The LuLac Edition #47, August 5th, 2006
L.A. TARONE ON STATEWIDE TV…..L.A. Tarone, author of “We Were Once Here” will be on statewide TV Sunday night at 9PM. Tarone will guest on PA BOOKS on PCN
(Pennsylvania Cable Network). Tarone will be talking about his book “We Were Once Here” which is a compilation of interesting historical facts on the city of Hazleton. The show will re-air on Monday morning at 11AM. Tarone is a columnist for the Hazleton Standard Speaker as well as an editorialist and talk show host on WLYN TV 35.
LEONARDI AND EMINENT DOMAIN…..Congressional candidate in the 11th district Joe Leonardi has met with the owners of Buono Pizza which has stood on Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton for over 40 years. The city of Scranton and some developers are hinting that the pizza place might be forced to move due to the issue on eminent domain. Leonardi has been addressing that issue and here is an interesting letter he wrote to the newspapers on the issue.
Eminent Domain — Who’s Next?“The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that local governments may force property owners to sell out and make way for private economic development when officials decide it would benefit the public, even if the property is not blighted and the new project's success is not guaranteed.” The quote is from Washington Post Staff Writer, Charles Lane, dated Friday, June 24, 2005. I remember when this ruling was announced, talk radio, editorials, letters to the editors and other forms of public media were full of anger, outrage and flat out disbelief that this could happen in our United States. However, with the passage of time, the outrage died down, other news items captured our attention and the discussion, if not the discord, faded away. Then, like a bolt of lightning, it hit home. Yesterday, while in downtown Scranton, I visited Buona Pizza and spoke with Giovanni Piccolino. He explained to me the city intends to use "eminent domain" to take his family's business and turn it over to a developer. The explanation, as I understand, is that improvement of the downtown hinges upon taking the Buona Pizza building from its current owner. Growing up, I was taught "eminent domain" was to be used for public works that would benefit, will benefit, the entire public. Thanks to last year's Supreme Court ruling it is apparent that now — the public good includes the right for a City or State government to seize your property then, in the hopes of increasing tax revenue, turn it over to a private developer. Aside from being wholeheartedly opposed to the Supreme Court decision, I wonder what is going on with Scranton’s leadership. There is no question that the revitalization of downtown districts should be encouraged. Instead of strong-arming business owners, finances should be either lent or granted to those willing to take the risk to develop our commercial centers. Additionally, what kind of leadership opts to oust a successful member of the downtown community? One who set up shop forty years ago and stuck it out through the good times, bad times and sometimes downright horrible times. Not only has this business persevered all these years, Buona Pizza managed to thrive and succeed in a downtown where others failed. It is my opinion that a true visionary, a genuine leader should reward loyalty and, in any grand downtown revitalization, in a positive manner exploit a landmark, legacy business. I think it is safe to say that the Piccolino family has earned this status. What will happen to the downtown if this new venture, by replacing a successful business, fails? Who will be held responsible? Who will replace the tax money Buona Pizza was generating? There are many questions. It is especially reasonable to question the wisdom of trying to remove an established, successful business for what may turn out to be a grandiose flight of fancy. Whatever the answers may be, we must protect this family's right to maintain ownership of their property. Justice O' Connor wrote in her dissenting opinion, "the specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory." Her words now ring true to Buona Pizza, the Piccolino Family, the citizens of Scranton and all residents of Northeast Pennsylvania. Today we must make a stand, because if the City takes this one family's property there will only be one question left — who is next? If you send me to Washington, D.C. I will proudly sponsor or cosponsor legislation to ensure that the Piccolino family’s experience will not become your family's experience. Joseph F. Leonardi, D.C.
Leonardi was very impressive on L.A. Tarone’s program on WLYN. His common sense approach and articulation to his opposition to the inflatable dam project has many local voters talking. (Leonardi is pictured with former Governor Ridge at the top of this edition.)
RENDELL TO KNOCK ON 100,000 DOORS……………..Look out, Ed Rendell is a coming and he’s going to be a knocking on your door. The Governor plans to visit every part of the state by the end of August in his quest to meet Pennsylvania voters. (Rendell is pictured at the top of this edition with Wilkes Barre Mayor Tom Leighton.)
DEMS TO CHALLENGE SIGNATURE OF GREEN PARTY SENATE CANDIDATE….Democratic party State Chairman T.J. Rooney has vowed to challenge the validity of the Green Party candidate’s petitions to get on the general election ballot this fall. The Chairman says there were many discrepancies in the names that were submitted. Mistakes like bogus names, non existent people and out of state address are alleged by the Democratic State Committee. State law requires independent and minor-party candidates to collect a number of signatures that represents 2 percent of the ballots cast for the top vote-getter in the last statewide election. This year’s requirement was based on a record 3.4 million votes Robert Casey got in the 2004 when he was elected to his first term as state treasurer.
YOUR LIFE FEATURES BLOGGER……If the rotation of the reruns stay in order, this blogger will be featured on the YOUR LIFE program on WLYN TV 35 this Tuesday at 530PM. I discuss my book “A RADIO STORY/We Wish You Well In Your Future Endeavors” with hosts Mari Yanuzzi and Richie Molinaro. The program airs on Service Electric Channel 21.
2007 RACES………………City political workers are scrambling to derail the ordinance where council candidates would be elected by district. As far back as 2001, the voters approved this measure and politicos in Wilkes Barre, despite court challenges that were upheld are still trying to overturn it so council candidates can run at large and the councilmanic body stays at 7 instead of being reduced to 5. The most intriguing rumor going around is the one about a minority candidate making a run for City Council. That’s long overdue and would be interesting to see the breakdown district by district, win or lose, after the results are in…………..Meantime, Tom Leighton seems to have solidified his support with his handling of the downtown renewal, the theatre project, the 200th anniversary of the city and the response to the flood problems of 2006.
TONY BENNETT TURNS 80………..While this is not politics, in a way it is. In 1986, I had the pleasure of bringing in Tony Bennett to the FM Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. With the help of then Kirby director John Loesser, we obtained Bennett when he was reemerging as a performer in the public eye. His son Danny was managing his career and Wilkes Barre was the first stop to road test his new act. He played to a sold out house and during a lull before he left for the airport the next morning, I began to talk to him about his role in the civil rights movement. Bennett told me he did various concerts in the deep south on behalf of the Southern Christian Leadership Council, the operating arm of Martin Luther King’s movement. He said at one concert, the local officials provided no stage for him to perform so his people and King’s officials prevailed upon a black funeral director to line up about twenty coffins for a makeshift stage. Bennett said that the stage was the most unique one he ever performed on.