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

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt. Col. John McCrae

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tom, we are going to miss you

To say I was shocked when Tom Rockovich let me know Monday that he was planning on retiring June 19th is an understatement.

I was also saddened and concerned.

Tom has been a community asset and his retirement will be a huge loss. I think he has done an unbelievable job keeping this city afloat through extraordinarily difficult times. And that is just one of his many managerial talents.

Most importantly, I’ve always found Tom to be good to his word. That’s a rare thing in today’s world.

I think we are going to have a difficult time finding someone anywhere near as capable as Tom, but I hope I’m wrong. I do know that it will be impossible to replace Tom as a person. The best we can hope for as someone with their own unique blend of strengths and talents.

Tom gave me the letter announcing his retirement late Monday morning when I happened to stop in at city hall. When he handed me the envelope he said I might want to open it.

I did. I read the letter and I’m not sure what I said. It wasn’t much. I think the word sorry came out.

Truly I was speechless. I didn’t say anything to anyone other than the Mayor who was also at city hall. I wasn’t sure if Tom had yet had the opportunity to inform every member of council. I stayed mum on Tuesday so that he would have the opportunity to break the news publicly.

I also was still struggling with how to respond and what to say. I’m still struggling. Sorry is about the best I can do.

Tom is going to Butler where he will manage an authority. They are getting a good man and a stellar manager.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Of asphalt

I’m not alone in my frustration and concern over potholes and the overall conditions of our streets. I hear about it constantly.

Usually the conversation begins with something along the lines of” “When are you going to do something about the streets,” or “Why aren’t you doing something about the streets.”

Sometimes the comments have been a bit more accusatory, as if I and other members council and the city staff simply want to see our roads deteriorate.

I always try to explain it comes down to money. That seldom makes anyone feel better. And there are always the few who come up with a response like “That’s right, just a politician you want more tax money to take care of what you should be taking care of.”

If only someone would tell me how we could pave our streets without additional money. What would they suggest we cut to make that possible?

A huge problem we face is that you just can’t pave streets, you have to bring the curb cuts at every intersection up to current wheelchair-ramp standards – even if there are existing curb cuts.

An example is Colbert Avenue. We set some money aside to pave Colbert this year, but it now appears that the need to re-do all the curb cuts could easily take every cent we set aside for the paving. We – or more correctly our Public Works Department – have not given up. The search is on for some innovative ways to address the problem.

The city has a large backlog of capital needs and street paving is high on that list. I wish I knew how to address it.

I’ve mentioned only half-jokingly to people that we should put a $104 line-item into the budget to buy a Powerball ticket for the city every Wednesday and Saturday.