HIT: There was an event in Harrisburg the other day that was of great interest to folks who have found their lives burdened by old convictions for minor crimes. The governor, lawmakers and other officials gathered to mark the beginning of the state’s new “Clean Slate” law, which will automatically seal from public view case records for minor offenses, including second- and third-degree misdemeanors such as theft and drunken driving. As state Sen. Camera Bartolotta noted, “We’re only hurting ourselves by holding back people who have a criminal record.” We agree.
HIT: With Waste Management no longer collecting recyclable glass, folks with bottles to get rid of have no easy way to recycle those materials. Credit officials in South Strabane Township for recognizing the problem and attempting to address it. Under the leadership of Supervisor Bracken Burns, the township has created a Green Team that is addressing environmental issues, and one of the first orders of business is glass recycling. The committee is considering a monthly glass recycling collection at the township building. The first such collection is scheduled for Nov. 2, but there might be other such events before then. “It simply would make a heck of a lot more sense than to have people holding onto their jelly jars for six months before driving up to Bethel Park or something,” said Burns. “We want to make it as feasible as possible for our residents.” Here’s hoping that other municipalities in our area will follow suit.
MISS: Despite all of our concerns about corruption in politics, elected officials on all levels in the United States are pretty scrupulous. We have pretty consistently ranked in the top 20 of least-corrupt nations according to the group Transparency International. But it’s figures like Bill Courtright that make Americans wonder about what their leaders are up to when they get behind closed doors. Courtright resigned as Scranton’s mayor this week and promptly pled guilty in federal court to charges of extortion, bribery and conspiracy. Courtright was apparently in the habit of shaking down businesses for campaign donations and payments in return for permits and contracts. If it’s any comfort to Courtright, he’s not alone in his felonious ways – in the last 18 months, mayors in Reading and Allentown have ended up behind bars after engaging in similar schemes. Courtright will pay a price for his misdeeds, but the damage he did to public trust will be hard to repair.
HIT: It’s hard to recall now, but there was a time Lee Iacocca was seriously considered as a presidential prospect. He was a folk hero in the 1980s for saving Chrysler from bankruptcy and jump-starting it back to life. Polls placed him behind only President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II in public esteem. Much like Reagan, Iacocca had a knack for making people feel good. After he died Tuesday at 94, his obituary in The Washington Post noted that “at a time when the country was shifting out of a period of economic malaise, Mr. Iacocca seemed a straight-shooting leader brimming with self-confidence. Media coverage portrayed Mr. Iacocca as an industry savior, and he added to his allure through aggressively cocksure TV commercials promoting Chrysler cars – and, in the process, himself.” Iacocca never became president, but he won himself a place in history, which will treat him kindly.