Saturday, January 31, 2009

County asking too much for magistrate building

The County Commissioners had 2 appraisals for the property on W. King, currently the Magistrate office. That is going up for closed bids in March at absolute of $460,000.

There is no way in today's economic conditions someone is gong to pay that price or
more for a piece of property that is assessed at 185,000. The County paid tooooo much for it 30 years ago...

The County also want to know what the buyer is going to do with it. Mr. Lehman and I had words as I informed him that cannot be part of the decision if it is to go to the highest bidder.

If no one bids at $460,000 or higher, they will then come up with another plan. They said that by doing it this way, the public will be privy to the whole process, not like Conestoga View.

Mr. Lehman wants something done to put it on the tax roles. AFTER the meeting I asked them why that consideration was not on the table when the W & S building was up for sale. Upscale condos would have been wonderful instead of a complex with no taxes for 20 years. There was no comment.

Challenge in attracting a good reporter

In response to the January 25th editorial "Job opening ignored", it is both shameful and predictable that the job has not been wholly inquired by Lancaster County reporter applicants.

You see (and applicants-- don’t due to myopia) that takes on the strong entities of this county such as 'The Big Five' -- The Lancaster Newspapers, Franklin & Marshall, Lancaster General Hospital, The Fulton Bank and The High Group.
And at the same time, supports the alternative path of covering news much to the chagrin of these county companies and the principles that run these organizations.

Potential applicants are not seeking employment with opportunities out of fear of these entities, but also out of unsuredness and trepidation of their respective economic futures. Lancaster County is a small, gossip-ridden county. And
for that purpose, any individual who affronts the Big Five and the self-serving thinking of the county powers will surely be ostracized and may I see 'blackballed' from future conventional news reporting job employment opportunities.

As an everyday reader of, I greatly appreciate the alternative news approach to Lancaster County as opposed to the calculated coverage offered by Lancaster Newspapers. But alas, I am not journalistically-trained and I read everyday, purely as a devotee, in anonymity.

To be a reporter for such an alternative news source demands individuals who not only seek to publish truthful articles that offer an alternative approach to the powers of the county, but also individuals who put their cogent approach to reporting above their own financial securities and the fortitude to publicly signing their names to articles.

Overall, I find it starkly refreshing that is having difficulty in employing any reporters. As I would much rather read an article by a reporter who is completely devoted to alternative news coverages of Lancaster County rather than a reporter who practices 'safe news' and would rather report half-devoted news items that would be self-protective and further propagate the obsequious nature of
organizations such as 'The Big Five'.

To, please continue your news coverage that is pure and alternative compared to what is offered by Lancaster Newspapers. And if it possible, please wait for those reporter applicants that share your purity of soul and who aren't afraid to print truthful, alternative news item that cover our everyday Lancaster
County lives.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Are LGH and F&M linked at the top?

Is it common knowledge that Tom Beeman [President of Lancaster General Hospital] and John Fry [President of Franklin and Marshall College] are college buddies?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Re: City heavily invested in Convention Center

You make good points in this story but it also serves as a great example to the ignorance about the true realities of the financing on this project.

With the exception of a select few at Stevens and Lee, who dreamed up this scam to benefit Penn Square Partners, and the top management at PSP, no one truly understands all of the intricacies of the financing. That includes the County Commissioners, the Mayor, the LCCCA, RACL, the monopoly print media, and our other elected officials.

Lancaster divorce courts biased against men

This is the first time in my writing years that no one will publish an article regarding "divorce" and its bias in many cases.

The following are just a few of the injustices that have been known as fact:

Divorce Master's are to make a decision within 30 days...some take months, years to make a decision all the while the person pays support and keeps being taken back into court for support until the decision is

Lawyers not willing to make a settlement, even a reasonable one but draws it out for no reason

Lawyers who do not provide their clients with adequate paperwork, consideration

Men who have been accused wrongly of some type of abuse towards their children later to be found innocent but have lost their homes, jobs etc. in effort to survive the situation of court costs.

Men who have lost everything because of a bias unfair judicial system.

I have heard over and over again from lawyers who say the system is archaic and you would have to move a mountain to change it.

I have talked to a few lawyers, financial people to hold a forum on divorce but they all say it would have to be held out of Lancaster because of bias.

There are many preconceived ideas on divorce that it is over in two way it could go for years

This are just a few of the things which I have become aware of.

Where, who could I find someone of interest to publish an article, to hear the voices of those who have been stripped, and no justice served.

Reader forwards comment from afar

An out-of-state reader of NewsLanc who read about TRRAAC’s investigation of the sources of public funding for the $46 million project to relocate and expand the Norfolk Southern Dillerville Rail Yard emailed me his reaction:

"The F&M and LGH fundraising is a great example of manipulation of state and federal funding mechanisms and of misrepresentation in the process. Probably, only a legal challenge and negative public opinion can halt the process. Rather than corresponding with President Obama's office, I probably would continue with efforts to get public awareness of the misuse of state and federal funds in this time of economic recession."

Should judges redo mortgages?

The real problem is that the servicing company is in control. They have no incentive to negotiate because they make money by driving the foreclosure process forward. They don't care whether the loan is paid or not. In fact, they do better if it has trouble.

For some time they have been deliberately holding payments received on time without crediting them to the account. They say they are "in suspense". Then they charge late fees, and have their attorney start a new default process just to drive up the bills. We wind up paying the original payment, the late fees, their attorney fees, and our attorney fees. You get a little behind and then the game is rigged to make sure that it is extremely difficult to get straight again.

I think they are probably doing this to a lot of people.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Questions for F&M and LGH

I re-read the beginning of TRRAAC's letter giving details of the applications for funding...

What I would like to know is: why wouldn't F&M and LGH provide that information when TRRAAC first asked for it? Or even before they asked, for that matter?

What was the purpose behind the secrecy, other than that is the way that John Fry operates...?

What did F&M and LGH hope to gain by not openly disclosing this information?

President Obama should investigate convention centers

Last evening I emailed President Obama as per his request of the nation.

I pleaded with him and his staff to do a study on ALL the monies from the state level that has been wasted on projects to revitalize cities in the form of convention centers and the debt that the cities are taking on. There they will see all the waste that could have been used for education, infrastructure and medical benefits.

If his administration is going to help states in need, I suggested that he pass by every state that subsidized projects like convention centers. Unless they become casinos, most will eventually go into foreclosures as the convention business is drying up.

If I get a response, I will pass it on.

Iowa Opens Convention Center

A block-long 50,000 square foot convention center. Sounds familiar.

Built for $20 million? Lancaster's block-long project has had cost overruns higher than that!

Iowa opens convention center

A block-long 50,000 square foot convention center. Sounds familiar.

Built for $20 million? Lancaster's block-long project has had cost overruns
higher than that!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Covention Center vs. library funding

It is interesting to note that the Library System receives about half as many Lancaster County tax dollars as the convention center does.

Observatons re Library System

I wonder how much of what the System does is actually nothing more than overhead?

Note that the Library System was created by County Commissioners Paul Thibault, Terry Kauffman, and Ron Ford. These are the same three County Commissioners that gave us the Youth Intervention Center on Sunnyside, and our favorite taxpayer-financed hotel and convention center project.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Date of Convention Center opening

It is possible that the grand opening will be scheduled after the building actually opens, and in warmer weather. I am sure it is tough to determine the exact date of completion and delivery of all the furniture.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In response to "Will there be a Convention Center Gala opening?"

First and foremost the AVERAGE resident/taxpayer of this County never was on board for this project whether it was vocal or just comments among friends and neighbors. (Editor's note: 78% opposed County guarantee per Fox 43 poll in 2006.)

Second, I am sure there will be a gala grand opening for the "who's who" along with the board, media, etc, with the Convention Center Authority footing the bill. You will not see invitations going out to a soul that will cast a pall over the event.

Third, you will hear and see via the newspapers and tv all the hype you can stand with the current Commissioners and Mayor just swimming in the hoopla.

By lavishing publicity on them, they will be forced to beg, borrow and steal to keep this thing afloat.

Mayor Gray has made known his intentions to run for a second term. You can bet your bottom dollar (if you have one these days)that High, the newspapers and a few other important money supporters will pave the way with their political donations so that later on this money pit will be subsidized by the taxpayers.


Lastly, we are not Pittsburgh, Philadelphia or Baltimore as per the WSJ yesterday; we are smaller, healthier and will survive IF we continue to fight to maintain our character. If so, we will to remain a great city and county to live in

OnTRRAAC Newsletter - January 09, 2009

The Official Email News Update

For Your Neighbors and You to Share

TRRAAC’s response to the Franklin & Marshall/Lancaster General Hospital Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Volume II –of 12/18/08

By now you should have received the most recent FAQ from F&M and LGH. We'd like to apprise you of some highly pertinent information that has not been publicized by the Project Partners:


To clarify a number of issues raised in the FAQ…

· First and foremost, please keep in mind TRRAAC's primary concern: We need an independent evaluation of TRRAAC's alternative site. TRRAAC asked LGH/F&M to fund this, but the request was denied. In addition, TRRAAC asked LGH/F&M for a copy of the original engineering report for ALL the alternative sites reviewed by Gannett Fleming. This request was also denied.

· After Gannett Fleming rejected TRRAAC's first two suggested alternative locations, we hired a senior railroad engineering consultant with R.L. Banks and Associates. A former Norfolk Southern engineer, he visited the Dillerville Rail Yard, spoke with representatives at the June 19th meeting and examined documents to determine other site feasibility. He recommended a feasible alternate site configuration for the rail yard. TRRAAC would like that site configuration to be INDEPENDENTLY evaluated.

· In August 2008 TRRAAC met with PennDOT officials in Lancaster. They listened to our concerns, and saw the current and proposed sites. We asked them to consider funding an independent evaluation of all potential rail yard sites.

· On December 11, 2008, TRRAAC members met in Harrisburg with PennDOT’s grant coordinator. He informed us that PennDOT did not approve F&M’s request for $9.2 million, because the project was neither 'ready to go' nor did it contribute the same level of economic development as other competing projects. At that time, we repeated our request that PennDOT or the Governor’s office fund an independent study of TRRAAC’s alternative site configuration.

· Because many residents objected to the restrictive and biased format of the June 19 Public Meeting, the Manheim Township Commissioners asked F&M and LGH to participate in a second meeting in Manheim Township on November 13. At that meeting, attendees were allowed to ask questions ONLY about the remediation of the dump. F&M’s attorney rejected all other questions.

· When attendees asked that another public meeting be held to allow them to ask questions on all aspects of the rail yard project, LGH remained silent and F&M’s Keith Orris asked that any questions not related to the remediation be sent to him in writing.

· In the FAQ document, the Project Partners propose holding small “living room meetings” rather than the large open public meetings that most area residents have clearly said that they prefer. Large public meetings, without topic restrictions, allow everyone to hear the same questions and concerns expressed, and answers provided, without any bias. This format also allows for a greater variety and more open exchange of ideas than "living room" meetings permit.

· It took several months and repeated requests by TRRAAC's environmental engineer to get from F&M the results of the impulse noise studies, which were received by him only hours before the November 13 meeting. These results are still being challenged as an inadequate analysis of the rail yard noise we will actually live with after project construction.

· In a December 9 meeting, LGH executives advised TRRAAC that, due to concerns they heard at the 11/13 meeting, they were pursuing a second opinion about the dump remediation and potential health consequences. In a December 17 follow-up meeting, no results of that second opinion were reported, but the following day, one of those LGH executives signed the FAQ, which includes an impending remediation schedule. When will the results of that second opinion be made public?

· The projected cost of this project has now crept up to $46 million! The well-endowed F&M and highly profitable LGH plan to contribute only $6 million each, and Norfolk Southern only $2 million. Your hard-earned taxpayer dollars ($32 million in local and federal tax dollars) will be used toward the controversial cleanup of an old dump and rail yard relocation. We believe TRRAAC's alternative site configuration will be much less expensive.

What can you do?

1. Call the Governor's office and PennDOT and urge them to fund an independent evaluation of TRRAAC's alternative site. (If you haven’t done so yet, now’s the time!! If you’ve already done so, do it again!!) Call the Office of Public Liaison at (717) 787-5825. Email PennDot’s Eric Madden at and Denise Pyers at

2. Phone or email F&M and LGH and insist that, in the spirit of openness and transparency, they agree to hold a third Public Meeting, moderated by an independent party, in which the attendees may ask questions on any aspect of the project. In addition, ask for firm responses as to WHY Gannett Fleming determined TRRAAC’s alternative site configuration not feasible.

Contact Jan Bergen of LGH at (717) 544-1115. Email:

Contact Keith Orris of F&M at (717) 291-3868. Email: KEITH.ORRIS@FANDM.EDU

3. Donate money to TRRAAC to enable them to continue their legal, environmental and community awareness efforts.

4. Get involved with TRRAAC. Volunteer your time.

And here’s what no one but TRRAAC wants you to know:

Norfolk Southern has the power to alter agreements once they have taken possession of land for a rail yard. They can expand their activities in terms of hours of operation, numbers of diesel locomotives and rail cars, AND in land use. If they find that they do not have enough land AFTER they have built a rail yard, they have the ability to secure any additional land needed to achieve what they consider to be optimal operation through eminent domain. In this case, they could actually expand onto property even closer to our neighborhoods AFTER the rail yard is built.

The time has come for action from those neighborhoods which will be most disturbed by the continuous coupling noise, safety, pollution and a decline in quality of life and property values that a nearby rail yard could cause. To date, a relatively small group of neighbors has been carrying the weight of opposing this location for the good of all the neighborhoods. Although TRRAAC has received many donations from concerned neighbors – some of whom desire to remain anonymous - we can no longer depend on just these neighbors to carry the burden that should be shared by everyone. It is just not fair to expect some to contribute all the time, effort and funds while others sit back idly and watch, expecting others to cover for them.

If you choose to do nothing, and the rail yard goes in as F&M and LGH plan, it will be too late for recourse. You will not have any ‘say’ when there are hazardous material spills that cause evacuations, nor when the rail yard debris and trash leach onto our properties, nor when a child wanders onto the tracks. Complacency and inertia now may well lead to irrevocable damage to our health, our quality of life and our property values.

Please act now, before it's too late.

P. O. Box 4155
Lancaster, PA 17604-4155

Saturday, January 17, 2009

If you can get todays Wall Street Journal, do it. Pitts, Phila and Balt are loosing population after billions of dollars of REDEVELOPMENT FEDERAL AND STATE dollars have been spent and have done nothing other than keep the wheels greased.

We are so far okay due to the amount of private money being invested in the city. However, this Convention Center project, so wrong for the character and purpose, will either choke the city or eventually be recycled into something else.

As I drove past the Stock Yards yesterday and saw all the vacant land, I thought how awesome that area would have been for a convention center rather than the Watt and Shand space. We here in this County could have had a win win situation had it not been for all the GREED of a chosen few not to eliminate Mr. Charlie [Smithgall?] who was one of the backers of this mess.

Editor's note: The original much smaller version of a convention center on the Stock Yard site would have met legitimate local needs, had good highway access, proximity to the train station, ample parking, and three nearby hotels - one upscale and two economy - totaling about 600 rooms.

Casino license for Convention Center

Who told you guys that there is ONE last casino license STASHED away with Armstrong's fingerprints all over it? MEEEEEEE.

That was told to me by a state elected official that is MY little bird.

Involve State Attorney General

Where is the oversight from the state or county? Let's start by getting the State Attorney General involved as the Logan story is only the tip of the iceburg.

Rumor that Convention Center is wired for slots

I heard the same thing (second hand) from a completely different source well over a year ago.

Someone could file a Right-To-Know request, but I believe you will find that the LCCCA does not have access to that kind of information.

Convention Center wired for slots?

Our Convention Center has been electrically wired for slot machines should that kind of circuitry ever be needed in the future for a casino. This comes from a construction worker on the job, but needs to be independently verified somehow.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

"Perverted reverse socialism"

Government-owned or subsidized hotels and convention centers are an example of a kind of perverted reverse socialism, because they take from the poor and the working class (taxpayers), and give to those who are already well-off (for example, Penn Square Partners).

Programs that provide nearly unlimited taxpayer funding for hotels and convention centers (and other programs that primarily benefit those who are financially well-off and/or politically powerful) achieve the opposite of the goals of socialism: they increase the divide between the well-off and everyone else, instead of providing for "a fair distribution of wealth".

I have NO problem with anyone who has personally worked hard to achieve what they have. I have a BIG problem with my tax dollars lining their pockets, which is why I have opposed the hotel and convention center project.

Friday, January 9, 2009

No convention center "bubble"

I must disagree with the notion that there will be a "convention center bubble" similar to the "housing bubble" and the "Internet bubble".

The convention center "business", unlike every other business, implies eventual sustaining revenue sources. The convention center "business" (business is clearly a misnomer) has always been predicated as a loss leader with an unlimited supply of taxpayer money via bed tax, taxi tax, restaurant tax, city tax etc etc…Not enough money? Create a new tax or raise the current tax!

Because the revenue sources for the convention center business are virtually unlimited, people that run them, never have to make hard choices that other businesses must make. Further, the people that actually run the convention centers have a board of "officials" that often have 'brass plaque' flu that causes them to vote for BIGGER and FANCIER centers to beat their rival cities. The ribbon cutting that comes with the brass plaque makes it all worth while!

Meanwhile taxpayers will continue to lose more and more money to satisfy the egos of some and fill the pockets of others.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Praise for letter re lack of transparency

An out-of-state reader of NewsLanc gave high marks to the Jan. 7 letter headed "F&M, General Hospital and newspapers thwart transparency." This reader wrote: "This article is a masterpiece. The writing: clear, concise, logical, conclusive and convincing. The big picture: manipulation of information at the highest levels by the major entities in the City of Lancaster."

Lack of transparency

In response to the well-written letter "F & M, General Hospital and newspapers thwart transparency", the author could not have made a more concise, clearer statement on the lack of transparency in Lancaster County. And is it a coincidence that these three members of the 'Big Five' are at the heart of the controversy?

In due time, there will be conclusive evidence that the other two members of the 'Big Five' have acted bountifully obsequious ...

We should be outraged at such abuses as the Norfolk Southern dumping site relocation project. But, alas, the majority of the county's citizenry doesn't show any emotion or fight (except for the small percentage -- the TRRAAC neighbors -- whose properties will be directly affected) about such outlandish projects being ushered through with such a cloak of transparency.

I am outraged. Why aren't you?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The price of success?

A friend of mine attempted to attend a model train show at the first-ever exposition at the "Greater Philadelphia Expo Center" at Oaks, PA just north of King of Prussia off route 422. This show was HEAVILY promoted in the Philadelphia and Allentown areas. After sitting in traffic for over an hour, my friend decided to forget about the show, and tried to pass the exit in the left lane - which took him another half hour. He told me that posts by others in model train forums said that all streets in the area were completely gridlocked.

The first thing I though of is what would happen if a promoter would schedule a similar show in downtown Lancaster, and promote it heavily in surrounding areas. Could Lancaster's streets handle the traffic? Or, would the same thing happen here as did at Oaks?

More than a constitutional issue involved

While it may be true that Roland Burris was a "public figure in Illinois for some time at fairly high levels....", I don't think you should jump to the conclusion that we should rally around his appointment by embattled Governor Blagojevich for that reason. While I appreciate the constitutional issue involved, I am more than happy to see the appointment and seating of this former attorney general, who worked campaigned aggressively to seek the death penalty for an innocent man, hang in limbo.

A snippet of the story from follows.

".......While state attorney general in 1992, Burris aggressively sought the death penalty for Rolando Cruz, who twice was convicted of raping and murdering a 10-year-old girl in the Chicago suburb of Naperville. The crime took place in 1983.

"But by 1992, another man had confessed to the crime, and Burris' own deputy attorney general was pleading with Burris to drop the case, then on appeal before the Illinois Supreme Court.

"Burris refused. He was running for governor.

"'Anybody who understood this case wouldn't have voted for Burris,' Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, told ProPublica. Indeed, Burris lost that race, and two other attempts to become governor.

"'Burris' role in the Cruz case was "indefensible and in defiance of common sense and common decency,' Warden said. 'There was obvious evidence that [Cruz] was innocent............'"

Convention Center planning flash back to 2001

I am currently viewing a Lancaster County Convention Center Authority public meeting held on July 25, 2001.

Keep in mind @ this point, the convention center and the hotel were COMPLETELY different - never the twain shall meet. That's what LCCCA Chairman told the court when asked about the unfair advantage that the Penn Square Partner would have being beside the public convention center.

Nevin Cooley makes a presentation about the progress and where the project was going.

Nevin brings up the $4 million 'loan' from the DCED to the city redevelopment authority and given to the PSP. Cooley emphasizes that this is a loan - not a grant and that it will be paid back for a
revolving fund. (of course when the redevelopment authority bought the W&S building from PSP they gave them something like $7.5 million for a building they paid $1.25 million!)

Next, Cooley emphasizes that unlike other communities, Lancaster has PRIVATE investors for their hotel and that many communities struggled to get the private investors for the hotel and some never get those
investors. Fortunately for Lancaster, PSP is there!

After highlighting this "progress" Cooley calls on the authority to "reaffirm overall project is a public/private partnership" and says that the Pricewaterhouse study as well as the Marriott required the
intertwining of the public and the private entities. After telling them how blessed they are to have PSP, Cooley puts the screws on the authority to set up a switch from a $45 million private hotel to one
in which we are not even sure that the private entity is putting ANYTHING into this project!

Design - sharing space between hotel and convention center - this shifted the hotel space to the taxpayer
Shared Staff - allocation of administrative overheard between the public and private. Does anyone on this believe that the allocation of expenses doesn't favor PSP?

Remember at this point the authority had a hospitality committee that was studying which company would manage the convention center. Ultimately, the committee recommended SMG - which LCCCA board
eventually voted against - appointing Interstate - the PSP's choice.

Since the PSP said that joint-management was vital to the success of the project, why didn't PSP let the authority take the lead in picking which management company would lead? Instead, in a dog and pony show the day before this meeting, the PSP announced that Interstate what the company they wanted. The school district of Lancaster, which was promised $400,000 a year in tax revenue, sent a letter to the
authority recommending PSP choice of managers!

What if the authority didn't vote for Interstate? Marriott would likely pull their flag! "without a hotel, we do not have a convention center" Cooley stated.

Cooley emphasizes a schedule (expected by Marriott no less!) that the hotel has to be designed, built and running by 2004 - 42 months later!

Nevin claims that with the shared expenses, that authority might not even have an operating deficit!

Cooley says, "So, Instead of a having a $925,000 operating loss annual, we can move almost to a break even."

Chairman of the County Commissioners, Paul Thibault rose and complimented the authority and PSP and said that it was time to stop wagging fingers and start shaking hands. After all - the PSP were willing to put up THEIR MONEY! (keep in mind that Dale High was the head of Thibault's political action committee!)

Next, City Council President Nelson Polite encouraged the authority do what Thibault suggested.

It's been fascinating to view some of these tapes and the way that the media has been staged and choreographed to manipulate the public. The shame is the way the newspaper has been willing accomplices in duping the public.

Editor's notes:

NewsLanc believes engaging Interstate Hotels & Resorts to manage both the hotel and convention center was appropriate and they appear to be doing a very good job.

The PriceWaterhouse study, like other early reports, were referred to by Penn Square Partners (PSP) but not widely shared and certainly were under reported by the Lancaster press. The market studies (they were not feasibility reports) were not positive. And PriceWaterhouse later withdrew its report because the Convention Center had been greatly expanded in scope and size and probably because the findings of the report were constantly misrepresented by PSP. As an extraordinary gesture, PriceWaterhouse refused to even update their report when so requested by the County Commissioners in 2006 because of their past expeirence.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Found money, Isn't it?

Peter Callaghan hits the nail on the head.

"Whenever a convention center isn't meeting its promises, the managers say they'd do better if they had more space or if they had more hotel rooms close by or if they had a 'headquarters' hotel...

"Unfortunately, the only numbers come from consultants hired by the cities. These consultants always say it makes sense to build or expand. Even when it doesn't...

"But it's found money, isn't it? Well, sort of. Convention centers are paid for with public money, tax money. The taxes are collected from any person or any business that books a room in the jurisdiction of
the convention center. Are they all tourists and conventioneers? No. Are they all from out of state? No.

"And when you travel to other cities, they're charging you to build their convention centers that compete with our convention centers."

Roland Burris senate controversy

My understanding is that Roland Burris has been a public figure in Illinois for some time at fairly high levels, including attorney general.

My view is that unless Burris is deemed unqualified or there is evidence he bribed or allowed himself to be extorted by Blagojevich, the appointment should be deemed as bonafide, notwithstanding the allegations against or motives for this particular appointment being attributed to Blagojevich.

Given that the Illinois General Assembly chose not to call for a special election as I recall, Blagojevich is acting within his legal/constitutional authority on this matter, as he is with other functions he continues to perform as the Governor of the State of Illiniois.

Editor: The above is in response to a NewsLanc disagreement with the position taken by the Intelligencer Journal which opposed Roland Burris being seated by the Senate.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Symphony's needs not practical

American Music Theatre (AMT) is a spectacular pop-music/live venue...and it absolutely depends on amplified sound. Once, at a rehearsal without mics, I could not hear the singers from the first row.

The Lancaster Symphony would prefer a venue tuned to live music, which depends on reverb/blending. Voice (spoken word) , which requires dead sound to avoid articulation confusion, is a different acoustic concept. AMT is modeled after Sight and Sound and Branson/Myrtle Beach venues.

But to have a dedicated 1200-1600 seat concert hall (as the Symphony would like) would only make sense if the overall city residential demographic were upscaled, and the parking and routes to the center were clean and easy.

Why does judge thwart son's wish?

This is an incredible story.

So why does former Judge Bucher want to prevent the assets from his estranged son's (Thomas Bucher) estate from being distributed according to the son's WRITTEN wishes?

Didn't Judge Bucher take enough already from the residents of Lancaster County through his generous salary, retirement and other benefits?

Why, at this late stage of his life, would he now want to take more?

Let's pray that the Orphan's Court Judge presiding over this case, Judge Rehkamp of Perry County, isn't "swayed" by the fact that the petitioner is a former judge.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Fears for Central Market

I am sure there are those who have been to Central Market lately.

Do you see what is going on there? Good vendors are dropping out due to the new manager and hours.

If the farmers and the non tourist vendors drop out, who is going to support the Market?

TRRAAC needs to deal with Norfolk Southern

If TRRACC believes it is not being heard, then they should go directly to Norfolk Southern (NS). Has anyone stopped to consider why the largest partner is never heard from? Why NS is paying so little to have the yard moved? Why Norfolk Southern would have a small college, with one person on point, handle their public relations? None of this makes sense, does it?

Here is one theory:

NS never wanted to move the yard and signed on only if F&M and LGH could guarantee that cost to NS would be limited, and that NS would not have to deal with the public. I imagine that NS views this move as a huge business win: a railroad project managed by a college president with an ego problem and with political influence at the State level. For them, this is a perfect situation: NS brings new track on-line in a new facility, but they deal with none of the backlash, politics, or money. Of course they signed on, who wouldn't? TRRACC must change this equation if they intend to win this battle for their neighborhoods and their families; TRRACC must force NS into this debate. NS is the real player here, not F&M or LGH.

If TRRACC wants to slow the project and be heard, they must flood NS's Public Relations, Environmental Affairs, and Community Outreach departments with letters. Initially NS will likely reference F&M Public Relations, but if you keep writing, they will eventually get real heavy hitters involved in the project. They will look at current management at F&M and LGH, and, I believe, see for themselves that the plan from the outset was selfish and one-sided. They will come to understand that you, TRRACC, were never heard, and that F&M's website is not an example of real community imput.

If you write, NS will begin to understand the power structure in Lancaster, and more clearly understand TRRACC's issues. NS will also come to understand that after the yard moves, LGH and F&M will be done with the project, but that NS, now the holder of this disaster, will deal with fallout forever. The first spill, the first child wondering into the yard, the numerous complaints on noise, polution, and trash, and the loss of your property values. It will be all theirs to deal with.

TRRACC, I am afraid you have gone at this the wrong way. There is no evidence that F&M or LGH care about you, or your families, at all. Stop dealing with the political machine; stop thinking that they care when you know they do not. Write directly to Norfolk Southern today. Write the Virginia Governor's Office, explain that your Governor seems to bailed on your community, but that you want to know from him why one of his State's major employers seems intent on ruining your neighborhood.

Clearly F&M and LGH have run over you. If you want to win this, TRRACC, it is time to get behind the wheel of a bigger machine. I would recommend the control panel of a Norfolk Southern freight train.

You wonder why newspapers are dying?

I wonder if Lancaster Newspapers is not already in default mode, already assuming that its readers are getting the important news from other sources.

The front page of today's New Era has a huge story -- "Extra! Extra! Read all about it, folks!" -- about people who wear shorts year-round. I am relieved that Cindy Stauffer's byline lists her as a staff writer, because if this is the best that the New Era could come up with for their front and center news today, it would be troubling to think that Ms. Stauffer thinks of herself as an investigative reporter.

As for "Nation & World" coverage, one-third of the page is ads. There is no coverage of Caley Anthony, no coverage of the N.Y. Senate seat, and only a slim short piece making reference to Illinois Gov. Blagojovich. Looks like if we want any real national or international news, we'd better be online, watching cable new, or buying a Big City Paper.

And you wonder why newspapers are dying???

Orwell's ghost grinned when the Sunday News hit the stands.

Maybe it's a sign of our time when a liberal-minded reporter like Gil Smart pens a piece lauding the fact that the people of Lancaster will be watched over by a jury of nincompoops in a viewing booth.

He found no source for a dissenting opinion on this troubling development that he finds praiseworthy: Lancaster stakeholders headed up by the Steinman family will install surveillance cameras throughout the city ("... thanks to a broad coalition of public and private souces."). How about asking the opinion of one of many Lancaster taxpayers who will have to pay the salaries, benefits and pensions of the joystick operators?

How about the inequality of the installation plan? Are there more existing and phase 1 cameras in our neighborhoods of color? Of course there are!

This is not the future I want to see.

Will there be no public discussion of this matter? If no, that's a real shame, despicable in fact.

The irony is so thick ... Mayor Gray and others of such ilk, who shout about troubling aspects of the Patriot Act, seem to have no problem with a camera watching their front door!

CC job interviews "PR"

Most of the jobs in the Convention Industry are contracted per event, and by the client. Rod Shumaker (Events Supplier) is the beneficiary in Lancaster, and he is prepared to handle it....but he services ALL area events, as far as NYC and beyond.

The venue needs an "on call" pool of temps to set up (e.g.) banquet tables, chairs, serve dinners, etc.

But as noted, only a few administrators and maintenance should be full time (or our tax dollars are being further wasted). The CC should NOT invest in event-specific equipment that has to be stored between sporadic uses. The real estate for storage outstrips any income from event rentals.

This move to interview for low-level jobs is PR.
Most of the jobs in the Convention Industry are contracted per event,
and by the client. Rod Shumaker (Events Supplier) is the beneficiary in
Lancaster, and he is prepared to handle it....but he services ALL area
events, as far as NYC and beyond.

The venue needs an "on call" pool of temps to set up (e.g.) banquet
tables, chairs, serve dinners, etc.
But as noted, only a few administrators and maintenance should be full
time (or our tax dollars are being further wasted). The CC should NOT
invest in event-specific equipment that has to be stored between
sporadic uses. The real estate for storage outstrips any income from
event rentals.

This move to interview for low-level jobs is PR.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Downtown "not on the way out" but won't improve

"The city is definitely on the way out if this project does not fly." [from a posting on a private NewsLanc list.]

The most likely scenario appears to be that the project will generate some business, but not nearly enough to justify its existence. Of course the newspapers will spin what few events are booked to make it look like the project is wildly successful. For example, today's Intell editorial states "convention officials say they have already scheduled 90 events", which of course is not true (as I detailed in an earlier message).

Meanwhile the cost to taxpayers continues to increase. Not only are we stuck with the $140+ million capital expense, but other costs like "streetscape improvements" and the shifting of police patrols from neighborhoods to downtown weigh heavily on residents and taxpayers. Then there are the operational losses: as I mentioned in an earlier message, it is inevitable that the "hotel tax" will need to be increased, possibly before the end of this year.

I challenge anyone to point out even one specific "economic development" in downtown Lancaster that would NOT have happened without the hotel and convention center project. Restaurant renovations don't count: downtown restaurant owners were heavily pressured to upgrade their facilities, at least two of which are now in financial distress.

Lancaster City may not be "on the way out" if this project continues to operate with increased taxpayer subsidies, but doesn't meet its overly ambitions goals. But neither will downtown Lancaster be much different ten years from now than it has been over the last decade. If this comes to pass, it would prove that the hotel and convention center project has been a total and complete waste of taxpayer dollars.

Video of Sen. Armstrong promising 300 - 400 jobs

Here - Gib Armstrong bragging about the THREE to FOUR HUNDRED 'meaningful' jobs!