Thursday, March 31, 2011
Well it's Opening Day for baseball and it's March 31st. Baseball used to the Reds for opening day and in April. Snow and rain threaten most of the schedule.
Will the Phillies pitching and hitting stand the test of 162 games. Will there be a new San Francisco? The calendar says spring and everyone is 0-0.
What is the most important magic number in April? It would be 19. It the Pittsburgh Pirates don't win 82 games it will clinch their 19th straight losing season. I did see this franchise win a World Series in my lifetime.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
With the budget proposal of Governor Corbett on the table most school districts in the area have big problems and budget gaps on the horizon. With the constant in fighting among board member for the last three decades the norm, no one has sounded off about any potential budget issues in the district.
With measure bordering drastic being discussed in Miton, Shikellamy, Mifflinburg, Lewisburg, Selinsgrove, and Midd-West, does Shamokin Area have any armour to stand up against Tom Coporate's tax cuts.
Read this little ditty about team Tom-Tom.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
One of the first sounds of the upcoming summer I love to hear is the Grand Carousel at Knoebels Amusement Park. It is the first thing you here when you open your car door. Although this sound is still a month away, maybe the Beach Boys could chase this winter away. Here are my two favorites:
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I don't comment too much on pop culture but the world lost a shining star early this morning. While in the near term, Taylor will be remembered for her 8 marriages as much as her two Oscars and many personal demons. She will always be remembered for her style, beauty and transition from child to adult actor.
You have to look at Taylor's work with the disease AIDS that will last the test of time. Back in the early to mid-1980's when AIDS was called "gay cancer" by the media, Taylor stood up and stood by the side of former co-star Rock Hudson who was probably the first big name celebrity to die from the disease. At that point in time and looking back, the act was brave and courageous. Taylor was way ahead of curve in humanity and we are still trying to catch to catch up. In this day, will humanity catch back up to her?
While my only ties to Taylor was sharing the same birthday date and her visit to a local amusement park in the 1988, we could look at her charitable work as stepping stone for us all.
In another local tie to the area, Taylor won her first Oscar in the movie BUtterfield 8. The novel by the same name was written by Pottsville native John O'Hara.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
This letter was written by a good friend......food for thought.
To the editor: I am writing this letter in response to your article on the opinion page of The News-Item on March 15. As a retired teacher, watching what is going on with our economy and what is being done to the teachers in Wisconsin, and what is being asked of our teachers in this great state of Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states, I can no longer sit back and not speak out.
You expressed your opinion that teachers should go along with the idea of making financial sacrifices to help our state's economic woes. You made an attempt to balance the argument with the following paragraph. "Many critics of educators wouldn't last long in their shoes, whether it's trying to get through to the wandering mind of an 8-year-old or control a room full of 10th-graders who suddenly have all the answers. So let's not allow this to be a case of unjustified teacher-bashing. We're all in this together." I'll give you an "A" for effort, but it IS teacher bashing and we are NOT all in this together, not by a long shot.
Now, my opinion.
I am enraged at the direction our country is taking in dealing with the teaching profession in conjunction with the economy. Again, it seems the only solution to our state's deficit and the national deficit is to go after teachers.
Allow me to paint you a picture and then ask you if you see anything wrong with it. First, let me start with our country's financial situation. As our country's economy goes, so does most of our state economies. So let's take a look at our federal government's answers in dealing with our economy.
We taxpayers are paying for the billions of dollars for the stimulus and the bailouts, but I believe the stimulus and the bailouts saved our economy. At the very least, the stimulus helped states save thousands of jobs, but why did our government stop there? Has anything been done about bank CEOs giving millions, if not tens of millions, in bonuses each year after WE just bailed them out? Has anything been done to get corporations, including oil companies, to pay their fair share of taxes? Has anything been done to stop corporations and major companies from shipping jobs overseas? Has anything been done to get the banks (again, after WE bailed them out with our money) to make more money available for low-interest loans to individuals and small businesses? Has anything been done to get the wealthiest of our country, men and women, to pay their proportionate share of taxes? So where will we go for revenue? Education.
Anything wrong with this picture?
Secondly, let's look at the states. Let's look at what just happened in Wisconsin. Gov. Walker took office with a huge debt. What did he do first to deal with that debt? He gave corporations more tax breaks, but he knew what he could really do to deal with the debt - take resources from the teachers and strip them of their bargaining rights. He did not do this to the firefighters and police officers, which he should not any more than he should teachers.
How about Pennsylvania's Gov. Corbett? What is his answer to our state's financial problems? Make sure a company, which will make millions on top of millions of dollars, digging our shale does not pay its share of taxes. Why not have this corporation pay its fair share? Because we can go after teachers.
Anything wrong with this picture?
Why is it so easy to go after teachers? Well, first of all, they are overpaid. They are just glorified babysitters. They only work nine months a year. They get all holidays off. They are unworthy of the benefits they receive, health insurance in particular. Therefore, they are disrespected and unappreciated so the general public will be behind political leaders, the ones to fix the economy, and will definitely be behind busting their unions.
A teacher is special. What a teacher does is beyond compare. The work that is done at home every night. The preparations during the summer months. The pressure of the job every day to get every student to learn as much as possible. Teachers are not only the daytime guardians of all our children, they are responsible for molding every child to become an asset to society. Yes, our county's future is in the hands of our teachers. Teachers are worth every penny that they get. They did not steal those pennies from the taxpayers, they bargained for them.
Month after month after month, I hear politicians complaining about our students falling behind other counties in math and science. They complain about the dropout rates and shout about the continuing decline in our public schools. Who do we blame? We blame the teachers. So what can be done to help teachers do a better job? Fire. We need to attract less qualified people into the profession. Offer less so our best minds will have to go elsewhere to make a living. Offer less so that our best minds, who are already teaching, leave the profession to go elsewhere. Offer less so that there is low morale for those who choose to stay in the profession. Offer less so that the people who are directly responsible for shaping our future feel disrespected and unappreciated.
Anything wrong with this picture?
Not only am I angry, but also scared. Maybe the goal of one of our political parties is to gradually do away with public education all together and have education become totally private. What scares me about this is the continuation of the widening gap between classes. We seem to be on a path to having two classes in our society, the wealthy and the poor. This is the picture that I see being painted.
My only hope is that what is happening in Wisconsin and what is happening in our state is waking a sleeping giant. And how do I see this picture - teachers leading the way.
"So let's not allow this to be a case of unjustified teacher-bashing." It already is.
"We're all in this together." No, we are not.
Monday, March 21, 2011
On Tuesday, my eldest son will start practice for his last year in Little League major baseball (10-12 year-old division). While all prospects look good that he will continue to play past 12 year-old, some of that innocence will be lost be lost going forward. Win, lose or draw it has been a nice ride.
I will start my 5th season being a high school umpire. My schedule will be kind of hectic until mid-July but I still enjoy it. Play ball!!!!!!!
Posted by Coal Region Voice at 7:21 PM
Friday, March 18, 2011
In today's News-Item and Daily-Item, Northumberland County Commissioner explains his meltdown. Here is the News-Item version.
What will it cost the taxpayers to get new attorneys up to par on current county lawsuits???
Mr. Phillips will be deciding Ms. Best's fate today. Anyone taking any bets?????
Tom Corbett on his visit to Lackawanna County said a gas tax could hurt PA.
But Corbett said he fears the industry will transfer gas well-drilling equipment and money for investment to other states where severance taxes on gas extraction might be lower if Pennsylvania imposes a severance tax on gas.
It's not a lie if you believe it. Is the gas industry leaving other states with a severance tax??? In the article, Corbett wants coorporate headquarters located in PA. For contributions????
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Last week PA Governor Tom Corbett unloaded his budget on the citizens of Pennsylvania. Although PA is faced with a 4 billion dollar budget shortfall, the budget didn't have any new tax increases, but took an atomic bomb to education in PA.
Whatever you feelings about education in Pennsylvania are, the governor punted. His proposal if passed and it does seem likely will drastically change the education landscape in PA for years to come. Not only were there steep cuts to the local level but post-secondary levels were pushed back to 1983 funding
I my neck of the woods, you could look at the potential problems at these schools.
You could get a hint was coming when the PA Senate introduced SB1 long before Corbett took the oath. SB1 is the school voucher program. A 4 billion dollar budget shortfall and the vouchers are the number one priority?????
If passed in the present form, the budget will do the following; increase tuition for college, increase class size in most schools, raise property taxes, and simply lose a generation of students. There are people from outside the commonwealth that think our universities have something to offer.
What Tom Corbett really said to the people of Pennsylvania is that the people your sons and daughters spent the most time with and have the most influence on are the problem with society today. Shame on you Governor? Who ever said you have a friend in Pennsylvania??????
There will be a public memorial service at the Hershey Theater this Saturday at 2 pm to honor Major Dick Winters. Winters passed away on January 2nd and was buried on January 8th in a private service. The event begins at 2 pm and tickets are free, but you must call the Hershey Theater in advance.
WGAL TV will televise the event live at 2 pm. They will also air a 2003 interview titled “Duty Bound: A Tribute to Dick Winters” prior to the service at 1:30 p.m. on March 19.
Winters and the members of Easy Company were immortalized in Stephen Ambrose's book, Band of Brothers, and the HBO miniseries of the same name.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Colin Klebon and the rest of the Bucknell Bison earned a birth in the NCAA Tournament with a big win over Lafayette on Friday. It is the first appearance for the Bison since 2006.
Congrats go out to Coach Paulsen, who after two sub-par years out of the gate, gets the Bison back on the national map.
Mount Carmel Area girls' basketball season came to end last night. The Red Tornadoes did capture their first district title in 26 years years. The future looks good.....keep your heads up.
Good luck to Shamokin's Wes Tillet who goes for AA gold this afternoon in Hershey.
Friday, March 11, 2011
It will take weeks to sort out the damage that has occurred in Japan and Pennsylvania over the past two days. If you living and breathing and are able to get on with you life, maybe now is chance to be thankful. At any given moment, life can change.
Monday, March 7, 2011
On Sunday, the Sojka Psycho's were our in full force during a snowstorm. The home fans were treated to a big semifinal win and great defensive play by Patriot League player of the year Mike Muscala. The Lehigh Mountain Hawks cried foul but watch the video I shot.
Bucknell will host the Patriot League final Friday at 4:45 pm against Lafayette. The game will be live on ESPN2.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Spread the Word. Pennsylvania is coming to Harrisburg.
Dear Friends and Allies,
As I wrote to some of you before, I will be riding my bike ~110 miles to Harrisburg from my house in Pine Grove Mills to do my own small part to stand up to Corbett and the gas companies. It just seems like the right thing to do.
I will be joining an existing event on Wednesday, March 9th that PennEnvironment has organized. It is a protest of Corbett's budget and its utter lack of accountability around natural gas in general and about the severance tax in particular. Several organizations active on the issue will be there. It is at 1:30 pm (see and circulate attached flier). I should note that what I am doing is not intended to supercede that event in any way. Nor is what I plan to do after the event in any way sponsored by PennEnvironment or any organization. But it is a good place to meet other concerned citizens who might want to go with me one small step further.
The Corbett administration's actions for the gas industry are out of control. Two recent decisions pushed me to this point. The first was to yank DCNR's ability to assess potential impacts on state forest and park land and the second was gutting DEP's ability to monitor air quality from drilling sites. For me this is very personal because I love the forest. Every year I spend hundreds of hours in Rothrock, Bald Eagle, Moshannon, Tioga, Forbes, and Sprowl on my mountain bike, on hikes, and camping. Many of you have your own stories with our state forests.
It is also about the quality of our water and air and my hopes and fears as a father. Who wants to wake up and have your child bleeding from their noses because of toxic chemicals in their water. Who wants their neighbors sick from gas in the water. Who wants to breathe evaporating benzene? Not me.
I am riding my bike there because because it is better for the forest, for the person, for water, for air, for noise, for the climate, and for all of us than gas trucks, well-pads, natural gas, and frack water are. I am riding my bike because it means something better and brings me in touch with life and living. As a citizen of this commonwealth, the commonwealth's government should help me and my fellow common people to reach the common good.
So today I called the governor's office and asked to speak with Corbett. The staffer with whom I spoke was polite and listened to my grievances about shale drilling. I told her about the perception (some might say...fact) that Governor Corbett is governing for gas industry profiteers instead of for Pennsylvanians, their communities, their water, and our commonwealth's forests. She told me that all requests to meet with the governor have to be submitted in writing. I could not talk to him on the phone or just arrange a meeting no matter my concerns. I understand. You can't let just any yahoo in.
Okay. It will be delivered in writing.
After the budget protest I plan to go to the governor's office and request a meeting with the governor. Because I seriously doubt that they will just let me in to see the him, even if 5, 20, or 200 people went in with me, I will bring a letter requesting a meeting and submit it to the office. I will do this in person, with some insistence, instead of through the faceless email system or fax system. It will also be something of a prepared statement though i don't know that I will be able to read it.
The point, I suppose, is to put another real face to this. I am tired of this. I am worried. I am afraid. I am seeing and hearing too many angry and unheard people. I am also very motivated and believe that we must demand a better way for us, for water, for the forests. Letters aren't working. Protests keep failing. I write to my representative, Scott Conklin, and I get very short replies back and no solid action. My state senator, Jake Corman, is doing the gas industry's bidding. As I told the staff worker today, "We don't have the hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy access to governors or future governors. He HAS to talk with us. He is OUR governor."
So, I have to do what I have to do. If you would like to join the rally and then join me afterward to deliver my request for a meeting (and perhaps your own as well?), as individuals, I would love you to do so. It would be an honor to be joined by good people who deserve better. I suggest you bring letters requesting meetings too. Even if we have to walk away at the end of the day in Limbo, waiting for replies to our requests, at least we will have tried and started something new. Perhaps it will become something more. Maybe I'll end up looking like a complete fool.
I don't know. I just know that something must be done differently.
It is a modest goal. Please join me if you can.
Please forward this message to other concerned people and sympathetic press if you know any. People can RSVP to me here at email@example.com
With great hope,
p.s. I will ride in rain or snow also. The only way I won't is if it's icy.
Go, Peter, GO!
Posted by Coal Region Voice at 8:26 AM
Thursday, March 3, 2011
I would like to share an email by Jove Graham inviting subscribers to the Central Susquehanna Citizens Coalition.
Central Susquehanna Citizens Coalition
March 3, 2011
Thursday, March 3rd, 7:30pm
LC Forum, Elaine Langone Center #272
The Bucknell Institute for Public Policy will host the last of its three panel discussions TONIGHT to examine the effect of Marcellus Shale development on Pennsylvania communities. This last event will focus on the issue of a "severance tax" on the drilling industry. The two speakers will be PA State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) and PA House Representative Rick Marabito (D-83). This event is free and open to the public. For more details, contact Abe Feuerstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope that you can attend this forum as a chance to directly converse with our elected representative, Sen. Yaw, about this important issue. Below we have assembled a list of key facts regarding the severance tax, and some suggested questions for Sen. Yaw--we hope that these will inspire you to ask similar questions of your own tomorrow night. For in-depth analysis of this issue, we recommend the PA Budget & Policy Center's website at http://www.pennbpc.org/severance-tax
The 14 states with greater natural gas production than PA have severance taxes, and they have booming industries that have grown at an average of 5% per year since 2004.
During the recent recession, the states with severance taxes fared better than those without because of high energy prices generating significant tax revenue.
Natural gas drilling generates predictable costs to the state (new roads, road reconstruction, bridge repair) and unpredictable costs (environmental hazard cleanup, emergency medical services, additional environmental inspection and testing). Severance tax revenue in other states is often shared with local governments to recoup these costs.
PA's proposed tax (in the House-passed bill) is an effective 7.3% tax rate, which is comparable to or lower than Montana (7.9%), New Mexico (8.4%), Wyoming (10.2%) and West Virginia (5.8%).
Studies in western states have shown that companies go where the gas is located, and that different tax rates in different states have little impact on their decisions.
PA gas is going to be more profitable because wells are cheaper to drill than in other shale formations, the reserves are larger, and PA is closer to the northeastern market.
PA already exempts the drilling industry from property taxes, taxes on drilling equipment, and most companies (LLCs) pay the lower Personal Income Tax rates instead of the corporate tax rates.
The drilling industry often cites a 2008 "Penn State Report" that claimed a severance tax would reduce drilling activity by 30%. This report was the work of two professors, one who has left Penn State, and was funded by the Marcellus Shale Coalition (an industry trade group), a fact that was never originally disclosed by the authors. Dean Easterling of Penn State has since said that there were "flaws in the way the report was written and presented to the public," and suggested "the authors may well have crossed the line between policy analysis and policy advocacy." The PA Budget and Policy Center, a Harrisburg-based nonpartisan group has said the report overstates the 30% figure, overstates industry tax impacts and economic impacts, and doesn't disclose its mathematical modeling assumptions so that they could be reviewed by other experts, so it basically serves the narrow financial interests of its funder, the gas industry.
Suggested Questions for Senator Yaw:
1. Former DEP Secretary John Hanger, whom you praised in Tuesday's Daily Item newspaper, has called on DEP to order immediate testing for all public water systems for radium or radioactive pollutants. It seems that a severance tax on the drilling industry, who makes this testing necessary, would be a very sensible way to pay for this type of testing. Without the severance tax, the cost would fall to the water utility companies, or taxpayers. Why would you favor the gas companies over the water companies or taxpayers on this issue?
2. Studies in Wyoming and Utah in the past decade have both found that reductions in their oil severance tax did not increase production, while raising tax rates had negligible impact on production. Even so, let's assume for a moment that implementing a severance tax did somehow slow production. The natural gas is not going anywhere--companies that want to harvest the Marcellus Shale gas have to do it here in PA. The price of natural gas will also surely go up, not down, in the future. Thus, the longer it takes to harvest, the more money for the industry, the more long-term careers for our workers, the more motivation for companies to invest in staying here, and a longer period of prosperity for Pennsylvania. So even in a worst-case scenario, if a severance tax slowed production, why wouldn't you support such a measure that helped build a longer-term, stable economic situation for everyone involved, while also providing revenue to the Commonwealth?
3. The 14 states with greater gas production than PA have severance taxes, and booming industries. Pennsylvania, unlike other states, already exempts drilling companies from paying property taxes on oil and gas reserves, and drilling equipment is not taxed, either. Most natural gas companies are also registered as LLC's which mean they pay the same Personal Income tax (3.07%) that individuals do, not the corporate income tax (9.99%). From the perspective of any other industry who plays by the rules, this is not a "free market" competitive situation, it is basically a "free ride." Companies go where the gas is; different tax rates in the western states have not resulted in more or less investment from state to state. Why would you support a free ride for one industry, and also deprive PA of the same revenue that other states enjoy?
Thanks for all that you do.
Jove, on behalf of the CSCC
Central Susquehanna Citizens Coalition