Citizens upset with Gov. Wolf for denying Lebanon County CARES funding must realize that the entire fiasco is directly the fault of our elected Republican officials — county commissioners Bob Phillips and Bill Ames, along with state Reps. Frank Ryan, Russ Diamond and Sue Helm, state Sen. Dave Arnold, U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser and District Attorney Pier Hess-Graf. They all chose to openly defy the governor’s emergency orders on combatting the COVID virus. They chose to turn a health crisis into a political war for their own benefit. Their recklessness jeopardized $13 million in much needed funding aimed at helping businesses, nonprofits and local government agencies recover from the costs and loses related to COVID .
The decision by the GOP majority Lebanon County commissioners to file a lawsuit and force the governor to release the funds ended in a settlement that released the $13 million, but with the unusual stipulation that $2.8 million must be spent on “mask education” programs here. The hasty settlement was necessary to avoid an extended – and costly — legal battle that could have stretched beyond the December deadline for the county to spend or return the $13 million.
Why $2.8 million for mask education? Ask our Republican leaders who openly defied the governor’s efforts to control the spread of the virus, ridiculed the request to wear masks in public and encouraged Lebanon County citizens to do the same. Our officials publicly demonstrated against state health recommendations and encouraged citizens to ignore state guidelines, endangering their health and the health of others under the guise of personal liberty and freedom.
Such ill-advised defiance has consequences. The $13 million ultimately was restored, but the delay in receiving the money that resulted from the lawsuit now threatens the county’s ability to meet the December deadline and other requirements of the program, which could result in the county forfeiting a large portion of the money. The expenditure of $2.8 million on mask education – money that could have gone to local businesses, etc. — is an additional challenge that can be directly attributed to the irresponsible actions of our Republican elected officials.
The citizens of Lebanon County deserve better. It has never been clearer that our current Republican leadership has failed the citizens of Lebanon County. This will only change when the people vote for new responsible leaders with an honest interest in the welfare of their constituents.
Lebanon County voters, it’s up to all of us. On Nov. 3, we can vote to continue down the path of ineffective and incompetent Republican leadership. Or, we can have another “clean sweep” of Republican candidates and create a new beginning for our county.
Lebanon County Democratic Party