Down River – June 9, 2016

Numbers and Dates:

5 years: since Renovo had its very own state store (now called a “Fine Wine and Good Spirits” store); that string should end sometime this summer, the staties reported working at the new site, the old Renovo Farmers Market on Huron Avenue earlier this week…

41: the number of graduates at Bucktail’s 48th annual commencement…

286: the number of graduates at Central Mountain’s 17th commencement…

14: the number of graduates at Sugar Valley Rural Charter School’s 15th commencement…

30 feet: the approximate distance between Lock Haven University President Michael Fiorentino and Sharon Taylor, the school’s former athletic director/coach in a recent picture honoring the school’s 1995 national championship field hockey team…

3 weeks: until the state’s new fiscal year begins; Harrisburg watchers believe the legislature and the governor can come up with a new budget on time in this election year. We’ll find out…

0.2: the share of the vote received by Rocky De La Fuente in early returns from the California Democratic presidential primary, well below the 1.66 percent share Rocky picked up in Clinton County’s spring primary…

June 16, 2016: The date for the Keystone Central School Board to vote on the next five year charter approval for the Sugar Valley Rural Charter School. Down River won’t prejudge how that vote will turn out but whatever the outcome the district and the charter school folks should try to bridge their differences. Building a wall between them hasn’t worked real well for all the parties involved.

All Things Liquor:

These are heady days for the imbibers among us, particularly so for those who live in the Renovo area.

Developments in recent days include word that the new state store should be open in Renovo sometime this summer, meaning easier access to fine wine, often times resulting in good spirits.

Then came Tuesday’s state House approval of legislation expanding opportunities for the sale of liquor across the state.

It was interesting to see the spin put on the measure’s passage. Bill sponsor Mike Turzai, a staunch and powerful conservative from Allegheny County (yes, he’s the one alleged to have reneged on a deal to settle last year’s state budget stalemate, setting off months and months of cataclysmic problems for state-related agencies and school districts), dismissed any attempt to call the measure a “modernization bill,” preferring instead “a privatization bill.”

State Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, issue a release that did not touch on the modernization/privatization matter but instead stressed improved consumer convenience. He also wrote of some $150 million in new tax revenue for the state, something he described as “a great step toward addressing the state’s long-term structural deficit.”

But some others questioned that revenue-producing matter, among them David Wojnar, vice-president of the Distilled Spirits Council, an organization which represents distillers whose products are sold through the current state store system.

Wojnar told, “As more foot traffic goes from state liquor stores to grocery stores, local Pennsylvania distillers will suffer. When the state loses millions in tax revenue, consumers will be left paying the tab.”

Wendell Young, head of the union representing state store workers, said deeper discounts given to retailers would further cut into revenues through the state store system.

Sounds like we’ll all have to drink more to produce badly needed additional state revenue.

Call the measure what you will, but it did show rare bipartisan support in the liquor availability arena. House Speaker Turzai was pleased both sides got something done, as noted by Rep. Paul Costa, a Democrat from Allegheny County. He called it “very rare the speaker and I agree on an issue. We do now.”

Must be an election year.

Who Is Rocky De La Fuente?

As part of Down River’s eternal quest to report/learn something new virtually every week in this column, this week let’s laser in on Rocky De La Fuente, he of the 1.66 percent voter share in Clinton County’s 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

So what did Rocky do before he became an afterthought in this year’s presidential sweepstakes? A shortstop in the 1970s for the Pirates? Decisioned by Apollo Creed in a fictional heavyweight title bout in the 1980s?

None of the above. According to Wikipedia, America’s most unreliable source for information, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente was and is a car dealer in San Diego!

Rocky was raised in both the U.S. and Mexico and holds a B.S. in physics and mathematics from the Instituto Patria UNAM. In addition to multiple car dealerships, Rocky has 11 currency exchange locations in the United States and Mexico.

Over the years he has been involved in litigation with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the City of San Diego.

At first view it sounds like Rocky should change his party registration and offer himself up as Donald Trump’s vice-presidential running mate.