• Diamonds to Wilkes-Barre Area School District Superintendent Brian Costello’s continuing effort to give residents a chance to chat. Costello spent nearly three hours with only three people Wednesday at a “Coffee with the Superintendent” event that he promised will be duplicated. He conveniently had floor plans and drawings of the planned consolidated high school spread on three conference tables set up as one large surface. And as he has at past “town hall meetings,” he took all questions and comments and stuck around as long as the guests had something to say. Such exchanges may ultimately not change any minds, but that kind of accessibility merits praise all the same.
• Coal to the discouraging start of what seems like a good idea: appointments for a new Wilkes-Barre Parking Ticket Appeals Board. It seems downright bizarre that former Police Chief Marcella Lendacky was in the running, considering how contentious her time heading the department became. City council did the right thing by not seconding her nomination. This is no reflection on Lendacky’s ultimate fairness or suitability for the position. The wounds from her last few months as chief and the sour notes sounded with her departure are still too fresh to put her back into a public post, even as a volunteer. Perhaps somewhere down the road when those wounds have had time to heal, but not now.
• Diamonds to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport for starting flights to the Washington Dulles International Airport. Local airports in general are, or at least should be, major assets to the county, and WBS International — officially shortened to AVP in the airport industry — has long had the potential to be a real county jewel. There have been periodic setbacks in fulfilling that potential, but this is a clear winner for Executive Director Carl Beardsley. Here’s hoping it’s just one of a growing list of frequent flights direct to major metropolitan areas.
• Coal to the ugly head of racism rearing its head yet again in the area, this time in the homicide trial for Stephen Spencer. Spencer’s attorney admitted his client killed Christopher Williams in an altercation outside Saints & Sinners Irish Pub in Pittston on July 9, 2017. The defense argued it was a matter of self-defense, and Spencer was acquitted Friday by a jury of his peers. But regardless of the verdict, it was clear from testimony that the incident was preceded with substantial racial tension upon Spencer’s appearance at the bar and one person refusing to shake his hand because he is black. Testimony also painted a picture of a series of racial slurs and slights that led up to a confrontation in which Spencer decided to draw a gun he legally carried. The biggest tragedy here, of course, is the loss of life, and there were legitimate questions about the need for deadly force. But there is another tragedy if that life was lost for want of a handshake denied solely on the basis of race.
— Times Leader