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

Monday, March 24, 2008

18 years, three months -- an era ends.

Merrill Whitling, the dean of Oil City Council, tendered his resignation effective March 31 at Monday night’s council meeting.

I was shocked. I think we all were. I know we all felt a great loss.

Merrill has served on council for 18 years and three months. I don’t recall anyone with a council tenure as long in the years Kathy and I have made Oil City our home.

And throughout all those years on council, Merrill was always the consummate gentleman – fair, reasoned and respectful. It is in his nature.

Merrill’s years of service brought to council a valuable perspective. He was there when decisions were made a decade or more ago that affect how the city operates today. He knows why those decisions were made and that is important to know for somebody like me with not quite three months of experience.

You can call it institutional memory, and Merrill is an institution.

When you talk of the Greatest Generation it is the Merrills of this world you are talking about.

I'm going to miss Merrill on council. Our community is going to miss the counsel he provided in that role.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Regional Assets/Regional Support

Two items in Friday’s Derrick had me again thinking about our many regional assets and how we support them.

The first was a letter to the editor from Ray Hagstrom under the heading “Astronomical Society deserves our Support.

The second was an article by Matt Carroll on Page 5 under the headline “Cranberry Township Scratches up $2,000 for Humane Society.”

In his letter to the editor, Mr. Hagstrom expressed the need to support the Oil Region’s Astronomical Society observatory located at Two Mile Run County Park. In essence, Mr. Hagstrom made the claim that the observatory is a tremendous resource for Venango County and that it deserved the support of our elected officials.

He’s right of course.

Mr. Hagstrom was not talking financial support in his letter, but providing the Astronomical Society a lease that truly meets there needs and desires and the future of the observatory.

Financial support for a regional asset was the issue in the article by Matt Carroll on page 5.

Cranberry Township Supervisor Fred Bucholz was quoted in the article as saying it is unfair that some municipalities and not others contribute to the operations of the Venango County Humane Society.

He’s right of course.

(Point of disclosure: my wife is a long-time board member of the Venango County Humane Society)

Oil City has always contributed to the Humane Society, as has Franklin. They and other municipalities like Cranberry recognize the importance of supporting the society’s many functions, some of which would have to be performed by government if the society did not exist.

There’s a basic fairness issue here. Every municipality derives benefit, whether it contributes or not.

That was an argument I made when the backers of the regional nonprofit grant center came to Oil City Council and asked for financial support. I favored providing some limited support, but also felt the backers had the obligation to seek funding from every municipality, and all the county’s municipalities had an obligation to contribute.

There are many other regional assets that we ought to think about providing for on a regional basis as well, notably our recreational facilities.

Currently there is a county-wide recreational study under way. It is an opportunity to take a hard look at what we have and how we fairly support it. Today, most of the recreational facilities in the county are owned and largely solely supported by individual municipalities, but benefit and serve residents from a much wider area.

Regional assets deserve our support, our uniform and universal support. Fairness demands it, our future ability to maintain what we have throughout the county depends on it.

So what do you think?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Let the discussions begin!

Welcome to our first post on Inside Oil City, a place on the Web where I will share my thoughts as a long-time resident and member of Oil City Council and where I hope to hear from you.

Oftentimes we will be serious, sometimes not. Life is too short to be serious all the time.

We will try to have a new post at least twice weekly, often on a subject ripped from the local headlines.

My intent is to let you know about issues that come before city council and why I take the position I do and my thoughts on broader subjects. My hope is to foster discussion about all things Oil City and Venango County in a positive and informative manner. We don’t have to agree on everything, and we won’t, but we do need to keep our discourse civil.

Unfortunately, in Venango County it seems we have lost the ability to disagree agreeably. Worse, we seem to think in terms of us versus them – whoever the us and the them are at the moment– on nearly every subject. Our politics is too often personal and too often divisive.

I guess that will serve as my opening comment to start off the discussions.

What do you think?