Bulova sold; Lancaster Square building to be remodeled

A mix of good and bad news as reported by Patrick Burns in this morning’s Intelligencer Journal: Bulova Technologies, which has a small manufacturing operation downtown at Lancaster Square, has been sold and will be moving to Florida. Forty people are losing their jobs. Boluva’s historty traces back to the Hamilton Watch Company. The good news is that Stephen Gurba, who runs the company, sold the company but not the building. He plans to renovate the building, putting in things like, oh, say, windows, and to stick around as the landlord. Commerce Bank, under its new name Metro Bank, will be moving into the first floor by 2010.

Also, Lancaster Brewing Company’s Hop Hog was featured on Gunaxin yesterday in their Drink Better Beer series.

Yesterday in Summary

Yesterday was a big news day around the world.

A phone call from president-elect Obama triggered a long series of events that contributed to the downfall of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Investors began to lose money holding U.S. debt as Treasury bills began earning negative interest for the first time since World War II. The Christian Science Monitor’s editorial board sought to curb a new shopping spree for Hummers as gas prices edge below $1.50, by suggesting a higher gas tax. Facebook removed the group “Jew Parking Appreciation Group,” which busted on taking up more than one parking space.

Arts & Letters Daily has new T-shirts for sale

Redskins star running back Clinton Portis trashed his coach, Jim Zorn, and speculated that Zorn’s plays are too complex, which is “why the O-line’s sometime confused.” The Comic-Con 3-minute preview clip of Watchmen hit iTunes. Michael Bay announced that the first trailer for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will debut in early February. A middle-eastern farmer in South Lebanon dug up a 25-pound potato.

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey explained that Detroit auto workers do not average $73/hour in wages. House‘s Dr. Cuddy finally got herself a baby, while Russia’s GDP hit a 3-year low. That didn’t stop Russia from promising to take India’s second astronaut into space in 2013. London Business School professor Lynda Gratton wrote that recessions let new ideas flourish, and lead us “to question the prevailing norms of leadership and decision-making.”

It appeared possible that Barack Obama’s seat in the U.S. Senate could be filled by a Republican. SEO geeks rejoiced as the founder of Hakia argued that creating refined online semantic ontologies must become a top priority in all fields, saying, “We cannot afford a future in which knowledge is at the mercy of popularity and money.” Harvard University’s endowment lost 22% of its value since June 30, when it stood at $36.9 billion. It turns out we were not living in a golden age of art; there was simply an investment bubble in contemporary art. God decided we’re smiting ourselves just fine, and the Lolcats got into the Christmas spirit.

Lancaster needs better schools, not health care, say leaders

Participants at Lancaster2020. Photo by Russell Frost.

On November 11, 2008, as many as 275 Lancaster residents attended a day-long summit for local leaders, Lancaster2020. They identified four pressing issues for county leaders to rally around: education, economic development, streamline bureaucracy, and rethink zoning policies.

The event was run by AmericaSpeaks, and participation was by invitation only. The invitations came from a steering committee composed of representatives from the three sponsoring organizations—the Lancaster County Community Foundation, the United Way of Lancaster County, and The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry

The organizers were hoping for a turnout of 350 participants. Part of the participation shortfall came from a lack of private sector leaders accepting invitations, and another part came from a near-total lack of elected officials (Mike Sturla being the only exception).

At any rate, here are more details on the top four opportunities as identified during that day-long summit (and no, I was not a participant):

  1. Ensure access to quality education
    Promote strong and purposeful partnership between school district and community-based programs focuses on successful youth. Provide school districts with resources to improve graduation rates.
  2. Attract and grow business
    Make Lancaster County a viable place for businesses. Create policies and tax opportunities to attract established businesses to the area. Promote and support entrepreneurial businesses including cultural and arts businesses.
  3. Reduce duplication and improve efficiency of public services.
    Improve communication efforts within sectors, i.e., municipal governments, school districts, nonprofits, and for profits. Reward collaborative efforts by aligning funding sources (not-for-profit, for-profit and public/government) and reducing duplicate services. Create tax incentives that encourage governments to cooperate with each other or consolidate services.
  4. Establish innovative land-management zoning practices
    Encourage collaborative land-management programs and policies that address issues such as high-density housing, increased brown field and urban development, rehabilitate/reuse policies, farmland preservation, and municipal partnerships.

Another interesting detail is the breakdown by age:

  • 15–19: 12%
  • 20–34: 9%
  • 35–44: 22%
  • 45–54: 28%
  • 65 & older: 29%

The list of “honorable mention” opportunities, which were identified but did not make it into the top four, is also interesting:

  • Improve financial stability of residents
    Ensure basic needs are being met through opportunities to work, finish school, or enroll in vocational training. Increase residents’ financial literacy so sound financial decisions are made.
  • Increase equity and inclusion
    Create and implement cross-cultural events to enhance positive intercultural relationships to reduce discrimination. Provide a safe forum for dialogue. Encourage policies that promote justice, inclusion and understanding of all people regardless of race, gender, religion, culture, sexual orientation, age, disability, etc. Increase collaboration between community, government, and faith-based leaders to reduce fear and promote inclusively.
  • Recruit and train next generation leaders
    Recognize and support the community’s young leaders. Develop a young leader’s leadership program and fold these people into significant leadership gatherings. Recognize and promote leadership voices.
  • Increase citizen involvement and volunteerism.
    Promote active citizenship and public participation as the responsibility of every individual. Ensure opportunities for citizen dialogue, participation and engagement via public forums and flexible regulations and policies.
  • Improve infrastructure and public services
    Invest in infrastructure improvements, such as, roadways, water, sewer, bridges, broadband services, etc. Invest in an expanded, countywide public transportation system to increase access to job opportunities in hard-to-reach locations.
  • Align economic development activities across sectors
    Align economic activities across not-far-profit, for-profit, and public/governmental organizations. Build on the county’s economic plan to enhance regional prosperity.
  • Create safe and attractive neighborhoods
    Implement a neighborhood (city, suburban, and rural) plan that includes safety precautions via lights and built environment (e.g., hedgerows, natural surveillance systems) and promotes aesthetics and beautification. Ensure that streets, footpaths, and cycle paths are well lit and well maintained. Increase citizens’ sense of community pride and promote citizen ownership of the neighborhoods.
  • Invest in sound environmental practices
    Reward efforts to improve air, water, and soil quality. Provide tax incentives far sound environmental practices such as green roofs, rain water run off collection systems, green buildings, lower emissions, and enhanced public transportation.

It’s worth mentioning that some participants were bothered that health care did not make it even to the “honorable mentions.”


Democrats Gaining in Lancaster County Republican Territory

Three (really rustic) graphics:

Together, they spell trouble for Republicans here in Lancaster County, PA, which has for decades been a dependable stronghold for the GOP. The graphics represent, in order, the outcome of the 2000, 2004, and 2008 presidential elections.

  • Dark red indicates the Republican received better than 60% of the vote.
  • Light red indicates the Republican won, but his challenger received more than 40% of the vote.
  • Dark blue indicates the Democrat received better than 60% of the vote.
  • Light blue indicates the Democrat won, but his challenger received more than 40% of the vote.

While McCain/Palin still won Lancaster County last week by a comfortable 55/43 split (Ralph Nader got half a percent; Ron Paul got two-tenths of a percent as a write-in), the numbers indicate a changing electorate within our county. I was actually astonished to compare for myself the decisive break from voting patterns in the 2000 and 2004 elections. (Forgive the poor graphics quality; I did these myself.)

Here are a few ways of breaking down the numbers.

City vs. County

Lancaster City landslided for Obama, 76% to McCain’s 23%. The city represented 21,975 votes, or 10% of county voters. Compare this to much slimmer margins in 2004, where Kerry beat Bush 62 to 38, and 2008, where Gore beat Bush 57 to 39.

Once you subtract the city’s votes, Lancaster County favored McCain, less overwhelmingly, 59 to 40. Non-city residents cast 202,816 votes, making up the other 90% of voters. A margin of 19 points is gigantic, but a shocking change from 2004, when Bush carried 69 to Kerry’s 31, and 2000, when Bush also received 69% of the vote and Gore eked out 29.

Urban vs. Suburban/Exurban/Rural

That breakdown, however, ignores the important fact that there are urban dwellers living in other municipalities beside Lancaster City. Perhaps it is more fair to compare all the county’s “urban” voters against the rest. I ran the numbers comparing city and borough precincts against township precincts (including the urbanized Lancaster Township with the boroughs).

In urbania county-wide, Obama beat McCain 56–43, with 73,366 voters weighing in (33% of voters). In 2000 and 2004, Bush carried the county’s urban areas 56-43 and 57-40, respectively.

Away from urban districts, McCain beat Obama 61-37, with 151,425 voters. Again, this looks decisive until compared with Bush’s victories in 2004 and 200: 70-30 and 70-28.

Stack the Deck

What if we stack the deck? Just for fun, I picked out out all the municipalities in Lancaster County that went for Obama, and pitted them against the rest of the county. Here’s how it looks:

Select Municipalities: Obama 68, McCain 31.  Eighteen percent of the Lancaster County electorate, or 40,319 voters, currently live in areas where a majority of their neighbors currently lean Democratic. In 2004, those same municipalities on the whole went for Kerry by 61-38, and for Gore by just 57-39.

The Rest of Municipalities: McCain 61, Obama 38. Even in the most Republican areas of the county, Democratic voters should have no trouble finding many neighbors who share their political viewpoint. In these municipalities, Bush carried 2004 by 69-30, and 2000 by 69-28.

Perhaps most interesting is the list of municipalities who voted for Obama:

  • Columbia Borough
  • Christiana Borough (by a single vote)
  • Mountville
  • Marietta
  • Millersville
  • Lancaster City
  • Lancaster Township

Columbia borough voted Democratic in 2000 but not in 2004. Lancaster City, Lancaster Township, and part of Millersville borough voted Democratic in both 2000 and 2004. Christiana and Mountville’s votes came out of the blue; Marietta has for some time been on the Democrats’ wishlist as a municipality to pick up.

If you’d like to look at the raw data for yourself, the County has a list of polling locations, which you can use to decipher the election results for the past eight years.