Our view: Diamonds for county’s online mapping system

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Diamonds to the Luzerne County Geographic Information Systems (GIS)/Mapping department for putting basic GIS data in a searchable, interactive map format for the entire county. For most people, GIS data is a case of getting too deep in the weeds, but such information, including basic property lines on an overhead-style map, is a fundamental part of modern day information analysis. Making it readily available to anyone with an Internet-connected computer is a terrific sign of transparency by an agency that, by it’s name alone, may strike most as obtuse and arcane. The more governments can get online, the better democracy is served.

Coal to the mindset that allows area government entities and semi-autonomous authorities to put their proverbial cart before the horse on important matters. The most recent example: The Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority met Tuesday with an agenda that included a vote to advertise a new deputy director position, only to remove the item. Authority Executive Director Christopher Bellerman asked the vote be delayed because he is still crafting the job description. Which begs the question, how did a job without a job description get on the agenda in the first place? There may have been nothing but good intentions here, but this is exactly the kind of thing that damages trust among area residents. Too often a job is created with a person in mind, and the hiring process hastened by those connected to said person. It’s not enough to “do the job right,” it can be just as important to do the job hiring right.

Diamonds to Wyoming Valley Mall owner Pennsylvania Retail Investment Trust (PREIT) for its can-do attitude in keeping the mall viable while others fail. The company’s success in responding to modern shopping patterns, outlined in a Times Leader article last October, has served the area well. It will also be sorely tested as two anchor tenants — Sears and Bon Ton — announced they will be shutting their mall stores. Retail is enduring tectonic shifts thanks to online shopping, and the truth is malls and big box centers helped put many downtown shopping districts on the ropes decades ago. But it’s hard to picture how the area will be better served if the Wyoming Valley Mall starts going dark.

Coal, yet again, to both sides in the acrimonious negotiations for a new Dallas teacher contract, though in this case the union seems to bear the brunt of any blame. Teachers have been working for nearly three years under the terms of a contract that expired in 2015, and talks have been testy at best. But the most recent debate seems too fundamental to comprehend: What, exactly constitutes a new contract offer? School board Solicitor Vito DeLuca accused the union of failing to give the board an offer. Union Lead negotiator John Holland insisted the union president had an “off-the-record discussion during which they were given an offer.” An off-the-record offer? Please. Getting to yes has been hard enough for these two sides without such verbal obfuscation.

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