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Agenda – Council Meeting of the Whole – July 28, 2014

In Everyday Living, Government, In Columbia, Lists, Opinions, People on July 29, 2014 at 4:18 am

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council mow 07-28-2014 page one

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Columbia Borough’s July “meeting of the whole” was held last night. Council president Mike Beury convened the meeting at 6:01 pm in the borough hall meeting room. All the councillors, but Jody Gable, the mayor, borough manager and borough finance director were in attendance in addition to nine or so persons from the community. The gallery was winnowed away as the meeting progressed and when it was concluded at 9:28 pm, only one citizen remained.

Some highlights during the meeting:

TRASH – Another discussion about the overflowing trash receptacles at River Park and along Locust Street brought responses from several councillors. The councillors believe the boaters deposit their trash in the receptacles as they leave the river on weekends and that renters use the receptacles along Locust Street. One resolution might be the removal of the trash Read the rest of this entry »

“Norfolk Southern sues to block disclosure of crude oil shipments” – McClatchyDC

In In Columbia on July 25, 2014 at 5:49 pm

train through colaA Norfolk Southern crude oil train barrels east through Columbia, Pa., on March 22, 2014. The train runs parallel to the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and Maryland on its way to the PBF Energy refinery in Delaware City, Del. On Wednesday, the railroad sued the state of Maryland to prevent the disclosure of information about the shipments, including their routes and frequencies. McClatchy and the Associated Press had requested the documents through the state Public Information Act. (Curtis Tate/McClatchy)

CURTIS TATE — McClatchy

By Curtis Tate | McClatchy Washington Bureau

— A major hauler of crude oil by rail has sued the state of Maryland to stop the public release of information about the shipments, according to court documents.

“The suit was filed Wednesday, the same day the U.S. Department of Transportation announced proposed rules to improve the safety of crude oil shipments by rail. Several serious oil train accidents resulting in spills, fires and fatalities have increased scrutiny on the industry.

“Rail companies prefer to keep details about crude oil shipments confidential and some states have agreed, but others have decided that the records can be made public.”

Click here to continue reading this McClatchyDC article in its entirety.

Great photos, Cole Umber!

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

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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.

Registration Underway for Chiques Challenge: 4th Annual Running and Kayaking Event

In In Columbia, Opportunities, The Susquehanna on July 18, 2014 at 4:22 am

duathlon

Join other veteran and amateur athletes as they run and kayak through the 4th annual Chiques Challenge hosted by the Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce. This duathlon slated for Saturday, August 9, will stage from Columbia’s River Park. Participants will be transported to Vinegar Ferry Road for the 8:30 start time. The course takes runners along the river via the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail and on through the streets of Marietta. The run portion of the event ends at the Marietta Boat Launch. There, runners will take to the river aboard a kayak and finish downstream at the Columbia River Park. We’ve partnered with Shank’s Mare and Chiques Rock Outfitters for this event which is held rain or shine. This annual event is made possible through the Gold Sponsorship of Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority and the sponsorships of additional businesses listed on our website.

Pre-registration is required to participate in the Chiques Challenge. This year’s event is limited to 150 participants. Participants must be 16 years and older. Registrants need to provide their own kayak. All participants are required to wear a life vest at all times during the kayaking leg and to be equipped with a whistle. Additional river safety will be provided by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. For more information or a registration form, visit our website http://www.PaRivertowns.com or call 717-684-5249. Please, no pets. This is a FUN event! Even though it is timed and participants may feel competitive, the main focus is to have some fun along and in the Susquehanna River!

dualthlon kayaks

duathlon wateredge

Following the duathlon, participants, guests, and the public are invited to linger in Columbia’s River Park following the event for a relaxing afternoon along the Susquehanna. Lunches will be available for purchase from Harvey’s BBQ and music will be provided by the local duo Sweet Life from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm. Tickets costing $8 in advance for the BBQ are available at the SVCC Visitor’s Center.

The Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center is a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization serving the tri-borough communities of Marietta, Wrightsville & Columbia as well as the outlying areas. Annual fundraising events such as this help to keep the Visitors Center open year round as a gratis service to guests to our region.

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.

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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

nepotism

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

Drone technology has arrived

In Everyday Living, In Columbia, People on July 12, 2014 at 6:00 am

There’ve been some splendid aerial videography springing up on several Internet sites.

This one – “Columbia on the Susquehanna: An Overview” by JERRY KING MUSSER  is crystal clear and engages drone video technology in flights over area.columbia overview

Here’s the link to the DJI Phanton 2 Vision +.

a step toward “collective impact”

In Everyday Living, In Columbia, Opinions, Opportunities on July 10, 2014 at 4:15 am

Yesterday, we attended an afternoon workshop exploring the big picture dynamics of effecting social change. We and others got a look at “Collective Impact.”

As the Stanford Social Innovation Review states: Large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination, yet the social sector remains focused on the isolated intervention of individual organizations.”

In simpler terms, it’s a process of bringing a bunch of disconnected entities who may have similar goals for social change together to establish “a common agenda for solving a specific social problem, using a structured form of collaboration,” according to Wikipedia.

Last evening, while looking through The Merchandiser, we thought this article about two local organizations that came together for a common goal,  represented a sort of “micro-version” of the collective impact that remembers noted Columbia artist, Lloyd Mifflin.

collective impactSOURCE: The Collaborative Impact Forum

At least one other person who shares a vision of what could be for achieving social change locally attended the workshop too. Others – elected public servants, municipal employees, school board members, economic development volunteers, boaters, renters, landlords, home owners, business owners and all community shareholders – would benefit from learning more about collective impact.

Maybe, just maybe, collective impact offers the platform that Columbia needs to achieve positive social change. It’s certainly worth a look at:

  • a common agenda,
  • shared measurement metrics,
  • mutually reinforcing activities,
  • continuous, open, transparent communications with all shareholders and
  • a team without ulterior motives, dedicated to orchestrating the work of the group to a common good.

We’re reminded of another great management illustration, a classic parable about the value of having a common vision and getting there.

“Please, would you tell me,” said Alice, a little timidly, … “why your cat grins like that?”

“It’s a Cheshire cat,” said the Duchess, “and that’s why.”

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where –” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“– so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “otherwise you wouldn’t have come here.”

SOURCE: Alice in Wonderland, an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.

Saturday morning – Infant & Child Car Safety Seat Check

In Education, Everyday Living, In Columbia, Opportunities on July 9, 2014 at 10:08 pm

car check

 

“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

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