Diamonds to retailer Al Boscov. While some people have criticized the viability of his vision of a thriving Mall at Steamtown in Scranton, you gotta give the guy credit for his commitment to our area. At the same time he said he’d buy the embattled shopping center if that’s what it takes to keep it open, he announced improvement projects totaling more than $1 million at his Wilkes-Barre and Scranton stores.
Coal to Park Management. The management team behind the Sherman Hills housing complex is bailing, pending the sale of the Wilkes-Barre facility to New Jersey-based Treetop Development. While we’d be surprised if anyone is sad to see Park Management leave, watching them bolt seems so fitting, doesn’t it? This is the management team that seemingly allowed violent crime and other illicit activity to fester so long that it became a cancer for our community. To up and leave just as it’s being required to make security improvements puts a nice end to the Park Management story line here.
Diamonds to Wilkes-Barre’s city council. The group passed an ordinance this week requiring the silencing of cellphones during meetings. It’s a small measure, to be sure, but a step in the right direction to eliminate distractions from meetings where crucial policy decisions are made. While a ringtone humorously sounded shortly after the ordinance passed, let’s hope council members and residents alike take the new policy seriously.
Coal to the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust. The owners of Wyoming Valley Mall gave a 90-day eviction notice to Kids Innovating Sound & Stage (KISS) Theatre Co. because it needs the space for a restaurant tenant. While you can’t begrudge a private business for making a business decision, you can begrudge PREIT’s counter-offer: to put KISS in a space that would’ve required significant remodeling and then charge them more money each month for it.
Diamonds to the Avoca Borough Council. In an era that (rightly) pushes for regionalization of services, and in a state that literally incentivizes it, Avoca was smart to pursue a path toward a regionalized, multi-municipality police force. Yet when it completed its study, it found a shared department would actually cost the borough more than it’s spending now. While we’re all for regionalization, it has to be done in a way that makes sense. If Avoca’s research is correct, this is an example where going it alone is the more fiscally responsible option.
Coal to Highmark Inc. The Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate that is making a grab for Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania has shed nearly 600 jobs in the past eight months, citing drastically reduced profits. The insurer’s profits fell from $444.7 million in 2011 to $246.5 million in 2012, according to a Tribune news report. If the company’s finances are so dire that it can’t support its payroll, how can it successfully run a merged operation with our Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate?