Rules of the Road

The purpose of this blog is to share with you my thoughts on issues pertaining to Oil City and Venango County and to foster discussion.

However, that requires some basic rules. Personal attacks, inappropriate language and venom-filled postings will not be tolerated. Comments will be screened, and if necessary edited, before posting.

Disagreement and a variety of opinions are encouraged, but I ask that it always be in a respectful, positive manner. So fire away, but do so cleanly

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm mad...

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

The line is from the 1976 movie Network and relates to the state of our society.

What is making me mad as hell and not want to take this anymore is our state – Pennsylvania.

Residents of Oil City and every other Third Class City and anyone concerned about fairness, equity and our core communities should be mad as hell as well. The reason is this: the state of Pennsylvania and our legislators currently and for several decades now have failed our cities.

State money has flowed to outlying townships in many ways, effectively providing operating subsidies to those municipalities. We have not seen the same subsidies.

Police services are a quick example. Residents of Third Class cities have to foot the bill for local police services, which are mandated. Outlying areas get state police services paid for by everyone in the state.

Oil City’s population represents about 19 percent of the Venango County’s total. For argument’s sake, let’s say Oil City residents provide 15 percent of the state taxes originating in Venango County. Do you think they get 15 percent of state police services? There is no state money flowing into the basic operations of the Oil City Police Department.

Volunteer fire companies get state loan and grant assistance not available to those communities like Oil City with paid departments and where the taxpayers have recognized their obligations to provide for fire service collectively. Legislation has been introduced that would provide a similar grant and loan program for municipalities with paid departments, but it has not passed.

There are many, many other examples.

Adding to the problem is the state has failed to provide options to its cities to spread the tax burden around and raise additional money.

Monday evening Oil City Councilman Neil McElwee raised the possibility of Oil City adopting a Home Rule Charter in the hopes it would allow new or additional revenue streams.

That’s an option Oil City should not have to use. The state should simply provide funding options to all its cities. It should also equitably fund its cities. You would not think that would be a hard thing for our legislators to do, but I guess that is not what excites voters.

In the Oil City Derrick and in numerous other papers across the state Monday morning there was a story about proposed legislation that would provide state funding for financial incentives for volunteer firefighters. I’m all for incentives to attract volunteers and reward the men and women who are willing to give their time and risk their lives, but shouldn’t local taxpayers in those communities pony up. We are expected to pay the full freight in Oil City. I’ve never heard mention of legislation to directly financially support our firefighters.

“I want you to get up right now. Get up. Go to your windows, open your windows, and stick your head out, and yell, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Things have got to change my friends. You've got to get mad. You've got to say, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Then we'll figure out what to do … But first get up out of your chairs, open your window, stick your head out and yell, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

Let every state representative and state senator hear you.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Perfect night

It was about as wonderful a night as could be had.

The John Burgh All Stars played in Justus Park Friday, courtesy of the Oil City Arts Council.

The view from Justus Park was beautiful. Before inflation it would have been a million dollar view. I would say today it has to be a billion dollar view.

Friend Lynn and her nephew were playing in the river in Lynn’s new kayak while enjoying the music in the background.

The John Burgh band was hotter than the early evening, and that’s hot, playing music that spanned generations and styles. Their arrangement of “Walking After Midnight” knocked me out.

As daylight slipped away to the west a cooling breeze wafted up the river. Fireflies put on a show. The band played on. The people responded.

I have to repeat myself: it was about as perfect a night, as wonderful a time as can be had. If anything was missing, it was more people. The crowd was small. It should have been large.

Our friend Carla noted the lack of young parents with children. It is a question worth pondering.

Folks, this community is pretty fantastic. Enjoy it, appreciate it.