RANTS  &  RAVES   2020  

    Fay first responders are first rate
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note of a big lump in the throat request for readers to be
    especially sensitive to the truly gut-wrenchingly awful day at work that first responders had here
    in the Connellsville area today.

    With tragic news of a young man everyone knew taking his own life and then the horrible head on
    collision a few miles away that took two lives on Route 201, today has been overwhelmingly
    rough for first responders.

    Three people shouldn't have died today but did.  

    Please, yes, say a prayer for those lost, their families and friends, but also include the men and
    women who arrived first on the nightmare scenes, to do whatever they could to try to save lives.

    When they can't help, that feeling of helplessness has to be most overwhelming. (28 JAN 20)

    Update on the missing, misspent $1-5 million Fay
    property tax claim funds
    RAVES that Uniontown resident and Laurel Highlands School Board Director Randy Raymond
    continues to pursue his push for full payment of $1-5 million owed for up to 10 years to school
    districts from the county property tax claim sales.

    Raymond began to request Right To Know documents about six months ago to obtain financial
    records of property tax claim sales, transfers of money and payments to school districts,
    creditors and municipalities once it became known that only about half of the $5+ Million taken in
    during property tax claim sales was properly transferred to the tax claim account.

    Fayette County commissioners misspent the remaining $1-2.5 funds for county general fund
    expenses and did not distribute any payments in 2018, in spite of putting $600,000 on a county
    budget into the tax claim fund.   

    Raymond told Rants&Raves on Saturday that his 12-hour workday during the busy holiday
    season slowed him down a bit, but that he's resuming the push for transparency and payments
    owed from the county property tax claim sales.

    "I’ve recruited some help this time," Raymond explained, adding that it has "been tough without
    having help."

    To date, neither the state attorney general nor state auditor general has intervened in the matter,
    in spite of getting a few signed complaints and requests for action.

    The debt owed to the county property tax claim sale fund was not addressed in any recent year
    county budgets, with the exception of the 2018 funding of $600,000 previously mentioned. All
    three current county commissioners signed off on the 2020 budget that did not address this huge,
    huge debt.

    County commissioners, as readers here know, have not issued any additional refunds since the
    single distribution of $300,000 in payments was made last year after the controversy surfaced in
    the media. Current commissioner Vince Vicites and the county solicitor told their pre-election
    audience last summer that the county had several years of payments "knocked out."  

    Again, however, no subsequent checks were inked and cut.

    "There’s got to be something done," Raymond concluded Saturday. We couldn't agree more!

    RAVES that Raymond got some help with his push for the misspent funds to be distributed to
    school districts and others owed for such a shamefully long time. Only the Laurel Highlands and
    Albert Gallatin districts have notified the county that legal action will follow if prompt payments
    are not made.

    RAVES of hope that the other districts in the county jump on the band wagon as well and hold the
    county leaders responsible for misspending the funds targeted for payments to school districts,
    municipalities and creditors. (28 JAN 20)

    The kids in the shiny red Honda
    RANTS, given the new law banning smoking and vaping of tobacco by those under 21, that there
    seems to be an increase in cars of teens parking on country roads, secluded private driveways
    and large parking lots where they think they can surely go unnoticed long enough to vape.

    RANTS, seeing how quickly in that couple minute park and vape session -- i.e., till an adult goes
    out and asks them to leave -- that the kids' car windows were covered inside from white vape
    film, even with some car windows partially or fully down.    

    It goes without saying, RAVES of hope that the kids are vaping nothing more the run of the mill,
    potentially harmful tobacco vaping products, and not black market street drug mixed oils, or
    whatever else goes in those vaping devices.  (23 JAN 20)

    Fay pays Z&A another $80K for audits
    RANTS that county commissioners are poised to spend about another $80K on audits to Zelenkofske &
    Axelrod, for 2019 audits for the magisterial judges and tax collectors and a 2018 audit of the county prison's
    inmate fund.

    Fay's 2018 county audit released only in recent months, largely criticized the county controller and district
    attorney for poor management. The 2018 county audit pointed out stupidity at its finest example of not
    knowing which county contract is the current one and not following County Code which requires that
    current contracts be maintained on file with the controller.

    The 2018 county audit also was critical that audits of the county tax claim fund, district justice, row offices
    and tax collectors were not timely audited.   

    RAVES of hope this time around, though, that Fay doesn't pay for the audits a year or two before actually
    receiving the audit reports, as what inevitably happened with the long awaited 2018 county audit that Z&A
    conducted. (15 JAN 20)

    Related Reading:

    Grand Jury to convene
    Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that the county district attorney wants to convene a Grand Jury to
    investigate criminal activity.

    Given the umpteen legitimate possibilities, and endless other topics which we may never have even
    considered to be issues, it's anyone's guess where he'll lead the investigation.

    We just hope that the effort makes Fay a better place, where new industry and business want to call home
    instead of avoid. (9 Jan 20)

    FBI: Uniontown second most dangerous PA city
    RANTS -- almost to the point of tears -- that the feds, in a recent FBI listing, officially cited Uniontown, Fay's
    county seat, as the state's second most dangerous city.  

    Only McKees Rocks, as per the feds' list, is worse off in first place, with rampant murders, cases of
    nonnegligent manslaughter, robbery, rape, aggravated assault, property crime, burglary, larceny-theft,
    motor vehicle theft, arson, etc.

    Not that McKees Rocks' crime stat numbers across the board were much higher than Uniontown's.

    McKees Rocks' numbers were lower in some categories, actually, but topped the Worst list due to having
    3,000 less residents than Uniontown has, when crime statistics based on population percentages were
    calculated. The report, though just recently released, highlighted two-year-old data of criminal crimes
    brought through arrests and courts in 2018.

    Approximately 9,751 Pennsylvanians live in Uniontown, as per the feds, a city which saw a total of 136
    violent crimes – 111 aggravated assaults, 22 robberies, two rapes, and one murder. Property crimes were
    significantly higher, coming in at 455, of which 369 were larceny/thefts.

    RANTS that the city, whose downtown streets were once this editor's comfortably safe 10-20 mile bike path
    at the crack of dawn, now made its way to the second worst city list in the state.

    RANTS that we're more likely to be a victim of crime here than we would in the big city of Philadephia. (9
    Jan 20)  


    Editor's Note: The below RAVE was written in the wee hours of New Years Day, carefully
    placed on hold till the strike of midnight as not to jinx the record as 2019 came to an end.

    Then, as the day started and shocked sources began relaying horribly tragic news, the below
    piece was quickly pulled out of respect for everyone whose hearts broke that day when Fay's
    first homicide of 2020 became known.

    Fay had no 2019 homicides
    RAVES reading heraldstandard.com's, "The news that impacted our communities in 2019," and learning
    the wonderful news that there were no homicides in Fayette County this past year.

    RAVES for no homicides, no false arrests for homicide in 2019, no 2019 homicide charges to be dropped
    for a lack of evidence months in the future... because in Fay there just were no 2019 homicides, and we're
    tickled as pink for that. (1 JAN 20)

    WMBS radio news kicking newspaper butts
    RAVES to WMBS radio news for its live coverage of the heated Uniontown City Council meeting yesterday,
    during which the treasurer-elect, her lawyer and a bunch of angry townsfolk jammed the room, questioning
    why a councilman allegedly interfered with the treasurer-elect's process of getting bonded for her new

    The councilman, supposedly, made an inappropriate racial comment when he contacted a bonding
    company that then cancelled the newly issued bond in the elected woman's name.

    As a result of whatever their reason, council did not permit the treasurer-elect to be sworn into office, and,
    in her lawyer's opinion, violated law which  says that she should have been sworn into office and been
    given a required 14-day period to get bonded.

    RAVES to the radio coverage live stream of the meeting -- especially since some 24 or more hours later
    and the local newspaper right in Uniontown still has not written one word about the meeting or the court
    injunction that the treasurer-elect's lawyer is filing to have a judge override the city and install the treasurer-
    elect into office.

    RAVES to WMBS for making this council meeting video available online and for informing the public with a
    link for a first-hand look at what actually was said and happened. (7 Jan 20)

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