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Posts Tagged → incinerator

No snow plows: Harrisburg’s new policy

Former Harrisburg mayor Linda Thompson had issues, no question about it, and she’d probably be the first to admit it.

But at least she got the snowy streets plowed.

This is something the new “brilliant” administration is not doing. They’re a failure on this basic count.

I guess that if your election competition is artificially removed, so that “winning” is practically guaranteed, you might think that it’s easy, this governing stuff.

If our streets are not going to be plowed, then what is the role of government?

UPDATE: Fifteen minutes after this post went up, a snow plow cleared a lane here in Uptown Harrisburg.  First time all winter. I cannot claim responsibility, but I will admit to being surprised. I had been under the impression that the city’s snow plows had all been sold off to pay for Andy Giorgione’s incinerator debt.

Harrisburg’s new parking scam

Today I parked in a Harrisburg municipal garage. Got my ticket when I entered, and tried to pay when I returned four hours later.

Several poorly written, hand-written notes on lined paper were taped to the payment kiosk. These notes said that the kiosk was now taking only exact payment, that no refunds were being given, that inserting your credit card to pay could result in the permanent loss of your card, and that receipts slips were not printing.

kiosk 2

In other words, you might mistakenly over-pay, because few people carry exact cash for anything, the machine would not give you a receipt for proof that you had overpaid, and you’d get no change back.  What happens if you are in a rush to exit the garage and get on your way to your next destination?  You might just leave a few extra bucks behind to save the time…no doubt that’s part of the purpose.

And we are not talking about nickels and dimes, but dollars only. It cost sixteen bucks to park in the garage for the four hours I was up at the Capitol. That is four dollars an hour, or four quarters for fifteen minutes of parking time (as opposed to one quarter for ten or fifteen minutes like it was until last year). It is a huge amount of money for parking.

And on top of the rip-off parking price, you get zero service, theft of your change due back, and no receipt to prove you did indeed pay.

Harrisburg has some serious challenges, and this parking scam is going to make recovery worse. One of the ways the city is supposed to re-coup its bad debt on the incinerator is lease out the parking garages. Well, here ya go; here is the natural result of that leasing arrangement: All rip-off, no service, outrageous prices, no due process. Really hope the “geniuses” who thought this up are held accountable for this failure.

Wait a minute! The guys who ripped us all off with the incinerator debt never got held accountable, and now we have a whole new set of rip-off guys milking us in new ways. I guess it just doesn’t end, until every taxpayer will have moved from the city and abandoned the place to the crows and the weasels.

Harrisburg’s descent marked by stupid stuff

Harrisburg City now charges cars at over-time meters $30.00, and $50.00 if you don’t respond within four days.

It’s an egregious amount of money to pay for a stupid meter violation.

Four days is hardly enough time in this day and age to do anything. If you’ve got a job, kids, and volunteer work, the ticket either lays on your car seat for two days or sits on your kitchen desk for a week before you get to it. That’s normal. Now, Harrisburg City is engaging in predatory behavior.

Remind me to avoid meetings downtown, and to invite people to meetings away from the city, where parking is not a predatory scheme to rip off citizens so rip-off artists can stay out of jail.

That’s what this is about: Making money to cover costs that were incurred through the incinerator scandal.

Good luck with rebuilding our beloved city by chasing away the people you need.

Nevin Mindlin Endorses Dan Miller for Mayor of Harrisburg

Yesterday, one-time Independent candidate for Harrisburg City mayor, Nevin Mindlin, endorsed one-time Democratic candidate Dan Miller.

Miller is now running as the Republican-endorsed candidate, because he collected over 300 Republican signatures for that position on the ballot. Just in case.

Miller is a strong threat to the Papenfuse campaign that was literally measuring the draperies and assigning executive positions a day after winning the four-way Democratic primary, assuming they had de facto won the general election.

This race is a rare toss-up. What role the elected mayor has vis-a-vis the state-appointed Harrisburg Receiver (Gen. Lynch) is unclear, but at least it is a bully pulpit. The mayor can call for criminal investigations into the Harrisburg Debt Debacle, or he can not do so. Dan is likely to call for investigations, Papenfuse is disinclined.

With just weeks to go until Election Day, it is hard to know how this will end. One thing for sure I do know, and that is how politics makes for strange bedfellows….

Words worth repeating

http://newslanc.com/2013/08/18/parties-at-center-of-attorney-general-investigation-of-harrisburg-incinerator-deeply-involved-in-lcswma-deal/

Harrisburg Auction Does Well

With the moose head, elk rack, and bison skull in the back of my pickup truck, I can look past Guernsey’s poor organization that kept me and dozens of other buyers standing in line, in the heat, for no apparent reason.

Today’s bidding at the carousel on City Island was surprising. People were paying top dollar for every little item brought before them. Auctions typically have “nests” of buyers who are interested in particular types of things. Today, bidding was highly competitive across the entire audience and from all corners of the room.

Once again, Steve Reed may have screwed up, but it’s rare that screw-ups get redeemed so well. The cit
-tay is raking in big cash. Ironic as it is that the warehouse full of artifacts is literally in the shadow of the anchor, errr, incinerator.

I’m sad to see this part of our city’s history end. But if the address on the crate holding my moose is any indication, it’s a period and way of doing business we need to improve on in the future. The crate says :”To Brian Kelley, Museum, S 19th Street…,” which is the exact location of the city’s incinerator. What kind of a loony bin was being run here?

PA Turnpike’s Bi-Partisan Crookedness

Reports emanating from the criminal investigation of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and prosecution of many of its top officials show a culture of corruption.

By both major political parties, that is.

Whichever political party was in power at the time (Governor’s office, PA legislature) got the lion’s share, 60%, of the Turnpike contracts steered to the private contracting companies of its choice. The “minority” party had to settle for 40%. That was the arrangement for decades between the party leaders.

Both parties treated public taxpayer money there as nothing more than a slush fund for party use. No Republican watchdogs here, folks.

This culture of corruption was mirrored in Harrisburg, where both Democrats and Republicans ate up hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money in a bi-partisan orgy of self interest. Now, it is difficult to get law enforcers from either party, whether it is Dauphin County DA Ed Marsico or PA AG Kathleen Kane, to investigate the Harrisburg mess. Each one has allegiances to their respective party, each of which has well-known members involved in the criminal corruption there.

All the more need, then, for greater activism on the fringes of the party system. Republicans who are not part of the Republican party system hold the greatest promise for reforming this sickness. Principle must triumph over profit.

Calling General Lynch to Attention

General William Lynch, Harrisburg’s new receiver tasked with overseeing the further disembowelment of the Pennsylvania Capital, says that his office has no role to play in a criminal investigation.

He says it’s neither his job to conduct one, nor should he be calling for one.

Let me try to piece this together….Lynch is a Republican, like me, but he is trying to actually raise taxes on the handful of remaining Harrisburg City residents who still pay taxes. Despite already having a phenomenally high tax rate, Harrisburg is now supposed to raise them even further. That is according to a Republican leader. Hmmmmm…. I am not happy about that, either from the unsustainability of such a move, nor from the perspective that Republicans traditionally have sought to keep taxes low.

Another oddity is, here sits a law-and-order military man, a general. He’s not a corporal, but a general, the highest rank possible. And he doesn’t want to say that he supports a criminal inquiry into the $350 million debt debacle fueled by insider greed?

Generals are supposed to epitomize (and thereby advocate for) the highest reaches and standards of ethical behavior and conduct. So why is a general now saying that a criminal probe is of no interest to him? Sure, he doesn’t have to pursue it himself, but his predecessor David Unkovic called for one after just a few months on the job. If a crime occurred, as it surely appears to most observers, then why isn’t this leader seeking punishment?

Lynch was recently quoted saying that “There is no money putting people in jail,” which sounds like crime DOES pay in his book. Something is fishy here, folks. A decade of political cover-ups and bipartisan feeding at the piggy trough known as Harrisburg has created a bipartisan web of mutual crime and shared interest in keeping the crime uninvestigated. From what we see, Lynch is playing to that, not bringing the fresh light we needed and expected from the Receiver.

Finally, A Sign of Life in Harrisburg

Finally, there’s a sign of life in Harrisburg.

Tonight I attended the candidates debate between Democrat Rob Teplitz and Republican John McNally. It was held at the MidTown Bookstore, owned by leftist activist Eric Papenfuse. While his business can’t be hurt by hosting these debates (a bunch have been held there in the past), Eric still gets kudos for opening his doors to the community as a common gathering place. Thank you, Eric.

Kudos also go to Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, the founder of Harrisburg Hope, the convening organization. Alan puts a significant amount of his own time into these efforts, and the community benefits. Way to go, Alan, thank you.

As a former candidate, the format allowed me to ask a question of each candidate, and I did. Alvin Q. Taylor, also a former state senate candidate for the Democratic Party, was also allowed to ask a question, but he got in about ten questions each for McNally and Teplitz. Maybe they were more accusations than questions.

My question for Rob Teplitz: “Knowing that our individual Second Amendment civil rights are a big part of Central Pennsylvania’s culture, including both Democrats and Republicans, do you support more gun control efforts, or more crime control efforts?”

Teplitz disavowed knowing much about guns, because he has had little exposure to them, he said. He said the question posed a false set of choices, because the correct answer is both, not necessarily gun control versus crime control. Teplitz said that he supports hunting and the hunting culture, and that guns should not be in the hands of felons, domestic abusers, or children.

Liberals always mistakenly equate the Second Amendment with “hunting,” and they mistakenly equate gun control with crime control, but that last group he listed caught me by surprise. Like me and like a huge number of the children in Dauphin County, my own kids have been raised with a gun in their hands. Each of my three children has been shooting guns off the cabin porch since they were three or four years old. Nina asked for and received a rifle for her 12th birthday, and when she turned 14, she asked for a handgun. With an arsenal of knives already in his responsible possession, 9-year-old Isaac is almost ready to get his own gun. That kid can shoot.

To say that guns don’t belong in the hands of children is foolish. That is exactly where guns belong so that kids can learn how to use them properly. Like sex education before it, we need mandatory gun safety education in all schools.

To say that the beloved Second Amendment is about hunting is also silly. The Right to Bear Arms is enshrined in all of the state constitutions as well. It is about individual liberty, not duck hunting. Teplitz should take a page out of the Casey or Holden play books, answer his NRA questionnaire, and seek out an NRA A rating, but I doubt he will.

My question for John McNally was, ” As immediate past-chairman of the Dauphin County Republican Party and a quintessential Party insider, you received unprecedented financial and logistical support from the Republican Party and elected officials in your primary campaign against two other fellow Republican candidates this spring. Knowing that you owe your success to their intervention, just how much will you actually be able to maintain independence from party leaders, as you say you will in your ads?”

Thinking quickly on his feet while turning beet red, McNally said that it was me who had sent him an email right after the April 24th election “thanking” him for splitting the vote, as though I had somehow magically won the primary. McNally got it all wrong factually, but give that guy credit for both thinking on his feet and trying to turn back around the pointed question. He just might be a politician yet.

[My April 24, 2012 email to John McNally was sent at 10:33 PM and says “John, Congrats. You owe me for splitting the vote! Good luck against Taylor.”]

I gave him a raised fist pump, which he acknowledged, and he was then off to the races, accusing Teplitz of being a bigger insider and of taking more special interest money, etc etc etc. Give McNally credit for not answering the question, too. Most candidates who duck the question look foolish, but McNally attacked his opponent with such gusto that the audience was carried along with it. I like to think it was me he was really thinking about as he vented real frustration on poor bewildered Rob Teplitz. And while we are pitying people, pity the poor bewildered Republicans who voted for “the conservative outsider” John McNally (the consummate liberal Republican insider), whose campaign literature set new records for blatant horse hooey. Hand it to him, he sold himself as right, left, up down, green, red, blue and yellow all at the same time to the same people, and he got away with it. Talent like that, lying or not, requires earnest recognition. You got it goin’ on, John!

About 80% of the debate was about education, 5% about character flaws, and the remaining 15% was about other policy stuff, like abortion, racial politics, political funding, and who gets to own the fiery crash Harrisburg educational system and $350 million incinerator debt. It was a good debate.

Included in the follow-up policy wonk questions were angry denunciations, plaintive pleas, and weirdo whining for legalized pot from a yenta from Brooklyn wearing a tye-dyed tee-shirt and an explosive Jewfro. It was a really good debate.

Me? I enjoyed sitting with local coroner Graham Hetrick and sharing observations. I also really enjoyed asking McNally the one pointed question he will ever get in his career.

Because taking risks, making sacrifices, and facing adversity builds character, I really want to see the Republican Party stay the hell out of primary races, and let the candidates stand on their own two feet. I want to be able to vote for people who have strong character, chiseled out of hard work, taking bullets, and drinking buckets of crap. Sadly, this race does not include anyone meeting those criteria.

But Alvin Q. Taylor, running his uphill write-in campaign, he IS a character, and as with many other disenchanted Democrats and Republicans around here, he just might get my protest vote.