A CHANGING of the guard took place in Harrisburg Tuesday, at least partially. Three statewide office holders, all Democrats, were sworn in at the state capital, two for the first time (Attorney General Kathleen Kane from Lackawanna County and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale of York) and one for a second term (Treasurer Rob McCord from Bryn Mawr). The historic moment belonged to Ms. Kane, who was the first Democrat and the first woman to win election for attorney general. Gov. Tom Corbett, who was a political target of Ms. Kane's during the campaign concerning his office's investigation of Jerry Sandusky, was in attendance, too -- and in a gallant mood. When Ms. Kane's younger son, Zach, appeared to be fainting, Mr. Corbett offered a bottle of water and a handkerchief and a comforting story about how at age 16 he had fainted at his sister's wedding.
BEFORE HE LEFT office, Auditor General Jack Wagner had a good word for the 911th Airlift Wing at Pittsburgh International Airport, a unit threatened with closure. In a Jan. 10 letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, chief of the Air Force Reserve, he wrote that his office had determined that the 911th "should remain open because of its strategic location, operational efficiency and low overhead costs." He called it "the most efficient [Air Force Reserve Command], at the most efficient base, in the country. Period." Mr. Wagner's appeal should carry weight beyond the authority of his recent office -- he is a wounded Marine veteran of the Vietnam War. Last week, the 911th's worth was there for all to see, as 108 personnel returned home after completing a four-month deployment in Southwest Asia. Two of the unit's C-130 aircraft supported the latest rotation, and its members have deployed to over 80 locations in the world in the last five years.
MARY, MARY, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? If Mary lives on Pittsburgh's North Side, it may be with the help of the Buhl Foundation and Alcoa, which last year put $125,000 into a project to make gardens grow on vacant, city-owned lots. The budding community gardens are a project of GTECH Strategies (the acronym stands for Growth Through Energy + Community Health). Once weedy lots favored by people running from the police are being reclaimed as places to raise fruit and vegetables. Through the end of the month, GTECH is looking for a new round of ideas for North Side lots and is taking applications at www.gtechstrategies.org. Changing of the guard, changing of the seasons.