The construction and use of the proposed gas pipeline to Shamokin Dam from the Marcellus Shale region to the north of our state presents a huge threat to the health of all valley residents. However, gas company UGI are conspiring to downplay the risks – refusing to publicly accept that there is even a problem! At a recent public meeting one UGI official – Mr. Bernie Holcumb, turned the truth on its head by deceptively denying that there was any radon in the gas from the Marcellus Shale beds!
The company which was recently fined by the Public Utility Commission the maximum amount of $500,000 following a 2011 Allentown explosion which killed 5 people, had their safety record at the same hearing described as “downright alarming”.
UGI – Safety record “downright alarming”!
However, they are taking no such chances with the Sunbury Pipeline. They have set up a separate company – UGI Sunbury LLC – to front the construction and operation of the pipeline and to insulate themselves from the prospect of any future liability. In the event of a catastrophe the parent company can simply wash its hands of it all and walk away, leaving their subsidiary to pay what it can towards any plaintiffs out of their limited resources. Do they even have adequate levels of insurance to cover potential damages to landowners and their property, or are they just minimally bonded? We just don’t know as they have stonewalled any questions concerning this issue.
Police Contract Debacle Threatens to Engulf Persing
Last year, faced with a strong opponent in his race for re-election, a desperate Mayor Persing sold out the city, giving in to every pension demand made by his police department. He certainly wanted their contract off the table in the worst possible way, to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2005, when dissatisfied local officers played a significant role in helping secure Jesse Woodring’s primary victory.
Persing was terrified at the consequences of losing again, this time to Joe Bartello. Having built up his lucrative softball business over the years, and making a small fortune from the questionable use of taxpayer-funded city property and other assets, he had to do whatever it took to retain control. For him, the alternative was unthinkable. (see A Tale of Two Cities)
City Drug Dealers Cashing In after Mazzeo Dismissal
A Common Sight on City Streets
Following the ill-advised and rash removal from office by the mayor of our popular, experienced and effective Chief of Police, Steve Mazzeo, drug dealers are flocking to Sunbury PA like never before.
Many new faces are to be seen on our streets. The word is out – our under-manned and under-resourced police department, still struggling to come to terms with the loss of their leader, and with a new chief yet to find his feet, is being overwhelmed by an unprecedented crime wave – a wave fueled by the activities of these very same drug dealers.
At a time when many local businesses are closing their doors, not only because of the economy but also thanks to the business-hostile environment created by our city administration, the local drug business is booming.
Home invasions, car break-ins, burglaries, robberies, and other violent crimes are keeping our police tied up – and much too busy to deal with the real cause of these activities – drugs. Drug addicts turn to crime in order to finance their habit, and the deeper into it they get then the more money they require.
Right now Sunbury is in the midst of an unprecedented crime wave – gang activities, burglaries, home invasions, shootings, serious drug problems – as our local politicians continue to squabble behind the scenes over the appointment of a new police chief – an appointment only made necessary by their stupidity and propensity to put politics and self interest before citizen safety.
The criminals are well aware of this. They are flocking into our town to take advantage of the situation. Everyone should take extra precautions – secure their vehicles, windows and doors at all times, and stay alert for any suspicious activity.
The Daily Item is also aware of this situation, but refuses to alert our citizens to the dangers they face. Dark forces, we are told, have hamstrung their ability to fully report the news. Little more than the propaganda wing of this hapless city administration, they have been shown up once again as part of the problem in Sunbury rather than being part of its solution.
Mayor Persing has discovered that there is more to life than softball, certainly when it comes to paying for damage to private property caused by his contractor during the recent $400,000 extension to his palatial Hall of Fame.
A house in Race St. belonging to Linda Metzger, and which she shares with her disabled husband, sustained severe damage during demolition of an adjoining property. Despite clear evidence of negligence including a video, Persing refused to accept liability, and arrogantly dismissed all claims for compensation.
For many residents, increasingly concerned by the circus at City Hall, the events at the meeting of Monday 12th May were the final straw. Following the leaked announcement on WKOK the previous Friday of Chief Mazzeo’s demotion, there had been a widespread feeling of despair and confusion. This mood however, turned very quickly to one of anger when it became apparent that the decision on his demotion was arbitrary and capricious, was not supported by any evidence of wrong-doing, and was not part of any rational plan from the city administration to enhance the performance of our police department.
Once again Persing has betrayed our city and his oath of office. It has become painfully obvious that the defense and protection of our citizens and the safeguarding of their constitutional rights is something which is not deemed worthy of his consideration.
Calls for his recall are today reverberating around Sunbury.
The Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) is a 6,500+ acre (over 10 sq. mile) park which is under development primarily on coal scarred county owned land, in Northumberland county, PA. The reported plans include camping, hiking, biking, and horseback riding facilities plus motorcycle, ATV and full size off-road trails at the park.
Excessive Police Presence
Phase one is near completion and partial operations are to commence on their official opening day scheduled for May 17th 2014. Surprisingly as of May 11th there is not yet any signage in place to mark the entrance, and the entrance road itself was barricaded, complete with dire threats of action against would-be trespassers, aimed no doubt at unwitting county taxpayers whose money made this whole extravaganza possible in the first place.
Vinnie Welcomes You
This is a somewhat different scene from the one witnessed last weekend, when those arriving to stage a peaceful protest over access rights to the property were met by the intimidating presence of excessive numbers of heavily armed state police in full riot gear.
The Persing Administration continued to move forward towards the abyss at the City Meeting of 3/24/14, as the unraveling camera debacle threatened to destroy what little credibility they had left. Once again former city resident Drake Saxton probed the murky depths of the bid process with a whole series of questions about both the bidding itself and also the subsequent purchase and installation.
How do you lose $200,000 in federal grant money? Quite simple really. Give it to Captain Persing and the rest of the jolly crew at the good ship Sunbury to fund a controversial new security camera system. Yes, the money has been flushed away. The City is now the proud owner of 52 cameras which can’t see in the dark, and for which they would seem to have neither the IP addresses nor the combinations to the locks on the networking boxes, and the guy who does have this information, and on whom nobody bothered to carry out a background check, is facing a double felony 3 count at Westmoreland County Court.
It is hardly surprising, given the above, that Persing does not want to talk about it. Former Sunbury resident Drake Saxton informed the City Meeting of March 10th 2014 that he had submitted multiple right to know requests in an effort to establish both the present status of the project and also receive confirmation that full consideration had been given to the interests both of local citizens and also those of the federal taxpayers, whose money had been used to provide the $200,000 grant back in 2009. The fact that he had not received satisfactory replies to his inquiries he found disconcerting, and a clear reflection of the way in which our city is currently being managed.
In a nutshell, he was trying to discover who, if anyone, was in charge of this project, how efficiently the camera installations had been managed with regards both to best use of resources and also proper placement, whether there had been any checks carried out to insure that the cameras finally installed were in fact the same ones purchased initially by the simple device of checking serial numbers, and also whether there were any unused cameras or other materials, and if so, where they were presently being stored.
Some of us were lucky enough to attend the Democracy School, held February 21/22 at Apfelbaum Hall, the Business and Communications Center for Susquehanna University, and sponsored by our friends at Shale Justice. Presented by Chad Nicholson and Ben Price of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) the course began on a Friday evening and then ran for 7 hours on Saturday, including a break for a delicious lunch.
Apfelbaum Hall, Susquehanna University
Over 20 people came along and they certainly comprised an eclectic bunch, ranging from college professors to senior citizens and from farmers to journalists to environmentalists. All were eager to learn about the democratic background and history of our country.