During the past three years, Penn State alumni have witnessed the most incredible flurry of lawsuits in the University's storied history. I want to tell you about one that had a happy ending.
When I was first elected as a Centre County commissioner in 1987, I inherited a lawsuit filed by the county against Penn State University and its real estate tax exempt status.
In the years that followed, the case found its way up and down the Pennsylvania court system from the local level to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. After years of negotiation, we signed an agreement with Penn State where they provided close to a million dollars annually in actual dollars and equivalent services to local municipalities.
To date, that agreement has meant tens of millions of dollars to Centre County governmental agencies.
This process was highlighted by local and county officials telling Penn State how the university affected our government operations, and in turn, Penn State telling us how they were, among other things, the economic engine of central Pennsylvania. It was an incredible learning process at both ends.
I mention this case, in part, to explain my independent candidacy for election to the Penn State Board of Trustees this spring. The current board has very successful individuals, and the current slate of candidates has a wealth of talent. None of them, however, have the unique experience I have of serving 28 years in public office in Centre County as a district judge and county commissioner.
I know Penn State in ways no other candidate does, simply because of my close proximity to the university, and my knowledge of its operations as I worked in the county seat and in the state capital.
Lawsuits remain, and it will take the university time to heal. If I am fortunate enough to be elected as a trustee, I will remember the words of Bobby Kennedy from my college days, "The future is not a gift. It is an achievement. Every generation helps to make its own future. This is the essential challenge of the present."
That is a challenge I am willing to meet.