West Virginia’s legislature just wrapped up its work for the year – the Mountain State’s legislature is part-time, unlike Pennsylvania’s – and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had to use his veto pen on some bills that should make West Virginians glad lawmakers don’t......
Poet Maya Angelou once observed that “most people do not grow up,” and that they still retain a childlike nature once all the accumulated knowledge and strains of adulthood are scraped away.
The same notion – that people do not grow up – could be applied to the brawling over the proposed appointment of Col. Marcus Brown to become the Pennsylvania State Police commissioner. In this case, however, the actions of nearly everyone involved have been anything but childlike – they’ve been childish, like a bunch of quarrelsome fourth-graders engaging in fisticuffs at recess.
First, it must be said that Brown is qualified to lead the 6,000 troopers and civilian employees in the Pennsylvania State Police. A graduate of Penn State University and a native of the commonwealth, he has spent the majority of his career in Maryland, working in Baltimore’s police department and eventually overseeing Maryland’s state police force. The fact that Brown has not come up through the ranks of the Pennsylvania State Police and – gasp! – has opted to wear a Pennsylvania State Police uniform despite having not graduated from the State Police Academy, has led some current and former troopers to launch a heated campaign against Brown’s appointment, a campaign that has sometimes taken on such a bitter, rabid tone you would think Gov. Tom Wolf had named Mumia Abu-Jamal to the post, and not a veteran law enforcement officer with solid administrative experience and credentials.
The crux of the argument made against Brown by the former and current state troopers is that he is not “one of them,” and they are more accustomed to leaders who rise up through the ranks. But it’s not unusual for any organization to look beyond its chain of command for a new direction and a fresh perspective, and there are signs the Pennsylvania State Police could benefit from that, particularly when it comes to minority recruitment. As recently as 16 years ago, 20 percent of state troopers were non-white; now, just 6 percent are. Brown has made increasing minority recruitment a priority, and the state police and other law enforcement organizations would benefit from such efforts – if police look like the communities they serve, it’s less likely we’ll see events like those we’ve recently witnessed in Ferguson, Mo., repeated.
That fact seems to have rubbed some of Brown’s opponents the wrong way. Brown recently turned over an anonymous, handwritten note to police that was dropped off at his Cumberland County home, in which it was scrawled that “no (racial epithet) lover will wear my uniform.” Though their qualms are less crude, some state senators who are considering Brown’s confirmation have also criticized him for suggesting that the militarization of police, which we saw in the Ferguson, Mo., last summer, could increase incidents of civil disobedience. Brown has also come under fire from some lawmakers for enforcing Maryland’s gun laws during his tenure there. Last time we checked, though, the job of law enforcement was to, um, enforce laws.
Unfortunately, Brown appears to have let some of this criticism get under his skin. He recently pulled up and grabbed two yard signs with messages opposing his appointment that were planted in the ground near the bus stop used by his children. Brown said he was acting out of concern for them, but it makes him look touchy and has raised questions about his temperament.
However, the governor should resist calls that he withdraw Brown’s nomination and let him go through the Senate confirmation process. It’s time that Brown be judged on his merits and not on finger-pointing and belligerence that is unworthy of adults.
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers around Pennsylvania as compiled by the Associated Press:
Successive state administrations and state legislators eagerly embraced the natural gas industry while contending the government has well-regulated the enterprise in the public interest.
Unfortunately, as the industry matures, it continues to demonstrate the many ways in which the state government continues to play catch-up.
It is extraordinary, for example, the state government still is debating the merits of an extraction tax that is routine everywhere else in the United States that gas is drilled.
But that is one of the older arguments. Recently a panel discussion at Wilkes University revealed the state has yet to come up with a definitive regulatory regime for one of the most fundamental aspects of the thriving gas industry – pipeline transmission.
John Quigley, the new secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, announced a pipeline task force to consider the various issues the transmission lines present, nearly a decade after the industry began laying them.
And the Legislature passed the Pipeline Act, outlining standards, only in 2011.
It’s apparent that as the industry matures, the only thing Pennsylvanians can count on is the public interest in the safe operation of the industry is a work in progress.
If the proposal Republican Sen. Pat Toomey introduced recently sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same one he pitched last year.
The legislation aims to keep sexual predators away from school children by stepping up background checks and prohibiting schools from hiring anyone convicted of violent or sexual crimes. It also forbids school districts from recommending suspected abusers for positions in other states.
Letters to the editor are among the most highly read items in this newspaper. In fact, readership surveys have shown they are second only to obituaries in readership. We wish more readers would take advantage of this opportunity to express their opinions because their ideas often inspire debate in......