Friday, November 28, 2008

Publisher taken to school on local issues

With reporter Matt Henderson on assignment elsewhere, our publisher covered what appeared to be a routine and not particular newsworthy County Commissioners meeting last week. Indeed, the only coverage by the Intell was a short artice about the purchase by the county of several easements on farms to prevent their future development.

Rick Kastner, Executive Director of the Lancaster County Drug & Alcohol Commission, made his annual presentation. From that, our publisher learned during a public comment period that government funding for medicine ceases when someone enters prison. Not only does this seem undesirable from the point of view of inmate health, but it also prevents prisoners who are heroin drug addicts from entering into a Methadone or Buprenorphine / Suboxone regimen, either of which would go far towards making them self sufficient and deterring them from future crimes. Kastner indicated that 70% of prisoners had addiction problems.

Following Kastner, Susan Hauer, Executive Director of the Library System of Lancaster County, presented the Library System's Annual Request for County Funding. Two revelations from a discussion with Hauer following the meeting were:

(1) A past County referendum to establish a tax millage to support currently underfunded libraries was placed on an off-year spring primary due to well meaning but bad political advice from a powerful source. (Voters in off year primaries tend to be older and conservative and rarely support tax increases.) Nevertheless, the queston lost by only a small margin.

(2) Consolidating the Library System of Lancaster County, which provides special services, with the several independent libraries in the county, could not happen unless the boards of the independent libraries agreed. Consolidated systems have been successful in other counties.


Consolidation might be more efficient and perhaps enable the hiring of top notch professional staff at the System level to perform some functions now carried out by less qualified or overburdened staff at local libraries. The current fragmentation also makes it difficult to attract experienced and established community leaders as board members.

The last minute aborting of the renovation and upgrading of the Lancaster Public Library (Duke Street location) is an example of both problems.

Our publisher suggested to the reporter from the Lancaster Newspapers that LNP write about the issues of medicine for prisoners and library consolidation. The respectful response was that they had already done so.

NewsLanc will explore medicine for prisoners and consolidation of the libraries with experts and report further.