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Laurels & Lances

| Thursday, May 18, 2017, 8:55 p.m.
Henry Lee Hillman
Courtesy of the Hillman family
Henry Lee Hillman

Laurel: To a philanthropist who ensured his philanthropy would outlive him. Matching billionaire Henry Hillman's generosity in life is the generosity he planned for his estate to show after his April 14 death at age 98. About $685 million that's going to the Henry L. Hillman Foundation increases its grant-making capacity 125 percent. That means more money for more projects and ideas to improve life in his beloved Western Pennsylvania — and more reasons to honor Mr. Hillman's memory and accomplishments.

On the “Watch List”: Voluntary municipal disincorporation. That's what Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, predecessors Jim Roddey and Dan Onorato, and former University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg call a new option they want the Legislature to give cash-strapped Allegheny County municipalities that aren't “financially distressed” under state Act 47: allowing voters to dissolve local governments and rely on county services. It might make the most sense where communities are also short on candidates for local offices. But it raises concerns about the loss of local control and identity. If this option becomes law, voters should think long and hard before casting ballots in favor.

An observation: The $268,000-plus spent through May 1 by three candidates for one Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court vacancy certainly is an eye-popping figure. But it also shows just how much a seat on the local bench is valued. And vigorous competition among qualified judicial candidates is a plus for voters and the court.

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