17512 Columbia

Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Great photos, Cole Umber!

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Opinions, Opportunities, People, The Susquehanna, Treasures on July 18, 2014 at 4:25 am


River Park “playground” – from a series of photos at Cole Umber’s news sitepark visitor

Great job, Cole … we saw those park visitors in another part of the park just over the stone wall to the north. Your photos are superb and this reporting is an absolute imperative for Columbia.

The borough’s spy cameras, no doubt, captured the violators of work site trespass, too. And surely, it recorded their vehicle and license plate.

Just as the borough’s spy cameras no doubt captured the other park violations posted:

  • no fishing from the boat ramp;
  • no littering;
  • no dogs off leash
  • no vehicles without trailers in the marked parking spaces.

We observed all of these during our visit. The disregard for the child’s safety is disturbing. Equally disturbing is watching many of the people fishing and boaters, lovers of the River, cavalierly flicking cigarette butts into the River. A CIGARETTE BUTT IS LITTER!

It’s time for Columbia Borough, the council, the mayor, the River Park steering group, concerned citizens, boaters and fisherman to take a stand. Make this Park which houses the trail services building for the Northwest Trail a showpiece instead of a dump.

If the expensive spy cameras are working, let’s use the files to identify violators of regulations and codes. If they’re not working, rip them out.

If the posted River Park regulations are to insure a pleasing recreational destination that will attract visitors from far and wide, let’s follow them!

Let’s make River Park the envy of the county.

If we want to have a River free from cigarette butts and the other crap that finds its way into the waters to kill fish, let’s enforce the NO LITTER posted regulation.

In fact, do the right thing and make the park a no-smoking park.

Council meeting agenda – July 14, 2014

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Lists, People on July 14, 2014 at 10:00 pm

All the councillors were present, as was the borough manager, the borough finance director and the solicitor. The mayor was absent – no indication of the reason was offered as the meeting was convened by the council president at 7:05 pm.

At 9:10 pm, the meeting was adjourned.

In the two-plus hour meeting, the items on the agenda (below) were discussed and some were voted on. Some motions even reconsidered motions that were made at a precious meeting. Columbia news, views & reviews will provide more particulars after we’ve had time to revisit notes.

Page oneCouncil meeting 07-14-2014 - page one

Page two

Council meeting 07-14-2014 - page two

REMINDER: For those who were not at the meeting, the transmission of who said what is left to those who came to the meeting to document the night’s activities. Others in the borough will get verbal reports from those who attended or written interpretations from others. The only way to get a full report is to attend meetings. Again, Columbia news, views & reviews does audio record public meetings in accordance with state law. If you would like a copy of the proceedings, send an email to 17512@mail.com.

What’s wrong with a little nepotism?

In Education, Everyday Living, Government, History and Heritage, In Columbia, Opinions, Opportunities on July 13, 2014 at 4:28 am


So what is wrong with a little nepotism?

What’s wrong with wanting to help a relative get a job?

What’s wrong with using vested power to spread the spoils of position or information?

Why shouldn’t a teacher get hired when a close blood relative is on the school board?

Curiously, Pennsylvania’s state law allows the practice as long as the relative on the school board “recuses” himself from the hiring decision.

“In Pennsylvania, it is legal for a school board to hire a relative of a board member if the board member had no role in the hiring and abstained from voting.

“The Pennsylvania Schools Boards Association stresses to its members to follow state law, including school code: ‘No teacher shall be employed, by any board of school directors, who is related to any member of the board; as father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, grandchild, nephew, niece, first cousin, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle, or aunt, unless such teacher receives the affirmative votes of a majority of all members of the board other than the member related to the applicant who shall not vote.’

“Under the state’s ethics act, conflicts of interest are sharply defined. ‘Conflict of interest’ is ‘use by a public official or public employee of the authority of his office or employment or any confidential information received through his holding public office or employment for the private pecuniary benefit of himself, a member of his immediate family or a business with which he or a member of his immediate family is associated.'”

C’mon, what are the cronies on a school board expected to do – vote against the hiring of the school board member they converse with about every school board decision?

In case you want to know more about nepotism, these articles are helpful:

This one is helpful because of the huge number of reader comments following the article: Few school districts have anti-nepotism policiesScranton Times-Tribune

What’s wrong with nepotism?  The author of this article at cityethics.org, lists these areas:

  • Nepotism includes many of the basic government ethics issues:  conflict of interest, misuse of office, preferential treatment, and patronage.
  • Nepotism undermines public trust by making government look like a family business run not for the community, but for the families in power.
  • Nepotism is bad for morale within the government organization. It goes far beyond hiring. It remains a problem every time raises and promotions occur.
  • Nepotism and its cousin, hiring friends, are the leading methods of keeping other ethnic and racial groups out of local government.
  • Nepotism puts officials in an awkward position when they don’t want to hire a relative, but feel it’s expected of them. Nepotism laws protect officials as well as the public.
  • Nepotism also exacerbates problems. A culture of loyalty and secrecy flourishes within families. As does crime. Nepotism in government naturally leads to nepotism in contracting, which means a failure to competitively bid, or bid-rigging. This can cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

This article, Favoritism, Cronyism and Nepotism, from the Santa Clara University Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, includes the basic premise: “One of the most basic themes in ethics is fairness, stated this way by Artistotle: ‘Equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally.’”

One of the most basic themes in ethics is fairness, stated this way by Artistotle: “Equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally.” – See more at: http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/government_ethics/introduction/cronyism.html#sthash.nLYMk8Kw.dpuf
One of the most basic themes in ethics is fairness, stated this way by Artistotle: “Equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally.” – See more at: http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/government_ethics/introduction/cronyism.html#sthash.nLYMk8Kw.dpuf

Fracking: “much worse than initially thought”

In Everyday Living, Government, History and Heritage, Opinions, Opportunities, People, The Susquehanna on July 13, 2014 at 3:41 am

“Don’t BS the public!”

Leaky WellsThis July 27, 2011 file photo shows a farmhouse in the background framed by pipes connecting pumps where the hydraulic fracturing process in the Marcellus Shale layer to release natural gas was underway at a Range Resources site in Claysville, Pa. In Pennsylvania’s fracking boom, new and more unconventional wells leaked far more than older and traditional wells, according to a study of inspections of more than 41,000 wells drilled. (Keith Srakocic)

Fracking is defined by Investopedia as: “A slang term for hydraulic fracturing. Fracking refers to the procedure of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting fluid into cracks to force them further open. The larger fissures allow more oil and gas to flow out of the formation and into the wellbore, from where it can be extracted. Fracking has resulted in many oil and gas wells attaining a state of economic viability, due to the level of extraction that can be reached.”

This article from The York Dispatch posits that “Pennsylvania’s former health secretary says the state has failed to seriously study the potential health impacts of one of the nation’s biggest natural gas drilling booms.”

‘The lack of any action speaks volumes,’ said Avila, who is now the public health commissioner for Orange County, New York. ‘Don’t BS the public. Their health comes first.’”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

Fracking may also bring adverse financial impact to the property owners. So, what’s the future for Pennsylvania as thousands, or tens or thousands or hundreds of thousands of law suits are filed against the property owners and the state  which allows fracking on state-owned lands.

Fracking_diagram_jpg_800x1000_q100Another article, Fracking: Friend or for for the homeowner, from InsuranceQuotes.org, suggests that “some homeowners can find themselves liable for any unwanted aftermath of fracking, such as water contamination.”

“Beyond outrage”

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Opinions on July 5, 2014 at 7:49 am

“America’s economy and democracy are working for the benefit of an ever-fewer privileged and powerful people. But rather than just complain about it or give up on the system, we must join together and make it work for all of us.” This is Amazon’s intro to Robert Reich’s book, “Beyond Outrage.”

gobags mantra

And the graphic above from his book is exactly what the GOBAG’s recite each day. What’s a GOBAG? You remember, these are Columbia’s Good Ole’ Boys And Girls … the one’s who retain and restrain.

Reading through Reich’s column, “Freedom, Power and the Conservative Mind,”the GOBAGs mantra rings over and over.

“If most of the people you talk to agree with you, you’re wasting your time. You need to engage with people who may disagree or who haven’t thought hard about the issues.” – Robert Reich

scary stuff … militarized police

In Everyday Living, Government, Opinions on June 26, 2014 at 5:43 am

In newspapers around this country today, the Jim Hightower column is one more harbinger of where this country is heading. His column, Police or combat soldiers, is vexing and perplexing … and downright scary.

This creeping (and creepy) paranoia makes us wonder what’s next? And why? Are we just trying to find uses for the military trappings to keep the manufacturers of war material in business so they can funnel more money to politicians to keep voting to enhance the war-making capacity of this country?

scary stuffPHOTO SOURCE: The New Yorker

Want to read more?

“Swat Team Nation”The New Yorker magazine

“US police departments are increasingly militarized, finds report”infowars.com

“War comes home: The excessive militarization of American Policing” – ACLU

In case you’re not not in tune with one conspiracy theory about ultimate control of the population you’re pledged to “protect and serve,” you may want to know a little bit about “Operation Garden Plot” from globalsecurity.org, too.

Maybe this country ought to seek out the wacko’s in government and curb their idiocy.

and so it begins …

In Education, Everyday Living, Government, History and Heritage, In Columbia, Opinions, Opportunities, Treasures on June 25, 2014 at 1:53 pm

the series

click on the above graphic to read the LancasterOnLine special report on Columbia.

One commenter says: “This is fantastic high-quality journalism!”

Indeed, it is! … and some are recanting earlier suspicions.

Questions about things

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Opinions, Opportunities, People on June 24, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Following Monday’s “council of the whole” meeting, several questions emerged. We’d like to share them.

  • Who is trashing the town and the River Park? The councillors debated the infusion of trash that’s been overflowing the municipality’s trash receptacles – at the River Park and along the streets in town. Someone suggested the trash containers could be emptied every day. Someone suggested that the “island people” in the Susquehanna River were the trash dumping culprits. Someone else said that it’s the boaters. More than one person actually suggested that the borough remove all trash cans. What then? Invite people to just throw litter, including hundreds or thousands of cigarette butts, where? Here’s a picture taken a few hours ago today, Tuesday.


  • Why do people who profess to love the River love to trash it? Yesterday afternoon, we watched a young man fishing from one of the floating docks; he nonchalantly flicked his cigarette butt into the River. A few steps away, two young men were dropping their boat into the River from the launch ramp. One of them flicked his cigarette butt into the River too. That’s some tough love, killing the fish and the River that provides so much recreation for so many. Surely there’s no sewage going into the River?
  • Do the spy cameras work? The mayor told everyone about the damaged chain link fence that protects River Park visitors from the railroad tracks. He said the damaged fence was not the result of vandalism. Instead, he said, during the morning on Monday, a boater was attempting to launch his and had an apparent heart attack. Consequently, the victim’s vehicle lurched forward and knocked into one of the light poles, bending it and breaking the glass atop the pole and the vehicle continued up the grade into the chain link fence. According to the mayor, the police arrived on the scene within 15 minutes and the “gentleman” driving the vehicle was deemed to have had a heart attack. Surely the spy cameras in the River Park and around town digitally captures “trash-tossing” terrorists and the tragic accident. Don’t they?


crash too

bent pole


  • Who will be invited to the big “to do?” Did you get your invitation to come to the Route 441 Relocation Project Ground Breaking Ceremony slated for July 11, 2014 at 9:00 am at a “to-be-determined” place?

441 bypass

  • Ever heard the phrase “300 years of tradition unimpeded by progress?”

“As Ellsberg says on the billboard, a whistleblower ‘might save a war’s worth of lives.’”

In Government, Opinions, Opportunities on June 22, 2014 at 5:58 am



Area activist summarizes June 17 anti-fracking event

In Everyday Living, Government, Opinions, People on June 22, 2014 at 4:45 am

by Richard Burrill

Friday, June 20, 2014 – Did you know there was an event at the Pennsylvania State House in Harrisburg this past Tuesday concerning something that could have major implications on your life? This rally, sponsored by Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, the Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network (UUPLAN) and several other groups and individuals, took place on June 17 at 1 p.m. and lasted about an hour in the Capitol Rotunda.

The purpose of the rally was to call for limiting hydro-fracking throughout Pennsylvania and for a moratorium on drilling of natural gas, a.k.a. methane, in our state forests and parks.

In addition to the four of us who drove up in the 91 degree heat from York, there were several hundred people in attendance, many of whom were carrying signs in support of our forests. Numerous journalists, photographers, television camera crews and reporters covered the event.

Over a dozen speakers made the case for protecting Pennsylvania’s environment from Governor Tom Corbett’s plan to lease our state forest and parks to Marcellus shale drillers. One of the speakers, PA State Representative Greg Vitali, of Delaware County, said that we need a severance tax on these gas companies. (Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax.) Others spoke passionately against the governor’s plan and for preserving the beautiful Penns Woods. Many urged us to develop natural fuels, instead of fossil fuels.

A January 2014 Franklin & Marshall College poll found that nearly 70 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose additional gas development in state forests and parks.

PA Governor Tom Corbett has said the leasing could generate $70 million to help close the budget gap. Well, governor, let’s take a look at some facts about our state forests. They are:

  •  Recreational and ecologic gems – what I call “Paradise.”
  •  Drivers of our tourism economy
  •  Home to a variety of animals, including black bear, wild turkeys, native brook trout and rare birds.
  •  Opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping
  •  In addition, our state parks alone host 38 million visitors each year and contribute $1.2 billion per year to the economy of the state, providing more than 13,000 quality jobs.

Governor Corbett’s plan threatens all of the above.

  • He recently issued an executive order lifting the previous moratorium and reopened our state forests to leasing for natural gas drillers to fill a one-time budget gap.
  • He believes his proposal will not result in any additional disturbances.

It should concern every citizen of this Commonwealth that nearly half of the 1.5 million acres of state-owned forests that overlay the Marcellus shale is already leased to gas companies. Also, a 2010 PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources(DCNR) study found all of the unleased land is in ecologically sensitive areas. If you go online, you may read a more extensive 2014 DCNR monitoring report that might give you more concern.

I urge all of you to study the issues and teach others. Remember, you don’t know what you have, until it’s gone, and if our forests are gone, will we be far behind? Think on it.


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