JUDGE SHOULD DELAY ID LAW IMPLEMENTATION UNTIL SPRING
Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson hopes to issue a ruling on the state's new voter ID law next week. He'll be doing state voters — and election officials across the state — a favor if he delays implementation of the law until next spring's primary balloting.
That will give voters more time to obtain a state driver's license, non-driver ID or any of several alternatives that will be necessary under the law — if they don't already have one.
Delaying the implementation until next spring would apply the learning process tied to the ID law to the less-critical of the 2013 elections and not complicate the 2012 general election.
Implementation of the law for this year's general election could create serious problems — since, with the presidency on the line, it is likely that the voter turnout will be heavier than during a non-presidential-election year.
And, with Pennsylvania considered a key state in the presidential vote, it would be unfortunate if the Keystone State's balloting outcome ended up stalling declaration of a winner because of confusion caused by the ID law.
Voters who show up at the polls without a valid ID will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot but will have to provide proper ID to local election officials within six days for their votes to count.
It's conceivable that some of those voters wouldn't follow through with obtaining the needed ID in time, while others might simply refuse to vote, despite being allowed to cast a provisional ballot.
About the possibility of a close election: Few envisioned the Florida election fiasco in the 2000 presidential balloting.
An election should be voter friendly. The new voter ID law has the potential to meet that goal, but it's unlikely that it will be able to accomplish that in time for Nov. 6.
Simpson should acknowledge that reality by way of his ruling.
There have been charges that the law, passed by Republicans without any Democrats' support, was designed to benefit presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Because of that, implementation of the new law before the November election will be associated with political sleaziness.
Over the past decade, there's been an inordinate amount of state government sleaziness and wrongdoing, some of which has resulted in prison sentences for numerous elected officials.
The 2012 presidential balloting will be clean if the ID law is out of the picture. Voter fraud never has been a problem of any significance in this state, and there is no reason that, with the ID law on the sidelines, the November balloting will be any different.
Meanwhile, no voter should be discouraged from going to the polls by the prospect of long lines, short tempers or an incomplete understanding of the ID law.
This would not be the first time that implementation of a law would be delayed. In fact, laws routinely are passed on the state and federal levels that establish implementation dates long after the laws' signings.
Likewise, concern is logical when one party or special interests appear overly eager about putting something into effect "now" — as the GOP is in this instance.
Simpson initially holds the key to preventing the Nov. 6 balloting in Pennsylvania from evolving into chaos. Beyond his bench, the state Supreme Court will be in control, since whichever side loses by Simpson's ruling plans to appeal to the high court.
But it's Simpson who will set the tone for what happens beyond next week. Hopefully he'll set the right tone with a decision to delay implementation.
— Butler Eagle
FUTURE DOC, FORMER ACTRESS INSPIRES
If things go according to plan, Erin Broderick will add the initials D.O. to her resume, along with the abbreviation L&O.
Broderick, 26, a former regular on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," is a first-year student at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. The path that led her from New York City to our shores is an inspiring tale about how to tap into your passions to pursue a rewarding career.
In his Op-Ed column on July 29, James Rutkowski Jr., general manager of Industrial Sales & Manufacturing, wrote about the need for Erie to find skilled workers for the future. Rutkowski referred to a book by Jim Clifton, chief executive of Gallup Inc., called "The Coming Jobs War," in which a poll reveals that around the world, the strongest desire is for a "meaningful job."
For Erie to provide enough meaningful jobs, Rutkowski said that Erie has to size up employers' needs and make sure that young adults are trained for those job openings.
Rutkowski wrote his column for Erie Vital Signs, a collaborative project of the Erie Regional Chamber & Growth Partnership, the Erie Community Foundation, United Way of Erie County, the Nonprofit Partnership and Erie Together. But Rutkowski could also easily have referred to the meaningful work that his company is doing in building the full-body scanners used for research on the Kanzius cancer treatment.
The late John Kanzius enjoyed a meaningful job in broadcasting, starting as the chief engineer at WJET-TV at age 22 and rising to become president and general manager. Now Kanzius is remembered for his invention that targets cancer cells with radio waves. Kanzius wasn't a medical researcher, but his ability to use his intellect and imagination to switch gears, from radio engineer to inventor, is meaningful to everyone seeking an alternative, noninvasive treatment for cancer.
Broderick changed direction at a much earlier age than Kanzius, who died in 2009 at age 64. At age 10, she was hired for a commercial. She then worked for 13 years in films, ads and soap operas, eventually landing the role of Maureen, the daughter of star Christopher Meloni, on L&O. "As a kid, it was all play and fun," she says about the acting business. "As an adult, it's an extremely competitive business. It's still fun, but you have to say, 'There is a level of success I may never achieve.'"
Working as a nursing assistant in college and her parents' and four siblings' medical careers influenced her decision to become a doctor. She quit acting in 2008 for a pre-med, post-baccalaureate program at Columbia University.
Erie is a good choice for med school. "I wanted to go somewhere with a calmer environment so I could focus on my studies," she says. She wants to work in health policy, with HIV/AIDS patients or on access to health care in high-poverty areas.
Perhaps she will find her meaningful work in Erie, and thus add to our brain gain.
— Erie Times-News
A TURNING POINT FOR MILTON HERSHEY SCHOOL
Milton Hershey School finally is doing the right thing by allowing an HIV-positive student to enroll.
It should not have taken more than a year and a lawsuit to get this outcome.
The law — and common sense — are on the side of "Abraham Smith," the name used in court documents for the HIV-positive student who was wrongfully denied admission to the school last year. He met all the qualifications to attend. The issue was that he is HIV-positive.
American disability law protects people such as Smith from being treated differently. The only exception is if he would be a "direct threat" to the health and safety of other students.
That's exactly what the school tried to argue. That kind of talk felt more like the kind of misguided fear promulgated in the 1980s when HIV-positive students fought to attend schools.
But this is 2012. By now the world understands far better this disease — and how to contain and control it. HIV spreads only through needles, sexual encounters or other blood to blood or bodily fluid to bodily fluid contact.
School officials said they were concerned the teen would have unprotected sexual relations with other students. It's shocking the school was so open about turning away a student based on what it imagined might transpire.
The school issued statements this week apologizing to Smith and his family and has extended Smith a spot at the school this fall.
But strangely, the school still stood behind its initial rejection: "Although we believed that our decisions regarding Abraham Smith's application were appropriate, we acknowledge that the application of federal law to our unique residential setting was a novel and difficult issue," school president Anthony Colistra said.
The decision was wrong last year. It appears to have taken the Department of Justice stepping in and saying the school was violating the law for the Milton Hershey board and president to change their minds this year.
This should be a turning point for Milton Hershey School. The school has changed its equal opportunity policy, but the MHS community, including its board, also should use this opportunity to educate one another about HIV.
Milton Hershey founded the school for underprivileged orphan boys. It has changed many lives — boys and girls. Now Smith has helped the school evolve again to better serve all children in need.
— The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News
We're going to talk about gun control — or rather, why we're not talking about gun control.
After the massacre at the Colorado movie theater a few weeks ago there was remarkably little discussion about the subject.
Gun rights organizations are quick to say those who favor stricter controls "capitalize" on such tragedies, but in this case both sides were relatively silent.
No one is spoiling for this particular fight, but we should be able, at least, to have a reasonable discussion after 12 people are killed and 58 more wounded — or when six people are gunned down in a Wisconsin house of worship.
It seems now is the perfect time.
No one is going to ban firearms; the Constitution is pretty clear on that.
And, yes, we know there will always be crazy people out there hell-bent on causing misery. No law will stop them.
But do we really need to arm them — or any civilian, for that matter — with assault rifles and hundred-round magazines?
What purpose do they serve other than more efficient killing?
After the Colorado shooting, President Barack Obama said assault rifles belong in the military and nowhere else.
Unfortunately, it seems that's as far as he's willing to go — stating an opinion.
Some gun rights advocates have said banning assault rifles is a slippery slope that would lead to an outright ban on firearms.
But under President Bill Clinton, the sale of such weapons was banned, although that law expired in 2004.
We survived, and no government agents went door to door collecting guns.
Now, however, people like alleged Colorado gunman James Holmes can walk in off the street and pick up an assault weapon for the right amount of cash and a background check.
Background checks are helpful, but they only reveal buyers with criminal records — not murder in their hearts.
Some states have taken it upon themselves to outlaw assault weapons since then, but at the national level the topic is taboo.
And that is amazing.
It seems as if there was one area about which the two sides could agree, it would be here.
No one is willing to budge even an inch, and we're left with stop-gap measures like trying to ban the high-volume magazines — one of which was conveniently purchased by Holmes over the Internet, according to investigators.
Police say the only reason the carnage wasn't worse is because that particular weapon jammed.
It makes no sense that people can't have a discussion about gun control without it ending in labels being tossed about.
How about this?
There's nothing extreme about simply owning a gun, just as there's nothing un-American about wanting reasonable limits.
We said it.
— York Dispatch