Diamonds to the Luzerne County 911 emergency call center for obtaining Association for Public Safety Communications Officials accreditation for its staff training and education program, something only achieved by five other centers in the state and 72 nationally. As a fatal 2014 incident of incorrect dispatch showed, the center has lacked consistent and effective training and policies. This should be a sign that, as Executive Director Fred Rosencrans said, the center has “turned a corner” in repairing those problems. In the case of 911 dispatching, it’s a corner potentially between life and death.
Coal to Hazleton City Council for approving a liquor license transfer over neighbor objections. Doubtless it’s easy and not unreasonable to justify the move in the name of supporting business and, in turn, hoping for increased tax revenue — an argument Mayor Jeff Cusat, whose family runs a bar/restaurant nearby, made. But this was not simply moving a liquor license within city boundaries, it was bringing one in from a Plymouth Township location. The urge of cash-strapped governments to increase money by catering to potential vices like gambling and alcohol is understandable and misguided. It is too easy for the proliferation of liquor licenses to provide short-term gain for long-term decline.
Diamonds to St. Jude Parish for staging a top-shelf dedication of the new, enlarged church. In the Scranton Diocese, where the number of Luzerne County churches has been slashed in the last 15 years, this was a rare event, and everyone clearly rose to the occasion, with an 11-piece music ensemble, a children’s choir, an adult choir, more than 40 priests, and enough holy water, oil and incense to wow any but the most jaded crowd. The new Church deserved an impressive start, and got it.
Coal of a special blackness and ample size to Harrisburg for this week’s shoddy showing in the ongoing effort to finalize a budget. In a history-making moment Wednesday that was surely to no one’s surprise, Standard & Poor’s lowered Pennsylvania’s credit rating from A+ to AA-, the lowest it has been in 39 years. This means borrowing will cost more — specifically, cost more for taxpayers. Mind you, the Senate had passed a bipartisan funding bill that, included unwelcome tax increases, but at least took a real stab at a permanent fix to a chronic shortfall. The House ignored it and came up with it’s own plan that was a one-time fix unlikely to actually work even one time. Hours after the credit downgrade, the Senate overwhelmingly rejected the House bill. There is a conservative-side argument that this is the fault of Gov. Tom Wolf and his fellow Democrats for insisting on spending more than the state can afford, and to be sure they deserve some blame. But the argument fails on one critical point: The Republicans control both chambers, and clearly can’t agree on where to raise money or where to cut spending. They could start by cutting their own salaries in half to compensate for not doing their jobs.