The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 17, 2012

Readers' Forum 11-17 | School-bidding plan shuts out local business


Submitted by Readers

— As a local, family-operated business for more than 63 years, we are writing to express our disappointment regarding the manner in which the construction of the Conemaugh Valley Elementary School is being handled.

The school board has entered into an agreement with the local trade unions and has taken away the opportunity for some merit shop contractors to participate in the project. With public funds involved in the financing of the project, we are having a difficult time understanding how this can be permissible.

Modern Art & Plate Glass has successfully completed many school and public works projects in the area during our

history. We do projects this size and larger in a 200-mile radius of Johnstown.

We find it very disheartening that a proposal cannot be submitted for this project. Keeping our local work force busy and contributing to our local economy and tax base are priorities of our organization. Our workmanship, work ethic and skill take a back seat to none in the industry. Our work has been recognized in several national trade magazines over the years.

After reviewing the bidders list for the window portion of the project, it appears there will be no local participation for that contract. We expect costs of the window contract to be somewhat higher due to the use of out-of-town contractors.

Len Facciani Jr.

President and employees of Modern Art & Plate Glass



Losing congressional seat will cost us dearly

A total of 17,331 people – our neighbors, friends and family – voted against ourselves on Election Day.

That was the number of Cambria County residents who voted against Mark Critz to remain our representative in Congress come January.

Notice, I did not characterize them as voting for Keith Rothfus because, quite frankly, I don’t believe this to be the case. I find it difficult to believe that 17,331 people voted to take our voice out of Washington. Whether these voters, in their zeal to remove our president, hit the “straight Republican” button while in the booth, or they truly think a millionaire from Pittsburgh will have Cambria County’s best interests in mind, it’s hard to say.

What’s not hard to understand is that they have done irrevocable harm to our area, which, I fear, will be next to impossible to fix.

Democrat or Republican, it is hard to deny that having representation in Congress has benefited our area over the decades. Defense work brought to the area through Critz’s influence has a “trickle down” effect on our local economy.

You don’t have to be an employee of the businesses receiving government contracts to benefit from the money being spent in our area, supporting businesses and tax bases.

On Election Day, 17,331 people said they didn’t need representation or that stimulus to our economy any more.

It’s a sad day for the area that I love.

Mary Calissie

Johnstown



Obama visit to Burma: Where’s the benefit?

My family members have been lifelong Democrats and have supported the party forever. We twice have voted for Barack Obama. While we have not always agreed with the decisions of Democrats in office, we have continued to support the basic Democratic beliefs.

I strongly disagree with Obama’s decision to visit Burma. First, it is a dictatorship.  Secondly, what on earth do we hope to gain by visiting that country? Aren’t there more pressing issues for the United States, such as the economy, the budget and unemployment?

I heard on CNN that this visit is a reward to Burma’s leaders in recognition of more-relaxed policies toward their people.

Is it our intention to financially support this effort as well? How many times have we reached out to help other countries only to have our help backfire in our faces?

I know Obama worked very hard to become president for a second term. He shouldn’t forget the “little people” for whom he works.

James K. Miller Sr.

Summerhill



Commissioners: Writer has his ‘facts’ skewed

In response to Jerry Yahner’s comments on Nov. 13, “New commissioners no breath of fresh air”:

* We have not taken out a loan to date and there has been zero cost to the county. We are gathering facts. It is irresponsible to sit back and take no action until it is too late and cost the county millions, as has happened in the past.

* Hiring Gallagher Benefit Services Inc. services when 1) we have a written guarantee to save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars, and 2) we are looking at Obamacare possibly costing the county millions, it would be irresponsible to not get professional help for the county to properly deal with this issue.

* Voting to eliminate the jury commissioner position was an option written in law a year ago. It was not accomplished overnight. If you had read The Tribune-Democrat carefully, you would have seen the Tribune reported a current jury commissioner’s position that completely backed our decision. Additionally, we have been talking to Commissioner Tom Chernisky about this for several months.

Furthermore, the official who owns this process, president judge of Cambria County, is in agreement that we can handle this process in another manner and save money.

* We think discussing issues without the facts is irresponsible and the root cause of most divisiveness. Next time, just ask and we’ll gladly clarify any questions you have.

* We will continue to responsibly spend taxpayers’ dollars and explore other avenues to improve our county.

Douglas Lengenfelder

Mark Wissinger

Cambria County Commissioners



Minority officeholder being excluded

When elected to office, Republican Commissioners Douglas Lengenfelder and Mark Wissinger promised us they would work with the other, minority commissioner, Democrat Thomas Chernisky.

During the past few months, they’ve done anything but.

In the Nov. 9 edition of The Tribune-Democrat, Chernisky complained that Lengenfelder and Wissinger took it upon themselves to eliminate Cambria’s jury commissioner positions. I don’t disagree that the positions may now be obsolete. I do disagree with the fact that they’ve excluded others from participating in their decision-making process.

I refer you to the Oct. 12 edition of The Tribune-Democrat. Lengenfelder and Wissinger’s two votes were enough to authorize a $100,000 payment to retain Gallagher Benefit Services Inc. as the county’s insurance broker, even though the county’s 18-member health-care committee opposed it.

They even refused to table the matter, over Chernisky’s objection, so other proposals could be reviewed.

During the past five years, Cambria’s health-care committee has saved us     $4.27 million. This compares to a supposed $200,000 savings that Lengenfelder says Gallagher promises to save us in 2013 ($1 million in annual savings versus $200,000).

This is irresponsible.

There’s no doubt in my mind this was a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” transaction since Christopher Gleason Jr. is Gallagher’s area vice president.

Gleason, of course, is a big name in the local Republican leadership. That $100,000 was enough to save one of our senior centers – also on the same Oct. 12 front page.

David Harr

Mineral Point

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