Call or Write:
44 North Christian
Street, Suite 100
Lancaster PA 17602
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Gov. Ed Rendell
225 Main Capitol Bldg.
Harrisburg, PA 17120
E-mail the Governor here.
8 N. Queen St.
Lancaster PA 17603
Rick Gray, Mayor
City of Lancaster
120 N. Duke St.
Lancaster, PA 17608
Ernest Schreiber, Editor
Lanc. New Era
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C. Ray Shaw, Editor
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Marvin Adams, Editor
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Letters From Our Public
We welcome communications but reserve the right to select and to edit for clarity and brevity.
To avoid the need to verify authenticity, we will not publish the names of the authors.
Please send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
Litigation Very Interesting
Received a phone call from my attorney last evening giving me a heads up
about Molly Henderson suing [The Lancaster Newspapers.] I am so proud of her
and also she is smart to have it in another county.
A friend from the start suggested that the injunction action by the LCCCA
against Dick and Molly should have been heard in another county. Then they
probably would have won. This is going to be very interesting.
Questions Medial Barrier on Harrisburg Pike
Have you been able to see any proposed development plans [for F&M athletic
fields]? There are letters from F&M denying the connection of course. *
Also, I find it odd that the college's solution for pedestrians to avoid the
temptation of jaywalking is to put a traffic barrier on Harrisburg Pike,
rather than fences/screening/landscaping on their property on the south side of
I also find it interesting that the sidewalk layout at College Row actually
*Editors note: NewsLanc would be interested in receiving a copy of any such
"If It is Not Broken, Do Not Try to Fix It."
Does that sound familiar?
Lancaster County/City MAY be looking good but it is due to a lot of private
investment money. Lancaster City will survive with a future of wealth and
poor. The Middle Class will be forced as they are now to leave the city due to
taxes and location of their homes. The conservatism of this County was sold
a bill of goods by PSP (High). He was smart, get the newspaper as a
The Steinman sisters were well intended as they are a very good employer of
the area, very family oriented. BUT look at Fulton, they bailed out when
there was any sign of trouble.
Back to the beginning, this project did not and does not have the
neighborhood infrastructure to succeed, let alone make money. Putting that monster
that corner is going to affect the total historical, cultural and economic
future of center city. The Mayor can clean up all he wants and promote the
West Side BUT you will always have the rest of the city there.
The 140-plus* properties that Senator Gib Armstrong is part of will start to
deteriorate which will cause more blight. I feel for Annie Bailey's and
Yorgo's who invested dearly on the pretense of lots of business. It ain't gonna
The Brickyard is supposedly suffering since the new brewery opened on
College Row. The students do not have to find parking and can just cross the
The Trolley may be a winner in Portland, Nashville, etc, but this is
Lancaster County. We do not have enough room for two cars going down Prince Street
let alone one car and a Trolley. Where is the common sense?
Look at the economic times we are in. Sure Lancaster County is pretty
recession proof due to our diversification BUT we are a part of the whole picture,
no man is an island. Who is going to come to this hotel and convention
center? Maybe the first year because it is NEW like anything else; but long
term, I bet in 5 years that High Industries will own it!!!!
*Editors note: Newslanc is unaware of the extent of real estate holdings by
Senator Armstrong, we have no information concerning how they are
maintained, and we have no reason to criticize the Senator for investing in downtown real estate.
Crown Jewel of Lancaster City
I have not spent near the hours that some of you have on this [convention
center] project to revitalize downtown Lancaster. However, I have been tainted
as a naysayer. Clients and prominent business people have told me I should
not keep company with that crazy lady April Koppenhaver and her group. I could
go on and on.
Will I promote the center? No. Will I pay my taxes? Yes. I have no choice.
We as taxpayers would have prevented this major loss had the investors and
officials been looking for the most profitable and complementary project to
go on that corner, the crown jewel of Lancaster City and County.
Thank God for Molly and Dick, who fought to get the debt paid back before
the operating expenses. At least we will have a few years as taxpayers with no
mud in our faces.
Senator Gib Armstrong is running away and Paul Thibault will not be able to
protect the campfire. This money pit is going to dry up in Harrisburg and
Lancaster County will have to eat crow.
As for hundreds of jobs, no way. If the Hyatt in Cambridge only employs 160
plus and most of them are temps from Europe and that complex is acres, then
there is no way this center will need more than 75 and that will be probably
60 minimum wage jobs.
This has surely been an education.
Marriott/Interstate Slots Emporium?
I also agree [that we should not offer support for the Convention Center
Project], but not on the grounds of Christianity, as I am not a Christian.
This project was foisted on the public with deception and media
manipulation. It is singularly an
un-Democratic monument to greed and selfishness.
Okay, so it will be built after razing historic city blocks, re-writing laws
and ripping off the common taxpayer. What can the public really do?
Conceding the inevitability of the project is not the same as supporting it.
I do not support it and believe it will fail miserably as a convention
And by the way, making this project the "best it can be" will probably end
up meaning supporting the Marriott/Interstate Slots Emporium. At least that's
Convention Center: "We're done."
[Concerning the Convention Center Project], we have made every effort to
send warning flags up through the last five years, and have been arrogantly
ignored. The time to offer our (unwanted) support has passed.
I offer good wishes to all who are working hard to keep the project in line,
and to minimize losses.
But the time to implement the solutions we have offered has passed. We're
Convention Center Support? "Ain't no way."
I have to give my total and complete AMEN [to not providing support for the
convention center project.]
In 1999 when this dog of a project was proposed, I objected on the grounds
that it was WRONG to take money from a business's customers (hoteliers) and
give it to support a competitor. It was, is and always will be WRONG to do
for that reason I will NEVER support it.
While I am on record as being AGAINST the project, I have
continually said "While I am opposed to this project, if you are going to do
this then..." and would give them advice from a watchdog point-of-view.
For instance, there is ZERO incentive or checks in place for Interstate
Hotels (the management of the convention center and hotel) to make certain
the convention center gets treated right.
Remember that SUPPORTERS have declared the convention center will be in the
negative, while the hotel will be in the black. What would stop the
company that's responsible to BOTH from simply shifting costs to the
center and resources away from the convention center so that the hotel is in
The Convention Center Authority REFUSED to put any audit feature into
this arrangement and instead bowed to Dale High's demand of "shared"
I could come up with a dozens and dozens of similar examples.
The bottom line - ain't no way I am sucking up to the powers that be that
foisted this project on Lancaster Countians for GENERATIONS to come!
Newspapers Ignored Harrisburg Pike Objections
This morning's paper made it clear why none of the editors – all of whom
agreed that the median strip is not a good idea – would let their reporters,
including Gil Smart, write anything opposing [a medial strip eliminating the
center lane on the Harrisburg Pike.] These editors didn't want to do anything
to jeopardize the Lancaster Newspapers' parking garage that Council approved
Note a similarity: area residents' concerns ignored; no engineering study;
no alternative plans that would address and mitigate residents' objections to
certain components of the plan, etc. etc.
This city needs to hire a qualified traffic engineer to study any proposal
having to do with city streets, or this whole city is going to become one big
traffic jam in years to come. And then who's going to even want to come here?
Response to New Era for Slur of Former Commissioners
I know this is difficult given your masters - but how about turning that
righteousness for open records to the MOST secretive government agency in
Since the behind the closed door meeting that birthed this monster, Lancaster
Countians know very little about the 20 million dollars they have wasted.
It's a fact that they REFUSE to release bills which will give any clue of
how they justify their expenditures.
Meanwhile the newspaper remains silent and mocks and ridicules anyone that
tries to call accountability to this taxpayer funded organization.
Of course I am talking about the convention center. BUT remember that the
newspaper is taking in MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars already and for the
next 40 years so do NOT expect them to do anything to stop the slopping at
You see - the newspaper has ZERO ETHICS!
A Better Way to Slow Traffic
Lancaster Township has found a solution to its problem of effective traffic speed
enforcement with a limited number of officers available to monitor speeding and
write tickets: the use of portable radar speed display signs, which they move to a
different roadway each week.
"It makes it possible to use our police officers more efficiently, because we know
exactly when and where to target our enforcement. We are very pleased with the
results," said a township official. The township purchased one of these meters, and
were so satisfied with the results, that about a year ago they purchased a second
one. Cost per meter: approximately $3,000.
Quote from "Race residents balk at planned road changes," New Era Apr. 30, 2007: The mayor expressed little support this morning for the "non-physical" changes proposed by the neighbors. Police officers cannot be on Race Avenue at all times to discourage speeders and he does not believe the electronic speeding-alert signs will have the desired effect, he said, calling that proposal "dead on arrival."
Newspapers "In Bed" with General Hospital
I read Ernie Schreiber's editorial entitled "LGH contributions its fair
share & more" in today's Lancaster New Era. Your
NewsLanc.com coverage of the
newspaper sucking up to the LGH must have hit a nerve as this editorial states
that LGH pays approximately $3.9 million dollars to the various tax bases and
school districts of Lancaster City and other municipalities within Lancaster
County. The editorial is clearly written with an LGH pen. The question
remains -- with $106 million made as a non-profit entity, where is the remaining
approximate $102 million dollars going?
The continued biased coverage of the newspaper in the favor of LGH is
astounding. Have you noted that prominent members of the Steinman family
(Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. is a Steinman Enterprise) serve on the Lancaster General
Hospital Board of Trustees? With this kind of "in bed" relationship with the
newspapers, will LGH and its administrators and its providers ever be a
target of Lancaster newspapers ridicule? The answer is clearly "no".
Crumbs for Worthy Projects; Cake for the Money-People
The January 8 New Era article on Mayor Rick Gray is rather stupid.
Without the money from the County, the Pennsylvania Academy of Music and the
Franklin & Marshall's west side project would not be at the stage they are.
Meanwhile, the millions in fee relief given by the City to Lancaster
General Hospital, F & M College and, of course, the Convention Center project are at the cost of the homeowners and schools.
A single trash hauler, tougher tickets and landlord accountability is about
all I can see Gray has done. The arts community is being built by personal
investment, not grant monies.
Gray is giving crumbs to the worthy projects that really need support, just
enough to appease the
groups. But the money-people are getting what they want.
Intell's Farmland Preservation Article Bias
In its report "County gets national recognition, now a Preserve America
Community," the Intelligencer Journal omitted mentioning the work of the
previous board of commissioners.
It is also part of the farmland preservation effort by that board that a
portion of the funds for preservation of farms (20%) be used for "Urban
Enhancement Grants," which help revitalize our more densely populated [areas], making them
places where people want to live and work.
Finally, while the Lancaster Newspapers once again short-changed Dick and
Molly, it should be
noted, in fairness, that Pete Shaub had a lot to do with these initiatives.
Shaub did a lot of damage, but in this area, he is due credit, too.
F & M Bypassing Due Process Sets Bad Precedent
A lot of people think the controversy over Franklin & Marshall's
modification of the Harrisburg Pike is a tempest in a teapot.
It's the broader connotations of this, including the flawed process and the
precedent this sets for further Public Works / F&M collaborations....Efforts
deliberately designed to ignore public sentiment and interests.
Amtrak Plans Already Outdated?
plans for the refurbishing of the Lancaster Amtrak station as posted on
NewsLanc.com do not provide for the re-routed
Lititz Pike bridge.
Mayor Claims Street Cars Are Attraction
Lancaster mayor Rick Gray is totally and completely convinced that a
streetcar will bring significant economic revitalization to every part of
Lancaster City it passes through. When asked how, his only answer was
to say to look at every other city which has built a streetcar system.
Rick Gray claims a streetcar is an attraction in and of itself, that a
tracked system will attract people that no bus possibly can. He also claims
that everywhere there is a trolley stop, businesses will spring up.
You need to ask this same question of Rick himself. I promise you will be
either amused or repulsed.
Bicyclist Fears Revamped Harrisburg Pike
I am a city resident with a racing mountain bike and I frequently ride it on the stretch of Harrisburg Pike where F&M is planning to construct an elongated island, also called a median strip. This part of Harrisburg Pike, which is a state highway, has only one lane in each direction plus a middle lane that is a stacking turning lane. This middle lane is also used as a fast-response lane by ambulances, police cars and fire trucks. There are absolutely no shoulders on either side of this roadway.
If islands are put in the middle lane, that will throw cars and trucks much closer to me on my bike. The fact is, I will have to share a single lane with motorized vehicles as there is no bicycle path or even a roadway shoulder for me to ride on. Islands will have the same effect as the narrowing of the nozzle of a hose you simply increase the pressure.
There are enough hazards in riding bikes of any kind without making the problem worse by putting unnecessary obstructions in the middle of a highway. And these islands, in the opinion of many of my friends and neighbors, have little or nothing to do with safety and everything to do with IMAGE – which is why we think the College wants them.
Democracy in "Serious Trouble"
What a dysfunctional country! We’ve known about these flaws for years and
yet the Congress and local governments seem unable to deal with such a basic
issue as counting votes accurately and openly. This democracy is in serious
In or Out?
My thoughts exactly regarding F & M's College Row. Now go to the High's
'Crossings' retail center planned across from Longs Park - will the trolley
bring people TO the city , or take them OUT of the city?
Another Botched Lancaster Project
The Youth Intervention Center (YIC) is a huge long-term disaster.
It's 3 to 4 times the size it needs to be, the wrong kind of facility (lock-down), and is in the wrong location.
The commissioners at the time said the YIC would NEVER take in youth from other counties....well, guess what we are doing?
Paul Thibault refused to even attend the three Hourglass Foundation seminars with national experts on the
subject of youth detention that clearly demonstrated the YIC plan was dead wrong.
The good old Lancaster Newspapers put an oversize photo of a local judge who
supported the project on the front page of the evening paper sealing the
deal and costing Bill Saylor the Democratic seat on the Board of County
Commissioners who would have, along with Pete Shaub, not built the YIC as it was.
Sunnyside Project: Show or Go?
The former board of commissioners that held that Sunnyside ground breaking
in 2003 was very good at holding ground breakings for all kind of plans and
buildings that they had no idea how they would be used - no plans - just made
With the help of county employees, the outgoing board pulled together many
of those plans for buildings
so that they are used to the best for the county - and they are - EMT Center
As for the Sunny Side development plans, I can't imagine anyone paying
$350,000.00 for a home at that location. I just can't.
I am sure the former board of commissioners thought the same thing
because, while they had a ceremony
with shiny shovels, they had not worked out plans for the actual use of the
site - only promises of county hand outs.
It will be very interesting to watch what Mayor Gray does.
Will County Commissioners Isolate Selves?
I noticed that there are no plans for quarterly evening [commissioners]
meetings around the county to provide opportunity for those that work to attend
public commissioner meetings - the kind Dick Shellenberger and Molly
Henderson not only campaigned about but actually held!
I recall the Republicans campaigned on an open county government and
accessibility - hmmmmmmmmm???
Well, maybe they have another plan that will allow them to be more open and
"Value Engineering" Increases Convention Center Future Costs
FYI, the PVC roof tiles are a result of the "value-engineering" process; the
original roofing was supposed to be metal. A quick Google search reveals
that PVC roofing does not stand up nearly as well as metal in climates with
Although a PVC roof may save money during the
construction process, it is likely this will need to be replaced far sooner
than a metal roof would have been.
Convention Center "Funding Gap Closed" Ploy
I think we all need to be reminded of the "closing of the funding gap" from
summer of 2006. The gap has appeared again! Visit
Faulty Convention Center Design
The design of the ceiling of the convention center (open trusses)
precludes dividing the exhibit hall into smaller venues, so if there were
(for example) three [medium size] events for one of the prime spring or fall
weeks, they will not be accommodated, and two of the events would be
The roof appears to be translucent and grey. Most venues are dark (and
can be closed to outside light) for a richer look. Most conventions
(and many trade shows) require controlled lighting and will NOT permit
the low energy high boys because the blue-cast light is not flattering
to the product or skin tones.
Concerning LCCCA Not Foregoing Rentals of Space
In a supermarket, the loss is made up in the same venue
that will recover the loss in another sale. In a hotel, the revenue
loss (to the venue) of free exhibit space is made up in room rentals.
With this project, the loss is to the taxpayers and the benefit goes to the
private enterprise [hotel] pockets. It cannot be equated as the "loss
To give credit, I will continue to say, this is a TERRIBLE idea that has
been brilliantly contrived.
Advocates Alternative Newspaper
The print newspaper is not going out anytime in the near future - especially
in Lancaster county which is traditionally years behind the rest of the
world in such trends (look how long the evening newspaper has survived here with
the vast majority of evening papers GONE!)
The difference in Lancaster County is the only newspaper has:
Abrogated its reporting responsibility - not even showing up at
meetings! Has ZERO ETHICS in the minds of many of its readers.
As a result, people long for another publication. The advertisers will flock
to a fledging publication with its loyal and grateful readers and
counter-intuitively will make it a success.
Editor's Note: The cost of establishing a rival morning newspaper would be
in the tens of millions and the losses would be in the millions each year.
Meanwhile demand will shrink. The cost of a rival web site is a couple of
hundred thousands and break even should occur in two or three years. In a
decade, the former would still be hemorhaging money and the latter would be a
cash cow, and a prototype for Reading, Harrisburg and elsewhere. The potential
is greater than real estate!
Traffic, Taxes and The Crossings
These municipalities had better take a good look at infrastructure now and
going forward as our roads can not handle all of this growth.
The Crossings will be the 2nd largest shopping area in the County, sucking
out the remaining life blood of the city behind College Row. I am waiting to
see who wants or will open an upscale retail business in the downtown area in
the next 5 years.
With the new renovations at Park City, I am assuming that the Crossings will
be upscale? The additional joke is that 1 plus million to Hempfield is a
token; there is no way that will cover their roadway problems from this project.
Off to a Good Start?
It has been speculated by people close to the project that the convention
center will actually be quite busy for the first few years, since it will be
new and different. After a few years it becomes far more problematic: the
convention center will simply end up being in the rotation of the
conventions that decide to use it on a regular basis. And the more
convention centers that are built and in the rotation means more years
between conventions in Lancaster.
In addition, it is certain that a number of conventions will use Lancaster
once, then not come back. Those that need easy access for equipment will
lose out to multi-purpose facilities like those in Reading, Wilkes-Barre,
and Harrisburg. Other conventions will be turned off by the difficulty in
parking, and/or the lack of amenities in downtown Lancaster.
You can be certain that the local newspapers, and the most outspoken
supporters of the project, will put a spin on every little thing that goes
right over the next few years. Each convention will be billed as a major
success; each single business that opens will be presented as "proof" of
economic development. But the bigger picture will be ignored.
The only question is, how long will they be able to maintain the fiction
project is a good investment of taxpayer dollars?
A Letter That the Intelligencer Journal Did Not Print
Editor, Intelligencer Journal:
An editorial titled "Stop the lawsuits," which was published on November
14th, 2007, made the following statement:
"The time has now come to join in to make this a successful and enduring
Support for this (or any) project is support for what created it. Consider
How can anyone possibly support these, plus the many other questionable
actions behind this project?
Many of the "shared space" agreements force taxpayers to pay for a far
greater share of construction and operating expenses than will actually be
utilized by the convention center.
Some of these agreements were made under duress, by the threat of killing
Millions of taxpayer dollars were spent without adequately accounting for
Many decisions were made under a shroud of secrecy.
No one has attempted to justify the actual cost to taxpayers of this
No one has attempted to define what the return on investment of these
taxpayer dollars will be.
To say "it is what it is" ignores the fact that taxpayers are being raped
and pillaged by these agreements. This is unacceptable.
Many of the lawsuits against this project were terminated only when the
LCCCA threatened to counter-sue. Since the LCCCA had virtually unlimited funding
from the "hotel tax," pursuing these would have driving the plaintiffs into
Let Interstate Hotels and Resorts market the convention center; that is
their job, for which they are being paid very well. No one from the public can
possibly do anything to help or hinder the "success" of the project.
A wise man once said "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." May we
all be vigilant to make certain this never happens again.
Shovelgate defined: Beginning a project with a FOUR DECADE commitment
with neither the funds to complete the project nor the funds to operate the
project if completed.
From the onset I consistently mentioned the example of Springfield,
Massachusetts. 300,000 strong BUT very similar to Lancaster's makeup.
Unfortunately it took going bankrupt, and just recently all the people that
did illegal deeds were put in jail.
The convention center/hotel went under belly up and Peter Pan Bus Line
bought it for 25 cents on the dollar.
Concerning former county commissioners, I do not know where Ford is,
Kauffman is running one of the townships I believe, Tibault may run for Armstrong's
position (?) and we have 3 new commissioners coming on board with a Mayor
that have promised everything but the kitchen sink.
This has to be a wait and see situation and it will be very painful for the
majority. Big Business in this County has the reigns now, the middle-class
can vote out the mayor in 2 years and the commissioners in 4 if Home Rule is
not shoved in. I sincerely pray that the public holds these so called Saviors
I sincerely do not think there is enough money to salvage the project of
REVITALIZING the City of Lancaster. It is just a matter of time until High gets
his money through all the avenues he has put in place, then will turn around
and buy up a bankrupt project.
I am still betting on a casino down the road.
I am saddened at what is developing in downtown Lancaster. There was
absolutely nothing wrong with the growth before this project on the corner of King
and Queen began other than the right project for that corner.
Not to rehash BUT lets start with the infrastructure, I am talking about
water and sewer and streets. Let's go to traffic then to the accessibility to
the convention center. Parking and then last but not least, daily and evening
activity for those that want to leave the building. The hotel will have a
restaurant and a PUB. There is no movie theatre or nice clubs that I am aware
IF the trolley car becomes reality, is that going to be considered activity?
Transportation to the ball park and eateries uptown? College Square, with
a brewery just in the last few days has hit the Brickyard and Annie Bailey's
HARD as the word is on the street. The boutique behind Rosa Rosa is closing BUT
there is still TMB and Papagalla and the jewelry store downtown as well as a
few other boutiques.
Shopping and eating is mainly out on 30. Lastly, Homewood Suites, a
division of Hilton, is coming on the scene soon off of 72.
Lets not forget The Crossings.
NOW, why could not have Penn Square Partners and the other money people have
developed Center City into a vibrant Residential, Cultural and Entertainment
place that would have been done by now and the tax base would have been
Editor's response: The High Group is all about making money, often in the
guise of serving the community. The management of the newspapers was out to
lunch as the very competent and decent Willis Shenk and the Steinman sisters
aged and became enfeebled. There is no disgrace at getting old. There is
fault in not choosing able and ethical successors.
Where is the Economic Development?
The stated and ONLY purpose of the hotel and convention center project
is "economic development". It is now more than eight months since the
bond sale, and the ONLY announced downtown "economic development" is the
transformation of the decades-old Zimmerman's Family Restaurant into a
We all know that any kind of project takes months, if not years, to maneuver
through the government approvals process. If there were to be any NEW
"economic development" to be open for business by the time the hotel and
convention center open in sixteen months, it would have had to be announced
by now. Rick Gray's promises are more than eight months overdue.
It is entirely possible that potential investors are taking a cautious "wait
and see" attitude, to see what kind of business the project actually
generates before they commit funds. It is even possible that our meager
efforts at publicizing this fiscal fiasco may have actually had some effect,
in spite of the project promoters' claims to the contrary. But the fact
that NO "economic development" projects resulting from this project have yet
been announced casts serious doubt on the claims of those who say this
project will revitalize downtown Lancaster.
There will be PLENTY of blame to go around. Let's all make certain that
everyone knows where it truly belongs.
"Stuck With the Fiscal Disaster"
Please take note that this request for additional State funding by the LCCCA
does NOT reflect badly on current board members Art Morris, Laura Douglas,
R.B. Campbell, or Tom LeCrone. These individuals have worked EXTREMELY hard
to do the best they possibly can within what limitations they have to work
As LCCCA chairman Art Morris likes to say, "It is what it is." The current
members of the LCCCA board are being forced to work within the restrictions
which were signed, sealed, and delivered by former LCCCA Director Dave
Hixson and former Board Chairman (and current member) Ted Darcus, as well as
all of the board members who aided and abetted them in approving this
convoluted financing plan - which includes current board member and incoming
City Councilmember Joe Morales.
What we are seeing now is proof positive that the budget which was approved
at the time of the bond sale in March 2007 is unrealistic. Those who were
trying to make this project work at literally any cost manipulated the
numbers so they might have LOOKED right, but (as we can see now) simply do
There really is very little that Art Morris, Laura Douglas, R.B. Campbell,
Tom LeCrone, or Kevin Fry can do to make the situation any better. They are
stuck with this fiscal fiasco, just as much as the rest of us are.
"Is This Country Great or What?!?!"
Have you realized that EVERY DOLLAR the state gives to this project -
the Penn Square Pigs - by contract! - get 50 cents of it! Unbelievable!!!
For every hotdog, coke and every other food item sold in "our"
convention center Penn Square Pigs gets 25 cents.
Penn Square Pigs are having the taxpayer build the entire building and
taxpayers are responsible if the loans fail!
Tax payers are completely paying for the lobby, office space, ball rooms,
storage etc for the Penn Square Pigs. Their cost? $100 a year!
The convention center? It really belongs to the pigs. They have
access to it ANY time they want and their business partner - Interstate
Hotels - can give the convention center space away for nothing. No conflict
there is it? (This would be like your neighbor building an in-ground pool
that they maintain and you can rent it out or do anything you want with it
without paying a cent!!!)
Dale High gets 4.75% of every dime spent on building this puppy.
That's right - since High is the developer - every "change order" that
raises the cost of this dog of a project, means mo' money in Dale's pocket.
How's that for an incentive to cut costs and stay within budget?
Property taxes? Nah. Penn Square Pigs don't pay taxes - only little
people do! This could easily amount to a $1/2 million EVERY year!
City fees? Nah. Penn Square Pigs don't pay [building permit] fees - only
little people do.
This $1,000,000+ is [missed] income to the city that taxpayers will pay with
in their property tax.
The bottom line is that the taxpayers are the ones footing the bill for
EVERYTHING. The taxpayer is taking ALL the risk.
The Penn Square Pigs? Nah. "Let the little people PAY US to be in the
project and then we can pat ourselves for how we are 'helping revitalize
downtown Lancaster.' Is this country great or what?!?!"
"The Pigs Get 50 Cents" Out of Every Dollar
Just imagine - EVERY DOLLAR that the Convention Center gets - the pigs get
50 cents! That's right. Dale/the newspapers get 1/2 of everything
Here Armstrong is praising Dale High and the "partners" for their
No Need to Read Agreements
Those of us that have been keeping abreast of this project should know how
limited this Board is due to all the agreements that were drawn up in favor of
PSP. We are very fortunate that we have the Board we have including Art
Morris as he has been a very fair person.
During past meetings when agreements had to be signed and Laura Douglas, Deb
Hall and the other county appointee who resigned would ask for time to read
the documents and were denied, the comments by Joe Morales and others was
that if the solicitor looked them over, it was good enough for them.
NOW we are seeing how one sided those contracts were. Is someone going to
hold these past board members accountable for not reading and just signing?
Project Manager an Admirable Position
It is important to remember that in Developers' parlance, "success" is achieved by breaking ground. For others whose finances are at risk, success is defined by different criteria. The criteria by which this project has been, and will be evaluated has been made murky.
The specific claims by proponents (such as Sen. Armstrong's claim that the project "will generate 300-400 meaningful jobs") must remain in the public consciousness as criteria for success.
Actually, the named manager is in an admirable position: Proponents will seek to offer him credit at any opportunity to maintain the validity of the project. And most of the failures have been pre-identified, absolving the manager from blame. He can collect his check for as long as he can keep it up, and will wisely move elsewhere at the right opportunity when he senses the blame can shift to him.
In the meantime, with about 14 months to open, where is the projected business?
Offers of Free Suburban Court House
That Mayor Rick Gray would suggest that the city would be better off by
the county out of the city shows he is either ignorant or lying.
The law offices and all the businesses that provide support and services to
them would have no reason to be in the city if the county wasn't there! I know
for a fact that the county does their own snow removal on Duke street because
of the joke of city snow removal! Same with Lancaster General Hospital.
depend on the city or it would never be done right!
What about Armstrong tax which provides $52 per year from the 1,500+ county
I will make a deal. We build a courthouse in East Cocalico (right by the
turnpike - easy access) and will lease it to the county. In return we will
build large modern office complexes above the retail establishments. We
will offer lots of free level parking and everyone will be happy!
Defends County Aid to City
Lancaster City taxpayers pay for support and
infrastructure for most County operations (like police, fire, streets,
Youth Intervention Center,
and the County office building on E. King St. NONE of these facilities pay
any taxes to Lancaster City or the School District of Lancaster, which means
are forced to pay higher taxes to support them.
All Lancaster County residents benefit from the County facilities located in
the city and must pay to support them.
Don't Neglect 16 Other Municipalities
Yesterday Rick Gray and the newly elected Commissioners met the business
people of this County. Let the games begin!
You have a city controller elected Commissioner, a county controller elected
Commissioner, a county bureaucrat with his eyes on Washington backed by Dale
High, and the mayor of Lancaster who I feel was also backed by High to get
the convention center project done. Charlie Smithgall was not able to get it
over the goal line.
These four have a plan, a big plan BUT there is one thing missing that a
team needs to win: FUNDS.
Please continue to hold these people responsible for all their promises as
one has fast forgotten the support the County gave to the City to create the
ball park, West Side Project and the Pennsylvania Music Academy.
The mayor needs the Commissioners BADLY, the City is in Big financial
trouble! The County is not responsible to keep the City floating; there are 16
other municipalities and townships that are a part of this ball game.
YIC Housing Youths From Other Counties
I understand that Children & Youth has taken over the large formerly
unoccupied portion of the Youth Intervention Center building. Also, it was
announced at a County
Commissioners meeting that the YIC is making a nice profit by housing
detained youth from other counties.
Turn prison into YIC, YIC into school
I also visited the Sunnyside site and found the Youth Intervention Center
(YIC) a true spoiler. That would have made a very nice community with
character BUT to have that complex there does not mix.
I did hear a few years ago when the center was struggling that it would make
a great school for the new community. If that were the case, there may be
possibilities and that could happen. A new prison would enable the old prison
to be become the new YIC.
Sunnyside a Dead Issue?
Sunnyside is already a dead issue, thanks to the Youth Intervention Center.
Former County commissioners Ron Ford, Terry Kauffman, and Paul Thibault (a
possible candidate for Gib Armstong's State Senate seat) completely ignored
the pleas of city officials, and built on the best piece of land on the
entire peninsula. How many people would want to live on steep hills that
completely surround a prison?
Lancaster City officials simply do not have a realistic grasp of the
Sunnyside Worthwhile Endeavor
The community we have planned at Sunnyside is a
very worthwhile endeavor, the Youth Intervention Center mistake
It's going to happen - the marketing studies support it. Please do so as
There's plenty of room in Lancaster County for another prison - why stick
it to the city one
Cheaper to Rehabilitate City Blocks
I sincerely feel that Sunnyside will become another Stirling Place. Please
do not mistake my attitude, I am in the trenches with the low income and
assisted living residents of this County that have been displaced. I will look
into Sunnyside again.
There are plenty of blocks in the City that can be recycled for essential
workers that do not have cars and want to own. These buildings are solid
structures and convenient to all services that are needed. Revenue from these
buildings can be created at less expense and displacement than developing
Sunnyside. The city has given away millions in permits to 3 big investors that
readily could have paid the tab. Those millions are costing city homeowners
Where else within the Urban Growth Region of this County can we put a new
prison that is convenient to the Court House?
Affordable Housing at Sunnyside
I'm not AGAINST residential housing on Sunnyside, in fact I am very
much in favor of it. The problem is, the same three prior County
who gave us the taxpayer-financed hotel and convention center project ALSO
gave us the Youth Intervention Center (YIC).
I've checked out the site. The YIC occupies the only remaining flat land on
Sunnyside, and is located right in the center of the north end of the
peninsula. ANYONE who would live on Sunnyside would not only have to drive
past the YIC, they would probably be able to see it out of their windows.
The YIC has significantly diminished the marketability (and associated sales
value) of any housing in the immediate area.
If Sunnyside would be NOTHING more than affordable housing, it might have a
chance; people with tight bank accounts can't afford to be too picky. But
every description I've heard of the plans includes housing in the quarter of
a million dollar range. Why would someone who can afford that kind of
mortgage even consider buying a home there?
Welfare System Needs Repairs
I recently took a widow down to Social Security to see if they could
qualify her for some type of aid, possibly food stamps. Would you believe that her
Social Security of $810 per month disqualifies her?
As I was sitting with her waiting to meet with a case worker, I never saw
such high end tennis shoes, gold jewelry and clothing in one room. She was
the only elderly and very much in need.
Something is wrong with this picture. The men and women in that room were
very able to work as far as I could see. The lady I was with has cancer,
widowed and never has asked for a dime of help and feels ashamed to be in need.
My Friends, the dollars are being allocated incorrectly. Federal, State or
local, the system is broken and it needs to be fixed. Look at McDonalds,
etc. You are seeing more and more seniors. Where are the youth and minorities
that are screaming for jobs? They have to start somewhere, not sit around
and look for entitlements.
Isolating poor at Sunnyside
The City wants to acquire the Sunnyside tract in the worst way. They have
the building industry lobbying for them since the County owns the land.
Sunnyside is where the City wants to build anther Sterling Place, saying it
would give the low income earners a chance to own, and will clean up the slum
lords and revitalize the city.
To isolate modest income earners at Sunnyside is their way of moving the
blight out of center city and its surroundings.
Upscale Condos Answer to City Woes
High income commuters living in Lancaster City are exactly what the urban
doctor ordered. It is what is going on in Easton. Upscale condos at the Penn
Square site would have been a plus, along with the proposed rapid rail Corridor
One. That is the best means of bringing in steady business and income to the
city: Far better than trying to sell a convention venue on sporadic
In fact, the upscale urbanites can offer the businesses to support the lower
end jobs. That's how a center can become an entertainment center . . the
commuter comes to his home at night, and stays through the weekend.
Perhaps it seems punitive to push the lower income out of the center city,
only alternative is to relocate with subsidized housing away from the center
I would combine my beliefs with my opinion that the public transportation
routing and system are misguided and do not look to the current conditions and
transportation needs, let alone the future.
What disturbs me is the belief that the county is the salvation of the city
woes; and in turn the state is to bail out the county, and the Federal
Government needs to bail out the state. That combination of beliefs is the recipe
for Socialism: "Spread the Pain."
More re Housing Summit
It was amazing how the attendees feel that the County has the responsibility
and the monies to take care of all the problems within. Looking back over
these last few years, the people with the money knew just how to get this
project and others through.
May I add that the Planning section of our County is quite expensive and
expansive. If their projects are implemented fine, BUT there is approximately
25% and I am being kind of our population that is being neglected in housing,
etc. and the definition of Low Income Housing does not cover this group.
For example, I suggested that in a Traditional Neighborhood Development why
not build apartments above the commercial areas for those that will be
needed as essential workers (store clerks, workers at KMART etc) that have no cars
and are being displaced from the city? The builders did not like to hear
that at all. One person at one of my classes last week said, with no
disrespect, that people of that level would not blend well living in a Traditional
Thank God I am 60 and will not be around to see what is coming.
Commercialization of Downtown
I believe the city is going to promote LOFT areas because of the first floor
[potential commercial] space. Housing otherwise will be torn down and
parking will appear. This concept is the only way this center will survive,
something like Atlantic City with the casinos. . . I foresee Lancaster City being
revitalized but not in the best interest of the community after yesterday's
Clueless at the Housing Summit
I attended the Housing Summit yesterday which was quite interesting. This
was the 2nd year, put on by the Housing Authority. We here in Lancaster
County have a growing problem with low income housing, a very big problem. The
general consensus is that the building industry is not interested in addressing
the issue as it is not a very big money maker. The definition of the
Building Industry Low Income Housing is around $150,000 which is not even close to
One interesting thing that echoed at the end of each session I attended was
the financial blight the Convention Center is going to cause the city
and the county better be ready to help. I sincerely hope you all know how I
jumped on that as well as asking these individuals "Where have they been over
the past years?" They were clueless.
Information for the "Clueless"
In Providence R.I., to accommodate the Convention Center / Westin Hotel,
they leveled all the low-income residential properties between the CC and Brown
University, leaving only a few choice structures (such as the Orpheum / Rhode
Island Performing Arts Center). For a major venue to succeed, the surrounding
neighborhood would need to be purged of anything that can be remotely viewed
as unsightly or threatening. Among my original observations, was that a
venue such as a CC needs to be surrounded by commercial, not residential,
operations. And certainly NOT lower income residential.
NewsLanc Sets Standard for LNP
I am impressed with the most recent postings on
those which report on public meetings of governmental bodies. As we all
know all too well, the local media's reporting of local issues is usually
sketchy at best, and far too often incomplete - or just plain wrong.
I do believe NewsLanc.com is having an effect on the local newspapers. This
week's City Council meeting has generated the most complete newspaper
reporting of any public meeting in a long time. Of course, since the
newspaper reporters generally have at best a shallow understanding of the
issues, NewsLanc.com continues to be the standard by which other news
outlets are judged.
Convention Center / Hotel Bonds Creditworthy
The bonds are creditworthy ONLY because of the expensive Wachovia
guarantees, the Moody's rating statement verifies this.
If the convention center doesn't generate some REAL cash over the next five
years, things could get messy.
On the other hand, the "swaption" seems to have locked the LCCCA into a
fairly good rate. This means Wachovia carries much of the risk. But the
bond agreements give Wachovia near total control over the LCCCA's ability to
spend money, and if certain benchmarks aren't met Wachovia can literally
take over the convention center.
The next few years could prove to be extremely interesting...
Appeals Court Decision
Yeah - we shoved this thing down your throats and bludgeoned you every
chance we could get, so support this dog of a project now.
It's never right to do something wrong.
Taking money from one business to support another is just wrong period.
I want a nickel tax on every paper sold to go to me so I can start a
competing paper. That sounds fair doesn't it?
Elected Commissioners, Home Rule and Cowboys
Martin is a bureaucrat that the Republicans are grooming to be a US Senator
if you have not heard that, Lehman is a bureaucrat that owes his soul to a few
big guys and Stuckey, well the third time is a charm I guess. I believe it
is going to be a Martin, Lehman show. Lastly, I am afraid that Home Rule is
on its way in, gang, that is what Big Business wants here and this group of
cowboys is just to tide things over until it slithers in!!
If the CC deals had been crafted as a $200 mil. public project from the
beginning, there would have been an outcry similar to the Boston Tea Party. But
the deals were ingeniously crafted to prevent outcry.
There are political philosophers who might identify the scenario as part of
our country's natural devolution to socialism. Rising taxes and nominal
public ownership of businesses "for the common good" are consistent with that
move. The public "owns" the project, but neither controls nor benefits from
Our taxes, particularly property taxes, are increasing geometrically. Now
our sewer rates, over which we have yielded control, are being raised in
tax-like fashion, using pollution as the reasoning, even though the casual user
has little if any impact on the Chesapeake.
As the taxes grow, and liberties shrink, we will appear more like the Soviet
Union of the 1950's, having degenerated to that point because of a gradual
change, not a flag-waving, torch bearing revolution. Perhaps the U.S.
Public WANTS to be "taken care of" by a government that dictates spending and
imposes taxes (so we end up working more and more for the government) to
redistribute the money to various "causes" for the public "good." I hate to think
so, but little has proven otherwise. From each according to his means, to each
according to his needs....all controlled by a bureaucracy growing in
I share Ron [Harper's] frustration when I ask various individuals, "Don't
you see what is really going on? Or don't you care?" I rarely get answers.
Trolley Cars a "Done Deal"
The city is treating the trolley as a done deal, ensuring it will get done
by creating an "independent" authority, like they did with the surveillance
cameras. They really don't like public input on anything.
Misuse of "Divisive"
The word "divisive" has been tossed around a lot in the last few days.
When it has been used, what the "users" are actually implying is that by
expressing a different opinion, one is preventing a portion of the constituency
from blindly following the opinion of (let's say) the newspaper editor. The
use of the word "divisive" in the recent contexts implies that there should NOT
be a difference of opinion.
Like the use of the word "naysayer," using the word "divisive" panders to
those who have not developed critical thinking processes. Blind Sheep. "Agree
with us without question, or you are being destructive" is the implication of
Likewise, the Conestoga View sale has been mischaracterized as an
abandonment of the Depression Era generation. What nonsense.
Stuckey and Martin pander to arch-conservatives
First, let me admit that I am a registered Republican. Second (though I
neutral on the subject), Mr. Stuckey and Mr. Martin have noted in their
latest campaign literature that they are "Pro-Life" and will assure that
abortion clinics open in Lancaster County.
I do not believe this is an issue that the commissioner's office should
address; nor is the adamant stance appropriate. The statement is clearly
pandering to the arch-conservative voter, and has little to do with
honesty let alone the operations of the county.
Lancaster County Has Serious Problems
As a Lancaster County native I used to tell everyone I meet how proud I was
of growing up in Lancaster County and the value system I was taught of how
to treat others. After living in many other states it has been very
interesting to see the difference in others quality of life, altitudes, and taxes &
how crime was handled.
After 30+ years of absence and returning several years ago for family
reasons, I have to say today I’m very disappointed to find the once beautiful
historic City of Lancaster fallen into decay with uncontrolled high crime. I
also think it is appalling how corrupt Lancaster County politics is run and
business is being conducted today in Lancaster County.
Something is wrong when some elected officials like Senator Armstrong can
twist the laws and cause many millions of tax dollars to be spent for special
pork projects like the $200 M convention center with taxpayer money.
What is even more alarming that our tax money can go to a private
company (Penn Square Partners) to potentially reap huge profits and the
taxpayers do not get to vote on the issues!
What I think is even less American is when some of the same investors
of the project can own & control the local media and print any untruths
they want to destroy anyone that will not support their scam. The relentless
personal assassinations on Commissioner Dick Shellenberger & Commissioner
Molly Henderson are totally unacceptable.
From everything I have been able to ascertain not one other person
running for county commissions positions has clearly stated their position to “
fight to stop” this kind of abuse of our taxpayer money.
This is not about Democrats or Republicans; this is about not wasting our
children & grandchildren's financial future.
Vote for Commissioner Molly Henderson.
City Real Estate Trends
Up until recently, one [could] buy a property in Lancaster County under
$100,000 ... Nowadays we are looking at over $100,000 unless you buy a condo
at Clock Towers with a very high maintenance fee.
The current city taxes total including county and school is 32 mills. I do
not think the city can do a spot reassessment, it has to be county wide...
and there is a strong possibility that it will be Market Value which is
definitely a fair way to assess. ...
There is going to come a day when you will RENT in the city for the
lifestyle and pay dearly or be wealthy enough to OWN. The factor will be safety
and enough entertainment and culture to attract even renters.
I firmly believe the city with all the private money and money in this
County will strive to create this. However, the slum lords have to be cleaned up
and where do the assisted living residents go? Will it be an area like the
South East or South West ends? It seems that the North East is getting
$120,000 and up from NY and NJ move-ins from the Newark area, the neighborhoods
are really changing, [and thus] pushing the assisted living and slum lords
This is NOT good, the Mayor needs to concentrate of this problem rather than
the Trolley and the Convention Center.
Soooooooo for services rendered and the privilege of living in Lancaster
City, one will pay dearly...
A source in City Hall told me that F & M, LGH, the Convention Center
project, and just about any large project get their permit fees waived! Do you
have any idea how many millions of dollars that is? The reason may be for
economic purposes BUT that is hogwash. It is very unfair not to pay to play.
The little guy is getting raped.
Property Tax a Curse
There is no doubt that property taxes will become the curse of Lancaster
(and many other cities). I supported the complete elimination of property
by increasing the sales taxes.
If [you have] $1000 per month to spend on housing, and a choice between
with $800/month mortgage and $200/month taxes, or $600/month mortgage and
$400/month taxes, which of the deals will you take? There is this myth
about sales taxes punishing the "poor," but the punishment is much more
severe with the property tax, which escalates without the choice or input
property owners. It is the taxes which render the housing costs higher,
drive down the purchase prices.
Many of the city properties cannot appeal to upscale purchasers who expect
off-street parking and some isolation from potential crime and unsightly
properties. When taxes drive the total cost of these properties to the
only the wealthy can afford them, they will deteriorate.
Folks let me be the prophet and tell you that there is a time coming when
the Penn Square Pigs will be in a legal battle with the Convention Center
It's not a matter of IF but a matter of WHEN.
A Very Hard Course
The feeling I have this morning is that Molly [Henderson] and Dick
[Shellenberger] stayed the course, a very hard course, inherited this Authority and
project, were for it and that is why they were elected.
During their term and doing their job, the project changed from a
predominate private venture to the taxpayer holding the bag. As a resort area, we
this hotel tax as every other area has but our tax could have been put to a
much better use.
At last evening's [commissioner candidates] debate, Molly touched on a
possibility of using some of that tax to put towards preserving farm land, being
that people come here to see this wonderful commodity that cannot be replaced.
This was an excellent idea, I sincerely hope Molly will not drop this now or
in the future.
Oops. Wrong mayor
In response to the letter "Say Thank You Mr. Mayor": Conestoga View is
not located in the city. It's located in Lancaster Township. It's in the city
school district, but it's not in the city.
The term "naysayer" has a deliberately pseudo-religious connotation:
"Non-believers". The use of the term gives a subconscious reference to the
Resurrection. this is the same subtle attitude given by the press in
referring to the
lawsuits: as though the lawsuits were won because the project is endowed
with some kind of Divine Right to continue. The term "naysayer" implies
are skeptics in that Divine Right and are therefore, somehow, unholy.
Given the large number of taxpayers in this area that ascribe to
conventional "Christian" churches, where there is a hierarchy of flocks and
it is not surprising that a number of the project proponents assume the
of sheep, blindly empowering the shepherds who are have fleeced the flocks
before the slaughter.
When the convention center projected was voted on by the county
commissioners in 1999, there were few people willing to actually stick their
necks out ... I have seen people come and go in the battle....
I take a position that the convention center should be STOPPED now. Yes I
know there's money spent on it. But the money spent will be far less than
the money wasted and will have to be spent to keep these silly projects on
It won't be long until "they" are saying we need to build a bigger
convention center to make us more competitive! STOP THIS BABY NOW!
Local Non-Users Will Pay for Convention Center
"We here in Lancaster must remember that we are getting ready for the great
Convention Center crowd, the city is changing its image." (Local activist)
That says a LOT. The hotel and convention center project is NOT for the
people of Lancaster. Neither is the hotel and convention center project for the
The hotel and convention center project is aimed specifically at the kind of
mid-to-upper class business people who either have a big expense account to
attend a convention, or can afford to attend a convention. The vast majority
of the people of Lancaster City, most people in Lancaster County, and most
tourists will have absolutely and positively no reason to visit the downtown
hotel and convention center.
The fact that the former Zimmerman's Family Restaurant has been transformed
into an upper-class bar with a fancy dining area and a strict dress code is a
perfect example of how "the city is changing its image." Many of the
people who dined there regularly for years have been literally driven away, to be
replaced by the "right kind" of people that just might make the hotel and
convention center project look good.
Certainly Annie Bailey's already fits the "right kind" of people. Even the
Red Rose restaurant has applied for a liquor license, and plans a major
renovation. But the project planned for next door to Annie's failed before
renovations had seriously begun; now the partially gutted building is up for
The hotel and convention center project is the centerpiece in the makeover
of downtown Lancaster. This makeover is NOT designed for the people who live
in Lancaster; instead, it is designed specifically for the tastes of the
people who CONTROL Lancaster. But the real tragedy is, it is the very people
who will have NO reason to visit the downtown hotel and convention center who
have been and always will be paying its debts.
My home was assessed in 2003 for nearly $100,000 at a time when the most I
could have sold it for was over ten thousand dollars less than that. For some
reason, my home was assessed at thousands of dollars more than four
identical houses in the same row, and a nearly identical but slightly larger end
house was assessed at nearly ten thousand dollars less than mine. The (also
slightly larger) house at the other end of the row, with a bigger lot than mine,
recently sold for $105,000.
EDITOR: It is indeed strange that your assessment would not have conformed
to similar houses, especially on the same block.
Often a countywide reassessment is touted at being at 100% of market value.
But in fact it is at 90% to give people a sense they got a good deal and
discourage them from appealing.
With the information you describe in hand, you should have been able to
achieve an adjustment by simply meeting with a staff member.
USA Today re turning downtown areas around
Did anyone else read the article in USA Today on Friday
about how other cities in American are very successful in turning their
downtown areas around by building new high rise condos, flats & mixed-use
When Mayor Gray was elected I made several attempts to discuss this
him and all he would say is that Lancaster already had a plan that would
the same – the convention center!
Until downtown Lancaster gets cleaned up no one in their right mind would
take their family to stay downtown. Now that the taxpayers are stuck with this
project we can only hope that
Penn Square Partners will prove us all wrong – or we will all be paying to
With only 15% to 20% voting, we deserve what we get!
In general elections I sincerely vote for the most qualified in or out of
party. It is sad that the parties dictate to the public as there are sooooo
many qualified people that are not BUREAUCRATS that would give of their time
BUT the party will not back. There are too many people that get into office
with IOUs, this election included. The public is not stupid, they just do
not care anymore and that is sad.
The county level of elections is just the tip of the iceberg. WSJ stated last week that the money per candidate for the Presidency will exceed a Billion
Dollars. What a waste of good money and who can be trusted when he or she
gets elected with all the IOUs. We had the perfect opportunity to show clout
over this Convention Center Issue but did not form a strong enough group like
PALE or FAID. Numbers show strength and we did not have the numbers. Big
Business and PSP just kept on trucking because they have the strength.
I do not trust Martin and Stuckey, on the fence with Swarr and need Molly to
get her boxing gloves on to bury Lehman. From what I am hearing and seeing
around the County, Swarr is talking to the Republicans that will vote behind
closed doors for him. The jury is still out to see if these Republicans will
split their ticket. That third seat is going to be a surprise. Sooooo many
different scenarios can happen on election day.
This county has a turn out of about 15 to 20% of registered voters. With
those numbers, we deserve what we get. There should have been a campaign to
get voters out????!!!!! At the last convention center meeting I attended there
was a visitor that approached me with a confrontational attitude. I
asked, Are you a registered voter? Her reply was Why vote, it would not count?
As I walked away, I said, Register to vote and I will talk with you all
May the best person win in November ...
Intell's Gay Bashing
"A gym frequented by gays....." What gym isn't? Clearly, the article was
intended to inflame select readers.
With Mr. Boyd's failed legislative
attempt (the marriage amendment) perhaps the paper is trying to draw the
line on one of the last remaining hot-button issues (in Lancaster; much of the rest of the country has moved on.)
Mr. Boyd has not achieved financial gains for us taxpayers, and the
legislature has made no impact on our rapidly rising taxes.
Shame on them.
Contributor: Lancaster School System Paying the Price Already
My guess is that the [convention center / hotel project] final total will
be between $180 mil and $200 mil.
Remember, Art Morris, Tom LeCrone, Laura Douglas, and R.B. Campbell are
literally working overtime trying to rein in expenses.
And I would bet it isn't completely finished before Memorial Day, 2009.
They might have an "official" opening before then, but like the ballpark I
can't see how it will be completed on schedule.
To me, the only REAL question is this: will the next County Commissioners be
able to raise the "hotel tax" high enough to pay for the construction bonds
plus operational losses? Or, will the County be forced to make good on its
guarantee of payments on the $20 mil bonds, and raise real estate taxes to
pay for it? You can bet that neither Stuckey, Martin, Swarr, nor
(especially) Lehman will hesitate for even an instant to do so.
I'm not as worried about the risk to City taxpayers as I once was. [I am
told] there is enough sleight-of-hand
available to fudge the numbers so they LOOK like they meet the Act 23
I do agree that this project will severely hurt Lancaster City's chances for
as much State money as it might have received over the next 20 years. I'm
afraid the School District of Lancaster is already paying dearly for this
Still More re Gil Smart Article
As far as I could tell from site visits during demolition: All the wood and
fixtures from W&S can be found in some remote landfill.
I pass the site nearly every day, and the facade on Queen Street is likely
to be an uninviting concrete monolith, not appealing to pedestrian traffic,
further giving an emotional isolation to the Southern Market Center on Vine
More re Gil Smart's article
That [Watt & Shand] store would have made a beautiful upscale store front
with condos. Smithgall chose the buyers and the revitilization subject has long
gone. This project is a money pit and can be stopped if Penn Square Partners
would not be the -------* that they have turned out to be. The monies from
the state are no gift to this area because the gift will cost us dearly. The
jobs are temporary; when the project is done, the jobs are gone. Foot traffic
will save the city and create opportunity for new businesses; this will not.
That building was not an eyesore. I would like to know what happened to all
the wood and fixtures from inside. This project will not come in less that
220, anybody want to take my bet?
*Deleted by editor. It suggested inappropriate behavior.
Re Gil Smart's defense of Convention Center
Oh, come on....."aesthetic purposes"? That is the most outrageously inane
justification for spending $200 mil EVER.
The building became "decrepit" because of neglect. And it remained
salvageable until the wrecking ball struck.
No News Is Bad News
I just stopped for a Philadelphia Sunday paper. I sincerely do not buy
Lancaster anymore. Turkey Hills are sold out of Philadelphia papers, have gotten
a decrease finally in the Lancaster inventory and are requesting
headquarters for more Philadelphia and Baltimore Sun papers as the Lancaster papers
backing up. The clerk said "There is no news in the Lancaster paper." Oh
Streetcar Company Bypasses City Council
I am alarmed by this blatant attempt from promoters of a streetcar system to
circumvent the authority of the Lancaster City Council. As the elected
representatives of the people of the Lancaster, City Council is ultimately
responsible for approving the use of public rights-of-way. This authority
includes the approval of placing tracks in the streets, and the installation
of overhead wiring. And since the proposal would operate almost entirely
within city limits, Lancaster City taxpayers would ultimately be responsible
for guaranteeing the operational expenses of any "public" streetcar system.
To date, Lancaster City Council has taken no action whatsoever regarding the
streetcar proposal. The "Lancaster Streetcar Co." is not accountable to
City Council, nor is it accountable to the public. The members of its board
were neither elected nor appointed to represent the people on this
appears to be no legal basis for the formation of this nonprofit
The premature formation of the "Lancaster Streetcar Co." has made a mockery
of our representative form of government.
(Editor's note: The above previously was submitted to and appeared in The
Trolley Will Make More of a Mess
I believe that, even more than the cost, tracked streetcars will make
more of a mess of traffic than already exists.
I travel on North Queen Steet nearly every day. The traffic cannot
accomodate vehicles that are incapable of dodging delivery trucks, parked
vehicles, and through traffic. A trolley occupying a traffic lane, and stopping at
each trolley stop (without pulling to the curb the way busses can) would boggle
the city more than ever.
Tourists already avoid the city to keep out of messy, annoyingly time
Trolley System Would "Create a Nightmare"
Trolley system in Lancaster, Pa ?
I have seen trolleys in several cities that have been very successful.
Cities like Denver, San Diego, New Orleans have very successful systems.
they started with trolleys and later made it part of their mass transit
What made them successful is that each city either had very wide streets or
they had to buy more land and remove buildings to lay the track.
A trolley in Lancaster will create a nightmare if they plan to use existing
streets to run on.
There are many Dubbses in jail
While Dubbs was cooling his heels the rapist was out creating more victims!
Had the cops, the prosecutors got the RIGHT guy, other women would not have been
This is example where the cops, the prosecutors (Totaro would be involved in
ANY decision involving a felony) couldn't get past their OWN idea of who did
it DESPITE the evidence.
Heidi says she is "tortured" with the thought of putting the wrong guy in
jail. Good. Oh that all prosecutors could have sleepless nights until they
resolve the cases where evidence points to the other direction. How many others
won't get a "get-right-with-Jesus" confession and remain in jail. Don't kid
yourself if you think that there are not many more Dubbses in the +100,000 people
in jail across Pennsylvania!
What about NOW? Does Totaro have REASONABLE doubt? I say that he wouldn't
have PERSONALLY gone to Judge Ashworth to free Dubbs if he didn't!
Constitutionally, our system says that REASONABLE doubt mean NOT GUILTY.
Even after admitting that he has ZERO case against Dubbs - what is Totaro
1,600 Seat American Music Theatre
The 1,600 seat American Music Theatre offers an example of a performance
venue. I have vivid and fascinating stories
of how it operates: pros and cons. It is the type of venue that could
(should) have been built at the Penn Square site.
AMT is comfortable and spectacular, but acoustically very poor. Keeping
such a venue afloat financially is a challenge, and requires constant
I am not convinced that the area could support two concert venues.
Double Standard in Senator's Sex Scandal
It appears Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, was being asked to resign because
he's accused of soliciting sex with another man. If he had solicited sex
with a woman at a bar, would he still be asked to resign?
It appears that the Republican Party is more interested in persecuting
Craig for his sexual preferences.
Editors Note: Touché. However, many object to Craig because of his
LCCCA Ten Year Contract with Interstate Hotels
Over the years management contracts like this have turned very nasty and
usually wind up in court. It is public knowledge that the classic example
what happened to the Marriott Hotel & Marina in San Diego that is attached
the San Diego Convention Center.
It was reported by San Diego Union Tribune newspaper that the owner of the
hotel was very unhappy with Marriott's lack of performance about 10 years
and tried to cancel the contract. Marriott sued and won and the last I
checked they were still managing the property.
Letter: Just for Appearances
NewsLanc is not alone in retching at the pro-Dale High bias of Lancaster
Newspapers (Intell Panders for Proposed High Shopping Center, NewsLanc.com,
9/01/07) . Not only does the paper (any edition, the Intell in this case) slant
the reportage in blatant favor of High's proposed "The Crossings"
development, it adorns virtually every item with a four-color illustration of what
finished product might look like. C'mon, guys, at least pretend to be fair,
just for appearances. Por favor!
Letter: Interstate Hotel's Delayed Contract Card "Smoke and Mirrors"
The drafting of preliminary [event] contracts is completely independent of
construction schedules. The fact that no advance format of agreements was
made at least two years ago is further evidence of poor planning. There are
so many excellent models of venue contracts out there that it should not take
mere hours to create the documents.
If, however, the delayed contract "card" is played to disguise slow or
non-existing sales, that is pure "smoke and mirrors."
At best: "3 contracts for 2009" is outrageously shy of (conservatively)
projected business . . . even less business than any of us "critics" ever feared.
When one reads real estate listings: "cozy home needs some love" can be
translated to mean: "tiny shack that needs total rebuilding". Similarly:
"Three consumer shows" can be translated to: "A hotel art sale; a truckload
computer sale; and a sale of overstocked sewing machines."
Since the architecture and interior construction of the main exhibit hall
precludes making the room smaller by using "air walls" (the open truss ceiling) . . . any smaller event attempting to occupy the vast space will have the
appearance of a failure. How many sewing machines are needed to fill 40,000
Also, consumer shows often depend on spontaneous sales. The location and
design of the CC precludes easy customer pickup of anything less portable than
Not Trusting Stevens & Lee?
The Convention Center Authority last evening approved about $500,000 in
change orders. It was explained that they are one of three parties in the
condominium agreement: Penn Square Partners, the Redevelopment Authority and the
Convention Center Authority.
[The LCCCA's] percentage share of each change order varies [according to the
circumstances], three approvals are needed, and then the bank approves and
It was a very good meeting. The fee to Stevens and Lee was explained when
they are needed in the role of Special Counsel. They wanted $330 per hour
flat and that was corrected according to who is doing the work from $150 to
A cap of $10,000 as recommended by incoming board member Tom LeCrone and
board member R. B. Campbell was voted down 4-3 as board member Joseph Morales
and someone else said that is like not trusting our solicitor!!!!!!!
Sept. cannot come fast enough.
Letter: "Too Much Control for Mr. High's Firm"
It is gratifying that some of the questions the public has had about the
convention center project are finally coming to light. The connection of the
Stevens & Lee law firm to general partner Dale High is particularly
disturbing. Not only did the firm represent the Authority (and pocket $7 million), but it was also the county's solicitor involved in writing the restrictive county bond agreement. And don't forget S&L is High's registered lobbyist. That is simply too much control for Mr. High's firm over this project.
As for the consultant Logan, the more we learn about him and his
consultancy, the more questions are raised. If it is true that he was such a dubious work history, why was he hired by the Authority? Is it possible to work for three years -- and earn practically $1 million -- and have virtually no work
product to show for it?
Do not forget that every penny paid to Logan (and Stevens & Lee and the
other consultants) is 100% taxpayer money, paid monthly by Ma & Pa Motel Owner in
Thank you for asking the hard questions. Now if we could only get some
Half School Days Create Strain on Parents
I agree with your comment on the school year. Growing
up in New York, I started on the Wednesday after Labor
Day and ended on the third Friday in June.
What I find amazing is all the half-days my kids have
in the school year. The rationale is that teachers need
time to grade and prepare courses. It's amazing how my
teachers ever graded or prepared for my courses without
any half-days! I just don't know how I ever got an
Anyhow, those half-days provide just as much strain on
a family as does starting school in August. Each one
of those days means my wife or I must get an afternoon
off from work to care for our kids. So much for saving
any time off for quality family time!
LCCCA's One Sided Contract With Interstate Hotels
If the contract agreement does give the management company exclusive rights
to manage the convention center / hotel as they see fit - then this is only
the beginning of many problems!
Most hotel management companies are interested in only one thing; collecting
their fees. And if you do not pay they will sue and win!
Unhappy About the Convention Center Project
I have closed all my accounts with Fulton, stopped buying any Lancaster Newspaper and believe it or not I am still earning a pretty good living. I just have to figure out how to boycott High Industries.
Project Opponents Tired and Defeated
It says here that, for the foreseeable future, Lancaster County Convention Center Authority chair Art Morris is going to be the de facto executive director of the LCCCA as well. The authority has agreed that it will take months even to develop a job description as board members seek to replace outgoing executive director Dave Hixson.
Over at NewsLanc.com they're all gooey over Art, in part because he didn't try "to ram through the selection of [Hixson's] replacement." In addition, Art's really bringing the love to the LCCCA: "the respect and affection for Morris by all of the members of the board and the normally recalcitrant members of the audience became palpable."
Art's got 'em just where he wants 'em.
Think -- who's in charge of convention center construction for the next however many months? A professional from the convention industry whose future career prospects will hinge partly on his or her performance in Lancaster? Nope, a political appointee who, we may presume, will not be looking for any jobs in the convention business after his stint on the LCCCA is over. $40 million over budget? Oh well, Art did the best he could. He wouldn't even let us pay him, how can we be critical?
Think -- what sort of atmosphere do we want on the authority as construction changes are proposed, glitches encountered, cost increases confronted? A contentious one in which authority members are scrutinizing each others' actions or the "love fest" celebrated at NewsLanc? "Oh Art, you're so good to take on all that extra work, just go ahead and do what you think is best." Not for me. I like a little disagreement and suspicion on a committee that's got control over how public money is spent.
The NewsLanc piece predicts that the "independent and competent Morris [will] help bring together the community behind the project." Will somebody explain to me what the hell that means? They've got a lock on the revenue stream. They're beyond the control of elected officials and voters. What difference does it make if the "community" is behind the project? How would we be able to tell? What happens if the "community" refuses to get behind the project?
I realize that project opponents are tired and defeated. The latest convention center narrative is one of a project rising from the ashes. At this point it seems that just getting a building up will be sufficient for "success." That's why project supporters have been emphasizing that it's going to be built -- "give up, opponents, because we're gonna build something."
But what gets built still remains to be seen. As near as I can tell there's still a significant funding problem. As far as I know construction costs are increasing, not decreasing. I haven't seen anything to indicate that all the cost savings and additional sources of revenue that were supposed to have rescued the project from its latest "death" have actually been realized.
So why would we stop watching closely now? Because Art Morris is in charge? A full fledged member of the local Republican establishment that helped to ram this project down out throats?
Hey, I may not be able to do much to stop him. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna give him a pass.
Nuts, Maybe. Gullible, Not That Likely
How gullible can you be? Why are you reprinting Smart's "article?" There is not one insightful comment - and he is now pressing the case for his employer to put slots in the convention center. Are you nuts? How gullible can you be?
Call me frustrated. I'm sick of the nepotism in Lancaster County.
"Stale and Boring?" (Not us. Them!)
I am a former journalist with The Morning Call in Allentown. It is one of Pennsylvania's largest newspapers...
I have had several interviews for reporter's positions with the Lancaster Newspapers...
Every time I have been turned down. I then find out they hired the wife of a reporter, wife of an editor, wife of a salesperson....you get my point...
Doesn't anybody think that paper is stale and boring?...
AND why don't the Lancaster Newspapers have any women columnists that write about real issues????...
Letter re Gil Smart's Ramblings
As a native of Lancaster County and a businessman who has lived & worked in many other cities & states in the convention, meetings, hotel & retail business, I would like to share some thoughts about Gil Smart's ramblings. I do not personally know Mr. Smart but he lacks knowledge of the real facts about what he wrote in his memo.
Lancaster Downtown -
First, if the owners of the Lancaster Newspapers, Fulton Bank or Dale High truly cared about Lancaster County, I think they would have done a better job learning what other cities like Lancaster have done to turn their urban blight areas around into smashing success stories.
Some of the cities are Atlanta, Denver, San Diego, Tucson, Phoenix, Miami, Dallas, Houston and many more smaller cities like Lancaster have been just as successful as these mentioned.
All these cities mentioned had to first be honest (something in very short supply around our town) with themselves & the public about what they had to work with. Their downtown areas had become run down undesirable areas to work or live.
Most retail & whites had moved out of the areas years ago. Most properties were rentals to low income people living there and high crime was always a major problem. What does this sound like - Lancaster.
First, until this problem is addressed in downtown Lancaster, no major business will ever be a huge success. If Penn Square Partners really wanted to improve their investments in Lancaster they would had gotten behind a massive bold project to build block by block new condos, flats, apartments & homes in downtown area where people with money to spend want to live and play downtown. Only once this is accomplished then all the retail stores, restaurants & service business will follow.
After spending 34 years in this business I know a convention center in downtown Lancaster will never be very successful. The most important reason is Lancaster County simply does not have the very basic services, space, public parking, transportation infrastructure or good weather to make it a year round drawing card for many conventions or meetings. No one really wants to accept this as a true fact but they are all to willing to risk almost $200M of taxpayer money.
Casinos - This is really a dumb idea - I have watched what gambling has done to places like San Diego. We do not want Lancaster County's quality of life destroyed by a few greedy out of town casino owners. Chief of Police of San Diego County (largest in USA) reported several years ago that casinos have been the worst thing that ever happened to San Diego County. Major crime, many drunk drivers and major traffic problems dog the county with no real solutions. So a casino in Lancaster is simply not a wise solution.
Niagara Falls - Gil Smart got it all wrong, casinos have nothing to do with what he seen.
My first visit to the falls was around 1961. As a young man I drove my car to Niagara Falls and had planned to stay on the American side. When I arrived I was shocked to find what looked like a ghetto. Dirty run down buildings and hardly anyone around. We parked our car and walked to the edge of the falls and was shocked to see how dirty everything was and we could only see one of falls.
Then we looked across the falls to the Canadian side and could not believe how many people were over there and how beautiful it was. We drove over the bridge and stayed on the Canadian side for several days. The Canadian side has always had many things for visitors to see & do. The Canadian side has always put the American side to shame.
Thru the years I have returned several times including a week in June of this year. Yes, the Canadian side is very beautiful with view of both falls and the
Canadians light the falls every night with color lights for several hours. We stayed in one of the newer high-rise hotels on the 14 floor and had a 180 degree unobstructed view of both falls.
Thousands of people line up all day long and into the evening on the Canadian side to see both falls. This is why everyone has always gone to the Canadian side to stay not a casino. We went into the new casino and yes it is very nice and draws people -- that is just one of many things offered in that area, visiting the charming town of Old Niagara & a drive through the wine country is a huge drawing card to Niagara Falls.
Again this year we first stopped on the American side and had lunch and walked around the state park system that is now there. It looks better today than back in 1961 but it still has limited parking and the park rangers had a part of the park shut down due to the lack of enough visitors. So again location, location, location is what makes all the difference in the world if you want to be successful in convention centers and most other businesses.
Mr. Smart seems like so many people I have talked to in Lancaster County since moving back home three years ago. They know very little about convention, meeting & reunions business yet they & Penn Square Partners are willing to try anything including risking $200 million dollars of taxpayer money on this project. It is totally irresponsible of anyone to dump this kind of debt on our kids' & grandkids' future.
Shame on Senator Armstrong, Mayor Gray & Governor Rendell for gambling away our children's, grandchildren's and Lancaster County's financial future.
So many Lancastrians are sheep...willing to follow anointed leaders...in
both religious and political arenas. As though political power assures
superior intelligence or philanthropy.
Concerning David W. Hixson
Love him or hate him you have to give him credit he knows when to "get into
a deal & when to get out" and make a a good living at it!
Five to ten years from now when the convention center is completed and not
doing well few will ever remember his name!
Paternal Dominance in Society
A "Paternalistic" company might be appropriate for employees. However, that
same company presumes to be paternal over a population of smart,
freethinking, creative individuals. The presumption that the "father figure" knows best
is an example of destructive hubris. Many proponents mistakenly place too
much trust and faith in the "father figure." Sorry, but neither Mr. High nor
Mr. Adams is Robert Young (TV's Father Knows Best) (who followed a crafted
script in the first place)! In all cases, paternal dominance in society at
large is an archaic concept leading to alarming political results.
Mr. Smart notes that the rising taxes would be the worst result of
failure.....not at all true.
Besides missed opportunities, the perception of the city's failure is a
worse collateral result. Failed business (like a hotel, cc, or surrounding
support businesses) would set a downward spiral in motion.
Letter re Gil Smart Article
Wow! So now the newspapers are pushing for slot machines as a way to
shore up the convention center. The Lancaster establishment in bed
with the mafia. Talk about an unholy alliance!
Letter: "The lies of Nevin Cooley ... (and the Crime of Lancaster Newspapers)"
Nevin Cooley, President and chief spokesman for Penn Square Partners, is a liar.
On June 24, 2001, Cooley spoke in front of the formerly historic Watt & Shand building and before the local news media and the public, saying that Penn Square Partners was formed "with one and only one mission -- to find an appropriate re-use of this [the Watt & Shand] building."
Four years later, and after a blunt warning from the Pennsylvania Historic & Museum Commission that its plans for demolishing the building (and the block) would render it no longer historic (http://newslanc.com/bhp.pdf ), and before the building was demolished, Cooley wrote in a letter to the editor: "May we repeat? Behind the facade stands a collection of wood-framed buildings that are completely unacceptable for use in any modern commercial project. They cannot be 'renovated.' Not for this project, not for any other project." [italics in original.]
The letter was published by the other half of Penn Square Partners, Lancaster Newspapers. (http://newslanc.com/pspwood.pdf)
In 2006, Newslanc.com posted, and publicized, photographs clearly showing the supporting Watt & Shand buildings were steel, not the 'wood-framed" that Cooley falsely claimed. The photos (www.newslanc.com/steelphoto.asp) were taken during the demolition of the building, a Lancaster city landmark listed (until this year) on the National Register of Historic Places.
Nevin Cooley has a record of lying to the public. It was Cooley who told the public early in 2005 that unless the School District of Lancaster adopted the risky Tax Incremental Financing Plan [TIF], that Penn Square Partners would walk away from the project.
The District rejected the TIF plan, but Penn Square Partners didn't walk. With the helping hand in Harrisburg of bought-and-paid-for Sen. Gib Armstrong, Penn Square Partners found other ways to suckle at the public teat.
It was the same Nevin Cooley who, in 2005, wrote a letter to Patrice Dixson, president of the school board, saying -- no less than five times -- that "feasibility" studies had been conducted for the convention center project. This, too, was demonstrably false.
It was certified in 2006 that what had been conducted were sponsor-funded "market" or "marketing studies," recognized in the industry as considerably less comprehensive and thorough that the rigorous feasibility study. (http://newslanc.com/amervalugroup.pdf)
Alone, Cooley's lies would seem cynical attempts to con the public to give some advantage to his company's (High Industries) pet pork project. But the brazenness of his pronouncements is striking. It is as if Cooley knows it doesn't matter what he says; he is accountable to the public for nothing.
That is the truth.
The story is deeper, however, than the obvious and provable fact that Nevin Cooley is liar. In order to shamelessly prevaricate before rolling cameras and note taking "reporters," Nevin Cooley must have a willing accomplice, which he does in Lancaster Newspapers.
If Cooley is guilty of lying to the public, surely abusing the power of a monopoly press in support of those lies is worse.
And that is the Crime of Lancaster Newspapers.
Contributor: "Lack of basic honesty"
The "de-listing" of the Watt & Shand building from the National Register of Historic Places is a damning reflection on the lack of basic honesty on the part of both Penn Square Partners -- High Real Estate Group and Lancaster Newspapers.
On June 24, 2001 with cameras rolling and all newspapers present, Nevin Cooley, President of Penn Square Partners and High Real Estate Group, told a gathering that PSP was formed "with one and only one mission -- to find an appropriate re-use of the [Watt & Shand] building."
Today, the building, despite warnings from the Pennsylvania Historic & Museum Commission that PSP's plans would render the building (and entire block) no longer historic, is now only a thin facade of the once landmark structure.
In other words, Mr. Cooley lied.
Lancaster Newspapers -- a 50% partner in the hotel -- was at the press conference when Cooley made his pronouncement, and yet NONE of the "reporters" thought to point out the duplicity of Mr. Cooley's statements when they reported on the
de-listing last week.
Bias has never been so blatantly exposed. LNP doesn't even make a pretense at fairness. Go to
5thestate.com to view Cooley's lies.
Contributor: "Tom Smithgall is a liar."
Tom Smithgall's veracity should have been called into question many, many years ago.
One of the hoteliers' prime objections from the start was the inherent conflict-of-interest with the common management model endorsed by the Ernst & Young Study, the study that was used to create the taxes and the LCCCA.
You may recall that PSP never intended to remain an active "partner" in this venture. It was their expectation that they would sell their building to an investor. At that point, their role would be limited to the no risk fees for development and management and contracts for steel, concrete, etc. to build the place.
When an investor was not found to buy them out of their bad investment (the W&S Building) they moved on to plan B, a fourth partner. The fourth partner would be the managing partner but own the assets along with PSP. That plan failed as well and has brought us to where we are today.
As for Smithgall, he stated unequiviocally that at no time in seeking their investor were any fees promised to that partner to manage the center. These statements were made in public at LCCCA meetings. During the hotel tax trial in front of Judge Farina, the hoteliers attempted to bring the High/PSP RFP for their investor into the mix as a piece of evidence. PSP, not a defendant in that case, brought their own Philadelphia lawyers from Ballard Spahr (Rendell's firm) to agrue to keep that RFP out of evidence.
In the end, a redacted copy was entered and the paragraph that I reference below was read out loud. There was never any reference made of this testimony, in my opinion the most significant of the trial, in [the Lancaster Newspapers.]
A link to that RFP is posted on the Lancaster First website: http://www.lancasterfirst.org/RFP1999.htm.
If you follow that link and look at page 4, you will see a section entitled Multiple Management Fees. That section specfically states that the investor in the hotel would receive management fees on the center without any investment into the center. This is in direct contradiction to Smithgall's previous public statements.
This is the same guy who pranced around the County with Tom Baldridge in 1999 promising to deliver a 4-star hotel on Penn Square.
That was their idea, once again born in the E&Y Report, to assuage fears of hoteliers of unfair competition, not something that the hoteliers specifically demanded. Just another bait-and-switch.
The reality is that Tom Smithgall is a LIAR, pure and simple!
Lancaster News Cranking out the Propaganda
Erie Convention Center article in today's in Lancaster News - made me
chuckle! I have been [away] for last month and it is good to be back home and
see the Lancaster News is still cranking out the propaganda.
I have not visited Erie PA but many other convention centers nationally &
internationally - Downtown Lancaster is no waterfront - just a high crime area!
Yesterday someone told me over the weekend one evening in Lancaster they
heard 10 gunshots but no police sirens! Is this where anyone would want to go to
a convention or take their family along?
But then who cares because if this does not work they can always turn it
into a casino!!
Tax credits no longer needed
It's been known since the plans were modified to include demolishing the Watt & Shand building that the facade by itself wasn't enough to warrant a place on the National Register of Historic Places... Apparently a listing on the National Register of Historic Places provides NO protection for a historic structure from demolition.
On the other hand, the so-called "Historic Preservation Trust" now owns an easement on the facade. So there is some kind of protection there.
The ONLY reason the Watt & Shand building was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 was so the Penn Square Partners - actually High - could receive significant Federal historic tax credits for adaptive reuse of the building. When Dale High was able to obtain over $37 million in State money, and local guarantees for most of the rest, these tax credits were no longer needed.
Yes, it makes me sick. It all does.
The many LCCCA committee meetings are obviously designed to seduce the project opposition into believing all is now well with the project, in an attempt to lure us into supporting them (or at least dropping our opposition). The problem is, the damage is done, for at least the next 40 years.
Tom Smithgall is shocked, SHOCKED that the bldg. lost its historic designation. Just when you think it can't get more ridiculous...
Reader chastisement. (Editorial response in italics.)
Newslanc.com was much more interesting and insightful before you started
with leftwing political comments. I'm not sure the socialist Eugene Debs is an appropriate "patriot" to whom we should be paying
homage, for example; you may recall that he was arrested for and convicted
of disloyalty during WW I, and was disenfranchised for life.
As I also recall, his arrest was under tenuous circumstances and largely in retaliation for his legitimate opposition to World War I and his socialist goals, much of which were later incorporated into the New Deal.
If you would like to choose a role model from the labor movement, you might
do better to look at Samuel Gompers. There are many persons in our American
history who are much more deserving, and you
do not have to look very hard to find them. Today Al Gore himself is part of
the so-called "Assault on Reason", and Michael Moore is just plain sick
with his hatred of anything not in 100% agreement with his leftist rants.
Gompers was a labor leader. I don't know that I would classify him as a political activist. He avoided non-economic issues and summed up his demands for his union members in one word: "More!"
While we can disagree on many topics and still be loyal Americans, when you
start espousing extreme leftist views using some of the examples you have
cited, you become part of the problem in today's
political arena by joining in hatred for those with whom you do not agree.
There is room for all in our country,
and room for diverse viewpoints, beliefs, creeds and so on. There is *not*
room for hatred; I would hope you do not continue heading in that direction
with your bizarre choice of heroes.
I think it is unworthy of you when you accuse former Congressman, Senator and Vice President Al Gore and us of hating those with whom we do not agree. It is symptomatic of that to which you ostensibly object.
And another thing: Where on earth have you gotten the
outrageous idea that Michelle Lambert has been mistreated in any way? Just
because an incompetent judge with a
political agenda was willing to ignore and brush aside the clear evidence in
the case, that does not mean he was right in any
way. Read the details of the court
that reviewed his decision finding Michelle Lambert “actually innocent”. If
I remember correctly, Dalzell was
censured for that in addition to having the decision overturned.
I thought that on the basis of the federal judge's findings that Lambert was entitled to another trial outside of Lancaster. Whether she was the one who did the stabbing had much to do with the length of her sentence.
You have done good service in exposing the foul corruption associated
with the Convention Center project.
Keep up the excellent work, but you'd be better off sticking to
what you do best: Local commentary.
How our legislators vote is local. Celebration of July 4th is local. That a member of our community may not have had a fair trial is local. Perhaps what you mean is I should stick to taking positions with which you agree. That isn't Newslanc's purpose. And there is no way that our positions will satisfy everyone.
Letter re Lancaster Not "Gay Friendly"
I have 20 years of clippings of our (artists') intent and hope to make Lancaster an Arts Center. It can be accomplished with support from the community as well as the politicians. However, artists are expressive, passionate and progressive individuals. I have found the acceptance of art forms, however, to be increasingly conservative in the last ten years. The renegade, progressive, envelope-pushing artists have vanished for a variety of reasons. Where is the cutting edge? It will take a balance of acceptance of the full spectrum of arts; savvy promotion fueled by an understanding of what "art' is; and masterfully plotted organization and concensus-building.
Add one more factor: As most major cities have discovered, it would be impossible for a city or area to succeed as an arts center without simultaneously declaring to be "Gay-Friendly." Lancaster has not yet demonstrated that capability. In fact, within the Mayor's memo (effectively) canceling the Lancaster's Pride Fest, he lists fear of protesters among the reasons for disallowing the event...
Mayor Gray could have offered support for the event early enough to avert the cancellation. His support would have validated his intent to promote the city as an Arts Center. Let's see how he responds for 2008.
Letter re Downtown Lancaster As An Art Center
Tourists are not generally purchasers of art. The will attend performances, exhibits and other experiences; but it is much easier for them to schlep memories home than sculptures and paintings. While some events (Long's Park, and Gretna Art Fest) do sell art to travelers, those attending are arriving specifically to buy art. Tourists are buying experiences. Period.
Having worked at "Sight and Sound" can tell you the majority of the audience would not venture beyond the S & S Gift Shop, Rockvale Square, and the nearest smorgasbord. It is generally not the audience for an Arts Center.
Editors note: Nevertheless, tourists will be attracted by an opportunity to visit art galleries and some sales of items of good value should take place.
"Something most of us can agree on"
If you think that Al Gore and Michael Moore are the type of activists that we should look to for leadership you must be smoking dope. They are two of the most self-centered and biggest liars on the planet. They have no desire to defend and perpetuate the goals of the Declaration of Independence. Mr. no controlling legal authority Al Gore is as crooked and as phony as his father was and his only desire is to enrich himself and his wealthy friends while pushing their liberal socialist philosophy on the rest of us. Unfortunately the population of this country is made up of too many people like you who are gullible enough to buy into their crap. I'll agree with you that leadership at all levels in this country is sorely lacking, but the Al Gore's of the world are not what we need. Stick to opposition to the convention center, it's somethingmost of us can agree on.
Editors note: NewsLanc.com is not about addressing subjects that "most of us can agree on." Our purpose is to bring accurate information on matters of local interest (and on the rare occasions we are mistaken we will post a correction), to monitor and expose misinformation from the monopoly newspapers, and to stimulate discussion of matters of local importance.
Right to Life vs. AIDS
Just because the ill-fated Titantic has left the dock, doesn't mean you have to get on it
If you consider an "enlightened Republican" one that condones killing the unborn and supports sexual immorality via contraceptives (here or anywhere), consider me unenlightened. You've bought into another canard of the modern age, and lost a reader.
Editors Note: We favor children and the publisher has five. However, we view providing condoms in nations with a totally out of control AIDS epidemic to be a public health issue, not one of birth control.
The Lambert Case
The one [federal] judge certainly made it look like Lambert was framed. The boy who pleaded out seemed to be the perpetrator.
But then again, this is Lancaster County, where the guilty and innocent are determined by the plutocrats.
A Reader's Unpublished letter to the Lancaster New Era
I am writing you regarding your near coronation/editorial of your business partner, S. Dale High...
The preachy missive seem to make High a cross between Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King. You wrote: "We must financially support urban school systems", he said. "We should not expect them to do what families and churches used to do and think they can educate children of many languages -- and various readiness levels -- without adequate resources to do the job." So High suggests that we need to "financially support urban schools systems" ?
In 1999 High, along with business partner the Lancaster Newspapers, promised the hotel would pay $400,000 per year in school taxes. Now, thanks to the newspaper's propaganda and influence peddling, the hotel has zero tax liability! Obviously Dale High and your newspaper are hypocritical in this instance.
The Lancaster New Era however has once again tainted the bully pulpit of the editorial page to try and fool the readers into thinking that High and the paper cares for anything but their greedy selves.
Stupid . . . or sinister?
Jack Brubaker (New Era) contacted me to commment on the budget projections for the LCCA and Hotel. I did. In a nutshell: it is unfounded fiction. In fact, the operations and income growth are based purely on a formula entered in the Excel document, having nothing to do with reality.
Mr. Logan should not just be banished from the project...he should be drawn an quartered after being tarred and feathered for touting the fictional budget.
I thought smart businessmen and lending banks would easily see through the totally bogus document.
Are they that stupid?....... or that sinister?
Praise for Mayor Rick Gray
Since Mayor Gray has taken office I have personally seen a huge increase in law enforcement. Not only has there been an increase in patrol cars out on the street but the James Street Improvement district also has guys on bikes riding around. Granted the JSID security has no authority but they are still a presence that deters potential criminals. Also I frequently have seen a number of Mounted Police officers roaming the streets on horses. That in itself is very intimidating. The Mayor and new police chief have really made some changes for the better and I praise him for that.
On a side note, we all (city residents mainly) need to do our part and be aware of what is happening on our blocks, report any suspicious activity.
Also be aware of your neighbors and help others in need. Lancaster city needs its residents to be proud of where they live and to make this place worth visiting. Maybe if we spent more time helping others and less time critiquing what the exterior of the CC is going to be we could actually make a difference. Maybe then the CC would be a success
-West End City Resident
Are they stupid? … or that sinister?
In a nutshell: (The budget projections for the LCCCA and hotel) are unfounded fiction. In fact, the operations and income growth are based purely on a formula entered in the
Excel document, having nothing to do with reality.
Mr. Logan should not just be banished from the project … he should be drawn and quartered after being tarred and feathered for touting the fictional budget.
I thought smart businessmen and lending banks would easily see through the totally bogus document.
Are they that stupid? … or that sinister?
(Editor's note: Wachovia Bank extracted a first lien on the hotel room tax, extracted huge reserves for interest payment, and obtained priority treatment ahead of other creditors. Stupid they may not have been. Craven is a better description.)
One of many delays and overruns
I am sure this will be only one of many delays & cost overruns.
In the past I have watched many convention center projects have many $ millions of extra change orders...
It seems like most people I have talked to just want the center built & us to stop fighting the project.
This info about Denver & San Diego Convention Center projects makes interesting reading:
It never ceases to amaze me how little even the educated people of Lancaster County understand what is wrong with this risk of taxpayers' money. Unfortunately, it will take 5 to 10 years after opening til the public will sees the real negative impact on their tax bills - but then who besides us cares?
100,000 square feet Wal-Mart or a ruse?
I understand Wal-Mart is going to build a store [in Manor Township] just under 100,000
feet, small enough to be barely legal. What Wal-Mart has done in other
parts of the country is build free-standing grocery stores and garden
centers on the same site, with the combined size of the buildings as big as
the single building they originally had planned.
The Wal-Mart store in Ephrata is a good example of how they get their own
way. Ephrata didn't want the store, and blocked it under the pretense it
was really a "shopping center" because it included several "independent"
stores just inside the front door. Wal-Mart got around this restriction by
promising to NOT open these extra shops. Unfortunately, they built the
space anyway, they just put a wall in front of it.
Several years later, with no notice in the local newspapers, the wall came
down, and the "shops" were opened, in clear violation of the original
agreement. I have no idea how they got away with it.
Please don't assume the battle is over. Just like so many other big
businesses that we all know and love to hate, they have ways to get around
Dale High as Lancaster's savior
We in Manor Township after nine long years and thousands of dollars (private) may have ended the ordeal with Wal-Mart coming in on South Centerville Road due to a local developer having no vision for the future of this area. I bring this up because Wal-Mart in the Wall Street Journal two days ago, their board voted to suspend all future opening of new stores until the numbers of the existing stores showed growth.
HELLO, Mr. High should open his ears to all the facts of Convention Centers and trends, develop condos at the square to give more taxes to the city and schools, create foot traffic to get business downtown that will hire OR allow new ventures, take the Penn Square Partner money and create a fund to get his suggestions started. THAT would make him look like the savior of all saviors!
More re Bait and Switch
[At the] July 28, 2005 board meeting of the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority, Mr. John Luzic of Reynolds Construction gave a presentation that detailed ways the project was going to deal with cost overruns. During his presentation at this meeting, Mr. Luzic clearly stated that Dryvit would be used above the fifth floor of the hotel tower
instead of precast masonry. Since then, the public has never been told anything different.
This is the same LCCCA board meeting where the LCCCA finally authorized Cooper Carry to draw construction blueprints for the project, more than two years after the original 1999 plan was abandoned in favor of a much larger and far more expensive facility. (This is confirmed in an Intelligencer Journal article by Dave Pidgeon on July 29, 2005.)
Is it possible [architects] Cooper Carry never knew about the plan to use Dryvit on the hotel tower? I find this highly unlikely, considering the agenda of the meeting when this announcement was made…
In any case, it is obvious that the plans for "value engineering" and cost reductions were indeed never anything more than smoke and mirrors. The
summer of 2005 $5 million cost overrun that first involved "value engineering", the August 2006 $20 million funding gap that resulted in the
infamous "smoke and mirrors" plan, the November 2006 $10 million increase which was dismissed as manageable, and the final $5 million increase which
was totally ignored by almost everybody, all added up to no basic changes in the project at all.
How much of all of this has been deception and/or outright lies?
Great Show, Poor Downtown Security
Because our oldest son & his wife was celebrating their wedding anniversary my wife and I decided to take them out for dinner and to the show at the Fulton
Theater… "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - it was fantastic! …
At no time did we ever see any law enforcement officer walking, riding a bike or driving around anywhere we walked or drove. You would think with that many people downtown and the lack of good traffic flow someone might see the need for security of our citizens.
It can't get worse. Oops, it just did!
A NewsLanc visitor comments below on the obsequities under the heading 'We have the ability to shape our future' in the June 5 New Era coverage of an address by S. Dale High. He spoke at the Distinguished Citizen Award Dinner sponsored by Pennsylvania Dutch Council of the Boy Scouts of America. High is the partner of the monopoly Lancaster Newspapers in the Convention Center / Hotel project. Beneath the letter are some excerpts from the puff piece. The Editor.
There have been many times I have said to myself and others, "The newspapers can't sink any lower." But time and again, I have been mistaken. They keep stooping and compromising basic journalistic tenets. But this time, with this cynical, hypocritical, sycophantic pablum in praise of infallible S. Dale, Lancaster Newpapers has sunk as low as it can get. I thought this was a parody, but it never got funny. I really can't believe they printed this crap.
New Era: S. Dale High, the well-known business owner and community leader, sees a number of disturbing national trends that have come to roost in Lancaster County and Central Pennsylvania…Failure to recognize and address these trends imperils our long-term future, warns High, chairman of the board of The High Cos., a family-owned enterprise that includes heavy manufacturing, real estate, construction andbusiness-services companies…"Who will we be here in Central Pennsylvania in another generation if we do nothing different from what we are now doing?" asked High. It's clear to High that we can't continue on the same path. We can and must do better, he said. Can we make a difference? Of course we can, High said… "We have the ability to shape the future here. The opportunity is ours to seize or to squander." …The task is daunting, and there is much to be done. But we need not be overwhelmed, "if we take one positive action after another."
Marriott Exterior Finish Challenged
[Many builders] who have built with Dryvit system [have] switched to a stucco system with an acrylic finish that looks the same, but is much harder, more durable and more easily maintained. Unless a Dryvit system is installed perfectly and maintained at a very high level, it will fail - crack, leak, stain, discolor, peel, etc. and soon become a serious problem that can affect the structure of a building, if not fully repaired in a timely manner.
The Tower of Dryvit for the Marriott Hotel could be a disaster, especially since it will be so exposed to the elements - sunlight, wind, driving rain, hail, extreme temperature variations and building movement.
A massive amount of Dryvit, especially immediately above the Watt and Shand facade, will actually look like anywhere USA, not historic downtown Lancaster [as] was promised to the public. Look at the promotional sketches - they show a match with the W&S facade. Dryvit cannot possibly match the Watt & Shand facade in color, texture or detailing.
It should not be permitted, but it looks like a done deal at this point.
(Editor's Note: As time has passed, the Dryvit System has been subject to much criticism. There have been numerous lawsuits claiming it fails to adequately prevent water penetration and necessitates very expensive recaulking and painting periodically.)
Molly should fight for the job
If Molly [Henderson] wants to be reelected, she needs to POUND the Convention Center Deal from now until election day. She must also remind people that she was in favor of the project in its original state but as a steward of this county, cannot be a part of the existing project. She needs to give answers to hard
She needs to get on the offense to beat her party runner and Swarr. She is tooooooo quiet and toooooo laid back.
If she wants the job, then fight for it.
From a reader:
Megan's web site doesn't go far enough
First I'd like to say I enjoy your writings and I read them daily. But your comments "Bad Judgment" are off base!
The public has a right to know who are the criminals and predators in the streets. Especially sexual predators. I would go as far as branding or tattooing them for easy identification purposes.
As far as your assertion they will not get a job, I have hired ex-convicts and even a sexual predator on work release from prison. Megan's web site does not go far enough. These people have forever lost the trust of society and need to be tracked forever.
[Editors note: We thought the WATCHDOG posting would be controversial and welcome the discussion.]
A Win for LNP Spin
LNP's smear campaign against Molly Henderson produced the predictable result in the primary election, with only 40% of Democrats voting for the incumbent commissioner, who is a critic of the High/Steinman convention center/hotel project.
According the May 16 Intelligencer Journal, people who voted against Henderson cited the need for "reasonable, competent people" in order to avoid "infighting" in a "dysfunctional" commissioners' office.
Had people actually attended commissioners' meetings instead of relying only on Lancaster Newspapers' misinformation, they would have seen for themselves the source of the "dysfunction" on the commissioners' team. They would also have observed that Henderson and commissioner chair Dick Shellenberger were looking out for taxpayers' interests.
Molly Henderson deserves better than this. Shame on LNP reporters and editors for this gross disservice both to her, and to the voters of Lancaster County.
Misdirected State Expenditures
Almost ONE BILLION DOLLARS of PA Taxpayer money being spent on 2 convention centers (Philadelphia & Lancaster) in PA!
No wonder PA taxes are twice as much as California.
No wonder we have the worst roads in the USA.
No wonder we do not have affordable healthcare for uninsured in PA.
No wonder good paying jobs keep leaving PA.
Where are the PA taxpayers outcry demanding change?
How Doctors Screw Up
Two years ago, an urgent call from my father: My mother, then 84, was ill. Gray
skin, sunken eyes, confused. At the hospital, her blood tests showed abnormally
high levels of calcium. She had calcium poisoning. Calcium poisoning? Six weeks
prior, it turned out, the family doctor had instructed her to start taking
calcium tablets and drinking three glasses of milk a day. Unknown to him, she
was nibbling Tums all day for heartburn; little rolls of Tums nestled in every
drawer in the house.
Jerome Groopman might better have titled How Doctors Think, "How Doctors Screw
Up." Despite those professional white coats, doctors make the same kinds of
cognitive errors as the rest of us. To begin with, they stereotype patients from
first impressions. Groopman cites a case of a fortyish forest ranger with chest
pains, who looked so fit and healthy that the examining doctor dismissed the
possibility of an impending heart attack. Doctors apply rules of thumb: old
women lose bone density, so my mother's doctor ordered calcium. Doctors jump to
conclusions based on their particular specialties or their recent experience.
Groopman himself saw six different doctors for a wrist injury and got four
different diagnoses. Doctors pay closer attention to patients they like than to
those they don't--especially those with apparent psychosomatic disorders.
Groopman presents a young woman who nearly died after a whole series of doctors
dismissed her complaints of intestinal pain, and attributed her weight loss to
Groopman takes a dim view of pharmaceutical industry sales tactics, notably the
strategy of turning the natural aging process into a disease. Drug companies
learn from pharmacies exactly how much of their products each doctor prescribes,
enabling them to reward big prescribers. Groopman describes an industry rep
harassing a top endocrinologist who refuses to prescribe his brand of
testosterone. "You will write three prescriptions this month." But many doctors
yield to incentives or pressure, which they also feel from their
patients--inspired by advertising. A recent report in the New England Journal of
Medicine found that 94% of the 1,662 physicians surveyed had accepted gifts or
money from pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturers. Over three quarters
had accepted meals or samples; 35% had accepted reimbursements for attending
drug company 'educational' conferences--usually held at resorts. (WSJ 4/26/07.)
My parents each take over a dozen different pills a day. Sometimes I help them
fill their weekly dispensers: the ones for getting up, for breakfast, for
dinner, for bedtime. Tiny white pills, fat grey pills, clear golden capsules,
skinny red lozenges, thick purple lozenges, round yellow tablets, cream
octagonal tablets and flat pink tablets shaped like little shields. Names to
conjure by: Zocor, Spironoloactone, Lisinopril, Lasix, Paroxetine, Protonix,
Fossamax, Ecotrin, and Ambien. The doc once prescribed testosterone for my
father; fortunately he had the good sense to Google it and learn it would
aggravate his prostate.
Groopman admonishes doctors to look out for cognitive traps, and even more
important, listen carefully and respectfully to patients. He advises us, the
patients, to ask questions, do our own research and don't hesitate to consult
After my mother's bout of calcium poisoning, I checked her medications on the
web, and then with my own doctor. Half were inappropriate and possibly harmful,
especially since she has borderline kidney failure. I wrote her doctor a polite
letter, questioning the meds. I also suggested he might refer her to a kidney
specialist. A scribbled note came back: the medications were "necessary" and he
would refer her "only if she requests it." Of course my parents wouldn't dream
of asking tough questions or requesting a referral--that would be rude.
Lancaster Newspapers' Appalling Ethics
In its jihad against Republican County Commissioner candidate Heidi Wheaton (the only one of four opposed to the publicly financed High/Steinman convention
center project), Lancaster Newspapers (LNP) saved its cheapest shot for last as it published a premature, unscientific and UNDEMOCRATIC poll or survey reporting
"Heidi Wheaton was trailing all three" GOP candidates NINE HOURS BEFORE THE POLLS CLOSED.
Many -- if not the majority -- of county voters vote when they get off work, between 5 and 8pm. If they read or hear about a report saying Wheaton is way behind, it is reasonable that many would say their vote isn't worth the trouble of casting since their candidate is out of the running.
There is no other way to read the LNP "report." They were sending a message that it was a three-way race and that Wheaton supporters needn't bother voting. Many, no doubt, took the cue. The irresponsibility of LNP in this instance is appalling, even for them. They used their monopoly power to literally obstruct the democratic process.
Does a journalistic crime get any more grievous? It is, frankly, scary and dispiriting at the same time to recognize that Lancaster Newspapers has clearly embraced its role as imperial social and political engineer of the county. Democracy be damned; Dale High and the Steinman Corp. own this county. This vote rudely reminded us of that fact.
(Editor's note: If they were aiming for Heidi Wheaton, they bagged Charlie Smithgall by mistake.)
The real facts about Charlie Smithgall
- Raised city taxes approximately 45% and ended with a 7 million dollar deficit!
- Canceled an already scheduled city council resolution to recognize a two war veteran soldier/captain of the US Army after his return from Iraq war!
- Approved guaranties totalling $36 million dollars in taxpayers' monies while helping the Penn Square Partners' private sector project!
- Unethically approved a $900,000 funding for a project without city council's knowledge and/or required approval!
- He opposed a federal law related to the mandatory sentencing in federal prison to those using illegal guns but … he has being selling guns …for years.
- His 80-million dollar projects were approximately 95% tax exempt!
- He filed a law suit against his republican colleague an elected official because he was protecting the tax payers.
- His lack of respect to others, intimidation lack of teamwork and "it's my way or the highway" were and are his real qualities!
From a reader: Hotel Room Sales Tax
Most people do not understand charging any hotel (bed) tax can have a very
negative effect on the hospitality industry.
Years ago when hotel tax was originally agreed to by hotel operators with
local elected officials it was to raise money to promote tourism to a given
Hotel tax was never intended to pay for private owned business or convention
Unfortunately, it did not take long for elected officials to realize they had
found a new source of income and started dipping into to hotel tax money for
Today many think the hotel tax will cover the losses to operate our new
convention center. But when not enough people visit our area to pay enough taxes
to cover all that is needed to operate the center the first thing everyone
will want to do is raise the hotel tax and it usually backfires. What usually
happens is the public who used to visit your area for 2 or 3 days will start
staying one night or only do day trips and everyone loses!
That is where you and I will be ask to make up the difference in raised
taxes to cover the losses!
Rearranging the chairs on the Titanic
(A letter to NewsLanc)
To me, the most significant question of all is: why wasn't Art Morris
appointed in September 2006, when Dave Schwanger's term expired?…
Rick Gray has positioned Art Morris as a reformer who will bring
accountability to the project…
If Rick Gray were serious about Art Morris bringing accountability to the
project, he would have appointed him in September, when Art Morris might
have been able to fight for a better deal for local taxpayers. Now that the
LCCCA board is practically powerless, "accountability" no longer has the
meaning it would have BEFORE the taxpayers were raped and pillaged.
Now that the bonds are sold, these changes to the LCCCA board are nothing
more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Convention Center Party
This is just the first of many meetings, trade shows & cocktail parties to
get everyone at the state, local & Hotel/Motel Association on board to
promote the opening of the new Lancaster County Convention Center.
Usually the taxpayers pay for all these events including cost of the sales &
marketing. Cost of the event includes all travel costs.
Wait til you start hearing about the cost to run each state & county office
sales & marketing staff. The sales & marketing budgets can run in the
millions of dollars each year.
This is just the beginning. In the end if any convention center business is
booked usually the hotel connected next to the convention center is the one
that will benefit from the bookings. Most attendees do not feel comfortable
straying far from the convention center. In Lancaster, at this point, it would
not be safe to.
But do not get too worried because I just cannot see the average convention
or meeting planner being willing to place their reputation on the line to
book many of their events at a do nothing location like downtown Lancaster, PA.
Conventioneers are very demanding, they want good weather, fun things to see
& do like attractions & shopping in modern malls.
Glen Spangler's Letter To Art Morris
(Reproduced with permission)
Dear Mr. Morris:
Congratulations on being appointed to the Lancaster Convention Center
Authority Board, I wish you well. I have been told you are a good person that cares
about our community. If so I am sure you do not want to assist Mayor Gray in
being a part of something that will cause a financial disaster for Lancaster
County for years to come.
I know your plate must be very full but I feel compelled to share with you
my first hand working knowledge why any convention center built with taxpayer
money can never be successful in Lancaster County.
First, you & I have never met so allow me to introduce myself, Glen E.
Spangler. I am very proud to be a Lancaster County native who worked 30+ years in
the convention & hotel business. As president & CEO of three different
hotel management companies, I managed or supervised the management of many
convention and hotel operations all over the USA. I worked & lived in over 20
different states. Additionally I have attended over 150 conventions and trade
shows in almost every major convention center in the America.
Over the years I watched many other cities like Lancaster try to fix their
local economic and social problems by building convention centers. Many
convention centers in the US today do not generate enough bookings to pay their
operating expenses. Due to over building of convention centers all over America
today many convention centers sit empty day after day year round putting
additional financial drain on local taxpayers. The short fall of money often
runs in the millions of dollars every year.
A new convention center built anywhere in Lancaster County can never be
successful enough to repay the taxpayers for funding it's construction or
generate enough profit to pay yearly operating costs.
Mr. Morris, if we allow this convention center to be built with taxpayer
money this will be one of the biggest financial disasters in Lancaster County.
Our children and grandchildren will be paying millions of dollars to keep it
open over the next thirty years.
There are so many other positive things that could be done to the Watt &
Shand site to turn Downtown Lancaster City around. What we need is Mayor Gray
and others to endorse building high rise condos, office buildings, flats & town
houses so people like you and I will want to live downtown. Then and then
only will all the service related businesses will follow.
Fleecing of Pennsylvania Taxpayers
I'm also including a copy of a letter I wrote last week to the Lancaster
News Editor about the latest study that substantiates the negative impact
convention centers are having on local taxpayers all over the USA. It is not too
late to stop the convention center project and retool for a high rise condo and
a multi use building.
I would like to meet with you so we can discuss the negative impact a
convention center in Downtown Lancaster will have on our community.
Because of my background in the convention & trade show business, I offer
you my services free. If you would like more information regarding why this
will not work in Lancaster County, please feel free to call me at
Glen E. Spangler, CHA, CHSP
Letter response to re "Art Morris' sudden 'ascendancy'"
In all due respect, let's see what [Art Morris] does until [Tom] LeCrone gets on board. At that time there will be a 4/3 County tilt… I feel that this is [Mayor Rick] Gray's way of getting to the bottom of a lot of non transparency. Being the chairperson will not be powerful when the 4/3 [county appointee majority] is in action. LeCrone is going to be the deciding vote from September on, let's not forget that. Pro or against in the past is not relevant going forward, accountability is.
Letter re Art Morris' sudden "ascendancy"
I applaud Deb Hall for not voting for Art Morris' nomination as Chair [of the Convention Center Authority.] If anyone needed more proof that Art was meticulously selected by project sponsors, this transparently orchestrated move was it.
Someone will have to explain to me how, after the careful selection of Art, his history as a staunch project supporter, and his immediate ascendency to the Chair, Art is now expected to bring the hammer down on, say, Stevens & Lee. Do people honestly think Art will lead the charge to bring down Dale High's registered lobbyist, the redoubtable Stevens & Lee? Please…Yet another historic day in this project's life. What a joke.
Tough Decisions Await LCCCA Board
Whoever is appointed to the LCCCA board will be forced to make some very ugly decisions:
- It is extremely likely that cost overruns will trash current financial
- Operational losses of the completed convention center will undoubtedly be
far greater than current estimates.
- As a result, additional funding WILL be required. Does the LCCCA take the
"hotel tax" away from the Visitors' Bureau, or demand the County increase
the hotel tax? It is entirely possible the losses will be so great that
BOTH will be required.
- Wachovia's definition of insolvency in the LCCCA agreement provides for an
extremely low threshold of "default," greatly increasing the likelihood that
Wachovia will take over management of the convention center.
- Hotel issues, such as a shortfall in the annual $1 million IFIP grant that
would result in a City tax increase, could put an incredible amount of
pressure on the LCCCA board to do SOMETHING.
- If the LCCCA board is forced to choose between requiring the City and
County to raise taxes, or else turn the convention hall into a casino, would
there even be a choice?
On top of that, I understand the LCCCA board is now basically
powerless. Their ability to spend money WITHOUT direct approval by Wachovia
is extremely limited.
Letter to Editor Questions Art Morris' Sincerity
I hate to be one to crash the Convention Center Authority board lovefest, but did anyone notice that when it came time to "pay the bills," the quarter of a million dollars in taxpayer money forked over every month to smug Dave and his Merry Bandits, that our man Art dutifully did exactly what he said he would not do, and rubber stamped them. Campbell, Douglas, and Hall abstained, and when Art had his chance to say --"Wait, let's at least take a few days to review what we are paying, after all, it's the public's money, and it's what I said I was going to do." -- what did he actually do?
Same old ****.
And now, after one meeting Art will sit on the throne with the blessings of many erstwhile critics. Don't include me among them.
Governors Aren't Above the Law
It was revealed last week that not only did Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell publicly admit to traveling speeds well-in-excess of the speed limit, but actually went so far as to attempt to justify speeding, on the grounds that it is necessary in order to avoid being a "safety hazard."
However much I might sympathize with the governor's position, on a pragmatic level, it needs to be said that the current situation on our highways amounts to no less than an emergency from the standpoint of political and legal theory.
That criminal laws duly enacted by legislatures need to be universally binding in order to be effective is so obvious that it is embarassing to have to articulate. Compliance with the laws of Pennsylvania - and the United States - is not optional. That would be the functional equivalent of having no law in place at all.
Speed limits are not mere advice. They are the law - the enacted will of the People of Pennsylvania. For anyone, much less the Chief Executive, to violate those laws is tremendously corrosive of the very fabric that holds our society together. Mr. Rendell, and Jon Corzine as well, took oaths of office to uphold the laws of their respective states. For them to so carelessly neglect those laws, no matter how many persons act similarly, is a very grave dereliction of duty. As Justice Louis Brandeis once warned, "If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for the law. It invites every man to become a law unto himself. It invites anarchy."
We, as a society, need to make a decision. We need to decide whether or not we're serious about speed limit laws. If we are indeed serious, then we as citizens need to respect other drivers by obeying those laws as best we can, law enforcement needs to aggressively pursue those who would make exceptions of themselves, and we need to seriously consider reprimanding the governor for his conduct. If, on the other hand, we are not serious about speed limit laws, then we need to lobby our legislators to change them.
No Cho Photo
[Concerning the Intell front page photo]: Precisely correct. An additional thought: it appears that health and police professionals felt that Cho should be committed but the COURT deemed otherwise. It strikes me particularly arrogant of the legal system to ignore medical opinion without at least obtaining a medical opinion that supports the court's position.
Revive City with Proven Solutions
Several years ago, a commercial real estate pro attended a conference that
was an amazing economic development resource for all cities looking to
redevelop their urban areas. It was put on by the IEDC, the International
Economic Development Council, and was called, "If You Build It, Will They
She was so impressed by the wealth of information and resources available to
cities from this group and especially this conference. She came back,
having noted that our LCCCA had committed 7 of the 10 worst mistakes that
convention center builders make, but that there was still time to correct
those mistakes. She provided Charlie Smithgall, Dave Hixson, and several
others with the materials from the conference, which they ignored
completely, choosing instead to go with their current advisors - none of
which have the kind of economic development bona fides that were being
offered for FREE or at a far more reasonable cost.
One of the biggest questions we can ask is WHY haven't Mayor Gray or any of
those who are touting the revitalization of downtowns with the CC or a
trolley system followed through with organizations whose entire mission is
the revitalization of cities? Why do they think empty buildings and awkward
transportation systems to nowhere will draw people and refuse to tap proven
resources such as IEDC?
For more information, here is their website:
Trolley Tracks and 8-Tracks
So Lancaster is going to get trolleys! I guess current city fathers have educated themselves more than the decision makers who ripped them out 50 plus years ago because they weren't working.
Since nostalgia seems to be the motivator in those making this decision, I have a great deal to offer the mayor: a dusty box of eight-track tapes! All the tapes are guaranteed to be classics and you will just love playing them over and over again. Think of the flashbacks you will have listening to the CLICK! in the middle of the songs.
Just like those eight-tracks of old, the trolley idea for Lancaster should stay in our memories. Don't waste the taxpayer's money on something that will clog city streets and become a moving symbol of why government can't make decisions regarding businesses!
Media Contribute to Tensions
I've never been a big fan of Imus, as his humor can be derogatory and demeaning but he has his following of mucho listeners. But he's been doing this style of broadcasting for years with much success! He is well known for his contributions to mankind as well as raising millions for cancer patients and other causes.
I can understand why CBS and others felt the pressure from sponsors and political leaders to release him from his job to cover their butts. Had he been a black man, would he have suffered the same results? I doubt it.
What really offends me more than Imus's ill will of attempted humor that went beyond accountability is when Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton jump on the bandwagon to create a media frenzy. I recall Jesse Jackson running to the scene of the Duke rape allegations and assuming all lacrosse players accused were guilty and giving the black woman accusing them a full scholarship to the school she was attending. She was a frigging stripper who took advantage of a group of high society men wanting to have a good time celebrating their accomplishments and filed false accusations which have now been exonerated. Will Sharpton and Jackson be held accountable for their actions to this situation? No, as they always say they are the victims and demand justice.
I firmly believe if the media were more controlled with what they report, there would be less racial tensions in this country.
Throwing Good Money After Bad
Perhaps the skeletal structure of a half-built convention center would make a glorious pergola for the carousel.
For two years proponents have been touting, "It's too far to alter the course"…"too far to turn back…"
Nonsense…I would ask, "Is it wise to keep spending good money after bad?"
At any time, the foundation could be evaluated to devise an alternate construction.
Unions Add Costs and Hassles
Today I was talking to [a friend] who lives and works in Philadelphia. When I shared with him the report showing Philadelphia Convention Center operating at a $14 million loss in 2005 and Governor Rendell's solution was to pour another $700 million into an expansion, he cracked up.
He said one of the big reasons trade shows have dropped in Philadelphia is because the unions have so many jobs descriptions, like the forklift operator does not have to get off the lift and unload anything he takes to your booth. He also said there have been fist fights on the convention floor between venders and union workers. All this adds up to extra cost and hassles no one wants to deal with. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Where will Lancaster Convention Center rank in convention & trade show friendly & produce successful shows - time will tell.
Mortgaging the Grandchildren
As a Lancaster County native I cannot tell you how disappointing it has been to watch my home town and state falling apart financially…
When you look at the $700 million Governor Rendell has spent on the Philadelphia Convention Center and close to $200 million on our convention center, it is no wonder
why the state never has enough money. We Pennsylvania taxpayers are paying 2 to 3 times the taxes California property owners are, and largely for pork projects.
What I find even more disturbing, when you try to discuss this with the average PA taxpayer, they do not seem to understand what you are talking about and do not want to get involved.
Lancaster Countians are in for a major shock 3 to 5 years from now when this project starts hitting their pockets. By then Governor Rendell, Mayor Gray, and Senator Armstrong will be long gone from office and could care less about what they did to our
kids and grandkids.
Money Pit Solution
I expect the same "money pit" solution would apply to all the Convention Centers: That is, when bookings suffer, the blame goes to the venue equipment, facility, decor, or whatever…and more money is poured in. (Like Baltimore and Philadelphia).
Let's Make the CC Work
I think you all need to come to the realization that the CC is coming. We need to change our mindset from trying to thwart the project to making it work. Let's all work together and continue the revitalization and do whatever we can to make this thing work. It's time to get off the soapbox and begin to actually make a difference.
Smaller CC Shows Drying Up
[Convention Center clothing trade] shows have all but dried up. There still is Dallas, Atlanta, LA, Chicago and NY. All the smaller shows so to speak in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, DC, Wilkes, Charlotte, Columbus, I can go on forever, are no longer because the small, fine speciality stores like Doneckers now make two to four trips a year to market if that and can not afford the time or expense to go to all the smaller shows.
The smaller shows dried up as the cost went up, traffic went down and the industry changed. This has happened to all businesses.
I just received an invitation to the Construction Show in Valley Forge. FREE ADMISSION, FREE LUNCH, FREE SEMINARS AND FREE ROOM FOR ONE NIGHT IF I AM COMING MORE THAN 60 miles! This is Philadelphia.
I phoned one of the vendors and was told that they are extremely worried about the attendance and the vendors are doing everything in their power to entice clients. The vendors are paying for the rooms and food on top of their expense. This vendor said that this is his last show due to the cost, he is better off giving directly to his clients.
Hotel / CC's Hire Few Full-Timers
In the convention center & hotel business it is well known that you need to
sell every room every day at the highest rate possible at least 60% of the time to hopefully meet cash flow. At 80% occupancy you should be making a profit if you can control all cost.
Unfortunately due to stiff competition many convention centers in the USA today have to offer free meeting space or cash
incentives to meeting planners booking large groups. Kickbacks of $500,000 to a million dollars and a lot of freebies (hotel rooms, wining & dining, cars, limos, planes & etc.) are very common. The name of the game for convention center sales & marketing people is do whatever you have to fill the convention center and make yourself look good, profit is an afterthought.
After 30 years in the business, I cannot see the Lancaster County Convention Center ever doing over 50% occupancy or making a profit on a yearly basis.
But when the owners of the convention center & hotel do not have to pay debit service for building the place and get the taxpayers to pay most of the cost then
Penn Square Partners should be able to brag about making a profit.
Every time the newspaper prints how many great paying jobs the convention center will create, I just have to chuckle. People simply do not know what they
are talking about. There will be a few good paying construction union or prevailing wage jobs (all that means the taxpayer will be paying 2 to 3
times what it should be costing to get the building built) but only til the convention center & hotel is completed.
Beside the management staff most convention centers & hotels that size hire as few full time positions as possible. That way the employer does not have to pay benefits to the employees,
especially health insurance. Many people employed to work at the Lancaster Convention center & the hotel will be part timers and could very easily qualify to
continue collecting part time unemployment insurance & food stamps.
The other thing that often happens at many convention centers to control cost they contract out all services possible. So again the people working for
the third party's will be part timers and have no benefits also. I personally know many of
these people have to have 2 or 3 jobs just to try to survive.
Fulton Can't Lose
I personally believe Fulton wanted out of the PSP very badly. Note how their share has been shrinking over the years. The LCCCA claims High acting as "general contractor" isn't a conflict, so I believe
they could have made the same claim for Fulton. I think this was the kind of excuse Fulton was waiting for to get untangled from this financial mess.
The $14.4 million loan is paid by the State and guaranteed by City taxpayers, so Fulton can't lose; it is likely they will make more from this
20 year loan than they would have from the project over 20 years.
Why PA Taxes Are Out of Control
Just another sad day for Lancaster County taxpayers!
This is another example of why PA taxes are out of control! This pork project will cost over $200 million dollars or more over the next
thirty years. The sad part is PA taxpayers never got to vote if they wanted their money wasted like this.
We need another old-fashioned tea party!
LNP & High's Conflicts of Interest
Conflict of interest from being a partner to a lender is very obvious. How about the conflict of interest with the other two partners: Newspaper, the
only one in town reporting information as they see it and being a partner/ High Industries managing the project and connected to just about every
subcontractor and being a partner. Someday there will be heads rolling when the State Attorney General's office wakes up. The only way the Federal
Government can investigate if there is federal monies used as per Boston, Mass. project. Time will tell.
Physicians and Lancaster Newspapers Unresponsive
to Plight of Elderly Patients
Recently there was a doctor advice column that perked my interest. It was the "Ask Dr. Gott" that appears on a daily basis. This centered about a question posed by a 72 year old man who indicated that he takes a national pravastatin medication in a 10 mg. dose. He is required to take them daily and he indicated the cost was oppressive. He thus had been cutting the medication in half to stretch it out.
Dr. Gott responded that he would require testing to know the effects of the reduced dosage. Then he suggested the man ask his doctor to prescribe the drug in a 20 mg size and cut those in half.
I then did some research. I found that [the brand name version of the] drug is sold for an average of $3.50 each. An alternate was to purchase the generic in Canada where it sold for $1.20… This would allow the man to continue his medication [as prescribed.]
I further asked if he thought the doctor had an ethical duty to advise his patient of the availability of the generic drug. Personally I believe this to be correct as it is of some benefit to the patient. The patient does not have to complete the income statements for a reduced price for the drugs that some companies offer. You really have to be below the poverty level to [qualify.]
While looking into this I found that the medication is now available as a generic, approved by the FDA, manufactured by the largest international producer of generics for 30 cents per pill.
I wrote into the newspaper and to [Ask Dr. Gott] column with this thought. It has been over a month and nothing has been published. It could have been a subject for the column or the letter to the editors. I cannot think of any issue more timely and important to the readership.
I hope that others are interested in these things. Sadly the newspaper or the friendly medical advisor is not.