Harrisburg Happening

Friday, April 28, 2006


I have had to turn on the verification feature to keep comments from crooks in the former Eastern Block from posting offers probably full of viruses

Thursday, April 27, 2006

What's Up At HACC?

Today the Patriot is reporting that two HACC employees over the last few weeks have been charged with trying to contact young girls for sex - one works in IT. Guess they have more problems to think about than some professor saying 'Fuck."


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

On fish forks and other implements of civilization

Today's New York Times has a great article on the merits of the right tools for eating a fine meal. Yes, sterling is back. To that I say it's about time. I was beginning to think only I and a handful of others even knew what a fish fork was.

Be sure to take the implement quiz!


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Another innocent convict

Really, Pennsylvania should be retesting all evidence; our track record is horrendous.


Reporting on Heroin in Harrisburg

I've read the coverage of the recent heroin overdoses in Harrisburg, and was surprised to read another account of the problem in the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to Reed, the problem is that the heroin is too pure, but the Philly articled attributes it to the drug used to cut the drug. I wonder, which is it?


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Wikipedia's Harrisburg Information

Wikipedia, the open source encyclopedia, has an interesting list of famous people of Harrisburg. Guess what politician made the list? Yes, Mayor Reed is there. But right under him - Jason Smith!!

Wikipedia is an online information site that can be added to by anyone. (Which is why I certainly don't allow my students to use it - it is, quite frankly, unreliable trash.)

So, I wonder who might have contributed the list of famous people? My wager is on a certain former mayorial candidate.


Friday, April 21, 2006

In the Category of How Stupid Can You Be:

It seems a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and blogger is so stupid in the ways of technology that he didn't realize posting comments in a false name on a competitor's blog could be found out. It seems the other blogger looked at the IP address and tracked the derogatory posts to the columnists (are you listening, Milton?) Now the columnist is in trouble.


What is daypop?

Okay, some of you guys from the world outside the U.S., what is this daypop thing and why are you coming to the blog from that site? I'd really like to know, because I can't imagine that this blog, which is so local in emphasis, would at all be of interest to anyone at the Guardian, or in Bulgaria, or Sweden, or Germany or Portugal. Please, please, let me in on the joke!

Since the cat is out of the bag, here's the scoop on

Midtown development:

Hacc and the city are working together to rehab the old press building on Third and Reily into classroom space.

According the HACC's president, this is what will happen:

"The facility will be home to our technology and trade programs including carpentry, home building and remodeling and industrial maintenance. It will complement the Community Center for Technology and the Arts which is less than a block away. The two buildings will be joined by a new "urban meadow." The meadow will be a pedestrian only avenue and will make movement between the two buildings very easy, as well providing access to an additional 750 parking spaces being added in the area. "

Harrisburg: Hotbed of Corruption??

I don't know exactly what to think of this website, which was first linked from the Harrisburg Forum on PennLive, but I will do some checking on the credibility of the editors and writers. There does seem to be an undercurrent of discontent in this city:


Midtown Development

Taking a lesson from Savannah and the Savannah College of Art and Design, HACC is working with the City of Harrisburg to convert the old press building on Third and Reily into classroom space. The apparent plan is to create a pedestrian walkway to their other building about a block away. And just a few weeks ago, HACC opened a restaurant and bar, as well as a bakery and butcher shop at the other end of Third. Like SCAD, HACC appears to be spreading out across the city. In Savannah, that has meant areas untouched by redevelopent blossomed as soon as SCAD put in each new building. Let's hope that happens here, too.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Population loss

It seems lots of people think Harrisburg's population is shrinking, and at least one former Mayoral condidate thinks that's a major problem. But a new report indicates that nationwide, even as citires are losing population and many middle income people move to the exurbs in search of affordable housing, cities are doing just fine. How can that be? It seems that those who are moving into cities are wealthier and have smaller families, and are pushing priced up, forcing larger families and those in the mid-income range out.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Her tenure as "acting" was short

Ms. Shelton returned to the Mid-Atlantic region position in late 2005:


Courthouse meeting

If you attended the federal courthouse meeting at Ben Franklin, you were in for a treat. It was well attended and many people spoke. The session ended with a GSA representative, Barbara Shelton, who claimed she was from Harrisburg, promising that the decision would be "objective." There certainly is no evidence of that in the actual environmental impact report, if "objective" means defined criteria applied to all three sites. Ms. Shelton appears to be the Mid-Atlantic regional adminstrator.

Ms. Shelton's contact information is as follows:

Barbara L. Shelton
(215) 446-4900

Her current position appears to be a step down from a temporary position she held earlier:

"Before being named Acting FTS Commissioner, Shelton served three years as GSA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, where she managed the operations of FTS, FSS, and the Public Buildings Service for the seven-state Region. Before that, Ms. Shelton served as Deputy Secretary for Administration in Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry and as Deputy Secretary for Procurement in the state’s Department of General Services. She also served as an Information Technology Consultant at Philip Morris in her private-sector career."

Great - she worked for big tobacco.

And according to this news item, she was an inexperienced political hack when she was appointed acting commissioner of the new Federal Acquisition Service :


Horton Shooting

The Patriot has a front page story on the Horton shooting - identifying the officer in question and giving a brief account of the incident from his point of view. But now we learn that the records are sealed. That seems odd to me.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Property Tax relief

Looks like the legislature may be close to an agreement on property tax relief in Pennsylvania. And as usual, it won't be going to poor or middle class families who struggle to purchase homes and raise kids. No - it is going to go to retired citizens instead. Gee, thanks a lot. That really helps. Apparently the rest of us will have to vote next year on whether we too get tax relief. But here's the catch - if we want it, we have to vote ourselves an income tax increase. And since seniors don't have earned income, they won't be affected since this great state sees fit not to tax retirement income.

"Lawmakers outline tax-relief dealA new plan for school property tax relief, with benefits heavily skewed toward senior citizens, could be approved in a House-Senate conference committee by Wednesday. Conferees briefed reporters today on an emerging compromise that will put low and moderate-income seniors who pay the highest shares of their incomes for school taxes in line for breaks later this year that could exceed $1,000. "

The rest of the story is on PennLive

Who owns what, part II

Ever wonder about the empty lots around Harrisburg? Like the one at Third and Verbeke by the Broad Street Market? It seems like a prime location and for years (20 years?) it was owned by Vartan. Guess what? Somebody else owns it now. According to an email I recently was forwarded, the City of Harrisburg says it is now owned by:

"Wilkes Kidder, LP, PO Box 8263, Radnor PA 19087 (sold September 2005)"

Guess he's holding on to it to see what happens with the courthouse project.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Another model for development

U- Street in DC is back - thanks to a Metro stop, unique shops and jazz. Will this be Third Street after the African-American Museum becomes reality? Let's hope so.


Latest deletions

Last night, Milton deleted a posting informing readers about the "Police academy," which is a Harrisburg Police Deparment initiative to train community members in how to prevent crime in their neighborhoods and to improve police relations with residents. Now, personally, I think the people attracted to that sort of thing (riding along with cops and so on) are largely busy bodies - but that's beside the point. Why would PennLive not want people in Harrisburg to know about this crime prevention program?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Anybody attend the crime and cleanup meeting?

Thursday at the Salvation Army building, there was a crime prevention meeting. I understand they were going to discuss how the community can help lower crime rates and see to that our elected officials are held accountable. I was unable to attend, but would love to know what transpired.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Assessing the GSA Harrisburg Courthouse Assessment

I've crunched some numbers, and reached a conclusion - the North Third and Forster location will be the site for the new courthouse. A proviso- using the chart found in the executive summary of the GSA Harrisburg Courthouse Environmental Impact study, which assigns color blocks to each impact on each location, and assigning numbers to each color, one can get an idea of the relative standing of each location. Assuming the GSA is weighing each factor equally (which is an unknown, since Abby Low refuses to release the actual criteria to the public) the location with the least negative impact is North Third and Forster (score = -34) followed by North Sixth and Verbeke (-35) and the worst impact North 6th and Basin (-36)

I assigned a 1 to the green cross, a -1 to the green square, a -2 to the yellow square and a -3 to the red square.

The results are close, which means any internal shift in the relative importance of any one factor will change the results. In other words, the GSA can manipulate this any way they damn well please.

Can Harrisburg Survive the Brain Drain?

The Washington Post is reporting that college graduates are flocking to the big cities of the South and West, and ignoring the East Coast (except Boston) They want culture, restaurants, museums. How can Harrisburg compete?


Monday, April 10, 2006

China also in museum mode

It's not just Reed building museums - China is on quite a roll too:


Harrisburg Federal Courthouse Environmental Impact

documents have been released. Here's the link:


Friday, April 07, 2006

Courthouse Environmental Impact Study delayed

Just got this email on the courthouse project - a delay in releasing the study. Guess they are still mulling over the impact . . .

"Good Afternoon, The release of the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Harrisburg Courthouse Project has been delayed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Copies of the draft EA will be available for public review on Monday at: Dauphin County Library Dauphin County Library Harrisburg Downtown Branch Harrisburg Uptown Branch 101 Walnut Street 7th and Division Streets Harrisburg, PA Harrisburg, PA In addition, we expect the document to be posted on the GSA website early next week. I will send you the website link once the draft EA is available online. The comment period for the draft EA has been extended to May 11. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions. Gina Blyther Gilliam Regional Public Affairs OfficerU.S. General Services Administration, Mid-Atlantic RegionOffice of the Regional Administrator20 N. 8th Street, 9th FloorPhiladelphia, PA 19107215.446.4909www.gsa.gov"

They censor us

then use us to sell the Forums. Look at how AbercornSt is quoted on the main page:

"Harrisburg needs to look at itself as a breeding ground for drug use and sales. The larger question is why do the young people of Harrisburg feel so hopeless?" - AbercornSt » Harrisburg Forum

Another False Murder Conviction?

At this rate, I'm wondering if Harrisburg will earn the distinction as the false murder conviction capitol of the country. Is the Harrisburg Police Department really this stupid, desperate or corrupt?


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Has the censor given up?

Did we win? There are several posts up mentioning censorship - including one by TattooJim. if so, good.

There does seem to be quite a bit of hysteria over the Horton shooting. The family members appear to be venting - when they should be acting. Seems to me they need a good civil rights attorney, not a march or angry postings on PennLive.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Harrisburg Development - Try the Savannah Model

Savannah is undergoing quite a transformation- old industrial and retail space is being redone into residential and commercial space. Why not Harrisburg? If you had more people and businesses side by side, I bet some of this crime would go elsewhere.


Riot Follows Police 'Rough handling" of Driver

The New York Times is reporting that angry Hassidic Jews rioted in Brooklyn last evening and set a police car on fire. Apparently, police man-handled an elderly gentleman who was pulled over for talking on a cell phone while driving.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Harrisburg Courthouse Project

The GSA just released a letter, letting us know the decision on where the courthouse will go is coming soon. Here's the letter:

"April 4, 2006

To Whom It May Concern:

On April 6, 2006, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) will release a draft of the Environmental Assessment (EA) Study, which assesses the social, economic and environmental impacts of developing the three sites under consideration for the new Federal Courthouse in Harrisburg, PA. The study was prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The EA reviews, in detail, concerns raised by the community, including:
Economic Impact on the City of Harrisburg;
Social Impacts;
Residential and Business Relocations; and,
Historic Resources.

The EA objectively reviews the impacts and benefits of all three sites currently under consideration. The study's findings are not indicative of a preference of any of the three sites nor do they indicate in any way the relative viability of any one site over others.

Copies of the EA are available to the public at:

Dauphin County Library Dauphin County Library
Harrisburg Downtown Branch Harrisburg Uptown Branch
101 Walnut Street 7th and Division Streets
Harrisburg, PA Harrisburg, PA

Agencies and the public may provide written comments regarding the Draft EA and Section 106 process. Written comments must be postmarked no later than May 8, 2006, and sent to the following address:

General Services Administration
Attention: Abby Low, Project Manager
20 N. 8th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Email: HarrisburgCourthouse@gsa.gov

The EA's public release begins a 30-day period in which the public is invited to comment on the study. GSA is hosting a Public Hearing on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, located at 1205 North 6th Street, Harrisburg, PA. The purpose of the Public Hearing is for the public to learn more about the study’s findings and provide an opportunity for public testimony. At the Public Hearing GSA will provide an overview of the studies conducted for the Draft EA including the various assessments of the physical, cultural, social and other environments and the impact the proposed project may have on the affected residents and the city.

Persons attending the Public Hearing will have the opportunity to offer written, private, and/or public testimony. Responses to testimony will not be given at the meeting, but will be addressed in the Final EA. This will be done to allow for all testimony to be given, and to provide fair, accurate responses pursuant to NEPA provisions.

The draft EA’s completion marks a significant step forward in the process of selecting a final site for the new Federal Courthouse and will aid GSA in making a careful and informed decision of a final site. The selection of a final site is anticipated this summer.

Please share this information with others who may be interested. Thank you for your continued cooperation as we complete this process.


Abby Low
Project Manager
GSA Public Buildings Service
Mid-Atlantic Region"

Possible "bait" posts

Are these posts from the inside at PennLive, attempting to stir the pot?

"515. old school- eye for eye by earlofderby, 4/4/06 12:00 ET
what's old school......it sounds like you don't want to hear it. resist arrest, get shot-simple. there are no reasons to resist. the urban hbg scene is ugly with violence and there should be zero tolerance. too much MTV and thug play. "

"513. straight facts by leatherlungs, 4/4/06 13:58 ET Re: Those without sin cast the first stone by Ginger527, 4/4/06
He ran from the police. Obviously to hide something. Pulled something out of his pocket, probably after the police said to put your hand up. They had every right to shoot because if they didn't, they could be the dead person. "

Where people on the Internet go

Here's an interesting article from the Washington Post on web traffic. It seems the greatest growth is in local sites and blogs, like those hosted by blogger (like this one.)


Monday, April 03, 2006

How Milton, the PennLive censor, is lowering property values in Harrisburg-

Here's a sample of recent PennLive Harrisburg forum postings that have been allowed to stay up:

Condoning police brutality:

511. Protesters by Rollonroll, 4/2/06 19:58 ET
I would like to say that I sympathize with the family of the man who was shot. It is hard to lose someone that you love. I am sure he was thought of as a good man by his family and friends. But, this trajedy would not have happened had he not wrestled with the police officer when he was stopped. Lets not forget. He was driving under the influence, driving with a suspended licence down a one way street, on probation for a crime, and tried to run from the police. If he simply had given himself up he would be alive today. Did he deserve to be shot? I don't think so. But think if the police officer was your son. I would want my son to protect himself when a 245 lb. man was wrestleing with him. Being a police officer is a dangerous job. You could be shot and killed at any moment.

Another shooting:

"510. Another emptied cartridge-- by jerseymikepa, 4/2/06 14:27 ET
Heard another round of bullets--sounded like an entire clip---fired off in the Muench/Green/Third street area at about 2:30 this morning.
About 20 minutes later, there were a bunch of sirens and commotion heading towards the area...
Yet today, when I went to the main site here--I found nothing.
Anybody know anything about ANOTHER shooting last night? "

Calling for public executions:

"507. Public Executions by FilthyMan, 4/1/06 15:45 ET
It's amusing when folks cite the U.S. Constitution and use it as an excuse for bad behavior to continue and that we must accept it. I believe in public executions...we should round the scum up, give them a one-day trial, convict them of their thuggery, then publically hang them. The word would get out...don't phuck around in HBG. Then the citizens can get back to BBQs and children can ride their bikes, play skip-rope, without worrying about scum druggies harming them. "

Calling for martial law:

504. Bring in FBI or National Guard. by Rollonroll, 3/30/06 14:05 ET
If the Mayor and the police department cannot stop these shootings I think marshall law should be declared and they should clear the whole damn city out. Bring in the National Guard in Hall Manor. Go building to building until these thugs are in jail. It's a shame innocent people have to be put through this inconvenience but it seems there is no alternative. After Hall Manor, go through midtown, Penn, Green, Susquehanna, 3rd, 4th 5th and 6th street. Bring in the Marines if thats what it takes. "

So anyone looking to the PennLive Harrisburg forum for information about life in Harrisburg will naturally question whether this is the place to live. The voices of the reasonable people of Harrisburg have been blocked, deleted and silenced.

Why Advanced Publications should care

According to the AP - Associated Press - the biggest challenge to newspapers is keeping up with the millions who flock to online newspapers every day.


"A study being released Monday by the Newspaper Association of America, a trade group, found that one in three Internet users -- 55 million -- visit a newspaper Web site every month"

Also of note is the proposed online strategy - how to get advertisers and how to get more people engaged:

"Having new people come in with fresh ideas was key for newspapers as they develop their online operations said Mark Contreras, Scripps' vice president of news operations. Those people are likely to devise new initiatives over the next few years that will ''save our bacon,'' he said."

Hey Milton - I don't think that includes pissing off the people you actually do manage to engage.