North / South America
Heated words over asphalt plant proposal
Jul, 30 2012
(Lehigh Valley) -- If you need a definition of slander, ask a lawyer. If you need a definition of thin-skinned, look no further than the threat by a local asphalt company, 189 Strykers Road Associates LLC, to sue Greenwich Township Mayor Joseph Tauriello for slander. Greenwich Township and Lopatcong Township have been embroiled in public controversy over Lopatcong’s approval of the company’s proposed asphalt plant on Strykers Road. Greenwich reduced weight limits on its portion of Strykers Road, which the plant owner says his trucks would need to use. At a recent meeting, Tauriello — responding to a previous threat by the company owner to sue over the weight limits — said, “We will not give in to these thugs or their bullying behavior and shame on them.” Tough words? Sure, but they must be viewed in the context of a public issue that has spawned heated political and popular debate. Public officials, residents and zoning applicants must be allowed to speak their minds without being cowed by threats of slander suits. If you can't stand the heat ...
The Bethlehem Parking Authority won’t be getting any state money to offset $1.6 million in repair overruns to the Main Street Commons parking deck because it didn’t follow state bidding laws. That’s the state’s version, anyway. Red flags should have been raised after the authority — which bought the 133-spot deck behind Bethlehem Brew Works for $1.6 million and received a repair bid of $236,500 — later learned that the deck needed another $1.6 million in repairs. The authority OK'd that extra expense as a change order. State officials said the additional work should have been handled with a new round of bidding.
The New Jersey Supreme Court, by a 3-2 vote, ruled this week that state judges are exempt from a 2008 act of the legislature that required all state employees to pay more toward health and pension benefits. The court pointed to a clause in the state constitution that says the executive and legislative branches can’t reduce the salary of judges — a provision designed to prevent political tampering with the judiciary. The increase in employee contributions wasn’t a political move, however, but an attempt to bring runaway benefit costs under control. The court ruling is expected to be corrected by a constitutional amendment, which the Legislature is attempting to pass in time to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Members of the Easton Fire Department rescued a 17-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy who became stranded while trying to wade across the Lehigh River near the 25th Street bridge. Firefighters used an inflatable boat to get the two safely ashore, where they were checked out by the Easton Emergency Squad. Even with water levels at mid-summer lows, rivers still pose dangers to those who aren’t familiar with them, and aren’t good swimmers. The rivers offer a tempting cool-off during a heat wave, but people should stick to supervised swimming pools and beaches.
Volunteers with the Fry's Run Watershed Association are helping people rediscover a time-tested way to conserve and re-use water — rain barrels. The Williams Township-based nonprofit group is offering workshops to help people build or buy their own barrels, which collect runoff from roofs and store it for use on lawns and gardens. For information, contact Bob Schmidt at email@example.com or 610-252-7633
The Government Accountability Office is taking a closer look at three interstate agencies — including the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission — to see if their recent toll increases are justified. We hope the GAO goes beyond a perfunctory audit and delves into the toll bridge commission’s borrowing, its lack of public notice of rate hikes, and its awarding of millions of dollars to towns for public improvement projects that have nothing to do with maintaining bridges. The investigation, requested by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., also will review the practices of the Delaware River Port Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Trimble has purchased New Zealand-based Actronic Holdings Ltd. More
Canada’s McInnis Cement has launched a French-English bilingual website for its cement plant project in Port-Daniel-Gascons, Québec. More