In yet another sign of the impending apocalypse, Mark Zuckerberg and a few other Facebook insiders are selling a substantial piece of the world’s largest social network this week for around $16 billion. The initial public offering could set the value of the company at nearly $150 billion. All for creating a convenient way for your high school chums to track you down and annoy you with a deluge of Farmville and Mafia Wars posts.
Central PA’s Rep. Ron Marsico weighed in on bringing the state’s prevailing wage law up to date. Current law requires that public entities pay prevailing wages (= “higher” = “union scale”) on any project costing more than $25,000. Marsico’s idea is to raise that threshold, set in 1961, to $185,000, thus irritating both those who have grown fond of that 1961 number (= “labor unions”) and those who would like to flush prevailing wage altogether (= “conservatives”).
They reduce fatalities, crashes and pedestrian accidents and are confusing as heck, at least to us here in central PA. Now Lancaster County may soon experience the magical but puzzling powers of roundabouts. No word yet on how well they accommodate horse-drawn carriages.
Speaking of going around in circles, after the Senate tinkered last week with the 2012-13 state budget by restoring a half-billion smackeroonies worth of mental health, basic education and higher ed programs, Governor Corbett responded with, “Not so fast, my friends!” The governor cited pension costs and economic uncertainty in Europe as the inspiration for his Lee Corso impression.
The Senate measure passed with bipartisan support, even after Democrats tried unsuccessfully to restore still more smackeroonies. House Republican leadership chimed in with generally positive comments about the Senate’s priorities but said they wanted to see an economic analysis first. Just a few more short weeks before we see how it will all shake down.
Riddle: how is a roundabout like a budget debate? Answer: you should always yield before entering, and signal before exiting.
On the Harrisburg Insolvency Front, the state-imposed ban on bankruptcy will expire on July 1. Or not. Meanwhile, the city’s debt-o-meter continues to spin while Mayor Thompson and City Council pretend they’ll have a say in what happens next.
And now, from our Puzzling Statistics Office (PSO to friends) here’s a shocker. Pennsylvania ranks 50th – that’s right, dead last – among the 50 states (notice how we reiterate to underscore our statistical prowess) in the number of government employees as a percentage of the total state workforce (12.8 percent, in case anyone asks).
So don’t be surprised if the phone rings and rings when you call a state agency. By the way, that’s state AND local government employees.
Chapter 2 from the PSO: The number of active Pennsylvania gas drilling rigs – in other words, drilling of new gas wells -- is continuing to decline, while the number in West Virginia is increasing. According to oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. – the kind of people who make drilling their bread and butter (no matter how bad that tastes) there were 95 drilling rigs operating in Pennsylvania, down one from the previous week. That's also down from 108 a year earlier and from a peak of 116 reached during the summer of 2011. There were 22 rigs in West Virginia last week, up one from the previous week and up four from a year ago.
Over on Triadvocate, if you haven’t already, check out the Feel Good Story of the Week – how an immigrant from war-wracked Yugoslavia arrived in America 20 years ago, got a job as a janitor, learned our language, began taking night classes and last week graduated with honors with a BA in classics from Columbia University. Chalk up another one for the American Dream, along with the Service Employees International Union’s “Justice for Janitors” program. You’ll also find interesting news about the end to an effort to privatize the corps of nurses providing health services at state correctional institutions.
After months of opposition from bipartisan coalitions in the House and Senate as well as SEIU Healthcare PA, AFSCME and the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, the Corbett administration is shifting course on a plan to privatize the nurses in Department of Corrections’ facilities.
Oh, and back to that Facebook thing – you can follow Triad’s escapades on our very own Facebook page (don’t worry, it’s a Farmville-free zone). Or perhaps you would prefer Twitter, if chunks of 140 characters are about the right pace for you.
So that’s all for this week, boys and girls, from Triad World HQ! Until next week, lamtumirë!