Bitter pill: Drugs work but drive overall cost

As the year winds down, many employers are reviewing 2014 expenses to help plan spending for the new year. One of the main expenses for many organizations is the cost of employees’ health care. These costs seem to go up every year, but why? According to A

Amendment’s value suspect

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale showed red meat to hungry dogs last week when he reported that three Northeast Pennsylvania counties would have received nearly $160 million more in property tax revenue this year if they had been able to collect from tax

Keep Wetzel, Mutchler

During his failed re-election campaign, Gov. Tom Corbett had trouble identifying elements of his record that connected with voters. And he had an added problem — one of the most effective elements of his administration didn’t make for a major political is

City taxpayers also disabled

For incontrovertible evidence of how the government of Scranton exists for the benefit of its employees rather than its citizens, consult reporter Terrie Morgan-Besecker’s five-day series in The Times-Tribune last week about the city’s preposterous disabi

Science of pandering

Congress again has demonstrated how not to govern, with the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill it recently passed. The bill was rushed through at the last minute to avoid a government shutdown, thus precluding any opportunity for debates on important pol

Blight’s sum greater than its parts Quality-of-life ordinance addresses related problems

Blight is a short word for a broad problem. It describes a condition that most often is the accumulation of many elements rather than the result of a single physical issue. Recognizing that, Scranton City Council and the Courtright administration have dev

Sony should release movie

Sony Pictures has been given a rare gift by North Korea-backed hackers who penetrated the company’s email and anonymous miscreants who threatened violence against movie theaters that show a movie that prompted the email attack. “The Interview,” the movie

NY frack ban supports new tax here

Pennsylvanians might be perplexed about the decision by the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking in New York due to uncertainty about its long-term public health effects. In the commonwealth, after all, the state government did not even bot

Hola, Cuba

Some of the usual critics posed it as the end of the world when President Obama announced Wednesday that the United States will begin to normalize relations with Cuba. That decision might well mark the end of an era, but it is long overdue recognition of

Taxpayers should fund transition

By becoming the first candidate to defeat an incumbent Pennsylvania governor, Gov.-elect Tom Wolf made history and created an unprecedented problem. Mr. Wolf recently announced that the costs of his transition into the governor’s office will be borne by p

Putin, ruble sink together

Back in the spring, when Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea, he posed the greatest challenge to the West since the end of the Cold War. Some members of Congress and many right-wing commentators reflexively condemned President Obama for what they claimed was an

Oasis checks city blight

Like a virus, blight spreads from one host to the next. And, as vaccines break that chain by creating healthy hosts to block the chain of infection, healthy neighborhoods can interfere with the contagion of blight. United Neighborhood Centers has performe

‘Good sisters’ sound phrase

Most American Catholics were bewildered six years ago by the Vatican’s harsh approach to several orders of nuns here, and dismayed when Pope Benedict XVI authorized an “apostolic visitation” — an investigation — of the sisters. Rank-and-file Catholics, af

Bizarre hire state classic

Northeast Pennsylvania has seen its share of odd management arrangements in its school districts. Scranton alone has had, in effect, co-superintendents and an uncertified chief executive officer instead of a superintendent. Now, of course, the district ha

Massive bill’s reform deficit

Amid the rubble of the Great Recession, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank reforms to help get taxpayers off the hook for the greed and incompetence of big investment banks that, infamously, proved “too big to fail.” One of those key reforms was aimed directl

Authorize medicinal pot

If Pennsylvania House members had been asked to legalize marijuana for recreational use, their commitment to delay would be understandable. Legalization in Colorado, Oregon and Washington is a work in progress, an experiment that could guide other states

Moderate taxon extractionstill best route Levy would help cut deficit

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf has counted on a proposed modest tax on natural gas extraction to cover a large part of the state government’s yawning budget deficit of nearly $2 billion. Even if the incoming Legislature agrees with that approach and quickly adopts a

Obstruction virus spreads

Even as some Republican senators loudly condemned the Obama administration for its supposedly inadequate response to the Ebola virus outbreak, they pandered to the gun lobby by stonewalling the president’s nominee to a crucial public health post. Now that

Waiting for DEP makes mayor late

Four of five Scranton City Council members seem to understand that their positions afford them an opportunity to weigh in on important matters that lie beyond their direct decision-making powers. Unfortunately, the lesson appears to be lost on Mayor Bill

Verify return on incentives

A major policy question that government leaders often are reluctant to answer is whether the public gets a fair return on the hundreds of millions of tax dollars it contributes to private-sector development projects through tax breaks, grants, loans and s

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