Letters To The Editor 2/15/2019

February 15, 2019

Exclusionary pattern

Editor: Do citizens think the two major parties should decide who can run for president of the United States?

Democrats and Republicans undemocratically control the nation’s election process. They also want to control how we think about potential candidates outside of their influence. Look at the hysterical reaction to former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz thinking about running for president as an independent.

Our political system is a mess. Ordinary people suffer, with elected officials who are tone deaf to the needs and concerns of the people. Voters should decide who runs and gets elected. Currently, we don’t.

Too many states, including Pennsylvania, still have closed primaries. Independents, the fastest-growing voting group, are locked out in closed-primary states, even though all voters pay for the primaries. Closed primaries are a spoiler to an open and healthier election system.

Parties and the politicians love to decide things before they get to the voters. Now they say that Schultz’s candidacy could “spoil” it for someone else. The Democratic and Republican parties are spoilers to an open and healthy democracy.

A recent editorial by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette stated: “The ‘spoiler’ argument, which is as old as political entitlement and opportunism, is really undemocratic and un-American. It is undemocratic because, in a democracy, every candidate “spoils” it for every other candidate running. That’s the idea. It is un-American because no one is entitled to office, any office, or to any block of voters. And no one is entitled to limit another citizen’s choices.”

It’s time to address the real spoilers of democracy. Open the primaries in all states for the 2020 election. Let Schultz, and other candidates not coronated by the party establishment, bring their case to us. Power to the people, not the spoiled brat parties.






New, not improved

Editor: On Feb. 11, my wife and I drove to the new Lackawanna County Government Center at the former Globe store in Scranton to pay our real estate taxes.

What a circus it was once my wife went inside. There were only two clerical people handling the tax payments. They were doing a good job but the line was more than 25 people long.

Every person there at that time of day in the group was a senior citizen. Many of them used canes and other mobility aids. Understandably they had problems maneuvering around while standing. There were only three seats to be had for customers in the understaffed office.

By the way, where were the people to oversee this function? They should have been on hand to observe the fiasco in their new county facility.

While in line my wife spoke to a few elderly people who noted that they had gone over to the tax office at the Marketplace at Steamtown first to pay because there was no notification on their tax forms of the change in address.

Of the two elevators people were directed to use in the new facility, only one was working. I won’t even get into issues about parking in the area.




Much space wasted

Editor: I recently had the opportunity to visit the new Lackawanna County offices

in the old Globe store in Scranton and was shocked to see how much space was wasted.

I understand the building has six floors and approximately 264,000 square feet. I would bet that all of the county offices would fit on two floors, leaving about

176,000 square feet for potential rentals.

At $15 a square foot, the county potentially has given up approximately $2.6 million of yearly income that could have been used to pave roads or even help the Scranton School District.

This is a waste of taxpayer money.



Dangerous situation

Editor: Pennsylvania state troopers accept the dangers of their job. So do our loved ones. It’s the price we pay for serving our communities.

But we cannot accept it when a nonprofit tries to restrict the health care benefits for fellow troopers and their families. That’s exactly what will happen if behemoth UPMC disqualifies anyone who doesn’t use the Pittsburgh-based health provider and insurer as the primary provider of health services.

UPMC has moved to do that as of June 30. Highmark Health, a UPMC competitor, is the primary provider for troopers and, due to contractual obligations with the commonwealth, changes to our health care coverage cannot take place until 2020.

For six months or more, troopers and their families seeking care at a UPMC health care site potentially would need to prepay their health costs. This could prove insurmountable for the vast majority of troopers.

We dread the potential scenario, but this could happen: A trooper could be critically injured in the line of duty only to find expensive, long-term rehabilitation and recovery unprotected due to UPMC’s potentially unfair, draconian measures that seem to be contrary to its nonprofit status.

We always thought nonprofits were there to help their communities and serve the people who live there. What UPMC is doing more closely resembles corporate greed at its absolute worst.

We ask every legislator in the Pennsylvania General Assembly to support legislation that will soon be introduced to resolve this issue between Highmark and UPMC.

It’s inconceivable that those who protect our commonwealth could find themselves unprotected when it comes to health care. Troopers, their families and potentially millions of Pennsylvania who will be impacted by this must be protected.

Failure to do so literally could cost lives.