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Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Martin Luther King Day celebrated today, January 19, 2015

In Everyday Living, Government, History and Heritage on January 19, 2015 at 3:53 am

 

mlkjr-portrait-mPortrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. By Betsy G. Reyneau; Donated Collections; Record Group 200; National Archives and Records Administration

“During the less than 13 years of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, from December, 1955 until April 4, 1968, African Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced. Dr. King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.” – The King Center

“Born on January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a key leader of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the United States. King and his followers fought for the equal rights and equal justice that the United States Constitution ensures for all its citizens. The great legal milestones achieved by this movement were the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the later 1960s, the targets of King’s activism were less often the legal and political obstacles to the exercise of civil rights by blacks, and more often the underlying poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and blocked avenues of economic opportunity confronting black Americans.” – National Archives

Today, this nation honors Dr. King’s legacy with a federal floating holiday.

“Efforts to declare a federal holiday honoring King began shortly after he was assassinated in 1968. It took until 1983 for the measure to be passed and it wasn’t ratified in all states until 2000. Part of the compromise involved in passing the bill was moving it to the third Monday of January to provide more time between News Years holidays and MLK Day, something especially sought by labor unions.

“The third Monday of January was selected, so MLK Day became what’s known as a ‘floating holiday,’ meaning it’s held on different dates each year. This year it’s Jan. 19; next year it will be Jan. 18.” – Alabama Media Group

fire department consolidation

In Education, Everyday Living, Government, History and Heritage, In Columbia, Opinions, Opportunities on January 16, 2015 at 5:36 am

Perhaps you’ve been reading the recent letters to the editor about the fire service in Manheim Township. In fact, two more appear in today’s LNP – Always Lancaster.

Here’s the story on the Manheim Township Fire Department from its Website:

In November of 2007, a presentation was made to the members of our three volunteer stations regarding the future direction of fire rescue services in Manheim Township. An on-line survey was used to gauge the response of our members. A decision was reached to begin the planning process f or creation of a 10-15 year strategic plan to guide the future actions of Manheim Township Fire Rescue.

In January of 2008 a 13 member Strategic Plan Steering Committee was selected. The Committee was comprised of three representatives from each volunteer fire rescue station, two citizens-at-large from the community, and two representatives from Manheim Township government. In addition, two non-voting members from the East Petersburg Fire Company were also on this committee. The Committee later expanded to include three members from the Manheim Township Ambulance Association as well. The Committee held public meetings on the second Thursday of every month in the Commissioners meeting room at the Township building.

After almost 18 months of work and over 10 draft documents, a presentation was made to the Board of Commissioners. After some revisions, negotiations, and funding changes, the final version of the Manheim Township Fire Rescue Strategic Plan was adopted by municipal resolution 2009-38 on August 10, 2009.

mt strategic plan

Blue Rock Fire Rescue‘s consolidation path is similar. ” … each fire company committed $25,000.00 to an operating fund in order to finance the project and demonstrate commitment to the effort” that resulted in the consolidation of four separate fire departments into one.

Columbia’s in the consolidation planning process now; the Columbia Borough Fire Department website was activated in the fall of 2013. There’s a TAB at the Website labeled “Public Education” – unfortunately, there’s no documentation on the process shown.

 

one of the aspects of “kicking the can down the road”

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Lists on January 16, 2015 at 5:10 am

Cities and towns in Pennsylvania that administer their own public pension systems have nearly $7.7 billion of unfunded future liabilities, according to a report on Wednesday from state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.” – Reuters

l_muni-pensions-2015-update

It’s not easy to see, but more than a few Lancaster County municipalities, including Columbia and its neighbors, are colored red. At the end of 2013, Columbia was rated as “minimally distressed” by the Public Employee Retirement Commission with $5,960,914 listed as assets and $7,659,790 as liabilities.

lancaster county

Click here to read the Auditor Generals report on the how and why’s of Pennsylvania’s 562 municipalities with administered pension plans that are “distressed” and underfunded by at least $7.7 billion.

 

tape of two similarly sized towns

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Lists on January 15, 2015 at 6:15 am

This comment appears following an article at Cole Umber’s news and information site:

“Cola is landlocked & cannot add anymore taxpayers. The 10, 000 existing taxpayers will forever foot the increase in expenses of this town. There is only one direction our leaders should be going in & that is propositioning the state for help in consolidating with a surrounding community. There is no expert who can make the numbers work when only 10, 000 people are trying to support a school district, a police force, & all the associated municipal forces.
Anybody who tells you different is selling you a pipe dream.”

While it’s not easily possible to contrast municipalities with similarly-sized populations, here are some comparatives between two – Columbia and Waynesboro, PA – gleaned from Websites.

two towns

Pennsylvania has 176 municipalities ranging between 5,000 and 25, 000 people. Individual budgets seldom are consistent. Click on the links below see the budgets for each town.

Columbia budget – 2015

Waynesboro budget – 2015

Click on the links below to be directed to the municipal and police department Websites for each town.

Waynesboro has a higher tax millage rate; it uses a very outdated 1961 assessment model.

“Pennsylvania’s Tax Equalization Division (TED) (formerly PA State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) was established by the General Assembly in Act 447 PL 1046, 1947, to compensate for the lack of assessment uniformity statewide in distributing school subsidies.” A comparison of the municipalities listed a the 2013 report shows the property tax rate disparity.

jobs with benefits waning

In Everyday Living, Government on January 14, 2015 at 5:45 am

We listened to a radio talk segment yesterday decrying the real loss of wages among the middle class in Indiana, the real message was the loss of jobs with benefits. While there is major trumpeting about the recovery of the not-very distant recession, it’s pretty clear, not everyone has shared in it.

Employers continue to outsource jobs – in Lancaster County and across the country. In this article, “North Carolina has become a breeding ground for construction companies willing to break rules at the expense of honest business owners, vulnerable workers and unsuspecting taxpayers.”

And if it’s true that “nearly all of the increased employment since 2008 in the US took place in states with shale oil and gas production. As these programs are cut back, US employment is likely to fall.” – OilPrice.com

What will happen with the employment spike in Pennsylvania due to the shale oil seekers?

job growth“Seven million Americans are stuck in part-time jobs.

“They are unable to get full-time work and the benefits and stability that come with it. It’s a constant struggle for these families and a worrying sign for America’s recovery.

“Overall U.S. unemployment has fallen steeply in the past year (from 7.2% in October 2013 to 5.8% in October 2014), but too many people can only find part-time positions.

“The number of people working part-time involuntarily is more than 50% higher than when the recession began.”

Read this article in its entirety at CNN Money.

Hickernell Appointed Chairman of House Tourism Committee

In Government, People on January 9, 2015 at 3:48 pm

HARRISBURG – Rep. Dave Hickernell (R-Lancaster/Dauphin) today was sworn into his seventh term as the representative for the 98th Legislative District. Due to his seniority in the state House of Representatives, Hickernell was also appointed to serve as the majority chairman of the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee for the 2015-16 session.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to chair a committee that oversees legislation impacting the state’s second-leading industry and one of its largest revenue producers and job creators,” Hickernell said. “From the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall to Lancaster County’s Amish farms and arts attractions, to Adams County’s Gettysburg history, Hershey and the Poconos, Pennsylvania is getaway destination for millions of visitors every year. I look forward to working with my colleagues and our communities to draw more visitors.”

Tourism is Pennsylvania’s second-largest industry, after agriculture, representing almost 5 percent of the state’s entire gross domestic product. It supports 471,000 Pennsylvania jobs and generates $4 billion in tax revenue for state and local government.

“Tourism provides one of the best investments we can make as it benefits all corners of the state,” Hickernell said.

Kathleen Frankford, president of Discover Lancaster, said Hickernell’s experience will be a good fit to guide one of the state’s top economic engines.

“I’m very pleased Representative Hickernell will now be chairing the tourism committee,” Frankford said. “He is a committed and knowledgeable friend of the tourism community, and both Lancaster County and the entire Commonwealth are fortunate to have such an industry supporter in this key role.”

SOURCE: news release, PA House Republican Caucus

Council rejects mayor’s veto bid

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Uncategorized on January 7, 2015 at 9:06 pm

In a 64 minute meeting that ended at 8:04 pm, Columbia’s seven borough councillors voted to override the mayor’s veto of the 2015 budget acceptance which will maintain the current property tax rate with no increase. No new police vehicle is in the budget.

Fewer than five citizens attended the meeting. The councillors, the mayor and the interim borough manager attended the meeting.

special meeting agenda

Paul Harvey’s kind of policeman

In Everyday Living, Government, Opinions, Opportunities on December 23, 2014 at 5:01 am

This video is making the rounds. It’s Paul Harvey’s tribute to the policeman – the law enforcement officers.

Harvey wrote the tribute in 1970; Harvey’s tribute comes about because his father was a policeman – a policeman killed in the line of duty.

“What is a policeman made of? He, of all men, is once the most needed and the most unwanted. He’s a strangely nameless creature who is “sir” to his face and “fuzz” to his back. He must be such a diplomat that he can settle differences between individuals so that each will think he won.

But  . . .  if the policeman is neat, he’s conceited; if he’s careless, he’s a bum. If he’s pleasant, he’s flirting; if not, he’s a grouch. He must make an instant decision  which would require months for a lawyer to make.

But  . . .  if he hurries, he’s careless; if he’s deliberate, he’s lazy. He must be first to an accident and infallible with his diagnosis. He must be able to start breathing, stop bleeding, tie splints and, above all, be sure the victim goes home without a limp. Or expect to be sued.

The police officer must know every gun, draw on the run, and hit where it doesn’t hurt. He must be able to whip two men twice his size and half his age without  damaging his uniform and without being “brutal.”

If you hit him, he’s a coward. If he hits you, he’s a bully. A policeman must know everything—and not tell. He must know where all the sin is and not partake. A  policeman must, from a single strand of hair, be able to describe the crime, the weapon and the criminal—and tell you where the criminal is hiding. But . . . if he catches the criminal, he’s lucky; if he doesn’t, he’s a dunce.

If he gets promoted, he has political pull; if he doesn’t, he’s a dullard. The policeman must chase a bum lead to a dead-end, stake out ten nights to tag one witness who saw it happen—but refused to remember. The policeman must be a minister, a social worker, a diplomat, a tough guy and a gentleman.

And, of course, he’d have to be genius . . . for he will have to feed a family on a policeman’s salary.”

All true enough for arguably one of the most difficult professions in the world. We want to look up to the person behind the badge – the person sworn to “protect and defend.”

But that was then and the climate is changed somewhat today. There are departments who have among their ranks police officers with drunk driving records; leaving the scene of an accident records and “reduced IQ requirements.” In 1970, most departments had “residency requirements” and police officers were members of the community. Times change and standards have changed as well.

The report shown below also identifies other differences and challenges departments encounter, including hiring “officers who were inadequately screened and, in a few notable cases, had criminal records prior to their police service.”

hiring police officers

Every citizen wants to have confidence that his or her police department is comprised of “Paul Harvey policemen.”

Agenda – Council meeting of the whole – December 22, 2014

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Lists, People on December 22, 2014 at 8:52 pm

As the council president tapped the gavel convening this last announced meeting of the year, fewer than a handful of citizens were in attendance, but a full complement of councillors, the mayor, interim borough manager and the financial manager began the proceedings at 6:05 pm.

The “not-exactly ho-hum” meeting was adjourned at 8:16 pm after which the mayor asked the councillors to join him in a private meeting in the chamber’s anteroom.

Look for more about the meeting’s items discussed tomorrow.

Front

cotw agenda side oneBack

cotw agenda side two

Borough alerts citizens, others about holiday hours

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Lists, Opinions, Opportunities on December 19, 2014 at 5:52 am

good job

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