“Is child obesity child abuse? Courts increasingly wrestle with questions of parental fitness” is a headline. It goes on to say “Some parents guilty of ‘loving their kids to death’“
Linda Spears, vice president of policy and public affairs for the Child Welfare League of America said “I think I would draw the line at a place where there are serious health consequences for the child and efforts to work with the family have repeatedly failed.”
WATCHDOG: A wag of the tail.
A banner headline for the July 21 Wilkes-Barre daily announces “Mohegan Sun [casino] places its bet on table games.” It continues “In anticipation of its possible passage, Bobby Soper, president and chief executive officer of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, said the casino is preparing to make the games available ‘as soon as reasonably feasible.’…The casino has begun an implementation plan that includes procuring equipment, a hiring and training plan, and layout and location of the games, he said in an e-mail Monday.”
WATCHDOG: Memo to Convention Center Authority Chair Art Morris and Executive Director Kevin Molloy: “Cancel future events and get the roulette wheels, tables and slots on order!”
A July 18 article “Cash-Strapped NY Times May Seek Nonprofit Grants” reports
The cash-strapped New York Times has begun considering nonprofit foundation funding for its newsgathering, according to a story on the Poynter Online site, which monitors news in the media industry. Craig Whitney, an assistant managing editor at The Times who serves as the paper’s standards editor, told the site in a telephone interview Friday that, ‘We’ve begun to ask ourselves whether it would be possible to get the kind of support that NPR does from foundations for its journalism.’
WATCHDOG: It appears that the future of investigative journalism is taking shape right before our eyes. Even the most successful major newspapers cannot afford journalism in-depth as it was practiced in the past. Yet in-depth and candid investigations by media are essential for a democracy to function properly.
The failure to investigate is even more acute in local markets because the newspapers do not want to upset their advertisers or subscribers.
“Recent cost cutting at [USA TODAY'S owner] Gannett paid off for the nation’s largest newspaper company in the second quarter.”
WATCHDOG: Although the publishing division revenue fell 25.8%, largely due to a 27.6% drop in USA Today’s ad sales, and the radio division fell 20.6%, Gannett’s digital properties contributed $142 million in revenue. Its stock jumped 28.9% on the report.
This is still another sign of the times and and the long term trend.
In his weekly column, Gil Smart speaks out “In defense of security cameras.” Smart opines that in contrast to private areas, in public areas “…there is no expectation of privacy and where a camera sees exactly what a cop on the beat might see. And if we don’t have a problem with the latter, why do we have a problem with the former?”
WATCHDOG: That was also NewsLanc’s position. But having read the Letter entitled “The Right to Privacy” posted under News & Commentary, we are not quite so sure anymore.
“Pennsylvania House leaders are steering a disproportionate share of grant money to their districts through a long-secret system of funding state lawmakers’ pet projects… this form of pork-barrel spending has been known as walking-around money, or WAMs. After the amount of money is set, legislative leaders submit their requests to the governor’s office, which then distributes them to state agencies to fund them…
“On the Republican side, House GOP grant requests helped put the home county of the minority leader in line for more money than most counties with similar populations.
“In the Senate, the home counties of two high-ranking Democrats were also in line for disproportionately large grants. Similar patterns were not as evident in the grants requested by the Senate GOP majority.”
WATCHDOG: Retired State Senate leader Gibson Armstrong extracted every cent imaginable (and then some!) for the Convention Center Project, although he apparently swindled the Lancaster Public Library out of a promised $2.5 million at the last minute to help cover CC deficits. Now Lancaster will receive less than its fair share for a couple of decades.
A June 22 article headed “Financial diagnosis: Hospitals healthy here” makes the following observations: “Both the increasing cost of providing health care services and increased investments in bricks and mortar led to the drop in profits this year at Lancaster General, said spokesman Kim Payne.”
WATCHDOG: The first lessons in elementary accounting teach that “bricks and mortar” are “capital investments” which do not add or detract from “profits.” (They do impact “cash flow,” but that’s a separate matter.) So what is Kim Payne and the reporter talking about?
This is not a “financial diagnosis” but rather a typical Lancaster propaganda handout which is regurgitated uncritically by the print media.
In an otherwise excellent article “A summer of challenges” concerning newly appointed McCaskey head football coach David Given and the ill health of his wife Kris, the following sentence intrudes: “But if Given, 50, has lost any enthusiasm for football, or McCaskey football, then he must have foamed at the mouth for football before.”
WATCHDOG: “Foamed at the mouth”?
The editorial on June 21 headed “Sticking Out Like Sore Thumbs”, observes:
“City officials are scrambling to redesign—and scrap, in some cases—plans for ‘bulb-outs’ at downtown intersections after learning that the traffic-calming design would have made it difficult for Red Rose Transit Authority buses to negotiate the turns….Again we wonder: Shouldn’t this have come up before the city starting digging the bulb-outs? Shouldn’t some designer or engineer have realized buses and trucks couldn’t make those turns without running over the curb extension?”
WATCHDOG: We welcome the Sunday News extolling the value of a feasibility study before making decisions. So why didn’t the Lancaster Newspapers do so when it came to the $180 million Convention Center Project?
Jeff Hawkes writes in a column entitled “Upscale projects shouldn’t get cold shoulder” that:
Developers say the century-old Lancaster Press building, a vacant, six-story, industrial-age structure at North Prince and Lemon, has promise. Since 2006, they’ve been hoping to remake the former cigar factory into a posh residential building with retail space and 47 condos going for up to $400,000. But another outcome is possible. With a million-dollar hole in the finance package, the $17-million project could collapse.
WATCHDOG: Were the former Watt and Shand site available today, developers would be competing to develop a mixed use structure with upscale condominium units ranging from $500,000 for an efficiency apartments to $2 million for an entire floor! No subsidies would be needed.
Unlike in the 1990s, over recent years downtown has been revitalized with art galleries, good restaurants, shops, and an influx of young professionals as well as empty-nesters from the suburbs.
If someone wants to attract affluent customers, they need to put together a large site within a block of the Central Market, perhaps on the location of the empty former department store that makes up the southern part of Lancaster Square. The Watchdog predicts that would work!