Blight committee one diamond of an idea

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Diamonds to members of Luzerne County’s blighted property review committee for delaying steps toward possible dissolution. The committee, formed in 2016 by county council, has lingered in limbo because it was expected to get administrative and legal help from the county Redevelopment Authority, but that organization has determined it doesn’t have the resources. It is true that forming a committee to catalogue blighted properties has the potential to be a bureaucratic money pit, but done right it should be the opposite. A countywide database of properly identified blighted properties could help all municipalities and the county more efficiently prioritize properties in need of action, determine necessary funding, pursue that money and resolve problems. It is worth more time and effort to seek a cost-efficient way to make this work before throwing up our collective hands.

Coal to the many factors causing degradation of public discourse, demonstrated in the allegation that a Harding man threatened the life of a district judge — during a hearing on a relatively minor harassment charge, no less. Found guilty of the charge, the 71-year-old reportedly said “I’m just going to have to get my 44 magnum.” America has always had a violent streak, arguably born of the rugged frontier many ancestors carved into, or the brutal conditions endured under the heels of industry barons in coal, steel and rail. But at times we seem to be reaching new levels of incivility, quick to embrace not only the threat of lethal violence but to act on those threats. A lot of things have brought us here, but it hasn’t helped having a president who, even if you approve of his policies, has a penchant for publicly embracing violence in his words that simply is uncalled for. We all need to count to 10.

Diamonds to Edwardsville native George Toma, who has had a hand in field preparation for every Super Bowl since the debut of the football championship, including this one. At age 89, Toma remains an inspiration for others, and he routinely offers a surprisingly simple-sounding formula for success. “We gotta do the job and then some,” he said. “It’s what separates the average and the mediocre from the great.” It’s a textbook, old-school lesson from “coal country,” and it is true and timeless.

Coal to Luzerne County Court Administrator Michael Shucosky for an inane comment in response to criticism of 3 percent, across-the-board raises for that department. “We are an island,” Shucosky said of the courts and their budgets. The judicial system is and should be a largely independent arm of the government; that’s how the founding fathers framed it. But it is funded from the same stream of money as any other branch. It may be an island, but it is surrounded by and supported with tax dollars, and that means it is not and can never be truly “an island unto itself.” Mr. Shucosky would do well to remember that words can matter, especially when your salary comes from the public trough.

– Times Leader

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