Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Chris Paige- Did You Read The Law You Cite?
In a quick grab of the headlines Chris Paige thought he had Lou Barletta in his sights over the proposed sale of the Hazleton City Authority-Water Department. He even had the Standard Speaker convinced.
Chris Paige, the Monroe County lawyer who is running against Barletta in the Republican primary for Congress, claims that state law requires at least 75 percent of the municipalities served by the HCA to approve the plan. He also disputes the mayor's cost projections.
Let's examine HB 893 from 2006, the law in question.
First, this law was specifically written for the City of Lebanon.
Second it defines a city as- "City." A city of the third class which has adopted a home rule charter and has a population of not more than 30,000.
Hazleton adopted the mayor/council optional plan sometimes referred to as Plan B under Act 62 of 1972, not home rule. Chris- Strike One...so that makes this law not apply to Hazleton
Secondly, according to the last census of 2000 Hazleton had a population of 23,329. In order to meet this criteria all the surrounding municipalities being serviced by HCA would have to have at least a population of 34,994 people.
According to census data Hazle Township only had a population of 9,000 people. West Hazleton had a population of 3,542. So the likelihood of the resident requirement being met is almost nill. Even if the population requirement were met the law is specific that both criteria are needed. Chris- Strike Two
It is obvious that a person who is a lawyer should be able to read the law, know the district the person wants to run for Congress in, and understand the applicability of the laws. It should be incumbent on the newspapers to do better research before accepting Mr. Paige's assessments in the future.
There is no guarantee that the water department will be sold as it is just a proposal at this point. However claims of poor water quality are bogus.
Let's use one of the public companies mentioned as a possible suitor as an example. Pennsylvania American Water maintains its own labs, researchers, scientists, and plant operators as part of ensuring water quality. Does the HCA have its own laboratories, researchers, or scientists? The answer is no.
The HCA Water Department does not even maintain a website. Here is a link to Pennsylvania American Water's page about choloramines which is the agent replacing chlorine in the disinfection process.