by Chris Potter
A powerful piece on the op-ed page of today's Post-Gazette, in which conservation biologist Mollie Matteson decries state game officials for failing to act on the collapse of the state's bat population. As we first reported four years ago, a mysterious fungus is killing off untold numbers of bats -- who among other things kill off pernicious insect populations. But Matteson argues that state officials have -- surprise! -- kowtowed to lumber and coal industries who were worried that addressing the problem might cramp their style. Welcome to Tom Corbett's Pennsylvania; hope you brought your own bug spray.
Meanwhile, other conservationists are pondering their own Faustian bargains. As the Associated Press reports, the Audubon Society and other groups are being tempted with money from the Marcellus shale gas-drilling industry. So far, Audubon's western Pennsylvania chapter has resisted efforts to drill on their own property ... but that resistance may not last forever.
In case you missed it over the Thanksgiving holiday, our friends at PublicSource can confirm that it's not your imagination: It really is taking longer to fill potholes on city streets these days. The story's big surprise? The city council district with the longest waits is ... that of Corey O'Connor. I've got a feeling that might change sometime between now and the 2013 primary.
The good folks at Keystone Politics remind you that, if you want to do something about income inequality in Pennsylvania, you need to do something about the crazy-quilt map of fractured local governments -- especially school districts.
And finally, if you had any doubt about whether Post-Gazette scribe Jack Kelly is the dumbest Pittsburgher to currently be holding a byline, let those misgivings be hereby dispelled. Most of his column this week, an effort to move past the GOP's dismal performance this election, is just a rehash of nostrums from the past 40 years: Liberals control the media and college campuses, blah blah blah. And Kelly's solution is familiar too: "If, a few years ago, conservatives had invested just 1 percent of what was blown this year on campaign advertising on building conservative cultural infrastructure, Mitt Romney might now be president-elect." Yeah, too bad, conservatives. If only you had, like, your own cable TV channel. Or a network of think-tanks bankrolled by the likes of -- oh, I don't know, Richard Mellon Scaife or someone. Maybe you should try to launch a show on talk radio? Of course, it's hard to say exactly what Kelly has in mind here; he's pledging to offer more specific prescriptions in "future columns." But at the moment, it sounds like -- just weeks after having to acknowledge how embarrassingly trapped he was in the right-wing echo chamber -- Kelly's prescription seems to be: Let's make the echo chamber lounder.