Unnecessary items

I don’t know what it is about a yard sale that always cheers me up. I guess because I can take part in the Great American Shopping Pastime for peanuts! Today’s score: one of those things you use to grab things that are up high for $1, an aerobics stepper for $.50, and a nice cobalt ceramic canister for $1. Almost forgot: A gig bag chord book, the kind with pages that lay flat, for $.50. Oh, joy.

Pennsylvanians, bend over

Tom Corbett just loves giving taxpayer money to his buddies/donors in the energy industry:

The $1.65 billion tax deal the Corbett administration is negotiating with Shell Oil Co. to locate an ethane processing plant in western Pennsylvania is shaping up to be the biggest such state investment Pennsylvania history.

And now it appears, it’s just getting bigger.

Under the deal, taxpayers would foot the bill for hazardous materials clean up at the western Pennsylvania site, a cost that could easily soar into the tens of millions, according to a report by CapitolWire news service.

Corbett officials told legislative staff that on top of the $1.65 billion in tax credits over 25 years starting in 2017, and other sweeteners that come with a tax-free Keystone Opportunity Zone, the state would be picking up the bill to clean up the waste from a zinc smelter site.

The Horsehead Corp. plant, which is still operating at its Beaver County facility, is a repeat violator of federal clean air and water laws, CapitolWire reports.

News of the deal surrounding the building of a so-called ethane cracker plant, that would convert byproduct of the natural gas industry to plastics, was first reported by CapitolWire on Monday. The plant is expected to create as many as 20,000 jobs, both at the plant and in related industries.

Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, wrote to Corbett asking for an explanation but so far have received none, he said.

Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) wrote his own letter today seeking to find out more specific information such as how much each job would cost Pennsylvania taxpayers and whether there is language in the agreement that would prohibit Shell from demanding more money down the road.

“At a certainly point how much are we payuing for every job?” said Leach today. “If it’s $300,000 per job why not just give people the money?”

George Jugovic, former western regional director of the DEP, now head of the environmental group PennFuture, told CapitolWire the site is a “wasteland.”

“There are so many environmental issues on that site: groundwater issues, surface water issues, waste disposal issues, discharge into the water issues,,” he said.

The state Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act requires that Horsehead pay first for the clean-up, Jugovic, adding that he thought legislation would be needed to change that mandate.

“I never heard of the state picking up the cost when there is a company that was still in business and left a site that needed clean-up,” Jugovic said.

‘Karmic debt’

A former Coke executive working on the side of healthy food:

The logic behind these moves has been repeated so often it is practically a mantra: The nation is in the throes of an obesity crisis and sodas account for an outsize share of the sugar pouring into American bellies.

Putman, 51, shares that view. But he is also driven by another motive: From 1997 to mid-2000, he was a top marketing executive at Coca-Cola.

“It took me 10 years to figure out that I have a large karmic debt to pay for the number of Cokes I sold across this country,” he said.

On Thursday, he came to settle it.

He wanted to give an inside account of what he contends has been a drive by Coca-Cola to replace not just its direct competitors but all beverages in the American diet — a campaign for what the company called “share of stomach.” He wanted to warn about the industry’s particular focus on young people and minorities.

But mostly he wanted to level the playing field.

“I’m not against soft drinks per se,” he began carefully. “What I am for is balance of power. And I think the power has shifted in the wrong direction. The resources, the scale, the intelligence, the strategy these companies use is intense.

“We need to take all that thinking . . . all that strategy and convert it — jujitsu it — to healthy products.”

Honestly, I don’t see why they can’t outlaw the sale of sodas to kids under 18. When my ex and I owned a neighborhood ice cream store, kids would come by on their way to school and buy big sodas – and a bag of barbecue potato chips. Nobody’s kids should eat like that.

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