Monday, April 28, 2008

Martin Running the Show

The Wednesday 9:15 AM Commissioner Meeting is a permanent time and date in my book. It is so very evident that Scott Martin is running the show using Dennis Stuckey as the front.

Craig Lehman enjoys being the martyr so to speak.

All three answered yes when asked if Dale High contributed to their campaign and Scott Martin has his sights on Senator Rick Santorum's old job.

Martin was the ring leader for getting rid of Mark Esterbrook. I will bet the house on that as well!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

LETTER: Wachovia Bank In "Deep Doo Doo"

Please take a look at the Wall Street Journal Friday and Saturday of this week.

Cities are bagging their downtown projects due to economic conditions and four cities are cited.

Saturday's WSJ article was about Wachovia Bank. They are being investigated for two problems: First for targeting seniors and now for laundering drug monies from Mexico and Columbia.

After reading this article, one will want to take any money they have with Wachovia and run. If you are a borrower, no problem. The bank is in deep doo doo.

Editor's response:

Wachovia is too big a bank to be allowed to fail. The worse case scenario is that it will be merged into another institution. The bonds will continue to be guaranteed, although the credit rating might go from AA to something less. Or they may even go up! But probably neither will happen.

More likely, Wachovia will cut back on staff and expansion. Its stock will drop in price. But it will stay in business and ultimately fully recover.

Yes, the bonds were offered to other banks who declined to guarantee them. Wachovia took a giant risk, and they may have done it as a quid pro quo for some benefits elsewhere. But the latter is speculation.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

CC: "A bad idea and an ultimate failure"

While the entire financial structure and "deal" with our private "partner" along with the news coverage from a subsidiary of the same "partner" are offensive and a fraud on the public, they are not the worst part of this project, they are merely multipliers of the waste, deception, and corruption that piggybacks itself on such a large publicly funded white elephant.The worst part of the CC project, in my opinion, is the underlying premise that it will serve as an economic catalyst to 1) increase county-wide hotel occupancy, and 2) jump start and sustain downtown revitalization. There is no better indicator that this project will be a failure than the fact that the entire industry it was sold to support and bolster is against it.

This project is a hospitality industry project and it has not a single, uninterested (I am not counting High Hotels or the Brunswick) supporter within that industry. Even Willow Valley, called to support the LCCCA's case during the hotel tax trial, has jumped ship.

Why can't this project find any support from within the industry...the premise simply does not work. Not only is the CC concept a general failure, read the Brookings Report, but it's benefits will never outweigh its burdens in the Lancaster marketplace. I can go on and on with the reasons why, such as the lack ofinfrastructure, the seasonal nature of the market, etc., etc., etc, but the simple reality is that it is not the answer for Lancaster. Unlike other cities who do not have a significant tourism industry prior to going the CC route, we have something to lose/kill in the process of making bad decisions.As for downtown revitlaization, the key is occupancy. Whether the goal is to create activity (putting people on the streets) or consumption (people spending money), the CC will be dark way too much to have an impact. No store or coffee shop will be able to live off of a building with 20-30% yearly occupancy. Furthermore, the economic models used by PSP would require most convention attendees to make 100% of their expenditures within the four walls of the hotel and CC in order to meet those projected goals. Once again, the premise simply does not work. Say what you want about HACC, that would have meant thousands of people in that space at least 6 days a week fron morning through night.The best way that I can sum up the entire proposal is to say if it were to be built on Route 30 East, or somewhere in the "tourism zone", which would make the most sense since that is a) where the highest concentration of hotel rooms exists and b) is the area which is responsible for drawing the majority of our tourists, I would still contend the project would still be a BAD idea and an ultimate FAILURE.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Defends Sentencing of Spiese

Two recent letters regarding child pornography somewhat miss the point. We are a nation of laws. We can discuss the morality of Mr. Spiese's actions, we can argue the psychology, we can castigate or rationalize depending on our own standards, but the real point is that the Commonwealth has laws regarding child pornography. Mr. Spiese knew the law. He broke the law. And he got a slap on the wrist for it.

If your other correspondents see no problem in the suffering and abuse of extremely young children, then work to change the existing laws and their penalties. As for all the psychobabble about porn users and the likelihood of them engaging in perversion with children, one has only to read the case histories of the most perverse of our serial rapist/murderers/cannibals. Every single one, without exception were extensively involved with pornography. Both Jeffrey Dahmer's last interview and Ted Bundy's last interview spoke of the line they crossed from "enjoying" pornography to acting out the things they had learned on many unwilling, unwitting victims.

Mr. Spiese may not have physically harmed any children (that we know of), but children were brutally and perhaps permanently harmed in the production of those materials.

It is one thing to be supportive of a man in his struggle to rehabilitate. It is another thing to excuse him, make this all sound like he has been persecuted, or dismiss this as no big deal. The number of small children being victimized is ever increasing. It seems to take a Jessica Lundy abduction, rape, and murder to shock us these days. Anything less gets whitewashed away.

Editor's Note: In retrospect, we did not give sufficient gravity to the concept that, by patronizing children pornography sites, a person was creating a market that could lead to child exploitation. Nevertheless, we think the furor over Spiese involves more than this valid concern, and branding him a
sex offender and punishing him for eleven years is excessive.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Convention Center Logistics

Three years ago, in submitted letters to the LCCCA, I noted (with detailed explanation) that it would take 2-1/2 hours to offload 2000 attendees (40 buses) for an event of a single start time. (Many of the conventions have sessions for all the attendees, as opposed to trade shows which have scattered arrival times.)

Picture it: 40 coaches lined up on Vine Street; and Mabel, in coach #28, has to pee!

Convention Center Deal "Bizarre"

The way this whole convention center deal has been put together and built is very bizarre at best!!

From the choice of location (downtown – high crime area where you have to dive bullets & racing police cars) to how the taxpayer funding was put together reeks of fraud.

Dick & Molly tried their very best to question the process and in doing so their reputations were questioned in the media daily and their political careers destroyed by Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.

Now that LCCCA is getting closer to opening its doors, no one has any idea how to operate it. Just building a nice fancy building does not mean that enough conventioneers and trade shows will come with large enough groups for cash flow – but then who is worried about cash flow?

With all the crime & traffic problems in the city of Lancaster we will wind up being the laughing stock of the industry.


Since all the Lancaster County hotels and lodging properties have not been brought into the deal from the beginning for planning and working together to solicit, book and work together to make sure every event is successful – this is totally crazy. It is real simple – the convention center cannot be successful in booking large events without all the Lancaster County properties participating.

I do not believe that NewsLanc will be effective in stopping this rip off of Lancaster County taxpayer's money. It is my opinion that we would better serve our community and ourselves in a more positive way by spending our efforts trying to get a federal investigation into how [Senator Gibson] Armstrong, High and Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. pulled this rip off deal in the first place.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Transportation reality check...

3 weeks ago, the PDCVB made its best effort to have shuttle service run in a 1/4 mile loop between 4 hotel properties and the Dutch Wonderland parking lot. Needless to say, after considerable effort, the best they could find were 2 Friendly Taxi vans which were totally unable to deal with the crowd and provide reasonable service. A service loop less than HALF A MILE.

Last weekend, the PDCVB, facilitated a very large religious gathering at the Host and had 2 Shultz school buses ferrying people around. I have nothing against the fine folks at Shultz, they drive my daughter daily, but I hardly think that school buses are synonymous with the first class facility that we are building. This time the service loop was larger, 2 miles.

How in the HE%L are going to move people from all corners of the County into downtown and back again?

Mayor Gray proves he is stupider and stupider when he makes ridiculous comments like he did about plenty of parking and no "no vacancy" signs at our garages... The Convention Center will never have enough occupancy to support a free standing garage. That being the case, the garages must have a steady enough stream of "regular"/contract and day parkers to support their operations.

The problem is that when you do actually draw a huge crowd there is not enough parking leftover. Since the Jacob Javitz Convention Center was built in NYC, also to promote neighborhood revitalization, only one thing has changed in that neighborhood...the parking lots in the area that typically charge $20-$30/day, charge $60 flat, paid in advance, for 10 minutes or 10 hours, when the lights are on in the center.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Funding of City Scape Projects

There are several ways besides grant money that only [Paul] Thibault will be able to find IF he gets elected and can pork up some bills. Another way is a one-time tax by the city onto the property owners and, of course, you can always raise the city tax to increase the funds to maintain a budget.

Just addressing our County and each of our municipalities, permits and transfer taxes are down approximately 56%... We are currently spending budgets that were approved on speculation of last years income.

Therefore SMART government would take a look at projected projects that are not necessary this year and put them on hold as the funds are 1/2. Even taxes due to foreclosures are down as income.

This is all going to cause a HUGE tax increase next year to property owners or a special tax to make up the loss.

Here the city which is the highest taxed municipality in our county is going crazy to spruce up the area that will appear very similar to Atlantic City, but of course on a smaller scale. As the years go on, businesses will foot the bill as grant money will dry up.

ONLY the upper middle class and higher or the VERY poor will be able to call Lancaster City their home. This will culminate in about 5-10 years and the train is going very fast these days.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

F & M "Public Forums" Biased

I have attended enough F&M "public forums" to know first hand how these "forums" are conducted. What they really are, are well-planned professionally-run presentations of the current project that F&M wants the public to accept unconditionally.

They are strictly controlled meetings in which the administrator in charge (usually Keith Orris) knows in advance of the meeting who is in favor and who is not; the former are allowed to speak, the latter are not. Any ideas that do not conform to F&M's ideas are stifled. Other views or ideas are not solicited or permitted to be aired at the meeting...

F&M tries to equate their "public meetings" with "open hearings." They are public meetings in that the public may attend. "Open hearings," that is, meetings in which various viewpoints may be presented, they are not.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Questions ACLU statistics

ACLU representative cites 428 violent crimes in Hazleton -- only four "committed" by illegal immigrants,.

Are we to assume that ALL of the 428 violent crimes were solved, the offenders convicted, and only 4 were illegals?

Or do we believe that only 4 illegals were arrested, tried and convicted and weighed against an unknown number of domestic villains, also tried and convicted?

Is NewsLanc solely about the Convention Center?

My wife and I were handed one of your flyers when we entered the market on April 5th. I was very excited while reading this while my wife was shopping, I couldn't wait to get home to my laptop.

I am well aware of how the media never reports the whole story or very little good news. My question to NewsLanc would be: is this project going to have anything to do with anything other than anti-Convention Center bias?

Don't get me wrong, I have never been in favor of the Convention Center. I just think the Lancaster County has many other problems. Try driving the speed limit on Routes 222, 283, or 30 and see how you are a traffic hazard.

For years it was excepted by the police to drive 7 mph over the speed limit, now it's more like 15 to 20 mph over. With gas at only $3.25 a gallon we all can afford it. Maybe when it gets to $6.00 a gallon as it in Europe we will slow down.

Editor's Response: A resounding YES! We welcome leads or articles on all subjects and our staff (as small as it is) reports on the most important regional meetings and performs investigations. Nevertheless, the Convention Center requires critical coverage because it is not about to come from the monopoly press.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Interest In Closing

As of a few minutes ago, there are nearly 8,000 hits on the talk back thread about Ron Harper closing down

Just yesterday I was reading how media companies and sources follow a curve from introduction to maturity to demise. It is a typical business model.

This Convention Center issue may have eroded the credibility of LNP and accelerated its downslide. The introduction of new technology and new competition are also classic reasons for a business's decline.

Maybe the 8000 mark will be reached before thy close the thread down. It should send a signal to LNP that folks are listening to critics.

Editor's Note: Eight thousand hits represents about a thousand people.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The importance of legacy

In my own philosophy, the "afterlife" is actually the legacy each of us leaves. The more positive and loving the legacy: Heaven. Negative memories or legacy: Hell. Heaven and Hell are not PLACES, but represent the legacy each of us leaves

Tiptoeing through local history

The legacy Art Morris will leave? How about the shutdown of the Southern Market, turning it into meeting rooms, and GIVING a large portion of it to the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry for their headquarters - the same Lancaster Chamber which created the Lancaster Alliance and the Lancaster Campaign, which answers directly to the biggest corporations in Lancaster County, and which is behind the hotel and convention center project.

Had the Southern Market been properly promoted instead of intentionally forced to wither and die by Art Morris, Lancaster wouldn't "need" a convention center to bring tourists into Lancaster - they would already be here. I remember when one the biggest issues in downtown Lancaster was 'too many tourists,' brought in by too many tour buses, and where to park the buses. Former mayor Tom Monaghan - the architect of the "Urban Renewal"destruction of so much of downtown Lancaster - pushed through a silly $4 tax on each tour bus, which drove the tour operators away from downtown Lancaster.

As mayor, Art Morris could have reversed this mistake through appropriate aggressive action, however he instead gave in to powerful interests (the same interests behind the hotel and convention center project) and turned one of Lancaster's greatest historical assets into a pseudo-town hall combined with a prestigious home for the lobbying organization which represents so many of the most powerful special interests in Lancaster.

And speaking of "legacy": don't forget about "Arthur E. Morris Parkway", off Pitney Road, which services the water plant.