Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard that Governor Wolf is withholding nearly $13 million of CARES funding from Lebanon County. I’ve been wrestling with what to say about this, and indeed, whether to say anything at all. Even in the best of times, this would be bound for the “partisan politics as usual” argument, with the heroes and villains cast according to your own personal political viewpoint. And these are not the best of times.
My focus is on the folks who are suffering because of this. The vast majority of Lebanon Countians, particularly our small business owners, followed the rules – even those who didn’t agree with them. They stayed the course, they implemented changes according to the guidelines, and they sacrificed to keep our community safe. And now, because of actions outside of their control, they’re not receiving benefits that should be available to them.
I’m writing to Governor Wolf to ask for his consideration on this matter. As you can imagine, the title “Democratic candidate for the 102” added to my name gives me a lot of clout, especially in our gerrymandered district. But it’s the least I can do.
And, partisan politics or not, this result was completely predictable. Read the statement from the governor on May 11. He clearly said that counties who acted outside the state’s guidance for reopening would sacrifice, among other things, their CARES funding. Lebanon wasn’t the only county to threaten to move themselves ahead of the timetable, but we were the only ones who actually did so. Two of our county commissioners, our state representatives, our state senator, and even our district attorney voted for or encouraged this action. Now, as the consequences for those actions come due, their only recourse is further blame and recriminations, and the threat of yet another lawsuit – which still does nothing right now to help our neighbors.
Most discouraging in all this is that it didn’t have to be this way. Imagine if this energy and effort had been put into amplifying testing efforts, messaging effective science-based practices, creating contact tracing protocols, and ensuring that quarantine measures could and would be followed. This virus doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or Democrat and it still won’t after this latest battle ends. Well just have fewer resources to fight it with.
So: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. And make sure to vote in November. We’re seeing, right now, how our local elections have impacted our community. It’s time for a change.
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