Sunday, August 31, 2008

Trolley bus driver derides street car scheme

On, a contributor who self identifies as a driver "for the Historic Downtown Trolley (a bus in another costume)" states that there are only about 25 passengers a day and that most of them are "the original passengers from 4 years ago." (Editor's note: Terry Dohl identified himself as the driver in a "In My Opinion" column in the Spt. 14, 2008, Sunday News.)

The individual goes on to state "On a daily basis, if I could not change lanes on Queen Street, PrinceStreet, Duke Street or Vine Street, I would be a stationary object. Anyone who thinks a fixed rail line in Lancaster City would be viable is welcome to take a couple of rides with me."

Excuse us for introducing an eye witness and facts into the discussion. (The lack of ridership is consistent with information provided by RRTA many months ago.) As observed from the Convention Center Project run up, it is only what money can be made by special interests that carry any weight.

Friday, August 29, 2008

LCCCA Receives $500,000 of Earmarked $1.5M in State Grants

The Lancaster County Convention Center Authority, which has been anticipating a shortfall of at least $400,000, received relief in the form of a $500,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, it was announced at their board meeting, Thursday night.

The funding is part of the $1.5 million in "contingency funds" for which State Senator Gib Armstrong earmarked the project.

Chairman of the Board Art Morris said that the Authority had been notified "within the last two to three weeks" that it would be receiving part of the funding that they have been asking for since May.

Morris said that the funding will be used to pay expenses related to "concrete," since the board can easily identify one or two concrete contracts totaling that large an amount so as to minimize the paperwork and administrative costs involved.

He went on to say that the board expects to be notified "in a month or so" as to when the remaining $1 million will be awarded.

Also at their Thursday night board meeting, the LCCCA approved a contract with Desso, USA for carpeting in the Convention Center. The board voted to approve a 50% deposit of $235,931.11 on the total cost.

The board also voted to retain the law firm of Stevens & Lee for an additional six months, ending February 28, 2009.

Kevin Fry noted that Stevens & Lee has been controversial - something Executive Director Kevin Molloy said he "[has] been briefed" about. Morris noted that the board has reached out to Stevens & Lee "a couple of times" over the previous six months.

The board also approved a lengthy list of project change orders, Thursday, including one for a grease trap in the kitchen facility. An observer noted publicly that, according to the governing documents, the Authority is 100% responsible for change orders related to the kitchen even though the facility will be used by both the hotel and Convention Center - and quite likely more frequently by the hotel since it will be in operation on a more regular basis.

Finally, Morris noted that he had been in contact with a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer who is writing a story on the history of Lancaster's Convention Center project and that her article may appear this weekend or in Tuesday's edition.

Morris noted that he did not wish to resurrect past controversies and was somewhat conservative in what he told the reporter.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

An example of raw political clout

Usually invitations for fund raising events come from local committees, with a chair, several co-chairs, and various sponsors. It isn't easy to attract potential donors to these events, so the trick is to line up co-chairs and many committee members before hand to attend and bring along other likely contributors.

But this isn't the case with the invitation recently received for a "private lunch in honor of U. S. Senator Arlen Specter" at the Hamilton Club.

Rather the invitation states: "S. Dale High cordially invites you..."

We can be confident that the luncheon will be well subscribed, with many attendees being contractors and suppliers of the various High companies as well as associates of High from the Lancaster Alliance and elsewhere.

And the message will not be lost on Senator Specter or other politicians: High is able to provide heavy funding for campaign war chests, and High's needs - such as federal funding of the Rt. 30 Interchange improvement for the proposed "Crossings" shopping center - merit full attention.

Full disclosure: NewsLanc's publisher was Finance Chair for Specter's successful senatorial campaign in 1980.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's happening around Lancaster this week?

On Thursday, Aug. 28 at 9 p.m, enjoy a free movie in in downtown Binns Park on N. Queen St. This week's movie is the Pixar animated film Ratatouille. This is the final film in the city' free summer movie series.

The Long's Park Art & Craft Festival runs all Labor Day weekend (Aug. 29 to Sep. 1).

"The Long’s Park Art & Craft Festival is one of the country’s finest outdoor art galleries. Now recognized as America’s No. 4 fine art and craft show, this year’s Labor Day Weekend event drew applications from artists living in 46 states, the District of Columbia and 3 foreign countries. All told, more than 1,200 artists vied to be selected by our independent jurors to be one of our 200 exhibitors. Over 50 of these exhibitors will be new to the Long’s Park show. We invite you to experience this year’s exciting display."

The show runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, except closing at 5 p.m. on Monday, Sep. 1. Admission is $10 for a one-day ticket and $12 for a multi-day ticket. For more information, visit

From 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m, Friday (Aug. 29) at Penn Square at the corner of King & Queen Streets in downtown Lancaster, the band M&K Duo will be performing classical, jazz, and pop tunes. The performance is sponsored chiefly by Fulton Financial Corporation and the City of Lancaster.

The Lancaster Barnstormers baseball team plays home games on Wednesday (Aug. 27) and Thursday (Aug. 28) at 7:05 p.m. and a Labor Day game on Monday, Sep. 1 at 1:35 p.m. For further information, directions, and advanced tickets, visit

Thursday night (Aug. 28) at 7:00 p.m., the band Journey plays with guests Heart and Cheap Trick at Hershey park Stadium. Tickets range from $40 to $125 and are going fast. For more information, visit or

Friday, Aug. 29 is "Greek Day" at the Red Rose Restaurant in downtown Lancaster. "Enjoy home-cooked authentic Greek food, such as spanakopita and mousaka (to name a few) and yummy pastries!" Located at 101 E. King St, its hours of operation Friday are 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. For more information, check out their website at

The Wine & Cheese Train at the Strasburg Railroad runs on both Friday (Aug. 29) and Saturday (Aug. 30). Enjoy a scenic, 45-minute train ride through the countryside while tasting fine wines and cheeses. The train boards at 7:00 p.m. on both dates. Tickets are $30 each. For more information, visit

On Sunday, Aug. 31, author Philip Malachowski will be signing and reading excerpts from his book Life & Death to the Happies at 1:00 p.m. and again at 2:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit

Next door in Chester County, Longwood Gardens is having its end-of-summer
Fireworks & Fountain Show on Sunday, Aug. 31 at 8:30 p.m. "Celebrate a summer of 'oohs' and 'aahs' as you view spectacular fireworks and colorful fountains that will light up the sky. Enjoy your favorite tunes of Big Band & Broadway." Tickets are $16 for ages 15 & under, and $32 for ages 16 and up. Garden Pass holders get in at a discounted rate. For more information, visit

Also on Sunday, Aug. 31, the Hospice of Lancaster County is holdings its 24th Annual Labor Day Auction in Lampeter. "
This year's event will be held Saturday, Aug. 30, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., and Monday, Sept. 1, 8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m., at the Lampeter Fairgrounds, Route 741 and Lampeter Road." Admission is free. The event promises "elaborate quilts, handcrafted Amish furniture, more than 150 pieces of framed local artwork, more than 200 pieces of autographed sports memorabilia, vacation packages, home and garden accessories, plants, gift certificates, authentic Amish crafts and delicious Amish-prepared food-all this and more..." For further information, visit

Up for some laser tag? On Labor Day (Sep. 1), you can play all day (12 p.m. to 10 p.m.) for $20 at Laserdome in Manheim. And for $5 extra, you can enjoy unlimited soda and popcorn, and two slices of pizza. Laserdome is located at 2050 Auction Road in Manheim. For more information, visit

Other weekend events as advertised by

Demuth Museum
Out of the Chateau: Works from the Demuth Museum
120 East King Street
June 28 - Aug 31: Tue - Sat: 10am-4pm, Sun: 1pm-4pm
The Demuth Museum collection consists of over thirty works by Charles Demuth that span his career, from early childhood drawings to late floral works.

Heritage Center Museum
Patchwork Politics: From George to George W.
5 West King Street
June 6 - Dec 31, Mon - Sat: 9am-5pm
Extraordinary private collection of quilts and other items spanning the presidential campaigns of George Washington to George W. Bush.

Lancaster Museum of Art
4 Galleries/4 Shows
135 North Lime Street
Aug 2 - Sept 7, Mon - Sat: 10am - 4pm, Sun: 12pm - 4pm
Suk Shuglie's paintings; wearable art by Valerie Jo Coulson; acrylics by Kurdish artist Sadradeen Ameen; and Visual Dialogue:Unspoken Conversations - the works of artist friends Donna Albert, Blakelyn Albright, Mariann Lehman, Janie Oakes, and Jan Yatsco.

Lancaster Quilt and Textile Museum
Rags to Rugs: Pennsylvania Hooked and Handsewn Rugs
37 Market Street
Nov 17, 2007 - Dec 31, 2008, Mon - Sat: 9am-5pm
Hooked and handsewn rugs from Pennsylvania. Learn about the many functions of these rugs as well as how they are made.

PA College of Art & Design
World War II Vintage Posters
204 North Prince Street
Aug 1 - Sep 25: Mon - Fri: 8am-4:30pm
Vintage posters designed and illustrated by Jean Carlu, Norman Rockwell and other artists. Displayed in the Cummins Engine factory (Columbus, IN) during WWII.

Parlor Art Space
"Scope II" closing reception
320 Laurel Street
Thu Aug 28: 5pm-9pm
Parlor will be hosting a closing reception for "Scope II". Curated by Harriet Hacker of Where Exhibitions.

Phillips Museum of Art
Franklin & Marshall College, Steinman College Center
Aug 25 - Sep 28, Tue-Fri: 1:30pm-4:30pm; Sat & Sun: 12:30pm-4:30pm
The Phillips Museum of Art
Dana Gallery: Inscriptions - Paintings by Edward Evans.
Rothman Gallery: Reflections - Digital Photographs by David Spitzer.
Curriculum Gallery: Where Do You Draw the Line? - Works from the Permanent Collection curated by Christy Batta '09.

Sunday Market
Building Character
342 North Queen Street
July 6 - Oct 19, Sun: 11am-3pm
Featuring art, antiques, collectibles, and food--something for everyone.

LETTER: Public Dollars Should Beget Public Disclosure

"It has been a contention of mine from the start of the Convention Center project that the presence of any public money in that project, that great for everyone public-private partnership, should require full and complete public disclosure. The reality has been the opposite… every chance they can, the private parties say, 'we are private', and therefore not required to provide any disclosure. Meanwhile, there is not a single private entity that owns anything in the project.

"With the publication of the list of donors to the Lancaster Alliance, I was taken aback to find public dollars in the mix. Both Lancaster City and Lancaster County, along with some non-profits that may also receive public funding, for instance Millersville University, are contributing to the Alliance. Remember that the Alliance has played the 'private' card as well in the past keeping its full feasibility/market study by Ernst & Young for the CC private until the 11th hour. That study was always described as 'private' as opposed to say the 'public' PWC study undertaken by the LCCCA.

"Private money can do whatever it wants but as soon as it accepts dollar 1 from the public coffers, it should be forced to open up. Curious as to why I have never heard a single locally elected official make that same demand. It would be very interesting to cross-reference a list of major donors to those elected officials and see how/where their major contributors fall within the membership of the Lancaster Alliance."

County preserves 253 acres of farmland, opts not to participate in state gypsy moth spraying program

The Lancaster County Commissioners voted to preserve three more farms totaling 253.69 acres at their meeting, Wednesday.

The added farms, located in Strasburg and East Cocalico Townships, bring the total number of preserved acres in the county to 78,437, Director of the County's Agricultural Preserve Board, Matt Knepper, said.

In addition to local taxpayer revenue, the County is often able to acquire federal funding for farmland preservation.

In this case, the County is spending $605,719.50 to preserve the 253.69 acres.

The average price to preserve an acre of farmland in Lancaster County is $3,000, which Knepper described as "middle of the road" with regard to surrounding counties.

In other business, Wednesday, the Commissioners opted not to participate in the state "Gypsy Moth Suppression Program" for 2009.

County Director of Parks and Recreation James Hackett made the recommendation not to participate, noting that "smaller egg sacs and not as many masses" had been observed over the past few months.

He added that we had a cold, wet spring last year, which aids the fungus that naturally kills the larval sacs.

The Department of Parks and Recreation also received "significantly fewer" complaints this year about foliage destruction due to the insects, Hackett said.

Participating in the state program would have imposed a relatively small cost on the County and nearly halved the cost for private landowners.

The Commissioners did not publicly comment on the reasons for their vote, but Chairman Dennis Stuckey said afterwards he sympathizes with afflicted landowners but "We have to look at it on a county-wide basis."

LETTER: Requests names of Alliance members

"Would you please publish the names and addresses of the members of the Lancaster Alliance? I would greatly appreciate knowing who has sold us down the river and I believe many other people would also be interested in knowing."

Editor's Response: According to the Lancaster Post which obtained the information from public filings, the list is as follows: Armstrong, Barley Snyder, Burnham Boiler, Core Source, Ecklin Group, Economic Development Co., Engle Hambright and Davies, Franklin & Marshal, Fulton Financing, High Industries, Irex, Lancaster City, Lancaster City Police Foundation, Lancaster Community Safety Coalition, Lancaster County, Lancaster General Hospital, Lancaster Newspapers, Millersville University, PP&L, RR Donneley, Steinman Foundations, UGI, Wachovia

However, the differing amount of financial support is perhaps more significant than the membership, because there appears to be a distinct corellation between funds given and amounts of federal and state grants directly or indirectly benefiting the members.

Visit the August 22 edition of the Post at and go to Page 7 to see a chart showing members and donations.

City Council denies southeast liquor license, considers other matters

Lancaster City Council voted unanimously, Tuesday night, to deny a liquor license to a Brownstown applicant who had hoped to establish a combined bar, restaurant, and laundry facility at 911 S. Duke St.

Yuosar Khlok planned to take over the Tony's Cleaners and simply add a bar and restaurant component.

But his application ran into overwhelming community opposition at the hearing on August 12.

On Tuesday (Aug. 26), City Council echoed that public sentiment in rejecting Mr. Khlok's application.

"This wasn't necessarily an easy decision. There are many elements of this story that are so much like the American Dream... but there are times when, by no fault of their own, one person's dream can become another person's nightmare," said City Councilman Joe Morales.

Councilman Jose Urdaneta, who is also running for Gib Armstrong's State Senate seat this year, said that granting the liquor license "would not enhance the city's health, welfare, peace, and morals."

Concern had been expressed about installing an alcohol establishment in an area of the city already troubled with poverty and crime.

In other business, Tuesday night, a resolution was introduced to approve a grant application to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) in the amount of $185,200 "to plant 400 trees within the confines of the City by the end of the 2009 Fall planting season."

Councilman Tim Roschel, who chairs City Council's Public Works Committee, told NewsLanc that specifics as to where the trees will be planted has not yet been worked out.

As it was a matter under "new business," City Council took no action on the grant proposal at Tuesday's meeting.

Also up for consideration under new business is an arrangement between the City of Lancaster and the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Lancaster (RACL) in which the city sells to RACL its delinquent 2007 tax rolls, meaning that RACL pays the city up front for the delinquent tax claims with money borrowed from banks, and collects taxpayer payments themselves over the next couple of years.

City Director of Administrative Services Patrick Hopkins said the arrangement enables the city to use what would otherwise be delayed revenues more immediately and stressed that "the taxpayer will see no change whatsoever."

As a public entity, RACL will be able to secure a fairly low-interest line of credit, Hopkins said.

As an item of new business, City Council did not vote on the proposal, Tuesday.

Mayor Rick Gray was not in attendance at Tuesday's meeting as he was attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado with his wife, Gail, who is a pledged delegate for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

COMMENTARY: Is the new SD of L "broom sweeping clean"?

Several months ago, NewsLanc was advised by a knowledgeable observer that the School District of Lancaster had two huge problems: The first was the leadership of its athletic program. The second was the administration of McCaskey East High School.

It is worthy of note that within less than two months of Pedro Rivera assuming the Superintendent of School position, Merv Witmer has been engaged to replace Allen McCloud as interim athletic director and Jay Butterfield has been appointed to succeed Damaso Albino as the new McCaskey East principal. Both McCloud and Albino are returning to teaching math.

Yet to be seen is whether Assistant Superintendent Drue Miles to whom the former athletic director reported remains with the SD of L. Also, is it practical for all principals to report directly to the superintendent? Given Rivera's many other duties, it doesn't seem feasible to us.

SD of L stengthens athletic department

NewsLanc learned today that Merv Witmer will join the School District of Lancaster to "support the Athletic Department" and for the time being act as interim athletic director.

Witmer previously served for fifteen years as Athletic Director of the Ephrata School District before his retirement. He also served as President of the Lancaster-Lebanon Athletic Directors Association.

According to Kelly Burkholder,Coordinator of Community Relations, Witmer is familiar with all District 3 procedures and operations, which is an asset to the District. He will work full-time for a per diem amount.

Burkholder added, "His placement will provide support as we transition to a new Athletic Director."

LETTER: Only PSP / S & L knew contents of agreement

"I applaud your efforts in shedding light onto LCCCA contracts with Penn Square Partners but please do not stop there.

"Current board members have correctly stated that these agreements were approved by prior boards. I think the real question now is did that board have any clue as to what they agreed to? I say NO!

"Most had neither the experience, nor more importantly the time to even read the agreements, before they were put in front of their faces and told to make 11th hour decisions to approve them.

"I would make the following unequivocal statement…the only 2 parties with full and complete knowledge of these agreements are PSP and Stevens and Lee.

"That’s right, I have purposely omitted the LCCCA, RACL, the County commissioners, the Mayor, and City Council. Ignorance is bliss!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

"They've got a great deal": LCCCA Finance Committee Chair says Authority obligated to share state grants 50/50 with PSP

Talk about demons from your past. Lancaster County Convention Center Authority Finance Committee Chair Laura Douglas confirmed at her committee meeting, Monday, that there is indeed a past contract between the Authority and Penn Square Partners according to which all state grants must be shared 50/50 between the two entities.

"Do you think that that's a fair deal for the public and the taxpayers whom you represent and whose money you are charged with using responsibly?" the NewsLanc reporter asked.

"That's a tough question. You're asking the wrong person on that one," Douglas replied through laughter.

"Would you consider going back and revisiting those contracts?" the reporter continued.

"The problem is, once a contract is signed, unless you have some leverage, you can't go back and renegotiate," she responded. "You have to have something to negotiate. And, unfortunately, we don't have any leverage towards negotiation."

Finance Committee member R.B. Campbell agreed with Douglas' assessment.

"Why would Penn Square Partners agree to change itself?" he asked. But he went on to suggest that the controversial provision might be revisited as part of any future negotiations.

"It was a different board that approved those governing documents," Douglas explained. "Unfortunately, we are saddled with the results of negotiations which took place a number of years ago."

"They've got a good deal," she noted wryly.

But the Chairwoman said it is unclear whether the $3.2 million in contingency funds the Authority is counting on from the State must necessarily be shared 50/50 with Penn Square Partners. She noted that Chairman of the Board Art Morris and Executive Director Kevin Molloy, who represent the Authority in talks with Penn Square Partners and with State Senator Gib Armstrong, are working on funding solutions.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

LETTER: Alliance the real power

"You hit the nail right on the head. The Lancaster Alliance is the reason that we have the CC, will have the trolley system, and may very well have the proposed Home Rule charter. Where are #1 Home Rule backer Tom Baldridge's roots...the Lancaster Alliance. Why does he have his current job...because he stewarded the CC project and saw to the implementation of the tax for his Alliance handlers. Who succeeded him there...Jack Howell. Whose bad-dream is this trolley...Jack Howell.

"These men answer not to the general community (City & County residents) or the business community at large (the Chamber), but rather that small, elite group known as the Lancaster Alliance. They say jump and Tom and Jack answer 'how high'! They are the true power in Lancaster County."

Trolley Survey a Classic 'Push Poll'?

Editor's note: The following article appeared on July 7, 2007. According to a communication of Sept. 3rd from Berwood Yost of the Center for Opinion Research, Dr. [Terry] Madonna did not participate in the design, administration, or analysis of the survey."

F&M is a member of the Lancaster Alliance and a prime contributor. F&M president John Fry served on the Convention Center Authority during a period of unsubstantiated expenditures. The then commissioners declined to re-appoint him.

A "push poll" is when questions are phrased in a manner that will evoke a sought after response.

On behalf of the Lancaster Alliance, the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College conducted a telephone survey of 408 Lancaster County residents living within a twenty mile radius of Lancaster City.

The poll never mentions, let alone asks, whether the system should be built with $20 million dollars of public money or that it would operate at a loss of over $300,000 a year.

The poll does not mention that trolleys would contribute to traffic congestion and pedestrian danger.

That so reputable an organization as the Center for Opinion Research should be party to such a propaganda effort does not do credit to them or to the college they represent. But it is evidence of the corrupting power of the Lancaster establishment and the monopoly newspapers.

Below is the information provided to those queried. Judge for yourself whether this is a biased presentation for the purpose of eliciting seemingly favorable responses.

"Lancaster is considering installing a modern, steel-shelled street car system. Street cars will look historically authentic inside and out, but will off modern amenities including air conditioning and barrier free access. Street cars will be pollution free and run I the lane of traffic at or near the speed limit, along a 6.2 mile route.

"Street cars will operate on the parallel streets of Queen and Prince Streets, between Liberty and Vine Streets. Street car service will be provide 14 hours per day, with stops every ten minutes with 15 stops along the way.

"Street cars will link a variety of destinations, including the train station, Clipper Magazine Stadium, the Fulton Theater, the Southern Mark, the planned convention center, and a variety of stores, restaurants and offices.

"The fee for riding the street car will be 50 cents or less."


Saturday, August 23, 2008

EDITORIAL: Is the Lancaster Alliance our real government?

In October of 2005, at the request of Fox 43, nationally respected Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted a thorough poll of 500 residents of Lancaster County to determine the extent of support for the county government guaranteeing the mortgage debt of the proposed Convention Center. The margin of error was plus or minus 3%.

The key question was:

"Under the proposed plan, the County of Lancaster will be responsible for paying up to one and a half million dollars each year for forty years, if the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority is unable to pay its debts."

78% of those with an opinion opposed the County guaranteeing the debt! 68% of all surveyed, whether or not they had an opinion, opposed the County guaranteeing the debt!

The poll, plus the strenuous objections of two of the three commissioners, and a PKF Consultants "Market Feasibility Study" in 2008 which discouraged the venture were insufficient to even slow down the project. And candidate Rick Gray, who had expressed ambivalence concerning the project and promised to explore the matter with both sides, became a fervent Convention Center supporter within a day or two of his election as mayor.

Today the Lancaster Alliance is behind the proposal to install street cars in the busiest north / south one way streets. No feasibility study has been made. The dismal failure of trolley buses to generate many riders along a similar route is ignored. The disasters that have befallen street cars when introduced in other cities is never mentioned. No poll asking correct questions has yet been made of Lancaster residents to determine their wishes. And no discussion or vote has taken place by Lancaster City Council. And yet street cars are considered to be almost a certainty.

So here is the question: Does the Lancaster Alliance govern the county and the city? And more specifically, are certain business and institutional interests subverting democracy?

We say yes.

Post portrays Lancaster Alliance as front; challenges its tax exempt status

In its Aug. 22 cover story entitled "Money Grab: Does Big Business Hide Behind 'Non-Profits'?", the Lancaster Post challenges whether the Lancaster Alliance is a tool of business interests who directly benefit from its efforts, and therefore whether it qualifies for 501(c)(3) status which permits donations to be treated as charitable contributions.

The Post asks "Can a non-profit organization legally work to further the business interests of its directors?" As an example, it points out that in 1999 the Alliance "sponsored and paid for a study which advocated the establishment of a Lancaster County hotel-motel tax (over $3 million a year) and the building of a public convention center beside a 'private' hotel at Penn Square." The Post reveals that three members that were to end up owning the hotel - Fulton Bank, High Group, and Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. - made large contributions to pay for the study. (Fulton subsquently dropped out of the project.)

The Post goes on to charge that "This non-profit not only 'fronts' for the various corporate interests, but is also used to create propagandistic quotes that are intended to influence the public." It then provides examples.

The article suggests that business interests are again using the Alliance to further the scheme to obtain "Federal and State Funding for the estimated $12-14 million to install the two-mile [street car] loop...."

Listed as major contributors to the Lancaster Alliance are prime beneficiaries of their advocacy: Armstrong, Barley Snyder, Franklin & Marshall, Fulton Financial, High Industries, Lancaster Newspapers, Steinman Foundations and Wachovia Bank.

The implications of the article is that the Lancaster Alliance is the tool of big business and other special interests and it hypocritically portrays itself as disinterestedly serving the public.

The entire article can be read at . Click on Page Two to make the print legible.

(Full disclosure: An article by a relative of NewsLanc's publisher also appears in the edition.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Comments on "A City Transformed", Part two

In "A City Transformed, Redevelopment, Race, and Suburbanization in Lancaster, Pennsylvania 1940-1980", author David Schuyler states as part of the Introduction: "As a result of failure of commercial renewal, Lancaster has not experienced the prosperity that major downtowns have enjoyed in recent years – the gleaming sky scrapers, hotels, festivals, market places, gentrified neighborhoods, and other monuments of the construction boon of the 1980s and 1990s , which attract tourists and generate much needed tax revenues that sustain the municipal government."

We only take issue with the word "failure" because it suggests that a different outcome was possible.

In fact, Lancaster has long been handicapped by its location between Philadelphia, decades ago the third largest city in the country, and Harrisburg, the state capital. (York suffered similarly from being between Baltimore and Harrisburg.) Businesses seeking regional headquarters passed over Lancaster which meant downtown attracted mainly law firms and then local banks.

The strengths of Lancaster's economy were three fold: Agriculture, tourism and industry… all three of which were situated in suburbia and exurbia. Furthermore, there was no expressway linking downtown with the Interstate Highway System.

Park City was built in the 1970s. What instantly became the new 'downtown' was made possible inadvertently by a well meaning, hitherto collusion among the establishment to prevent the development of shopping centers in suburbia in order to protect downtown retail business. Had smaller suburban centers been permitted at the time, the market for the collosal Park City would not have existed.

Lancaster Square was born out of misbegotten desperation to ward off the flight from downtown. Its co-anchor Hess was acclaimed by the Wall Street Journal as the first downtown department store to open in the country in 20 years. It was short lived and eventually converted to light industrial use.

The other co- anchor, the opulent Hilton Hotel (now the Brunswick) suffered from the paucity of downtown business and thus declined under subsequent names and franchises.

(Without City guarantees and State subsidies, the Marriott would not be under construction because it faces the same shallow market and must compete, at least for the time being, with the Brunswick.)

The best thing that downtown Lancaster had going for it until recently was its quaintness and the Central Market, neither in themselves sufficient to draw much tourist trade. However, due to the far sightedness and devotion to classical music of Mike and Fran Veri Jamanis and public spirited citizens (some of whom have foolishly supported the Convention Center Project), the Pennsylvania Music Academy (PAM) was created and is now housed in a signature, world class building.

With PAM, there is the opportunity to create a high school equal to Juliard in Manhattan and Curtis in Philadelphia and a campus that would include the Brunswick building and generate activity and business. PAM’s programs would also be a major tourism attraction.

In business, it is essential to recognize what is working and also note what doesn’t work. Then do more of the former and avoid the latter. This is a lesson lost on the current benighted and often predatory community leadership.

To have created Lancaster Square in the 1970s was misguided but understandable. To mortgage the county’s and especially the city’s future in order to bring about the Convention Center Project with the hindsight of Lancaster Square is unforgivable.

As is magnified on the national scene, the War On Drugs and the war in Iraq for instances, we Americans don’t learn much from the debacles of the past.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Convention Center nets 3 more 2009 bookings in July

Three new opening-year bookings have been made for the Lancaster County Convention Center, which is set to open next March.

This brings the total number of booked events for 2009 to 16 - three trade shows, eight consumer shows, and five other events.

Interstate Hotels & Resorts' (the marketing team's) target for 2009 is 56 events, leaving a balance of 42 yet to book, according to Josh Nowak, director of Sales & Marketing for the Convention Center.

The three new bookings bring the actual amount of booked revenue as of July to $202,400, which is 83.5% of their July target of $242,500.

The total amount of opening-year definite and prospect revenue as of July stands at $319,200, according to Nowak.

Nowak said that he thinks that the state of the economy is prolonging the time it takes for potential meeting planners, particularly for smaller events, to close the deal on bookings.

Chairman of the Convention Center Board Art Morris and Executive Director Kevin Molloy both repeated that they expect more smaller events to be booked closer to the times that they would actually be held.

What's happening around Lancaster this weekend?

Downtown Lancaster's "Dinner and a Movie" series continues this week with "Cinema Paradiso." In the film, "a filmmaker recalls his childhood, when he fell in love with the movies at his village's theater and formed a deep friendship with the theater's projectionist." The movie is showing at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 21 in Binns Park. Admission is free.

From 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 22 at Penn Square in downtown Lancaster, enjoy "Pop Songs of the 1950s" by "Marty's One Man Band." The musical performances are sponsored by Fulton Financial and partners in cooperation with the City of Lancaster.

Between Aug. 21 and Aug. 21, the Mt. Gretna Playhouse is showing "Tartuffe" - "Moliere's 1664 comedic masterpiece shows how some things never change like lust, vanity, hypocrisy, and greed. An uproarious comedy that can hit just as close to home today as it did in the court of Louis XIV." Showtimes are on both Thursday, Aug. 21 and Saturday Aug. 23 at both 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Tickets range between $15 and $25 but discounts are available for children and young adults. Visit for further information, to purchase tickets, and for directions to the playhouse.

The Strasburg railroad runs its Wine & Cheese Train, Friday, Aug. 22 and Saturday Aug. 23 at 7:00 p.m. Taste wines and cheeses as you take a scenic 25-minute train ride through the countryside. The fare is $30. Visit for advance tickets, directions, and further information.

Columbia Borough will be holding one of its "Fabulous Fourth Fridays" on Aug. 22. Shop at local stores, restaurants, antique shops, and galleries, plus enjoy entertainment in the courtyard of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The event runs from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. For more information, visit

On Saturday, Aug. 23, the West End Cycling Club is hosting the "Race Ave. Criterium" - a number of bicycle loop races. There is a registration cost although kids race free. Courses will be between Race Avenue and State Street with the start/finish line and registration tent near the corner of Race Ave. and James St. This is an all-day event with the first race starting at 9:45 a.m. and the last one starting at 3:25 p.m. For more information, visit

For the kids, Manheim Fire Company is holdings its "Hook and Ladder Festival" on Saturday, Aug. 23. "Story time with a fireman every hour, aerial lift rides, bouncy castle, coloring contest and our annual truck drawing, balloons, games and crafts, guest appearance and fire prevention shows by 'Obie' the fireman and Sparky the dog! Refreshments, hotdogs, chicken corn soup and drinks." The event runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Manheim Fire Company at 83 South Main Street. Admission is free. For more information, visit or call 717-665-1762.

On Sunday, Aug. 24, the Italian Restaurant "Rosa Rosa" is sponsoring the Second Annual Italian Festival, described as "an all-day event celebrating Italian culture in Lancaster, featuring live entertainment, classic Italian meals, eating contests, local vendors, a kids area, and much much more!" It runs from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. in the Rosa Rosa's parking lot at 398 Harrisburg Pike and in the first block of N. Charlotte Street. Admission is free. For more information, visit

The Long's Park Summer Entertainment Series continues this Sunday (Aug. 24) with "old-school rock 'n' roll and jazz by Bobby Lee Rodgers and the Codetalkers." The concert is at 7:30 p.m. at the Long's Park Amphitheater. Admission is free. Pack your own lawn chairs or blankets. For more information, visit

EDITORIAL: $.25 fare better idea for trolley buses

According a news article in the Aug. 21 Intelligencer Journal, Red Rose Transit Authority (RRTA) will offer a $.25 fare rate on all buses for the month of September. It's executive director, Dave Kilmer explained "We want the community to have a chance to try RRTA as a part of their daily commute ..."

Perhaps such a system wide discount for a day or even a week would have promotional merit, but how can RRTA afford not to collect most of its revenue for an entire month?

But more important is the implicit and correct message that a free or near free trolley bus loop would generate far greater riders, something that street cars at a regular fare are unlikely to achieve, given the low level of patronage of the faux trolleys already in operation.

NewsLanc has urged that the trolley buses be free, at least as an experiment, and rerouted to service from the Water Street Refuge Mission to the south, to the Amtrak station to the north.

If the reduction or elimination of trolley bus fares spurs ridership, tax payers would save $20 million in up front streetcar costs, operating subsidies would not be any greater than with street cars, clogging the most important north / south downtown streets would be avoided, and the public would get a real ride rather than being taken for a ride!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Commissioners dish out Urban Enhancement Funds for projects throughout the County

At their weekly meeting, Wednesday, the County Commissioners approved $1.8 million in Urban Enhancement Grants for various projects throughout the County.

Representatives from a host of municipalities and organizations lined up to thank the Commissioners, Wednesday, including Columbia Mayor Leo Lutz, West Lampeter Township Manager Ray D'Agostino, Joe Morales of the Lancaster Community Safety Coalition, and Randy Patterson, the City of Lancaster's Director of Economic Development and Neighborhood Revitalization, on behalf of Mayor Gray, who is traveling to Denver, Colorado for the Democratic National Convention.

As noted in our report yesterday, the grants include funding for downtown streetscape improvements, renovations to Lancaster Square, and installation of downtown security cameras.

Other grants include $10,000 for upgrades to the municipal building and parking in Christiana Borough, $112,416 for downtown parking improvements in Columbia Borough, $15,500 for the revitalization of the Marietta town square, $81,450 for the Denver Borough Main Street revitalization project, and others.

The funding comes from a $25 million bond issued by the 2005 Board of Commissioners for the purposes of farmland preservation and urban development.

Commissioner Craig Lehman noted that the board remains committed to preserving the unique character of Lancaster County as an agricultural community, but that urban development is an important piece of the puzzle.

The County also approved an application on behalf of the City of Lancaster and Manheim Township to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for $100,000 to create a "Transit Revitalization Investment District" in the area surrounding the Lancaster Amtrak Station.

Patterson said the funding will be used to conduct a study in order to receive further funding and begin to implement development projects, including the issue of parking, in and around the train station.

A "Transit Revitalization District," Patterson explained, is a form of "tax increment financing district" (TIF), which helps municipalities and developers finance improvements within the district.

NewsLanc will continue to seek information from City and County officials on how they plan to provide sorely needed additional parking at the Lancaster Amtrak Station.

Are we repeating postwar errors in urban renewal?

This is a first of a series of articles based upon "A City Transformed; Redevelopment, Race, and Suburbanization in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1940 – 1980" by Franklin & Marshall historian David Schuyler.

In referring to effect of the Housing Act of 1949, Schuyler quotes Judith Martin and Antony Goddard as observing , in reference to Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, "Urban renewal made a vast pool of [federal]resources available to cities but left decisions about where and how to spend the money primarily to local officials' discretion."

Schuyler then states "In Lancaster, the decisions made by local agencies compromised most urban renewal programs, especially residential projects. The combination of a massive infusion of federal and state dollars and generally ineffectual local governments had disastrous consequences."

In our current times with federal, state and local governments providing or guaranteeing over 90% of the required funds for the Convention Center / Hotel Project and the Street Car Project, do we not have history repeating itself?

Rather than focusing on factual information and what is best for the future of Lancaster, the sponsors / prime movers concentrate on how to utilize and, in some cases, profit from the use of governmental generated funding. Feasibility reports are banned and, when others provide them, repudiated and ignored.

The approach: Accomplish the project by hook or by crook, and what happens afterwards will be the public's problem.

EDITORIAL: McCloud's transfer but first step

The resignation of Allen McCloud as Athletic Director of the School District of Lancaster was welcome news. Let us hope he proves to be a competent math teacher.

The athletic program atrophied and deteriorated during his tenure. In addition to the evidence of the poor results of the various teams, NewsLanc had disclosed that McCloud had not even seen fit to file the hitherto routine detailed annual report of the past year's team performances and plans for improvements.

But the question remains about the competence of Drue Miles, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, who was responsible for overseeing McCloud and who apparently (to use a sports cliche) "dropped the ball." Is he now going to seek out a knowledgeable, energetic and dedicated successor to McCloud or are things just going to continue to decline?

Blaming the kids and feeling sorry for themselves is a total cop out. The poor showing of teams is a direct reflection on the lack of teaching skills of their coaches. Recently some coaches have refused to attend clinics, claiming they did not need instructions on how to best prepare their teams!

It is time Miles, the future athletic director, and well meaning coaches accept their responsibilities to provide proper skills training and conditioning by seeking the advice of sport professionals, or get out of the way.

NewsLanc does not call for championship teams. But the public and especially the youngsters are entitled to be well prepared and competitive.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

SD of L Athletics Director McCloud Reassigned

According to information made available at the Aug. 19 School Board meeting of the School District of Lancaster (SDL), Athletics Director Allen McCloud is stepping down from his position effective Aug. 26.

McCloud is being hired as as a mathematics teacher effective Aug. 27 at an annual salary of $67,392.00.

SDL Superintendent Pedro Rivera said of McCloud's resignation, "It was his decision... He wanted to spend more time with his family" although he went on to admit that the decision was made amongst "restructuring" hearings Rivera held with SDL executive staff.

The resignation comes after NewsLanc raised repeated concerns about the effectiveness of the department under his leadership.

About his new gig, Rivera said that McCloud is a "certified, highly qualified teacher" and said that his salary is based on a formula which takes into account years of experience as a District employee.

COMMENTARY: Who voted for trolley cars?

In his Aug. 14 blog “Streetcar city” on, Gil Smart opines: “One of the more stinging (because it’s valid) criticisms of the local streetcar initiative is that the thing seems to be moving forward - and who voted for this? Has Lancaster City Council voted on anything? No. But we’re buying the streetcars already. And that makes it seem as if an end run is in process.

“There should be no end run. This has to see the light of day, completely.”

Smart concludes: “Times are changing, and - as we’ve said so often in our suburban discussions - we may need to change with them. But that’s a case that must be made in public, to the public. Which, some will say, would itself represent quite a change.”

Better yet, let’s first have a public forum on the subject, one that would bring to town national experts rather than the usual ignorant local leaders who too often are either intent on personal enrichment or are dancing on puppet strings held by those who are.

Of course that was once done for the Convention Center Project, but facts and good sense could not overcome powerful vested interests.

Police Chief Shares His Perspective on Lancaster

by Matt Henderson

Interviewed by NewsLanc on Monday, Lancaster's Chief of Police, Keith Sadler, said the biggest challenge for the city police is "staying progressive enough that you mix modern police tactics and technology with established investigative and patrol tools."

"Unfortunately, sometimes, courts and citizens - because of like, television - actually think that every case is solved on DNA extractions and that's just not the case. There has to be a balance... if you have nobody on your department that's a good investigator and you have all the forensic capabilities, you won't be able to tie the science in with the investigation."

"I think this is a pretty solid police department," he said. "And the challenge for us is to stay solid. And to get the respect and admiration from the community."

"That's a challenge in any department," he continued. "You're dealing with an urban environment. If your department loses credibility, it's hard to investigate crimes and it's hard to involve the community in preventative foot patrol if they don't buy into you. So you need to be validated by the city you're policing before you can be successful."

Before coming to Lancaster, Sadler served with the Philadelphia Police Department for 27 years. He said that Lancaster and Philadelphia are "very similar."

"Lancaster, in a positive way, reminds me of Philadelphia," Sadler says. "lot and it's unfair because Philadelphia has come a long way in the last 10, 15 years and there's a lot of good neighborhoods there and Lancaster is the same way."

"Both places have crime issues," he continued, "but they're being dealt with."

"It seems that the Court system here is part of the whole picture... One of the biggest problems in Philadelphia is, somebody will be arrested for a shooting. While they're out on bail they're committing more crimes. And if they finally get convicted, they're not in that long... So here that's probably the most noticeable thing. Violent offenders seem to get more fitting sentences for their crimes. I mean, if you shoot somebody, you should go away for a long time. That's my opinion. Nonviolent offenses - different story. Violent offenses should be dealt with," Sadler said.

He added that with a convention center being built, a new academy of music, "I guess you could say [Lancaster] is going into a renaissance. I think all of these things are what makes the city attractive to those outside."

"As long as you have crime issues, you'll have to keep addressing them and tie the public into them. You can't keep the public in the dark. That's a mistake we made in the profession years ago. We really wouldn't share crime stats with people. But in this day and age, you have to."

Sadler revealed that 15 out of some 160 sworn officers are Hispanic/Latino and "most of them are bilingual," speaking Spanish in addition to English.

He added that the department also has 25 civilian employees who are Hispanic/Latino.

Sadler said he anticipates positive effects from the opening of the Convention Center next spring. "We're in good shape," he says, denying that the police force will need additional resources to handle all of the anticipated traffic. In fact, "It helps you when you're doing grant writing" because you can identify it as a challenge or justification for federal or state assistance.

Sadler says that "about 90%" of his department is "devoted to patrol-type duties." He also has about 80 civilian employees at the Chestnut Street headquarters.

Most patrols are one-person patrols, although occasional tactical assignments or officers-in-training might involve a two-person patrol.

Officers are also out on foot, on horses, and on bikes. Sadler said that never more than one or two horses are out at a time and they're out during the day, and that bikes are used both at day and at night, and used frequently in the city's business sector.

Sadler thinks it's very important for the police to be perceived as friendly and approachable.

"You have to be accessible." He believes that "when departments modernized and they went to radio and patrol cars in the 50s and 60s... that kind of took away that human aspect of law enforcement."

"It's like that old show Dragnet: 'just the facts, man.' It was that kind of a mentality. Whereas nowadays, [we] realize that you have to get back to the way it used to be... We don't have the luxury if putting everyone out on foot patrol because [with] modern day policing and crime patterns... it'd be like reverting to the horse and carriage instead of using the motorized car. But... that's the challenge... you still have to get your people out there and talk to folks and be accessible in the community."

"The biggest complaint that all departments receive, especially urban departments, is folks feel there's not a connect with the officers riding their neighborhood," said Sadler.

"So what are you doing to encourage a positive perception?" NewsLanc asked.

"Well, it starts at the top," Sadler replied. "I'm out there. I wear my uniform 99% of the time. I like to get out in the street a couple of times during the day and at night and project that."

He went on to say, "You can ask any criminologist or sociologist today and they'll tell you that any department that expects to effect change with the community, it has to be the police executives that are committed to that before it trickles down to the troops."

"We're in good shape,"
Sadler says of his department. "Honestly, the larger the city, the harder it is for resources. Philadelphia was always kind of a struggle and we still made due."

"[F]or what we have and the amount of people we have, we're doing pretty well."

He also says the department is blessed to receive donations from a few private entities.

City set to receive $750,000 in County Urban Enhancement Grants

The Lancaster County Commissioners are expected to approve, Wednesday, $1.875 million in "Urban Enhancement Fund" grants for 15 projects around the County, including streetscape enhancements, security camera installation, and Lancaster Square renovation/demolition in the city.

The funding comes from a $25 million bond issue from the County Commissioners in 2005, 80% of which is used for farmland and open space preservation, and 20% of which is allocated for economic and community development in urban areas, according to information provided by the Lancaster County Planning Commission.

A grant to the Lancaster Community Safety Coalition (LCSC) in the amount of $250,000 will cover 18% of the total projected cost of $1,396,500 to "install 50 public safety surveillance cameras in the downtown area as part of security precautions in advance of the Marriott Hotel and Convention Center's opening in March 2009."

The County Planning Commission's Urban Enhancement Fund Grant Application Review Committee writes, "Cameras not only assist police in crime investigations but may also contribute to public perception of public safety, which is a crucial component of the economic success of both the city and the county."

A grant to the the City of Lancaster in the amount of $250,000, or 13% of the total projected project cost of $1,908,000 will help fund downtown "streetscape improvements." The grant committee writes,

"By enhancing the public amenities of the downtown, such as installing brick banding along the curb line, reconstructing concrete sidewalks, installing double-headed boulevard lighting, adding bulb outs and brick crosswalks, plating new street trees, and adding street furniture, the city will encourage revitalization in the urban center, encourage the retail/commercial sector redevelopment, [and] encourage home ownership, in addition to making the downtown more attractive for visitors."

Another County Urban Enhancement Fund grant will also be provided to the city in the amount of $250,000 - half of the projected cost for renovation-demolition on the east side of Lancaster Square across from Binn's Park. The grant committee writes:

"This project will replace deteriorated infrastructure and poor urban design with appropriate, pedestrian-oriented amenities and building design more compatible with the historic urban character of the city. It is expected to serve as a catalyst to strengthen the City's entire commercial core, attracting new private investment, increasing job opportunities, and strengthening the tax base."

In "Phase 1" of the project, the City of Lancaster's application attests, "the City of Lancaster is undertaking selective demolition of portions of the east side of Lancaster Square to reduce the scale of the existing structure, eliminate unsafe structures, and open up the plaza area."

"Phase 2 of the project, this application, is to make certain improvements to the east side of the Square, including lighting along the walkways, replacing the broken brick pavers in the plaza, installing new stairs and improving the electrical service for public events in the square."

Also at their Wednesday meeting, the Commissioners are expected to approve $11,677.02 in change orders regarding renovations at the 150 N. Queen St. County administrative building.

This amount is "within the placeholders that KCI presented last month to the general public," said Interim County Engineer Keith Harner.

Lancaster Police Chief comments on Role of F&M Security

In an interview on Monday, NewsLanc asked Lancaster's Chief of Police, Keith Sadler, to clarify the status of Franklin & Marshall College's security force.

Questions have been raised about the precise powers and legal status of F&M Security since a Jun. 3 incident in which publishers of the Lancaster Post Ron Harper and Chris Hart-Nibbrig were arrested and questioned on suspicion of trespassing at the home of F&M President John Fry and making threatening statements to a College employee.

Harper and Hart-Nibbrig contend that they stayed on public streets and the public right-of-way and were careful not to enter private property.

They were installing a newspaper box in what they believed to be the public right-of-way.

Soon after someone on the grounds had spotted them and contacted security, a handful of campus security officers descended on the two men who were then standing across the street from the Fry residence and arrested them, allegedly without provocation throwing Harper to the ground with enough force to cause a visible contusion on his forehead

The two men have said that their cameras were confiscated and that they were held at F&M for a period of up to two hours for questioning.

We asked Chief Sadler his opinion on the propriety of F&M's response and to clarify the legal status of F&M's Department of Public Safety.

Sadler said that, as a "Public Safety" department, F&M has the authority to issue summary citations for a number of offenses - "things of a minor nature" - but that more serious offenses, as well as any actual prosecutions, are referred to the city police.

The Franklin & Marshall Department of Public Safety's website lists the following offenses for which students or others may be cited by their officers: Criminal Mischief, Curfew, Discharge of Firearms, Disorderly Conduct, State Disorderly Conduct, Harassment, Open Containers, Criminal Trespass, Misrepresentation of Age, Noise Ordinance, Public Drunkenness, Littering, and Skateboards.

"We investigate serious criminal offenses," Sadler said. "For instance, if there's a loud music complaint on their campus, they would handle something like that. That's not to say that we wouldn't - especially if they were unable to respond for whatever reason" but the campus is obviously F&M security's usual turf.

Sadler admitted he wasn't sure, at the time of the interview, of the precise status of F&M's security force in a sort of hierarchy from Act 120 certified security groups to full-fledged public police departments like they have at Millersville University, Temple University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

"Do they have arrest powers?" NewsLanc asked. "They can hold people accused of crimes for a certain period of time?"

Sadler replied, "Yeah. Take a department store for example. Somebody goes in there and shoplifts. They get caught by their store security or the store detective. They detain them, call whatever police jurisdiction polices that area, and the police come and take them in custody."

Sadler went on to say that he understands that F&M is moving in the direction of having a full police department. But "any significant incident, we're notified by them," he says.

He does consider Harper and Hart-Nibbrig's arrest an incident that should have been reported, because they are the editors of a newspaper, and F&M did report the incident to the Lancaster Police via Lancaster Countywide Communications.

But police officers can exercise their powers even outside their usual jurisdictions, Sadler says. "If I left here to go drive to Harrisburg... and halfway through there, I see some illegal activity in performance of my duties, I can make a lawful arrest even though I'm not in my jurisdiction."

He added that officers can make arrests even when they are not on duty.

In Harper and Hart-Nibbrig's case, Sadler said, "If both people were being accused of defiant trespass, both people would probably be arrested by any police department.

Importantly, Sadler did suggest that, in situations where it is unclear whether or not a trespass has occurred, the situation may warrant further investigation. Harper's posted video clearly shows that when F&M security arrived on the scene, both Harper and Hart-Nibbrig were standing in public streets. In fact, the officer in the video asks Harper, "Were you on that property?"

As for Harper being thrown to the ground, Sadler says, "Not being there, all I can say is this: every incident is different. Ideally when you make an arrest, you hope that the person turns around and puts their hands behind their back upon your request and that doesn't always happen. Sometimes you have to physically overtake somebody to place them in custody. So whatever level of resistance you're met with, that's the level you're supposed to respond with. Every cop in the country will tell you that."

The video indicated that Harper, who is treated for a back problem, was pleading with the officers not to hurt him.

As for why the security officer asked Harper to turn off his camera, Sadler said that citizens may videotape police activities, but since Harper was himself being arrested, the camera had to come out of his hands.

"If you're being arrested, at that point, your possessions are placed for safekeeping. Any kind of equipment you'd have," Sadler said.

Sadler added that the box was probably removed because F&M believed it to have been improperly placed on private property and he understands that the box was returned as soon as Mr. Harper spoke with F&M's attorney. (Editor's note: The Lancaster Post was not notified that F&M security had the box for several days.)

How long can F&M Public Safety hold an individual accused of a summary offense? "They can detain them as long as it takes to process that paperwork," Sadler says. NewsLanc noted that Harper and Hart-Nibbrig claimed that they were held for nearly two hours. Sadler said, "I don't know that that would necessarily be deemed excessive if you have to process paperwork."

NewsLanc also expressed concern that while the City Police are accountable to the Mayor and to the people, the F&M Public Safety officers' boss is John Fry.

"True," Sadler said, "but that doesn't excuse any entity from being liable...whether you're at a department store or college or an office building, you're still bound by Pennsylvania laws and you're still bound by civil court cases... When we make a mistake, we can end up in federal court being sued. An individual has a right to pursue legal action against them just like they would the police department."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

COMMENTARY: LNP caught in a marketing dilemma

NewsLanc's publisher is vacationing in Ocean City, NJ this this week, so he has to rely on LancasterOnLine to keep up with the news (and at times inanities) of the Lancaster Newspapers.

By the early Sunday morning, most if not all of the major articles, columns and editorials are readily available at It's a great service and convenience.

The LNP face the same Hobson's choice of all publishers today. The days of the print media are numbered, with circulation plummeting (but not necessarily in Lancaster) and advertising dropping rapidly (have you noticed how thin the daily newspapers are these days?) Meanwhile, costs of printing and distributing are sky high.

While newspaper advertising is dropping, online advertising is soaring. So publishers of newspapers and magazines recognize that their future lies with the Internet. And if they don't provide good content to attract the public to their web sites, someone else will.

(It is a good thing that LNP makes its money from coal mines in West Virginia! It's unlikely they are earning much if anything from their Lancaster publications.)

We like reading the Intell and the Sunday News with breakfast, so we continue to subscribe. But we no longer purchase the voluminous and environmentally challenging New York Times. We read it on line.

However, our fraternal companies have just reduced their classified advertisements in a dozen newspapers (including those of LNP) by about 60%. Web sites and paid advertisement on the Internet take up the slack.

In the imortal words of Buckeroo Banzai, "Where ever you go, there you are!"

Saturday, August 16, 2008

LETTER: Convention Center's shabby origins

"When things really broke in the papers, around May or June of '99, the only portion of the Ernst & Young report shown to the general public, hoteliers, PDCVB, etc., was the 'executive summary' of that report. A number of "deals" were allegedly in the works, with the PDCVB acting as our advocate, to allow the hoteliers to view the full text, with the hope of providing substantive rebuttal, but none of this came to pass.

"A letter from Tom Baldridge to Allen Ersellius, then PDCVB President, had Tom apologizing for going back on his word but telling Allen that he would not be able to see the full report. I also remember hearing about an offer where we could read the report in the boardroom at the PDCVB but take no notes or copies. The primary rationale for the secrecy that was given was that those, specifically potential corporate users, who provided information for the report did so on the basis of that confidentiality.

"While that would seemingly make 'some sense', 1) how could you make public policy and implement taxes on a private report, and 2) why was the report then made public? The culmination came on September 18 at the Commissioner's weekly work session, that occurred on the day prior to the vote to implement the taxes, when with a huge grin on his face and a ridiculous remark about a "first class ticket", Tom Baldridge literally pulled the report from under his coat, a la James Bond pulling his pistol, and presented on the Commissioners table. I am still waiting for Tom to show me where those alleged potential corporate users signed off and released him from his promise of confidentiality.

"23 hours later, we had a hotel tax to a cheering, literally applauding, crowd on the 5th Floor and a smug remark from Thibault about how it was the first tax that was ever cheered."

LETTER: Stealth Trollies ala Convention Center

".... I am 100% convinced that everything Jack Howell describes will be built, is moving forward in the very same way as the Convention Center.

"For those not involved at that time, the Ernst & Young Report, the sole basis for the [convention center] project and implementation of the hotel tax, was purposely bought and paid for with private money.

"The Lancaster Campaign/Lancaster Alliance, funded by the local business elite (3 Amigos [Editor: presumably High, Fulton and Lancaster Newspapers], Warfel, etc.) and fronted by Tom Baldridge, bought that report and managed to keep the full text secret until prior to the vote by the County Commissioners to implement the tax.

"In a similar way, this [trolley] project will move forward with non-profits, not necessarily public entities, and 'private' donations until the last possible moment. At that point, it will be sprung on the taxpayer when it is way too late and the majority of the people are way behind the curve...just like what happened with the CC.

"In another example of history repeating itself, this project uses the fact that there is some private money involved to keep things secret and hide the public interest rather than the other way around. It is not the presence of private money but rather the presence of public money/suport/subsidies, whether federal, state or local, that should dictate FULL DISCLOSURE, not no disclosure.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Evaluating the effectiveness of Small Learning Communities

For the past couple of years, McCaskey High School has been trying something new with its students.

Call it an experiment, if you will.

It's called "Small Learning Communities (SLCs)." Information provided explains SLCs "contain students and staff who stay together over a period of time and focus on a particular focus or theme."

"While all students take the same core curriculum, the electives that are offered and the projects that are assigned in an SLC allow students to explore the theme with greater depth."

What kinds of themes? SLCs include Arts & Humanities, Health Sciences, Honors/International Baccalaureate, the McCaskey Institute of Technology, Media Studies & Communications, Public Leadership & Service, and Technical & Business Careers.

Ninth grade students in the 2001-2002 school year were the first to participate in the program and 2004-2005 was the first school year that all high school students were directed to select an SLC.

The idea behind Small Learning Communities is that they are a way of more closely tailoring the school's resources towards each student's individual needs.

On Thursday, the Education Committee of the School District of Lancaster (SDL) School Board listened to a presentation by Dr. Berwood Yost of Franklin & Marshall College's Center for Opinion Research on the impact of SLCs.

"In each year since the program has been fully deployed, the proportion of students who met state reading and math standards has increased," Yost writes in his analysis. "PSSA scores have risen from 28% proficient in reading and 21% proficient in math prior to the introduction of the SLC program to 45% proficient in reading and 40% proficient in math during the 2006-2008 school year."

But other factors have seemingly remained resistant to change.

For example, Yost's report also concluded that "there has been little change in attendance rates since the introduction of the SLC program."

In fact, the Honors/International SLC is the only group with attendance rates above 90%. In the areas of both attendance and occurrence of suspensions, the introduction of SLC's seems to have had little impact at all.
There are also

There are also differences among demographic groups worth noting. The division between male and female by SLC is the most significant, Yost says.

The "Institute of Technology" SLC has the highest proportion of males (76%) while the "Health Sciences" SLC has the lowest proportion of males (12%) as of 2008, according to the data provided by SDL.

By ethnicity, the Media Studies SLC seems to have a higher proportion of African-Americans (45%) while the Honors SLC has the largest proportion of White and Asian students as of 2008.

The Board members seemed cautiously optimistic about the results of the study and reiterated the need for further study.

"I feel more confident," said Dr. Nenita Faller-Miller, who chairs the Education Committee. "At least now I know where we [stand]."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hotel & Convention Center 58% complete

Steve Houser of Reynolds Construction Management reported Thursday that with July's expenditure of $5,305,330.37, $61,721,503.42 has been expended to date and the Hotel & Convention Center Project is now 58% complete in terms of hard construction dollars.

As of July 30th, the construction team as a whole is 30 days behind the original schedule, having made up one day since the last report. Despite this, the work continues apace for the $170 million+ facility's projected March opening.

According to Houser, recent progress at the site includes the installation of two electrical transformers that are providing electricity to parts of the buildings, light fixtures, exhibit level drywall, further progress on two elevators, installation of windows in the hotel tower (clearly visible from the street), and work towards constructing the roof of the hotel tower and the perimeter of the main ballroom.

SDL striving for energy-efficient infrastructure

The Finance Committee of the School District of Lancaster met, Wednesday evening.

Among various contracts and agreements recommended to the full board for approval is an agreement with the wireless provider T-Mobile whereby SDL receives $2,000 a month in exchange for permitting a cellular tower on the roof of Hamilton Elementary School, and the same amount for permitting a cellular tower on the roof of Hand Middle School.

SDL's business manager, Matt Przywara, said that the term negotiated is five years, resulting in $240,000 for the School District.

The Finance Committee also voted to recommend approval of more than $342,000 for consulting engineering and LEED certification services regarding the District's upcoming renovations to 16 of its schools.

LEED (or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a set of standards for certifying that a building is highly energy efficient. While initial construction costs of LEED-certified buildings tend to be much higher, the savings in operating costs over the next handful of years usually justifies the expenditure. Energy-efficient buildings may also qualify for a number of tax credits.

Although the Finance Committee did not act on the proposal at its Wednesday meeting, the School District is entertaining entering into a contract with the County of Lancaster for roof greening dollars through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Under the proposal, SDL would permit the installation of 22,500 square feet of "green roof" on its buildings and be reimbursed at a rate of $5 per square foot for installation and up to $6,210 in maintenance reimbursement costs over the first six months.

"Roof greening" is the practice of covering the roof and portions of the exterior of a building with plant life. Doing this provides significant benefits in terms of energy efficiency for the building, and flood/erosion control in that the plants absorb water that would otherwise become runoff.

SDL's Business Manager, Matt Przywara, explained that the $5 per square foot reimbursement itself would pay for the costs associated with installation of the green roof material.

Board President Patrick Snyder expressed cautious optimism, saying, "I love the idea" but going on to ask whether such roofs would need to be replaced more frequently.

Others on the committee suggested that they did not believe this would be a substantial concern, but left the matter an open question for now, as it was a new introduction to the agenda.

With the fiscal year drawing to a close, SDL's General Fund closed the month of June with a positive balance of $4,187,340. By expenditures, the District is 97.19% of the way through their Fiscal Year 2008 General Fund budget. The salaries and benefits of its employees is by far the largest item in the District's $149 million General Fund budget.

School Board members Jacqueline McCain, Linda Troublefield Owens, and Janelle Simms sit on the finance committee, which meets once a month.

The next full school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 19 at 7 p.m.

LETTER: Did NewsLanc properly research LGH information?

Your claims of poor transparency for Lancaster General Hospital are off the mark.

There are several free online sources of information which the public can turn for information about LGH. There's certainly more information available about LGH than Lancaster’s two for-profit hospitals, or its very profitable, privately held companies.

LGH annually files a public statement of revenues and expenditures, basically what it did with its money for the year (IRS 990s available on

LGH annually publishes a report about the tens of millions it spends of Lancaster's healthcare money in outreach to the community and payments to the city and SDOL ( – search for "community benefit")

LGH's charges, financial performance, infection, mortality and complication rates are
published every year online (Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council -

Ratings and comparisons of LGH's quality with other hospitals are published online (,,,, etc.)

How many other industries have as many independent private and public sources of transparency information in circulation? Was it that you didn’t know these sources existed, or did you opt to ignore them?


by Doug McVay, Director of Research

We used all of them. Actually LGH was late in getting their most recent 990 posted to Guidestar, which is why I had to get it directly from John Lines.

The writer is correct that the PHC4 has reports listing hospital charges for various procedures. The problem is that "charges" don't reflect what people pay, which confuses consumers. Those reports also give rates of infection and mortality for hospitals, which would arguably be more useful if the information were current instead of being a year or two old when published.

If there is any transparency in hospital finance in PA it is because of the state legislature and the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), not because hospitals here are open or forthcoming. Pennsylvania, specifically the PHC4, was praised by the New York Times on June 14, 2007 ("In Health Care, Cost Isn't Proof of High Quality") for being at the forefront of trying to bring about some transparency in healthcare costs:

"Pennsylvania is the first state to make such information, normally closely guarded by the hospitals and the insurers, available to everyone — including patients who may never see their hospital bills or be aware of how their hospitals compare with others in the state."

The New York Times article talks about the Coronary Arterial Bypass Graft Report which PHC4 released. That one not only listed charges, it also listed average payments from commercial and government insurers. The PHC4 does not provide that additional information about other procedures, presumably because they can't get it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

County preserves 447 more acres of farmland

The County Commissioners this morning voted to spend $917,494 to preserve 447.46 acres of farmland through contracts of sale of agricultural conservation easements.

The County money leverages state and federal dollars to preserve the six family farms in various locations throughout the County.

Matt Knepper, the Director of the County's Agricultural Preserve Board, reported that, with this addition, the County has preserved 983 farms or just over 78,000 acres.

Lancaster County currently leads the nation in preserved farmland.

Also, Wednesday, the Commissioners voted to approve a refinancing of $100 million in tax-exempt bonds Lancaster General Hospital holds through the Lancaster County Hospital Authority, a lending conduit.

The refinancing was necessary, said Lancaster General's Chief Financial Officer, Joseph Byorick, because the hospital's previous lenders recently had their investment ratings downgraded by the Moody's Investors Service.

The bond will be used to finance various construction projects on which Mr. Byorick did not elaborate.

Commissioner Chairman Dennis Stuckey clarified that the bonds are not issued by the County itself and impose no liability on County taxpayers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

City approves submission of economic revitalization grant applications

At their meeting, Tuesday evening, Lancaster City Council approved a grant application to be submitted by the County on behalf of the county, the city, and Manheim Township, to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to establish a "Transit Revitalization Investment District" in the area roughly surrounding the Lancaster Amtrak Station.

The grant application asks for $100,000 for this purpose.

That funding will be used, says Randy Patterson, the head of the city's Department of Economic Development & Neighborhood Revitalization, to complete a required study and plan for implementing a situation akin to a tax increment financing (TIF) district around the train station.

A "TIF," Patterson explains, is a tool which allows the city and its partners to issue bonds in anticipation of the expected increased tax revenue from higher assessed values on development that the bonds enable.

Patterson mentioned in his remarks to City Council that one of the things the city hopes to be able to address with the district is the issue of parking around the train station.

Also Tuesday night, City Council approved another grant application to DCED on behalf of the Meeder Development Corporation for the redevelopment of the 141-147 East King Street property as previously reported in the New Era.

Although a representative from Meeder Development Corporation was not in attendance at Tuesday's meeting, Patterson told Council that Meeder's plans include provisions for 10 residential units as well as commercial/retail space.

In other business, Tuesday, Mayor Rick Gray reported that since the city introduced the ability for persons to pay some of their bills, including tickets, online, "more than $8,000" has been paid through the website. The City introduced online bill payment late last month.

Gray also reported that the theft of aluminum from recycling bins has been an increasing prevalent problem for the city.

"Recently, the city cited a scavenger who cased in nearly $1,400 worth of loose aluminum cans in two months," Gray said.

The Mayor went on to say, "There is no doubt that a high recycling rate helps the city provide weekly trash removal service at a low fee to customers" and encouraged residents to report incidents of theft of recycling materials to the City Police (717-664-1180) or the Solid Waste Authority's hotline (717-291-4744).

What's Happening around Lancaster This Week?

Lancaster City's "Dinner and a Movie" series continues this week with "The Pursuit of Happyness." The free movie is showing at 9:00 p.m., Thursday (Aug. 14) at Binns Park.

Hole in the Wall Puppet Theater presents a marionette version of "Rumplestiltskin" on Saturday August 16th at 11 a.m. Hole in the Wall Puppet Theatre is located at 126 N. Water St. Tickets are $9. For more information and additional showtimes, visit

Between 11:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Friday, August 15th, Penn Square at King & Queen Streets in Lancaster will once again be serenaded with instrumental music. This week featuring the "Bravura Brass." They will be performing classical pieces, marches, and jazz. The "2008 Brown Bag Musical Variety Series," as it's being called, is brought to you by "The Greater Lancaster Federation of Musicians" and the "Music Performance Trust Fund of the Recording Industries", and is sponsored chiefly by Fulton Financial.

And don't forget to pick up a NewsLanc newsletter from the guys in the yellow t-shirts!

The Lancaster Barnstormers play home games Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this week:
Friday, Aug. 15 against the Newark Bears (7:05 p.m.)
Saturday, Aug. 16 against the Newark Bears (7:05 p.m.) - and-
Sunday, Aug. 17 against the Newark Bears (6:05 p.m.)

Saturday's game features a rubber baseball giveaway and fireworks display, and Sunday's game features an umbrella giveaway. For more information and to purchase tickets in advance visit,

On Saturday, Aug. 16, it's "Art in the Park" at Musser Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Art in the Park is "a celebration of the arts featuring free hands-on projects for children of all ages! Activities range from jewelry making to painting in the children's art gallery to fun in a toddler tent. Musser Park is bordered by Lime, Chestnut, Marion, and Shippen Streets in downtown Lancaster. This event is free and open to the public.

On Saturday (Aug. 16), Emily Osment, Hannah Montana's best friend Lily on the show "Hannah Montana," will be signing autographs and on Sunday (Aug. 17), Vanessa Hudgens of "High School Musical" will also be signing autographs. They will both greet fans at a tent in front of the Disney Store at Rockvale Outlets, and do a 10 mintue interview broadcast on a widescreen. The greetings and interviews take place between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day. For more information, visit

Also Saturday, August 16th, Strasburg Railroad is having its "Wine and Cheese Train." With a $30 ticket, you can take a scenic 45-minute train ride while sampling a variety of wines and cheeses. It is recommended that you reserve tickets in advance to ensure your spot. Visit for further information.

On Sunday August 17th, interested persons can take a guided bicycle ride in the Lancaster Bicycle Club's "30th annual Covered Bridge Metric Century." "These 100, 50 and 25 kilometer (62, 31 & 15 mile) rides wind their way through some of Pennsylvania's most famous rural scenery, including six covered bridges. The terrain is rolling with a few hills on the 100K ride and flat to moderately rolling on the 50K & 25K rides. The rewards are stunning vistas of the richest farmland in America." Registration is $30 for any race. "The fee covers lunch, water stops, sag wagons, cue sheets, road markings, ice cream and a general good time. Additionally, a commemorative T-shirt can be purchased for $15 by July 18, 2008." Proceeds benefit the Lancaster Bicycle Club's grants program. Children under 12 ride free. For more information, visit

Also Sunday (Aug. 19), the Long's Park Summer Concert Series features blues slide guitarist Sonny Landreth. Admission is free and the performance begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit

And on Tuesday, August 19, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band come to Hershey Park Stadium. Tickets start at $28.95 and are going fast. The show is at 8:00 p.m. For more information, visit

Libraries: Pros and Cons

LETTER: I was kind of surprised to see your support of library funding. Those supposed 1,500 patrons are merely homeless people escaping the heat! It won't be long until those libraries that you want funding for are turned into museums where school children will hear how people foolish continued funding an institution whose usefulness was long past.

The Internet and its resources are where funding should be directed. Start a daytime homeless shelter instead of spending money and then calling it a library. Why don't you go to the humane league and get a real watchdog instead of the poodle you currently have working for you?


Although you perception is not uncommon, you and others are out of touch with what is taking place with libraries in this country and locally.

You are correct that the homeless are a problem. Efforts will be made soon to work with the City, St. James (which attracts them with their breakfast problem), and Water Street Mission to try to accommodate their needs elsewhere, as is needed and you properly suggest.

However, they make up a tiny portion of visitors, amounting to perhaps a dozen out of the 1500 daily patrons. Just stop by and you will see for yourself. All inner city libraries do have to cope with the problem. But recognize the importance of such larger facilities to service but City and special countywide needs. (Suburban libraries are important but, due to smaller size, cannot provide as much material or services.)

As for the Internet age, the Duke Street library has expanded its number of computers by 50% this year and will add still more in the months to come, some for the children's department. (This was made possible by a donation.)

Libraries are no longer just a repository of books to be checked out. They provide a variety of educational materials on CD's and DVD's and are destinations for parents with children, teenagers, retired people. They also serve business people, professionals, students and scholars, especially due to their special software.

Furthermore, they conduct valuable educational programs directed at children, parents, teaching computer skills and English, amongst others.

They are busier than ever and other communities are investing heavily in them.