New Years’ resolutions — for others

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A few ‘helpful’ suggestions for a better 2015

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

UTMikeColLogoWith another year slipping away – and 2014 seems to have gone by in a blur — it is time to take a bit of time to make those New Year’s resolutions.

Now, obviously, I could make mine, but they’d take up more than just one column to complete and they’d be boring like needing to play golf more often (and escape the confines of my desk), hitting less people with a seven-iron shot (I’m well known to be more dangerous holding a golf club than Dick Cheney is holding a shotgun) and recording fewer music videos (evidently, some people cannot pull off dressing in food products) and of course, more Cuban cigars, just to start.

But I am able to continue the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions for others — something I’m sure they find incredibly helpful.

As usual.

You, of course, are invited to offer your own resolutions, or suggestions of resolutions for others, including me.

I’ve broken them down into categories for your reading pleasure (or horror).

Politics:

For freshly-minted U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello: a way to avoid being brought down by the cynicism, the lobbyists, the power-hungry hangers on and the pointless partisan mess that is Washington D.C. Costello is a bright guy who could do a lot, both for Chester County and the country, but you hope he doesn’t lose himself in that environment.

For Chester County’s Democrats: nominating and running folks for county row offices who are not participants in the Witness Protection Program might be a good start. The last couple of rounds of county elections have seemed more like an episode of “Missing” than an actual election. Running “Kathi (Cozzone) and the four dwarves” won’t cut it in 2015.

For Chester County’s Republicans: don’t get too comfortable. Even if the county’s Democrats can’t really leverage much of a challenge, there’s a growing sense among rank and file folks that the party leaders have fixed the game in favor of a few, chosen people, pushing aside qualified folks for positions. Between that and a growing anger by the local party’s conservative wing, it could be a more complicated year than expected.

For State Rep. Chris Ross: a full two years in office. If Ross serves out his full term, some of the grumbles about how he replaced Cuyler Walker on the ballot this year may subside. If he resigns early to set up a low-turnout special election (the rumors continue to circulate he’ll resign next August, meaning the 158th seat would be up in the municipal election cycle next year) a lot of people, on both sides of the political aisle, will be angry and mobilized.

For State Rep. Harry Lewis, Jr.: Resolve to jump in with both feet and develop legislation to help financially stricken cities such as Coatesville — and there’s no shame in stealing other state’s proven successes, such as sales tax discount districts (in other states, to boost development and economic activity in struggling areas, the state sales tax is cut in half), to help solve the structural economic issues that Coatesville and other cities face. And Lewis, as a Republican, should be uniquely situated to drive that effort.

For Gov. Tom Wolf and the State Legislature: Posturing and politics got us into the current mess. While much of America is thriving, Pennsylvania’s economy is not. Neither party has shown much of a gift for solving what ails this commonwealth — so maybe it’s time to put aside the stupidity and compromise. Both sides have to be willing to deal — and trading a gas extraction tax (which thanks to lower gas prices is increasingly less lucrative) for real pension reform (see below) or a real privatization plan for the state’s liquor licenses is the kid of trade both sides need to be able to live with.

For all of us: real pension reform. As much as your could argue that moving new state and education hires into a 401K system has some merit, you could also argue that such a move, unless done in steps over a generation, will bankrupt the current fund and turn Pennsylvania into a statewide Detroit. Worse, though, even if such a plan were all sunshine and lollypops (rather than actually bug spray and arsenic), it doesn’t do a darn thing to solve near-term financial issues. The state needs to come up with a funding mechanism to pay for all of the funds it didn’t put in the fund more than a decade ago, whether it be a bond or a new tax.

For all of us: end the special tax breaks. If you’re a big business and have enough money for full-time lobbyists, business taxes in Pennsylvania aren’t that bad. Why? Because more than likely you’re getting some special tax break written for you by a friendly legislator (who is very much more friendly after that multi-thousand dollar campaign contribution from your Political Action Committee). For the rest of us small business owners, not so much. If we want to see real opportunity and prosperity, we need to thin the herd of custom tax breaks.

For all of us: End the Newspaper tax. Each of us pays corporate welfare to support legal ads run by municipalities, school districts, and the county — thousands and thousands of dollars a year to run ads seen by fewer and fewer people. It’s time to allow governmental bodies to run their own legal ads on their own legal Websites. None of us needs to be paying extra taxes to prop up large multinational companies — in one case in Chester County, owned by a hedge fund — who have failed to adopt to new business and media environments. If those entities can’t survive without government aid, they should be allowed to fail.

Pop culture/Entertainment:

For the producers of reality TV: Yes, it’s entirely fake junk TV, but it can be a quick diversion. But some of these shows — including Amish Mafia — are just flat-out silly. Sadly, you can expect more shows — a couple of which will be produced locally — to arrive in 2015. It’s a good thing I’m over subscribed, or I’d be producing my own parody of a reality show around this publication. Folks, just dial it back.

For Chester County’s own Al Gnoza: Al is maybe the best and most entertaining TV news anchor in the state — a better gig than you just got foolishly pushed out of in Harrisburg. And for Harrisburg ABC affiliate WHTM, less empty suits in management (which I gather means an entirely new management team) and a sense of humor. After all, your station regularly broadcasts episodes of “The Batchelor” — so, honestly, it takes a lot for a news anchor to go beyond those bounds of good taste. A Three Mile Island joke hardly qualifies.

Lastly:

For all of our readers and advertisers: much health, happiness and prosperity for the new year. While we’re likely to face challenges, the indications are that 2015 could be a year of growth for many. We also hope it is a year of peace and progress.

Happy New Year!

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