Sunday, December 28, 2008

DR News: Up Close With the Legislature's Surplus

A Closer Look at the Legislative Surplus

One of our faithful correspondents concludes his emails with a quote attributed to Thomas Pynchon: "If they can keep you asking the wrong questions, they never have to worry about the right answers."

This insight is bound to arise when talking about the recently released audit of the General Assembly. Without question, lawmakers have amassed a huge, ongoing surplus. Depending on how you calculate it, the surplus on June 30 was either $237.4 million (down $5 million from the previous year's surplus) or $200.5 million (down $11 million).

The reason for the difference is that last year the Legislative Audit Advisory Commission changed its accounting practices. The change subtracts funds committed but not paid at the end of the year from the surplus on hand at the end of the year, thereby reducing the surplus shown on the books.

This does not tell the full story, though, because there are "benefits accounts" that also have growing surpluses. Last year, those House and Senate accounts grew a combined 23% to an additional $6.9 million.

Click here for the "Statement of Financial Affairs."

For lawmakers, too much is never enough.
If the legislature were a school district, its operating surplus would be capped at 8% of its budget, or about $26 million last year. But lawmakers place no limit on themselves, so their surpluses - their excesses - at the end of the year were 62% of their budget. The goal, according to House Republican Leader Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, is to have a full year's budget in reserve.

Some lawmaker accounts have already met the goal of having a full year's funding in reserve, including Smith's "special leadership account." As of June 30, the $21.5 million surplus of our taxes in his account was 118% of his expenditures for the year. That is, after spending $18.2 million last year, Smith still had $21.5 million left over in his largest account. By comparison, the House Democrats' mere 85% surplus looks downright frugal.

Other significant budget items with surpluses greater than expenditures include:
• House Republican Committee on Appropriations: 527%
• House Democratic Committee on Appropriations: 522%
• Legislative Audit Advisory Commission Salaries, Wages & Expenses: 395%
• Senate Legislative Printing & Expenses: 333%
• House Postage for Chief Clerk and Legislative Journal: 263%
• Senate Democratic Floor Leader Committee & Contingent Expenses: 248%
• Senators' Expenses: 221%
• Senate Republican Floor Leader Committee & Contingent Expenses: 200%
• Senate PA and National Flags for Residents: 194%
• Senate Democratic Floor Leader Computer Services: 136%
• Legislative Data Processing Salaries, Wages & Expenses: 129%
• Capitol Preservation Committee Restoration of the Capitol: 126%

Looking at the top of the list, we have to note that Appropriation Committees do a great deal of heavy lifting throughout the year, analyzing both individual bills and the greater economic circumstance of the Commonwealth. Staff are among the hardest-working, most knowledgeable and most dedicated employees on the hill. They are essential to concluding any budget agreement, whether or not there's an impasse. So there's some sense to keeping the committees well-tended.

Questions:
• Why do the House appropriation committees have reserves that are five times as large as their actual expenditures? Is there a plan for that money?
• Why does the Legislative Audit Advisory Commission have nearly four times as much in reserves as it spent last year? Will they finally get the forensic audit that integrity advocates have been requesting for years?
• What contingency could require the Senate Rs and Ds both to have such large excesses?

A rare united front.
In unusual bi-partisan, bi-cameral unanimity, the reason given for hoarding such funds is to protect the legislature from having to shut down (as the legislature forces the rest of the state to do) during a budget impasse. This is a clear statement of priorities that it is more important to keep money flowing to lawmakers than for people with mental illness, children in summer school, job creation programs, law enforcement and such trifles.

Newspapers around the state have trashed this rationale for the surplus, pointing out that having a large surplus makes a budget impasse more likely because the legislature won't feel the pain. Click here for a recent editorial in the Harrisburg Patriot.

Also, if this rationale were true, the audit shows surpluses that are inconsistent with achieving the purpose. Surplus funds for staff salaries are small, ranging as low as 9%.

Questions:
• If the surplus is supposed to pay for operating expenses during a budget impasse, why are the smallest surpluses in the accounts that pay salaries of House employees?
• Are these the right questions?

Support DR's "Local Eyes" network with a tax-deductible end-of-year donation. Click here to donate and here for more about "Local Eyes."

Tim Potts, Co-Founder of Democracy Rising

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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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Mess Grows Larger, Deeper

So the school board unanimously rejected all the bids. They are to be congratulated for seeing the light.

Unfortunately, some still do not see the light as they should.

We must pick up where we left off in yesterday's entry by discussing the now infamous and apparently quite mysterious front page "quasi-editorial" in the Gettysburg Times.

When you write a letter to the editor the newspaper staff calls to confirm that you wrote it. Since this was something of a similar item, though way over editor BJ Small's 400-word limit, and unsigned, some now claim it was a press release.

But that is where the competence or the honesty, or both, ends.

No one seems to know who wrote the piece. Everyone is denying they wrote it. Tom Ford claims he did not write it, nor did any of his staff from the newspaper. Well, then, that means it wasn't an editorial. Dr. Hall, the Superintendant and one of his staff, the Communications Director [from whom such things should emanate] did not write it according to the good Doctor.

We are absolutely shocked that the Gettysburg Times would print an unattributed article, with no authorship or sources, at all, let alone as a front page news article.

At best, this was disasterously poor decision-making on the part of the edtors and operators of the Times. At worst, it was blatant pandering by the Times to push the agenda of Mr. Ford. Sadly, while the piece claims to deal with misconceptions about the stadium project, it put a few out itself, as we detailed in yesterday's entry. So it is obvious that no one at the Times vetted the piece for accuracy, and Small [perhaps at the orders of Mr. Ford] likley approved not only running the piece, but placing it on the front page as a news story. This is not the first time he has done this.

These are very dark and shameful days for the Gettysburg Times.

We raise this issue also: there appears to be much blurring of lines between the GASD Administration and the Gettysburg Education Foundation. Click around on either's website and you can see that they are all on the same server. Why are the taxpayers funding webspace on the school district's computer system for the Gettysburg Area Educational Foundation, which is a non-profit Corporation formed to raise money ostensibly to further the education of the children of the school district?

Is this not a conflict of interest and an unnecessary expense to taxpayers?

Further, we see a blurring of the lines in terms of who is calling the shots on the stadium project: is it Superintendant Hall, Foundation President Tom Ford, or the President of the School Board, Patricia Symmes [who has been mostly missing from all this]?

Frankly it seems Tom Ford has been doing most of the front work on this project. As president of the Foundation, he has absolutely no say over District activities. The Foundation may raise money for the school district but it certain may NOT tell the school district how to spend it, nor should the Foundation have any role in determining what their money is raised for! For example, they apparently have separate funds for different projects, one for the Stadium that raised $269,000 and one for the Academic Programs that anyone may donate to, which spreads several hundred dollars a year to worthy students and teachers, presented by check at, of course, a Warrior Football game! Get the picture here?

How many school boards do we need? Obviously, Mr. Ford, and the two docors and the lawyer on the board of the Foundation have overstepped their bounds and authority.

Now, about that stadium...there is an area no one is addressing: wetlands. The design as promulgated by the School District runs right up to and in some cases over wetlands on the school property. Obviously, this is unacceptable.

Wetlands are protected by Federal and State laws and should be protected by Straban Township Ordinances. The site of the proposed stadium would damage the wetlands. For example, the construction of the facilities would have two adverse effects on the water table of the wetland: the construction would lower the existing water table and would introduce chemicals [via herbicides or chemicals used to treat the fields, and run off from parking and driveways that encroach into and over the wetlands] into the water table that are toxic, and could destroy the ecosystem in the wetlands. These are both Federal and state no-nos.

Straban is not the only township to completely ignore state and federal environmental regulations. Cumberland does it as well. No surprise there, like Straban, Cumberland is hell bent on paving itself over. Environmental impact studies are not in their agenda, yet every single decision they make in those townships, and other townships, directly affects the environment in a negative way. Increased burdens are put on the local water supply every time they approve a new dwelling or building for construction, and it extends farther than that. Everything done in Adams Count affects the Chespeake Bay watershed, so all the toxins we inject into our water supply here eventually go downstream, via Antietam Creek for the most part, and into the Potomac River, an enormous contributor of water to the Chesapeake Bay. And those toxins kill shellfish --- clams, oysters, and crabs for the most part. That is another Federal no-no.

Here is a section of school property that the Biology teachers should be using as a natural laboratory, using it for study of the flora and fauna that exist there, and how they are affected by the environment, and the role each denizen of the wetlands plays in the natural cycle of life. Where were the Biology teachers when this plan was drawn up? Where have they been since?

Once again we call for the resignation of the Superintendant, the President of the School Board [for not controlling things that are very much within her purview], and the resignation of the board of directors of the Foundation completely from that Foundation. The "Gang of Five" who brought this all on should also resign from the School Board immediately. They have done a grave disservice to the taxpayers, the citizens, the teachers and students they represent. They have, along with the Foundation, possibly committed criminal acts in exerting undue influence in the misuse of funds from the Foundation. We hope the Distirct Attorney will take a long hard look at the actions of these people. What they have done, as a group, is to conspire in the misues of funds, allowed a private non-profit corporation to usurp the power and authority of the School Board, and they need to pay the price.

There are a lot of guilty parties to this shameful episode in the misuse of power by a local governmental plutocracy.

If charges do not arise from this, then we have no justice in Adams County.

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2009: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Malarky and Doubletalk!!

Today's "editorial disguised as a news story" on the front page of the Gettysburg Times is about as one sided as you can get, and is full of disinformation and half-truths. In other words, malarky and doubletalk.

Question 1: Why is the source for the information unnamed?
Answer 1: Because the piece was written by Tom Ford, Director of Operations and part owner of the Times, and president of the Gettysburg Area School District.

Question 2: Why is there no byline?
Answer 2: Because it is not a news story, and as such is either an advertisement, or an editorial. Likely it should be classified as the latter as what it attempts to sell is a bag of hogwash.

Question 3: Is this a miserably inept attempt to sway public opinion by surreptitious means?
Answer 3: Absolutely! It should be identified as an editorial and the author and source should be identified.

Now to the facts. The main point is that the cost of renovating current Warrior Stadium is only 5% less than building a new facility at the High School.

Malarky and doubletalk. What the unnamed source is referring to is the construction of a facility similar to what is envisioned at the high school. Of course the cost would be similar as it is for the same or nearly the same design!

Starting a renovation project at the current stadium does not mean building a completely new facility. Starting with infrastructure might be a nice thing. Spend a year or two running new water and sewer and underground electric lines. Add additional sections to the stadium seating on both sides. Lighting does not need to be replaced, it can be augmented. And finally reserve the west parking area by the front of the middle school for handicapped parking, and make an accessible path to the stadium area. In fact, offer a ramp to end zone seating for handicapped and their parties.

There are plenty of enhancements that can be done for far less than $8-10 million, and the school board knows it!

Shame on the Gettysburg Times for such a shabby attempt to ram a very expensive and unnecessary project down the throats of the school district tax-payers. Not everybody in the school district drives an Audi, Mr. Ford.

Finally two letters in todays edition deserve some mention. One, a rather lengthy [what happened to the 400 word limit, Mr. Small?] piece making a vague case for the stadium. It ends with the suggestion that the project might even create jobs for the newly laid off Dal Tile workers? Sorry, we doubt there will be much tile work at a new stadium. Not without added expense, anyway.

The second letter makes the case against the stadium project quite well, and raises the question about how much support there really is for the project when the Foundation, which PROMISED to fund the whole project, can only raise $269,000!

After the claim that the study conducted by the Saida outfit that showed support for the project in the community, we again demand that they give back the money, since that is simply an outright lie, and that the Gang of Five and President Ford, resign from the School board tonight for simply misrepresenting themselves and their support as a mandate to force this project on the taxpayers, and that the Superintendant be fired for spending money that was not properly allocated for the project. Nothing, absolutely nothing should have been spent on anything before the taxpayers of the district had approved the project.

There is so much of a shady nature to this project that we cannot believe it was anything more than a conspiracy of arrogant fools. They need to pay the piper tonight. The foundation money that was raised, and that is the Gettysburg EDUCATION Foundation, should put whatever funds they raise into EDUCATION, and they can start by donating their money to purchase textbooks the school district needs!

Where was that issue in today's newspaper? Students cannot even take textbooks home to study as there are not enough to go around. Pitiful. But $8-10 million for an unnecessary stadium warrants all this effort.

The school board and its leadership have completely lost sight of what their responsibilities are. They need to resign, and tonight!

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Phony Support for Stadium?

Whatever we get to read in the Gettysburg Times, the letters being printed certainly do reflect the "will of the people", despite what Mr. Ford says. The stadium is an exorbitant expense that even in better economic times would qualify as a pipe dream. Further, the so called research company hired by the school district to gauge public support for the project needs to refund the money they sucked out of the school district [and the taxpayers!] with a report that claimed the public support was there in the community! Hello??!! Just how out of touch with reality do these yuppies need to be to make claims like that? The research firm gave them the report they obviously wanted to hear. We know of no one who was polled by anyone, not the school district, not the research firm.

Every one of the letters printed in the newspapers that were against the stadium project made extremely cogent and logical arguments against the project. We have yet to see any kind of argument in favor of it. Why not? Because no fool in their right mind wants to be seen favoring this white elephant.

These folks sold a bill of goods to the taxpayers to build the new school of that size in the first place, and now they want to sell a second snow job to the taxpayers? We will withhold comment on the physical location of their heads.

The time of the meeting is 7:30 PM tomorrow night -- tonight if you are reading this on Monday, December 15th. The location is the District Offices at 900 Biglerville Road.

We suggest you take signs if you wish, and let them know in no uncertain terms exactly how you feel about their profligate spending of your taxes.

We just read a letter that said there were certain courses where there were insufficient books to allow the students to take them home for study.

And your school board, well at least the "Gang of Five" and apparently Tom Ford, wants to spend probably in excess of $10 million [when all is said and done] on a football stadium. That means significant tax increases, that means a continued shortage of books.

We believe extra-curricular activities are extremely important to the education of our youth. But the term itself means "outside of the academic curriculum". The academic curriculum must come first, and if that means the football team continues to play in old Warrior Stadium for the next ten years, then so be it.

A foundation was formed as part of the original push for this project. They tried to raise $3 million and raised about 8% of that amount, and the school district has already spent more than was raised. So, if the vote fails tomorrow night and the project is turned down, no one will get their money back and the taxpayers will be stuck with the bill for the balance of the engineering and "public support study", and the Straban fees to get their approval for a project that HAS NEVER BEEN APPROVED BY THE TAXPAYERS!!

Frankly, this kind of incompetence calls for the resignations of the Gang of Five [Pat Symmes, Andi Hoffman, Sally Michael, Todd Orner, and Dale Biesecker], the board President, Tom Ford, and the Superintendant who has authorized the spending of money that was not appropriately allocated funding.

Finally, as of the time of posting of this, the results of the poll are as follows:

6 [20%] want the Stadium Project to proceed.
3 [10%] want a smaller project along the lines of current Warrior Stadium] built.
7 [24%] want Warrior Stadium expanded and modernized.
13 [44%] want nothing done right now. [status quo].

The top two choices are rounded up.

What that says is that 80% are against the $8 [10+???] million Stadium Project.

We suggest that the six who voted for the project are the Gang of Five, and School Board President Ford. We doubt they would admit that, though.

Say no to the Stadium!

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gettysburg Offers Special Winter Lecture Series

National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

Gettysburg National Military Park
1195 Baltimore Pike
Suite 100

Gettysburg, PA 17325
717/334-1124 phone
717/ 334-1891 fax

Gettysburg National Military Park News Release

For Release: December 9, 2008

Gettysburg Offers Special Winter Lecture Series – Key Moments and Commanders of the Gettysburg Campaign

The 1st Minnesota Infantry, colorful and controversial Union General Dan Sickles, Abraham Lincoln, Confederate General Richard Ewell, and the July 1 battle for Herbst Woods are among the topics of a new National Park Service series of free winter lectures, Key Moments and Commanders of the Gettysburg Campaign at Gettysburg National Military Park.

National Park Rangers will offer the programs on weekends beginning Saturday, January 10 and running through Sunday, March 15. They are free of charge and will be held at the new Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, in the Ford Motor Company Fund Education Center.

Programs begin at 1:30 p.m. and last approximately one hour. For more information go to Gettysburg National Military Park’s website at www.nps.gov/gett or call 717/ 334-1124 x 8023.

-NPS-

Key Moments and Commanders of the Gettysburg Campaign
Gettysburg National Military Park Winter Series 2009
Saturdays and Sundays, 1:30 p.m.

Gettysburg National Military Park
Museum and Visitor Center,
In the Ford Motor Company Fund Education Center

Week #1
Saturday, January 10
Key Moments: Longstreet Tries to Flank the Round Tops on July 3 – Troy Harman

Sunday, January 11
Commanders: General Alexander Hays and the Repulse of Longstreet's Assault - Karlton Smith

Week #2
Saturday, January 17
Commanders: Alexander Webb, Norman Hall, & Alonzo Cushing: Profiles of Successful Leaders – D. Scott Hartwig

Week #3
Saturday, January 24
Commanders: Daniel Sickles: The Colorful and Controversial Commander of Gettysburg -- Matt Atkinson

Sunday, January 25
Key Moments: "A Final Resting Place:” The Establishment of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery -- Eric A. Campbell

Week #4
Saturday, January 31
Commanders: Strong Vincent and the Battle for Little Round Top – Tom Holbrook

Week #5
Saturday, February 7
Key Moments: Crisis at the Union Center – The Second Corps Front on July 2 - John Heiser

Sunday, February 8
Key Moments: "We drop a comrade’s tears" The 2nd New Hampshire at the Peach Orchard – Karlton Smith

Week #6
Saturday, February 14
Commanders: Opportunity, Possibility, and Liability: Lee, E. P. Alexander, William Pendleton and the Great Cannonade of July 3 – Bert Barnett

Sunday, February 15
Commanders: “Day was now breaking and it was too late for any change of place;” Richard Ewell, Cemetery Hill & Memory - Angie Atkinson

Week #7
Saturday, February 21
Key Moments: “Take that hill if practicable” – Cemetery Hill and the End of the First Day’s Battle -- Tom Holbrook

Sunday, February 22
Commanders: July 1, 1863 – Surprise or Surmise – Bill Hewitt

Week #8
Saturday, February 28
Key Moments: The 1st Minnesota Infantry on July 2 – Matt Atkinson

Sunday, March 1
Commanders: From “Forever Free” to “A New Birth of Freedom:” Abraham Lincoln in 1863" – Eric A. Campbell

Week #9
Saturday, March 7
Key Moments: “I Have Never Seen the Like Before” - The July 1 Battle for Herbst Woods - D. Scott Hartwig

Sunday, March 8
Commanders: "Much oppressed with a sense of responsibility:" George G. Meade Takes Command of the Army of the Potomac – Charles Teague

Week #10
Saturday, March 14
Commanders: Did Meade Begin a Counteroffensive after Pickett's Charge? - Troy Harman

Sunday, March 15
Key Moments: Hancock Takes Command – July 1 – Angie Atkinson

-End-

Katie Lawhon
Public Affairs Specialist
Gettysburg National Military Park
1195 Baltimore Pike, Suite 100
Gettysburg, PA 17325

Experience your America

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that they all may experience our heritage.

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Another Casino Attempt for LeVan????

There has been some talk recently about another effort by David LeVan to build his casino in Adams County, this time near the Maryland Border at a racetrack to be built by the owner of Hanover Farms. The track would conduct Sulky [Harness] Racing meets. LeVan hopes to snag a license from a current licensee in Lawrence County who has run into financial difficulty.

Why is this even coming up?

22 months ago we put up a post that essentially detailed why the proposed Crossroads Casino failed to become licensed.

Here is the bulk of that post. You will not only see that the conditions today are even more adverse than they were then: with the economy going bad, and especially with the passage of the gaming referendum in Maryland in last month's election:


The Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board [PGCB] released their reasoning on how they arrived at their selections for granting licenses to applicants last December, and relevant to the Gettysburg area is why that application failed. The selections for winning bids awarded licenses for two free standing [Class 2] casinos to be built. Gettysburg celebrated over the rejection of the Crossroads investment groups' licensing bid to construct a 3,000 machine slot parlor at the intersection of US Routes 30 and 15, about a mile east of Gettysburg.

Today, the PGCB released their reasoning on how they selected the two Class 2 licensees out of the five that had submitted bid.

We have extracted from the PGCB's report [read the report: go to the PGCB link , and click on the Class 2 Orders and Adjudication Information button.]

...The Crossroads location is primarily rural without nearby population centers. As discussed below in Section C, Crossroads touts its location as desirable because of the populations to the South in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. markets. As addressed in that Section, the Board finds that Crossroads has not demonstrated to the Board’s satisfaction through credible evidence that the Crossroad’s location presents the advantages and benefits asserted by Crossroads...

...McCormick Taylor representative Federico also reviewed the traffic study submitted by Crossroads and testified at the final licensing hearing on December 13,2006 as to the review of site improvements by the applicant and PennDOT. The biggest concern expressed by the McCormick Taylor representative was the impact of the project on the reconstructed interchange of Routes 15 and 30. Federico testified that PennDOT is proposing a “rather innovative design for Pennsylvania for this interchange” and that issues related to the design have not yet been resolved. See Crossroads final licensing hearing transcript at p. 11. Federico’s November 15, 2006 report indicated several remaining traffic issues and stated that other than those issues, it appears that the proposed improvements adequately mitigate the projects impacts...

...With respect to the Crossroads project, Crossroads presented substantial testimony that it will rely in large part on the Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C. areas for its patronage and that 60% to 65% of its revenues would originate from outside the Commonwealth. The Gettysburg area itself is primarily a rural area without large population centers nearby to sustain the casino, thus the emphasis on the market to the South. In theory, this strategy is appealing. However, during the licensing hearings, Gettysburg presented testimony that it was “virtually the same drive time away” from the Baltimore/Washington D.C. market as Charlestown slots in West Virginia and that Charlestown had a casino win of $437 million in the fiscal year ending January 30, 2006. While that number is significant, the Board was not presented with any credible evidence to demonstrate how much of that Charlestown business could be expected to leave thatfacility and travel north to Gettysburg.

Further, the Board received testimony concerning the possibility of slot machines being introduced in Maryland and the impact that would have on the Gettysburg property. Gettysburg proponents testified that that they do not believe gaming legislation will be passed in Maryland in the “near future” but that even if it did, “we estimate that the revenue impact on Crossroads will be between 15 and 20 percent leaving Crossroads a substantial cushion above its break-even revenue level.” See Hearing transcript at p. 62. While the Board certainly is comforted by the testimony that Crossroads would have a cushion above its break-even revenue level, since the Board has a strong interest in “protecting its product” by assuring that the chosen casinos stay in business, a twenty percent decline in revenues would place the revenue generation estimates in the $216 million to $231 million range depending on whether the Task Force or Crossroads revenue estimates are utilized. This scenario would place Crossroads at the bottom of the revenue generation models, a position any applicant should desire to avoid in a competitive licensing situation as is present here...

...However, in the comparative setting to which these licenses are subject, the Board finds that the economic benefit of Crossroads and Tropicana, given the smaller economic commitments, likely will not be as significant as the benefits which will occur by virtue of the larger commitments and the spin-off business associated therewith of the Mount Airy, Sands Bethworks and Pocono Manor projects. This again is a factor which the Board weighs in favor of those applicants...

...Opposition was strongest in relation to the proximity of the casino to the historic Gettysburg battlefield areas and the effect the casino would have on the traditionally rural nature of the community. Section 1102(10) of the Act instructs that “the public interest of the citizens of this Commonwealth and the social effect of gaming shall be taken into consideration in any decision or order made.” While the Board duly noted and considered the degree and proportion of public opposition, the Board’s decision was not based solely on this factor.
So, it seems the Crossroads people, who had difficulty maintaining investors [they lost their principle investor, Morgan Stanly, just weeks before the license application closed, and had to scramble to replace them with another outfit with much less financial wallop; even as the PGCB was releasing the names of the licensees who were getting the casinos, individual investors were withdrawing], over estimated their economic market share, and under estimated the impact on the roads around the Casino. And in spite of what the PGCB states in the final paragraph above, public sentiment against the casino far outweighed those who supported the casino locally, and it did have a major impact on the decision.


Seriously, the facts have remained in force, and there is far more reason today to deny an Adams County License than there was 22 months ago.

A bad idea remains a bad idea, and when it is brought up a second time, one begins to wonder about the judgment of those who would do so.

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Take a ride into the future!

[Updated and reposted with new commentary]

A recent headline in the Hanover Evening Sun alerted the public to the vision of Adams County Planners and what that vision will be like in a few years. The headline was something to the effect that Routes 30 & 116 would become parking lots, unable to cope with the burden of traffic after the development scheduled for the county over the coming years.

Here is something we wrote a few years back, with some minor edits to make it more timely. Just keep in mind: "If you build it they will come!"

http://gettysblog.blogspot.com/2006/02/97-take-ride-into-future.html

Fast forward if you will, to the July 4th weekend, 2013. Independence Day is on Thursday making an extra long holiday weekend.

It is the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The reenactment, which is 50% larger than the 135th anniversary reenactment, has created gridlock on the roads surrounding Gettysburg, and on the Battlefield itself, has attracted almost 130,000 visitors to the area. There are no rooms to be had in Adams County.

The interchange at routes 30 and 15 is now fully developed. On the south side of US 30, on one side of 15 is the Adams Commerce Center, complete with Convention Center, hotels, movie theaters, and restaurants, and of course, a car dealership, a bank headquarters, a motorcycle dealership, and a window manufacturing plant. At the very corner will be a gas station with a bank of ATM machines.

On the west side of 15, a new housing development stretching from the Hanover Street exit north to US 30, with its own bridge over US 15 to connect it to an access road running between Pella Windows, and the Adams County Bank Building, and emerging onto Cavalry Field Road. It is the required second access to the development.

On the north side of US 30, another commercial complex, stretching perhaps two miles north along US 15. It contains Gettysburg’s new mall, complete with a Borders, a Boscovs, a Sears and a Penneys. There will also be a Lowes located at one end.

Across 15 on the northeast side of the interchange, will be the brand new Crossroads Shopping Mall, glittering with enough neon to dim the stars overhead for miles around.

North on 15, at the next exit up, 250 acres have been paved over, and a new complex has been constructed there, a hotel, a restaurant (a Lone Star?), and a campground, all to revolve around a new equestrian center (read: rodeo arena), comprised of two indoor and one outdoor arena/exhibition area, and 1,500 horse stalls. They are having a championship rodeo event this weekend complete with fireworks and over one hundered barbecue grills around the venue.

South of 30, along Route 15, at the Hanover Street exit, green still exists – in the form of an expanded Drummer Boy Campground. It is filled to overflow capacity with 60cabins and over 700 campsites filled up by about 4000 persons, using almost 900 cars, busses and RVs.

Traffic on US 30 east of Gettysburg has been backed up all the way to New Oxford since mid-evening Thursday. People pull their cars off to the side of the road to sleep. In town, nothing is moving east on York Street from its intersection with equally clogged Hanover Street all the way to the new malls. The line to exit from US 15 north onto US 30 stretches all the way back to the Maryland Line, while the southbound side coming from Harrisburg is backed up past the Heidlersburg exit. PA 116 west of town, the Fairfield Road, is bumper to bumper all the way through Fairfield, to the intersection with PA 16 near the Maryland line.
Nothing is moving on the side roads north of town because of the reenactment. Nothing is moving on the roads south of town because of the memorabilia shows at the Eisenhower Convention Center on Emmitsburg Road, and the Casino and Harness Racing Track down near Littlestown.

The Battlefield, and the town, are gridlocked. Emergency services personnel are sent to scenes by bicycle and when possible by motorcycle. Babies are born at home, in cars, and in stores and churches, and some of them do not survive. Heart attack victims, already stressed by the heat, are unable to reach a treatment facility in time, and their death toll climbs throughout the weekend. Accidents and heat take their toll at the reenactment, too, where some 1,500 Re-enactors, and about 650 spectators are treated for injuries and heat related problems. Fortunately, pre-arranged medical teams and facilities were present, but even they were overwhelmed. A water main break somewhere near has cut off running water to the most of the borough and its immediate surrounding areas. None of the facilities along 15 have running water. Police look the other way as stranded motorists relieve themselves along the road. The police are also unable to stop the violent outbursts of frustrated motorists unable to get to their destinations, many of which have been paid for. These outbursts include beatings and assaults, rape, and four murders.

By the end of the weekend, some 28 people are dead, over 300 are either hospitalized, or in temporary holding areas awaiting transport to a hospital.

The malls, the hotels, the movie theaters and restaurants within walking distance of US 30 and/or 15, the Equestrian Complex, the re-enactment, the campgrounds, and roadside convenience stores and fast food places and the new mall, all report very high profits for the weekend, in some cases, record profits.

Happy 150th Anniversary, Gettysburg!


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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2009: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Poll on GASD Football Stadium

In a poll run earlier this year we asked the respondents to vote on doing nothing, rebuilding current Warrior Stadium, or building the new mega stadium the good folks at the Gettysburg Area School District Board have in mind for us. The response was clear: only 15% favored the enormously expensive new stadium. Now we have put up a new poll with another alternative: build a less ambitious, far less costly stadium at the high school, closer to the building itself and its locker rooms, and build it with an eye on expansion at a later date. In fact, why not ask the Penn State people who designed Nittany Stadium to design a less ambitious version for Gettysburg? They add to it every few years increasing their capacity 3-5,000 each time. They now vie with the Universities of Michigan, and Tennessee, and the Rose Bowl for top capacity in the nation.

Building closer to the school would eliminate the major threat to the wetlands on the school campus. It would also shorten the trip for those players at halftime. But that is not what the "Gang of Five" have in mind for us.

In a shell game the likes of which have been outlawed for years, they first decided to raise the money privately, and as they did so, their wish list grew bigger and bigger. So the prime movers ran for the school board and got elected, without saying they were going to change the game and force your already far-too-high taxes up even higher. The "Gang of Five", comprised of Pat Symmes, Andi Hoffman, Sally Michael, Todd Orner, and Dale Biesecker, did just that anyway, ignoring signs pointing to the economic slowdown many months before it arrived: development is almost at a standstill in Adams County and has been for much of the year; the Elks Club went bankrupt [for gosh sakes, the Elks Club!]; the Country Club went bankrupt; and gas prices got razor close to $4.00/gal at the pump. While this was happening, most municipalities were socking it to their constituents by installing enormous raises to their tax rates.

With all that staring them in the face, the "Gang of Five" went blindly and blithely ahead with their ever expanding plan to build a stadium bigger and better than the one at Gettysburg College, which they have been invited to share!

It is time for the "Gang of Five" and their supporters to get a dose of reality. Times change, and with changing times, priorities need to change. In this case, less is more. Less stadium is more preferred. No, that does not mean a $5 million stadium. It means, perhaps, put in a nice field, a track, and some stands, plus a concession stand and some public bathrooms next to the high school. Or, it means replacing the old bleachers at Warrior Stadium with new concrete and steel based structures and capping the home side with a press box and a coaches box, and the visitors with a coaches box. Construct public restrooms and locker rooms under both sides of the field, or at the ends of the field. That would not be cheap. But it wouldn't cost even half what the "Gang of Five" wants to spend of your tax dollars.

So, what's the advantage of having a grand stadium like the "Gang of Five" envision? Playoffs. Football, soccer, field hocky, track and field, and invitational track and field meets. They generate money.

So, what's the problem with this? Location! Gettysburg is NOT centrally located. It is very doubtful that the PIAA would select Gettysburg for a playoff game in any of those sports, except at the lowest, intra-district level, and then, only if Gettysburg High School warrants a home field slot in the playoffs. At that level, location is not that important because you are generally playing teams from nearby municipalities. The farther the team advances in the playoffs, the more essential it is to have a central location to play in. Note, playoff games are played in neutral locations, for example, Altoona and Hershey frequently host the eastern and western finals while Hershey hosts the State Championship game.

For the games Gettysburg would get, you certainly do not need an $8 million stadium.

Neither do the people who have to pay for it.

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Eisenhower Home Decorated for the Holidays

Eisenhower National Historic Site News Release

For Release: November 24, 2008

The National Park Service invites you to celebrate Christmas with Gettysburg’s First Family at the Eisenhower National Historic Site,December 1 through 31, 2008. The celebration includes a holiday reception on Saturday, December 13, featuring refreshments provided by Gettysburg Tours, Inc.

The Eisenhower home is decorated for the holidays in the Eisenhower tradition with a Williamsburg-style Della Robbia wreath to welcome visitors at the front door. Inside the Eisenhower home, Mamie Eisenhower’s love of Christmas decorating is evident with mistletoe, wreaths, and poinsettias, while a candy cane-covered Christmas tree surrounded by presents brightens the living room. A life size Santa enlivens the casual atmosphere of the Eisenhower’s porch and gifts of sugar cookies and plum pudding arrayed in the kitchen await the arrival of the Eisenhower grandchildren.

The dining room at the Eisenhower home decorated for the holidays. Courtesy of Eisenhower National Historic Site and the National Park Service.

Christmas gift prints of the President’s paintings as well as the Eisenhowers’ specially designed White House Christmas cards are on exhibit. Some original decorations including a 1950s Christmas shadow box handmade for the Eisenhowers are also displayed. The dining room table set for Christmas dinner and the Eisenhowers’ Christmas records playing in the background add to the holiday atmosphere. Park interpreters are on hand to share Eisenhower family recollections of Christmas in Gettysburg.

The Eisenhower National Historic Site is open daily with shuttle buses leaving the Gettysburg NMP Museum and Visitor Center, 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Admission is $6.50 for adults and $4.00 for youth ages 6 -12. For the holiday reception on December 13, shuttle buses will run once an hour between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The Site is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

For more information contact the Eisenhower National Historic Site at 717-338-9114 or visit the web site at www.nps.gov/eise.

-NPS-

Experience Your AmericaTM
The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

<------------------------------------------------>
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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The "Gang of Five": Their Hands in Your Pockets

Once again the specter of an $8 million white elephant looms in the face of taxpayers from the Gettysburg Area School District. The actions of these five people: Pat Symmes, Andi Hoffman, Sally Michael, Todd Orner, and Dale Biesecker, "The Gang of Five", will be the cause of rising taxes going even higher. And if you believe the Superintendant's message that it will amount to a small increase, then we have some swamp land in Florida to sell you.

There is no other explanation for this than a bunch of overblown yuppies that went and got themselves elected to the school board to build an overblown stadium for an overblown school at an overblown cost to taxpayers who already are overtaxed.

On top of that, they are reneging on a deal that was originally struck to build a stadium without cost to the taxpayers!

So, we're are not about to have an $8 million tax bill shoved down our throats, rather we are having it shoved up...well, "let's hear y'all make a sound like a hog, boy!"

We are in a bad economy.

There are other options.

There are better options.

We are taxed to the limit with more coming.

It is a bad idea.

It's designed on ground that is a wetland.

Take your pick of the above. Any or all are viable and real reasons NOT to go ahead with the stadium project.

In an unscientific poll conducted here earlier this year 95% of respondents voted not to build the $8 million dollar stadium. That 95% was split between 40% not wanting anything built and 45% wanting a much less costly renovation of current Warrior stadium. Either way the respondents voted overwhelmingly against the project.

We think the renovation and upgrade of current Warrior Stadium is the best solution. Indeed, we are not against an improved facility for the young men and women who participate in sports. We are big high school football fans, and have been for a long time. But reason dictates that a more sane solution is available, preferable, more logical, and far less costly. That is the reconstruction of facilities at the current Warrior Stadium. Improved grandstands with locker room facilities underneath each side, public rest rooms, and a permanent concession stand would cost far less, result in a greatly reduced tax burden [since "The Gang of Five" mentioned above has forced the cancellation of the original deal. It would also provide a much nicer facility at the location where Warrior Football has been played for decades. Parking could easily be increased next to the home stands.

Water and sewer are already there. And no wetlands would be threatened or damaged. The lights are already in place. All that is required is the construction of two sets of permanent stands with facilities underneath, connection of the water and sewer lines, add heating and air conditioning, and the concession building, and extend the stands on both sides closer to the goal lines. The track can be maintained.

Common sense needs to take hold on the School Board. No one can afford the additional tax burden, and it certainly is not ethical or moral to take on such a burden when families in the district are losing their homes because of the economy.

Quite simply, "The Gang of Five" can accomplish what they should accomplish for far less money. Improve the existing Warrior Stadium and stop this dishonest effort to gang-rape the taxpayer's pockets.

Taxpayers from the school district should shower the School Board with letters of outrage. "The Gang of Five" could easily have put a referendum on the ballot for the election just held a few weeks ago, but they did not, because the gutless "Gang of Five" knew it would fail.

Gettysburg Area School Board, 900 Biglerville Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325.

Show up at the meeting on December 15th at the above address and bring coal for the Christmas stockings of the gutless "Gang of Five". Voice your displeasure at their "let them eat cake!" attitude toward taxpayers. Let them know you won't stand for their dishonest "game."

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Veterans Day: The American Idea, The American Ideal

Since uncounted and unnamed battles fought in the years before the May 18th, 1754 Battle of Jumonville Glen in western Pennsylvania, "Americans" have been fighting for America, for the idea of America, and for the ideal of America.

The American Revolution put a name to that ideal in July of 1776, calling it the United States of America.

Twenty-two years later the United States began a naval war with her greatest ally, France, to protect United State ships that were being taken from the high seas by French Privateers, and fourteen years later another naval war was fought with Great Britain for stopping US ships and pulling US citizens from them to serve on British ships. When Britain got the idea they could beat us and take back the colonies, they invaded, and captured Baltimore MD, and Washington, DC, burning the White House. They sent troops ashore in recently acquired Louisiana, where a future president defeated them with the help of Gulf of Mexico pirates.

People became more and more caught up in the greatness of the American Ideal, and in the late 1840s, fought the nation's first unpopular war, making short work of neighboring Mexico, all in the name of Manifest Destiny.

A dozen years later, festering business left unfinished by the Founders and the Framers, burst into a full rebellion that, when it ended, redefined the meaning of the American Ideal, and reinstated the American Idea of 1776 once again.

Over the next thirty three years the United States fought battles on the Great Plains of the American West and in the hills and deserts of the American Southwest, defeating the indigenous Native American tribes into deep submission.

In 1898, the Nation went to war with Spain to remove their influence and presence from the Americas, and in the process, liberated the peoples of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippine Islands from European Monarchy rule.

A brief incursion into Mexico to police the banditry emanating across the border into the US from there in 1916, gave the Army an opportunity to develop itself, to practice maneuvers, and to develop modern tactics on the eve of the First World War, the Great War. Presidential promises to keep us out of the war in Europe gave way to rising anger over the opening of unrestricted submarine warfare in late 1916, and the US entered the war in April of the following year. Much of Western Europe had democratized by then, even while retaining their monarchies, but Eastern Europe was a tangled web of alliances, and animosities between small states and large. The American Ideal had grown up and become a World Power. We entered the war, yet barely fought for another year, while the Allies fought the Central Powers to an exhausted standstill in eastern France, and the Bolshevik Revolution made a compromise with the Germans. But when we fought, we won. Belleau Wood was where the US Marine Corps earned the sobriquet "Devil Dogs" with defensive stands inspired by the words, "Retreat! Hell! We just got here!", and ferocious attacks inspired by a Sergeant Major's cry, "Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever!" 360,000 casualties, 50,000 combat deaths and more from influenza and other disease totaling 118,000 US dead during the Great War. A high price for exporting the American Ideal and the American Idea overseas, but the price paid was there for all to see.

It ended in the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918, in a railroad car at the French town of Compiegne. It is the event that we celebrate today, 90 years later, initially named Armistice Day to signify the armistice signed in that railroad car, and later changed to Veterans Day to celebrate all the Veterans whoever served in the military forces of the United States.

Twenty Two years later Adolph Hitler accepted the surrender of the French government in that same railroad car, in the same town of Compiegne. The war in Europe went on for over two years before the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor sent us into the war the next day. Declaring before Congress that, "No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory." It took "our boys" three years and five months to roll back the Germans in Europe and four additional months to subdue the Japanese in the Pacific. This time the cost to export the American Ideal and the American Idea was much higher: 416,000 American dead.

Once again, the might of the American Idea, and the American Ideal provided the muscle and the inspiration to fight a two ocean war...really two major wars at the same time, and win them both, with major help in Europe from the British, Free French, Free Czechs, Free Poles, and so on, and the Canadians and Australians, and of course, the Soviets, and with help in the Pacific from the Australians, the Free Dutch, the New Zealanders, the Free Philippines Forces, and the British. Once again America fought to save free peoples around the world.

Five years later we went to war again to save a free people -- this time in Korea. Our Marines and the Army fought gallantly at places like the Chosin Reservoir, frozen solid in early winter. This time the price of the export of the American Ideal and the American Idea was 36,500 dead, and over 92,000 wounded. Another 8,000 were prisoners of war.

A decade later we were fighting again, this time to stop the advancing tide of Communism in a Southeast Asian country called the Republic of Vietnam. This time the cost was higher: 58,000 dead, over 153,000 wounded, and another 1,900 still missing today. That war was so divisive it kept us out of further conflicts for nearly two decades.

In the early 1990s, we joined forces with a rather impressive coalition and drove the Iraqi Army from the country of Kuwait in hours, not days. So superior in numbers, firepower, air strength, and technology were the coalition forces that the war was halted barely 100 hours after the ground fighting began. US casualties were light for this war, 148 combat casualties, 1 missing pilot, and 145 accidental deaths.

A dozen years later saw us back in the area, engaging the same Iraqi Army, but this time with far less superiority of numbers -- and this after we entered Afghanistan to root out Al Qaeda and the ruling Taliban. In Afghanistan, we have lost 534 dead to date, while in Iraq nearly 4,200.

There have been literally hundreds of thousands of dead in all our wars, including the ones before we were even a nation of our own, and all for the American Ideal and the American idea.

The American Idea that democracy benefits all, and is beneficial to all, and that it is the most free form of government known, and practiced on this planet.

The American Ideal: that all should enjoy 'life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'

An idea, and an ideal worth fighting for, and dying for, and that has inspired Americans to do so for over two and a half centuries.

Remember them all on this day, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Latschar Named New Head of Foundation

Gettysburg National Military Park and Gettysburg Foundation Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Named New
President of the Gettysburg Foundation


John Latschar to take over reins from retiring President Robert Wilburn


Gettysburg, Pa. (November 7, 2008) - Gettysburg National Military ParkSuperintendent John Latschar will be leaving his post on March 1, 2009 to become the new president of the nonprofit Gettysburg Foundation, it was announced today by the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service.

“John’s vision and leadership are an important part of the successful public-private partnership between the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service,” said Robert Kinsley, Chair of the Gettysburg Foundation. “John’s experience and dedication exemplifies the type of leader we are looking for as we continue to work with the National Park

Service to preserve Gettysburg for future generations.” Latschar was selected after a unanimous vote by the Board of Directors of the Foundation.

“Obviously, Bob Wilburn is leaving some huge shoes to fill,” said Latschar. “No one else could have taken the Gettysburg Foundation from a concept to the opening of our new museum and visitor center in eight short years. I’m excited about the opportunity to continue to work towards the preservation and care of Gettysburg NMP and Eisenhower NHS from a new perspective. My goal will be ensure that we continue our momentum, and to move the organization forward into a new era of philanthropy for the benefit of this and future generations.” said Latschar.

Working as a partner with the National Park Service, the Gettysburg Foundation raised $103 million to build a new park Museum and Visitor Center which has ensured the preservation of the Gettysburg’s museum collections and the Cyclorama painting. The facility’s 24,000 square feet of museum exhibits have improved visitor understanding of the significance of the Battle of Gettysburg within the context of the causes and consequences of the American Civil War. A final keystone to the project will begin this winter when the park and the Gettysburg Foundation demolish two outdated visitor facilities located upon the center of the Union Army’s battle line of July 1863.

“John’s background and perspectives as an army officer, a combat veteran, a Ph.D. historian, and park superintendent contributed to his success in addressing preservation challenges at both Gettysburg NMP and the Eisenhower Site in innovative ways,” said Dennis Reidenbach, Regional Director for the National Park Service Northeast Region. “The projects and partnerships he created have dramatically improved the park’s ability to meet its mission now and for the future.”

“It has been a pleasure to work with the dedicated park staff, our partners, and the community to create the new museum and implement battlefield rehabilitation to restore Gettysburg’s historic integrity and enhance visitor understanding of the battle. I’m also proud of our combined efforts with Main Street Gettysburg and others to develop the David Wills House, a National Park Service museum opening February 2009 in downtown Gettysburg about the aftermath of battle and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address,” said Latschar. “As President of the Gettysburg Foundation, we will continue to work with all our Gettysburg-area partners on the implementation of the Borough of Gettysburg Interpretive Plan.

Latschar has been superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park since 1994. He is a 31-year veteran of the National Park Service. Prior to his appointment at Gettysburg, he served as the first Superintendent of Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA, and in various capacities at the NPS Denver Service Center. He has been recognized by the National Park Service for his leadership numerous times, including being named Superintendent of the Year for the Northeast Region of the NPS in 1991 and in 2001, Superintendent of the Year for Natural Resource Stewardship in 2003 and for Cultural Resource Stewardship in 2000.

The Gettysburg Foundation is in the midst of a $125 million Campaign to Preserve Gettysburg, which includes the construction—now complete—of the new Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park. The Foundation’s broad preservation mission began in 1989 and includes land preservation, battlefield rehabilitation, artifact preservation and monument and cannon-carriage preservation. The Foundation has more than 30,000 members and supporters nationwide and internationally.

Current Foundation President Robert C. Wilburn will step down March 1. Wilburn came to the Gettysburg Foundation in 2000, after being President and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

“Gettysburg is one of the most important places in American history,” said Wilburn. “It has been an honor to work to preserve this hallowed ground and to excite and inspire the millions of visitors who come here each year.

With John’s leadership, Gettysburg’s future will be preserved.”

The Gettysburg Foundation, www.gettysburgfoundation.org, is a private, nonprofit educational organization working in partnership with the National Park Service to enhance preservation and understanding of the heritage and lasting significance of Gettysburg.

--30--

Katie Lawhon
Public Affairs Specialist
Gettysburg National Military Park
1195 Baltimore Pike, Suite 100
Gettysburg, PA 17325

Experience your America

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that they all may experience our heritage.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

"GettysBLOG endorses..."

Remember in November: GettysBLOG!

It is November. On Tuesday we go to the polls in one of the most important elections in our nation's history. We think there is far more at stake than in most other elections past.

Whatever your political bent, please VOTE.

For President: We endorse Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin for President and Vice President. We believe McCain's lifetime of service and experience gives him the resume to do what is needed to rescue this nation from the perils in which we now find ourselves. Economics, foreign wars, and threats from terrorism are posing dangerous situations that change daily. We do not want the nation in the hands of someone who has never been a mayor, governor, or anything else with executive or military responsibility. In fact, we believe Sarah Palin to be more qualified for President than Barrack Obama. Finally, we could never back a man who refuses to place his hand on his heart during the Pledge to the Flag, and won't wear an American Flag on his lapel because "...it is divisive, and an international symbol of oppression...". Pal, if you have that opinion of our national emblem, you not only do not deserve to be president, you probably should not even live here. Obama's third world upbringing has influenced his mind into a third world mindset. Such a person would lead us into the third world. No thanks. I'll take a war hero and a Moose shooting mother with values anyday over someone who harbors ill feelings about his own country.

For State Attorney General: No doubt about it, Tom Corbett has done the job; let's re-elect him.

For Auditor General: Chet Beiler

For State Treasurer: Tom Ellis

For US Congress from the 19th District: The Honorable Todd Russell Platts, friend of the Veterans, and a man of storng convictions that influence his votes. His "No" vote on the first bailout package was backed by common sense [who wants to go 700 trillion dollars into debt to Communist China?]. Todd Platts has supported the military, and the Veterans. He has made many trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, and reports back that things are so much better in Iraq now that the surge has worked [zero US military deaths in October!]. Vote for Todd Platts!

For State Senate in the 33rd District: Rich Alloway. We must retain Republican Control in the state Senate.

For Representative in the General Assembly from the 91st District, Dan Moul. Dan has done a fantastic job after the 14 years of ideleness from his predecessor. Dan is exerting leadership talents in the PA House and has gained a lot of respect. Dan is one of the true good guys. We do not always agree on things, but his heart, and mind are both in the right place. Vote for Dan Moul.

For Representative in the 193rd District, Will Tallman! The Republicans need his seat.

A note here: We are endorsing an all Republican ticket because of the belief that if the national government becomes all Democratic we will be in one huge mess from which it will take decades to extricate ourselves, and locally, we must undo the many ugly excesses of the Rendell administration. Rendell has abused the state's civil service employees, and ruined many good projects by playing games with the finances of various departments. He is also the man who brought you gambling, the promised benefits of which have yet to be felt. Frankly, he is simply a dishonest politician.

Finally there are two ballot questions:

The first is a bond issue for $10,000,000. The money is to be used for the preservation of land and water resources in Adams County. We go on record here of opposing this measure now because of so many unanswered questions about the campaign supporting the bond. Too much money was spent on the advertising to support it, and in the face of an invisible opponent no less. When a town hall meeting was called they consortium made two blunders, the first of which was not allowing an open mike on the floor for question...they had to be submitted in advance [which means they were selectively edited for content...that is, censored.], and they chose as their moderator one of the most pro-development editors around, B.J. Small. Two reasons to confirm our first impression when getting the expensive and slickly produced ads in the mail, sometimes three a day. No, this one is full of smoke and mirrors. Some consortium members may actually believe in what they are doing, but we see the possibility that money for the preservation of water resources in Adams County, which should also go toward the clean up of what has already flowed down stream into the Chesapeake Bay, could also be used for the construction of a pipeline to bring Susquehanna River water to central Adams County. What better way to preserve our water sources than to reduce the dependence on them? Also, in the current economic situation, even a small fee like $24 per year increase in taxes can have a detrimental effect on the tax payer, who is already overburdened by tax hike at all levels especially for a overblown football stadium that will emperil wetlands behind the high school. Vote NO on the Land Preservation Bond. Perhaps the consortium should try this again in a much more open fashion in two years.

Hand in hand with the local bond issue is a mammoth state bond issue of $400,000,000 for the "acquisition, construction, improvement, expansion, extension, repair, or rehabilitation of drinking water systems, storm water and nonpoint source projects, nutrient credits [bay cleanupo], and wastewater treatment plants."

All of the above is to aid in the construction of housing and commercial/industrial developments around the state. Your dollars will go for a new mall in Philadelphia, or a new sewage treatment plant for a new housing development out in Bedford...or right here in Cumberland or Straban Township. Again, economically, now is not the time, and we think much of the above should fall on the developers. They should foot the bill for ALL infrastructure improvements required by their new construction and development activities. [We bought our house almost ten years ago. It is no longer the same Adams County it was then. We certainly do not want our tax dollars used to make life easier and richer for some developers. We are not against development, we are against the massive development being forced on Adams County.]And, frankly, wqe cannot afford the additional tax burden this would place on us.

Vote NO on the Water and Sewer Improvements Referendum.

Conbsider your votes carefully on Tuesday. The fate of the nation, the state, and the county rides on the outcome. Whatever you do, make sure your VOTE! [But only once, please, for all you ACORN Registrants!]

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gettysburg Park’s Winter Visiting Hours Begin November 1

From the National Park Service at Gettysburg National Military Park:

Gettysburg Park’s Winter Visiting Hours Begin November 1

Beginning November 1, 2008, Gettysburg National Military Park will change to its winter visiting hours, staying open to the public from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily, the National Park Service has announced. The winter visiting hours will continue through March 31, 2009. From April 1 through October 31, the park will remain open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily.

During the winter visiting hours, park-approved special events such as the annual Remembrance Illumination and park sponsored public meetings would continue to be permitted. Certain park avenues will continue to be accessible 24 hours/day for vehicular through-travel only: Buford Avenue,Doubleday Avenue, Granite Schoolhouse Road, Howard Avenue, Millerstown Road, Reynolds Avenue, Wadsworth Avenue, West Confederate Avenue, and Wheatfield Road.

Fines for Closed Area Violations are $75. For more information contact Gettysburg National Military Park at (717) 334-1124, or visit the park web site at www.nps.gov/gett

-NPS-

Experience Your AmericaTM
The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Let's talk about water

Let's talk about water.

There is a very expensive effort being put forth in Adams County to get a bond issue passed in the November election that will provide up to $10 million for the preservation of land and water resources.

Here is the ballot language from the "Vote Yes for Adams Water and Land" website.

"Shall debt in a sum not to exceed 10 million dollars be authorized for the purposes of financing land conservation and preservation efforts, including protection of drinking water sources, stream water quality, wildlife habitat, farmland, open space and recreation lands, all for future generations, to be incurred as debt approved by the electors of Adams County, with lands preserved solely in cooperation with willing sellers, and ensuring that an annual independent audit evaluates program success?"
Now, ordinarily we would be proud to support such an effort. But something about this advertising campaign strikes a bad chord with us. There are mass mailings, sometimes two or three separate pieces per day of slick brochures pressing voters to vote for this initiative. This is new to us. They, whoever "they" are, certainly are spending a lot of money to push this.

So we look at the wording of the bond issue, and what is on the website, and we see the potential for a bomb in this bond issue.

Adams County has been under full sail to build twenty thousand houses over the next few years. Now with the current financial crisis, and the housing market bust, that is on hold. So what can the Adams County powers-that-be do with money they raised taxes to obtain to support the construction of the houses? One word: PIPE.

We are talking about running pipe from the Susquehanna River, across York County, and across half of Adams County, some 40 plus miles, of huge water pipe.

And what better way to protect the water sources and resources of the county than by piping in several million gallons per day from a site dozens of miles away?

We see the potential for this happening in the bond issue. $10 million dollars will buy a lot of pipe. It won't buy all of it. But it will buy a lot. And the more water that gets pumped here, the less that needs to be taken from our creeks, and reservoirs. That's preservation at its worst.

And when the financial and housing crisis resolves in a few years, the water will be here to support the construction of new malls, new manufacturing plants, and of course, twenty thousand new homes.

Remember, "If you build it they will come." This campaign is too slick and smacks of too much money behind it.

We do hope we are wrong, but...this one smells to high heaven.

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Welcome Gettysburg Beat!

A marvelous new website has appeared recently detailing the remarkable expansive restoration of the Gettysburg Battlefield by the National Park Service. As somewhat of an historian, we look on this restoration project with fondness and eagerness...we can't wait to see what places like Ziegler's Grove, Oak Hill, and all the many newly planted Orchards will look like in ten to fifteen years when the trees begin to mature.

We are already thrilled at the broad vistas that have been opened up by the staff at the Park, and have detailed here in the past about how these changes to the landscape have already changed the history of the battle in some significant ways, particularly the defense of Little Round Top by Strong Vincent's Vth Corps Brigade, and the attack by O'Neal's Brigade on Baxter's First Corps Brigade on the side of Oak Hill. Both need serious re-writing.

There are other areas that we have pointed out to the Park Rangers that they are investingating and researching. One Ranger, who moonlights as a college professor, taught us to always look and question "Why?" and "How?" So we do when we are on this remarkable piece of taxpayer owned real estate. We believe one of the areas we suggested for investigation could shed some light, ultimately, on why Lee and Longstreet were at odds most of the day on July 2nd.

The Battlefield is a remarkable place, a magnificent resource for families, and historians, and those who seek to ask "Why?" and "How?".

So, we welcome Gettysburg Beat, the new site devoted to the Park. We look on Gettysburg Beat as a welcome addition to educating a public about the changes manifesting at the Park, changes that really do make a difference, and changes that are setting a gold standard for historic battlefield preservation around the world.

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The NPS, the Museum, and the Foundation

We have always been, and remain, unabashed defenders of the National Park Service staff at Gettysburg National Military Park. We have been supporters of the Foundation.

When we look at the accomplishments of the NPS under the direction of Doctor John Latschar, we see the enormous reconstitution of the Battlefield proper, with the crowning piece yet to come this winter when the old Visitors Center and the Cyclorama Building will be torn down and Zeigler's Grove restored.

The masterful work, fastidiously researched since the early 1990s, and remarkably performed since the plan went into effect in the late 1990s, has not only opened broad new vistas on the Battlefield, but has forced historians to re-open the history books to reinterpret some phases of the Battle. Over the 145 years since the great Battle was fought here, the field itself underwent countless changes, many of which were man made. But nature made more than a few changes also and over the course of time, those changes were not only allowed to remain, but became part of the physical context within which the historical accounts of what happened here were written. Certainly, historians could easily "write their way around" the presence of a Pizza Hut, or a Tourist shop located on the main Battlefield, but not so easily done were the subtle changes wrought by nature.

One example is the tree thinning on Oak Hill. This has an effect on the way the July 1st actions of one Confederate Brigade are recorded in the history books. Once there was puzzlement about O'Neal's Brigade being so easily rebuffed because they were only under fire for a few hundred yards. Now, we see that they were under fire far longer...a view from the fresh perspective of the removal of several hundred yards of non-historic trees.

Another example was the clearing several years ago of the south slope of Little Round Top, exposing the flank markers of the 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment mere yards from Warren Avenue at the pull-offs near its top. No longer will "Old Pennsylvania" have a role in a "line of battle" ringing the crest of that hill. Now we look at a more sophisticated defensive position, a defense in depth, complete with angles of fire that cover inviting avenues of approach by the enemy.

In 10 to 15 years, most of the orchards that have been freshly planted in the past few years will have matured to the point where they will be recognized as places of shelter, and cover, for many of the troops during the Battle. In 20-25 years the oak and other hardwood groves that have been planted will also mature, as will additional plantings in Ziegler's Grove.

But even after the Park Service completes its Battlefield restoration, it will still not be exactly the way it was on those three fateful days in July of 1863. Of course, the monuments and markers were not present, nor were the traffic signs, paved roadways and paths. The view from inside the Battlefield looking out certainly has changed dramatically, both in the borough, and the two townships that surround the major portions of the Battlefield. And as for nature, the ground cover and underbrush that for the most part was wholly absent from the area in 1863 because of all the grazing livestock, both fenced and free range, will still remain because it will be far too expensive to clear it, and far too dangerous to introduce enough livestock to do it for us.

In the end, Gettysburg Battlefield will be nearly as pristine as the Battlefield at Antietam is now -- the only intrusions will be development on the edges of the Borough and from the surrounding townships, something, somehow, avoided all these years at Antietam.

Now we have a new Visitors Center -- an absolutely stunning structure reminiscent of many Adams County barns, and perfectly situated. The design architect is to be commended for creating a building aesthetically superb, and majestically sited.

So, what is wrong with this picture?

The Borough and the Townships
Ever since the Battle was fought, the Borough has been at odds with itself over its role in the memorialization of what happened here. The Borough's love-hate relationship with the Park is a product of its love-hate relationship with its role in history. For better or for worse, the Borough was indeed a part of the great Battle. It wasn't fought just around the Borough, but inside as well. For four days and nights the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia occupied its streets and buildings, sometimes fighting from them, sometimes launching attacks from them. A week before the Battle started the Rebels were in town demanding money and supplies. And after the Battle was over, the residents took in the wounded, and helped bury the dead. For months afterwards there was a military presence here. And of course, the Great Emancipator came here to say a few words at the dedication of one of the first National Cemeteries in this country. His words left a second indelible mark on Gettysburg.

This is also true for the townships that surround the Battlefield: Mount Joy on the southeast side of the Borough, Cumberland to the south and west, and north of the Borough, and Straban, also north and east of the Borough. Those municipalities were the context for the battle. It occurred in all four locations. The hospitals that were set up after the battle were spread throughout all four municipalities.

For 145 years many of the residents of the Borough and surrounding townships have been making their livelihoods from the Battle. Indeed, tourism is the largest industry in Adams County, matched nearly by the declining fruit industry.

The only one of the four municipalities that has any kind of participatory plan in conjunction with the Park Service to preserve and memorialize the events that made Gettysburg famous is the Borough itself, and its plan is nothing to brag about. The Borough is starting to get it. They have very grudgingly worked their way into allowing the Park Service to restore the David Wills house on the Diamond [For all you geometrists, the official name of Gettysburg's square is the Diamond, even though it has a traffic circle.], and to taking over the "Lincoln" Train Station. The Borough found itself incapable of managing, or even deciding what to do with the train station. In turn, the Park Service has agreed to allow bus service from an as-yet-to-be-built bus terminal across the tracks from the Train Station to the new Visitor's Center.

Several years ago the Borough's Historic Architectural Review Board [HARB] ran a Sheetz convenience store/gas station out of town over its store frontage, and allowed another business to move in eventually. The gas tanks were removed. But drive by today and see the enormous gas tanks sitting there waiting to be stuck in the ground, and look at the store frontage and ask yourself, "Is this any different than Sheetz?"

The townships, on the other hand, never met a patch of grass they didn't want to pave over. Cumberland Township recently cleared scrub trees and excavated part of their side yard to "stabilize the ground", even though they claim they have no plans to put anything there. So why dig it up? It was stable the way it was. Township officials have their toys and they must play with them. Perhaps seeing a bulldozer plowing up a beautiful lawn is somehow erotically stimulating to them. Cumberland also granted permission for a new hotel to be built between the Pike restaurant and the Evergreen Cemetery on Baltimore Street south of town. The excavation came less than two feet from the outermost row of headstones. A good heavy rain or two at that point in time might have created a moving experience for some of those interred there.

Even worse, is Straban, which began with a Wal Mart Distribution Center, then a super Wal Mart, then a Casino, all of which were somehow defeated by local opposition and bad planning, and now, thanks to their grim determination to build over some of the most scenic and beautiful and productive farmland in America, will bring a Lowes, a Super Wal Mart, and other box stores to the strip of ground between the southbound exit of US 15 at York Street and the hotel at the first light, across from where Sheetz ended up after being run out of town. We call what Straban Township is doing along US 30 [York Street], the "Neonization of Gettysburg." We call the planned housing and development along US 15 north and south of the US 30 interchange, the "Uglification of Gettysburg."

They are all destroying the context of what brings the most money into this area.

Steinwehr Avenue and the Shrinking Share
The Merchants of Steinwehr...it sounds almost Shakespearean. It is drama, but not of the Bard's caliber. For years, the Borough allowed business after business to be built along the strip of the old Emmitsburg Road leading to Baltimore Street, renamed for the 11th Corps General whose Division guarded that particular section of Cemetery Hill on July 1, 2, and 3. They thrived for a while because of the renewed interest in Civil War history and in Gettysburg in particular due to the Movie Gettysburg released in the mid 1990s. Location is almost everything in business, particularly small business, and they were literally located across the street from the Visitors Center and Cyclorama Parking lot entrances. Farther up towards town they were across from the National Cemetery. But over the years the Borough saw its own revenues from the Merchants of Steinwehr begin to decline a bit. Part of the problem was the waning interest in Gettysburg and the Civil War. Another, more recent part, was the increase in the price of travel, particularly gas, after the September 11, 2001 attacks. As the economy struggled for a while and gas prices rose, people stopped making the trip.

But more insidious was the Shrinking Share. How many t-shirt shops are on Steinwehr? How many ghost tour operators? How many "museums"? How many trinket/souvenir shops are there on Steinwehr? With a declining economy, and too many businesses, the tourist dollar shares were becoming smaller and smaller. Frankly, we think this a natural consequence of over-saturation of the retail tourist market. 50% of all small businesses fail in their first five years, a percentage that increases to 70% over the first ten years. Add in the effects of the new Visitors Center and its move east to Baltimore Street away from the Merchants of Steinwehr, and you can see why the businesses are not doing well. Heck, the whole economy has generated a $700 billion bailout bill from Congress. We are in tough economic times. The strong businesses will survive, and perhaps now Steinwehr Avenue won't resemble a carnival midway so much with the tourist traps hawking their wares on their front porches and sidewalks. Survival of the fittest is seldom fair to the naked eye, but in the long run, it is what made the Apes eventually stand on two feet, and later become Man. Perhaps it will generate a chance for the Borough to redo their license, tax and fee structure. While they are at it, they need to take out the parking meters throughout the Borough, and perhaps build a second parking garage, across Chambersburg Street from the existing one behind the Gettysburg Hotel. Nothing drives away the tourists from down town faster than parking meters and meter maids. Add a sur-tax to the businesses to cover any shortfall.

The NPS, the Museum, and the Foundation
As it turns out, it is the partnership from Hell. It was a worthy enterprise, a public-private partnership that touted a new Visitors Center [see above] without using public money. Yes, that's right, no tax money. Yet tens of millions of dollars of tax money wound up being used. And that doesn't count the approximate $5 million used solely for the clean-up and restoration of the Cyclorama painting. When questioned about this recently in the Hanover Evening Sun, Foundation Chairman Bob Wilburn was totally unapologetic. In fact, he was more than that. In our mind, he came across arrogant, surly, and, dare we say it, snottily elitist - sort of an attitude of "You can't afford to even talk to me!" His salary of over $350,000 per year is one indication why so many millions of tax dollars ended up in the new Visitors Center: What were the rest of the salaries?

Prices in the Book Store are double what you would find in other Civil War Battlefield Book Stores. That is, the trinkets and souvenirs are double. The books arrive with prices printed on their covers and dust jackets, so there is no surcharge on them. The deal with the Builder, Kinsley Construction of York, Pennsylvania, is that Kinsley gets to own the new Visitors Center for 22 years, after which sole ownership will revert to the Park Service [read: U.S. Government, read: U.S. Taxpayers]. That is supposed to be the length of time that Kinsley needs to be taking a cut off the profits from all operations in the Visitors Center to pay for the construction of the center itself. The Park Service and the Foundation manage it for Kinsley. That keeps Foundation people getting those huge salaries.

Those payments are falling short of the mark already, and no wonder in these ugly economic times. The same thing is happening to the NPS-Kinsley deal that is happening to the Merchants of Steinwehr. Their slice of the tourist dollar is shrinking. Oh, but there is more. Originally, the Visitors Center was charging $12 to adults to see the 20 minute film "A New Birth of Freedom", and the Cyclorama Painting. The Museum was free. Now, after much hand wringing and a sham of a survey, the price has dropped to $7.50 for all three venues. People are outraged at having to pay to see the museum. The survey was conducted by the Foundation with its members. The proposed fee change was the subject of the survey. The members of the Foundation responded supposedly with over 50% support. However, also included in the mail that brought the survey, was news that all Foundation members have a free ride to all the venues on the park. While that might not qualify as bribery, it certainly voids the survey, making it worthless.

Let's compare to Antietam, site of the bloodiest single day in American Military History, and a scant 90 minutes from here. A pristine Battlefield, and a small visitors center are the joys of Antietam. You are asked to pay a $6 fee to visit the tiny museum downstairs, but nobody checks your ticket. The films are free. There is a 20 minute film about Lincoln's visit to McClellan after the battle that doesn't go far enough in detailing the humiliation of our then-Commander in Chief by the General and his staff, in front of the troops. There is a magnificent 40 minute telling of the battle story, narrated by James Earl Jones, and filled with action battle scenes not stolen from other films, but created with the help of thousands of reenactors just for this film. It is superbly done, complete with graphics that starkly show the tactics and flow of the battle. It opens with a long line of Confederate soldiers wading across the late summer Potomac River from Virginia to Maryland a few days before the battle. With this one well done scene, which depicts the soldiers joking their way across the stream while holding their possessions high and dry, and battle sequences showing how units would fight facing one enemy line and eventually come under fire from another in their rear, taking fierce casualties in the encounter, the action is fierce and realistic. For amateur actors, it is well done. The scene that most affected us, and still does, is when the lead brigade marches over the rise in front of the Sunken Lane, then the Rebs open fire, and the entire front rank of the brigade goes down. It is filmmaking at its best, lovingly done, and it accurately depicts how the battle became the single bloodiest day in American History.

At Gettysburg, the film, "A New Birth of Freedom," narrated by Morgan Freeman, is a well done film giving context to the Battle here. However, it is not worth the price of admission, and should, rather, play in the entrance hallway for free. The Cyclorama is well worth the price of admission, and at $7.50 the price is low enough to be deserving, and high enough to maintain a flow of profit to repay Mr. Kinsley.

We believe the museum should be free.

And should the flow of money from the Visitors Center to Mr. Kinsley take more than the 22 years agreed upon, then perhaps Mr. Kinsley would agree to an extension of several years. How about rounding it up to 25? Meanwhile, the park has the room, and the expertise, to add another venue that will draw visitors, and make money. They can restore the electric map, or build a newer, better one, and put it in one of their theaters. We think there may be sufficient skilled volunteers to do just that. Take the price of the Cyclorama and the Electric Map to $10 for either or both, but remove the fee for the museum, if for no other reason than the fact that those artifacts belong to every American. They should not have to pay to see what they already own.

We do support the NPS Staff at Gettysburg. They are a marvelous, hard working group of folks. They have nearly completed a fantastic journey where they have taken the Battlefield back 145 years into the past, and they have done it lovingly and with accuracy. They have established a benchmark for battlefield restoration that should serve as a model for the entire world.

We would hope that the Foundation regains its footing and its senses and climbs down from yuppiedom to walk once again with the people who are the salt of the earth, the Average Joe and his family, the people who walk through the doors of the Visitors Center to spend that $7.50. The Foundation has served its purpose of raising the funds for the Visitors Center. Let us now see some daylight between the Foundation and the Park. We would love to write a glowing reference for Mr. Wilburn to add to his resume.

There are two people who deserve a great deal of thanks for this effort: Kinsley, for his generosity in floating a long term loan to the Park Service, and Doctor Latschar for his vision and perseverance in developing the plan to restore the Battlefield to its 1863 condition, and to bring us the new Visitors Center: Kudos to both.

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 and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.