30 September 2009

Mike Smith wins a Jefferson Award

This news comes courtesy of Bob Woods, executive director of the United Way of York County.

Mike Smith is one of the 2010 winners of the Jefferson Awards, given out by WGAL-TV each year. Mike is receiving the award for his service with the Temple Guard Drill Team “helping young people in York County stay off the streets and out of trouble.” He also leads the York Chapter of Guardian Angels and directs activities at Crossroads Youth Center. The Jefferson Awards Banquet will be held Oct. 29 at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel. The United Way is a major sponsor for the awards, and proceeds are divided up among the various United Ways in southcentral Pennsylvania.

Bob is hoping for a good turnout from York County to support Mike and the other York County honoree, Karen Ann Wire.

- Dan Fink

29 September 2009

Some thoughts on little empires

The Daily Record ran a story recently about Newberry Township's offer to merge with three small neighboring boroughs. The township sent letters to Lewisberry, Goldsboro and York Haven to see if any of them would be interested in talking about merging.

Newberry Township supervisor Stephen Pancoe said he thought a merger made sense because you gain economies of scale and reduce duplication of services. Those are the reasons most often cited to justify a merger or a regional consolidation. We would certainly agree with that position, and we applaud Newberry Township for its thinking.

Unfortunately, all three boroughs said no. As Lewisberry Council President William Thompson said, "I guess we like our little empire."

The only problem is that many of these little empires are falling apart all around the state. This structure of government, around since the 1700s, doesn't seem to work anymore in many places, regardless of which political party is in power.

Many small boroughs and older suburban townships don't have the money to upgrade deteriorating water and sewer lines or take care of their roads. Many have dropped their police departments and turned police service over to the state. Their tax bases continue to shrink, as homeowners keep moving out to the newest suburban developments. This cycle of build-and-abandon has decimated cities and these older suburbs, eats up farmland and contributes to sprawl.

In York County, we have a patchwork of municipalities, and all of them have council members or township supervisors, managers and secretaries, their own zoning ordinances, as well as their own water and sewer rates.

Is a system of 72 separate municipal governments, many created more than 200 years ago, the best way to go in the 21st century?

What do you think?

- Dan Fink

28 September 2009

YorkCounts sets first town hall in Dover

YorkCounts will travel to Dover Senior High School Nov. 9 for the first in a series of town halls to engage York County residents in a conversation about the work of YorkCounts. The first three town halls - the next ones will be in January and February - will focus on the United Way's Stay in School Report, and especially Judge John Uhler's Truancy Task Force work. YorkCounts is partnering with Dover Area School District to present this first town hall, which will start at 6:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium. For more information, contact Dan Fink at 650-1460 or dfink@yorkcounts.org.

- Dan Fink

02 September 2009

YorkCounts going to Washington

Later this month, the staff of YorkCounts - James and I - will travel to Washington, D.C., for Building One America, a summit that will, according to its Web site, "highlight regional policies, programs, and strategies with proven success in combating concentrated poverty, residential and school segregation, and sprawl – building solutions into national policy."

These issues go right to the heart of the work of YorkCounts.

Among the speakers are David Rusk and Myron Orfield, two nationally known authorities on urban policy and race and poverty, respectively. YorkCounts brought both men to York to speak at community meetings.

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama, and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) will also present.

The event is Sept. 17-18 at the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church.

- Dan Fink