Friday, April 18, 2014

OUR OPINION: IS THIS A GOOD IDEA? Curb corruption with training

February 16. 2014 11:27PM


Let’s hope Luzerne County’s elected and appointed public servants consistently seek training and apply lessons learned from organizations such as these.

• Pennsylvania School Boards Association,

• The Pennsylvania Municipal League,

• The Association for Pennsylvania Municipal Management,

• County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania,

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Would it be a good idea to …

… discourage public corruption in Luzerne County by providing training to the area’s public servants in topics such as municipal management and ethics?

A letter writer who identified himself as Jack Dunn of Pittston pitched this notion in an opinion piece published in Sunday’s edition of The Times Leader. “One of the higher educational entities in the area, perhaps the community college, could develop an evening certificate course of perhaps 25 hours for code enforcement officers or other municipal employees that would cover the basics of local government, budgets, ethics and what should be expected of a public servant,” he wrote. “This also could be beneficial for those aspiring to serve the public as employees of municipal and county authorities.

“Something of a similar nature in a more compressed fashion of perhaps two or more evenings,” the letter stated, “could focus on newly elected township, borough, city and school board officials, to be held between Election Day and when they take office.”

We didn’t survey any elected officials about this idea or bounce it off the higher-ups at Luzerne County Community College. We want to know what you think.

Five years ago, the juvenile justice scandal that erupted in Luzerne County sent two county judges to prison and led to calls for court reforms here and across the state. In short order, the FBI’s corruption crackdown also revealed the criminal doings of dozens of public school directors, area business owners, county commissioners and others. Their actions perverted supposedly trusted institutions.

Collectively, the range of offenses suggests a culture of corruption that can’t be repaired simply by sweeping some of the offenders out of their public posts.

Might one component of fixing the problem be to offer ongoing educational programs?

For instance, in response to the so-called “kids for cash scandal,” Wilkes University faculty have created a free online course intended to keep more juveniles out of trouble — and out of courtrooms. Aimed at parents, educators and juvenile justice professionals, it supplies the information they need to know to help kids better handle difficult situations in school. It also advises adults on making changes in the way young people’s behavioral issues are handled at home, in schools and elsewhere.

Shouldn’t equal emphasis be placed on training for school board members? Township and borough officials? People who sit on county authorities and boards? County leaders?

Give us your feedback by sending a letter the editor or posting comments to this editorial at or

Likewise, share your ideas for improving the community and making area residents’ lives better. Maybe we’ll spotlight your suggestion in a future editorial and ask readers, “Would it be a good idea to …”

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