Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Poverty Status Remains Due to Politics says Commissioner

Poverty question answered
Updated 09/16/2008 12:44:46 AM EDT
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Last week an editorial was written about a question asked at a meet the candidate forum. The question was, "Why are Fayette and Greene counties still the second- and third-poorest in Pennsylvania?"

While I cannot comment on Greene County, as for Fayette County there are three reasons, those being: politics, bureaucrats and self-serving interests.

Angela M. Zimmerlink Fayette County commissioner


Responses at Herald-Standard

Reader Comments

Added: Tuesday September 23, 2008 at 07:50 AM EST
Primary Reason Poorest
Our local educational system is the primary reason Fayette and Greene counties are ranked the highest in the poorest economic category. Both counties lack a 21st century approach to education in our numerous public schools and both produce a discouraging rising secondary school drop-out rate. In this day and age with so many resources available statistics like these are simply inexcusable.

While politically, nepotism remains sacrosanct in hiring practices, a worse aspect of our school system which enables the stagnation is called "tenure," or more starkly, "unions."

Those remain "political" throwbacks and will continue despite any so-called legislative "fix" to "consolidate" local school districts.

It's time for our state legislators to act, not with Rep. Tim Mahoney's so-called consolidation - but not really - plan, but with a total break-up of the public school monopoly.

They should all each and every one be privatized and permit the private sector to actually produce an educated group of students who can rise above any economically distressed conditions in the counties.

Conditions accepted, maintained, and managed as is by the very people voters elect to public office.

The real and obvious distressed status is also a mentality the politically connected use to keep the counties down, and their own political power on the rise.

It doesn't seem to matter who is in office, the grants and special tax-abatement treatment in programs like LERTA and KOZs continues for some but not for all.

the only way to eliminate the mentality is for the voters in the state election system to demand independent political party participation in the political Primary election process.

Alongside the names of candidates from the PA Democrat and Republican parties should be names of candidates in all of the following parties, at every level of office:

America First Party of Pennsylvania
Communist Party of Pennsylvania
Constitution Party of Pennsylvania
Green Party of Pennsylvania
Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania
Reform Party of Pennsylvania
Social Democratic Party of Pennsylvania
Socialist Party of Pennsylvania

There will be very little change - if any - unless and until a Third-Party candidate has equal access to the same politically charged election system as the two-majority parties in Pennsylvania. (And the nation, by the way)

As for the Housing Authority and its abolishment, and likewise for tax-free zones, if Commissioner Zimmerlink would use her inherent power as a commissioner and alone make the motions at a commissioners' meeting, and the motions failed for lack of a second, a public effort of support for her efforts would ensue. Over the next 3 years, with Commissioner Zimmerlink making the motions at every single meeting, and with the continued publicity, a growing grassroots effort to rid the county of the unconstitutional Housing Authority and the unconstitutional KOZs would rise to a level that could not be ignored.

Either both would be gone from our corner of PA, or there would be newcomers elected to the board of county commissioners.

Hold Them All Accountable


Added: Monday September 22, 2008 at 08:59 AM EST
Social Programs will remain in Fayette Co and elsewhere
Both Jo Smith and Mr. Lutes have made some valid points with respect to the social programs in Fayette County. I do respectfully disagree when they look upon me as the person responsible for the social programs and/or public housing. If one looks at my voting record when I was a mbr of the 5 person FCHA board one would see often times the votes were 4-1 and often times I made a Motion realizing that I would not garner a 2nd let alone two votes. I believe the point was missed by the below writers. Low income housing is needed in Fayette Co and I would prefer that it be derived from a private company and not a taxpayer account, however, throughout the US there are Housing Authorities and one cannot simply nor should one simply make a Motion to abolish without a plan or support from others who would be willing to help make the transition. Knowing that I did in my votes and Motions work towards not expanding the FCHA but at times it was not supported by fellow board mbrs and it was not because I did not get along with them it was because the commissioners (past and present) appointed board mbrs to the FCHA who believed in the mission of maintaining and providing for public housing in Fayette County. I am proud of my efforts and my accomplishments for the time I volunteered my time as a board member because I realized what I could not accomplish while making positive changes in the system. Thanks for your comments.

Commissioner Zimmerlink, Uniontown PA


Added: Sunday September 21, 2008 at 09:50 AM EST
Stupid and excuses
Ok first Mr. Lutes I take great offense when you say I am stupid. Unless I read your comments wrong you called people in Fayette County Stupid. I dont think you really meant that did you? Hard working people are not kept on a chain. I personally have no chain upon me. I work very hard make good money and owe no one anything. I understand your frustrations and the social issues that plight this county but your generalizatons are way off base.

Fayette county is not the problem here. Mrs. Zimmerlink the Social programs that plight Fayette County should be abolished. You Alway blame someone else for what you can not do or do not want to do. Sean Cavanaugh didnt have a vote on the FCHA and he busted the cooruptiion. Sean changed this Couny for the Good and He never had anyone carrying him or backing him. Did he always do it right probably not but he got some things done. Look at the Fayette Business Park he pushed that idea when All the big money people were supprting FAy Penn and countering the Idea. Now I am sure you going to say that You do not have the votes. YOUR first term you had Two Republicans and you could not get along with Hardy or at least it seemed that way to us the general public. Now you say yu cant get along. Well Sean, Vince and Ron Nehls (god rest his soul) didnt always get along but SEAN got things done. He did not always have a second vote but he showed people the path and he pushed.

It is easy to complain and point out problems Commissioner it is harder to get them done.

As for your many invitations to those who challange you stop trying to deflect your job duties. You Tell me "I invite you to come in" and I tll you I dont want to. You say " i will meet with you " and I say if I wanted to be elected to county Government I would run againnst you and beat you. Then you Tell Mr. Lutes (who I do not think I ever met and do not agree with on any issue) to run and become elected because you could use the help. Maybe he doesnt want to. It is our Constitutional Right to point out what we think your doing wrong. If we meet I would like to discuss the Constituion with you because obviously you have no idea what rights Mr. Lutes and other Fayette County Rsidents have under this document.

Jo Smith, Dunbar PA


Added: Friday September 19, 2008 at 07:30 PM EST
Why Fayette County is poor
Years of free traders, unfettered capitalism, and conservative financial ideology at the state and federal level, that's why. Factor in the purposeful strangulation of public education by these same charlatans and you get poor, uneducated people in every state.

Marcy Roberts, Masontown, Pa


Added: Thursday September 18, 2008 at 12:52 PM EST
Zimmerlink Comment Shows Complicity
Angela Zimmerlink implies that she did not make the motions to abolish the FCHA because the motions would not have received a second and would have failed.
So what? So what if the motions fail? At least if the motions are made you could say you did what you could to rid the county of this illegal, unconstitutional agency.
Doing anything less is simply an unacceptable cop-out.
As for running for office, I did that twice and learned that people like most those that fool them best.
In addition, I have volunteered to sit on boards in the past and would welcome your nominating me to sit on a board at any time.

Brian K. Lutes, North Union Twp., Fayette Co., PA


Added: Thursday September 18, 2008 at 06:40 AM EST
Zimmerlink calls for people to step forward
Mr. Lutes writes that Zimmerlink is complacent and helped to keep Fayette Co impoverished referencing that she did nothing to abolish the Fayette Co Housing Authority. In 1998 I volunteered my time to serve on the FCHA board for a 5yr term and was then reappointed for another 5 yr term. Anyone remotely interested in Fayette Co surely knows the actions I took as a board member. The inaction Mr. Lutes references is me not making a Motion to disband the FCHA. How do you think that vote would have gone Unanimous or 4-1? As a commissioner, if a Motion was made to rid the county of the HA how do you think that Motion would go? Which Vince do you think would vote in the affirmative? During my tenure as a FCHA board mbr I was effective with results. I also chose to make Motions that not only were in the best interest of those involved but also Motions that could possibly garner at least ONE or more votes of support. Perhaps one of the answers to this complacency Mr. Lutes talks of would be for him and like-minded residents to offer to serve on Boards and or run for office. I could use the help

Angela Zimmerlink, Uniontown PA


Added: Tuesday September 16, 2008 at 11:42 AM EST
Zimmerlink Correct, But Also Complicit
Commissioner Zimmerlink is 100orrect, but is herself complicit in scenario that keeps Fayette poor.
While it is possible that Zimmerlink does not fully understand how her own actions & inactions perpetuates the vicious cycle of intentional poverty, I doubt that is the case.
What we have in Fayette is the perfect package of apathy bundled with fear and laziness in a population that has been groomed to be docile sheep for more than 50 years and any public official that does not do everything they can to expose this is complicit in the scam as Zimmerlink is.
Those that run Fayette do not want citizens to be independent and self-supporting on a large scale because if poverty truly goes away they would not be able to receive the millions upon millions of dollars they use to run the social programs that are justified by the poverty conditions.
The social programs that are justified by the poveety conditions employ hundreds, if not thousands, of friends & family of the political powers in Fayette. Those same friends & family then work very hard to convince the "customers" of the social programs that the programs are needed and that anyone that comes along and talks about abolishing them is Satan personified and the politicians that are "giving" them the program are the Apostles.
Unfortunately, far too many Fayettnamese are completely comfortable with this and obviously too stupid to realize they are being kept on a chain with an acceptably sized water bowl within sight.
Zimmerlink contributes to this by not making motions to abolish these programs, such as the Fayette County Housing Authority, that she knows full well should not exist.
However, I must give her credit for picking up on a theme I presented years ago to abolish the Fayette County Zoning operation.
Fayette is poor by design and will continue to be unless and until the sheep lft their heads out of the trough and look around to see the clippers coming.

Brian K. Lutes, North Union Twp., Fayette Co., PA



Countywide zoning makes great sense
Guest commentaryBy Ray Polaski
Updated 09/19/2008 12:55:45 AM EDT


Reader Comments

Added: Thursday September 25, 2008 at 06:22 PM EST
Best Government is Less Government
Ignoring the lead sentence provided by Commissioner Zimmerlink is prudent. When one is on the right side of not only desiring limited government, but in a position to deliver limited government, there isn't really any need to be prudent to protect the "government" entity that has become intrusive and power grabbing.

If the "zoning" can be handled on the truly local level, at the municipality, then the "planning" and the "community development" likewise can be handled at the local municpality level.

The idea is for government to be as local as possible because that is the level of government that is simply closest to the people. And that level has the better chance of not only being more representative of the people, but being more limited and more accountable.

As far as addressing the historic assets of the county, when did this become another role or duty for county government?

At any rate, should a motion be presented to abolish the Department of Planning, Zoning, and Community Development, the support will be quickly forthcoming from these quarters in the event the motion dies for lack of a second.

Of course, should Commissioner Zimmerlink make a motion to eliminate county zoning, that would be more than welcome, as well. Obviously, she's already got some public support for that not only here but on local radio talk show programming.

Hold Them All Accountable


Added: Thursday September 25, 2008 at 09:48 AM EST
Zimmerlink Given Bad Advice?
Commissioner Zimmerlink says that it was told to her that the Commissioners did not have the authority to abolish the FCHA.
This is technically correct as according to the Municipal Authorities Act states that only the "Authority" itself can end it's existance. This is why I have said for years that Zimmerlink, in her role as a member of the FCHA Board, should make the motion to abolish the authority, in essence to self terminate.
However, the same Municipal Authorities Act also states that the political body that created the authority, in this case the Fayette Co. Commissioners, can take over the authority's operations, which would entail the FCHA Board of Directors being eliminated, and then the Commissioners could simply end the operations and auction of the authority's assets such as buildings, vehicles, and anything else.
For anyone to contend that the people that live in the authority's communities would be put out on the street is ludicrous. The tenants, recipients actually, would simply pay rent to the new owners of the properties and they would still qualify for assistance from the myriad of social welfare programs ruining Fayette.
By eliminating the FCHA and auctioning off it's assets we could return some of the taxpayers investmentsin this sham operation and put the properties on the tax rolls.
Brian K. Lutes, North Union Twp., Fayette Co., PA


Added: Wednesday September 24, 2008 at 11:07 AM EST
Transition period needed for local zoning
Any suggestion for me as an elected official to make a Motion simply to abolish the county zoning dept is done so without understanding county government. First, the county office is Planning Zoning & Community Development. I propose taking county government out zoning issues and setting the stage for the local municipalities to decide if they wish to have local zoning and if so for a smooth transition. To do anything less would not be prudent or a sound decision as an elected official. The writers of these Postings are aware that I as a Commissioner have made Motions knowing I would not garner a 2nd but did so anyway. With the support of another Commissioner, we would reorganzie the current office because by County Code and otherwise there are still responsibilities that would fall under this county office. I would think that Hold Them Accountable writer D I believe is aware of this or at least given the background should be aware. To respond to the puzzlement as to why I pursued the Historic section I did so because I do not know what the outcome of my zoning elimination initiative will be and if county zoning remains than at least historic assets are addressed in the zoning ordinance. As far as public support,I havent seen or heard any yet. I never indicated in any way that I would not make a motion to eliminate countywide zoning in fact I did the opposite stating my position, asking for support and working on a suggestion course of action. I welcome the input of D, Mr. Lutes and any other person having the interest to contact me at my office.

The confusion perhaps on me stating I would not make a motion when I knew I would not garner a 2nd was with respect to the FCHA abolishment AND I also stated that I would never simply make a motion for the sake of it as it was told to me that we did not have the authority to abolish and even if that issue could be argued it would be irresponsible to simply abolish an authority without any plan of action for those living in public housing and under Section 8 programs.

Again, I welcome a phone call. Thanks
Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink, Uniontown PA


Added: Tuesday September 23, 2008 at 08:34 AM EST
Make Motion to Abolish County Zoning Dept.
At the next and upcoming September county commissioners' meeting this Thursday, Commissioner Zimmerlink should make a motion to eliminate the Fayette county planning and zoning department and the related though independent UCC "code" enforcement arm of county government.

Should the motions not receive a second and/or not pass, then she'd have the publicity necessary to mount a local grassroots effort of support for her causes.

Anything less is simply political grandstanding, the like of what we've experienced in the past administrations with many others before her.

what's been puzzling is her support for including zoning protection for historical properties in the updated county code. If she were truly opposed to county zoning on principle, she would have drawn a line in the sand prior to the last election when groups and organizations pushed for such an inclusionary measure in the County Code. She not only complied, she took on the cause and received support from those quarters.

Failing to gain a second vote is no reason to continue to talk the talk but not walk the walk, so to speak. Despite the inaction of her fellow commissioners, Zimmerlink has 3 more years to make the motion/s at every single board of commissioners' meeting.

Hold Them All Accountable


Added: Monday September 22, 2008 at 09:19 AM EST
Decision to have Zoning should be made on local level
Mr. Lutes is correct on 4 issues. (1) No municipality/county is Required to have a zoning program (2) the 10 municipalities in Fayette that have separate zoning apart from the County are indeed paying twice in that those residents pay for county zoning through county taxes yet have township zoning (3) Washington/Westmoreland (and other counties) do Not operate countywide zoning (yet those counties are not on the bottom of the economic development list) (4) political pressures keep zoning on the county level (and it doesnt stop there certain politicians quietly become involved in the Planning Commission, Zoning Hearing Board, and UCC.

Ray Polaski states "if it's not broken, dont fix it" well it is broke and has been broken but commissioners lend a deaf eye and blind eye to this broken system. Within these boards and departments the left hand often does not know nor care what the right hand is doing so to say we have experts is totally wrong.

As far as developers wanting the offices to be inclusive and that they favor this that too is incorrect as evidenced by the many complaints received in the commissioners office.

I initiated and Moved to eliminate county administration of zoning not only because I believed I had the support of at least another commissioner which then meant the next step could be taken and a plan of action could be pursued. My disappointment is that fellow Commissioner Zapotosky has somewhat changed his position that he stated at the State Music Theatre Candidate Night because now he has stated that he wants the county to maintain some role in the process.

Zoning should be completed eliminated on the county administration side and the 32 municipalities can decide just as others do in other counties whether or not they want zoning and whether or not they wish to join together for combined services.

Public support is needed on this issue.

Commissioner Zimmerlink, Uniontown PA


Added: Saturday September 20, 2008 at 11:30 AM EST
Polaski Just Doesn't Get It!
Mr. Polaski says that the municipalities can't afford to run their own zoning programs so the county should continue doing it.
He shows his ignorance of the situation, but that is not surprising seein that he made his living from another agency that should not exist, the Fayette Co. Redevelopment Authority.
Polaski should know that no municipalaity, including counties, is required to operate a zoning program by state law.
Quite simply this means if a particular municipality can't afford to operate a zoning program they won't have a zoning program. It's just that simple.
As it stands now, the municipalities that do operate their own zoning programs are paying twice for the service as a portion of their county taxes goes to the operation of the county zoning office that they receive no service from.
In addition, zoning is a form of fascism and should not exist.
Furthermore, it is not needed in Fayette and the program was not implemented as a result of citizen demand. The political powers simply decided to implement zoning so they could exercise even more power over who does what in Fayette. That is why it was implemented; Not out of some desire to protect the the quality of life in Fayette because, clearly, they are not genuinely concerned with that.
Lastly, our neighboring counties of Washington & Westmoreland, which both have larger populations and budgets, do not operate county wide zoning programs.
The Fayette County Zoning office should be abolished immediately and county real estate taxes should be cut by the amount saved by eliminating the office.

Brian K. Lutes, North Union Twp., Fayette Co., PA





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