August 22, 2011
HATE THE government? Well, here's a shock: There are some things government does well - yes, even in Pennsylvania. Sure, there's too much government, the Legislature's too big and the state's famous for scandal and stupid policies. But this same government, Legislature and some of its policies create and maintain some things of value. After surveying dozens of folks in and out of government and elective office familiar with state workings, here are five things Pennsylvania does well.
February 7, 2013 |
SHAMOKIN, Pa. - The black mountain of coal waste that looms over Route 61 here is both a grimy testament to an ephemeral economy and an apt symbol for this town time has discarded. That anthracite refuse came from long-shuttered mines and collieries, closures that have halved Shamokin's population since the 1930s. Many of the remaining 8,000 residents are as old as the tattered clapboard houses they occupy. (Since 1996 the town, about 70 miles northwest of Allentown and 70 miles northeast of Harrisburg, has issued just four permits for new single-family homes.)
December 6, 2002 |
A few weeks ago, Penn State Press published Pennsylvania: A History of the Commonwealth. It is as huge as it is handsome, more than 600 pages long, extravagantly illustrated, on life in the commonwealth over the centuries since King Charles II granted William Penn his charter - indeed, over the many more centuries before. It is the first new history of Pennsylvania in 30 years. I wrote one of the chapters of the book. My assignment in this grand collaboration of scholars was to integrate the other historical essays, to come to some sort of conclusion about the meaning of the state's past.
July 8, 2011 |
John "Book" Ksionska is working again - finally, after two years of unemployment. "I lost almost 15 pounds since I went back to work," Ksionska said gleefully. That's what happens when an older guy like Ksionska, 55, of Fairless Hills, once a supervisor, goes back on the line in a factory. But Ksionska isn't complaining. "It's a busy, busy little place," he said of his new employer, Alro Steel in Huntingdon Valley. "We just hired two salespeople. This place has nowhere to go but up. " Ksionska can count himself part of Pennsylvania's statistical success story, as it fits into the national employment crisis.
April 15, 2012 |
When the cherry tree blossoms over my city street with a lush canopy of pink, the neighbors reemerge onto the sidewalk after their long hibernation with chairs and wineglasses in hand. It's time again to hang out al fresco with old friends, and to pour something light, bright and affordable. But that doesn't have to mean "boring. " Try this 2010 Mastro Bianco, an excellent entry-level white from one of my favorite southern Italian wineries, venerable Mastroberardino, and it's been marked down 35 percent from list price in Pennsylvania, to $12.99.
August 17, 1992 |
What appealed most to Mary C. Smith about setting up business in Pennsylvania was its "infrastructure," as she describes the services and resources her customers would require. So far, she's found even more than she counted on. Wayne Braffman's blueberry French toast and homemade yogurt with fresh raspberry sauce, for example. And the giant fungus growing on a tree along the scenic reaches of the Upper Delaware. Smith is delighted with these discoveries, but not surprised.
June 16, 2012 |
Skyler Mornhinweg still remembers the first team meeting that Gabe Infante held at St. Joseph's Prep. So does the 39-year-old coach. Infante had just taken over after Gil Brooks was fired, and some players had already made arrangements to visit other schools to transfer. So Infante called the meeting. In front of his players, he discussed Xs and Os and the offense he wanted to run. He talked about the unique situation they were in. And, most important, they talked about each other.
February 25, 2013 |
Even if Tommy Lee Jones fails to win an Oscar on Sunday night for his indelible portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln , the fiery Lancaster abolitionist congressman is already a winner for being rescued from the dustbin of history. "He has been in the shadows for 150 years," said historian and movie script consultant Harold Holzer. "It will never happen again. " For a state with few legends among our elected politicians, Stevens is a giant, albeit a largely forgotten or falsely maligned one. He was a champion of civil rights so far ahead of the curve as to be reviled by many during his day. Stevens wrote: "It is easy to protect the interests of the rich and powerful.
December 6, 2012 |
University of Pennsylvania trustees decided earlier this year that Penn's debt load and U.S. interest rates had fallen far enough to make it worthwhile to borrow $300 million through taxable 100-year bonds - and sell them to eager investors at a cheap interest rate just below 4.7 percent, a bit less than MIT and Caltech had to pay on similar recent "century bonds. " What's the attraction? You stretch the payments out, and you don't have to worry about refinancing until everyone who approved the deal is dead.
December 15, 1991 |
Here is the first question on today's education quiz: Answer: 24th. (Pittsburgh is 25th.) You really should have gotten that because the statistic, which comes from a 1989 Census Bureau survey, has been printed on this page in our "Report Card" series. But somehow the fact that Pennsylvania has a tremendous problem when it comes to having a workforce educated to meet the realities of the next millennium (now only nine years away) just doesn't seem to sink in. I once related these facts to Gov. Casey, whose response was to go into the mode that therapists refer to as "denial.