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

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Municipal Consolidation?

At Monday’s Oil City Council meeting I brought up the idea of exploring a municipal consolidation or merger with Cornplanter Township and Rouseville Borough.

More than a few people told me I was crazy.

I learned early in life that not every idea I have is a good idea. A few times that lesson was painful.

Over time I also discovered that ideas others have had that I dismissed out of hand as being about the dumbest thing I ever heard were in fact brilliant. Sometimes that proved painful as well.

It’s taken me a while, but now I try to fully investigate an idea or proposal and learn as much as I can before passing judgment one way or another. That’s my take on the question of municipal consolidation.

On the surface municipal consolidation sounds to me like it would be a good idea. But I could not cast a vote for municipal consolidation at this point because I don’t know enough.

Still, I think it is something well worth taking a look at. Finding new and better ways to do business in this changing and troubling world is something we owe our children and grandchildren.

The first step would be to learn all we can about the process for municipal consolidation; what is involved, how it is done, etc. City council agreed in principle to invite representatives from the state Department of Community and Economic Development and PA Futures, a consulting firm specializing in municipal government cooperation and management, to a public meeting to discuss those issues.

The next step after that would be to fully evaluate the potential benefits and pitfalls and take a hard look at the impacts, gathering as much information as possible. There is a possibility the state would fund an independent study to help provide the needed information. Only then would we be in a position to weigh the question of whether to move towards a ballot referendum.

Taking a serious, studied look at municipal consolidation has no downside. There is nothing to lose, but perhaps a lot to gain. The reality is municipal consolidation will only happen if it carries benefits that outweigh any negatives for each municipality.

Let’s at least see where things would shake out.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Trick or Treat -- Should darkness reign?

On the agenda for Monday’s City Council meeting is discussion of returning trick-or-treat hours to the evening.

What brought the question back before council was a petition presented by an 11-year-old, whose name escapes me this evening. If you ever doubt one person can make a difference, give her a call.

I have no idea which way my fellow council members are leaning. I won’t be at Monday’s meeting, which in the interest of domestic tranquility is probably a good thing.

I favor returning trick-or-treat hours to the evening. My wife Kathy does not.

To me, it is just the way it should be. And while I’m on that kick, I also personally thing trick-or-treat should be on Halloween proper.

Oil City moved trick or treat to daylight hours in the wake of the Shauna Howe kidnapping and murder. At the time it made perfect sense. Pedophilic killers were somewhere among us.

It was a tragedy where evil triumphed, but it was a tragedy that could have happened anywhere for evil is found everywhere. Unfortunately, Shauna’s tragedy seemed to define Oil City for many years.

It’s time to move on.

In my mind, trick or treat is just meant to be done by the light of the moon, with a little help from street lamps, porch lights and the flashlights of hovering parents. It might not technically be the witching hour, but for the kids it sure seems like it. I can’t imagine daylight trick or treating leaving nearly the same memories I gained 50 years ago schlepping a pillow case along darkened streets in the neighborhood where I was brought up.

I know there are advantages to daylight hours. I’m sure they will be enumerated Monday. Certainly, it is easier for motorists and from that sense safer for kids. It probably discourages some of teens who are or should be too old for door-to-door looting. And it probably results in less vandalism.

Still, I don’t remember huge problems when trick or treat was carried out in darkness.

So, do you favor the forces of light or the shadows of night?

(My ability to add your comments might be limited for the next week, but I will try to get them up as best I can)