The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 23, 2013

Readers' Forum 1-23 | Many questions, but few answers

Submitted by Readers

— I’m a former employee of SCI-Cresson. I’m confused how this prison became “antiquated” overnight. When it was opened in 1987, millions of dollars were pumped into it to provide a safe, secure facility for staff and inmates alike.

Two new cell blocks were constructed, along with extensive renovations.

During my tenure (2001-06), more renovations and updates continued, and funds were secured to build a new cell block to provide maximum-security housing and allow for increased population.

Are there areas that are antiquated? Sure. This was known when it reopened. These areas are utilized for what they can safely provide – mostly, nonviolent offenders.

What’s the real reason this facility (located atop the Alleghenies in a remote, yet easily accessible, location) is closing? And the rush?

I watched Department of Corrections  Secretary John Wetzel’s press conference. He stated the decision was not just financial and that Gov. Tom Corbett’s first question was the impact on staff. Really?

The majority of the conference was focused on finances. Wetzel talked about populations “trending” down. Trends are just that – they change – possibly “old facilities that don’t meet our needs” will be needed again.

Who would spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars (many this fiscal year) on a facility to close?

SCI-Pittsburgh was closed – it also was antiquated and replaced by a new facility. Shortly after, it was re-renovated and re-opened.

Wouldn’t it be prudent to give employees and taxpayers some answers before pushing forward? Unless, of course, you don’t want them to have the answers.

The press conference can be viewed by going to

Colleen Spicher


Nonviolent path was King’s choosing

I celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday because MLK’s life and death reminds me that we must choose how we respond to senseless violence. We can choose to spend trillions of dollars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali and Algeria eradicating terrorists.

After the senseless 9/11 violence and a decade of responding abroad through the lens of fear, we are tired and still fearful.

Our nation has the world’s greatest arsenal of nuclear weapons, but after Sandy Hook, we must still choose how to respond to our fears at home. If guards in our schools and places of worship are equipped with the latest weapons, will our children be safe and risk-free from senseless violence? Should we travel a different road in responding to our fear? Is this the best way to spend our limited national resources?

I celebrate MLK’s life because he chose to travel a different road, a nonviolent one paved with hard sayings such as: “It was said, an eye for an eye ... but I say love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Jesus) “Do not repay anyone evil for evil ... but overcome evil with good.” (Apostle Paul)

It is not an easy road without risks, fear, suffering and death. Those who go down this lonely road may not see results in their lifetimes. Some may choose to respond through their lens of fear by buying more ammunition. I choose to ponder the lasting significance of Martin Luther King’s life on Inauguration Day.

Paul Lehman


We were warned about reckless spending

In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote “Democracy in America.” He wrote that “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves a largess from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy.”

The Government Accountability Office released its annual audit of the U.S. government. Its conclusion: “Absent policy changes, the federal government continues to face an unsustainable fiscal path.”

We’re spending over a trillion dollars more than we bring in. Unemployment remains high, there are record numbers on food stamps and disability, taxes went up on everyone including the rich, yet we still have a deficit of more than a trillion dollars this year. Is this acceptable?

The Federal Reserve continues printing money, which leads to inflation and price increases. Politicians favoring fiscal responsibility are ridiculed and risk losing re-election to candidates who promise to keep spending recklessly. Wait for the upcoming debt-ceiling debate.

Fiscal responsibility will be criticized and out-of-control spending glorified by progressives and the media. The administration will threaten delays in payments to veterans and Social Security to demonize (with the media’s help) fiscally responsible politicians.

Tocqueville and the bipartisan Government Accounting Office gave us a clear warning. Americans can’t say they didn’t know. However, more spending and government reliance will continue winning elections.

Ryan Hill


Crosswalk signs are appreciated

I would like to thank the Johnstown City Council, Department of Public Works Director Darby Sprincz and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for their “speedy” action to help solve our problem regarding speeders on Vine Street in downtown Johnstown.

They erected pedestrian crosswalk signs at the crosswalks of peril at the Town House Towers and the Vine Street Towers.

The speeders have been frightening the heck out of our seniors and disabled residents of the towers on Vine Street.

God bless America and Johnstown.

Paul C. Rinker



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