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May 25, 2016
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The Sullivan battle against waste, fraud and abuse

The last four years at the Sullivan County Legislature have been truly interesting to watch. The legislature that took office in January 2012 included six new members out of a total of nine—the same situation, incidentally, that the new legislature faces in 2016.

The 2012 legislature faced a $5 million budget gap, and the lingering, crippling effects of the Great Recession. Against this backdrop, in 2012, the legislature launched a campaign to root out “waste, fraud and abuse” from the Sullivan County Division of Family Services (DFS) and its clients.  Read more

The politics of inclusion

[Best of 40 reprint from July 19, 2012]

At the Town of Highland’s first hearing on its Local Law 3 on May 4, a member of the committee working on its zoning, the Town of Highland Zoning Rewrite Task Force Phase I, was heard bemoaning the fact that, at that point, it looked like the law would pass by “only” three to two. At the time, it struck us as an odd concern; after all, a law passed by three-two is no less valid than one passed five-zero.  Read more

The rise of the Working Families Party

Most of the attention on the presidential election races is going to the slate of Republican candidates this year—and especially some of the jaw-dropping declarations of real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump. But there is also a race on the Democratic side, and this year a growing, if still small, political party is having an impact on that race.  Read more

Harrisburg Scrooges deny severance tax

One of the main reasons Pennsylvania’s budget this year is coming in December rather than June is because Gov. Tom Wolf really, really wanted the budget to include a severance tax, similar to those in every other state where shale gas resources are being exploited.

Wolf campaigned heavily on the notion of a severance tax and won the race. Other elected officials, even some Pennsylvania Republicans, also campaigned on adopting a severance tax, but most Republicans, especially those in positions of leadership, have heartily opposed the tax.  Read more

Tuna, dolphins and TPP

In 1990, the federal government started the Dolphin-Safe Tuna program in the United States, which was intended to cut down on the unnecessary slaughter of dolphins by fishing interests in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) region, which is roughly west of Mexico and South America.  Read more

Schumer is right on refugees and guns

While the U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that would temporarily prevent any new Syrian refugees from entering the United States, and would tighten restrictions before they do so, that program is unlikely to allow any would-be terrorists to slip into the country. As PA Sen.Bob Casey explained, “The United States does have a rigorous process for vetting refugee applicants, which includes several in-person interviews by U.S. officials, security checks by multiple agencies, significant documentation and a health screening.  Read more

New York voting questions need answers

At a hearing about whether some 137 voters in Thompson had a right to vote in the recent election for town council, the lawyer representing the candidate who is challenging the vote said his client was actively “dissuaded” from filing the challenges by the Sullivan County Board of Elections (BOE).  Read more

Co-op failures and the single-payer option

As the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka “Obamacare” was being crafted, some Democrats were really pushing for a non-profit “public option” that residents could buy into. That was too radical for many members of Congress, who instead came up with the creation of non-profit co-ops, which were started with the help of $2 billion in federal funding.  Read more

Compressor for Buckingham?

A company called Linden Energy Services (LES), which was created with the stated purpose of building pipelines and compressor stations to serve the gas fields of Pennsylvania, says on its website that the proposed development of oil, natural gas and liquid natural gas in the region will require $200 billion in “midstream investments,” and they plan to get some of that action.  Read more

Ignoring dams and other infrastructure

Residents of northern Wayne County turned out to a meeting hosted by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) in Forest City on October 22, and let officials know they are not pleased with the decision of state officials to drain state fishing spots.  Read more