Times Leader staff Voters have a little over three weeks to digest information on a proposed switch to home rule government in Luzerne County before their yes or no decisions are cast on Nov. 2.
Absorbing and comparing the differences between the current and proposed government systems may be a daunting task, especially amid emotional pleas from both sides. Home rule would replace the three elected full-time county commissioners with 11 elected part-time council members and a full-time appointed manager. In an attempt to help voters understand the proposed changes, The Times Leader has reviewed documents governing both systems to provide a point-by-point comparison on Page 13A of today’s edition. The home rule portion of the primer is based on what’s guaranteed in the charter at this moment – changes may be made during the implementation phase. The same goes for the existing government portion of the primer, which is based on state law requirements and written county policies. Sitting county officials may have tailored their approach to county operations, but their practices aren’t set in stone for successors unless they’re in writing. The complete charter will also be printed in this newspaper, at no cost to taxpayers, next Sunday. The document is currently available on the newspaper’s website, www.timesleader.com. Click on the home rule icon near the top right of the homepage, near the green Pennsylvania Lottery logo. Several public debates and forums also have been scheduled – all free and open to the public: • Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.: The Misericordia University Law and Government Society will sponsor a “Home Rule: Pros and Cons" forum at the Huntzinger Room in Sandy and Marlene Insalaco Hall to discuss local government reform and the home rule charter initiative in Luzerne County. This forum will examine the challenges facing county government here and statewide. Panelists will include a drafter of the proposed county charter, a member of a group supporting home rule and two Misericordia staff representatives. • Oct. 18, 7 p.m.: The Wilkes-Barre Downtown Residents Association will hold an informational meeting about home rule at Wilkes University’s Henry Student Center in the second floor ballroom. Charter drafters James Haggerty and Frank Conyngham will answer questions. • Oct. 21, 7 p.m.: WVIA-TV will air “Home Rule: Winners and Losers.” Charter drafters James Haggerty and Rick Morelli, county Solicitor Vito DeLuca and county Controller Walter Griffith will debate the issue and answer questions. • Oct. 27, 7 p.m.: The League of Women Voters of the Wilkes-Barre Area has scheduled a public forum from 7 to 8 p.m. in Wilkes University’s student center ballroom. Serving on the panel will be Haggerty, DeLuca, and Wilkes University professors Thomas Baldino and Robert Seeley, Ph.D. The format for the public forum will be followed with questions submitted from the audience and asked through a moderator from the LWV board or a guest moderator.