The Thursday wrap
Out of the darkness of hate so evident in last weekend's white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., comes the light of hope from people appalled by the narrow-mindedness and, ultimately, the violence it propagates. That hope was abundantly evident in Monday's vigil organized by Voice of Westmoreland at the county's courthouse. Therein also is a reminder, at this vigil and similar events around the country, that what unites America is considerably stronger than that which tears at it. ... For years some Greensburg leaders and observers have blamed the downtown commercial-property vacancy rate, now about 20 percent, on the lure of Westmoreland Mall. But there remains an undercurrent from some that the city is less than accommodating to new businesses when it comes to requisite permits, inspections and various approvals. Then there's the state's Uniform Construction Code, which doesn't exactly “sell” retail space, either. Are there some city ordinances that should be updated to help ease the transition to a Greensburg location? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. ... Philadelphia's penalizing 1.5-cent-per-ounce “soda tax” has gone flat, according to a Tax Foundation study. Not only has it fallen far short of revenue projections, it has cost jobs and has driven some Philadelphians out of the city to buy groceries. Perhaps most telling is Philly's tax on sugary drinks — in part, to help people supposedly curb their calories — has made soda more expensive than some beer. Of course, that's inconsequential now that the tax-jackers got what they wanted.