Good for Randy Powell.
Powell is one of two Lawrence Township supervisors who last month blocked a move to ask voters whether to OK a merger with Clearfield Borough.
He has since said aloud what troubles him about the merger.
Some of what he said seems to be of legitimate concern, though not unresolvable. Preserving the command structure within Lawrence Township’s police department while integrating it with Clearfield’s department would require sophisticated planning. That has not been done yet, because doing so now is too early in the process. Details like that one need to be worked out after a merger is approved. But the concern is valid.
Some of what Powell said seems to be rumor, speculation or downright fear-mongering.
But let’s credit Powell with getting the whispers out in the open.
Powell said he is troubled because he has heard that Clearfield Borough has offered to sell its buildings to an unnamed “someone.”
That is not so, according to Leslie Stott, Clearfield’s operations manager.
So unless the “someone” can provide written support or credible evidence as to who offered to sell what to whom, when, and for how much, that seems to be a false rumor.
If Powell heard it, others did, too. So Powell’s stating the rumor publicly gives all of us the opportunity to hear the rumor, and its debunking, and lay that one to rest.
Powell’s other concerns raise familiar echoes for those of us in the DuBois and St. Marys areas. Concerns about “turf,” especially fire department turf, were prominent in above-board discussions and below-radar rumormongering during the past decades that saw St. Marys and surrounding Benzinger Township successfully merge, while four attempts to get DuBois and surrounding Sandy Township to merge met with failure.
What gets lost in these “turf” wars is the stark reality: We – all of us – are drowning in debt. The state and federal governments are hugely in debt. Just look at the recently announced or recently proposed closings of schools: DuBois Business College, Pennsylvania Academy of Cosmetology, Edinboro or Clarion universities, three elementary schools near DuBois, Penn-Grampian in the Curwensville area, etc.
The lack of money that is driving those closings today will result in much less state and federal money for local governments tomorrow.
Mergers remain one avenue for cutting governmental costs now, rationally and calmly, rather than being forced to slash spending later in panic mode.
So, thank you, Supervisor Powell. Let’s get other concerns about mergers into the open, where they can be debated and dissected.
And let’s see whether, within a few months, it does make sense to ask if the merger proposal should be put before voters in the November election.
– Denny Bonavita