Providing Lancaster City & County with an Alternative Source for Local News and Commentary  _________________________________________________________
 June 23, 2007      Publisher: LLC       Combined Circulation 80,000 monthly         Volume 1, Number 38

Did the New Era purposefully understate the
projected Marriott Hotel loss by $1.8 million annually?

To: The Editor, The Lancaster New Era

From: Robert Edwin Field, Lancaster Township

In your article "The real numbers: Probing Penn Square project's bottom line," a misleading impression of profitability is given when you state: "On the hotel side, PKF [Consultants] says the Marriott will earn only $124,000 a year."

As clearly indicated by PKF, the $124,000 is before the cost of interest and fees on $40,000,000 in bond debt. Interest and service charges will amount to around $2,000,000 a year. Thus, PKF anticipates that the Marriott will actually lose over $1,800,000 annually.

It was my first hand knowledge of the weak demand for hotel rooms in downtown Lancaster that first stirred my concern about the viability of the convention center project. Over two days I met with the Rufus Fulton,
then CEO of Fulton Bank; Jack Buckwalter, the Chairman of The Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.; and finally Dale High of The High Companies.

Fulton referred me to Buckwalter. Buckwalter said High was the person who had analyzed the prospects and suggested I meet with him. High, a fellow hotelier, didn't disagree with my analysis of the current weak downtown hotel market but said he was counting on the convention center project to attract companies to downtown Lancaster and their presence plus the convention center visitors would generate business that would make the hotel feasible. In short, 'If you build it, they will come.'

I would admire High's bold vision were it not that his subsidiaries will receive large fees from various stages of development and operations while the Lancaster City taxpayers will run almost all of the risks.

How a monopoly press undermines civil society

"Why do reason, logic, and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions?" -- Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia 2/12/2003

"The news divisions … are now seen as profit centers designed to generate revenue and, sometimes, to advance the larger agenda of the corporation that owns them …

And when the people are not informed, they cannot hold government accountable when it is incompetent, corrupt, or both." Vice President Al Gore, "The Assault On Reason"

Break free from the monopoly press! Visit daily.

PAM expansion brings world class architecture to City

The Steinman family elders deserve much of the credit for the magnificent structure of the Pennsylvania Academy of Music (PAM) currently taking form in downtown Lancaster, a few doors down from the Fulton Opera House in the first block of North Prince Street. Pedestrians marvel at the bold and functional design of the structure and the magnificence of the veneer of stone imported from Spain. Some felt that the price tag for the school and concert hall of around $22 million was excessive. But local backers were correct that a building designed by the late

and great Philip Johnson and built to world class acoustical standards would be a symbol of a new Lancaster and would put downtown Lancaster on the tourist map for those interested in experiencing outstanding architecture.

PAM has the potential of expanding into a campus for talented high school music students attracted from throughout the world. It could achieve many times more for revitalization of downtown Lancaster than the ill-conceived and
misguided convention center project that is more likely to be a blight. When it came to the convention center, the Steinman elders had the best intentions, but they were not well advised by corporate management.

And unlike the CC project, there are no taxpayer guarantees. The PAM facility is being funded through grants and generous contributions.

Details, photos, plans and a virtual tour of the building can be viewed at

Gov. Rendell: Have the courage of your convictions!
On June 19th in a letter the Intelligencer Journal, Jerry Policoff wrote: "A single-payer health plan is strongly opposed by the health insurance industry because they are the only ones who stand to lose if it passes."

The Editor responded "The governor has said that while he personally favors a single-payer plan, it stands no chance of passage."

Mr. Policoff is more in tune with our changing times than Governor Rendell.

While the Health Industry opposes the expansion of the Medicare program so that the government would pay most of the health bills and cover all of the population, a striking reversal in the attitude on the part of big business in recent years makes this reform not only possible but likely. At a cost of $3 an hour to cover the typical worker, industry cannot compete with their rivals throughout the world because most developed nations provide a single-payer system and fund the program through general tax revenue rather than employer contributions.

Meanwhile the USA's level of public health does not compare favorably with Canada and many other nations with a single payer system and yet we spend far more per person.

In the opening paragraph of "Redefining Health Care", the authors state: "The U.S. Health Care System is
notorious for its high costs, which Americans traditionally assumed was the price of excellence…There is compelling evidence that much care falls well short of excellence, that both too little and too much care is provided, and that alarming rates of medical error persist…Although U.S. costs are high…there were 45.8 million Americans without health care coverage in 2004, up from 39.8 million in 2000."

The clincher: "Higher expenditures on U.S. health care do not result in longer life expectancy for Americans than for citizens of other developed countries, or more years of good health."

The authors go on to make the case that the U.S. health care system encourages "cost shifting" from hospitals to insurance companies to doctors to patients and around again. It does not reward practices that actually reduce the overall cost of health care.

Nevertheless, old mind-sets prevented the authors from giving consideration to a single-payer system. When co-author Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter, addressing a group of business school alumnae and spouses, was asked why he was dismissive of the Canadian systems that costs 20% less, he failed to provide a cogent reason.

Momentum for a single payer system is growing. It is time for Rendell and other officials to take heed.