Friday, June 5, 2009

Time Passages

I have two passings to note today.

The first is former Congressman Frank Harrison. He served the 11th District for one term in the early 80's. I met him a few times, and it really wasn't enough opportunity to form a solid opinion. He served in Washington only two years. Again, it really wasn't enough opportunity to form a solid opinion.

I'm sorry to say it, but Harrison is likely to be remembered for bad luck, bad timing, and bad advice. He happened to be on a trip to Costa Rica, if I remember correctly, when the giardiasis story broke. For those from out of the area, or who are too young to remember, the old Pennsylvania Gas and Water Company didn't build water filtration plants until it was forced into it by the state. According to the company "beavers under stress" used reservoirs as a big toilet, and the water that came through our pipes was unfit to drink. The beavers were allegedly under stress because development forced them to move around. The beavers were unavailable for comment. Anyway, Harrison's political opposition alleged Harrison was killing time in Costa Rica while his constituents were sickened by the water. Harrison countered, and rightfully so, that it wasn't a federal issue. It was up to the state, and what was the Department of Environmental Resources, to address the problem.

As we know all too well, perception can equal reality. The political opposition painted Harrison as a guy who just didn't care. Harrison didn't fight back effectively, at least on this crucial issue. Negative campaigns have always been a part of northeastern Pennsylvania history, but this one took it up several notches, where it remains today. It's unfortunate, and that's putting it mildly.

Harrison should have made some gesture to show he cared, that he had a grasp of the giardiasis situation. It didn't happen, and it cost him his job.

Frank Harrison died in Galveston, Texas at the age of 69. Natural causes.

The other passing is Radio & Records magazine. Both the print and internet versions went belly up on Wednesday. I remember we all couldn't want to get our hands on R&R when it came in every week. It was entertaining and informative, especially the weekly gossip column called "Street Talk." It ranked the week's musical hits, according to format. You can't forget about the want ads. It was the radio industry's bible for several years.

40 people lose their jobs. Radio & Records was 36.