My Local Paper Let Me Down

I think this letter, which I sent to my local paper, speaks for itself.


Customers of the Spring-Benner-Walker Joint Authority need to be alerted to the fact that the authority is not well managed and board oversight is lax.

When my wife and I sold our house in Benner Township in October, the authority demanded to make an inspection and found that the HVAC system illegally drained into the sewer system. We had less than two weeks to fix the problem or we would not be able to close on the sale.

But what came out during this fiasco was the fact that when we bought the house two years earlier the not-so-diligent sewer authority had not inspected the connection despite claiming that inspection was required for every sale. We bought the house not knowing that it had an illegal connection to the sewer system.

It seemed to me that the authority had failed to follow its own inspection rules when we bought the house and so I asked the authority to reimburse me the $590 a plumber charged me to fix the problem.

Oh, no, said the authority board and its solicitor. Legally, not our problem.

How about morally?

Then I realized I was dealing with a sewer authority. Enough said.

R Thomas Berner
State College

I didn’t hear back from the editorial page editor so after a week, I asked her if she had gotten my letter. This is what she said:

Unfortunately, I think we're going to pass on it because we generally don't publish personal grievances against businesses and utilities.


I do understand that policy, but I think the editor misunderstands what a sewer authority is. It may have a utility-type function but it is an agent of the government and my letter is pointing that an agent of the government is not well managed and that the oversight is lacking. It seems to me that this is the kind of information the public should know.

I’ve already scaled back my subscription to the paper and after this fiasco, I may not renew my subscription when it runs out. Clearly, the paper is not edited for the public.
A weekly newspaper, the Centre County Gazette, came to the rescue and published the letter. Nice to see that we have one government watchdog in the county.