What’s in the water?: Concern over lead levels in Allegheny County water should focus first on the well-being of residents — not on who’s right or wrong. County Controller Chelsa Wagner raised the issue in an audit, which criticized the county Health Department for not doing enough to combat the problem. Ms. Wagner said she is “outraged by the failure of our agencies to acknowledge and correct this.” The county’s Board of Health will consider a proposal next month requiring mandatory lead testing for young children. It shouldn’t take anyone’s “outrage” to address what clearly is a perennial public health issue.
Assessment roulette: Westmoreland County commissioners changed the deadline for property owners to file assessment appeals next year to allow more time to hear challenges. And given commissioners’ comments, a countywide reassessment of property values (based on 1972 figures) remains the third rail of local politics: Nobody’s going to touch it. But what happens if the county’s hand is forced by a court order? Exactly how many residents are paying more, or less, taxes than they should? Eventually this burning fuse is going to reach the bomb.
New year for beer here: Local retailers are not entirely sure how the state’s new law on beer sales will affect them. Finally customers will be able to buy beer in the amount they prefer come Jan. 14. And whereas that’s bound to add competition for some “six-pack shops,” the additional convenience may well draw more occasional beer drinkers. It’s about time Pennsylvania’s beer laws enter the 21st century.