The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

June 21, 2013

Readers' Forum 6-21 | New authority questioned; leader responds

JOHNSTOWN — The composition of the Cambria County Economic Development Authority raises my worst fears about the authority’s intentions.

When Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder was interviewed by WJAC-TV after his return from Argentina, he spoke about the need for a new partisan authority that would recognize the current political environment.

Of concern to me is the addition of Rob Gleason, the most partisan man in Pennsylvania. This board reunites Gleason, James Hargraves and Samuel Catanese, who pulled off Conemaugh Health System’s merger with UPMC-Lee.

I am sure you will hear that this board is all about jobs. Jobs and economic development are not partisan. Gleason may believe that the only good Democrat is a dead one or one who splits his ballot. But creating jobs requires a true, big-tent effort. We all know that this community needs more jobs and investment. Community leaders knowledgeable about the airport know that it has the capacity for more commercial development.

Lengenfelder talks a great deal about creating jobs in Cambria County, but he has not yet been part of an effort that has created any.

Am I the only voter who is tired of this first-term commissioner treating our county like his personal experiment in nation-building? I am still willing to give the free trade zone a fair chance. Regarding this new authority, if it looks like a partisan Trojan horse, then it probably is. My question to the community is this: What is this free trade zone authority really about?

Mark E. Pasquerilla

Johnstown

New ideas seem to scare some people

The Cambria County commissioners are preparing a multiple part Commissioner’s Corner discussing the foreign trade zone, implementation, the Economic Development Authority and benefits/limitations of what we are doing.

I personally met with Mark Pasquerilla and offered to answer any questions he might have about the free trade zone. His singular issue was about JARI and competition over job development.

My response was, “Is it bad to have more than one organization involved with developing jobs in our county?”

I do agree that JARI can be a valuable partner to the Economic Development Authority and have included JARI as an integral part of the economic development strategy.

-- I never said that we needed a “new partisan authority.” I stated “nonpartisan authority” and it is all about jobs.

-- If anyone thinks that people in this county support the demise of others (“the only good Democrat is a dead one”), then we are surely in trouble.

-- I was elected by the voters of Cambria County to whom I spoke by knocking on over 7,000 doors and talking to countless voters at community events. Those voters told me they were tired of leaders with no new ideas. I think the opposition to the Economic Development Authority comes from a fear of new ideas.

Douglas Lengenfelder

president commissioner

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