Friday, October 31, 2008

Morris designates LCCCA nominating committee

At Thursday's LCCCA board meeting, Chairman Art Morris announced that a three-member nominating board will meet in late December to select officers for the upcoming year.

A specific date has not yet been set.

The three-member board will be chaired by Sharron Nelson and will also include Julianne Dickson and Laura Douglas.

There was some confusion during the nominating process last year when member Ted Darcus suggested that the chairman (Tom LeCrone) was not allowed to nominate. LeCrone had nominated Laura Douglas for chair.

Morris said that he appointed the three-member committee but that rules concerning the procedure would be up to Nelson.

Nelson was not present at Thursday evening's meeting.

A brief construction update was also given, with Steve Houser reporting that $74 million has been expended on the Hotel & Convention Center to date.

EDITORIAL: Armstrong slaps down Penn Square Partners

An Oct. 31 Intelligencer Journal report carried the good news that the $3 million in additional state aid for the Convention Center will not be allowed to be split with the greedy Lancaster Newspapers and The High Group who are investors in the Marriott Hotel.

Among other one sided and predatory provisions in the contract between the Convention Center Authority (LCCCA) and Penn Square Partners (PSP) that then chairman Ted Darcus had rammed through despite objections from board members, there is a provision requiring the LCCCA share any additional state funds along with income from naming rights with PSP.

The rationale for such an arrangement is almost impossible to explain this side of the law. (NewsLanc has speculated that Darcus, an otherwise decent man, allowed himself to be used by PSP in return for the partners' financial support for the development of the Brightside Opportunity Center.)

Apparently Senator Gibson Armstrong does not want scorn heaped on him as he leaves the Senate and decided that 'enough is enough' when it comes to carrying the pail for High and the Lancaster Newspapers.

But of course Armstrong has scarred the community by directing ear-marked funds that were promised to the Lancaster Public Library and should have also supported other worthwhile projects to the misguided, inept, wrong headed and possibly corrupt Convention Center undertaking.

NewsLanc will be watching to see and report if there are any side deals to somehow compensate PSP for not receiving half of the state grant in accordance with its unconscionable arrangement with LCCCA under Darcus.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lancaster Post suspends publication

A message posted on Oct. 30th at in part states:

"The publishers of the Lancaster Post announced they are changing their focus from a print newspaper that happens to have a website, to a website that occasionally prints a newspaper.

"Ron Harper, Jr., co-Publisher said, 'We published for more than half of a year, every week, established the Post as a brand, and have plans to print again, but less frequently.'

"Harper and co-Publisher, Chris Hart Nibbrig, are going to spend the next two weeks focusing on their mockumentary, 'Big Wigs of Lancaster,' and upgrading their otherwise self-described 'boring' website. 'Because of the skeleton crew that puts out the Post, our voice will be silent for a short while, but when "Big Wigs" comes out, people will know the Post is back!' said Harper."


Federal judge rules paper ballots must be available in PA

The following was received from Voter Action and can be found in its entirety at

"Federal Judge Rules That More Emergency Paper Ballots Be Made Available in Pennsylvania When Voters Face Voting Machine Breakdowns"

"PHILADELPHIA, Oct 29, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Federal Judge Harvey S. Bartle III ruled today that emergency paper ballots must be made available when fifty percent or more voting machines fail at polling locations across Pennsylvania. Judge Bartle, who is the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, issued the ruling in favor of plaintiffs who had argued that voters could be disenfranchised by having to wait hours in line due to voting machine breakdowns...

"The lawsuit followed numerous reports during Pennsylvania's April primary of long lines when electronic voting machines became inoperable at their polling sites. Voters called national election protection hotlines on primary day, including 866-MYVOTE1, reporting that election officials were not providing emergency paper ballots when voting machines malfunctioned. Callers stated that voters were told either to wait in line - sometimes for hours - or to come back later to vote. The reports revealed that many voters left their polling locations without casting their votes."

Another dirty trick re TRRAAC?

The School Lane Hills Homeowners Association (SLHHA) supposedly held its first public meeting in half a year yesterday evening. The problem was its leader didn't send out a notice announcing it to the membership or to the media.

Late yesterday afternoon a short email notice of a change of venue was sent out without mention of date or time. NewsLanc inquired as to the date and time, but by the the time we read the response, the meeting had started an hour and a half earlier.

Embarrassed not to have provided coverage, NewsLanc inquired whether it had somehow missed the announcement. The following was the response from Bob Desmarais, President of the organization:

"The meeting notice was at the end of the Exec Board Minutes I mailed out. Other members told me last evening they thought the 'Next Meeting' was only for the Exec Board. We will be clearer next time."

A spokes person for TRRAAC said that Desmarais had not notified them about the meeting. Another source said only about ten residents showed up.

Did Desmarais feel obliged to call a meeting but did not want to deal with the TRRAAC issue? Sounds like he is either learning from or being advised by F & M's President John Fry. But that seemed likely from the only other SLHHA gathering and his subsequent non-actions on behalf the School Lane Hills neighborhood.

An old trick is to seet up an organization to lead the opposition and then do nothing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

EDITORIAL: Library the first victim of Convention Center funding

It is tempting to place the blame on board members for the Lancaster Public Library debacle this week whereby six members rejected a million dollars in public and private grants after spending $400,000 on plans and specs. Rather than proceed with the renovation of the library, they aborted the project because they feared not raising an additional $1.2 million over the course of the next year or two and were unwilling to borrow any shortfall from the library's large endowment fund.

But these are but ordinary citizens, suddenly involved in overseeing a major project, lacking experience and confidence in leadership, and, above all, not all sharing a passion for the undertaking.

Having spurned "half a loaf", they may yet prove their mettle by achieving both the renovation and the expansion within the next few years. We wish them well.

But the primary cause was the failure to receive $2.5 million in state RCAP funding that the library's representatives to Senator Gibson Armstrong had indicated was virtually assured. Indeed, the state budget called for the library to receive a $3.5million RCAP grant. Not a cent was forthcoming.

So where did the state money to renovate and expand the Duke Street library end up? Certainly Armstrong, powerful Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, did not allow it to escape our county.

Perhaps we need look no further for an answer to Armstrong's repeated trips to the state treasury to channel more and more state funds into the ever growing budget, now approaching $190 million, for the Convention Center Project of questionable merit.

So when the Convention Center opens next spring to pomp and grandeur, let's keep in mind that about 1500 Lancastrians visit the Duke Street library every day and suffer with a building from 1953 which, by and large, is in substandard and worn condition. If you have any doubts, try to find and then use a rest room.

The true cost of the Convention Center Project isn't just the plus or minus $180 million in grants and public guarantees plus the impediment it poses to downtown residential growth, but it also must be measured by essentials needs of the community that now and in the future will go unfunded.

Editor's note: The wife of NewsLanc's publisher was President of the Board of the Lancaster Public Library until the renovation was voted down.

New Era won't say

NewsLanc has twice inquired of Ernest Schreiber, Editor of the Lancaster New Era, as to whether he intends to continue to publish morning exit poll results in his election day afternoon edition.

The League of Women Voters is critical of such practices and national and state exit polls are embargoed until after polls close. This is to prevent early reports from discouraging voter turn out and influencing how people vote.

NewsLanc has received no response.

Commissioners hint at upcoming budget cuts

It's budget time for the county. Over the next couple of weeks, the county commissioners will be holding a number of meetings to discuss and finalize the 2009 budget.

So NewsLanc asked on Wednesday what their priorities are and what citizens should expect to see in the upcoming budget.

While being nonspecific, all three of the commissioners strongly hinted that significant spending cuts are in the works.

Citing a "tough economy" and "a [state] trend toward pushing costs down on to counties," Commissioner Scott Martin said, "There's going to be a lot of belt tightening. There has to be."

Craig Lehman, the lone Democratic County Commissioner, said, "I firmly believe that in tough economic times, government needs to set the example and show restraint. But they need to show restraint in a fiscally responsible way." He went on to suggest that now is not the time to raise taxes and that multi-year planning is necessary for the county to save money.

That point found disagreement with Martin, who called multi-year planning "pie-in-the-sky thinking" since so much of the county's budget is contingent on the annual state budget.

"I'll be much more forthright, blunt and, brutal," Commissioner Chairman Dennis Stuckey began. "We've given [County Administrator] Charlie [Douts] one word to say - and that word is no."

For his part, Douts noted that he is working with departments to improve efficiency by cutting costs where possible, and to "implement a budget that reflects the views of the commissioners."

In which specific areas the economic times will be felt, and the county's promised fiscal conservatism will manifest itself, remains to be seen in the coming weeks.

The commissioners have scheduled meetings to discuss the proposed 2009 budget on Wed, Nov. 5 at 2:00 p.m., Friday, Nov. 7 at 9:30 a.m., and Wednesday, November 12 at 3:00 p.m.

These will ultimately be followed by the traditional evening presentation of the finalized budget to the public towards the end of the year.

LETTER: Gray distracting people re streetcar concerns

Lancaster mayor Rick Gray's statement regarding the proposed streetcar project is nothing more than an attempt to distract people from their legitimate concerns over its promotion.

The wording of this statement makes it quite clear that Mayor Gray is very much in favor of streetcars in downtown Lancaster. It was Mayor Gray who permitted the placement of a streetcar on Lancaster City property at a highly visible intersection; Gray's statement completely avoids addressing either the legality or the propriety of doing so.

Gray's statement that claims 'at each juncture, public input from City residents would be invited' does not ring true. Specifically:

Point 1: Any study which would analyze the economic impact, user benefits, and/or community benefits of a streetcar project would be performed by a paid professional organization, most likely one that has already performed similar studies in other cities. Although a few select individuals could be interviewed as a part of any such study, there would be no opportunity for unbiased public input as a part of the presentation of any final report.

Point 2: Any engineering study would most certainly be done by a professional engineering firm. Public input would not be a factor.

Point 3: A financing plan would be put together by the Lancaster Streetcar Company, and presented as a package to Lancaster City Council for approval. The promoters of the financing plan would have their supposed facts and figures to back their claims, while the general public would have little more to present than their opinions and personal experiences.

In an open discussion between slick professionals and concerned citizens, recent history has proven time and time again that City Council will give far more weight to the opinions of the professionals than to the opinions of the people it is supposed to represent. Besides, for the last three years Lancaster City Council has on every occasion given mayor Rick Gray practically everything he has asked for.

In addition to legitimate traffic and safety concerns, Lancaster City taxpayer dollars are also at risk. Any financing plan for this project is likely to include large amounts of corporate sponsorships and other donated funds. Who would be held responsible when insufficient revenue is available to keep the streetcars running? Would a future City Council allow the streetcars to stop running, or would yet another City guarantee and tax increase be used to subsidize the project's ongoing operations?

There appears to be little or nothing that the people of Lancaster City can do to stop the proposed streetcar project in its tracks. All the concerned citizens of Lancaster City can do is hope and pray that a new City Council or Mayor with a more realistic perspective about downtown Lancaster is elected before this project can proceed.

Gray withdrawns gun ordinance pending state court rulings

When Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray first proposed an ordinance a few weeks ago to penalize gun owners who do not report missing firearms in a timely manner, he exuded a brazen confidence about setting an example and challenging the state to do the same - almost challenging opponents to try and stop him.

But after further consultations with the city solicitor, Gray isn't so sure anymore.

On Tuesday he withdrew the proposed ordinance from consideration pending the outcome of a state court case that will hopefully clarify whether there is a defensible legal ground for a municipality's passing such an ordinance.

Opponents have suggested that the proposed ordinance would violate the rights of gun owners and may run afoul of section 6120 of the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act, which states that "No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammuni­tion components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this commonwealth" (known as "preemption").

Which is precisely why Gray has withdrawn his ordinance - which would impose penalties on gun owners who fail to report a missing firearm within 72 hours of discovering that it is missing - pending disposition of state court cases that will clarify whether or not the city can reasonably pass such a measure without making itself vulnerable to litigation.

Gray did not know the name of the court cases off-hand and offered to share that information with NewsLanc later in the week.

"The state should have the guts to step up to the plate [and pass a law themselves]," he insisted. For now, the city ordinance is on the back burner.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Board scraps plans to renovate library

After over an hour of spirited discussion, the Board of Trustees of the Lancaster Public Library voted 6-2 to reject Board President Karen Haley Field's proposal that the library move forward with a renovation-only plan as opposed to its earlier intention to both renovate the existing building and add a two story, 18,000 square foot addition to the rear of the aging Duke Street facility.

Karen Field described her renovate-only proposal as a "fall back position" since "$2.5 to $3.5 million in State RCAP grants that had been anticipated for funding the complete project have not materialized, putting the feasibility of the full project in doubt."

Her proposal was to forego the addition for the time being and renovate only the existing space, including new bathrooms, an access ramp for the physically challenged from Duke Street, a fire sprinkler system, major repairs to mechanical systems, and replacement of furnishings and fixtures through most of the library.

The renovations were projected to cost approximately $2.3 million, start in March, and would be completed by December 2009.

She indicated a $500,000 State Keystone Library Grant was available provided the board agreed immediately to the reduce scope of the project, but otherwise the library would have to re-apply for a Keystone grant for 2010, without assurance of it being available. There was also on hand a private commitment for $500,000 as a matching grant that also would lapse.

She said remaining funds would be raised in a capital campaign with any shortfall borrowed from the endowment within the next year.

Board member Bob Miller said that he considers the period of time in which the board would have to raise the remaining funds "too slim." He added: "I've never seen a fundraising campaign work after-the-fact." Gary Weaver, also on the board, agreed. "Rushing into a renovation... would make it much more difficult to raise money for endowment [and] makes the whole project more difficult to accomplish," he said.

Karen Field and Robert Edwin Field, the project manager and publisher of NewsLanc, disagreed. Robert Field argued that project would draw attention to the library within the community and that a campaign to raise funds for the renovation of the existing building would generate new supporters, thus making it easier to raise funds for the later addition.

Karen Field said that it would not be the end of the world for the library to borrow part of the funds from its endowment in order to cover any shortfall.

Weaver at the outset of the meeting accused Karen Field of overstepping her authority by negotiating with the State to try to salvage the Keystone Grant by having it apply only to the existing building. Karen Field read excerpts from the minutes of prior meetings indicating authorizations to salvage the Keystone Grant.

In a heated moment, board member John Havrilla alleged that it was inappropriate for Karen Field to have sent out an alert to the press about Tuesday's meeting, without first sharing its contents with the other members of the board.

Karen Field response to such criticism was "If the press chooses to write an article regarding the Board's decision not to pursue the building project at this time, it can only bring more public attention to the difficult decisions the Library is forced to make due to funding concerns. And that is what we need."

Concern among the board about the state of the economy was used as an argument against moving forward.

On an average day, 1,500 Lancastrians visit the downtown library on Duke Street, making it one of the busiest libraries in the nation for its size. From September 2007 to September 2008, circulation has increased 19 percent, according to Executive Director Debra Rosser-Hogben.

Gray issues statement refining, clarifying position on streetcars

Following questioning from concerned citizens and from NewsLanc at the October 14 meeting of City Council and his public statement at that meeting that the streetcar on display at the corner of Chesnut & Prince Streets is "public art," Mayor Gray on Tuesday read into the record the following statement, of which NewsLanc has obtained a paper copy:

Mayor's Report To City Council
October 28, 2008

Report On Status of Possible Streetcar in City of Lancaster

As you are aware, the Lancaster Streetcar Company, a non-profit entity led by a cross-section of dedicated community volunteers, recently placed a streetcar on the City property located at the corner of North Prince and West Chestnut Streets. The streetcar will be there for several months in an effort to encourage discussion regarding the possible future use of streetcars in the City. Due to its placement, some have wrongfully concluded that the City of Lancaster will now have streetcars without the prior study or public discussion necessary to make that determination. The following calls to the public's attention the facts as to the actual current status of streetcars in Lancaster.

In 2005, the Red Rose Transit Authority completed a study concerning streetcars in Lancaster. This was done under the direction of then Executive Director Jim Lutz, who was a strong supporter of the concept. I reviewed that report and concurred that a streetcar would greatly benefit transportation, economic development, and tourism in the City.

In 2006, a representative of the Brookings Institution examined the streetcar concept and lauded such a system as an economic development driver. With this in mind, the Strategic Plan adopted for the City of Lancaster includes the goal of increased mobility to "make it easier for pedestrians and vehicular traffic to access the core and surrounding neighborhoods." The Strategic Plan directs us to "encourage alternative transportation to automobiles." One of the alternative forms of transportation suggested in the Strategic Plan is streetcars.

Around the nation, the concept of streetcars has been explored in many cities and implemented in others. In those cities where streetcar systems have been implemented, such as Portland, Oregon, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, the streetcars have been a success and have led to additional economic development and expansion of the original systems. As a concept in New Urbanism, streetcars continue to be a growing area of interest.

The concept itself, I strongly support. But prior to proceeding, adequate planning and study must be done to assure its success. Thus, I support the following course of action:

1) Initially, we must analyze the economic impact of a streetcar system to determine if it is viable and sustainable. I have sought federal funds to conduct a study that will measure the economic impact in terms of both improved efficiency in the movement of people (User Benefits) and improved economic productivity (Community Benefits). An analysis of User Benefits would measure improvements in travel time and traffic safety, reduced congestion and vehicle emissions, and other overall cost savings. The Community Benefit analysis would measure how a streetcar system would impact the local economy, beginning from the initial economic stimulus that occurs with construction and continuing through to the cost of operating the system. A Community Benefit analysis would also examine long-term growth and productivity of the local economy as measured by increased employment, income, and property values.

2) Second, an engineering study must be done to determine the impact of a streetcar system on the City's infrastructure. We must know how a streetcar system would affect our streets and our sewer and water lines. We must also examine the accessibility of electric power to operate the system.

3) Third, if these two studies indicate that a streetcar system is viable, I would require that a financing plan be in place to show that such a system would be sustainable without reliance on City taxpayer dollars. Many private sources have been approached for naming rights and other methods of supporting the system thereby making it sustainable. Without this demonstrated sustainability, I would be very hesitant to proceed with such a line. If the above conditions were met, I believe we could then begin to put the system in place.

Needless to say, at each juncture, public input from City residents would be invited and discussions will be held as to the advantages and disadvantages of such a system. As shown, there is much work to do prior to any final decision regarding the construction of a streetcar system in the City of Lancaster. I continue to support moving ahead with the aforementioned studies, believing that if these steps are taken and questions are answered in the affirmative, such a system would be not only a great transporter of people, but also a significant economic development driver. I hope our City residents take the time to examine the streetcar currently on display and think about whether such a new/old form of transportation has a place in today's Lancaster.

What's happening around Lancaster this week?

On Sunday, November 2nd, the instrumental ensemble Trans Siberian Orchestra comes to the Giant Center in Hershey. The concert is at 3:00 p.m. Tickets start at $39.50. Visit for further information.

On Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 5:00 p.m., "Find out how public art can play a key role in creating a vibrant community in Downtown Lancaster. Be the first to hear about the Public Art Action Plan proposed for the City of Lancaster. A presentation will be made by Renee Piechocki, artist and public art consultant and founding director, Office of Public Art, Pittsburgh. Free. 5 p.m. Pennsylvania College of Art & Design Atrium, 204 N. Prince St. 717-396-7833."

Also happening Tuesday: "With heat prices expected to jump this winter, consider attending the Energy Solutions for City Homes workshop presented by L.I.V.E. Green. This workshop was created to help urban homeowners create an action plan to use energy more efficiently and cut costs. Bring your energy costs for at least 12 months. $5 donation requested. 6 - 8 p.m. Southern Market, 100 S. Queen St."

Or, during the same time slot Tuesday evening: Enjoy a "lecture by David Lahti titled, 'The Better Angels of Our Nature: Evolution and Morality' at Bonchek Lecture Hall, Barshinger Life Sciences and Philosophy Building, Franklin & Marshall College. Free. 7:30 p.m. Lahti discusses, 'are we, as humans, essentially altruistic beings whose natural state is to care for others--or is socialization the only thing holding us back from utter selfishness?'"

On Thursday, Oct. 30, "Noted biographer and novelist Francine du Plessix Gray, widow of post Abstract Expressionist artist Cleve Gray, will give a gallery talk on the exhibition, 'A Considered Life: Large Format Paintings by Cleve Gray' at the Dana Gallery (Steinman College Center), Franklin & Marshall campus. 4:30 p.m. Free. Francine donated 'Jonquil,' a painting Gray created in 1976, to the Phillips Museum of Art."

On Thursday, Oct. 30 at 7:00 p.m., "Catch a film that is part of the 4th Annual Festival of French and Francophone Films...'Molière' (2007) by Laurent Tirard, (French with English subtitles) is about the life of the famous French playwright known as Molière. Stahr Auditorium, Stager Hall, Franklin & Marshall Campus. 7 p.m. Free. For details, call 717-239-4296."

Also Thursday at 7:00 p.m., Millersville University is showing the film "Returned" for free in Myers Auditorium of McComsey Hall as part of its Humanities Film Series. "Returned’ is a feature length documentary video that follows several Nepali youths as they attempt to reintegrate back into civil society after their association with armed groups linked to the ‘People’s War.'"

"Billed as 'seedy and sensual,' 'Cabaret' takes you to a place you will not soon forget.' Join the Kit Kat Klub boys and girls on a wild, deliciously decadent romp through 1930s Berlin. The Green Room Theatre, Franklin & Marshall College. Tickets are available at the Roschel box office, or at 717-358-4858. Through Nov. 2. $5 for students or seniors; $10 for F&M employees; $15 for off-campus patrons." Showtimes are Thursday, Oct 30 at 8 p.m., Friday, October 31, 8 p.m. & Midnight, Saturday, November 1 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, November 2 at 2 p.m.

The Leola Freeze & Frizz will be showing free movies at 7:00 p.m. on both Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. The titles are to be announced horror flicks. Bring your own blankets or lawn chairs. Food is available for purchase but outside food is not permitted on the premises. The Leola Freeze & Frizz is located at 2250 New Holland Pike in Leola.

October 31 is "Greek Day" at The Red Rose Restaurant in Lancaster. "Opa! The Red Rose Restaurant offers Greek Day the last Friday of every month! Originally started in 2004 to commemorate the return of the Olympic games to Athens, Greek Day has become a mainstay of the Red Rose calendar. Enjoy home-cooked authentic Greek food, such as spanakopita and mousaka (to name a few) and yummy pastries!" Hours are 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The Red Rose Restaurant is located at 101 E. King St.

This weekend (Oct. 31 to Nov. 2) is the "Keestone Katz Club Cat Show" at the Lancaster Host Inn & Resort. "Cat show exhibiting over 200 cats on international competition. Bring a can of cat food and get one dollar off." Admission is $4 for children and seniors, $6 for adults. For a past account of the fun, read the Intelligencer Journal article posted here. For more information, call
717-299-5500 or e-mail Judy Bernbaum.

November 1 is the Millersville Community Parade. "Visit downtown Millersville to view the exciting community parade, featuring 20-25 bands, clowns, community groups, high school and college organizations, floats, fire trucks, Victorian high wheelers, pogo squad, baton groups, sports mascots and more." Starts at 9:00 a.m. Visit for further information.

Saturday, November 1 is "Roll Hunger Out The Door" at The Castle roller skating rink. "From 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. "Roller skating party to benefit the Central PA Food Bank. All donations help fight hunger locally. Come have fun and support a good cause." Admission is $2 or a canned good donation. The Castle is located at 1400 Elm Ave. For more information, call 717-291-3232.

Starting Saturday, November 1 is "The 2008 Christmas Show" at the American Music Theatre (AMT). "Constantly compared to Radio City Music Hall, AMT’s Christmas Show is widely hailed as one of America’s best. Enjoy a variety of secular and sacred Christmas songs, and delight in fun comedy sketches. Make this holiday season the most memorable with Lancaster's Christmas show. Prices and times vary, see website for details." The American Music Theatre is located at 2425 Lincoln Highway East.

The Wine & Cheese train at the Strasburg Railroad runs on Saturday, November 1 at 6:00 p.m. For a $30 fare, you can take a scenic 45-minute train ride through the countryside while sampling fine wines and cheeses. For more information and tickets, visit

On Sunday, Nov. 2 at 4:00 p.m., the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd will present music by its
Baroque Chamber Ensemble. "The comnemplative beauty of this time of year is well suited for a baroque chamber ensemble. Strings, oboe, trumpet, recorder, and harpsichord will fill the nave with the works of Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Couperin, and others." There is no charge for admission. The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd is located at 750 Greenfield Rd.

Also November 2, there is a lecture and performance at the Pennsylvania Academy of Music as part of their
Beethoven Piano & Colloquia Series. "2 pm lecture, 3:30 pm concert. Beethoven Piano Sonatas Op. 26; Op. 81a (Les Adieux); Op. 10, No. 1; Op. 110. Pre-Concert lecture, Performance Practice Problems in Beethoven, by Dr. Immanuel Willheim." Tickets or membership required. Visit for additional information.

Nov. 2 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. is "Empty Bowls" at Kevin Lehman Pottery in Lancaster. "Empty Bowls is an grass-roots event, organized locally, to fight hunger. The proceeds for the Empty Bowls event, held at Kevin Lehman Pottery will be donated to the Crispus Attucks Community Center in Lancaster. Please come and join us, help fight hunger in Lancaster, take home a hand-made bowl and hear a rarely-heard local musical talent." Admission is $15. Kevin Lehman Pottery is located at 560 S. Prince St. For more information, visit

Sunday Nov. 2 is also "Family Science Sunday" at the North Museum of Natural History and Science in Lancaster. "
Science fun for everyone! Explore the Museum and participate in the hands-on activities, science demonstrations, interactive events and more. Family Science Sunday is included in admission." Hours are 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is "$7 for adults & $6 for juniors (3-12) and seniors (65+). Planetarium shows are an additional $1.50 to the price of admission. Free for children under 3." The North Museum is located at 400 College Ave.

Drivers must stop for pedestrians in cross walks

NewsLanc received the following clarification from a representative of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in response to our difficulty in determining from the Drivers Manual the law concerning pedestrians standing in cross walks:

I am responding to your recent inquiry regarding crosswalks and crosshatches.

On page 39 of our Pennsylvania Driver's License manual it states "The law does not give anyone the right-of-way at intersections; it only says who must yield. Even when one driver is legally required to yield right-of-way, if he or she fails to do so, other drivers still are required to stop or yield as necessary to avoid a crash. NEVER insist on having the right-of-way, if it will result in a crash. Laws governing who must yield in different driving situations are listed below. You must follow these laws, if there are no signs, signals or police present to tell you what to do at the intersection:

1. Drivers must yield to pedestrians when they are:

a) crossing at any intersection without a traffic light (with or without a crosswalk);

b) crossing the roadway in marked crosswalks, whether or not at an intersection;

c) walking on a sidewalk crossing a driveway or alley; and d) when the driver is turning a corner and
pedestrians are crossing with the light. Drivers must always yield to any blind pedestrian carrying a white
cane or being led by a guide dog.

Thank you for sharing your concern regarding this issue. It's input from our customers that enable us to improve our service.

If you have additional questions or concerns please feel welcome to contact our customer care center at 1-800-932-4600.

Now all that is needed is for all drivers to pay attention to the law, especially when driving on Chestnut and Walnut Streets while youngsters are trying to go to and come from school! The most dangerous situation is when a car stops in the lane closest to the pedestrian but a trailing car passes in the other lane.

County reaches 1,000 preserved farms

Lancaster County has reached a milestone.

At their weekly Wednesday meeting, the County Commissioners are expected to approve the expenditure of $686,320 in county money to preserve 259.83 additional acres of land on three area farms.

With this action, Lancaster County will have preserved 1,000 farms, totaling just under 80,000 acres.

Preservation is achieved when the owner voluntarily sells to the county an "agricultural conservation easement," which is a deed restriction preventing future development of the land. The County pays the farmer an appraised value to not sell the land to any developer.

Lancaster County and Pennsylvania continue to lead the nation in farmland preservation. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has preserved over 400,000 acres, according to available statistics.

Maps of preserved areas by municipality and countywide are available at|&lancoNav_GID=985.

Library's renovation in balance

The Board of Trustees of the Lancaster Public Library will meet at 4:00 PM today, Tuesday, to decide whether to move ahead with plans to fully renovate and upgrade the building or to postpone the project for several years until sufficient funds can be raised to both renovate and expand the facility.

A state Keystone Grant and a matching private grant would provide one million dollars of the $2.3 million estimated to cover the cost of the renovation.

The meeting is open to the public and will be held on the second floor of the library at 125 North Duke Street

Monday, October 27, 2008

Misaligned elevator shaft costs LCCCA $86,000

The base for an elevator shaft within the Convention Center has been misaligned, Executive Director of the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority Kevin Molloy announced Monday night.

A hole drilled for a freight elevator shaft is nine inches off, Molloy said.

The error has resulted in an $86,000 change order to re-drill and correct the problem.

That change order will be before the full board for ratification on Thursday night.

Molloy pledged to find out who is responsible for the error and potentially seek to recover damages.

Molloy and Chairman of the Board Art Morris said that the Authority is just in the beginning steps of finding out who is responsible and what happened.

Board member R.B. Campbell suggested that details could not be discussed since the issue may involve litigation.

Morris said that the unanticipated cost would not significantly affect the current budget, since the amount is within a budgeted line item for change orders.

Armstrong comes through with $3M grant for Convention Center

State Sen. Gib Armstrong has committed $3 million in contingency funds for the struggling convention center.

Chairman of the Convention Center Authority Board, Art Morris, said that Armstrong finally promised the funding in a phone conversation between the two on Monday afternoon.

The $3 million will be granted specifically to the Convention Center Authority and need not be shared with Penn Square Partners, he explained.

Morris went on to say that he "has been assured" by Armstrong that an additional $1 million in requested state funding is also in the pipeline for the Convention Center Authority.

The funding comes at a critical time for the LCCCA. The project is over committed by just over $1 million as of September 31, according to the Authority's accountant, Steve Geisenberger.

Morris said that the commitment of state funding gives the authority "a decent shot at completing the construction portion of the project... within the present projections."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

F & M's John Fry continues to hide from interviews

NewsLanc requested an interview with John Fry, President of Franklin & Marshall College.

Media Relations Director Dulcey Antonucci replied to reporter Matt Henderson that F & M would deny an interview because they feel that NewsLanc "lacks journalistic ethics."

Fry claims Field was unfair to Berwood Yost in the interview about Yost's street car survey. According to Antonucci, Yost claimed that it turned into a shouting match and that it was not a professional interview. (Yost felt the line of questions wasn’t cordial, apparently because of the well researched and probing questions.)

Antonucci also complained on behalf of Fry that NewsLanc does not publish the names of letter writers and she said that is "suspicious."

When advised, Publisher Robert Field expressed gratitude that Fry didn't have F & M security guards mug Field on Field's front lawn across from the Fry residence as they had reportedly done to Lancaster Post Co-Publisher Ron Harper .

Field opined that "Bullies usually don't want to engage with reporters they cannot intimidate."

Field added that if F & M continues to refer to him as "Bob", NewsLanc would begin referring to Fry as "Johnny."

Former operator warns against street cars

In a letter to the New Era posted Oct. 25, Alan W. Bixby disclosed that "some years ago" he operated trolleys for what has become SEPTA (South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) and explains why trolleys are dangerous and how they obstruct traffic.

Bixby says "Problems that arise from light-rail service are accidents from people boarding and unboarding and traffic tie-ups."

He goes on to say "Braking time on rail is much longer than on cars, and that factor is increased tenfold when oil, antifreeze or what ever else gets on the rails."

So if you see a trolley in your rear view mirror and need to come to a sudden stop, you likely will have the trolley in your trunk!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Mexico first to pass "Good Samaritan" law

The following is excerpted from an article by Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance posted at the Huffington Post at

"....New Mexico broke ground last year when the State legislature passed and Governor Bill Richardson signed the first "911 Good Samarian" law that provides immunity from arrest to witnesses of overdose who summon emergency services. It should never be a crime to call 911 to save a life. Now New York, Maryland, California and other states are considering similar legislation. In June, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) adopted a resolution that sets forth a comprehensive strategy for cities and states to reduce overdose morbidity and mortality by supporting local programs that distribute naloxone directly to drug users, their friends, families and communities and urging state governments to adopt emergency "Good Samaritan" policies. Adopted resolutions become the official policy of the USCM, which speaks as one voice to promote best practices and the most pressing priorities of our nation's cities."

EDITORIAL: A three part tragedy

The Intelligencer Journal reported on Oct. 23 that "Police charged a Lititz teenager Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly injecting a Manheim Central High School senior with a lethal dose of heroin at a sleepover party."

This tragedy was a triple failure on the part of the boy and the girl, and indirectly on our school systems and the public:

1) Folly on the part of the boy who injected heroin over the course of several hours and of the girl who encouraged him.

2) Failure on the part of the boy and others at the scene to call 911 for help when over dosing symptoms occured. Proper medication within up to two hours could have saved the girl in a matter of minutes.

Because the use of certain dangerous drugs is illegal, there is a reluctance on the part of participants or witnesses to over doses to notify the authorities because they fear criminal prosecutions.

3) Even when there is a tacit understanding ("Good Samaritan" practices) whereby hospitals do not report emergency calls for overdosing to the police and the police do not seek the information, drug users and those with them, especially youths, do not know about this. (We believe"Good Samaritan" exemption is the understanding here in Lancaster.)

Our schools should not only teach facts concerning what drugs, legal or illegal, are highly dangerous (alcohol and heroin being the two most prevalent here in Lancaster), but they need to also teach the symptoms of over dosing, that overdosing must be reported immediately to 911 or the party rushed to the emergency room of a hospital, and that there will be no investigation by the police.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Are drivers required to stop for pedestrians in cross walks?

NewsLanc searched the Drivers Manual published by the Department and Motor Vehicles and could not find any reference to this common situation.

We then contacted the City Police and Officer Gary Metzger advised us that drivers are obliged to stop. He referred us to the following Statute:

"Pa. Vehicle Code Section 3542 Right-of-way of pedestrians in crosswalks. (a) General rule - when traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. (b) Exercise of care by pedestrian - No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute a hazard."

Unfortunately applicants for a drivers license don't learn this. And school children and others are at considerable risk.

NewsLanc will contact the Department of Motor Vehicle and make them aware of the apparent omission.

The Battle of Rotary: Service Org Hosts Hot Home Rule Debate

In a veritable redux of their Tuesday night debate at F&M, members of the Government Study Commission went at it again in front of the Rotary Club of Lancaster on Wednesday afternoon.

Government Study Commission (GSC) member Gregory Sahd spoke against the proposed Home Rule Charter. He is one of 3 GSC members who voted no in the November 2006 8-3 vote to recommend a charter.

"Our view is that Home Rule is a solution in search of a problem," he said. "We have no systemic problems with our current, historic structure of County government. It works, it works well, and it has worked for nearly 300 years."

GSC member Jim Miller, who voted yes to the charter, argued in its favor. "We who are in favor do not feel we have a failed government. We feel we have an underperforming government," he said, going on to argue that "structure matters."

Miller argued that by transferring most of the responsibility for day-to-day administrative duties to the County Administrator, as the Charter proposes, the Commissioners will be free to spend more time on planning and direction.

"How do we hold our elected officials accountable if we don't have any plans?" he asked. "We don't know where we're going."

Sahd pointed out that the unelected administrator "will handle 90% of the [current] function of government" under the Charter.

Miller replied that the proposed structure is very similar to the one currently in place and insisted that the administrator is accountable to the commissioners.

Sahd noted that Lancaster County has the lowest per capita tax rate of any Class 3 County in the state. 'Clearly we are doing something very right here in Lancaster County," he said.

He also repeated his point that the charter will probably have the effect of decreasing the representation of Democrats within county government.

"I thought that was very bizarre since he argued against maintaining minority party representation during the writing of the charter," Miller fired back.

He went on to argue that the Charter alleviates concerns about the Sunsine Act, saying "With three Commissioners, there is no way to not have Sunshine violations every day."

"That's just wrong folks," Sahd retorted. "As long as they're not discussing something that will lead to a decision, there's no violation."

He added, "This is a direct reaction to the issues of the prior board."

Miller denied that the Home Rule Charter is solely the result of public disapproval of the previous Board of Commissioners. He asserted that it was Dave Dumeyer, Chair of the Lancaster County Republican Party, who went to the Chamber of Commerce and asked them to investigate the feasibility of a Home Rule form of government.

Another of Sahd's main points was that the Home Rule Charter as currently written will add to the complexity and therefore the cost of county government.

Miller repied that the layers of bureaucracy Mr. Sahd is claiming are added by the Charter are in the County Code today.

"Home Rule represents the greatest threat to our county government since it was formed from Chester County nearly 300 years ago," Sahd argued.

Miller took some jabs at the local GOP, saying "Why doesn't our Republican leadership want local control?... Why don't they trust our voting citizens, the majority of whom are registered Republicans to use initiative and referendum when needed to exercise their own voices wisely regarding county decisions?"

"Are you willing to gamble on [continued] Harrisburg control?" Miller concluded.

Both Gregory Sahd and Jim Miller Jr. are registered Republicans. The Home Rule Charter, which can be reviewed at, will appear before the voters for approval or disapproval in the Nov. 4 general election.

Amtrak Construction Schedule Delayed

Construction activities for the renovations to the Lancaster Amtrak station will not begin until February or March of 2009, NewsLanc learned this morning.

A construction groundbreaking had previously been pushed back from "late summer" to "fall" to "December," but has been delayed again.

Jim Cowhey, Executive Director of the Lancaster County Planning Commission, explained that the engineering team ran into some unexpected issues related to the historic nature of the building, and had to update the project specifications to account for things like hazardous material mitigation.

The total cost of the renovations remains $12 million.

The construction activities are expected to take 18 months to complete.

A website for the project asserts that parking will not be reduced during construction. Cowhey confirmed this, saying that they hope to phase construction in such a way that parking will not be reduced from current levels. Ultimately, parking will be expanded by 62 spaces.

Candidate for the Railroad Museum!

Sides Spar in Home Rule Debate at F&M

Government Study Commission representatives of both the "pro" and "con" sides on the Home Rule Charter got to make their points in a well-attended debate at Franklin & Marshall College, Tuesday night.

The approximately 1.5 hour debate was hosted by the League of Women Voters and attended by some 135 members of the public, including nearly every member of the Government Study Commission and such dignitaries as Lancaster County Commissioner Scott Martin and United Way of Lancaster County President, Susan Eckert.

Speaking for the "pro" side were Government Study Commission members Dr. Carol Phillips, the Chairwoman, and Mr. Jim Miller. Speaking for the opposition were GSC members Jim Bednar and Gregory Sahd.

Miller argued that transferring the day-to-day administrative functions from the County Commissioners to the County Administrator will free up the Commissioners to focus more on "the long-range strategic planning we need."

Phillips reinforced his point, saying "We think it particularly important that our Commissioners assume a leadership role to move us forward. And if they are bogged down in minutiae, they are unable to concentrate on the important and vital issues with which our County is confronted."

"There is more than enough for them to do in maximal kinds of ways," she continued. "[Former County Administrator] Mark Esterbrook told us that the duties and responsibilities that we wrote for the County Administrator reflected 90 to 95% of what it was that he was doing in that position."

The opposition disagreed.

"How can we justify paying five Commissioners $55,000 per year for part time work?" asked Bednar. He also asserted that "the loyalty of appointed individuals is not to the citizens but to the individuals who appointed them."

Asked at one point whether the Charter would be good for business as the Chamber of Commerce asserts, Bednar insisted "A government is to be run by the people themselves and not by outside forces and special interest groups."

The "pro" side also invoked popular will, arguing that a Home Rule Charter "recognizes that a one-size-fits-all state-mandated document limits our sovereignty." Phillips quoted Ronald Reagan as having said, "This idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man's relations to man."

"It is about we the people. It is about recognizing the unique needs and concerns of our citizens and crafting a government document [accordingly]," she said.

When the subject of Commissioner election by district, which is not in the Charter, came up, Bednar said he thinks it's a bad idea because it would segment the County into districts and lead each Commissioner to care only about his/her own district and not necessarily the County as a whole. He said that it would also give voters less choices as it pertains to County government.

Asked by a questioner, "Do you think that the Charter proposal is a reaction to the, shall we say, controversies of a previous Board of Commissioners?" Sahd replied, "I do."

He went on to argue that "Our current system has worked well for nearly 300 years... It is an effective, responsible, economical system of County Government."

He called the Home Rule Charter "a solution in search of a problem"

"We would be moving from a tried, true, and tested form of government to an experimental one," said Sahd.

Another issue that came up is the ability of the Commissioners to remove elected officials from public office.

Bednar argued that the process will inevitably be used for political ends, saying "We all know what goes on in smoke-filled back rooms"

Miller replied that the provisions for removing an elected official from office for just cause are already in place and that the courts must get involved in order to actually remove someone from office.

Both sides sparred on whether the switch to Home Rule would result in higher or lower taxes, each quoting various figures.

Sahd called it "counterintuitive" to think that you can add layers of bureaucracy "and not see taxes and spending go up."

Miller denied that adding employees "adds layers of bureaucracy." He insisted that the elimination of the jury commissioners and the consolidation of row offices proposed by the Charter will result in cost savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

"I want the opponents to explain to me how taxes and spending are going to increase with four Republican Commissioners... [as if] they're going to appoint tax and spend liberals," he quipped.

Sahd injected politics into an argument as well when he said, "If I were a Democrat, I would oppose these changes because our representation [on the Board of County Commissioners] would go from 33 1/3% to 20%"

The Charter guarantees one minority-party Commissioner seat.

When the issue of citizen initiative came up briefly, Bednar said he thinks the thresholds are too low and that the provisions will allow citizens to place frivolous issues in front of the Commissioners and on the ballot. He also argued that giving people direct power distorts our representative, republican form of government.

Closing arguments brought the issue of the County Administrator once to the forefront again.

"This is a power grab vis a vis the County Administrator," Sahd argued.

Asked about that concern afterwards, Phillips said, "It's not true." She pointed out that nearly everything in the description of duties and responsibilities are things the administrator already does except for preparing the multi-year strategic and fiscal plans, which the Charter specifies must be done under the direction of the Commissioners.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's happening around Lancaster this week?

Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 7:00 p.m, the League of Woman Voters is hosting a debate on the proposed Home Rule Charter to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. The debate will be held in the Booth-Ferris Room in the Steinman College Center at Franklin & Marshall College. Speaking in support of the Charter will be Government Study Commission Chair Carol Phillips and GSC member Jim Miller. Speaking against the Charter will be GSC members Greg Sahd and Jim Bednar. The debate will feature a question and answer session from a panel of questioners, and will conclude with questions from the audience.

On Thursday, Oct. 23, Millersville University will be showing the film "Road to Guantanamo" at 7:00 p.m. in Myers Auditorium. "Winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, the Road to Guantanamo is a terrifying, first-hand account of three British citizens who were held for two years without charges in the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." Admission is free and open to the public. Myers auditorium is located in McComsey Hall off of West Frederick St. in Millersville.

Thursday, Oct. 23rd is the opening night of “Glorious,” at the Fulton Opera House. Runs through Nov. 8. 7:30 p.m. $20- $48. 12 N. Prince St., 717-397-7425. The true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, who in the first half of the 20th century, consistently sang off-key yet had legions of devoted fans that eventually took her to a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall.

Thursday is also the opening night of “Stones in His Pockets” by Theater of the Seventh Sister at Stahr Performing Arts Center, 438 N. Queen St. Runs through Nov. 9. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. $25. 717-396-7764. The play, by Marie Jones and directed by Charlie DelMarcelle, explores how the lives of the residents of a small Irish community are turned upside down when a Hollywood film crew comes to town. A cast of two performs all 15 characters in this award-winning comedy.

On Friday evening, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m, Millersville University will host a musical performance by the instrumental group Bearfoot. "
Bearfoot is deeply American music. Airy Northern ballads are tempered by back-alley Southern blues, while jazz stomp meets Appalachian breakdown, the whole fused with a signature sexy bluegrass passion. Boasting five distinctive young lead voices, the group showcases a remarkable breadth of rich, original songs." General admission is $10 or $7 for students or senior citizens. The location is Lyte Auditorium. You can purchase tickets in advance at

The Leola Freeze & Frizz is showing free movies on both Friday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Oct. 25 at 7:00 p.m. Friday's movie is Aladdin and Saturday's is
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

On Friday, Oct. 24, be spooked by the Legend of Sleepy Hollow at Rock Ford Plantation in Lancaster. "Join Ichabod Crane and Katrina Van Tassel at an autumn ball - Just be on the look out of the headless horseman... Performances begin at 6, 7, and 8 p.m. Note: This is NOT geared towards younger children, please use your discretion." Admission is $8.50 for adults or $7 for seniors & students. Rockford plantation is located at 881 Rockford Road in Lancaster near Central Park. For more information, visit

Saturday, Oct. 25th is the Charity Vendor Fair, Auction, and Food Sale at the Ephrata Recreation Center. "October is breast cancer awareness month! Help raise money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk while beginning some holiday shopping! Come enjoy over 20 different vendors to shop from, a Chinese raffle, and incredible food!" From 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at 130 South Academy Drive in Ephrata. There is no charge for admission.

Saturday, Oct. 25 is "Happy Hauntings" at Dutch Wonderland. "
Enjoy hauntingly friendly fun ideal for families! A Kingdome for Kids! will feature themed rides and attractions, trick-or-treating, magic shows, ghoulish games, storytelling by the princess and knight and so much more!" 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Admission is $17.25. Dutch Wonderland is located at 2249 Lincoln Highway East. Visit for more information.

On Saturday, Oct. 25, Lancaster Mennonite High School is holding
Sing For Hope: Make a Dream Come True Concert. "Inspired by the mission of the Mennonite Central Committee Global Family Program, renowned operatic soprano Madeline Bender and fellow artists have donated their time and talent to the creation of an evening of music in celebration of families around the world." Starts at 8:00 p.m. Suggested donation is $15. Located at 2176 Lincoln Highway East.

The Strasburg Wine & Cheese Train runs on Saturday, Oct. 25 at 6:00 p.m. Enjoy a 45-minute train ride through the scenic countryside while tasting fine wines and cheeses. Other beverages and snacks also available for purchase. Tickets are $30. Visit for tickets and further information.

On Sunday Oct. 26th,
Deborah J. Vagins, Policy Counsel for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington Legislative Office will be speaking at Franklin & Marshall College. The subject of her talk is: The Election and the Constitution: What's on the ballot? What's on the line? The talk will take place at 1:00 p.m. in Stahr Auditorium of Stager Hall.

Sunday, Oct 26th is Sunday Market in downtown Lancaster from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the 300 block of N. Queen St. For more information, visit

Not learning from experience!

Below are two photos of the street car on display at the intersection of Prince and Chestnut Streets and described by Mayor Rick Gray as "Public Art." Gray is an exponent of bringing trolley cars back to Lancaster Streets.

In "A City Transformed", author David Schuyler looks back to the first half of the 20th Century and describes Lancaster street cars as "competing with cars and horse-drawn vehicles for space on the narrow streets." Today there aren't many horse-drawn buggies, but we have narrow streets and plenty of cars!

A few pages further on, Schuyler implies that the demise of the street car system was because "Increased use of buses was the most effective means of reducing the number of cars entering downtown and alleviating the shortage of available parking spaces."

We can't wait to get stuck behind one of these ancient behemoths. We can patiently sit there and admire the "public art."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Judge orders F & M to allow Harper to attend debate

The Lancaster Independent Press ( reports: " A Lancaster Judge ruled today that Franklin & Marshall College must let Ron Harper, Jr., co-publisher of the Lancaster Post, attend the public Home Rule debate tomorrow on their property. Harper filed an Emergency Petition and Franklin & Marshall College unbelievably fought it in court today. Harper represented himself and Judge Dennis E. Reinaker ruled in his favor."

League of Women Voters Sponsors Home Rule debate

"On Tuesday, October 21 at 7:00 p.m., the League of Women Voters will be sponsoring a debate on the Home Rule Charter. The debate will be held in the Booth-Ferris Room in the Steinman College Center at Franklin & Marshall College.

"Speaking in support of the Charter will be Government Study Commission Chair Carol Phillips and GSC member Jim Miller. Speaking against the Charter will be GSC members Greg Sahd and Jim Bednar.

"The debate will feature a question and answer session from a panel of questioners, and will conclude with questions from the audience.

"Please consider attending the debate and encouraging others to do the same."

League of Women Voters Criticizes New Era Practice

In response to a NewsLanc inquiry soliciting the view of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania on the New Era's publishing of morning exit poll results in its election day afternoon edition, the following reply was received from Lora Lavin, Vice President for Issues and Action:

"At the national level the League has historically tried to pressure broadcasters not to air projections of election results before all the polls in a race have closed. This was aimed at the fact that the winner of presidential races was called before polls closed in the west and it was believed that this discouraged voters in western states from going to the polls with an obvious impact on local races. I would think that the same logic would apply in the case below.

"If, for example, the afternoon papers in Lancaster were to project that one of the presidential candidates is ahead in local exit polls this could discourage people from turning out who do not understand that Pennsylvania's electoral college votes depend on the popular vote statewide and their vote will still influence the statewide outcome.

"The same would be true of projecting the winners of other statewide races on the ballot this year. Also, using the western state analogy, depressed late day voter turnout could influence the outcome of local races.

"Traditionally, in Pennsylvania , the political parties monitor the polls and check off the names of those who have voted so they can make later afternoon and early evening calls to remind those registered in their party who have not voted that it is important they go to the polls."

TRRAAC attorney fires back at F&M; Charges false allegations

In an Oct. 20 letter to Keith Orris of Franklin & Marshall College, TRRAAC attorney William Cluck denies that he misrepresented the contents of EPA reports he has obtained and raises a number of important questions as to whether asbestos containing materials were dumped at the proposed railyard relocation site, at the former Lancaster Brickyard north of the railroad tracks.

Cluck summarized his responses by saying "Finally, we are extremely disappointed by the defamatory comments attributed to you and Mr. Fry in the Lancaster New Era and your demand in the October 9 letter for a 'public retraction and public apology from TRRAAC regarding these material misrepresentations.' There is nothing to retract and the only apology should come from yourself and Mr. Fry.

"We note that F&M’s web site continues to publish false statements regarding TRRAAC. TRRAAC has previously written to you and requested the false allegations about TRRAAC be removed from your site. To date, you continue to misrepresent TRRAAC's positions to the public."

Did dumping cease at the north site in 1962, as the project partners have asserted? If so, Cluck asks, "How do you explain the presence of asbestos containing material from Armstrong, some of which is on the surface of the property?"

He also asks, "If dumping ended in 1962, according to the RI Report, how do you explain the presence of foundry sand in the material found in the waste on the north side, as documented by ARM Group?"

"If the north side was also used as a solid waste disposal site from 1955 until 1962, why did EPA limit its investigation to the south side?" he continues.

According to Cluck, a September 2002 Environmental Due Diligence Evaluation conducted by ARM Group, Inc, F&M's environmental consultant, should be released since it "contains critical information about the site history." "Apparently neither F&M nor DEP have this document..." writes Cluck.

He also asks that F&M provide evidence that its own dumping activities at the site in the 1980s occurred on the south side only.

Importantly, he notes, "These questions could not have been raised at the June 19, 2008 public meeting as the RI report was not available and F&M had not provided the public with the Step One document nor the 2002 Environmental Due Diligence Investigation."

The questions are important both because construction equipment disturbing the site could release harmful asbestos into the air and because if waste was disposed of at the site after 1980, the environmental standards for the project fall not under Pennsylvania Act 2, but under the stricter Solid Waste Management Act of 1968.

We believe that F&M and the project partners owe TRRAAC and the community full, honest answers to their very serious concerns regrading the potential health and environmental impacts of this project. We tire of bully boy and big lie tactics.

Does this sound familiar?

"What seems in retrospect to have been an inexplicable decision, an unacceptable risk, may have been the result of a desire to move forward quickly after years of frustrating delay; perhaps it reflected the certitude that a well connected local developer would act in the best interest of the city."

From "A City Transformed, 1940 - 1980" by David Schuyler and in reference the commencement of demolition in 1965 in antcipation of Lancaster Square.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

EDITORIAL: Post like the little girl with a curl

THE Oct. 17 edition of the Lancaster Post reminds us of the childhood ditty: "There was a little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very very good. When she was bad, she was horrid."

Artie See's "A View From Downtown" is valid indictment of those ignorant or greedy or ruthless individuals (not all apply to each) who rammed the $200 million convention center down the throats of our citizenry. The opportunity loss to valid projects plus the blow to sound downtown development is immense.

Feature Editor and Co-Publisher Chris Hart-Nibbrig’s editorial "A flawed process" should be required reading - not just once, but annually – for much of our citizenry who confuse voices of essential inquiry and dissent with obstructionism.

Sadly, News Editor and Co-Publisher Ron Harper, Jr. once again demonstrates his journalistic laziness and his personal vitriol with an unsubstantiated attack on outgoing Senator Gibson Armstrong. The WATCHDOG points out that Harper didn't take the trouble to carefully read the public offering of Hamilton Suites Apartments and thus overstates Armstrong’s potential earnings by three folds. This is representative of Harper's reporting.

And far worse, Harper attacks Armstrong for having invested in the perfectly legitimate "viatical" business. It provides a market for the sale of whole life insurance that healthy senior citizens may no longer require, and enables those facing a prolonged but terminal illness to obtain funds to ease them through the final years.

If Harper has evidence that somehow Armtrong’s company is taking advantage of individuals, that would be a valid story. But he presents none.

Harper deserves praise for having spoken out in the past against real and perceived abuses of the public trust. But another old saying is "All you have achieved in the past and a token will get you a ride on the subway." Our point: Harper should stop living off his reputation, inflated in his own mind, and start doing his homework. He should also find and study a primer in journalistic ethics.

Perhaps this is expecting too much. Harper's true role seems to be that of a gadfly and provocateur, not a journalist.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

LETTER: Chamber controlled by elite players

"I believe 'C of C support of homerule troublesome' is partially correct.

"Like the PDCVB, the Chamber, while at face value a democratic member-centric organization, is controlled by the larger elite players and power brokers from within its ranks that typically control its board. For instance, many of those who compose the Lancaster Alliance...coincidentally where Tom Baldridge last worked while shoving the CC down our throats.

"I believe that this subset of its membership wants home rule which will:

1) remove the minority presence on the board and
2) centralize power in the hands of the new administrator.

"Anyone care to take a wager with me as to what former or current presidnet of our chamber will be up for that position if home rule comes into existence?"

LETTER: C of C support of Home Rule troublesome

"I still want to know why the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry,which exists ONLY to promote the interests of businesses in Lancaster County (and gets most of its funding from its largest and most powerful members), is spending such a large amount of its members' contributions in an attempt to get the voters to adopt the proposed "home rule" charter.

"Obviously the Lancaster Chamber is convinced that this proposal would result in a climate far more conducive for what its membership wants from us taxpayers.

"Remember the Lancaster Chamber is the driving force behind the streetcar proposal in downtown Lancaster. Remember the Lancaster Chamber was the driving force behind the taxpayer-financed hotel and convention center project. The Lancaster Chamber was the group which first floated the current "home rule" proposal. It was the Lancaster Chamber which flooded the streets with "volunteers" to get signatures on petitions to put "home rule" on the ballot. And it was the Lancaster Chamber which heavily promoted the "home rule" proposal, which barely passed in the election. Now, it is the Lancaster Chamber which is flooding Lancaster County with "vote yes to home rule" signs.

"Could it be that the Lancaster Chamber sees the currently proposed "home rule" charter as a way to make it easier to push through more such taxpayer-funded projects in the future? Under this proposal, no *two* elected officials could ever again work together in an attempt to block taxpayer funding for special-interest projects."

Friday, October 17, 2008

CC marketing team continues to struggle to add events

Only one additional opening-year event was added during the month of September, Director of Marketing for the Lancaster County Convention Center said Thursday.

Two 2009 events were booked last month but a third meeting planner canceled an event resulting in a net gain of only one.

The number of booked events for 2009 stands at 17. The number of events they targeted to book for 2009 is 58, resulting in a balance of 41 events needed to book.

Of the 17 booked events, three are trade shows, eight are consumer shows, and six are other events.

The goal for 2009 is seven trade shows, seven consumer shows, and 44 other events. So the "other events" is the category that has been very slow.

Nowak says that most of the smaller events are booked within a twelve-month time frame since they generally require less complex planning.

"We're just starting to get into that booking window for other events," he said, Thursday.

The marketing team is currently at 41.3% of their targeted revenue for 2009 - the target revenue being $506,077.

At one point in the meeting, board member R.B. Campbell asked "who is our main competition?"

Chris Barrett, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Vistors Bureau, who works on marketing efforts, said that Hershey and Valley Forge are very dominant in the same markets, and that Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are also big draws, especially for national events.

Kevin Molloy, Executive Director of the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority said following Thursday's meeting of the Public Relations, Marketing, & Hospitality Committee meeting that he remains optimistic that the prospects for the "other events" still needed to book will start converting to "definites" as time goes forward.

The clock is ticking.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Prematurely publishing election polls subverts democracy

The New Era should discontinue its disreputable practice of publishing regional morning exit polls in its early afternoon edition.

C-SPAN covered discussions of election improprieties and fraud on Wednesday. Reporters from the Associated Press and National Public Radio explained how exit polls conducted by their consortium are embargoed for each state until the polls are closed. The consortium is zealous in enforcing the ban and the media are fully cooperative.

According to the AP reporter, releasing poll information prior to the close of the poll can discourage some from voting and induce other to change their vote. It was explained that exit polls are useful for determining voter patterns for election reporting after polls close.

The following is a report from SLATE during the primary season of 2000:

"Bill Bradley: 50 percent
Al Gore: 48 percent

"Now, how can I give you these exit-poll numbers, while your favorite breaking news outlet can't? Because the tabulator of exit polls, the VNS consortium, doesn't release the numbers until the polls are closed. And why is that? Because the VNS members--ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Fox News, CNN, and the Associated Press--don't want to be accused of discouraging voters from casting their late afternoon or evening ballots. The taboo against contaminating the voter turnout is so strong that non-VNS members who learn the numbers don't release them, either. Of course, the taboo isn't so strong that it keeps the TV broadcasters who subscribe to the consortium from hinting broadly that 'early results indicate a massive McCain victory is taking shape in New Hampshire.'"

At the expense of democracy, the New Era willingly distorts the election practice in order to sell a few more copies and to achieve a vacuous 'scoop'.

NewsLanc urges the New Era to discontinue its unethical practice and, if it doesn't , encourages voters to scorn inquiries from New Era representatives during election day.

Crime Summit Issues Findings and Recommendations

The Lancaster County Crime Summit Re-Convened following the County Commissioners meeting and elections board on Wednesday to present their findings and recommendations.

The Summit had been called by the Lancaster County Commissioners in June to research the state of public safety in the community. Three primary areas were addressed: Law Enforcement, Re-Entry Management, and Prevention.

Chief Richard Garipoli, President of the Lancaster County Chiefs of Police Association, described the recommendations relating to law enforcement. These include:
> Establishing a central regional booking area for crimes so that more police can spend more time on the streets
> Improving collaboration and communications using the radio project
> Improving the records management system
> Making combating gang activity a priority
> Improving the timely release of information about crimes to the media
> Using cameras in neighborhoods to help catch criminals in the act

Scott Sheely of the Lancaster County Workforce investment board prepared the Summit's recommendations with regard to Re-Entry management. These include:
> Not necessarily needing to build a new prison. Instead establishing a day-reporting center where ex-offenders would receive individual assessments and assistance to help prevent recidivism.
> Making sure we have adequate, affordable housing for ex-offenders and communities willing to give them a second chance
> Jobs for people coming out of prison and employers willing to give them a second chance
> The need to improve communication and establish common goals between re-entry management and the rest of the system
> Support the establishment and implementation of the drug court and mental health court
> Support homeless shelters like the Community Homeless Outreach Center where recently-released convicts can stay and can get connected to the services they need
> Support programs like CarreerLink that can help people with the skills and resources they need to get back into the workplace

Dave Bender, the Executive Director of the Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, presented the Summit's recommendations with regard to prevention. the "Prevention Team's" overarching recommendation was that the Commissioners assemble a planning team to further identify the causes, effects, and prevalence of crime in the community, and to involve all of the municipalities in a joint discussion of information and strategies. The prevention team also recommends hiring someone to do grant-writing on behalf of the County to help secure more funding.

Columbia Mayor Leo Lutz, who also now sits on the Lancaster County Planning Commission, struck a forward-looking note when he said that the true challenge will be for the County and municipalities to implement strategies that work while working within a constricted budget during these difficult economic times.

District Attorney Craig Stedman thanked the Commissioners for calling the Summit, saying, "There is no question that for a community to flourish, there needs to be a foundation of public safety."

Commissioner Chairman Dennis Stuckey spoke of the need for coordination, saying, "everyone has a mission, but they're not connected. This allows us to take a first step in that direction."

Commissioner Craig Lehman agreed, noting that "Crime... doesn't begin or end just base on a political line drawn on a map."

Commissioner Scott Martin, who spearheded the effort to hold a crime summit said, "Crime is a burden on the community. It affects our wallets."

He went on to say that the Commissioners will be working on drawing up a plan for crime prevention strategies over the coming weeks and months.

The final report of the Lancaster County Crime Summit can be found in its entirety at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gray: Streetcar on display at Prince/Chestnut is "public art"

The streetcar on prominent display on the city-owned parcel of land next to the police station at the corner of Prince St. and Chestnut St. was placed there at the request of the Lancaster Streetcar Company and approved by Mayor Rick Gray himself, NewsLanc learned Tuesday night.

Interestingly, Mayor Rick Gray refused to answer the NewsLanc reporter's questions during the public comment section of City Council's agenda, saying "This is public comment, not question and answer. If you want to ask me questions, I'd be glad to answer them afterwards..."

Following the meeting, after again insisting "it's public comment, not public debate," the Mayor acknowledged that the streetcar was placed there free of charge at the request of the Lancaster Streetcar Company.

So we asked him whether adversaries of the streetcar project could also post signs or materials in that area.

Gray replied, "They could try" but went on to admit that such requests probably wouldn't be approved, repeatedly calling the trolley "public art."

"If it was a big sign they wanted to put up saying 'Let's have a trolley car,' I'd say no, you can't put it up," he said

"I don't think I'd approve signs for or against."

"But by putting a trolley there, doesn't it give the perception that the city is endorsing this concept?" the reporter asked.

"The Mayor is endorsing it," Gray said.

"The Mayor, but the City has not taken a position on it one way or another," the reporter began to counter.

Gray replied that "a couple of years ago" a presentation was made on the project to city council and that city council had approved funds to hire a consultant to submit grant applications for project funding - grant applications which were not approved at the time.

"I don't think it's a free speech question," Gray said in response to further questioning.

"Keep on fighting it. You don't want people to see it... You're afraid of people seeing that and thinking it's a good idea," Gray alleged.

What's Happening around Lancaster This Week?

On Wednesday, Oct. 15, legendary musician Elton John comes to the Giant Center in Hershey. Tickets start at $67 and will go fast. The concert is at 8:00 p.m. For more information, visit

On Thursday, Oct. 16, Millersville University is showing the film "Ezra." "Newton I. Aduaka’s scorching portrait of an African child who is kidnapped and turned into a soldier for a rebel militia." The film is showing at 7 p.m. in Myers Auditorium in McComsey Hall off of Frederick Street in Millersville. The event is free and open to the public.

Speaking of free movies, you can catch one Friday and Saturday at the Leola Freeze & Frizz at 2250 New Holland Ave. Friday, Oct. 17th's movie is Hairspray and Saturday, Oct. 18th's movie is 27 Dresses. Showing at 7:00 p.m. each day. Admission is free but outside food is not permitted on the premises. Bring your own blankets or chairs.

October 17th is "Music Fridays" in downtown Lancaster. "
Shops and restaurants spread throughout the 200 and 300 blocks of N. Queen Street host an evening dedicated to music! Different artists are scheduled each third Friday, both inside local stores and on the sidewalks. Committed performances include belly dancing, a jazz quintet, solo, acoustic, rock and American groups." This occurs between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. For more information, visit

On Friday, Oct. 17 at the Historic Rock Ford Plantation, "
Join Ichabod Crane and Katrina Van Tassel at an autumn ball - Just be on the look out of the headless horseman... Performances begin at 6, 7, and 8 p.m. Note: This is NOT geared towards younger children, please use your discretion." Admission is $8.50 for adults or $7.00 for seniors and students. The Rock Ford Plantation is located at 881 Rockford Road near Lancaster County Central Park. For more information, visit

Saturday morning, Oct. 18 in Lancaster County Central Park is the "
4th Annual Dutch Knob Equestrian Pace Event." "Rain date Sun. Oct. 19th. Course is off Golf Rd. and is approximately 5 miles; jumps are optional. Open to all ages and disciplines. Riders under age 15 must have at least one adult on their team. For more information, special needs or concerns, contact Chandra Mast, 717-314-4635, or email" The cost is $35 per rider. For more information, visit

Manheim is holding a "Classic Car Show" on Oct. 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. "on the square" - at the intersection of Routes 72 and 772. "
Show off your classic car at the square in Manheim. Enjoy the fall weather and win prizes by class for your car. Last year's show brought well over 200 entrants. Door prizes, raffles and great food!" Free to the public, it is $10 to show off your classic car or $8 if you register in advance. For more information, visit

This weekend is the "Fall Art Walk" in downtown Lancaster. From 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Fall Art Walk is "A new kind of event featuring a fusion of visual, performance and culinary arts. Music in the galleries, dance in the streets, artists and artisans in their studios, art installations, and Art on a Plate - special culinary offerings created by local restaurants exclusively for ArtWalk." For more information, visit

This weekend is also the "
Fall Harvest Festival" in Conestoga. "The 11th annual Fall Harvest Festival featuring Cider making, blacksmithing, open hearth cooking, squirrel tail oven baking, and log sawing will be among the demonstrated events on both days. In addition, master craft persons will be demonstrating colonial arts and crafts including tinsmithing, pottery, woodworking, weaving and spinning." The event is open to the public but a donation is requested. 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the area of 51 Kendig Road. For more information, visit the Conestoga Area Historical Society.

Halloween-themed attractions will be available at Hershey Park, Hershey Chocolate World, and Dutch Wonderland this weekend. For details, visit,, and

Also opening for the Halloween season is Jason's Woods in Conestoga. Attractions include haunted hayrides, mystery mazes, and pitch black terrors. For all the spooky details, visit Located at 99 Stehman Road.

For more local events, check the community calendar at