Their view: Thanks to Pens, NEPA’s cup runneth over

October 27th, 2017 5:01 pm

Diamonds to the National Hockey League, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and everyone else involved in bringing the NHL’s Stanley Cup to the F. M. Kirby Center on Wednesday. Yes, it was a copy of the original created specifically for such tours, and yes the event was only open to WB/S Penguins season ticket holders, but it was still a treat to see fans lined up from Public Square to Northampton Street, and to see the grinning faces on youngsters posing with the cup in media photos and videos. The fact that fans could also see the Prince of Wales Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy was a bonus. There are always legitimate questions about how much taxpayer money goes into funding arenas and facilities for professional teams, but this ancillary payoff for luring the local Penguins here made that debate moot for a day.

Coal to both the Wilkes-Barre City administration and the city’s police union leadership for letting disputes fester and harden so thoroughly. Mayor Tony George has been at odds with the thin blue line from the start, a surprise unto itself considering he was once the chief of police. And union officials have acted in ways any outsider would reasonably question, but the fault is less important than the need to find real resolutions. These are not little fiefdoms battling among themselves without impact beyond their borders. Both city and police officials are public servants with critical jobs. It may be time to work things out or step aside and let others step in.

Diamonds to the Luzerne Foundation’s ongoing service to the county’s nonprofit organizations, most recently exhibited with the annual Millennium Circle grant awarded to Brandon’s Forever Home. The home works toward the important goal of finding permanent homes for foster children, and is certainly worthy of the $25,000 grant announced Tuesday, but the event highlighted one of the Foundation’s many efforts to let donors decide where their money goes while highlighting the various agencies in need. The Millennium Circle is open to anyone wiling to pledge $2,000 to the fund, and the annual luncheon lets those donors vote on finalists for grants after all finalists — four in this case — give a brief presentation. As Foundation Executive Director Charles Barber has noted, even those who don’t get the grant often benefit from the publicity, drawing the attention of other donors. This is a solid of win-win.

Coal to Harrisburg for the failure to adequately fund county court systems. The issue came to the front (again) this week when Luzerne County Chief Public Defender Steven Greenwald’s request for additional staff set off county council debate. The request relates to a new central court that, overall, should save money. Pennsylvania’s county court system remains a mass of mandates without money, creating exactly this sort of pay-now or pay-later conundrum for county governments when dealing with a the critical issue of justice.

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