BC-PA--Exchange, Advisory, PA
Here are the stories for this week’s Pennsylvania Member Exchange package. If you have any questions, contact the Philadelphia bureau at 215-561-1133.
For use anytime:
Editorials from around Pennsylvania.
For Saturday, Dec. 22 2018:
EXCHANGE-UNEQUAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS
PITTSBURGH _ Where you live in Allegheny County determines what kind of police officer responds to your call for help. High-paid, low-paid, full-time, part-time, experienced, inexperienced, well-equipped or poorly equipped — it’s a roll of the geographic dice, according to an analysis by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which discovered wide disparities in funding, staffing, training and workload among the county’s 109 police departments. While communities with the most violence or highest number of 911 calls might need the most robust police services, the Post-Gazette’s analysis found those communities often support police departments with limited budgets and low-paid, part-time officers, while richer communities with less crime can afford to spend more on police. From the two-man police department in Fawn to the nearly 900-member Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Allegheny County contains more police departments than any other county in the state. Shelly Bradbury, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
EXCHANGE-ELECTED TAX COLLECTORS
PHILADELPHIA _ Jeffrey Cutler is living proof that a single vote in an election can make a huge difference. Cutler was elected tax collector in 2013 in East Lampeter Township, Lancaster County, with one vote — his own write-in vote. Though East Lampeter had not had a tax collector in decades — the county did the job — Cutler insisted he was now an elected official under the law, and began work _ making a hash of the job, say local and county officials. The case triggered the introduction of a bill to allow towns to eliminate the “antiquated” tax collector’s position, prompting pushback from the Pennsylvania State Tax Collectors Association, which regards the proposal as an existential threat to an independent elected office. Some legislators have suggested the state should require a candidate to get at least 10 votes to get elected. Andrew Maykuth, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
CARLISLE _ With the rosters of Pennsylvania’s volunteer fire companies dwindling, one might think it would be a disincentive for the firefighters who remain, knowing that their backup is growing thinner and thinner. But if anything, at least for Carlisle’s companies, it’s steeled their resolve. When Rhys Eastham, a volunteer at Carlisle Fire & Rescue Services, was on shift one night last week, the only people on the truck were himself and one of the company’s paid part-time drivers. “Even if it’s an automatic alarm or something that seems minor, I’m going to respond because I know that there’s no one else to do it,” Eastham said. Like many local volunteer firefighters, Eastham sees the fire service as his most critical work. His day job is just for the money. Zack Hoopes, The (Carlisle) Sentinel.
ALLENTOWN _ The federal government is poised to quit counting hemp, marijuana’s sober and versatile cousin, among the most dangerous class of substances. Both chambers of Congress voted this week to pass a Farm Bill that removes hemp — cannabis plants with a near-zero amount of the chemical compound that gets you stoned — from the Controlled Substance Act. If President Donald Trump signs the bill into law as expected, growing hemp for commercial purposes will be soon be legal across the country. What precisely “soon” means is up to the discretion of federal and state regulators, who intend to keep a close eye on anyone interested in planting some seeds. Here are some tentative answers to what comes next. Andrew Wagaman, The (Allentown) Morning Call.
EXCHANGE-IMMIGRANT MINER MASSACRE
HAZLETON _ By digging into facts about a massacre of immigrant coal miners more than a century ago in Lattimer, archaeologist Paul Shackel uncovered a perspective on immigration in the Hazleton area today. Shackel and his students from the University of Maryland, where he is an anthropology professor, have spent the last eight summers on archaeological digs in Lattimer and the villages of Pardeesville and Eckley. Archaeology, he hopes, will help people with roots in Hazleton recognize that what their ancestors endured after arriving from Eastern Europe to mine coal compares with today’s Hispanic immigrants, who work in distribution centers and meat packing. Kent Jackson, The (Hazleton) Standard-Speaker.