Diamonds to area institutions and organizations that held solar eclipse events Monday. Despite the fact that Luzerne County was well beyond the path of totality, this first-time-in-a-century event deserved the attention given. Youngsters in particular deserved a chance to share the experience, donning those funky cardboard glasses with the silvery lenses and seeing just how much of the sun disappeared, or helping fashion “pin-hole cameras” from paper plates. It is worth remembering that some people suspect this may be a rare event not only in the United States and this planet, but it may be uncommon through much of the universe. A planet with a moon just the right size at just the right distance in just the right orbit to completely block a sun that’s also all the “just rights” could be very hard to find.
Coal to Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat for proposing the knuckle-headed idea of borrowing money from the city’s pension fund account to prop up the general fund and meet city payroll. Diamonds within this coal to three city council members who nixed the idea. Cusat’s argument holds a modicum of merit: If the city gets distressed status from the state it would be eligible for a long-term loan, and this is just a stop-gap measure until that happens. But said status has not yet been granted, and raiding pension funds is gimmick that almost inevitably leads to disaster. Underfunded pension plans are a millstone around many a municipality’s neck, and it wasn’t that long ago that Hazleton had a nasty shortfall that required a special levy to shore up. The funds are set aside for a fundamental reason — to meet legal obligations — and toying with them is a fool’s game.
Diamonds to Wilkes University for landing an Andy Warhol exhibit as the first big show when the relocated and expanded Sordoni Art Gallery opens Oct. 6. Leahy took substantial flack when Wilkes first announced the gallery would be moved and much of its holdings sold, but he spelled out sound reasoning: The gallery had never been intended to become an art repository, the move would put the gallery in a more prominent and accessible place along South Main Street, and the sale could help fund the goal of bringing bigger and better exhibits to town. Importantly, he also stressed the Andrew Sordoni participated in devising the plan. Getting Andy Warhol works on display is a good first step in fulfilling the promises made.
Coal, again and again and again, to the Pennsylvania Legislature for its ongoing, relentless failure to finalize a state budget. To recap: Both Republican-controlled chambers put together a $32 billion spending package on time — barely — to meet the legal deadline of passing a budget by June 30, and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf let that become law without signing it. The problem: They didn’t figure out how to raise about $2 billion needed to pay the whole tab. Well, it’s almost Labor Day and they still haven’t figured that one out. This isn’t just political incompetence, it is literally dereliction of duty.