The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


November 2, 2013

Readers' Forum 11-2 | Trooper shortage risking public's safety

JOHNSTOWN — Many in Pennsylvania may not be aware, but we face a critical public safety issue. Right now, Pennsylvania has more than 500 unfilled vacancies within the ranks of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Unfortunately, this is a crisis made on budgeting decisions, not common sense. There are enough candidates to fill the positions, but some in Harrisburg don’t want to invest in the necessary cadet classes to fill the vacancies.

That should be troubling to all Pennsylvanians who understand that providing for the public’s safety is a principle function of government. This crisis means 500 fewer state troopers are available to investigate crimes and maintain safety for over 12 million residents. As important, this has also made the job of being a Pennsylvania State Trooper far more dangerous.

Recent past history shows this crisis is only getting worse. As of January 2012, there were 347 vacancies. That number continued to climb and topped 500 later that year, which is unprecedented in recent Pennsylvania history.

To address this ongoing issue, Sen. Richard Kasunic, D-Dunbar, has introduced Senate Bills 513 and 514, which would ensure larger cadet classes and a mandatory increase in troopers available to serve Pennsylvania.

Despite the increased risk, troopers will always continue to do their jobs with a strong sense of duty. But public safety is a core function of government, and Pennsylvania can and should do better for its citizens.

On behalf of all troopers, we would like to thank Kasunic for showing the leadership necessary to address a problem that affects every Pennsylvanian.

Joseph R. Kovel

President, Pennsylvania State Troopers Association

Ramifications of fuel-efficient vehicles

I’m all for fuel-efficient vehicles. Not because they’re environmentally friendly, I like getting more mileage out of my wallet.

Here’s something to consider: AAA reports the national average per gallon of gas is $3.28. So, a vehicle that holds 15 gallons and gets 20 mpg would cost 16 cents per mile.

Penn State is developing a vehicle that can get 100 mpg. If we break that down, with the national gas average of $3.28, we could be paying 3 cents per mile and go 1,500 miles on 15 gallons. That’s a difference of 13 cents less per mile and we will be gaining 1,200 miles. Sounds pretty sweet, right?

Pennsylvania state tax is 32 cents per gallon and federal tax is 18 cents per gallon. That’s a combined total of 50 cents per gallon, leaving $2.78 per gallon to be divvied among the oil refineries, gas stations, etc.

The federal government, state government, oil refineries, gas stations and anyone else who is the middleman in there would take a big hit on the money that’s generated from selling gasoline.

Or would they? I’m guessing they wouldn’t grin and bear it. They would  raise the price-per-gallon to roughly $300 to break even.

Remember this when the media report that we could be paying less at the pumps.

It’s scary to think we could be paying around $5,000 for a tank of gas. How would this affect over-the-road truck drivers? Deliveries? Mail service? Public transportation? Taxes to cover school and public buses?

Is it really a good idea?

Earl Lamison


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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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