COVID-19 Lessons from East Germany
In Schuylkill and Berks County, many of our ancestors came from Germany in the 1700s and 1800s.
In 1998, I received an Eisenhower Fellowship to study the rebuilding of East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Above is my personal piece of the Berlin Wall that commemorates the reunification of Germany. I also had the opportunity to visit a small German town – which had once been the home of my great-grandfather Schultz’s family – that had only recently been liberated from Communist rule after 45 years.
This interesting article details how Germany’s unique history influenced the way they have approached COVID-19 mitigation measures, and how these lessons apply to Pennsylvania as we struggle to answer key questions about how to protect the health, freedom and economic security of our citizens. Here are a few key paragraphs from the German Marshall Fund of the US:
Tomorrow, on October 3, Germany will celebrate the 30th anniversary of reunification. On that date in 1990, the East German communist state was dissolved and incorporated into the democratic West. (German Chancellor) Merkel grew up in East Germany, starting her political career during the heady days of reunification. She can recall a time before democracy and warns about taking it for granted.
This history has made Merkel one of only a few leaders during the pandemic to take seriously the twin crises of public health and democracy. She has used her scientific background to speak clearly about the virus (she holds a PhD in quantum chemistry). But she has also relied upon her biography to clarify the political meaning of the pandemic.
Implementing coronavirus mitigation measures this spring, she referred to her own life under communism to clarify that she was not doing so lightly. “For someone like me,” she explained, “for whom freedoms of movement and travel were hard-won rights, such restrictions are warranted only when absolutely necessary. In a democracy, they should be enacted only temporarily—and never recklessly.”
Consistently Inconsistent: Governor Wolf’s Business Waivers
State Senator Doug Mastriano’s (R- Franklin & Adams) criticism of Governor Wolf’s unilateral shutdown orders is 100% accurate: “CONSISTENTLY INCONSISTENT!”
In April, the Senate called on the Auditor General to review Gov. Wolf’s process for waiving his business closure order for certain businesses.
An update by the Auditor General confirmed what we have been saying about the Governor’s waiver process for six months – it lacked clarity, consistency, common sense and transparency.
This information will allow us to craft legislation that will bring accountability and transparency to this process should we ever find ourselves in this situation again.
Our April letter:
P.S. The Auditor General is a Democrat, NOT a Republican.
Senate Approves Bill Regarding Pottsville Revitalization Site
Questions about the future of Pottsville’s vacant Giant supermarket site have become more urgent after two Schuylkill County Commissioners disregarded community input and voted to authorize the county to begin the process of purchasing the property.
People in Pottsville have spoken very clearly on this issue: This property should be available for use as a hotel, restaurant, or shops – not as a warehouse for old county records or a pre-release center for criminal offenders.
It is completely wrong to jeopardize Pottsville’s ongoing revitalization efforts with this unilateral action by two of our county commissioners. This is not just a bad decision for Pottsville, it’s an extraordinarily bad decision for the entire county. If Pottsville’s tax base is decreased, that will cause the county to raise taxes on its taxpayers.
By a bipartisan vote of 45-5, the Senate approved a bill this week that I authored to address this problem by requiring city government and school board approval for the purchase of property by a county government. I am pleased that the Senate chose to act quickly on this important legislation.
You can learn more about the bill here.
Manufacturers Bring COVID-19 Issues to us
Last Friday, I attended a Legislative Roundtable for National Manufacturers Day. Some of the topics discussed were regulatory reform, energy, tax reform, COVID-19, education, and workforce development. Manufacturing is important to our state and local economy because it provides good-paying, stable jobs and American-made products.
State provides $1.4 million for Schuylkill Demolition
Blight affects us all – it lowers our property values, it strains the real estate market, it hurts our schools, it breeds crime, and poses a serious threat to our safety and well-being. This issue continues to be a top concern in many of our older communities.
Schuylkill County communities recently were awarded a $1.4 million state grant to fight blight. This news comes after a long, bipartisan effort to secure this funding. The process to acquire these grants is a highly competitive and difficult process. I am thankful we will see the results of this new funding in our local communities soon!
You can watch a local TV news report about this subject here.
McAdoo Receives Grant for Route 309 Sidewalks
McAdoo Borough has received a $160,000 grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development to support the construction of new sidewalks along Route 309. This project is part of the ongoing restoration of Route 309 in McAdoo.
This competitive grant will be a big boost to the borough, which has been working diligently on this effort to improve the area around Route 309 from the ground up. Representative Jerry Knowles (R-124) and I were very pleased to support this local effort. Grants like this will benefit local residents for years to come.
“This is great news for the residents of the McAdoo Borough. McAdoo can always count on Senator Argall and Representative Knowles to deliver in a time of need. We are grateful that these gentlemen removed this financial burden from the taxpayers and added some great beautification to the Borough,” said McAdoo Mayor Dane Watro.
General Election Deadlines
Deadlines are fast approaching to register to vote and apply for absentee or mail-In ballots. If you have questions about voting status, absentee/ mail-in ballot, or voting locations you can contact your county election bureau. If you live in Schuylkill County, visit this link. If you live in Berks County, visit this link.
You can learn more here.
Joseph Heister: Berks’ 1st State Senator & Later Governor
Joseph Heister was the first State Senator to represent Berks County. He was born on a farm to a German family. He was a captain in the Pennsylvania militia during the Revolutionary War. He was captured by the British and was ultimately freed in a prison exchange. After being freed, he suffered a head injury during the war.
He served as a representative to the 1776 Pennsylvania convention and later the 1789 Pennsylvania Convention. He served five terms in the state House of Representatives, four in the state Senate, and seven in Congress. He ran as a Jeffersonian Republican and later became the Governor of Pennsylvania in 1820. You can read more about him here.
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