Scranton Occasions-Tribune. February 22, 2022.
Editorial: Litigation reveals want for fee
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court docket is predicted to rule as quickly as Tuesday on a remaining map for the state’s 17 congressional districts — the results of letting hyperpartisan politicians management what ought to be a nonpartisan course of.
Reapportionment occurs each 10 years, following the constitutionally required census, to make sure that every of 435 U.S. Home districts contains about the identical variety of residents. This 12 months that quantity is about 764,000, besides in a handful of states with fewer residents.
Pennsylvania politicians lengthy have practiced gerrymandering — manipulating districts for their very own political benefit. Pennsylvania was among the many most gerrymandered states for congressional seats till 2018, when the Supreme Court docket commissioned unbiased specialists to attract truthful districts. That’s how a state with a big Democratic registration benefit went from having 13 Republican-held Home seats to the Democrats’ 5, to a 9-9 cut up.
So there’s hope, after Pennsylvania misplaced one seat on account of gradual inhabitants development, that the state’s excessive courtroom as soon as once more will produce a good map. However that simply factors to the underlying want for a good course of that excludes gerrymandering on the outset.
The commonwealth ought to look to the expertise in California, the nation’s most populous and most various state. It has 53 Home seats, greater than 3 times as many as Pennsylvania, however has carried out new districts with no single authorized problem.
In 2008 and 2010, California voters scrapped a system akin to Pennsylvania’s, and turned it over to an unbiased fee. It excludes all elected officers, and contains 5 Republicans, 5 Democrats and 4 independents. Tons of of individuals apply to be members. The state auditor attracts the names randomly, on stay tv, and that transparency characterizes your complete course of. Anybody who lobbies for explicit districts should accomplish that throughout public conferences, at which the fee additionally produces potential maps. In December, the fee voted unanimously for the ultimate congressional map.
In Pennsylvania, politicians keen to decide on their very own voters by way of gerrymandering received’t permit voters to decide on a greater approach. Whereas the state Supreme Court docket can right the politicians’ woeful self-interested maps, it may possibly’t order the creation of a fee to do it proper within the first place.
Pittsburgh Publish-Gazette. February 21, 2022.
Editorial: A chance for therapeutic after racist incident at Winchester Thurston
It’s no shock to folks or academics that youngsters are able to doing breathtakingly silly issues that may influence their lives in a foul approach for years. In any case, making errors is an inextricable a part of rising up.
In current weeks, a drama has performed out on the higher campus of the Winchester Thurston College in Shadyside that demonstrates this timeless reality.
A video posted three weeks in the past on social media reveals two college students, each white, mimicking the deadly encounter between George Floyd and former police Officer Derek Chauvin that sparked a summer time of protest throughout America. One younger man is kneeling on the neck of one other in a parody of the homicide.
Different college students might be heard laughing within the background.
The scholars both couldn’t think about the potential repercussions of this “prank,” or they totally anticipated to get away with a slap on the wrist.
Their callousness concerning George Floyd’s demise in addition to the indifference (at greatest) to the sensibilities of their Black classmates sparked protests by college students, particularly within the Black Scholar Union, who felt the varsity’s response to the incident was too tentative.
We don’t know the scholars’ names or what precisely occurred behind closed doorways as mother and father, directors, board members and attorneys huddled. What we do know is that, final Tuesday, Winchester Thurston introduced in a letter to folks that “the scholars immediately concerned” with making the video have been “now not members of (the varsity) neighborhood.”
Was it a proper expulsion, or have been the scholars allowed to withdraw quietly? This sort of ambiguity is typical for personal faculties, and there’s one thing to be stated — particularly within the smartphone and social media age — for not letting a single incident cling to the perpetrators by way of the remainder of their schooling and past. Nonetheless, some extra transparency concerning the course of would go a good distance towards rebuilding belief.
Winchester Thurston is one in every of Pittsburgh’s most interesting faculties; additional, for many years, it has positioned itself as one of the crucial progressive non-public faculties within the area. Its web site includes a direct, prolonged dedication to an anti-racism stance.
(This stands in stark distinction to Sewickley Academy, which not too long ago purged its academics and directors most dedicated to range and inclusion.)
Regardless of all that, there have been nonetheless college students who thought it will be humorous to mock Floyd’s ugly demise. There’s a stark, discouraging disconnect between their actions and what they realized about racial justice and civic concord. If incidents like this could occur at this faculty, they’ll occur wherever.
In the long run, decency and justice prevailed, and the scholars have been held to account. We don’t know if the responsible college students apologized to their classmates, however they need to attempt to make private amends for his or her actions. That straightforward act of belief and reparation would carry extra therapeutic than any punishment.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Evaluation. February 23, 2022.
Editorial: Is marijuana advertising proof it’s the subsequent Massive Pharma?
The dialog surrounding marijuana has shifted over time.
It went from being demonized for many years to being prompt as useful in relieving signs of some medical situations to being touted as all however a miracle remedy.
In 2016, Gov. Tom Wolf signed the legislation that made medical marijuana authorized in Pennsylvania. The legislation went into impact in 2018. Since then, marijuana dispensaries have popped up throughout the state like weeds. Not that sort of weed.
However whether or not you help the thought of medical marijuana or not, you’ll be able to’t deny that it’s turning into massive enterprise. The Medical Marijuana Advisory Board reported greater than 384,000 lively sufferers in November 2021, producing greater than $4 billion in income.
That signifies that, regardless of its plucky, grassroots picture, medical marijuana is a full-on business that must be considered with all of the vital considering one would carry to another moneymaker.
If you would like proof, look to the Highlight PA story that reveals how some dispensaries are pushing the thought of medical marijuana as an answer to the opioid disaster. Highlight reviewed 60 web sites of marijuana firms and located a variety of claims that have been both selective within the analysis introduced or outright misrepresented it.
Opioids have been an epidemic that was unfold, partially, by the best way Massive Pharma marketed authorized pharmaceuticals. It’s a lesson some medical marijuana companies both realized too properly or didn’t take note of in any respect.
Whereas it’s tempting to place all of the blame on the businesses, that may be unfair. The vast majority of the blame? Certain. Nonetheless, it’s nonetheless vital to acknowledge the state has a accountability, as properly.
Since 2018, when medical marijuana went from a marketing campaign promise to a jingling money register, Pennsylvania has had an obligation to deal with it like a brand new business that has rising pains to handle. It ought to have realized these opioid classes because it was actively battling the issue — and suing opioid firms.
As an alternative, the state appears to have devoted extra of its time to rising the business than managing it, together with lots of dialog about marijuana legalization outdoors of its medical makes use of.
If Pennsylvania is actually destined to be the subsequent place the place marijuana is totally authorized, it’s as much as the state to determine the best way to do it safely and fairly — and the best way to preserve Massive Weed from following in Massive Pharma’s footsteps.
Studying Eagle. February 19, 2022.
Editorial: Editorial: Bus service from Amtrak is sweet information
It might be useful to have a head begin on transportation enhancements earlier than rail service arrives.
We are able to’t emphasize sufficient how enthusiastic we’re about plans to determine Amtrak service from Schuylkill Valley communities to Philadelphia and New York.
Lengthy underserved cities in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties have suffered within the greater than 4 a long time since passenger rail service was eradicated and Route 422 was a site visitors nightmare.
However it additionally have to be understood that it’s going to take a while for this to grow to be a actuality. Sure, the potential for utilizing current freight tracks means it shouldn’t take so long as some previous regional rail proposals, however there are nonetheless loads of tough logistics to work out.
Within the meantime, folks in a lot of our area nonetheless have locations to go and few choices to get there in relation to intercity journey. And it’s more durable to draw guests when driving is the one viable possibility for getting someplace.
That’s why we have been happy to study that Amtrak is trying to present categorical bus service from Studying and Pottstown to Philadelphia’s thirtieth Road Station.
The information grew to become public not too long ago at a borough council assembly in Pottstown, the place the railroad is looking for permission to make use of house in a parking zone off South Hanover Road that already serves as a PART bus hub. Studying’s Franklin Road Station, now residence to a restaurant, is to host the bus service in that metropolis.
A pattern schedule offered to Pottstown officers would have two weekday journeys per day from Studying to Philadelphia, and vice versa, morning and afternoon. The identical schedule reveals three journeys from Philadelphia to Studying on weekends and holidays, however solely two in the wrong way on weekends. Amtrak’s rail proposal for the Schuylkill Valley calls for 3 practice journeys a day in every path.
“Amtrak is beginning a planning course of with native and state officers, together with PennDOT, to check the chances of bringing Amtrak passenger trains to Studying, Phoenixville and Pottstown,” in line with an announcement offered by Jason Abrams, Amtrak’s public relations supervisor.
“Within the interim, Amtrak is working to determine a premium ‘Thruway’ bus service connecting Studying and Pottstown to Philadelphia, with practice connections all through the nation. Practice service is not going to be decided by bus ridership,” the assertion stated. “Amtrak continues to be looking for a accomplice bus firm to determine the premium bus service and is working with host communities to determine the bus stops. In 2019, Amtrak offered 1.5 million bus rides, with most bus passengers making connections with Amtrak trains.”
This is excellent information. It offers entry to communities served by Amtrak across the nation with out having to take a protracted drive or cope with site visitors complications going to and from Philadelphia. And if all goes properly, the service ought to be obtainable lengthy earlier than the trains begin working in communities northwest of the town.
It’s unlucky that the opposite communities on the proposed practice route — Phoenixville, King of Prussia and Norristown — aren’t included within the bus service as proposed, although it’s price noting that Norristown already has SEPTA practice service to Philadelphia, and King of Prussia is much nearer to the SEPTA rail system than the opposite communities concerned. Maybe if the Pottstown-Studying bus service proves profitable, there could be choices for Phoenixville riders as properly.
We’re optimistic about the place all this may lead. There’s cash obtainable, because the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure invoice contains important funding — $66 billion for rail enlargement and modernization, together with new routes connecting Allentown and Scranton to New York.
The return of rail service is extensively anticipated to offer an incredible enhance to financial development within the area, and the plan has bipartisan help amongst native leaders. The institution of bus service would supply a pleasant head begin.
Uniontown Herald-Commonplace. February 20, 2022.
Editorial: Investments in State System could be an funding sooner or later
When a enterprise palms out pink slips, they generally say they’re “right-sizing” their enterprise, if solely as a result of it sounds so much much less harsh and extra forward-looking than saying they’re sending a portion of their staff to the unemployment line.
So, regardless that the time period “right-sizing” has the disagreeable odor of company jargon wafting round it, it’s a pretty apt description of what the Pennsylvania State System of Larger Training (PASSHE) has been as much as during the last couple of years. Confronted with declining enrollment that reveals no indicators of heading within the different path anytime quickly, the system has mixed six of its 14 campuses, with California College of Pennsylvania becoming a member of Edinboro and Clarion universities to grow to be Pennsylvania Western College as of subsequent summer time. The three different mixed campuses, all within the jap a part of the state, have but to be given a brand new moniker.
Alumni, college students, college and workers have all expressed concern about every of the campuses dropping their identities and educational packages, amongst many different considerations. However combining the campuses – “right-sizing” them – seems to have been the best choice obtainable.
Together with 30,000 fewer college students populating PASSHE campuses during the last decade or so, public universities like Cal U. have lengthy needed to cope with declining state help, each inside Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. When you have been fortunate sufficient to attend a public school or college in america from the Sixties to the Nineteen Eighties, you may properly have been in a position to graduate with out accumulating any debt in any respect. Nonetheless, as lawmakers in lots of states have hacked away at funding for larger schooling, the schooling prices borne by American college students and their households have elevated by greater than 200% for the reason that late Nineteen Eighties. Extra particularly, the price of attending a PASSHE establishment during the last decade has escalated by 50%. As Cynthia Shapira, chairman of the PASSHE board, identified, this hefty price ticket “places a State System diploma out of attain for a lot of low- and middle-income households.”
As half of a bigger bundle that may enhance income flowing to schooling throughout the board, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed in his price range deal with final week that PASSHE faculties obtain a $550 million, or 15%, enhance in funding within the 2022-23 price range. This wouldn’t vault Pennsylvania into the highest tier of state funding for faculties, however it will at the least get it out of the underside 5. Greater than a matter of delight, although, it will symbolize a much-needed funding within the state’s public universities.
Marc Steir, director of the Pennsylvania Funds and Coverage Heart, famous a few years in the past that if the commonwealth elevated funding for larger schooling, it will see larger wages, the next gross state product and better state revenues, “and that’s the virtuous circle of investing in larger schooling.”
With a labor scarcity and a relentless demand for expert staff, investing in larger schooling must be one in every of Pennsylvania’s prime priorities.