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Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Jeannette's fiscal follies: Too often, especially around budget time, we hear overly optimistic forecasts of the distressed city's finances. This year, however, a bank's rejection of the city's plan to refinance a 1998 bond issue puts Jeannette's fiscal plight in clear perspective. Here's hoping this wake-up call leads somewhere. Read on.

A positive sign: Whether it was “politics,” as one official suggests, or something else, Jeannette City Council did the right thing by deferring salary hikes for five city administrators until the new mayor, Richard Jacobelli, begins his term next month. Besides, given the financial issues facing Jeannette, not the least of which is the sorry state of the city's employee pensions, any talk of raises should be shoved to a far back burner.

Pathetic plight: For parents with children in schools that failed to meet the latest academic benchmark set by Pennsylvania's Department of Education, recent statewide assessments (released after a two-month delay) aren't “mixed.” Thirty-four schools in Westmoreland and Fayette counties missed the mark. And sadly, parents of limited means have precious few options, besides charter schools, in providing a proper education for their children. The latest assessment of Pennsylvania's public schools reinforces the argument for more school choice.

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