Officials in Monongahela have been draining water out of their fire and police departments in recent days, thanks to relentless downpours and a crushed, century-old drain. Those officials can at least take comfort in the knowledge that they are not alone when it comes to wrestling with aging infrastructure. Many of our bridges would now be eligible for senior discounts if they were human, and the same goes for many of our roads, dams, levees and airports. The American Society of Civil Engineers routinely gives our infrastructure poor grades, and our subpar infrastructure costs each family more than $3,000 every year. In the longer term, it could cost about $10 trillion in economic growth over the next two decades. The need to repair our aging infrastructure is growing more urgent by the day.
The statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that was a fixture in downtown Charlottesville, Va., was dedicated in 1924, in an era when Ku Klux Klan membership was at its peak and Black Americans and immigrants were targets of brutal discrimination. Placing the statue in Charlottesville six decades after the Civil War ended was meant to send an unmistakable and chilling message. Last weekend, another kind of message was sent when the statue was finally removed after years of efforts by community activists. The statue’s fate was at the center of the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally where a counterprotester was killed. Kristin Szakos, a former member of Charlottesville’s city council, told the Associated Press, “I think that we’re finally ready to be a community that doesn’t telegraph through our public art that we are pretty fine with white supremacy.”
State Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Carroll, is leading an effort to end noncompete clauses for Pennsylvania broadcasters, and she appears to have something of an ally in this cause in President Biden. Last week, the president signed an executive order asking the Federal Trade Commission to eliminate or limit such agreements across the whole economy. Opponents say the agreements, which prevent employees from going to work for competing businesses for a specific length of time, reduce employee bargaining power and impede wage growth. Millions of workers are covered under noncompete agreements, and they are not all in specialized industries – they have been used in retail, fast-food and construction. Eliminating noncompete agreements will go some way toward making life more fair for American workers.
The good news is at least 66% of Washington County residents have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. The bad news is that a substantial number – 19%, to be precise – has not received a second dose, which is necessary in order to receive the maximum amount of protection afforded by the vaccines. Washington County is doing better than some of its neighbors, with 41% of residents in Fayette County now fully vaccinated, and 35% in Greene County. Brook Ward, president and CEO of the Washington Health System, is urging residents to get their jabs. “There is no excuse not to get vaccinated,” he said. To find a vaccine provider, go online to www.vaccines.gov.