Our view: Diamonds for keeping music of season alive

December 29th, 2017 5:15 pm

Diamonds to Wyoming Area Catholic School and all the other schools, institutions and volunteers who kept the tradition of singing Christmas Carols alive in multiple venues before a wide range of audiences this year. The Wyoming Area Catholic students sang at Wesley Village’s Partridge-Tippett nursing facility, but there were and typically are many such events. Just two examples: The Wyoming Valley Barbershop Harmony Chorus offered an acapella rendition of numerous songs at SS. Peter & Paul Church in Plains Township, and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre hosted a “Christmas Joy” concert. The musical spirit of Christmas is alive and well in many forms throughout Luzerne County if you take time to look, and the people behind those events deserve copious thanks.

Coal to former Luzerne County elected officials Walter Griffith and Stephen J. Urban for their push to revamp Luzerne County’s home rule government. They have every right to seek petition signatures to put a referendum on the May primary election ballot, and in a democracy it is hard to argue against letting voters decide such issues, but two facts taint this move. First, Griffith and Urban lost election bids to remain in county government, a fact that suggests voters have already spoken indirectly on this issue. Second, the current form of county government is barely 6 years old, adopted by voters after an extensive process of electing study commission members who reviewed options, came up with a proposal and put it on the ballot. Residents endured the antiquated three-commissioner form of government for more than 150 years. It makes little sense to radically revamp the new system after only 4 percent of that time.

Diamonds to the state’s Independent Fiscal Office for crunching numbers regarding property tax payments at the state and county level. The IFO’s data is hardly definitive, but it should prove a valuable dose of fact checking in the growing movement to eliminate property taxes statewide — a debate that too often seems powered on both sides by emotion rather than hard data. In months leading up to and following a successful November referendum on one way to reduce property taxes on homeowners, the IFO has scrutinized claims that seniors own the majority of homes being taxed (they do, in Luzerne County), and that they pay a hefty share of property taxes overall (also arguably true, with caveats). For too long, this debate has been conflated with charges of excessive public education spending and “greedy” teacher unions. The IFO reports inject a dispassionate shot of data that should be useful as the movement progresses.

Coal to Wilkes-Barre City officials for what appears to be a botched, complicated attempt to revamp waste collection. It’s a tricky and costly business, and they must conduct due diligence, but getting only one bid on a request seeking to privatize the work suggests something was amiss in the bid request.