No bridges ‘off-system’

Roadway bridges that are not part of the National Highway System are said to be “off-system,” but that is only on paper. On the ground, those bridges are crucial for effective and safe transportation that is integral to communities and the economy. Pennsy

Feds give FIFA deserved kick

Soccer is a growing sport in the United States but it is not fundamental to the culture, as it is in much of the world. Americans tolerate soccer and take interest in the World Cup every four years, but the sport has not achieved mass popularity. American

Shame recklesscity landlords

No matter how many new legal weapons the state Legislature provides local governments to fight blight caused by irresponsible property owners, the arsenal is only part of the battle. Absentee landlords committed to bleeding their buildings for every last

Ireland’s huge cultural shift

Ireland, traditionally one of the most socially conservative Western nations, has become the first nation to approve gay marriage by national referendum. The overwhelming 62 percent approval for gay marriage shocked those who have retained a view of Irela

Ground this ‘pilot’ before it takes off

Even though slot machine revenue in Pennsylvania has been flat or falling for several years now, many state lawmakers continue to see gambling as the answer to every problem except gambling. Casinos themselves have been begging the state’s gambling-happy

Speed Senate disclosure

Bipartisanship is a rare animal in the U.S. Senate, but it seems to thrive in the dark. That is, the Senate has refused to bring its campaign fund disclosure process into the 21st century by requiring electronic filing, even though House and presidential

$160,000 for lubrication

Gov. Tom Wolf made a noble effort early this year at embarrassing state lawmakers into finally outlawing “gifts” to state-level public officials. But when the governor imposed such a ban on executive branch employees, legislators took it as a sign that th

Remembering, but learning?

Each Memorial Day is a reminder of the cost of war, as the nation honors more than 1.3 million Americans who have died in service to their country. There is a particular poignancy to the observance this year, the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil

Mall may need open mind

An auction scheduled for next week is the first step on a long road back for the moribund Mall at Steamtown in downtown Scranton. It’s clear that the journey, one way or another, will include retail impresario Al Boscov, who retired recently from day-to-d

Drillers vanquish limits in Texas

If everything really is bigger in Texas, that maxim also must apply to mistakes. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed a law barring bans of hydraulic fracturing and limiting the control of local governments over the location of oil and gas wells. Texas

Fully fund heritage area

Gov. Tom Wolf has challenged the state Legislature to do some big things, from true property tax reform to realistic education funding. The scope of the challenge is such that the governor and his legislative critics have yet to agree even on the exact am

Cold patch

For the sixth time in just over a decade, Congress has settled for a temporary highway funding bill — this time for just two months. The House passed the bill by a wide margin and then hit the highway itself for a long recess. Regardless of the Senate’s d

‘Expansion’ can’t include cutting funds

There must be a dictionary lying around somewhere within the state Department of Health and Human Services. Folks there should find it and look up “expansion,” which they have poorly defined in a dangerous way. HHS recently denied the Women’s Resource Cen

Put pot bill to House vote

Republican majorities in both houses of the state Legislature famously resist any federal rules that contradict their priorities, from air and water pollution regulations to Medicaid expansion. It is remarkable, then, that a key Republican refuses to move

Anti-dump vote prevails

By trying to evade the most serious issue facing Lackawanna County’s future, Commissioner Jim Wansacz sacrificed his own immediate political future — a stunning development in a county where the status quo and complacency often win. Mr. Wansacz became the

Feds get busy as healthy bees

For all of America’s agricultural might, it still largely comes down to nature. A widely accepted rule of thumb is that one of every three bites of food consumed by Americans is due to pollinators — birds, bats, butterflies and other insects, especially b

Bad policy, or politics?

In fundamentally one-party jurisdictions like heavily Democratic Lackawanna County, political tension and risk often lie within the dominant party itself rather than between the parties. There might be no better example than Lackawanna County Commissioner

Not a stupid human trick

Top 10 reasons late-night TV will be poorer in the absence of David Letterman, whose last show will air tonight: 10. Unlike his predecessors, even the great Johnny Carson, Letterman invented his own brand of comedy rather than relying on the standard conv

Disclosure charters’ duty

Public charter schools apparently are more like conventional public schools than their advocates believe. Confronted with Right to Know Law requests from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association about their operations, 160 charter schools initially resp

Improving Election Day

Voters who make the effort in today’s primary election are more likely to shuffle than sprint to the polls. They are faced, for the most part, with nomination races that haven’t generated excitement, and an archaic election system that often serves politi

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