Jackie Z. Parker
Rep. Frank Ryan’s Opinion piece, Sunday, July 19, once again shows that neither he nor county commissioners William Ames and Robert Phillips, state Rep. Russ Diamond or state Sen. Dave Arnold can step up and accept responsibility for the loss of the county’s $13 million in CARES funding that Gov. Tom Wolf is withholding. Their misguided decisions and recommendations to the 140,000 residents of Lebanon County have left us not only without the funding but more importantly have left us at a higher health risk.
Ryan, as he frequently does, cited his experience as a Marine officer. Apparently, he missed the part about following orders from a designated authority, unless one is prepared to challenge an order as unlawful. In opening up Lebanon County before it had achieved the governor’s criteria, the county elected officials acted unilaterally rather than formally challenging the legality of Wolf’s emergency directives. I’m sure Ryan, in his Marine days, would not have tolerated a similar arbitrary refusal by a fellow Marine to abide by a legal directive.
The $13 million in CARES funding is meant to assist those communities with the costs involved in complying with the restrictions imposed in the fight against the COVID pandemic; those counties working with the Pa. Department of Health and the CDC to prevent more cases from occurring. The letter to Wolf signed by those elected officials to defy the recommendations of the governor made it clear that they knew better about COVID, that they did not believe there was a public health risk, and that Lebanon residents and businesses should just “do what they want”. And now we see the consequences: rising cases in Pennsylvania and $13 million in funding that has been denied. Both our health and our funding are now in jeopardy.
In his diatribe, Ryan only pointed fingers at the governor, but offers no positive proactive steps that he and his fellow elected officials might present to actually help our residents. Is that the best you can do for the high salary we, the taxpayers, are paying you? To the residents of Lebanon County, you see where he and others have led us: into a $13 million hole. We are basically on our own to find help. I suggest that you contact the state Department of Community and Economic Development directly for business help or the Lebanon Valley EDC for their guidance in accessing other business programs. Or perhaps Rep. Ryan, commissioners Ames and Phillips, Rep. Diamond and Sen. Arnold can go to Heisey’s Diner and Taste of Sicily to “pass the hat around” for contributions; or ask their campaign contributors to help fund the $13 million gap. I am sure they will step up and chip in.