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Laurels and Lances

| Thursday, May 24, 2012, 5:24 p.m.

Lance: To Daryl Metcalfe. The Cranberry Republican should have his head examined for introducing a bill that would redirect taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood. Mr. Metcalfe says the move would cut off taxpayer money that now "support(s) abortionists." Never mind that 95 percent of Planned Parenthood's services don't involve abortions. How many women will suffer because of Metcalfe's misguided legislation?

On the "Watch List":

• West Penn Allegheny Health System. Spokeswoman Kelly Sorice criticizes Standard & Poor's Ratings Services for downgrading the struggling system's bond rating as "shortsighted" for not taking into account "potential for the future." But another "p"-word -- "performance" -- is the critical one. And right now that metric remains in intensive care.

• The Port Authority. The contract with its union expires on June 30. Talks are under way. But apparently missing from the negotiations is any mention of state legislation to prevent unionized employees of the mass-transit agency from striking. And until the right to hold the taxpaying public hostage is eliminated, there is no hope of fixing this perennially broken operation.

Lance: To the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development. The DCED has no overall accounting of $10 million given to the Beaver Initiative for Growth over a decade. BIG, as it was known, is one of the scandals that landed former powerful state Rep. Mike Veon in the pokey. We've said it before and we'll say it again -- it's time to eliminate the slush-fund-overseeing DCED.

Laurel: To Bryan Kline. Westmoreland County's Republican clerk of courts intends to collect from at least 374 deadbeat defendants a total of $147,000 in fines, restitution and court costs. Among them -- a Berks County woman, convicted of forgery years ago, whose debt totals $11,000. It's time to bring these scofflaws to justice.

Observations:

• Texas roofer Steven Kyle Hunt, who allegedly stuck 17 Westmoreland County homeowners with roofing-supply bills that he supposedly didn't pay, says an accountant embezzled the money. So, that's his explanation -- more than a year after the work was done and paid for by residents? Here's hoping his roof repairs at least hold up better than his excuse.

• Hempfield's former recreation director Dean Minerva, accused of stealing more than $26,000, since repaid, will serve two years of probation and perform 100 hours of community service under a deal with Westmoreland County prosecutors. So, all's well that ends well -- until the next sticky-fingered government servant tests the legal system's tolerance for abusing the public's trust.

Laurel: To Michael Ginsburg, et al. Westmoreland County's register of wills has taken some of the legwork out of getting married by offering online marriage licence applications. That saves couples time and at least one trip to the courthouse. Kudos to Mr. Ginsburg and others who finally are bringing county government into the 21st century.

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