At some point, the citizens of the Warren County must demand that the leadership of the Warren County School District Board of Directors quit playing the martyr and take some responsibility for the current state of financial and educational affairs in the district. Some of the difficult decisions the board has faced have been self-inflicted, predictable and avoidable. Financial reactivity, lack of long term planning in establishing a Master Education Plan for the county, and budgetary fumbling all contributed to not being in a position to clearly identify whether or not the board could accept any portion of the QZAB loan.
As noted in the Times Observer's editorial of September 28, it probably was not an easy decision and there were compelling reasons for all cases made. It was easy to waffle back and forth. However, after three hours, there was only one question that needed to be asked..... "could the district afford more debt?" It wasn't whether QZAB was "good or bad" or whether the renovations at Eisenhower and Beaty were needed. They are all needed. The fundamental question should have been whether we could afford it or not as a county.
Should the district have even considered borrowing money at a time when funding for educational programs is in short supply? Has the leadership of the board even recommended or established goals for their fellow board members? It is about tradeoffs given limited funds and board priorities. Regardless of feelings based on geographic location, considerations of the strings attached to the loan, or any other factors, the answer was and is that we simply could not afford to borrow any money.
Something overlooked in the dust of Monday evening's financial follies is the fact that the county lost a lot more than can be calculated on a spreadsheet. At a time when the entire county needs to come together to establish a Master Education Plan for our children, leadership of the board successfully drove a wedge deeper between the various attendance areas.
Joseph P. Colosimo, Warren
Candidate for School Board Region II
Public needs access to findings
Pennsylvania is poised to take a big step backward when it comes to transparency and openness. On Friday, the state Senate added Senate Bill 961, which would eliminate public access to virtually all coroner records, to a set of bills they planned to vote out of the Senate Local Government Committee.
The Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, as well as this newspaper and many others, strongly oppose this piece of legislation. Instead of a full report on the cause of a suspicious death released in a timely fashion, it would require only the release of the name, cause and manner of death and even then it would become public only 30 days after the calendar year in which a death occurs.
The strength of the coroner's office is the important role it plays for the public and the criminal justice system by providing an independent and timely investigation into deaths of questionable circumstances such as homicides, suicides, accidental and often sudden and unexplained deaths.
To throw a cloud of secrecy over this important work does a huge disservice to the public.
Here's a firsthand example of what access to these records can do:
Patty Carbone, Steven Crawford, Barry Laughman and David Gladden all were destined to die in prison despite their pleas of innocence. They had already spent a combined 66 years behind bars before the late Patriot-News reporter Pete Shellem was able to show that each was unjustly convicted of murder. They are all now free.
It was access to coroner reports and records that were the basis of his reporting. It is likely that each would still be in prison had Shellem not had access to the information that would be restricted by Senate Bill 961.
It also is equally important to families and others who find themselves disputing a coroner's report and want more than just the name, cause and manner of death, which is all that will be required from a coroner if the bill becomes law.
There is no question that everyone involved in the process of someone's death, including the media, needs to be sensitive.
But the coroner's job is bigger than that. It is about representing the interests of the public in a timely and impartial way.
- The (Lewistown) Sentinel