Cheers to good police work; jeers to 'lights out' status
The News-Item's cheers and jeers from the past week of news:
- Cheers to Shamokin police, whose quick action early Tuesday resulted in the apprehension of two men they say were in the act of burglarizing a downtown city business. Municipalities face continuing financial challenges, and a lot of money is spent on police salaries and pensions, but taxpayers seem adamant that they're willing to pay for 24-hour police protection in small cities like Shamokin. Add Tuesday's red-handed bust to the arrest a week prior of an arson suspect, and it's been a good run for city cops.
- Speaking of Shamokin's downtown, jeers to the ongoing street light problem. Business owners, already fighting for customers, are concerned that the lack of street lights on a number of occasions in recent months has further hurt business. PPL says it has a plan to discuss with city officials about a permanent fix. We hope that comes as soon as possible.
- Jeers to Standard & Poor, the financial rating agency that, when it somberly announced in August 2011 that it was downgrading the credit rating of the United States, was carrying out a farce. S&P is one of the big three rating agencies that are supposed to be independent, but have an inherent conflict of interest because they are hired and paid by investment banks and other entities that devise investment instruments. Tuesday the Department of Justice filed non-criminal fraud charges against S&P, alleging it knowingly inflated its ratings on investment packages including the sub-prime mortgages that underlay the implosion of the housing bubble and the Great Recession. S&P contends it did not knowingly give AAA ratings to junk investments. But the government produced some compelling evidence, including a self-made video of an S&P financial analyst singing to the tune of "Burning Down the House," "all the way down, with sub-prime mortgages." S&P claimed that the DOJ was acting with the benefit of hindsight. It, unlike private investors and millions of taxpayers who got burned through pension plan losses, will have its say in court.
- Cheers to the Southern Columbia Area senior class and art club for planning their inaugural Empty Bowl fundraiser, which will raise money for Manna for the Many, the Shamokin-based food pantry. Those who pay $5 to participate in the Feb. 24 event will get a hand-crafted bowl full of soup, and they'll keep the bowl as a reminder of those who go hungry. The effort, which includes a plea to local businesses to contribute food and monetary donations, is a unique and worthy one.