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Saturday, December 29, 2012

My top 10 wishes for NEPA in 2013

In no particular order and for no particular reason, and with no hope for most of them to actually happen anyway.

  1. Graft - That in the absence of pressure from the electorate, federal authorities continue to squeeze the elected elite in NEPA.  It's rather sad when you look at the number of "not so secretly" corrupt politicians in NEPA who continued to be re-elected year after year, only to fall to federal investigations and indictments.
  2. Electorate - See #1.  That the electorate in NEPA starts to think about qualifications and results when it comes to selecting individuals for public opposed to bizarre notions about what little coal patch someone grew up in, the ethnicity of a candidate or the idea that they may "scratch your back" if "you scratch theirs".
  3. Consolidation of Services - That we end small governments.  Please, someone do explain to me the cultural, political and economic rationale behind the separate governments in West Pittston, Exeter, Wyoming, West Wyoming, Forty Fort and the like?  As I drive through these towns (and many like them) it's insane to think that each little town duplicates services over and over and over again.  Of course we don't need to be naive about this:  the reason behind the duplicity is that it allows for the creation of multiple little kingdoms, complete with multiple little kings.  Time for that to end.  Towns can keep their names, if that makes some folks happy, but there's no reason for services to be duplicated across imaginary borders.
  4. Economy - That NEPA slowly be weened off public sector employment.  I'm convinced that a part of our economic troubles in the area has been an over-reliance of the government for employment.  Coming with that is the still lingering perception among many that the best jobs in NEPA are those that are funded with taxpayer dollars.  They aren't.  Period.  Local chambers of commerce and elected officials need to do more to encourage a vigorous private sector.  Militias are marshalled and politicians rushed into action at the mere thought of a threat to "Da Depot", yet we don't see nearly the same effort and sense of urgency when it comes to private sector employment concerns.
  5. Scranton - That banks will stop lending to the city, that revenues will continue to fall short of expenses and that city leaders will finally wake the Hell up.  If you are spending too much money, the first part of the solution is to stop spending more money.  The city can not and will not borrow its way into solvency.  Period.  As I have said repeatedly, Scranton already is's just we need to make it legal.
  6. Lackwanna College - That the school reconsiders the naming of the Mellow Theater.  See #1 & #2.  This is a powerful reminder of the chummy relationships that existed between power-brokers in NEPA and how the electorate in NEPA consistently turned a blind eye when faced with rampant corruption.  Bob Mellow was a thief while in office, so why is he being rewarded with this honor?
  7. Susquehanna River - That NEPA pays attention it it's greatest natural resource.  I can think of few more under-utilized natural treasures in NEPA.  We have a major river flowing through our area and yet we do very few things with and for it.  Maybe this comes from back in coal mining days when the river was viewed as little more than a glorified toilet and industrial waste highway.  Anyway, how about every town that sits along the river simply commit to keeping their shoreline clean and debris free in 2013?  It would be a start.
  8. Blogging - That all the good work undertaken by the likes of the NEPA BlogCon squirrel ladies and NEPA Blogs continue. Encouraging the open expression of ideas is an important element of a vibrant society, and I am firmly convinced that the Internet is a powerfully enabling tool in this arena.
  9. Media - That the professional local media outlets, be they print, radio, television or Internet, make the challenging of assumptions a priority in 2013.  I get it, WNEP (for example) has to cover every little local fire, and they have to interview, on camera, the witness who has the poorest grasp of the English language and the worst teeth.   Fine, we can all accept that as a cost of doing business.  But how about more investigative reporting on corruption?  How about some in-depth reporting on why the Scrantoon/Wilke-Boro/Hazelnut MSA has consistently had the highest unemployment in Pennsylvania?
  10. Tolerance - That the residents of NEPA be just a bit more tolerant in 2013.  People who are atheists are not immoral.  People who support the right of a woman to have an abortion are not baby-killers.  Gay folks are simply folks...who may behave differently in the privacy of their own homes than others do.  We don't all have to agree on every nuance of life, but we should all agree that someone else's difference is not a threat to our existence.  We need to stop demonizing, through our words and deeds, those who may not act like the majority.  

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