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

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Frustrating absurdities and links with seeds

There is a cut-stone culvert probably better than a century old that carries a small stream and storm sewer collection beneath West First Street, a state highway. It is in danger of collapsing, a problem discovered quite by chance. The City of Oil City is responsible for its repair or replacement.

If that culvert was a mile further west where West First Street turns into Deep Hollow Road at the Cranberry Township line, the responsibility for its repair or replacement would fall on the state.

For some inexplicable reason, the state requires cities to pick up more costs for under-road infrastructure than it does of townships. That is an incredible additional burden for taxpayers in Pennsylvania’s cities, and means that in effect they are subsidizing their suburban neighbors.

I just learned of this and verified it with PennDOT officials.

The playing field needs to be leveled if our cities are going to be able to compete and thrive, but I have no expectation that the state legislature will anytime soon do anything to address such inequities.

My other big frustrating absurdity in recent weeks is best summed up by quoting Dickens – although a bit out of context: “the law is an ass.”

A couple of years ago in response to growing concerns, the city adopted an ordinance placing a number of restrictions on the operation of outdoor woodburners.

A city resident, unhappy with the restrictions, built a shed around his outdoor woodburner, claiming it was no longer an “outdoor” woodburner. District Judge Doug Dinberg ruled in favor of that interpretation.

Understand, the woodburner was installed as an outdoor woodburner, sold as an outdoor woodburner, advertised by the manufacturer as an outdoor woodburner and many outdoor woodburners now come with a metal, shed-like covering.

I’m no judge or lawyer, but ruling that by putting a shed up around an outdoor woodburner makes it something else entirely flies in the face of reason.

I suspect council will quickly amend the ordinance to prevent such sidestepping of its intent.

A person who commented on my previous blog post put up a link to an interesting article I thought worth sharing, along with a couple of others I’ve come across in recent weeks.

I think all three might contain at least seeds for thought that can be helpful to Oil City.