Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lauds current Convention Center Board

we are so fortunate to have the current Convention Center board. They will go down in history as creating the life preserver needed to enable this plane to land as safe as possible with as few casualties as possible.

We better not forget the time and effort they are spending , their positive attitude, and the bonding of City and County members. One can feel the sincerety in comments and actions.

I have to keep saying how fortunate we were to have had two prior commissioners that made some mistakes as we all do BUT put their jobs on the line by questioning the project. They searched for and appointed people who took on the role of keeping the taxpayers interest at the forefront.

Have Fulton invest LCCCA construction funds

When I shared this information with my financial advisor earlier this week who does risk managing for municipalities, his advice was the LCCCA shoould better call in their monies and not even consider collateral.

My personal suggestion to the finance committee is to go to Fulton Bank, a past limited partner of Penn Square Partners, and have them put together a good package for this construction money because they are VERY conservative and, if this project is such a good idea, who better to give us an extra point or two on 25 to 30 million dollars?

Clarification concerning LCCCA bond proceeds

Wachovia sold the LCCCA's construction bonds in late March of 2007, and administers their funds. As a part of the deal, the $64 million in bond proceeds was handed over to M&T Bank, which is responsible for investing the bond proceeds until the money is actually spent. The investment was put out to bid, in compliance with the law, under a multitude of factors that I don't pretend to understand. I do know that the funds must be readily available, and bidders must have held an AAA rating. MBIA was the highest bidder, offering 5.3% interest.

The problem started when the major financial rating agencies found out that MBIA has a substantial exposure in guaranteeing equities consisting of sub-prime mortages. Even though this is only a part of MBIA's overall business, they could lose a LOT of money on these shaky investments. As a result, the major rating agencies lowered their assessment of MBIA's creditworthiness.

This triggered provisions in the LCCCA's contract with MBIA, which spell out that in the event the company investing the LCCCA's funds would lose two steps in its credit rating, MBIA has fifteen days to either "collateralize" the LCCCA's remaining funds (which I understand means MBIA must have enough cash on hand to repay the LCCCA's money)*, or the LCCCA has the RIGHT to request all of their remaining funds to be refunded, without penalty and with accrued interest. The LCCCA leadership has clearly stated that if MBIA does not collateralize their funds by the end of the 15 days, or July 7th,they will demand all of their money back. If this were to happen, the $25 to $30 million remaining would be reinvested in money market funds.

Here's where it gets complicated: the LCCCA isn't the only agency looking for similar guarantees. When MBIA's credit rating was reduced, it triggered similar provisions on many other contracts. On top of that, some agencies/companies/people will no longer do as much business with MBIA, simply because their credit rating is less than perfect.

MBIA has been trying to avoid disaster by selling off municipal bonds, which are the safest investment available. MBIA claims they have more than enough cash to meet their contractural obligations. However, if for some unknown reason they don't, MBIA would be forced to ask the courts for bankruptcy protection. If MBIA would declare bankruptcy before the LCCCA funds are collateralized or refunded, the LCCCA would be unable to access its money. As a result, construction of the project would quickly come to a halt.

As best as I can tell from reading multiple news sources, the LCCCA's money is most likely quite safe. But however unlikely, bankruptcy could happen.

Editor's note. "Collateralizing" might be achieved by having others with an AAA or AA rating add their guarantee.

Friday, June 27, 2008

If the lights go out at King and Queen...

Last night the attendance at the Convention Center Authority board meeting was scant. As I sat there and listened to ALL the change orders, the quote "It is what it is" kept running through my mind. Looking up at the board, I humbly respect all the time and effort put forth on behalf of our County and again thank heavens for Douglas, Campbell, Nelson, Dixon and Morris. Fry is never there, how many meetings can a board member miss?

The remaining member, Mr. Darcus was chairman of the board whose City appointed majority members who accepted the line , "If the attorneys approve of these agreements, we do not need to read them." Remember?

I had the pleasure of meeting the new Executive Director, Kevin Molloy... very enthusiastic and he knows the industry. Too bad he wasn't known years ago but, then again, I doubt he would have been hired to be the 'yes man' that Stevens and Lee needed.

Hopefully all the knowledge and skills that now hold this board together will bring this project to reality and be a success.

Finally, I have to go back to the money situation. ALL financial institutions and investment companies are CASH POOR right now, my friends. We may have to pay dearly for gambling for a higher rate of interest. I am afraid this situation is not going to get better soon.

In times like this Cash is King and this firm with whom Authority money has been invested is Cash poor according to my financial information. We may have a huge White Elephant if we do not get OUR money back.

Mr. Beckett was smiling, was it because he has been paid? I was not smiling when I heard the news last night

If the lights go out on the corner of King and Queen for lack of funds, the Crap Shooters should be listed on the front page of the Lancaster Post for the next 8 issues!!!!!!!!! I can see it now, all the Post boxes glued, stolen and Chris and Ron kidnapped, later found safe and sound on Figi, not knowing how they got there like Mr. T, (Remember him?), and PSP changing their addresses to DUBAI with not a word about this printed in the LNP.

The 500,000 residents less the above citizens will just go about their business paying higher County taxes. Lurking in the background will be another admirable County leader waiting for his or her turn to be creative with supposedly free money.

Editor's note: Do we laugh or cry?

"Good Samaritan" Policies Save Lives

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which makes policy recommendations addressing the concerns of the nation's cities, just unanimously adopted a resolution in support of comprehensive overdose prevention policies such as 911 Good Samaritan laws. Good Samaritan laws encourage people who witness an overdose to call 911 by providing limited immunity from drug possession charges. This and other measures endorsed in the resolution could save thousands of lives.

The implications of their recommendation especially have meaning to families who have lost youngsters or loved ones from overdoses because the victim's companions tragically delayed seeking medical aid for fear of being prosecuted for using illegal drugs.

It is important that there be an understanding between hospitals and police that such calls will be kept confidential and that the police will not seek to discover the identitiestities of the "Good Samaritans" who called the hospital or 911 for help.

Convention Center Over-Sized

The Pa League of Cities is one of the groups touted from the beginning in the pitching of the project)...

If, at 500 attendees, it is the largest group: that is truly disaster. The Convention Center can take 2,000 at a gathering. If all the other booked events are smaller, then there is still no evidence to justify the construction of such a large venue.

"Plum" Convention but No Overflow Hotel Business

Rick Gray is very influential in the PA League of Cities. It was announced in the newspaper last year that Gray was working to get their convention in Lancaster for 2009. (Editor's note: The date has indeed been booked.)

LCCCA Executive director Kevin Molloy said he expects that it will be 10 to 15 years before the PA League of Cities would return to Lancaster. Chairman [and former Lancaster mayor] Art Morris stated he, as past president of the League, believes they will return in five.

The newspaper article noted the PA League of Cities convention will require 200 hotel rooms. Since the Penn Square Partner's Marriott Hotel will have 300 rooms, this means there will be no overflow rooms needed.

At a recent Convention Center Authority committee meeting, Josh Nowak of Interstate Hotels admitted there are no events yet booked that will require any lodging beyond the Marriott. So much for the many repeated promises (lies) made to Lancaster taxpayers [and to the hoteliers throughout the County when the hotel room tax was enacted].

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Few Updates from LCCCA Board Meeting*

The LCCCA construction bond revenue balance was reported tonight to be $25 million. I suspect this is because hard construction expenditures totaled nearly $6 million this month.

The Moody's rating of MBIA was reported to be A2. I had quoted from a Reuters news article.

The interest rate being received from MBIA was reported to be 5.3%. If the remaining funds are cashed out, they will be deposited in a money market account, at a little more than 2% return.

If MBIA does not collateralize the LCCCA's account, the LCCCA would need to ask for a refund from MBIA; it would not be automatic. The refund would include accrued interest, with no penalty. The LCCCA is under no obligation to claim its cash, but their intention is to do so.

The Guaranteed Interest Contract was reported to expire on October 1, 2008.

I may have missed a few other details, I had to briefly leave the meeting at an inopportune time. My apologies

* The editor acknowledges at this point the subject matter is over his head. The source is credible but not expert, and is not necessarily correct in this instance. Comments by others are most welcome.

Center's Funding Possibly Might be Cut Off

When Wachovia Bank sold the $64 million in convention center construction bonds, the proceeds were transferred to M&T Bank for investment. Under the terms of the investment contract, the account holding these funds must have been put out for bid. One of the few methods allowable under the bond agreements is known as a "Guaranteed Investment Contract", where a financial company will invest these funds for the maximum rate of return. Only companies with AAA ratings were considered.

The winner of the bidding process was MBIA, a diversified insurance company that has several divisions, including one that specializes in municipal accounts. Their contract provides the LCCCA with somewhere around 5 1/4% interest on the remaining balance in their construction account, which is currently around $30 million.

One of the terms of this agreement is that if the rating of the company falls two full steps, from AAA to AA, the investment company has 15 days to either refund the LCCCA's cash balance, or "capitalize" the remaining balance by holding enough cash on hand to cover the LCCCA's account balance.

On Friday, June 20th, 2008, Standard and Poor's lowered MBIA's ratings to "AA". The same day, Moody's lowered MBIA's ratings to "Baa2", the second lowest investment grade. Fitch initially lowered its rating to "AA"; but after MBIA stopped providing financial information, Fitch today (June 26) ceased rating the company. These actions last Friday immediately triggered the capitalization provision of the Guaranteed Investment Contract; MBIA has until Monday, July 7 to either set aside enough cash to back up the LCCCA's investment, or refund the LCCCA's balance in cash.

In the extremely unlikely event that MBIA would declare bankruptcy before the company fulfills its contractural obligations to the LCCCA, nearly half of the convention center's construction funds would immediately become unavailable. If this were to happen (there is a very low probability that it would), whether the LCCCA's funds would ever be returned would depend on the courts. Without the ability to access its funds, the LCCCA would be unable to pay its bills, and construction of the convention center would quickly come to a halt - indefinitely.

MBIA closed today (June 26) at $4.39, down from a 52-week high of $68.98.

Editor's note: Wachovia Bank has guaranteed the bond funds. It would seem likely that no matter what arrangement Wachovia may have subsequently entered into with others, Wachovia would remain obligated to the Convention Center Authority and Penn Square Partners to fund construction draw requests. Meanwhile, the Authority awaits passage of the State budget so that it can draw down promised State funds.

Two Standards for Privacy

John Fry will do whatever it takes to get what he wants and it doesn't matter how it affects the surrounding neighborhood. And when it comes to issues of safety (personal or institutional), I think he is paranoid.

His reaction to Ron Harper, Jr? Ron may not have acted in the most professional manner, but he was carrying a camera – not a gun. There was no threat to John Fry's or his family's safety at any time.

Consider this: This is the man (John Fry) who thought it was okay to violate the civil rights (guaranteed by the Constitution) of the property owners across the street from the college by videotaping their front yards, sidewalks, front porches and fronts of their houses (blocking only doors and windows, which was required by law) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and having the resulting tapes the property, not of the city police, but of the private corporation that he heads. And this, even, without the approval of the affected homeowners.

And when some of these homeowners protested, John Fry sent a letter to one of the protesters, saying that the homeowners should accept this "for the common good" of the public. At the very least, John Fry demonstrates inconsistency.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Decision Time

So the point is: Senator Armstrong says "no" to schools and "yes" to the convention center.

There is little difference between organized crime and government. (Though it took decades for governments to share control of the gambling industry.)

CC Scaffolding Coming Down!

As I write this, the scaffolding which supported the facade of the Watt &
Shand building is being disassembled.

The first section being removed faces Penn Square, on the east side.

How F&M Could Help the Neighborhood

I appreciate the cultural opportunities that F&M provides to the entire community and I consider the College to be one of Lancaster's greatest assets. However, I am not alone in considering that John Fry is a different type of president than what we were used to previously. A woman who has lived in the same house in the College neighborhood for more than 50 years recently said, referring to issues that concerned her neighbors, "We didn't seem to have these kinds of problems before John Fry came here." Other home owners have criticized John Fry for "not caring about the neighbors".

An article about Paris in the Oct. 2006 issue of National Geographic, titled "Space for the Soul", described the urban areas in the city of Paris that have been turned into "green playing fields" to be used by the citizens of Paris. This brought to my mind an idea: Instead of developing Butler Field as he is reportedly planning to do, why doesn't John Fry decide to retain Butler Field as an open green space, to be available to the community for rest and recreation? Little League soccer games could continue to be played there and the field could be used by all ages to walk, play or simply relax.

An overpass could be built across Harrisburg Pike, for easy access.... The playing fields could be called the "John Fry Playing Fields" or something similar, to give him recognition for adding to the livability of this area. This is especially important since Lancaster City and its suburbs are deficient in the amount of open green space for the size of the population that lives here. This would go a long way towards creating good will with residents in Lancaster City and Township, and especially School Lane Hills.

In addition, if John Fry would decide to clean the former city dump on both sides of the Conestoga and not just the side where the train tracks are to go, that would create additional good will, especially with those who live in the Barrcrest and Farmingdale neighborhoods.

And, if John Fry would take responsibility for providing sufficient on-campus parking for student cars by building a multi-level parking deck or parking garage on campus property , that would help to create acceptance for F&M’s controversial multi-unit plan for student housing (James Street Properties) on city streets east of the campus.

These acts would help to maintain the regard that city and county residents have traditionally held for F&M as an institution, and would create a legacy that would continue long after John Fry's term as president of F&M has terminated and he goes on to a new challenge at another institution of higher learning.

Monday, June 23, 2008

F&M Eliminated Public Input Until Very End

I attended the public meeting that F&M hosted Thursday evening and indeed, I have learned new things.

One, F&M has consistently stressed from the beginning an environmental benefit of "diverting approximately 55,000 truck trips annually from Central Pennsylvania highways and roads". A Norfolk Southern representative confirmed that those 55,000 truck trips DO NOT EXIST and further commented that he stressed to F&M that this statement NOT be used. Yet Keith Orris used it twice during the meeting.

Two, it has been consistently implied by F&M to the residents of the affected neighborhoods that the proposed rail yard location behind the post office will be used for storage of empty cars awaiting the return trip to the Enola yard. In fact, the train master of the Dillerville yard told me at the public meeting that the railroad would use the new location to store, at least in part, incoming raw materials that are not scheduled to leave the yard for delivery on a timely basis. This may include hazardous materials.

Three, F&M has made many statements about the community service they are providing by remediating the former municipal dump. Unfortunately, they are only remediating a portion of the old dump. In fact, there is no plan to remediate the portion of the dump to the west of the Little Conestoga. John Fry suggested, in relation to property value questions, that our neighborhoods are better off with a rail yard in place of a dump. How considerate of him. It would appear we are now to have both.

From the very beginning, F&M has worked on this in a vacuum, eliminating public input until the very end, and then, only in response to the concerns of our neighborhoods, presented statements that misconstrue the facts. One begins to wonder what other mis-statements or half-truths may be floating around this project, such as presenting averages for noise levels rather than maximum levels that will be heard. One woman noted during the public comments, and I paraphrase, "When my ears hear the impact noise in the middle of the night, they do not average the sound before giving it to my brain."

If this behavior is the 'progress' our leaders talk about being needed for our county, I suggest that Lancaster has had enough growth, thank you. And what kind of example is F&M setting for our nation's future business leaders?

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Tragic, but Amusing"

Since most trade and consumer shows now travel in 53-foot trucks, once each show experiences difficulty loading in and out,a second booking will be rare. If the venue gets a rep for a PIA (Editor's presumption:Pain in the a--?) house, the consumer shows, which need vast local attendees to justify a booking, may not come back, and the PIA rep will travel through the industry. A consumer (or trade) show show must attract a large number of attendees. That is the measure of success. Period. And a consumer show is depending on a local crowd.

Unless it has been rectified, the loading docks cannot accommodate 53' trucks, nor can the larger trucks get in and out.

Unless it has been rectified, the rake (slant) of the pavement at the loading area will make loading in and out very difficult. Each dock space should be level with the trailer, or the load can't move.

When trade show vendors load out, they all want to be out at same time as soon as the event closes. If it costs them extra time because their truck is in Quarryville ... guess what.

"State of the Art" in the business is the accessibility.

None of this information is new. But what is significant in the report is that the majority of the shows are consumer shows (hotel art, computer shows, etc.) seeking a local audience. Also, a consumer show generally has one vendor which is booking the event, opposed to a trade show which sublets the booth spaces to many vendors.

This is going to be amusing ... tragic, but amusing.

So Far CC Booked for 30 Days in 2009

Just a brief comment about the LCCCA's Public Relations, Marketing, and Hospitality Committee meeting which was held at 4:30 PM on Thursday, June 19, 2008 at the Southern Market:

To date, there are 8 confirmed "consumer shows" scheduled for 2009 (out of an expected 7), for a total of 20 days; there are 2 confirmed "trade shows" scheduled for 2009 (out of an expected 7), for a total of four days; there are 3 "other" events scheduled for 2009 (out of an expected 44), for a total of 6 days.

One previously scheduled event has rescheduled for 2010.

During his presentation, Josh Nowak, the local director of sales and marketing for Interstate Hotels and Resorts, spoke glowingly about trade show events he and his staff have attended. Josh used the term "successful" so many times that Kevin Fry, committee chairman, asked Josh to explain what he meant by "successful". This resulted in Josh doing a fair amount of back-pedaling.

Josh Nowak also described at length how many potential clients will wait until some kind of milestone is reached before they will book an event at a new facility. Josh expressed the opinion that the actual opening of the facility will precipitate quite a few additional events.

And the band played on...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Drug Courts Appear to Work!

[At a presentation made by Douglas B. Marlowe, J. D., Ph.D., Chief of Science, Policy & Law for the National association of Drug Court Professionals, Marlowe concluded]"..that the efficacy of adult criminal drug courts has been established beyond a reasonable doubt. This does not mean they are proven beyond any shadow of doubt, but the great weight of the evidence favors their efficacy."

You may also wish to check out the NADCP website at

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Philadelphia CC 10% to 15% Over Budget

This reads strangely familiar.....all they need is a suit filed against them by the hoteliers.....politicians playing around with our money (the state is footing the bill).

"Delays hike costs of Convention Center expansion
By Marcia Gelbart
Inquirer Staff Writer

"Two years of delayed demolition work on the Convention Center expansion have taken a toll: The project's first-phase costs are at least $20 million higher than anticipated, according to sources close to the project.

"Those costs represent a 10 percent to 15 percent increase over budget...

Good Questions!

Kudos, NewsLanc, on the thoughtful, measured, eloquent editorials in reference to F&M's avoidance of media and re: their Public Safety Director. Every question you posed was a question I had been thinking about ever since the incident. Hope you will keep the pressure on!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

How Marriott Will Appear

The first sections of the hotel tower facade have been set in place, on its east side. You can see a picture of them at the following link:

These panels have repeatedly been described as "precast concrete" at many different LCCCA and committee meetings.

The entire hotel tower will be covered with panels like these, which appear darker in person than they look in this photograph.

The skyline of downtown Lancaster will be dominated for generations by these panels.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

People Under Glass Pyramids Should Not Throw Stones

The additional cost of the glass pyramid covering the roof terrace was largely offset by savings realized through the elimination of expensive water insulation, interior storm water drains, and, of course, fenestration – all rendered superfluous by the enclosing pyramid structure itself. The resulting year-round "flex-space" lends itself to a number of public and private uses, including receptions and performances (the 25th reunion of the McCaskey class of 1984 may be held there next summer). The revenue generated by renting out this truly unique space should help defray the Academy's considerable operating costs and should make a welcome addition to Lancaster's performing arts spaces.

The glass pyramid was one of many improvements to Philip Johnson's original plans suggested or otherwise approved by PAM's founders, Frances Veri and Michael Jamanis. Had NewsLanc bothered to interview the architect, Alan Ritchie, or the general contractor, Benchmark, at the grand opening, you would have learned of the great lengths Veri & Jamanis went to reduce expenses during a time of soaring material and energy costs.

Of course perfection has its price, and in PAM's case the price of perfection was unusually steep given the extraordinary degree of customization and total commitment to acoustical and architectural excellence throughout the building (although the choral room, an earlier gift incorporated into the new Academy building, leaves something to be desired despite reconstruction of the ceiling).

The black-tie reception, concert, and dinner you refer to was intended primarily for donors and friends of PAM, including individuals of modest means who volunteered their time and donated materials to help Veri & Jamanis realize their dream of building a world class music school and concert hall in Lancaster, Pennsylvania...

NewsLanc frequently criticizes the Lancaster Newspapers for skewed reporting or failing to get their facts straight. People sitting under glass pyramids should not throw stones.

Missing Tim Russert

You never know how integral a part of your life a person whom you have never met face to face has become until that person suddenly disappears from the scene. [My wife] and I were out shopping and for a meal tonight. We only learned about the death of Tim Russert an hour ago. Both of us shed a few tears as if a close relative had died.

Surrounded by so many phonies on the public scene, Tim Russert was genuine in every facet of his life and of his craft. No politician could bamboozle him without having his bluff called. [My wife] and I watched MEET THE PRESS just about every Sunday. We did not realize until today that he had become a close friend of the family. We'll miss him sorely.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Convention Center / Hotel One Big Building

I was surprised to learn that there is only one central location for all of
the Convention Center facility's heating and cooling; these units will serve the entire Marriott Hotel and the Convention Center.

The heating and cooling will be distributed by two four-pipe loops, two for heating and two for cooling, separated into zones.

The heaters and chillers will be located in the basement of the hotel tower. A cooling tower will be installed on the roof of the hotel tower. And air handlers will be located throughout the building, which will transfer either the heat or the cooling from the pipes into specific areas of the facility. Three of the largest air handlers are easily visible from the parking garage, on the roof above the loading docks.

The fact that the entire facility is dependent upon a single heating and cooling system proves that this is in reality only one extremely large building. There is no separate hotel and/or convention center; it is one great big building.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Re "In the Eyes of a Visitor" in Planning & Real Estate

How??????? The people of Lancaster City and County have practically nothing to do with how "successful" the project is. Even Interstate's people have admitted this. All of the planning and negotiations are between Interstate and convention organizers.

If someone can explain to me how "local city and county upper middle class plus will make the Convention Center work", PLEASE let us know. I really want to hear about this.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Other Side of Trash

Since I first heard of NewsLanc.Com on WLPA 1490, I have been in love with the site and material. I have long looked for someone to call out the truth in what I always felt was shady reporting by local newspapers and outlets. I always felt that the wrong side of reporting was always published. What I mean by that is, whoever had more power always looked better in the article. Then you guys came along and I find myself shaking my head saying yes to everything you report.

I have one issue, if I may, with something I've seen you report lately.

I have noticed a lot that you seem to report about the city trash program and its "czar" as if everything they are doing is golden. I was involved in the hauling business for many years until the "czar" came in and basically wiped out any small hauler.

He does a very good job of portraying himself as the savior to the trash woes of Lancaster, yet he helped strong-arm the small business owners out in favor of a one hauler system who is out of area, employs anyone that will apply, throws cans and bins back, and mostly have a general disregard for peoples' property.

I know some of the former haulers are at fault, it would be wrong of me to think some otherwise. But when all the avenues were being discussed on how to better the city, he never once cared what our views were on it? Sure they held meetings, and forums to play the role of "we're listening". But does it make sense to hold meetings during the day or weeknights when most haulers have to either work or get an early nights rest because we started so early?

He may have a vision for what he feels is right, but wouldn't it be better to ask the haulers since they work in this everyday? Sure he claims to have worked in the industry, but he no longer does. Besides, wouldn't it have been better to employ someone local for the job, who may live in Lancaster and see and feel the needs of it, instead of someone who lives outside the area?

I apologize if this sounds like a scorned former hauler, but for a news outlet I hold in high regards because they get the other side's view, I find it tough to read some of the articles written about him or his program. When the other side is never heard. It makes me feel like I'm reading the LancasterOnline.Com website!

That last line was a tongue in cheek remark to end things light....

Continue to report fine information, I will always have NewsLanc.Com bookmarked!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Did F & M Seek Assistance From City Police?

Did F&M contact the Lancaster Police last Tuesday seeking assistance and response to the "trespassers" at Nevonia or did they merely inform the LCPD of the actions and response of their private security force to the events in question?

News accounts would have you believe that F&M only sent in their "troops" when the LCPD failed to respond. A previous report on NewsLanc questions that lack of response by LCPD.*

Based on the LCPD press release, I question why they would have responded. It appears to me that F&M was merely apprising them of the situation. I think some clarification is in order.

Did F&M call the LCPD looking for a response from their officers? Is there a tape of that call that is public? If not, F&M should set the record straight on who was directed to respond, when, and why.

*NewsLanc's intent was to determine whether F & M's claim that they had sought assistance from the Lancaster Police was accurate. We draw the same conclusion as the writer...that F & M was only apprising the city police.

Connections With Others

Mr. Fry - Read this book!

Tom Morris, in his latest business best seller If Harry Potter Ran General Electric, points out the importance of leaders maintaining their emotional self-control as Headmaster and Professor Albus Dumbledore always did.

Page 18: "How we govern and express our emotions can deepen or destroy our connections with others."

Lancaster Post Edition Too Focused on John Fry

The Post, this issue is far too much about John Fry. The readers that have really taken a liking to the publication may feel there is just too much about the assault.

Please do not take the wrong road. Continue to report, put smiles on the faces of those that appreciate the Post and how you are presenting issues and news.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

COMMENTARY: Proposed Revision to Charter is Promising

According to a thought-provoking June 7 New Era editorial, the Home Rule Commission is considering selecting future County Commissioners by districts, rather than at large.

This would be a big improvement over the current proposal that would reduce minority party representation from one of three commissioners to one of five. NewsLanc considered any such provision to virtually render the Charter D. O. A. (Dead on arrival.)

However we would not necessarily want for Lancaster City and Township to be one district as given as an example, because such Gerrymandering would virtually assure that the minority party would only be represented by a single commissioner. District boundaries should be negotiated beforehand between the local Republican and Democratic Parties and, upon passing of the Charter, approved as reasonable by a judge.

And we further disagree with the New Era that commissioners might earn only $10,000, ostensibly because they would only be involved in setting county policy. Unless we intend that the County Executive to be a virtual dictator during his or her term, the commissioners must exercise over sight for the administration of the government.

Also legislation, which includes approving budgets and adjusting taxes, isn’t just a matter of showing up and voting. It requires considerable exploration, research, vetting with constituents, and some travel. Pay only $10,000 a year, and only the rich or those unqualified or without the time to properly perform as commissioners will seek the office.

As they say, "You get what you pay for."

Have We "Scratched the Surface" for Downtown Parking?

Some comments on your parking story.

If that new garage at Queen and Chesnut is a private one, doesn't that mean a large private benefit is created by the County's ownership and occupancy of 150 N. Queen? The reality is that the County, and its workers, will create far more benefit and economic stimulus to the private sector than the convention center ever will and at a fraction of the cost. Retail shops, food and beverage outlets, and other
service businesses will soon flourish in that area. Good move Dick and Molly!

The topic of contract parking also raises many questions about parking for the CC. Chris Barrett, PDCVB President, has said our conventions will take place mid-week. That is the same time period where most garages, public or LPA, will have standing commitments to downtown workers. How many spaces are really left after you subtract the contract parkers, and those spaces committed solely to the "private"
hotel in the existing King St. garage? Have we even scratched the surface on the need to provide parking to the downtown behemoth? I say NOT!

City Police Should Have Been Called to Residential Neighborhood

I must offer an alternative view to the letter to the editor from Robert Field ... the same Robert Field who is the President of NewsLanc?

(Editor's note. The letter was from an unnamed source. Robert Field simply was the staff person who posted the letter on the blog site.)

Your comments about Ron Harper could be 100% accurate, and I still do not agree with your support of Fry.

College property or not, that is a residential neighborhood. Authorized or not, the city police department, with jurisdiction that neighborhood, should have been called, the same department as any other resident of School Lane Hills would have called if they were in "fear" of Harper. I am sure they would have responded had the call been, "intruder - children in danger!"

Playing the family card is a cheap trick because they should be left out of it, and I will not take on the issue of their ages, etcetera out of respect for them.

Fry went way overboard in calling out his dogs and they went way too far in their actions and now they must all, instigated or not by Ron Harper, be held accountable for their actions.

Original Issue Obscured by Events

The issue is F&M: Security acting as municipal police outside the property. (Orwellian at best!) It is important to not allow that issue to completely overshadow the original issue of the alleged preferential legal treatment of F&M students at the whim of the administration. Too often, as controversies evolve, the core issue becomes buried.

Editor's comment: We do not fault John Fry for seeking measured treatment for students, especially since the Iron Hill Restaurant operators apparent gross negligence in leaving the door open virtually invited student misconduct. We do question the wisdom of Fry leasing space under student living quarters to a saloon.

Fry Should Resign to Preserve F & M's Reputation

Having read comments by others (some of which are in response to my earlier letter posted above), it seems to me some are simply missing the point.

1. President John Fry's alleged "right to privacy" is not enshrined in the Bill of Rights. The two journalists' rights to freedom of speech (however narrowly defined), freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom from unlawful search and seizure are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

2. The newspaper box in question was being installed on public property WITHIN THE PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY, i.e. the unpaved public portion that adjoins roads. It is not President Fry's place to decide whether or not the journalists were trespassing there but the County.

3. The journalists, while standing across the road from Fry's residence (including one not banned from F&M grounds), were arrested and one beaten by campus police despite the fact he was not resisting arrest. This was a public lynching--a warning to all who would dare criticize President Fry. It has been many decades since behavior of this kind was tolerated in the United States.

4. It turns out the very same campus police which assaulted and arrested the two journalists for installing a newspaper box on the F&M side of Marietta Avene (so that it could be chained to a post) were the custodians for five days of the box removed earlier in the week from the other side of Marietta (where it could not be secured!) This was for no apparent reason other than the box was offensive to President Fry.

What right has a private security force to remove, or minimally to hide, a newspaper box situated on private property NOT belonging to F&M and falling within the public right of way? The only answer that does not make a complete mockery of the Bill of Rights is NONE WHATSOEVER.

5. President Fry recently justified F&M not contributing more towards city taxes on the grounds that it maintains a private campus police force serving the public good. For President Fry to countenance campus police force brutally silencing his critics is comparable to the Mayor dispatching the city police to beat up and arrest peaceful demonstrators. It is un-American and unacceptable.

6. President Fry and other high profile community leaders have an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner respectful of the Bill of Rights. Creating a permissive atmosphere whereby a college police force remains in custody of a privately owned newspaper box that had been placed on public property, and then beat up and arrest anyone who tries to replace it, is a clear violation of the spirit, if notthe letter, of the Bill of Rights and the laws of our country.

For the sake of preserving F&M's otherwise sterling reputation, President Fry should resign.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Blames Ron Harper, Jr; Praises John Fry

I think John Fry feared for the safety of his family. If I were in his shoes I would have done the same thing.

As a bystander of this whole thing I can't help but see how Ron has been the instigator by purposely setting up one of his newsstands right next to his house (c'mon Ron use your head). This is no way to get a story. John Fry should get a restraining order against him.

Ugh!! What an unprofessional way to get a story. Ron has absolutely no class. I hope this will only make John Fry an even stronger advocate for the continual success and safety of F&M.

Keep up the good work Mr. Fry! Because of you the city is a great place to live.

On a side note: I would love to see more cameras protecting our streets. These cameras do not infringe on our rights and privacy (I have nothing to hide). The criminals who commit these crimes are the ones ruining it for all of us.

Fry Forfeited Right to Lead F & M; Involve ACLU

I strongly advise you to notify ACLU of what happened.

That wasn't an attack on two journalist. It was an attack on you and all who dare challenge Lancaster's powers that be.

The President of a private university has no more right to ban journalists from university grounds than the President of the United States has the right to ban them from Federal grounds. Both positions are a kind of trusteeship.

But even if F&M acted lawfully when forbidding members of the free press from stepping foot on college grounds (a liberal arts college no less!), its President broke the law when he dispatched his rent-a-cop goons to physically assault members of the press exercising their first amendment rights in the public right of way.*

A private security force does not have the right to beat up and arrest members of the press (or anyone else for that matter!) exercising their Constitutional rights in the public domain.

By countenancing such reprehensible (and frankly un-American) behavior on the part of his employees -- like some fascist dictator Fry blithely watched on as his armed brown shirts beat up two defenseless reporters -- F&M's President has forfeited his moral right to head a liberal arts institution of higher learning, be it public or private.

*Editor's note. While Fry arrived on the scene during the arrest and, as president of F & M, is responsible for establishing policies and training, it has not been ascertained that he actually dispatched the "rent-a-cop goons." They may have been called by another member of his household.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

There is a Very Big Problem Here

What authority does the campus police have? Do they override the City police?

How many properties does F & M own? Are Chris and Ron not permitted to go and eat in the Iron Hill or shop at Fillings?

Does F & M own that land? My understanding is that F & M, LGH and Armstrong own the west side development.

I am afraid that the whole West Side of Lancaster City will eventually be owned by F & M and that is ok by me but, until then, the campus police do not have the authority to run like cowboys on public streets.

The City police should have been called FIRST unless these guys were on CAMPUS.

Is this to be translated that all F & M owned property is governed by Mr. Fry and patrolled by their security? There is a very big problem here that has to be defined.

Should Fry Resign Over This?

Jeez, what was Fry thinking?

I was surprised to hear that WGAL wasn't at the press conference.

I've never heard of something of this nature going on in that neighborhood.

I was surprised to read that non-professional security has that kind of power under the law.

What were they doing outside F and M property? Does the near and adjacent clause cover their patrolling of the other side of the street? I would think not.

What the hell's going on there, and should Fry resign over this?


F&M Security -- "Bus Riders: Beware"

I am appalled at the lack of news coverage of yesterday's event at the corner of Marietta Avenue and School Lane (in front of F&M President JohnFry's home). WGAL only provided minimal coverage at last evening'snewscast at 5:40 PM and the Intelligencer buried a small article with the spin that F&M claims trespassing -- nothing about the assault on the Lancaster Post personnel -- on page B-7 of the local section.

I have become so intrigued bythis grave injustice and crushing of a media member's constitutional rights that I drove by the street corner this morning and can clearly attest that the red newspaper box on that corner is on public property and is adjacent to the a bus stop. Does this mean that each individual waiting for a bus(in front of President John Fry's home) must be wary of the Gestapo bullying of the F&M Security forces?

In this YouTube age of ours, theLancaster Post video clearly demonstrates the abusive, assaulting behavior of the F&M Security. In fact, I envision this episode will cost President John Fry his job as President of F&M.

When the news of this event hits the national airwaves, there will be considerable fallout from F&M alumni nationwide. Will the F&M alumni continue to "open their wallets" to donate to their school -- a school in which the F&M Security assaults news media because of inherent Freedom of Press and Freedom of Assembly right?

As for the lack of news coverage, via newspaper headlines and first story on television broadcasts, I am shocked and dismayed that the local media has again opted to bury this extraordinary story for the benefit of another one of Lancaster County's favorite sons (President John Fry). This is an abomination of our Constitution and this expected response from the local media demonstrates a lack of interest in our inherent civil liberties.

Police are to BRING Them to Justice NOT Exact Justice

I am against the police using ANY retaliatory measures against people accused of a crime. ANY.

Police are to BRING them to justice NOT exact justice.

That being said, did the three b-ball stars - who are about to plead guilty to multiple felonies - suffer 1/10 of what Chris and I did? Were they EVER in handcuffs? Were they EVER in the back of a police cruiser? Were they EVER in a holding cell - even for one second?!?

Will someone in the media do that story?

I know they were not thrown onto the ground and had their head bounced off the asphalt so I won't ask.

I write a story about "special" kids not having to pay the price for their crimes and I get the punishment.

Chris and I were detained for over two hours against our will. My repeated requests to call my lawyer were denied.

If there is not accountability and repercussions for this constitution assault then it's no country that my forefathers gave their life to obtain.

Ron Harper, Jr.

Editor's note: It is apparent that the writer intended that his name be published.

No Lancaster Resident is Safe From F&M Security

First of all, I personally question the wisdom of confrontational tactics.

I've found out the hard way that there are times when much more can be accomplished by patiently working to gain credibility, then using that hard-won respect to influence and effect true change. But that's just my personal opinion; I know from personal experience there are other times when constructive change is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

This incident raises many very serious questions.

How does F&M Security have the authority to arrest someone on the street, not on or even near the F&M campus?

How does F&M Security have the authority to take someone off the street, move them to the F&M campus, then physically detain them for several hours?

How does F&M Security have the authority to file charges against someone not on or even near the F&M campus?

I'm not surprised one bit that F&M czar John Fry would over-react; his expectation is of total control over his domain and its surroundings.

I'm not really surprised that F&M Security would conduct themselves in such a way; former Lancaster mayor Charlie Smithgall often misused the Lancaster City Police in a similar manner, for similar purposes.

But I am shocked and disturbed that F&M Security has conducted themselves as if they were actually off-campus law enforcement in the community, something that would be on shaky legal grounds at best.

Had F&M Security treated individuals like in this incident who were physically on F&M's campus, it would raise serious legal questions about their conduct. But since F&M Security acted like this on a public right-of-way, nowhere near the F&M campus, it raises serious questions about just how far their legal authority actually extends.

I am convinced that this incident proves F&M Security believes they have more authority over local citizens than any private security group ever could possibly have under the law.

It's no wonder that Race Avenue residents are fearful and resentful of their not-so-nice neighbor across the street.

There has been a lot of talk lately about how the surveillance cameras in Lancaster City violate our civil rights. We've all seen how Dale High & Co. continue to take advantage of the system.

But the conduct of F&M Security in this incident clearly proves that F&M itself represents a far greater threat to the people of Lancaster than all of these other concerns combined.

This incident proves that no Lancaster resident is safe from F&M Security.

Actions like these provoke fear, not respect.

John Fry and His Bully Tactics

The [F & M Security officers] footage is so reminiscent of a Communist state where the media is controlled by the government. Here's an idea -- do you have any contacts with the national news networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, FOX) as I would imagine there would be an interest to broadcast this type of media abuse.

Quite frankly, the teflon-surfaced favorite son status of F&M and this abuse deserves national TV coverage with the culmination resulting in John Fry and his bully tactics being pressured into leaving F&M. I would be appalled if this abuse of the Lancaster Post personnel blows over in a day or two.

PRESS RELEASE: No Racism; No Sexism; No Torture in Pennsylvania

Attorney General Tom Corbett will speak at the Lancaster County Crime Summit at the Public Safety Training Center in Salunga on June 12.

This past Saturday, Traci Guynup, a resident of the City of Lancaster, spoke in front of the American Friends Service Committee's Conference 'STOPMAX' about prison conditions for female inmates.

The American Friends Service Committee has made it a PRIORITY to promote and support a national movement to end the use of solitary confinement and related forms of TORTURE in US prisons.

Solitary confinement and torture are used in Lancaster County Prison. Closed-front segregation cells have been defined as instruments of torture by the Supreme Court of Indiana. However, mentally ill women are routinely housed for months in closed-front segregation cells on D-block in Lancaster County Prison.

Five female LCP inmates have died since November 2007. Three have died in the prison. Two have died within 2 weeks of being released. Two of the women (26 and 38 years old) died from "natural causes" according to Warden Vincent Guarini.

For the two that died outside the prison (even though they were suicidal inside the prison; or victims of domestic violence) Warden Guarini said they were not the responsibility of Lancaster County Prison. It was NOT the responsibility of the Prison to see that these women received proper psychiatric care or housing immediately upon leaving the prison even if they had been suicidal in the prison immediately prior to release.

Due to the situation of Water Street Rescue Mission often being full, women often must find housing with their crack dealers in Lancaster. There is no other housing available for these women. Attorney General Tom Corbett denies that racism, torture and sexism exist in Pennsylvania.

According to the Civil Rights Enforcement Section of the Office of the Attorney General, the Attorney General has received only ONE complaint of civil rights violations, racism, torture, or sexism in Pennsylvania in five years. The Office of the Attorney General declared there is no pattern of racism in Pennsylvania! Attorney General Corbett will be the guest speaker at the Lancaster County Reentry Management Council's Crime Summit on June 12 at the Public Safety Training Center.

The Crime Summit comes close on the heels of (6) six workshops that were held this Spring 2008 by the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board. Lancaster County held 2 brainstorming workshops on "What to do about the disproportionate amount of Latinos in Lancaster County Prison." Four answers were:
Have Latino mentors/role models in positions of authority. [police, Probation, Correctional Officers, Judges, counselors]
Have more Spanish-speaking professionals Hire more Latinos
Assist Latino-owned businesses

The Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization, which organized the Crime Summit, has completely ignored these suggestions and has gone on to invite (5) five white English-speaking men for the "Crime Summit" on June 12.

Some of the invited men will be in line to obtain contracts with Lancaster County for the: $150M new prison, $30M annual gross revenue from a day-reporting center, $150,000 annual contracts for reentry, $150,000 for a drop-in center.

These white men have already expressed their interest in pursuing these contracts through presentations given to the Lancaster County Prison Board since January 2008. Women- and minority-owned businesses have not been invited to the Prison Board; nor to the Crime Summit as speakers.

A Hispanic man, who is not a business-owner, will present later in the day. He is no longer directly involved in reentry; and no longer a member of the Reentry Management Council; but is now employed at the Homeless Outreach Center.

I hope you will join me at the Crime Summit in welcoming Attorney General Corbett. And seeing how we no longer have racism or sexism in Pennsylvania; then I think it appropriate to eliminate the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Office of Attorney General Civil Rights Enforcement Section; as there is certainly no need for either of these agencies according to the Office of the Attorney General....

God love you, Traci -- Traci Guynup 717 824 2524

Editor's note: The writer intended to be identified

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What F & M Property did Harper Trespass Upon?

"The incident had to do with Harper defiantly ignoring the previously issued no trespass letter. That letter was issued solely to protect the safety and sanctity of President Fry's family". A statement attributed by NewsLanc to Ms. Dulcey Antonucci, Director of Media Relations of Franklin & Marshall in response to the detainment yesterday of Mr. Harper and Mr. Hart Nibbrig.

So be it. When and where? They keep saying he defied their warning but have yet to suggest what piece of F&M property he trespassed upon.

If he returned to Fry's house and actually entered the grounds, I say throw him in jail. On the other hand, if he merely walked the public streets around it, tough luck John.

Ms. Antonucci, aka "Downtown Dulcey" - a distant cousin to Bagdhad Bob - or her handlers should put this to rest and provide the proof of their claims!

Nazi-Like Behavior by F & M Security

My fiancee and I were intrigued by the red newspaper box on public property in front of John Fry's home.

I just now watched the WGAL-TV broadcast of the Nazi-like behavior of the F&M Security on the Lancaster Post personnel and find this whole incident appalling and bereft of our constitutional rights of Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Assembly on public property.

I am writing to encourage you to fight this fight with all your will.

Quite frankly, upon seeing this news item on WGAL, I thought that it was so poorly handled that it may ultimately cost John Fry his job as F&M President - first for the cover-up involving the two basketball players and then for the bullying, attacking assault on the Lancaster Post personnel.

Fight the fight.

LETTER: "Great work"

I have to wonder how / when / if ...............anything will be reported by LNP?????????????

Keep up the great work............your's is a voice that needs to be heard / read by everyone.

Actions by F & M Security Guards

This is incredible!

F & M Clearly Violated Rights

Sounds like a clear violation of (Christiaan Hart Nibbrig's and Ron Harper, Jr.'s) constitutional rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

They should immediately file a complaint with the City police.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wachovia Article Spreads Myth

Your recent piece on the woes at Wachovia and its potential implications on the Convention Center bonds helps, in my opinion, spread one of the biggest myths about this project.

Dick and Molly, and many others, lobbied hard to have debt service prioritized first. I have always contended that it makes no difference and that this is nothing more than a shell game.

What about the remaining CC expenses? How does the CC, price notwithstanding, differ from the courthouse, the prison or a pavilion in the county park?

While we may have created another albatross of an authority to "buffer" us, the CC is a County asset. All of its debts, maintenance, and upkeep ultimately fall to the County. Who cares if we pay the bank first? How does that effect the ever-escalating utility bills, the new roof or expansion, or Mr. Molloy's salary?

In my opinion, ALL of these expenses are ours and we must meet ALL of the burden regardless of what order we pay. Is someone suggesting to me that after covering our debt service we are going to allow another vendor, for instance PP&L, to seize part of our assets to cover their debt?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

CC Board Shouldn't be Blamed

....The current board and executive director of the convention center are doing the best they possibly can under the circumstances. We have no reason to give them grief for what their predecessors did. Their hands are tied by the same onerous agreements we picked apart so often...

Let's reserve our wrath for the REAL criminals in the hotel and convention center project, the public officials who helped them get away with it: Ted Darcus, Charlie Smithgall, Paul Thibault, Terry Kauffman, Ron Ford, Pete Shaub, Don Totaro, Mike Sturla, and (worst of all) Gib Armstrong. (I didn't include Rick Gray because Mike Sturla and his operatives have him by the รข@ll$.)

And remember that it was S. Dale High who cried and cried and cried until he got his own way; the other Penn Square Partners were nothing more than a means for High to get what he wants.

At least Fulton Bank had the common sense to bail out while they still could. LNP is tied to the project by their own repeated prejudicial reporting. For example, we don't see High helping LNP pay to build their parking garage on Prince St. at Mifflin; in fact, LNP ended up hiring High to build the parking garage.

High did not hesitate to take advantage of their own "partner."