

Look at the economic times we are in. Sure Lancaster County is pretty recession proof due to our diversification BUT we are a part of the whole picture, no man is an island. Who is going to come to this hotel and convention center? Maybe the first year because it is NEW like anything else; but long term, I bet in 5 years that High Industries will own it!!!!

*Editors note: Newslanc is unaware of the extent of real estate holdings by Senator Armstrong, we have no information concerning how they are maintained, and we have no reason to criticize the Senator for investing in downtown real estate.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Crown Jewel of Lancaster City

I have not spent near the hours that some of you have on this [convention center] project to revitalize downtown Lancaster. However, I have been tainted as a naysayer. Clients and prominent business people have told me I should not keep company with that crazy lady April Koppenhaver and her group. I could go on and on.

Will I promote the center? No. Will I pay my taxes? Yes. I have no choice.

We as taxpayers would have prevented this major loss had the investors and officials been looking for the most profitable and complementary project to go on that corner, the crown jewel of Lancaster City and County.

Thank God for Molly and Dick, who fought to get the debt paid back before the operating expenses. At least we will have a few years as taxpayers with no mud in our faces.

Senator Gib Armstrong is running away and Paul Thibault will not be able to protect the campfire. This money pit is going to dry up in Harrisburg and Lancaster County will have to eat crow.

As for hundreds of jobs, no way. If the Hyatt in Cambridge only employs 160 plus and most of them are temps from Europe and that complex is acres, then there is no way this center will need more than 75 and that will be probably 60 minimum wage jobs.

This has surely been an education.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Marriott/Interstate Slots Emporium?

I also agree [that we should not offer support for the Convention Center Project], but not on the grounds of Christianity, as I am not a Christian.

This project was foisted on the public with deception and media manipulation. It is singularly an un-Democratic monument to greed and selfishness.

Okay, so it will be built after razing historic city blocks, re-writing laws and ripping off the common taxpayer. What can the public really do? Nothing.

Conceding the inevitability of the project is not the same as supporting it. I do not support it and believe it will fail miserably as a convention center.

And by the way, making this project the "best it can be" will probably end up meaning supporting the Marriott/Interstate Slots Emporium. At least that's my bet.

Convention Center: "We're done."

[Concerning the Convention Center Project], we have made every effort to send warning flags up through the last five years, and have been arrogantly ignored. The time to offer our (unwanted) support has passed.

I offer good wishes to all who are working hard to keep the project in line, and to minimize losses.

But the time to implement the solutions we have offered has passed. We're done.

Convention Center Support? "Ain't no way."

I have to give my total and complete AMEN [to not providing support for the convention center project.]

In 1999 when this dog of a project was proposed, I objected on the grounds that it was WRONG to take money from a business's customers (hoteliers) and give it to support a competitor. It was, is and always will be WRONG to do so and for that reason I will NEVER support it.

While I am on record as being AGAINST the project, I have continually said "While I am opposed to this project, if you are going to do this then..." and would give them advice from a watchdog point-of-view.

For instance, there is ZERO incentive or checks in place for Interstate Hotels (the management of the convention center and hotel) to make certain the convention center gets treated right.

Remember that SUPPORTERS have declared the convention center will be in the negative, while the hotel will be in the black. What would stop the management company that's responsible to BOTH from simply shifting costs to the convention center and resources away from the convention center so that the hotel is in the black?

The Convention Center Authority REFUSED to put any audit feature into this arrangement and instead bowed to Dale High's demand of "shared" management.

I could come up with a dozens and dozens of similar examples.

The bottom line - ain't no way I am sucking up to the powers that be that foisted this project on Lancaster Countians for GENERATIONS to come!

Newspapers Ignored Harrisburg Pike Objections

This morning's paper made it clear why none of the editors – all of whom agreed that the median strip is not a good idea – would let their reporters, including Gil Smart, write anything opposing [a medial strip eliminating the center lane on the Harrisburg Pike.] These editors didn't want to do anything to jeopardize the Lancaster Newspapers' parking garage that Council approved last night.

Note a similarity: area residents' concerns ignored; no engineering study; no alternative plans that would address and mitigate residents' objections to certain components of the plan, etc. etc.

This city needs to hire a qualified traffic engineer to study any proposal having to do with city streets, or this whole city is going to become one big traffic jam in years to come. And then who's going to even want to come here?

Response to New Era for Slur of Former Commissioners

I know this is difficult given your masters - but how about turning that righteousness for open records to the MOST secretive government agency in Lancaster County?!?!?

Since the behind the closed door meeting that birthed this monster, Lancaster Countians know very little about the 20 million dollars they have wasted. It's a fact that they REFUSE to release bills which will give any clue of how they justify their expenditures.

Meanwhile the newspaper remains silent and mocks and ridicules anyone that tries to call accountability to this taxpayer funded organization.

Of course I am talking about the convention center. BUT remember that the newspaper is taking in MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars already and for the next 40 years so do NOT expect them to do anything to stop the slopping at the trough.

You see - the newspaper has ZERO ETHICS!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Better Way to Slow Traffic

Lancaster Township has found a solution to its problem of effective traffic speed enforcement with a limited number of officers available to monitor speeding and write tickets: the use of portable radar speed display signs, which they move to a different roadway each week.

"It makes it possible to use our police officers more efficiently, because we know exactly when and where to target our enforcement. We are very pleased with the results," said a township official. The township purchased one of these meters, and were so satisfied with the results, that about a year ago they purchased a second one. Cost per meter: approximately $3,000.

Quote from "Race residents balk at planned road changes," New Era Apr. 30, 2007: The mayor expressed little support this morning for the "non-physical" changes proposed by the neighbors. Police officers cannot be on Race Avenue at all times to discourage speeders and he does not believe the electronic speeding-alert signs will have the desired effect, he said, calling that proposal "dead on arrival."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Newspapers "In Bed" with General Hospital

I read Ernie Schreiber's editorial entitled "LGH contributions its fair share & more" in today's Lancaster New Era. Your coverage of the newspaper sucking up to the LGH must have hit a nerve as this editorial states that LGH pays approximately $3.9 million dollars to the various tax bases and school districts of Lancaster City and other municipalities within Lancaster County. The editorial is clearly written with an LGH pen. The question remains -- with $106 million made as a non-profit entity, where is the remaining approximate $102 million dollars going?

The continued biased coverage of the newspaper in the favor of LGH is astounding. Have you noted that prominent members of the Steinman family (Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. is a Steinman Enterprise) serve on the Lancaster General Hospital Board of Trustees? With this kind of "in bed" relationship with the newspapers, will LGH and its administrators and its providers ever be a target of Lancaster newspapers ridicule? The answer is clearly "no".