The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


December 10, 2012

Readers' Forum 12-10 | In Richland, checks and balances in place

— On Dec. 5, as I watched our local news broadcast on WJAC-TV 6, I expected to hear more of the same deficit news, about unemployment numbers climbing, or yet another story relating to the late Congressman John Murtha.

To my surprise, the lead story was in regard to a former Richland Township Volunteer Fire Company officer being accused of theft.

In short, the story mentioned the former member sold a pickup truck to the fire department for $12,000, accepted the payment, then allegedly issued another check for the same amount to his wife from another account for the same amount of money.

In the same segment, a Richland police detective was interviewed. He said there was an ongoing investigation, with “probable arrests to come” with the audit being done. The story did mention that forensic auditors had been hired when a discrepancy was noticed.

After watching the news segment, I logged onto The Tribune-Democrat website and read the article by reporter Randy Griffith, saying “A well-known former Richland Fire Company officer has been charged with stealing from the volunteer organization.”

Be it known to all readers, the accused in this matter is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and I am not passing judgment either way.

I am thankful to know that the Richland fire department has in place a system of “checks and balances,” so to speak, to detect discrepancies, and that the responsible officers in charge of finances were diligent in their respective duties to recognize and report their findings.

Michael Duell


Nation facing more ‘cliffs’ than fiscal

Three recent news stories have caught my attention.

While headlines scream that a “fiscal cliff” looms and that Republicans and Democrats can’t reach agreement, another, smaller story whispers that China and the United States have traded places as world economic powers.

Apparently, as recently as 2006, the United States was the largest trading partner around the world, with 127 countries versus China’s 70.

By 2011, that ratio had reversed, with China now serving as the largest trading partner for 124 countries and the United States serving 76.

Wow! That’s a really big “fiscal cliff.”

A second article catching my attention was “Study: CO2 emissions increase by 3 percent.”

Apparently, China and the United States have now also switched places as the world’s biggest polluter. The amount of heat-trapping pollution the world spewed rose last year by 3 percent with China being the world’s biggest carbon dioxide polluter. The United States and Germany reduced their emissions.

Worldwide, we’ve added nearly 9 ppm of CO2 emissions in only one year! That’s a huge change.

In 2006, CO2 was advancing by only 1 ppm per year. It looks to me like we humans are heading for a “carbon cliff.”

Which cliff is worse: The domestic fiscal cliff that leads to another recession, the balance of trade cliff that leads to the loss of world economic dominance for the United States, or the carbon cliff that leads to climate chaos, failing nations, mass extinctions and the potential collapse of human civilization?

All these cliffs can be avoided simply by agreeing to work together on solutions for the common good.

Rev. William C. Thwing


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