Providing Lancaster City & County with an Alternative Source for Local News and Commentary  _________________________________________________________
 May 19, 2007      Publisher: LLC       Combined Circulation 80,000 monthly         Volume 1, Number 33

Sunday News Tops Orwell's 1984:

Claims Brunswick Renovation Result Of Convention Center

The May 13 Sunday News headlines "With convention center underway, renovated hotel gets ready to ride what officials hope is a wave of improvement."

It goes on to say, "Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray said the project is a major result of the development stoked by the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority and Penn Square Partners, developer of the 300-room Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square."

Actually the current owners of the Brunswick had offered to utilize the vast public space and potential for enlargement as a substitute for the proposed convention center and to upgrade the Brunswick to its origins as a four star Hilton. (The Marriott at most is to be a three star hotel.)

In effect, the new owners were told by former Mayor Smithgall and Gray to "Sit down and shut up." To the mayors, saving the taxpayers $200 million by supporting a sound project wasn't of interest.

Now with the convention center / Marriott Hotel project proceeding, the Brunswick owners have downscaled their plans and are commencing in segments the long postponed renovation of the hotel.

The most telling paragraph is buried deep in the midst of the overall fantasy. It reports: "[Hamid Zahedi] said he is willing to sell the property to the right buyer." Does this sound like someone happy about the future prospect of downtown Lancaster and his investment?

Oh he is so happy about the convention center project, so very happy!

New Era's Ethical Lapse?

In its noon election day edition May 15, the New Era headlined, "GOP-backed duo grab early lead; Stuckey, Martin slightly ahead of Smithgall, New Era exit poll finds."
118 days left until county
appointees become majority on
Convention Center Board.
Does it subvert the election process to provide information from a poll that can discourage voters from going to the polls because their candidate is predicted to lose…or to win?

No Money for Essential Bus Routes,
But Plenty to Waste on Trolleys!

In a May 15 column, "Bus cuts would leave many on road to nowhere," Intelligencer Journal columnist Jeff Hawkes sagely opines: "Local buses are not frills. They are a vital community asset, and the taxes supporting them help people be self-sufficient contributors to society."

He goes on to say "a million-dollar funding shortfall might force [Red Rose Transit Authority] to eliminate six of its less-traveled routes."

Consider this in light of a rush by the corporate elite (including the monopoly Lancaster Newspapers) to bring trolley cars to downtown Lancaster at an estimated operating loss to the Transit Authority of over $300,000 per year, plus the initial construction cost to be borne by taxpayers of over $20 million.

Given Lancaster's relatively narrow streets, the silent running and slow to stop trolley cars will increase congestion, slow travel, cause
'fender benders', and endanger pedestrians, especially children darting out between cars.

Trolleys are madness you say? Of course they are. But when our tax money is available to fund construction of "white elephants," we can count on powerful companies (as the High Group did with the convention center project) to muscle them through, the public will and future be damned.

Gib, you can�t be serious!
According to the May 9 New Era, Senator Gib Armstrong "said the need for boosting the penalties for breaking the [Sunshine] law was spotlighted by secrecy surrounding the September 2005 sale of Conestoga View, the nursing home formerly owned by the county."

In fact, the report concluded that the Sunshine Law is hopelessly vague and needs to be rewritten if it is to be enforced. And although the grand
jury offered juicy tidbits of gossip of backstage discussions, there was scant evidence of actual violation of any law.

The three commissioners plea bargained to a minor violation after District Attorney Donald Totaro, in order to cover up the failure of his witch hunt, terrorized them into thinking that they might be indicted for some unspecified crime.

If Armstrong were indeed serious about effectively restricting discussions outside of the public eye, he would seek to clarify the Sunshine Act to make it enforceable. But he, of all persons, certainly recognizes that would grind the wheels of government to a virtual halt and hardly be in the public interest. It is soliciting of input and decision making, not vetting, that needs to be public.

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