Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Looking forward to further LGH reports

Kudos in preparing "Report #1: Factors for LGH's exceptional profits".

A very detailed financial picture was masterfully summarized. Particulary helpul was the italicized last line of each point (i.e. "The higher the proportion of Charges collected, the greater the profitability.")

Overall, well done and I am looking forward to Reports #2, 3, 4.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Urges book be written on CC Project

I think the story is quite fascinating... If the project were to succeed, its story would be like the little engine that could.

If it is moderate, the story would be a tale of how government is moving into socialism.

However, there is nothing in the foreseeable future that would indicate the possibility of success as a convention center (or a hotel, for that matter.)

Your point about the interior walls of the hotel being removable was excellent.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mayor's Amtrak parking plan proposal better

In response to the NewsLanc article "Revised Amtrak plan still inadequate":

Lancaster mayor Rick Gray has been calling for a parking garage at the Amtrak station. Might this be the best solution? Shouldn't those behind this plan be working with the Lancaster City government to come up with a design that best benefits all parties, even if it means that Lancaster City would need to build a parking garage across the street?

An earlier NewsLanc article mentioned that the Amtrak station upgrade plan will ignore the Lititz Pike bridge relocation for the time being. It is clear that there is a conflict with the Amtrak plans and PennDOT's planned realignment of the Lititz Pike bridge with Duke St. Is this not a waste of taxpayer dollars? Shouldn't Amtrak and PennDOT be working together right now, instead of after both projects are under construction?

Watching the plans for the Lancaster Amtrak station proceed without dealing with the realities of the situation is like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

People are gullible

The sad fact is, the vast majority of Lancaster County residents either don't care, or they believe in what their elected officials tell them, or they believe what Lancaster Newspapers tells them. This is why the single biggest governmental fiscal fiasco in Lancaster County history is under construction right now at Penn Square. People like Dale High knew very well that the vast majority of people would let them get away with this, and they did.

The "Urban Renewal" fiasco of the 1960s and 1970s has forever cut the commercial and historic heart out of Lancaster City, but since it was done with mostly Federal dollars the impact on local taxpayers was muted. The "Urban Renewal" project of the 21st century will end up costing Lancaster City and County residents far more, for far longer, than the original "Urban Renewal" fiasco did.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Insights on Lancaster Exceptionalism

Hubris and greed may be related....It is a term I define [as]: "arrogant pride". Mostly associated with the Greek Tragedy "Oedipus". The conotation of "hubris" is that it ultimately leads to the downfall of he [who] holds the trait.

Greed is associated with hubris in this way: a man seeks sinister means for profit because he presumes he is so great he deserves that profit.

This concept is promoted by the "sheep" who believe that those with money and power have obtained them by some Divine Right of God and have more wisdom. Whole civilizatons have risen and fallen with this cycle.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In New Holland in 2008: ANOTHER LYNCHING

Reprinted from Lancaster Independent Press

Her civil rights were violated, her human rights were violated, her body was violated and her security and inner peace were forever ruined.

Faith Mugwe, 22, threw a 55th birthday party for a friend in her apartment on Saturday, July 12. There was a designated driver to take party guests home.

The police say they received a loud music complaint and knocked on her door.

Faith Mugwe was drunk. No one disputes that. She was having a party in her home. The police were excessively rude. Mugwe stepped several feet out her front door to talk to them.

The discussion ended with Mugwe telling the police something to the effect of "Get the fuck out," making a hand gesture, and turning her back to the police to re-enter her home and turn down the music.

The two New Holland Police Officers tackled her and threw her on the ground. They put her in handcuffs. They never told her she was being arrested.

There are at least three witnesses to the initial stage of this horrendous assault. The police then dragged Mugwe around the corner to their car where no one could see them. Mugwe was maced twice, taken to the police station, fainted, put in an ambulance, tasered on her breast and ultimately ended up in the Ephrata Community Hospital were she was subjected to an involuntary urinary catheterization with one of the male police officers standing in the room.

She was then taken before a District Justice and arraigned on five criminal charges - aggravated assault, resisting arrest, public drunkenness and two counts of disorderly conduct. Her bail was set at $25,000 and she spent two days in the Lancaster County Prison.

It is the most horrific scenario anyone could possibly imagine: A hard working, happy, twenty-two-year old who has never been in trouble with the law, holding a birthday party for a friend - and in an instant, her life is turned upside down, her body is violated and scarred, her rights are violated and her inner peace and security destroyed.

Faith Mugwe is black. The two New Holland Police Officers, Christopher Clingan and Wendell Metzler, are white.

"Isn't Lancaster Different?"

Dr. Sanders (of the Brookings Report) commented on the Convention Center a few years ago.

At the presentation at Liberty Place, he showed how every CC had failed woefully below promised expectations. Mayor Smithgall asked "Isn't Lancaster different?" (Implying that Lancaster was so different that the CC would succeed here.)

Dr. Sanders wryly noted that "every community thinks it's different" and that it would succeed in spite of the trends. Then he went on to show the inadequacies of the figures promised to Lancaster.

There was an element of arrogance that Lancaster was so charming and perfect that the CC would succeed in spite of trends.

I have two questions:

1. Did the proponents (pushing the project ) really presume it would succeed?

2. Do they still think it will meet what they promised?

Or was the reality known to them from the beginning and their greed push it through?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What is going on?

I am worried for the city residents, the ones that have bought due to affordability of price and not being educated on the tax consideration. Lancaster City is currently the highest community tax-wise in the county...

If the city needs to raise the taxes to accommodate all this preparation, it can and will. If the Mayor wants to impose a special assessment, he can and will.

What is going on in this county is terrifying: F & M is taking over and has accountability to no one. The city is forging ahead with projects and informing the residents after the fact when nothing can be done. The County is losing good people and telling the public that they are retiring or resigning which is bullcrap. Our government, elected people are doing as they wish with absolutely no accountabliity to the taxpayers.

The relocation of the rail yard is a done deal as per the president of Waste Management. The residents are wasting their time, it is over, was over a year ago, where is the accountability?

I was shocked two weeks ago when the gentleman was at the Manor Township Supervisors Meeting presenting a clean up deal that will have 50 trucks per day for 4 months take out waste from the site of the railroad and bring back clean fill. They are going to pay Manor approximately 300,000 for this and only do one side of the creek, leaving the other side as a dump. The residents think they still can be heard.

F & M is taking over the west side like a cancer and the city is allowing it. A laborer who is working on rehabbing properties for F & M said that, after these 15 properties, there are 15 more to be worked on for next year. The residents that attended meetings with F & M were led to believe there would be no more renovating other than these initial 15 and that in 10 years they would be put on the market to be sold as residental housing. F & M is going to charge $500 per student per month.

They do not need the city; they are their own decision makers. The residents do not have a chance.

On North Mary, a young couple from Chicago bought a home and now has it for rent because across the street will be four attached houses of students. A home next door to those four started at $149,900 and now is down to $119,000. No one wants to live next door to student housing.

What is going on????

Online ability to dispute parking tickets requested

I read the NewsLanc story about the City making it easier to pay your bills by providing online bill paying services. I then followed the link to check it out.

It is nice that they provide this convenience for taking care of parking tickets, but I would like to know when they will offer an online means to dispute the same? My experience in downtown is that no less than 20% of all coins that I put in their meters fail to register.

I would like the ability to challenge a ticket for that reason with a similar online system and to report any meter, each would need some sort of distinct serial number, that fails to register ALL coins. Coming soon…don't hold your breath!

Questions $175k in compensation

I have nothing against [David] McCudden and do not question his contributions [as the former county engineer]; however, wouldn't $175k make him the highest paid employee in the County?

I believe that is more than the President Judge makes and closing in on 250% of a commissioner's salary...that is what struck me as "odd" to say the least.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Plans for Amtrak Parking and Lititz Pike incompatible

I finally had the time to look at Amtrak's parking plans, as posted on under the article, "Amtrak Reveals Plans for Expanded Parking".

I notice that the Amtrak plans still do not take into account PennDOT's plan to relocate the Lititz Pike bridge so it aligns with Duke St.

Don't these different agencies ever talk to each other? I can see the Amtrak plans being built one year, and PennDOT tearing a part of it up less than a year later.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Forgive but don't trust

Sex offenders are more likely to repeat the crime probably more so than any other crime. If I were a parent I would want to know exactly who they are and if they live next to me. Unfortunately, for them, this is the consequence of raping little kids. If you don’t want your name on the sex offender list then don’t commit the crime. I have no sympathy for this at all.

As a Christian the Lord calls us to forgive the person not necessarily to trust the person.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Would Ron Harper have done otherwise?

I would love to see a Watchdog item on the Lancaster Post Dr. Kirchner article in today's issue.

I am no insider, but I seem to recall that Dr. Kirchner GAVE the reporters his access codes. From where I sit, I think he had visions of making the headlines as the next Cyril Wecht, Dr. Baden, or Dr. Lee. In my personal opinion, he was watching too much Greta Van Susteren and had visions of being a guest! The Post article conveniently omits HIS part in this debaucle.

Also, given Ron Harper's "get-a-story-no-matter-how-and-damn-the-torpedos" style, can you SERIOUSLY BELIEVE that HE HIMSELF would not have jumped on that opportunity for the BIG SCOOP!

Editor's note: It was our view at the time and continues to be our view that, if it is true that Intelligencer Journal Editor Ray Shaw condoned and encouraged the five reporters to illegally access the government files, he should have been indicted along with Dr. Gary Kirchner and the reporters and Shaw should have received the severest sentence. Such a violation would not have been allowed to occur on this editor's watch, nor do we believe on Harper's.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Funding for trolley car purchases

There is a line item in the 2008-2009 State budget for a $15 million State grant to fund the proposed streetcar system, thanks to Sen. Gib Armstrong.

No word yet on where the operational funding to operate the streetcars would come from.

It never ceases to amaze me that the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry continues to promote and proceed with projects like this one, under the ASSUMPTION that Lancaster City Council will rubber-stamp whatever they ask for: in this case, the use of public rights-of-way. The "non-profit" "Lancaster Streetcar Company" wouldn't have purchased three used streetcars unless they were confident that their demands will be met.

In reality, the "Lancaster Streetcar Company" is nothing more than yet another extension of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, just like the Lancaster Alliance and Lancaster Campaign. This the very same Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry that brought us the "home rule" proposal, as well as the hotel and convention center project.

Editor's note: Normally there will not be sufficient funds actually appropriated to cover the full amount and, in some cases, any of the amount budgeted for projects.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Convention Center bricks inauthentic

As detail work continues on the hotel and convention center structure, a brick veneer is being applied to various parts of the building. One of these places is at the bridge from the hotel lobby to the parking garage.

I finally got a good look at the brick being used; it has a rough pseudo-weathered look, with uneven horizontal gouges in the face of the brick.

It is my opinion that this design is supposed to imitate the weathered brick of so many of Lancaster City's older buildings. The problem is, that's not the way Lancaster's original bricks should look.

Many of Lancaster City's older buildings were built with a soft orange brick. This brick was designed to be painted, to protect it from the elements. A few buildings used a better quality brick along the street,only exposing soft brick on the sides and rear.

A part of the backlash against the disastrous "Urban Renewal" projects of the 1960s was a new interest in historic preservation. By this time, many of Lancaster's buildings had layer upon layer of paint, which people considered unsightly. During the 1970s, it became something of a fad to remove these many layers of paint by sandblasting the brick. Usually, the brick was then "sealed" with a type of silicone. This supposedly had the added advantage of avoiding the need to paint the brick every several years,which could be a costly proposition.

The problem is, the sandblasting process broke the surface of the brick, exposing its softer interior. Not only did sandblasting give the brick a rough look, it accelerated the weathering of the brick. And very few sandblasted buildings were ever re-treated with sealer, which should have been done every few years.

Thirty years later, most of these sandblasted buildings demonstrate visible deterioration of their exterior brick. Most notably, water has been seeping into the surface of these bricks, which eventually causes the surface of the brick to break away. Many downtown buildings have at least a few bricks that have been damaged in this way, leaving what appears to be recessed areas on the surfaces of these buildings.

The hotel and convention center project appears to be intentionally imitating the appearance of this premature weathering process.

Democrat Recommends Republic Home Rule Slide Show

This slide show from the Lancaster County Republican Committee should be mandatory reading for all Lancaster County residents. And I'm a Democrat.

Note that the proposed changes highlighted in this presentation were since rejected by the Government Study Commission.

What a load of c--p

Concerning the Lancaster New Era editorial of July 12, 2008 headed "Prepare for guests downtown in 2009" , it looks like the newspaper is preparing to blame Lancaster City residents if the taxpayer-financed hotel and convention center project does not meet its impossibly optimistic projections.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

F & M actions since John Fry self-serving

I was shocked by your editorial that showed that F&M has a "dual police force" with the same power (but not the same controls from misuse of that power) of the City Police. Do the Lancaster Police know about this? If not, why not? If so, what is their reaction?

According to John Fry, the video cameras aimed by F&M on their neighbors living across the street was for these neighbors' own benefit and protection. When these cameras were installed in spite of neighborhood opposition, it was suggested by the pro-F&M coverage in Lancaster Newspapers that these neighbors should welcome and appreciate this "protection" from Big Brother.

This was suggested, even though Keith Orris, John Fry's top spokesman, had admitted at a neighborhood meeting (in answer to a question) that if F&M's monitoring personnel witnessed a break-in across the street at night, that F&M's Security Department would take no action. Nor would F&M security officers report the criminal activity to City Police, according to Mr. Orris.

This meant that neighbors' activities could be viewed (spied upon) without any benefits whatsoever to those neighbors.

It would appear that all of F&M actions since John Fry came to campus are purely self-serving.

Stevens & Lee up to old games in Reading?

Reading Mayor Thomas McMahon has retained Stevens and Lee to negotiate an agreement with a developer, Ed Giannasca. Stevens and Lee has also been retained as Bond Counsel for the TIF that will accompany this agreement. Council believes this is a clear conflict but Stevens and Lee disagrees.

Stevens and Lee contributed a large amount of money to the mayor's political campaign. One of his first acts was firing the City's outside legal counsel and rehiring Steven's and Lee (all without an RFP [Request For Proposal]).

Council eventually got the Administration to do an RFP for legal services, and guess how the results came in?

Editor's note: Stevens and Lee managed to represent virtually all sides at one time or another pertaining to the Convention Center / Hotel Project and was paid around $8 million by the Convention Center Authority for services, the nature and validity of which have been concealed from the media and public.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Deja vu Lancaster Independent Press

So, the Lancaster Post thought this was going to be easy? An alternative paper in Lancaster, PA?

You should have checked with some old LIP staffers - we saw this stuff every single day. Every single day.

Did you for one minute think they would give you a chance? For one minute?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Era blames Amish

Did you read the Editorial in tonight's Lancaster New Era? The editor stated in the 13th paragraph that Tom Beeman is "right" in that the Plain community should be more financially responsible for their healthcare.

The entire editorial is an embarrassment to the tradition of the Amish as the editorial places blame on the healthcare ails of the Amish solely as their own, due to their practice of consanguineous marriages.

Long story short, one of the "Big 5" gets away with it again.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What's the angle?

What I don't get about the trolley: I can see that the Convention Center Project and Crossings yield big profits.....why is the trolley getting rammed through? I don't see the profit motive.

And why is Jack Howell such a cheerleader for it?

"Some neighbor"

I noted your watchdog piece on LGH gouging the Amish. I had a similar experience feeling LGH’s benevolence.

A dispute with our insurer left some unpaid anesthesia bills (The anesthesiologist’s bill was $1,600, and LGH's bill for anesthesia 'services' was $1,400) following a dependents recent hospitalization.

I negotiated a $500 settlement with the anesthesiologist, but LGH refused to negotiate (despite the fact that they would have received considerably less had insurance responded), saying that it was against their policy.

I was left with paying off the entire LGH bill over time – during which time they turned over the matter to their collection agency.

Some neighbor, huh?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Trolleys: "Pie in the sky"

Those millions will be wassted to fund studies and salaries for a project that is pie in the sky. There should be a grass roots group to find out all the facts then blow it wide open.

The city needs sewers, water pipes, soooo much infrastructure but all that can be passed onto the property owners with a special assessment when improvements can no longer be prolonged.

A Trolley report that was submitted to the Planning Commission bu a Master Planning Course and likely is available through the Commission.

Trolley funding an outrage

If this is funding for "streetcars," this needs to be stopped immediately! Who gave them any authority to do this? How is a trolley different than a bus?

I really don't have words for this outrage. This is an outrage!

Diposition of Armstrong's political contributions

[Sen. Gibson] Armstrong is leaving with his war chest, that should be questioned. How much money and why does he not donate it to charity?

Friday, July 4, 2008

"Who the hell does Armtrong think he is"

Did you happen to see this article on Senator Armstorng's son and his running from the law during a weapons search? And in typical politician fashion, Senator Armstrong attempts to pass legislation against the deputy and their "power".

I am not surprised that this article ran in the Lancaster Newspapers on a Friday (and a holiday). Traditionally, newspaper viewership is drastically down on holidays. I was also intrigued by the feedback from one Lancaster Newspaper viewer on the topic of racial differences:

If it was anyone else in this county, especially a Puerto Rican or Black who was stopped like that, and ran from the cops there would be a army after them, and they would be in jail or dead. Who the hell does Armtrong think he is..He's not above the law...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Newspapers failure to report WSJ article appalling

I find it appalling that the three newspapers did not publish one word on the Wall Street Journal's lambasting article on Lancaster General Hospital's policy of overbilling the Plain Community of Lancaster County.

When a well-respected and nationally-recognized newspaper like the Wall Street Journal investigates one of the local five "untouchable" entities of this county (Lancaster General Hospital, F & M College, Fulton Bank, the High Group and the Lancaster Newspapers), yet the local Steinman Family-run local newspapers hide this account by not publishing, then this is clearly the definition or irresponsible journalism and dereliction of journalistic duties...

Perhaps, I am the oddball here in that I find the local news coverage is so skewed toward protecting the five "untouchable" entities, that the majority of the Lancaster County citizenry just accepts poor quality news coverage from the three local papers. This is exactly the reason that I read and also the Lancaster Post -- both are excellent alternative news sources which provide balance and perspective that all Lancaster Countians should seek...

There are those liberals who will only watch MSNBC. And of course, those conservatives that will only receive their national news coverage from FOX. But the well informed citizen is one that reads and understands news from all perspectives. And only after hearing and seeing all perspectives on a news item would an individual stance on a plank or a platform of issues should then an individual opine as to his/her respective position.

The Wall Street Journal article should open eyes to all Lancaster County as the abuse of the Plain Community by Lancaster General Hospital can have tremendous effects on all of us. The Plain Community are a forgiving people, but in a county where tourism ranks first in our local economy, do we really want Lancaster General ostracizing the cash-paying Plain Community for their healthcare needs?

I am disappointed in that the Steinman Family-run newspapers decided to again protect one of the five "untouchable entities", however I implore all those who read my commentary to bear focus on national news items beyond the locally centrist and xenophobic approaches bestowed upon us by our three local papers.

Even better, do not financially support the companies that opt to advertise in our local three papers. Or better yet, cancel your subscriptions to the Steinman-run papers and subscribe or read online, a selection of newspapers that provide global vision to our everyday lives.

As for the Plain Community members, I would hope that Lancaster General Hospital will do right by you financially. But please remember that the Plain Community is home to many, many sound business minds and sometime soon, the healthcare needs of the Plain Community will seek [others who will provide them] with similar quality care, but at a reasonable expense.