Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Celebration, and a Revised Agenda

Very quietly last week we passed a milestone here on GettysBLOG. May 24th was our second anniversary. Happy Anniversary to us! More appropriately, congratulations to you.

Of course, you must realize that without all you readers, we would not be here. Your loyalty is inspiring. When we look back at the things we have accomplished together, there are some pretty big events in our personal resumes of which we can be suitably proud. I do not mean that just you readers accomplished these Herculeans tasks, but you all had an enormous hand in what was accomplished.

Two events that occured in the waning months of 2006 stand out above all others, and we can all claim a hand in both of them. Specifically, the November election, which was the culmination of a seventeen month long effort that began in the summer of 2005 with Operation Clean Sweep, resulted in one of the largest legislative turnovers in the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the rejection of the proposed Casino in Gettysburg loom large on the record here.

While several scores of incumbents failed to run for office, or were literally tossed out on their ears in primaries, or the General election, the result was as effective as the original Bastille Day. Even more important, perhaps, is the fact that the General Assembly is now seriously working on reform, albeit at a much slower pace than is desired. Still, it is 100% more work on reform than was done in the past few years.

A large part of that was the local defeat of seven-term Republican Representative Steve Maitland, who spent 14 years in the House basically not doing a damned thing. What mattered in the end was his personal ethics and lack of integrity, which angered the voters here enough to toss him in the primary. His record on the infamous Midnight Pay Raise was atrocious, and when we pleaded with him to give back the "unvouchered expense", he refused, using it to pay for [pick one] A. law school, B. a backyard pool, C. both, or D. other. In a seven month snit between Primary and the end of the term, Maitland still did little until the waning days of his legislative "career" [free ride is more like it!] in December, when he made an impassioned speech to his peers on the floor of the house, essentially calling we voters idiots for voting him out of office! He claimed we didn't know how good we had it. Well....Steve, it is more appropriate to say you didn't know how good you had it, and we certainly knew how good we did not have it. That's why you are where you are now, with a ruined reputation thanks to succumbing to greed.

The casino project ultimately failed on its business plan. The promises made by David LeVan and a circle of attornies that most resembled a game of musical chairs, as a different one popped up in the press to mouth vacuous claims in turn, were, in the end, their undoing. We point with pride to the fact that we showed with figures that the very basic premises claimed by the Crossroads Casino group were essentially lies: the area did not need the economic development, nor would it benefit from it. The area economy is stable, has been for years, and is likely to remain stable for decades, unless the threatened runaway development occurs.

But you listened, and understood, and you put pressure on public officials, and it paid off. Many of you even testified against the casino in the public hearings. You won out against powerful political influences with tons of money spent. And be prepared, David LeVan has more in store for us. He hates to lose, just as Bob Monahan does. Monahan just got some more payback with the County agreeing to pay $2.3 million for the roadwork at the entrance to his development proiect at Gateway Gettysburg. Once again Monahan sticks it to the locals here as payback for losing out to Kinsley Construction for the contract on the new Park Visitors Center. Look for similar vindictiveness from LeVan.

Our work is incomplete, however. Straban Township still must undo its wretched work on its rezoning accomplished in 2005. A rural/agricultural township, it rezoned more than 80% of itself for development into commercial, industrial, business, and high density residential zones, leaving very little green space. Cumberland Township is on the same trail, as are Highland, Butler, Mt. Joy, Freedom and Liberty Townships. Each of them is fighting high density housing development, at least giving the appearance of struggling with it. It is an unnecessary fight, as we will propose later.

It would have happened already if the bottom had not dropped out of the housing market. We don't wish for bad news on anyone [well...almost anyone], but this is great news for the people of Adams County. Of the two industries that provide 90% of the economic stability in this county, being agriculture [fruit, primarily, but also dairy, and crops like wheat and corn], and tourism, specifically the wonderful jewel of a National Park at Gettyswburg Battlefield, the great National Military Park is what brings millions of visitors to the area every year, and those visitors bring in tons of money. Everyone, from the locals to the Federal government shares in that munificent blessing of cash flowing into our area each year.

But if the townships surrounding the historic areas continue on their destructive path to ramapant high denisty housing development, they will destroy the Park, and its tourism. How? They will destroy the rural context of the Battlefield. They will choke the roads with traffic. Imagine yourself during the first week in July trying to get east on US 30 toward York. It already takes longer than 10 mninutes to go the half mile from WalMart's light to through the light at East Cavalry Field. [Thank people like the insidious Jay McDannell of the Straban Township Board of Supervisors for that!]. Now imagine it 20 times worse. Now imagine it 20 times worse year round! That is what you will face in that one area if the planned housing goes through.

Economically, the housing projects will be failures. There is no market. The developers will lose their investments while waiting to sell all those houses. And the tens of thousands of people from Washington D.C., and Baltimore who want to buy up here for the value and the low taxes-- how do you think they will like their commute from Gettysburg to the Capital at $3.09/gallon? How do you think they'll react when their real estate and school taxes triple a year or two after they move here? [PR campaigns are waiting in the wings to warn potential buyers in this area of skyrocketing property taxes likely looming with the developments.]

Most of the boards in those townships mentioned above, both Supervisors and Zoning Boards, have remade their zoning ordinances to make it so easy to build a high denisty housing development "a cave man could do it!"

The answer to this dilemma is to elect new Supervisors and County Commissioners that will restructure zoning to do away with high density zoning entirely, except within already incorporated towns, or boroughs. We are not suggesting those boards remove high density zoning from their plans, we are demanding that they specifically exclude high density housing zoning. The County economy will not support it, nor will the county's ecology. There is not enough water, and the runoff and waste will simply pollute the Potomac River and the lower Chesapeake Bay even more than is already being spread there.

So, dear and faithful readers, our work is cut out for us. There can be no resting on our laurels as much remains to be done. Together, we can make a difference, as we have already proven. Anything is possible.

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2007: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Honor the Fallen Every Day

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania - 1863
After the guns became silent, the cleanup began. It started with the wounded -- thousands of wounded. Those not already in hospitals in the many barns nearby, and not already on their way back to Virginia as Lee pulled his men back from the costly repulse at Gettysburg, those that still lay on the blood soaked fields, and among the trees and rocks of this ground were gathered up and swiftly borne away to fill the hospitals again.

First the living, and then the dead. The somber task of burying the Union dead began before the battle was done, and continued for well over a day. In most cases, they were buried where they fell.

The grave diggers were often criticized for their levity while going about their grim work, but in reality, it was simply a mechanism to deal with the horrors of so many mangled bodies…and if the sight of that didn’t reach you, the smell surely would. And so they would make small jokes about how this one smelled, or what he looked like he did back home: farmer, merchant, teacher, schoolboy…

After the Union dead were interred, it would take two more days to bury the Confederate dead. Meanwhile, there were tens of thousands of horses, mules and livestock that were rotting on the battlefield. They, too, had to be disposed of. There were a large number of dead horses in the small garden of the Widow Leister farm, where Major General Meade made his headquarters. Slaughtered by Confederate artillery that overshot its intended mark on Cemetery Ridge, the horses died by the dozen on the reverse slope. Later, Lydia Leister would burn their bones, and sell the ash/bone mix as fertilizer. She made about $30.

Local attorney David Wills realized almost immediately not just the importance of the battle, but the importance of the battlefield. He began to buy up portions of it for a memorial association he founded. By mid-summer, he had contacted Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin, and obtained approval to go ahead and construct a “National Soldiers and Sailor’s Cemetery” at Gettysburg. A location on the west slope of Cemetery Hill, adjacent to the old Evergreen Cemetery was obtained, and a design was approved. A group of local African-Americans won the contract to disinter the Union dead from their makeshift graves on the battlefield and after identification of the remains at least as to the state for which the soldier had fought, reinter them in the new cemetery.

When that task was finally completed in the 1880s, there were 3,577 men from fourteen northern states buried in that graveyard. Since then, veterans and fallen from all of America’s wars have added more than 3,000 interments to that number.

For all of that, only one person has truly caught the essence of the events here, and the cost, and what the men bought with their blood. And on a cool November afternoon in 1863, he put the matter quite clearly:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we may take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

He put no hate in his speech, nor disrespect of the enemy. He placed the enormous toll of the battle into the perspective of the new United States that would emerge from the war – a new nation that was no longer divided by the issue of slavery, a nation united.

In Europe at the time, the nationalism movement had been underway for a half-century or more, and resulted in wars between nations. In America, our Civil War defined how we, the United States of America, would be viewed by those outside our nation, and how we would perceive ourselves. It gave us an identity that all Americans could claim, a single spirit, a national unity.

In all of America’s other major wars combined (The Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican War, Spanish American War, WW I, WW II, Korea, Viet Nam, Gulf War I), the total killed is approximately 590,360.

In the Civil War, approximately 617,000 Americans fell in combat, or from accident or disease while serving. Almost a million more were wounded. Countless more were starved in Prisoner of War Camps.

There must be something about this “experiment in Liberty” that we call a nation that drives men and women to sacrifice themselves in such numbers for it.

Do not wait for Memorial Day, but practice regularly your sincere honoring of our Fallen Warriors. Visit a National Cemetery, a Veteran's Hospital or an observance of Memorial Day. Whatever you do, do something to honor those who gave their lives in the service of this nation, so “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

GettysBLOG

Copyright © 2007: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day

Have a good Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

CIVERA"S LAST ACT

For 27 years, Mario Civera has promised property tax cuts. Check your tax bill and you'll see his complete failure.
He stood with the Governor and rattled on how he would get it done. Well the voters said you failed Mario.
“They saw this for what is was: smoke and mirrors and just another way for the legislature to pretend they are doing their jobs.”
For Sure Mario will get you a handicapped parking spot, but when it comes to saving your home , that spot isn't worth much.
Worse yet The Upper Darby School District has proposed a 4.6 prperty tax hike.
To quote from the Delco Times, “When the next election rolls around, I don’t care if it’s a Democrat or Republican,” she said. “If you recognize their name, don’t vote for them. If they don’t get this issue, get them out of there.”
Csey Roncaglione
Drexel Hill, PA

Monday, May 14, 2007

GettysBLOG: Primary Preferences

This will be short and sweet.

In Straban Township:
Voters MUST reject Jay McDannell, and return him to his day job. McD was one of the prime movers in the Casino operation. Whatever you do, do not vote for McDannell.

We recommend Ron Horton. If it says to vote for two, only vote for one. Ron Horton. Horton apparently does not play with the poowers that be, instead calling them like he sees 'em. He appears to be a straight shooter, and unafraid to stand up to the intimidation tactics employed by those in government office. We take this to mean he's on our side.

We believe that Sharon Hamm is running as well. She did a remarkable job leading the Concerned citizens of Straban Township. We think she has earned a seat on the Board of Supervisors.

In Cumberland Township:
Do not vote for a single incumbent, in particular, do not vote for John Gregor, or George Weikert, David P. Waybright, Carol Merryman, Tom Shealer or Barbara Underwood. These folks exist to make life so easy for the developers even a cave man can do it.

These are the folks who raised your taxes 114% to pay for their facilities expansion plan for the township buildings and have never asked you if they should/may do it. They just arrogantly usurped the taxation process and proceeded with their own grandiose plan [which no one has seen, by the way!]. They must be stopped NOW!

If you do return them to office they will vote to approve the zoning change to allow the water park. This one transcends party lines! That means that you should NOT vote for any of these no matter what party they are running in.

For County Commissioners:
It is simple: Do not vote for Glenn Snyder, George Weikert, or Lucy Lott in the Republican Primary. Lisa Conklin should make an excellent Commissioner.

On the Democratic side, we’d like to endorse Mark Berg, but we’ve yet to see any major project he starts with him still at it at the end. We fear his loss of interest in the job after a while. We like Marty Qually but do not believe he is experienced enough. We really do not have a favorite here, except for Berg, and Clifford. Moreno and Lamb are insiders at the Courthouse, and potentially tainted by the developer’s lobby.

For Gettysburg Area School District School Board, we recommend Buxton, Hoffman, Michael, Symmes [an incumbent], and Biesecker [an incumbent]. There are far too many college profs and employees involved here already. We need to put the school board back into the hands of the parents and regular taxpayers. The five mentioned above will serve that purpose.

The current school board is raising taxes to fund a stadium that is unnecessary and unwise in the current fiscal environment where the state government is playing games with school taxes. Most of these candidates want to spend your money.

Finally we urge everyone to vote NO on Act 1.

Good luck and sweep out the bozos!

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --
GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2007: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

GettysBLOG: 3-Ring Circus Comes to Cumberland

In a patently obvious effort to let public interest against the water park project die withering on the vine, the Cumberland Township bozos performed the old “How many clowns can get out of a car?” trick Tuesday night. The Supervisors requested a 90 day delay from Cali Entertainment in their consideration of a curative amendment to local zoning that would allow a “water park” as acceptable use.

Aided and abetted by a county planner named Schmoyer, who released an opinionated article about the Township’s dilemma last week, where he cautioned that in situations like this, the Supervisors could not ”just say no”, as they would leave the Township open to a lawsuit, the supervisors are stalling in hope that public interest and opposition will die out over a three month summer. Indeed, timing is everything. At this same point in August, many folks will be away on vacation, or too busy gardening or staying cool to show up at a contentious Supervisors Meeting to protest the bad news.

This is not the first time the supervisors have tried such tactics. They apparently have some grand plan for an expansion of the Township facilities. They set things in motion immediately after the November election when the general public would not be making too many visits.

So far they have only destroyed about an acre of habitat in expanding their level area in the rear of the building. But, to date, no one has come forward with “The Plan”. Not only that, no one has seen or heard of an environmental impact study. Willoughby Run flows across the rear border of the township property. Much of the habitat they destroyed recently will have run off into Willoughby Run.

Willoughby Run, of course, flows into Marsh Creek, which brings us back to the water park. A letter to the editor in the Gettysburg Times praises the water park plan as being akin to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.

We don’t know what the lady letter writer thinks she’ll be getting with the water park, but it will not resemble Busch Gardens in any way, shape or form. In the first place, the project sits on only 100 acres, and plans call for not one but two water parks [one outdoor, one indoor], a hotel, a multi-screen movie theater, shops and restaurants. Of course, there will be adequate parking as well, right? On one hundred acres? Ummm, where are all the plants going to be for the “Gardens” part?

People, apparently, will believe anything these days.

Not only will the project suck the life [water] out of the area, and destroy the delicate ecological balance of the Marsh Creek watershed [to say nothing of the riparian rights of owners along the banks of the creek], but there will also be the inevitable runoff problems where contaminants are carried from the surface into the stream. Further, local wells will run dry, especially at the critical point of mid-late summer.

Since that will affect local agriculture in the area, I suppose our Supervisory buffoons will figure, “In for a penny, in for a pound”, and go ahead and rezone the entire Marsh Creek basin residential/commercial/industrial. They’ll figure out how to supply it with water later, after it dries up entirely.

Say good-bye to green space between Marsh Creek and Fairfield.

The first question that should be on everyone’s mind about this project is:

WHERE IS THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT?

The second question is:

WHERE IS THE WATER STUDY?

Of course, the third question should be:

WHO PAID FOR THE STUDIES?

In case you had any doubts folks, the people you elected as Supervisors of Cumberland Township have one goal in life: to make life so easy for developers “a cave man could do it!”

Serving constituents by allowing out of control development? Uh huh.

[Note to the good folks at Highland Township who are about to emerge from a long struggle over the role of local government with their own zoning ordinances: Let the Cumberland Circus be an object lesson to you all, on how NOT to run local government. No secrets, no hidden nefarious plans, no manipulation of meetings to blunt tax payer interest, no budget tricks, just open, honest government. It does not exist in Cumberland Township. Not only that, they use their solicitor to mislead the public with blatantly erroneous statements. So, start with an ordinance that requires all builders/developers to reimburse the township for environmental, water and sewer, and highway/traffic studies. That way, the folks who do the studies will be working for the township and their tax payers, and not for the contractors and developers; and they will do so at the expense of those who wish to build. Also, enact an ordinance that limits the number of houses per acre, and limits the number of building per development. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CONTROL GROWTH IN YOUR OWN TOWNSHIP. Don’t just charge fees for the studies, require reimbursement from the developer/contractor/builder/owner.]

Mr. Schmoyer, Cumberland Township DOES have the right to say “no” to a water park. If the Supervisors have any sense of honesty and decency left in them, any shred of respect for their constituents, they will say NO to this project. Cumberland Township better have litigation insurance, as well. Indeed, they should, but we’ll bet they do not. Besides, Cali won’t sue. They’ve been turned down in two other townships in Adams County already, and haven’t sued any of them. And if they do, so what? They cannot prove their case. They can be exposed as dishonest as well. SEND THEM PACKING! Let Cali Entertainment build it on their own property in Cumberland County, not in Cumberland Township.

Cali needs to stop their dishonest claims of how the project will benefit the economy by providing much needed jobs.

One more time:
ADAMS COUNTY HAS THE LOWEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, AND ONE OF THE LOWEST IN THE NATION!

So, save your lies for someone more gullible, Cali, and take your dishonesty and go back where you came from.

Meanwhile, dear readers, you must start putting pressure on the supervisors and keep that pressure on. Start showing up at meetings with picket signs, and make sure you vote in the primary next week. Let’s start by saying a resounding NO to any incumbents running for office in Cumberland Township. And throw out the bums in the Commissioners office as well, for tolerating lackeys like Schmoyer.

Let’s get some Cumberland Township Supervisors who work for the people, not the developers. Same goes for the County Commissioners, as well. And add the zoning and planning board members as well. Cast them all adrift and start fresh. It’s time to clean up Cumberland Township and that starts with getting the peanut shells and sawdust off the floor at the Supervisors Meetings.

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2007: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

GettysBLOG: An Apology -- of sorts

Last election campaign we said some negative things about Dan Moul. Even as a conservative, we endorsed the Democrat running against him, Patrick Naugle. We still believe Mr. Naugle would have been an excellent replacement for the not-soon-enough-departed Steve Maitland, who picked the pockets of the state’s taxpayers on his ignominious way out the door of the House chamber.

While anyone would be an improvement over Maitland, who spent fourteen years doing absolutely nothing but studying for his law degree [now at taxpayer expense], we of the 91st District can count ourselves fortunate to have had two excellent candidates to replace the now pecunious Maitland.

Maitland cried foul at getting unceremoniously dumped, and as he departed the State Capitol in January, he gave a speech on the floor decrying the way the voters treated him, and declaring how lucky they were to have him. Well, not only are the voters lucky…to have him out of office, they are infinitely luckier to have a man the caliber of Dan Moul as his replacement.

During the campaign, we queried the candidates about their stand on a number of issues, most importantly, the proposed casino project. Mr. Moul responded to our inquiry with a straightforward and unapologetic position that he believed the project was a worthy one for Adams County. On the basis of that response, which I respected but vehemently disagreed with, and on the basis of the post-Primary election photo in the Gettysburg Times showing a grinning David LeVan behind a smiling Dan Moul at the Pike Restaurant in Gettysburg, we endorsed Moul’s opponent Patrick Naugle. Naugle was a good candidate, and nearly pulled off an upset in solidly red Adams County, showing far better than previous Democrats. Mr. Naugle had our backing because of his anti-casino stand. We hope he will run for office again. We believe he has much to offer the citizens of Adams County. We were hoping, in fact, that he might run for County Commissioner.

Since taking office, Dan Moul has been more visible in five months than Steve Maitland was in fourteen years. We think, but may be in error about this, that Moul has already sponsored more legislation than Maitland did in his whole time in office. He is getting involved locally in a number of worthy projects, and more involved than just showing up for the ground-breaking photos with a shovel in his hand.

Moul literally hit the ground running and has not stopped yet. He has put an energy into his work that most voters would love to see from their Representative but rarely do. And we believe that when he is visible down here, he is not visible to the lobbyists in Harrisburg and thus should continue to remain out of their clutches. He has struck us as being principled, and having good integrity, something that was sadly lacking in his predecessor.

And so, we tip our hat in salute to Representative Dan Moul of the 91st Legislative District. We wish him well, and believe he will continue to do well and make his constituents proud of him.

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2007: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Battelfield Tour

Sometime ago you're wonderful blogger spent time with us to give us a tour of his beloved Battle ground. It was so educational and inspiring that we are planning to ask if he will take a group of us to see it again. Everyone who has the time should experience this American treasure.