As Johnstown was basking in the attention given our region by Pennsylvania’s governor last Tuesday, an Allegheny County official took the opportunity to fire a political potshot.
Quite frankly, we were offended.
State Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn criticized Tom Corbett’s visit to the city, saying the governor could make better use of his time.
We guess by passing out taxpayer dollars in Pittsburgh and its suburbs, as if they don’t already get enough.
According to our David Hurst, an email he received said Corbett paddled past schools his funding cuts have hurt in the region, and past struggling taxpayers – and could have used that time to meet with them and hear their frustrations. Hurst covered Corbett and his entourage.
But as Hurst noted in his story, local officials saw Corbett’s tour as far more than just a pleasure cruise.
While the visitors toured a Stonycreek riverpark and kayaked the Conemaugh River through the Gap eight miles to Seward, Corbett reflected on the water-quality improvements to both.
Today, waterways once badly polluted are on the rebound – and luring tourists to the region, he said.
“Many of us once gave up on the (Stonycreek) river as lost,” Corbett
“Now, through the work of our citizens, in partnership with the state, we have this river back. And you are creating jobs.”
Indeed, and we’re very proud of those facts and of the individuals and groups in our region who have worked hard to make those things happen.
Corbett spent an entire workday in the Johnstown region, sightseeing and listening to what was on the minds of our officials and volunteer movers and shakers. It was part of a three-day rivers, parks
and museum tour, which, by the way, did include Point State Park in Pittsburgh.
But Burn saw it differently.
“Today, instead of meeting with the people of Cambria and Blair counties and seeing the repercussions of his harmful policies,” he said, “Gov. Corbett is simply paddling past his problems. …”
Perhaps Burn also was particularly upset that the governor was spending time in the hometown of Robert Gleason Jr., the state’s Republican Party chief.
In any case, Corbett was informed of the planned Conemaugh River geothermal project, an effort to link area trails to the downtown and a Main Street transportation enhancement and streetscape project designed to lure travelers into the city.
“This is a great opportunity,” Mike Kane, executive director of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, said.
“This gave us a chance to show the governor what we’ve accomplished and where we’re headed. With the state DCNR (Department of Conservation & Natural Resources) and DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) secretaries here, too, it can really create opportunities for us.”
Too bad if that doesn’t sit well with Allegheny County’s Mr. Burn.