Monday, April 30, 2007

The LuLac Edition #209, April 30th, 2007




In a stunning development worthy of a political neophyte, 2 term incumbent GOP Commissioner Robert Cordaro of Lackawanna County finds himself off the primary election ballot. Here's the story from the Scranton Times:

Commissioner Robert C. Cordaro has been knocked off the ballot for the May 15 primary and plans to run as a write-in candidate. "Our strategy is to continue to focus on our accomplishments," said Mr. Cordaro, after he learned of Monday's state Supreme Court decision striking him from the ballot for not revealing financial ties toLandmark Community Bank on his election paperwork."We're obviously very surprised by it," he said, adding that much grass-roots campaigning lies ahead to reinforce the message and ensure supporters understand what is necessary to get Mr. Cordaro re-elected.The ruling represented a rare court victory for Scranton political activist Joseph Pilchesky, who has filedabout 25 lawsuits against local officials in the past three years - and who hasn't tasted victory until now. Mr. Pilchesky represented himself in the case against Mr. Cordaro."It was pure elation," Mr. Pilchesky said of Monday's ruling, which overturns two lower court losses he suffered in his bid to get Mr. Cordaro bumped for not disclosing the bank tie.He plans to pursue the matter further, to determine whether the ruling could also prevent Mr. Cordaro from running as a write-in candidate. Mr. Cordaro resigned from the bank position several weeks ago. "It was too much unfair baggage to the bank," he said.He maintains that the directorship was listed in previous years, but he didn't list it in 2006 because he did not expect to receive stock options, and the "few hundred dollars" he received for his post were below a $1,300 state reporting threshhold. Last month, Commonwealth Court upheld lower court rulings that found the director post was not financially substantial enough to trigger a $1,300 threshold for reporting financial interest. Thus, Mr. Cordaro was notrequired to list it on his disclosure forms. The Supreme Court disagreed, finding that the lower courts were wrong to cite a case in which ties to non-profit entities do not need to be reported. Landmark is, the high court noted, a for-profit entity.


As reported in Blog Edition # 182 on March 22nd, Shamrock Communications has bought the Hazleton Standard Speaker.

Times-Shamrock Communications has reached an agreement to purchase assets of the Hazleton Standard-Speaker, company officials announced today. The purchase keeps the Standard-Speaker, which has served the greater Hazleton area since 1866, under family ownership. The Lynett and Haggerty families of Scranton, who own Times-Shamrock, plan to invest and grow the seven-day daily serving southern Luzerne County and parts of Schuylkill and Carbon counties.

The LuLac Edition #208, April 30th, 2007




If you were listening to the Morning News program on WILK Radio this morning between 7am and 730am, you might have heard Kevin Lynn talking about the South Wilkes Barre City Council Forum held last night. Lynn made a comment about Council and Mayoral candidate's Tim Grier's tatoos saying that it indicates the person with the ink might have made some bad judgements along the way. To his credit, Grier called Lynn and explained that it was indeed art and that as far as bad decisions went, he did not get the tatoos in a place like jail but was involved in the body art community for a while. Lynn and Grier then had a cordial exchange on the issues and what seems to be a stumbling block for the young candidate had more light cast on it. I'm glad Grier called Lynn. He acquitted himself well and engaged Kevin in a sane, articulate debate that spoke well of the two men. I have had occasion to meet Tim Grier and he confided to me that sometimes he was self concious about the body art in the context of him running for elected office in Wilkes Barre. If he had not pointed the art out to me,I would not have even noticed. Working in the radio industry in the nineties, many young people his age had body art. It was not an issue in the way they sounded on the radio or in some cases sold advertising for the industry. As long as they did their jobs, no one cared about the insignias on their body canvas. Right now, Wilkes Barre is at a crossroads in a crucial election. The last thing that should be on anyone's mind is how a candidate looks,whether it be how tall or short they are or even how much ink is on their bodies. Grier has offered himself up as a candidate for public office because he has a passion for change. In some instances, he has burst through the door instead of politely knocking. But change is not about politeness anyway. In this part of the world, we moan about how all young people want to do is just hang out in bars and watch NASCAR and then go home and watch the NFL network. We dercy the apathy and say the only people interested in the voting are people over 45. In Tim Grier we have a veteran in his 30s who is pursuing a degree at a State University. The guy has a full plate but has jumped into the fray as part of this historic election. He should be applauded for his interest and ideas. The late Martin Luther King Junior said he wanted a world where people were judged by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin. I'm assuming he meant any color, manufactured or not. Let's judge our council candidates by what they say, not what they look like.


A few weeks ago, Mike Merritt received the endorsement of the City Democratic committee for Council in District "E". Many politicos cited the nod as business as usual since Merritt was a relative of Bill Brace. I stated in my blog that that fact didn't bother me as much asthe fact that Merritt worked in the same place as Tony Thomas. Now, I don't care what people do for a living and these guys are hard workers at Metropolitan. As a United Way staffer in the 80s, I toured that facility many times and no one stands around. But with the new reprsentative number of Council people at 5, these guys are one short of a quorum!! Anyway, a Democratic committee member weighed in on the proceedings of the actual endorsement process. And since we love the"inside baseball" stuff of the political game, we thought we'd share this glimpse into the meeting where the endorsement was made. This is aletter that was sent to the Times Leader last week:

As a member of the Wilkes-Barre Democratic Executive Committee, I would like to comment on writer Ron Lieback's April 11 article about the committee's endorsement for District E of Wilkes-Barre City Council. One of the executive committee's responsibilities is to help Democrats select the Democrat they feel is the best suited candidate for their prospective elected seats. I sat and listened to all of the candidates pitch for the party's endorsement. First was Ron Silkosky, which int hree sentences asked that there be an open primary and the committee not endorse any candidate for District E. That was it; end of pitch. Second was Charlotte Raup. She told us about her involvement with Wilkes-Barre's Crime Watch. Yet she said nothing about her plans, if elected, as a council member. She, too, was very short-winded and asked for an open primary. Next was Virgil Argenta. He told the committee about his accomplishments as a businessman and landowner in our city. Yes, Mr. Argenta respectfully requested the nomination but also asked to leave the primary open. Now to me, that's talking out of both sides of his mouth. The fourth candidate was Mike Merritt. He spoke about his roots inWilkes-Barre and proceeded to tell us his hopes and aspirations as acouncil member and District E representative. Mr. Merritt asked to be selected for nomination as the endorsed candidate. As Mr. Merritt walked out of the meeting room I felt if it was a no-brainer that he should get the party's endorsement. Reading in your article, I understand Mike Merritt may be a relative of Chairman William "Bill" Brace. Chairman Brace told me nor anyone else of such a relationship. Mr. Merritt won the party's endorsement not by being a relative, but on Mr. Merritt's own merit.
Mike Belusko Wilkes-Barre Democratic
executive committee member

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The LuLac Edition #207, April 29th, 2007



A few weeks back, a few posters wanted to know about an election from 1978 for the seat in the 20th Senatorial District. Here’s that story.


In late 1977, incumbent 20th District, GOP powerhouse and long time legislator T. Newell Wood put the word out that he was not going to seek another term in the State Senate. Wood had been there for over two decades and the announcement caused more than a ripple in local politics.
On the GOP side, State Representative Frank O’Connell put out the word that he wanted to aspire to the seat. O’Connell, a former Kingston Councilman was elected State Representative in 1966 in the newly formed 5th legislative district which is now essentially the 120th. The GOP saw in O’Connell a proven voter getter and guy who knew his way around Harrisburg.
The Democratic side was another matter. In late 1977, Kingston resident Richard Adams announced at a fundraiser at Pilleggi’s restaurant in Kingston that he was considering a run. When pressed, he said he’d be an all but certain candidate. It looked like there would be a rematch of the 1968 State Representative race between O’Connell and Adams. However, sometime in 1978 Adams decided against a run and left the Democrats scrambling for a candidate.
Keep in mind this was 1978, and the Democrats had control of the state for eight years under the Shapp Administration and firmly had a hand on the county apparatus too. Even though the Shapp administration was beset with scandal and other problems, the GOP had no real electoral players on their bench for the ’78 Governor’s race. (It turned out the GOP Govervor’s primary had 7 people running in it and the Ltn. Governor’s race had 14 competing. After all the smoke had cleared, Richard Thornburgh emerged from the west as the Governor nominee and William Scranton won the top spot for Ltn. Governor. This turned out to be a formidable ticket but no one knew that in early ’78).
With Adams out of the race, the Democrats needed to come up with a candidate. One that stepped forward was a Back Mountain butcher named John Pitcavage, a handsome, tall, blunt speaking individual who the Dem establishment could not warm to. County Controller and Party Treasurer Joe Tirpak was dispatched to come up with a candidate. Established Democratic office holders, seeing the demographic of the district demurred. Tirpak then approached an old friend who had worked with him in the IDS financial services office in Mountaintop. (Investors Diversified Services which then was a branch of American Express). The old friend was Thomas Lehman of Kingston. Lehman was a smart, spry man in his late 60s with the energy of a thirty year old and the old time good looks of an aging movie star. He was a huge success in the investment world, well respected in the community and was Tirpak’s dream candidate. The only problem was Lehman was a Republican. After much cajoling (as only the late Joe Tirpak could do) Lehman changed his party registration to Democratic when his friend told him there’d be a clear field in the primary. Well, that turned into a mess because Tirpak could not get the aforementioned John Pitcavage out of the primary. So the Dems had a primary fight while O’Connell sat waiting for the fall campaign.
In the primary, Lehman prevailed and the fall race was set. Having won the primary, Lehman thought he was going to get the unbridled support of the powerful Democratic party to win that Senate seat. But other events intervened. In the Dem primary for Governor, Robert Casey Senior lost his third run for the state’s highest office to Pittsburgh Mayor Pete Flaherty. Shapp’s Ltn. Governor Ernie Kline came in third. The enthusiasm for the top of the ticket as well as the rest of the Democratic field waned when no one from the eastern part of the state got on the ticket. In the meantime, the local Democratic party was splitting at the seams when a rumor began to circulate that incumbent County Commissioners Frank Crossin and Ed Wideman might not run as a team in the 1979 race. All of a sudden, Lehman had a nomination but no party to speak of behind him.
In July of 1978 I was laid off from WVIA TV and FM for ostensibly budget cut reasons. I suspect the real reason though was the GM’s pique at the time that I conducted an interview with Robert Casey Senior and did not invite him to do it on air instead of me. A week into my layoff, I received a call from Richard Adams. I had worked for Adams when I was 14 years old and campaigning for Hubert Humphrey at the time. He had heard I was out of work and told me that the Lehman camp was looking for a guy to manage the campaign, run the office, keep the candidate on schedule and gather a volunteer team. I met with the campaign Treasurer, Al Aston, Junior, an Attorney, met with Mr. Lehman and was hired.
The office was on Pierce Street in the old Kingston Housing Authority Building and I set out to work with Tom Lehman on this quixotic effort to beat Frank O’Connell. A fund raiser netted some good results but Lehman shelled out a lot of money himself. He drove a huge Wagon Master station wagon, I drove a Rally Sport Camaro. For in town trips, we’d take my car, for out of town trips, we’d take his. One time when I dropped him off at an office in downtown Wilkes Barre for a meeting with fundraisers for his campaign, just before the car came to a stop he said, “Does this thing stop or do I have to jump out?” We developed a radio and newspaper campaign with our small budget, put together a questionnaire we passed out to voters in the district, developed a small but loyal core of volunteers (mostly Kingston ladies who were die hard Dems led by Mary Alice Brokenshire who was the daughter of the late party chairman Dr. John Doris) who stuffed envelopes and put up yard signs as well as a contingent of Young Democrats led by a kid named Bob Morgan. The only help we got from the party was from Joe Tirpak (who constantly was reprimanded by Lehman for getting him into this) Lehman's primary foe Pitcavage who kept on telling us the true enemy of any political campaign was time or lack thereof and Commissioner Crossin. We got some money from County Chairman Bob Loftus but that was like squeezing the juice out of the last bug during a Minnesota blizzard.
When you work with someone in close proximity day after day, you get to know a lot about them. Lehman had a thing about being put on hold when he was on the phone, he never liked it. He figured he was making the call, it was his dime and why should he pay to wait. His wife, Dorothy was ill with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, his children were busy elsewhere and there were times I could tell that maybe he regretted getting involved in this race. Still, there were no complaints. This was a duty, a job and he was going to do it. He insisted on reading every news release, fretted about his radio voice but forged on with this campaign. Always in a suit and tie, natty and slight in appearance, we visited every blessed county in the district. I got my first appreciation for the Pennsylvania State Fair system because we certainly visited enough of them during the campaign. We were the only two guys dressed in suits at each and every fair so I’m fairly certain we stood out. There was dignity though, he refused to handle the animals for a photo op and I gratefully respected him for that.
As the race wound down, it was clear Dick Thornburgh was opening up a double digit lead over Pete Flaherty and nationally it was going to be a Democratic year. Still, we campaigned. If it wasn’t a local county Democratic dinner in a hotel or fire hall, Joe Tirpak would drag us to every wake in the 20th district. It was a shameless exercise but with Tirpak, the venture was wildly entertaining.
On election night, Tom Lehman was trounced by Frank O’Connell. A lifelong Republican, he turned to the Dems because a friend talked him into it. I always thought if he’d stayed a Republican, he might have won some political race. But then I would never have met him or have this incredible experience or memory. As we closed down the office, he told me to keep in touch and use him as a reference. I did and he came through for me. However, we never kept in touch. I went my way, he went his. He never again participated in politics again and led a quiet life taking care of his wife in retirement. Like most caregivers, Tom Lehman died before his wife. Even though I hadn’t kept in touch, I went to the funeral at the Church of Christ Uniting in Kingston. To my surprise, I saw a few veterans of that ’78 campaign. We had all gone on to other things but felt we needed to show up for this. As we went through the receiving line at the church, I took the opportunity to introduce us to his family knowing full well we’d get a polite nod and then move on. Instead, one of his children brightened and said, “Oh you guys are from the campaign!” We were remembered so at least I knew in his later years he talked about that race for Senator. What he said with his sometimes acid tongue is open to conjecture.
People who fail in political campaigns are sometimes reduced to a mere footnote, part of trivia or minutiae. Maybe some people feel that way about Tom Lehman. But to a few of us, he exhibited an old school example of finishing what you start, carry yourself with dignity, do your best against great odds and look good while doing it. And in the book of life, you define qualities like that as ones belonging to a true winner.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The LuLac Edition #206, April 27th, 2007



It appears that Senator Clinton won the Democratic debate last night on style and substance points. Senator Barack Obama stumbled a bit with a few remarks that showed his inexperience on the national stage. Former Senator John Edwards, while charismatic did not score a breakthrough hit with message or style points. Bill Richardson, a former UN Ambassador made a gaff when referring to the post Castro regime (after the presumed death of the dictator) as "democratic" in nature. Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd did well in articulating their vast foreign policy experience and how it differs from the present administration's efforts. Biden in particular scored well when he said it "was beyond his capacity" to make the President understand his view on the Iraq War. Both Representative Kucinich and former Senator Gravel said things no other candidate could say precisely because they are the underdogs in this race. Both are poised to be the "conscience" of the party, much like former Senator and '72 nominee George McGovern was in the 1984 race. Unlike Al Sharpton's nonsensical comments in the '04 race, both Kucinich and Gravel will add greatly to the national debate among the Democratic contenders.


The newest Dave Lupas for Judge TV ad features the very tragic murder of Mary Leo as a linchpin of the candidate's claim of a successful conviction rate as District Attorney. Put together by political guru, Ed Mitchell, the ad is slick and evokes the emotions of Mary Leo's nephews. However, it should be noted that in this murder case, the defendant made a plea and confessed resulting in a conviction for the DA's office. Still, a conviction is a conviction in such an emotionally charged and brutal case as this one. But in comparison to the Hugo Selinski case, this one was pretty much a slam dunk and credit has to go the Wilkes Barre Police Department in bringing the killer to justice. The DA's office expedited the police work well and brought the confessed criminal to justice.


Congrats to WILK News Radio for winning a few AP Awards for 2006. One ofthe Awards was for the coverage of the Summer Flooding toward the end of June. Both Nancy Kman and Sue Henry did great work staying on the airi nforming Wyoming Valley residents of the information they needed to know when the area was evacuated.


Mrs. LuLac and I went to the premiere of the Molly Maguire musical at the Kirby Center on Thursday night. It was a delayed anniversary present from her to me. The play was wonderful (although it needs a little beefing up in the history part, less in the romance) and the original music was fabulous. The staging was simple yet elegantly appointed. WVIA TV FM CEO Bill Kelly introduced the play, an official of the United Mine Workers Union was in attendance as well as reportedly a few "Broadway angels" looking to invest. The cast was filled with actors with great Broadway and TV credentials (Law and Order franchise) as an example. Mrs. LuLac and I talked about the comparisions between the way businesses and corporations treated its employees back then vs. today. In a lot of ways, nothing has changed in the job security department in America. But that's another discussion for another time. Had the opportunity to sit next to WLYN TV 35 TV host Don Pachance and his wife. It was a great evening and Mrs. LuLac and I would recommend this to everyone.


The recent housing stats can't be good news for the party in power for next year's Presidential campaign. Look at these depressing stats: The number of foreclosure filings -- from default notices to repossessions -- continued to surge in March, increasing 47% from the same period a year earlier and 7% from February. The 149,150 filings represent a foreclosure rate of one in every 775 households, according to Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac.
The March increase in foreclosures bucks the historical trend, lenders say. Typically, foreclosure activity declines in March, as more homeowners use tax refunds to bail themselves out of mortgage shortfalls caused by job loss, health problems or divorce.
But this year, industry insiders and economists expect it only to get worse, as more adjustable-rate mortgages reset and borrowers with risky loans continue to falter.
"I don't think we've hit the bottom of the market yet," says Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac vice president. "We should see at least one more short-term spike," as more subprime loans continue to go into default.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The LuLac Edition #205, April 26th, 2007


Going to the candidate's debate.
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you've got to choose
Every way you look at this you lose.



Each Democratic Presidential candidate has to shine in his or her own way tonight in order to get some traction or keep the boomlet afloat. Since this is the first time on a national stage, it's been thought that only political junkies will be tuning in tonight. But because polls show the American people are more engaged than ever in a Presidential race more than a year away, you can bet average citizens will be tuning in. Here's what each candidate needs to do tonight to either survive or make an impression.


She has to project a warmer and less shrill image. No one doubts her intelligence but her authenticity is quite another thing. She needs to smile but not flirt. Her rules of engagement have to be different. Tough but not biting or sarcastic. If she keeps a steady pace, and brings up the good points of her husband's Presidency, she'll do well.

Needs to show some substance. He has the magic but not the perception of being a heavyweight. A Clinton like "Sister Soulja" moment might aid him in his non embracement totally of an Al Sharpton.

Has to prove he can be more charismatic than Obama, more substantial than Clinton on the issues. Proven past campaign track record should help him in presenting himself as an alternative to Clinton and Obama.


Has more than thirty years experience in the Senate. Has passion about the war in Iraq. Is the only Senator that has presented a plan that in my view makes any sense. His challenge now is to present himself as a viable alternative to the less expereinced top tier.

Also has more experience in his bones than the top tier too. Has to be less pedantic, more national in his scope. Needs to soften the New England roots because it'll scare off the southern base of the party. Might be a sleeper.

He might be the breakthrough hit of the evening. Has Cabinet and Executive experience plus has a common sense approach with a fair amount of charisma. He can remind the crowd that no sitting Senator has been elected President since 1960. And before that, it was 1920.


Anti war activist. Will be very strident and passionate in his ideas. The intellectuals and true believers will love the red meat he'll hurl at them.

Has to remind people he was once a two term, respected U.S.Senator. Has to present an agenda of ideas and with his sense of humor, just might be the most entertaining part of the debate with being a buffoon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The LuLac Edition #204, April 25th, 2007



The question going around Luzerne County politics these days is whether Attorney Thomas Marsillio can break the jaugernaut that is the career path of District Attorney David Lupus. Lupas has had an unencumbered path to elected office with his family's political connections and a great deal of money that was raised on his behalf. Marsillio, an Attorney for years who ran unsuccessful campaigns for District Attorney is running against Lupus for the seat on Common Pleas Court. Lupas has many strengths like incumbency and a lot of money to bury any foe in an election. Marsillio on the other hand has the record of Lupas as DA that some deem as dubious in some respects in terms of paperwork and the day to day details. Lupas
is going to have the aforementioned advantages but he will also have the full backing and power of the Democratic machine come election day. The only way Marsillio can overcome that is to get a few heavyweight Democratic committee people to come over to his side and support him. Or since Judges can crossfile, Marsillio needs to get enough GOP ballots for a run in November. Either way, Marsillio has a mountain to climb.
But he is running an interesting campaign. Today, on WILK Radio, the dulcet tones of Wilkes Barre Councilman Jim McCarthy was touting the candidacy of Marsillio in a radio ad and the Attorney's website even talks to you. (Poor Doctor Doris and the late Governor Fine are most likely spinning in their graves right now!) Check this out:
Plus, the good attorney is getting grassroots support via the opinion page in the Letters To the Editor section.


I am writing in response to recent comments made by Ed Mitchell, Lupas’ campaign strategist.
He said that when it comes to putting criminals behind bars, Lupas is “far superior” than attorney Tom Marsilio, and implies that this one facet makes him more qualified for a judgeship.
When Tom Marsilio was in the district attorney’s office, he had an extremely impressive record, a 100 percent homicide trial conviction rate and five were life sentences.
He also didn’t have problems with remembering important dates, like Lupas. (I won’t even mention the Hugo Selenski fiasco). In addition, Tom has prosecuted on three levels of government, something Lupas hasn’t done. Criminal work is not the only type of work that a judge must deal with on a regular basis. A judge should be someone who is familiar with many types of law and not just one. When it comes to every other aspect of the law, Tom Marsilio is very qualified and much more so than Lupas. Marsilio has done just about everything when it comes to civil and criminal law and has done it exceptionally well. Lupas is a one-dimensional attorney. He has only ever been in the DA’s office, unlike Tom. I would like to see Mitchell boast about Lupas’ divorce, custody, business law, personal injury, zoning, adoption work. Etc.
Oh wait, that’s right. He can’t. On May 15, you must do your homework and vote for the most qualified individual. In this case, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that there is only one choice.
Richard Keiderling
Mountain Top


The Councilman penned a letter to the newspaper himself a few weeks ago. Here's his thoughts as a veteran public servant.

Much has been said, and is being said, about the limitations placed on what a city council member can do in office. Much of it is erroneous and/or misleading and I’d like to correct misunderstandings about the power, or lack of, of a city councilman, from 16 years experience on council.
It is true, under Wilkes-Barre’s City Charter, that “all powers” are vested in the office of the mayor, except those given to council. Those specifics are limited. But -- and that’s a big but -- council is not powerless and doesn’t have to bow to the wishes of a mayor at all times.
City council has the right to veto anything a mayor proposes if they think it’s a bad idea or if council members don’t believe it is in the residents’ best interest. Council members are, of course, closest to the public and usually hear their concerns day and night.
They are the real voice of the city, being most accessible. Probably most importantly, council has the final say on any proposed budget, expenditure or tax that a mayor presents. While they do not have a “line item” veto, meaning department by department, council can make suggested changes in anything an administration proposes, providing they have sufficient votes to enforce them.
Thirdly, council can, by ordinance, order anything to be done in the city, with the caveat that they hope an administration obeys the ordinance. In that case, refer back to council’s oversight and needed veto power. It can bring an administration to a screeching halt, just by blocking budgeted expenditures.
It’s hardly ever been done, but it is one weapon in the city council’s ammunition box. All a councilman needs to get something done, or halted, is get the cooperation of other council members. This is difficult, but not impossible.
I have been asked by several people if the mayor is such a “strong” mayor under our form of government, do we need a city council? My answer is: We need a city council to keep the administration in check and to speak for the public so the administration will not become a dictatorship. But, again, this depends on whether a councilperson is a rubber stamp, or listens to what the voters think is best for the city, and acts on their behalf.
Council meetings are the best place to find that out. Please attend them and speak out. As I prepare to retire from city council because of my inability to get council to protect our children with a law restricting where convicted sex offenders may live/work in our city (I note here that councilman and former police chief Bill Barrett supported the idea), I would ask city voters to closely look at all council candidates and their credentials.
Is the candidate a good old boy/girl, or do they have something to offer to make our city better and more livable, especially for the upcoming generations? The future of our city -- our families -- is at stake in this upcoming election, so please choose carefully and put every candidate’s record under a microscope before you vote.
And remember, your vote decides Wilkes-Barre’s todays and tomorrows. Jim McCarthy
Councilman Wilkes-Barre

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The LuLac Edition #203, April 24th, 2007



SUGAR NOTCH – The eighth annual State of the World Forum will be held from noon to 3 p.m. May 6 at 893 Main St.
Russ Diamond, chairman of PAClean Sweep, will talk about his reform agenda and proposal for an unlimited constitutional convention for Pennsylvania. Mort Malkin, a social-political activist and author of four books on health and fitness, will talk about “Keeping Ahead of the Learning Curve on Global Heating.” Caleb Ginyard III will conduct a multimedia presentation about his famous father, Caleb Ginyard Jr., a renowned black doo-wop and spiritual singer. The Annual Free Speech Awards will be conducted at the forum. Kurt Shotko and Tim Grier are recipients.
For more information, contact Mario Fiorucci at (570) 819-0721, or e-mail


Political Beginnings

In 2004, Diamond, who claims to have long considered himself an independent, entered third party politics. He ran simultaneously for the U.S. House of Representatives and the state legislature as a Libertarian Party candidate. He was soundly defeated in both races (receiving 2% and 17% of the vote, respectively), but made headlines and raised his political profile somewhat.

Birth and Evolution of PACleanSweep

The next year, after members of the state legislature voted themselves a substantial pay raise during a midnight session on July 7, 2005, Diamond created, a website dedicated to ousting every incumbent legislator in the state. This later spawned an informal grassroots organization, and eventually a nonprofit corporation and subsidiary political action committee (PACleanSweep, Inc., better known as PACleanSweep) set out to accomplish this by recruiting candidates in every House and Senate district. Since the group was non-partisan, candidates from all parties were recruited, with the only requirement being that they sign a pledge drafted by Diamond to repeal the pay raise that had inspired the group; allow Pennsylvania voters to decide future legislative, executive, and judicial pay raises by referendum; and not pass any legislation put before the state legislature until citizens had been given 10 business days to examine it.
PACleanSweep eventually found candidates for two State Senate districts and 44 State House Districts. On May 16, 2006, the day of the primary election, 35 of the CleanSweep candidates won their primaries. 16 of the winners were running in contested races and 7 of them defeated incumbents. Two notable incumbent defeats were Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer and Senate Majority Leader David J. Brightbill, both Republicans (though Brightbill and Jubelirer were defeated by candidates not affiliated with the PACleanSweep organization). Combined with 10 other incumbents who lost primaries to non-CleanSweep candidates, two successful petition challenges, and 30 retirements of incumbents, the total number of incumbents ousted in the primary stood at 49, or roughly one-fifth of the general assembly.

Accolades and Gubernatorial Run

PACleanSweep made Diamond known throughout the state, culminating in his being named one of three "Citizens of the Year" by the Philadelphia Inquirer on January 1, 2006. Nine days later, Diamond authorized the Draft Russ Diamond political committee, a group aiming to test the viability of his candidacy for office. Finally, on April 13, 2006, he announced that he would run for Governor as an Independent.
Diamond's platform in his run for Governor includes pledges to abolish the property tax, fund public education out of general revenues, audit all government expenditures for efficiency and usefulness, call a constitutional convention to modernize the state's constitution, repeal a bill legalizing slot machines, and "stimulate economic development" by reducing taxes and regulation. He has promised to serve only one term and not run for re-election. His running mate is Tom Lingenfelter, a former Republican state committeeman and Democratic candidate for Congress.
To qualify for the general election ballot, Diamond needed to collect approximately 67,000 signatures by August 1, 2006, but he informed the media that he had only collected about 38,000.

Personal Controversy

Diamond has been the subject of much controversy. Many have labeled him a "self-promoter" who used PACleanSweep and the reform movement to enhance his political profile.
A four-time divorcee, Diamond's minor brushes with the law were briefly mentioned in the press during his 2004 campaigns and in 2005-2006. Diamond's elderly father was arrested in 2005, shortly after the creation of PACleanSweep, after a lengthy armed standoff with police.
Schism with PACleanSweep and the Reform Movement
Critics point to efforts by Diamond to prevent PACleanSweep from searching for gubernatorial candidates as evidence that Diamond planned to seek office from the start.
In March of 2006, Diamond attempted to remove five of the ten members of PACleanSweep's Board of Directors. Diamond requested the resignations of all board members, and cut off access to those who refused. Ironically, Diamond continued to operate PACleanSweep, with the assistance of board members who had submitted their resignations, over the protests of many in the reform movement. Diamond would later attempt to add four individuals to the group's board, and then resigned in April of 2006 to run for governor.
In April of 2006, Diamond was sued by several members of PACleanSweep's Board of Directors for violating nonprofit corporation law and the organization's charter. A Lebanon County judge declared that the four board members Diamond attempted to add were not legal directors of PACleanSweep, and ordered that corporate access and voting rights be returned to the rightful Board of Directors.

Current Status

With PACleanSweep's Board of Directors now divided and no longer personally loyal to him, Diamond then attempted to change the voting structure by granting himself and Lingenfelter voting rights, despite a unanimously-passed corporate policy that prohibited political candidates from exercising control of the corporation.
When this move failed, Diamond and his supporters attempted to disband the corporation entirely. Unable to garner even a simple majority for dissolution (the organization's by-laws called for a two-thirds supermajority for such a move).

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The LuLac Edition #202, April 22nd, 2007



Luzerne County politics certainly is comparable to New York City, whenever you go there, you see something you’ve never seen before. In this county, just when you think you’ve heard it all, you haven’t. There has been more talk about a Deputy Sherriff in these parts since the mythical town of Mayberry was buzzing about their own, beloved Barney Fife.
Last week the Times Leader reported that Democratic candidate for Sherrif Nipper Nowakowski has stated that if elected, he’d make the former Sherriff, Carl Zawatski his chief deputy. Zawatski, a former Sherriff who succeeded long timer and fellow Polains resident Frank “Jago” Jagadinski was characterized as Nowakowski as being a smart man. Nowakowski indicated he was hoping Zawatski would say yes to his request. Nowakowski is running against Pittston’s Michael Savokinas for the Democratic nomination in the spring primary. GOP incumbent Barry Stankus who beat Zawatski twice is running for a third term.
Zawatski said he is helping Nowakowski in his campaign because of Nowakoski’s experience as a former state trooper and in the law enforcement field. But he told the candidate to focus first on winning the elections before focusing on any appointments.
The two have battled each other in past elections. But they have also been friends for 40 years, Nowakowski said, and there are certainly no hard feelings between them.
In the meantime, another former political opponent – Democrat Tom Merlie’s name has come up. Nowakowski claims he is getting support from Merlie and wouldn’t mind putting him on staff either. Zawatski beat both men and Savokinas for the Democratic nomination for sheriff in 2003 before losing to Stankus in the general election.
Nowakowski said he would also consider bringing Merlie, a former Wilkes-Barre police captain, on staff in the sheriff’s office. “Nipper’s” foe in this race, Savokinas also ran for the office in the past. But he’s not talking any staff predictions right now. Savokinas said he thinks it’s too early to start publicly naming possible chief deputies.
This revelation brings some interesting dynamics to the Sherriff’s race.
1. Nowakowski seems to be trying to engender blocks of support in key areas of the County. A resident of Duryea, Nowakowski wants to broaden his base to blunt the stand off that a Savokinas candidacy will bring about in Greater Pittston. “Nipper’s” strategy is to get the Zawatski supporters in Plains and the Merle supporters in Wilkes Barre on his side to combat the effects of the Democratic endorsement of Savokinas. This will certainly help in the primary.
2. However, with Stankus being unopposed he can look to the General. With Zawatski’s previous political baggage concerning an auto accident his daughter was involved in years ago, is it a smart move by the Nowakowski people to publicly say Zawatski will be the chief deputy? Plus, Stankus can play the “I’m above politics” card by pointing to Nowakowski’s pandering to various past candidates in exchange for votes and/or jobs. All Stankus has to say is, “I didn’t do that” and he looks good in comparison. Stankus is going to need something because his vote total in 2003 was lower than his win in 1999. And it seems like Nowakowski has handed him an issue.
3. Still, all that said, Nowakowski might have found a way to blunt the impact of the Democratic endorsement. Add to that his catchy “polka sounding” radio ads, and this might get him through the primary.
But the primary win by Nowakowski might come at a great cost if Stankus can use Nowakowski’s pre election recruitment process as an issue.
The second best line in all of this came from Zawatski who said he was enjoying retirement and taking various golf trips enjoying not working and just relaxing. The best line came from a Demo political committeeman who shall remain nameless who said, “In this county, he could do all that and still be the Deputy”.


Got an e mail last week from Former Senator Rick Santorum. Rick wants a contribution from me. I’m getting right on that Rick. Anyway, here’s the note from our former Legislator:

Dear David,
The 2006 election is long past, and we are now beginning to see the true colors of the Democrats who took over Congress. The very first spending bill to emerge under the new liberal Democratic leadership of Nancy Pelosi … more than $463 billion!Both Senate and House Democrats are doing all they can to tie our hands in Iraq, sponsoring bill after bill to cut funding or pull our troops out altogether. Each new bill is more and more instructive about their motives and their unwillingness to fight terror...... and each one is equally destructive in the message it sends to our troops in the field and to our enemies. Ultimately, Senators like Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and, of course, Ted Kennedy are telling our men and women in uniform that they don't have the support of our government.The Senate has given the green light to expanding federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, despite the fact that not a single medical advancement has ever been found from embryo stem cells.Whatever Americans voted for in 2006, it certainly wasn't for higher spending, losing the war against radical Islam, or driving our culture deeper into its ethical or moral abyss.David, it's clear our work together is far from over. That is why in a few short weeks, I will be launching a new, refocused America's Foundation, dedicated to restaking conservative Republicans’ role in the critical debates that face our nation.Today it is my pleasure to invite you to become a 2007 America's Foundation Charter Member.David, we remain the party of ideas and vision. While it's vital we recognize that the war in Iraq played a role in the November elections, it's equally important to understand that as conservatives and Republicans our party strayed far away from the principles we've long stood for and that the people respected.You and I must work again to find candidates who will embrace those ideals and deliver genuine leadership once more!You and I can and must lead the way. Take a moment right now to use one of the links provided in this letter and make a Charter Member contribution of $50, $250, $500 or even $1,000 to America's Foundation right now.David, throughout my recent campaign you were a steadfast friend. I hope I expressed how truly grateful I was for that support throughout the race. And I hope you'll join with me again as we look beyond a single Senate seat toward the future of the country we love. Thank you and God bless you and your family. Sincerely, Rick SantorumChairmanP.S. America's Foundation is renewed and refocused. I hope you’ll stay connected to America’s Foundation in the weeks ahead to learn more about our efforts. Please join with me again now. Thanks again.



The Munchak/Cordaro team is running their “we got the Yankees” TV ad during placements in Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy two of the top rated local shows in the market. The ads are good. The placement better.


The billboards popping up featuring Greg Skrepenak and Mary Ann Petrilla, the presumptive nominees of the Democratic Party for Luzerne County Commissioner are examples of what good editing and photo shop editing can do. The taller Skrep has been sized down to coordinate beautifully with the normal sized Petrilla. Very eye catching and flattering.


Sorry to see Todd Vonderheid go as a County Commissioner. I was wrong about him in 2003 and wish I can vote for him again. But the county’s loss is going to be the Chamber’s gain. According to published reports, it appears Vonderheid will be the new CEO of the Wilkes Barre Chamber. The TL reported that today but guys, where did you get that awful photo of Todd? C’mon, the guy has some nice photos on file. The photo they used today looked as if he was in a Sunday morning brawl at the Woods.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The LuLac Edition #201, April 19th, 2007



Bruce Szczecinski, 37, is seeking the Democratic nomination for Wilkes-Barre City Council, District "D."
Bruce is a graduate of GAR Memorial High School and College Misericordia. He holds a BS in Business Administration
with a Specialization in Management as well as a BS in Management Information Systems.
His previous work history includes a Computer Print Operator with Nabisco Brands
and a Business Analyst with Kraft Foods. He is currently employed by the Pepsi Bottling
Group in Wilkes-Barre, where he is a member of the Local 401 Teamsters Union.
Bruce is a life-long resident of Wilkes-Barre, born and raised in the Height’s section.
He and his wife currently reside is the East End Section of Wilkes-Barre.
This is Bruce's first venture in to public office and he will be conducting a vigorous "door to door"
campaign over the next several months to discuss the needs of the District with the voters of the
2nd, 3rd, 4th and 8th Wards which comprise Wilkes-Barre City, District "D."


Philadelphia Daily News columnist Michael Smerconish wrote a great article on the killings in Virginia this week. Take a look:

THE TRAGEDY at Virginia Tech continues to unfold almost on a loop across our television screens, radios and computers. The latest reports sadly paint a picture we've seen before: a loner who appeared aloof and disturbed to his classmates and teachers.
But over the last few days, I've watched the devastation at Virginia Tech become fodder for an indictment of our entire way of life. Observers have framed this tragedy as a reflection of American culture, American parenting and American kids far removed from Blacksburg, Va.
There is no denying that this was a tragic event. But we need to remember that this was the work of one person.
Cho Seung-Hui committed these acts. We did not, and one bad actor shouldn't be an indictment of us all.
As Professor James Fox of Northeastern University told me when I sought his analysis this week: "Let's recognize that the real culprit here is the shooter.
"He's dead, so the tendency is to try to find other people to blame. And I guess there [are] lots of people down there on campus to hold under the spotlight."
What worries me is that in our efforts to grieve, cope and work toward preventing something like this from happening again, we've already begun courting the same old solutions: clamping down on guns, fencing in the campuses or purging violent video games, sex and pornography.
To be sure, our culture needs a scrubbing. But most Americans can watch a violent movie without making it real. And relative to guns, isn't the reality that those few disturbed among us, if not by firearms, will find another way to spark a tragedy?
We don't yet know why Cho Seung-Hui chose to use guns on Monday. But considering reports that he started a fire in a dorm room, and was a regular computer user, it's clear he would likely have found another way to carry out his plan had he wanted to.
It seems to me that the immediate challenge is to better identify the individuals who will act out like Cho Seung-Hui. We need to know who will watch a violent movie, a vengeful character portrayal or a murderous news account and try to inject himself into that part of the plot - 99.9 percent of America will not.
Reports of Seung-Hui's vulgar and violent "creative-writing" submissions prove again that the kooks among us almost always show outward signs of the violence inside them. We have to pick those indications out sooner, even if that means stepping on a couple of PC toes.
And we need to get back to punishing the evildoers we've already identified.
It's a joke when we are forced to reflect on whether 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui had a tough go of it as a kid.
Coddling like that isn't the oh-so-soft message we should be sending.
BUT AN AGGRESSIVE hunt for bad guys shouldn't be an invitation to sacrifice freedom in the educational setting, either.
We can't allow one person on one college campus to force us to overturn the liberties we've built our country and our lives on. As Professor Fox reminded us, the odds of falling victim to violence on campuses are still minuscule.
Episodes like these "are the sad and tragic price that we pay for our freedom," he said.
"We don't want to turn our campuses into armed camps, fortress-like places. That will detract from the educational experience and indeed students won't want to go there . . .
"Hopefully, it never happens again. I'm afraid that it will. But I don't know where, I don't know how, or by whom. And that's why this thing is so unpredictable and so difficult."
Here's hoping we don't turn our free society upside down as we try to cope with what happened in Blacksburg. Especially when we need to find the ones who might act it out again.
And finally, no matter what the press, pundits and pajama-media crowd tell us, "we" didn't do this. He did.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The LuLac Edition #200, April 18TH, 2007



The City Council race in District B was supposed to be about three nobodys vs. incumbent Tony Thomas. Challengers Ray Arellano, Bruce J. Reilly and Lisa McGlynn Cope were going to run covert campaigns and enable Thomas a cruise to victory. As they say on ESPN Radio though, "not so fast my friend". Turns out challenger Ray Arellano is picking up some grassroots support in the Rolling Mill Hill District (very familiar with the turf, Mrs. LuLac and I had our very first apartment above Leggieri's Market when we first tied the knot) and has been encouraged to make it a race. Here's a note we recieved from the candidate's campaign:
Dear Voters:
I am not a career politician. I do not intend to receive benefits when elected, as I feel that the tax payers compensate the Council members quite adequately for part time work.

I was asked to run by neighbors, and friends, who were fed up with the status quo. Today's letter to the editor by Mr. William Edwards in the Citizens Voice (04/17/07) more of less tells it like it is. I think that considering the past performance of the present incumbents, they have a lot of nerve to try to offer the taxpayers more of the same.

As Willie Nelson so appropriately stated, "Turn out the lights, the party's over" We who are in this race all
have one commonality, we have HAD ENOUGH !!

My base is made up mostly of elders who feel that they have not had a seat at the table, and have been disenfranchised by our City government, because their lifelong neighborhoods are deteriorating, and their taxes keep going up. I also have representation from the younger generation who wonder if there will be jobs for them when they graduate? They can't even count on working at the hamburger joints because our retired senior are taking those jobs to supplement their incomes to pay taxes, and possibly keep their homes!

We have to give our youngsters more of an incentive to stay in school, and get a good education, or learn a trade so that when and if Wilkes-Barre can entice good paying jobs to the area, we can have a ready and skilled workforce.

I will have the pleasure of making your acquaintance on May the 6th at Gennetti's.

Ray Arellano
Candidate for Wilkes-Barre City Council


Editor: Voters and taxpayers of Wilkes-Barre, election is coming, now you must decide who you want elected. We should put candidates’ parties aside, we have good and poor candidates in either party and you should elect the person who will represent and work for your tax dollars.
1. Do you know that the present council are members of the previous administration except one that blames the past for poor administration.
2. Tax exempt properties is around 54 percent.
3. Only 46 percent of property owners pay taxes.
4. Taxpayers’ money from the county, state and federal government helped finance the theater project (your money).
5. Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce owns the theater and building and they receive all the benefits and profits.
6. We the people (taxpayers and government) do not receive any money from the theater’s revenue. (K0Z Zone.)
7. All KOZ zones are tax exempt and we the taxpayers pick up the tab for services. Example: Humford Equities rents their holdings; receives the rents, but do not pay taxes like many other KOZ owners.
8. The mayor if elected will have 20 years service credit towards his retirement and will receive $42,000 plus benefits for his family. Ex-mayor Namey receives around $30,000 and McGroarty will be eligible for around $42,000 plus benefits for family. (Not bad for 12 years part time and 8 years full time.)
9. City Council for part time receives around $1,200 per month, health insurance or a buyout, car expense, life insurance, which equates to around $22,000 a year.
10. Wilkes-Barre government is giving away properties and streets.
11. Wilkes Barre Chamber of Commerce owns the Innovation Center, Pomeroy’s building, properties on Northampton and South Main Street. Are they in the real estate business as their main concern and not concerned about bringing good-paying jobs to the area?
12. Since the 1972 flood over $6 billion was spent on downtown Wilkes-Barre while the neighborhoods are being neglected.
13. Get a load of this: South Main Street Business Improvement District property owners must pay 2.56 percent more taxes for sidewalk cleanup, police and fire protection and considering hiring a marketing director. Where did the chamber’s marketing director Mr. John Augustine go?
14. You do know city council fought to overturn the voice and will of the people who voted to reduce city council from 7 to 5 in court.
15. Voters and taxpayers, get out and vote for the candidates that will represent and work for you. Voters beware owners of the KOZ zone, chambers of commerce with the help of our elected officials are reaping in the big dollars. Don’t you think enough is enough, you 46 percent taxpayers?
William Edwards

Frank McGee, a great NBC newscaster who co-anchored coverage of the death of President Kennedy, was a mainstay on NBC news for all of its space coverage including the lunar landing and at the end of his career and life was host of The Today Show died 34 years ago yesterday. He was 51 and died of bone cancer. A great journalist in the NBC mold, McGee was a pillar of broadcasting for NBC in the sixties and early 70s.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The LuLac Edition #199, April 16th, 2007



So if I were running for office, I'd tell people I was related to former wyoming Area School Director Timmy Pribula who also worked for years at the Luzerne County Courthouse. I'd also tell people my aunt was Joan Petrillo Yonki, who was Director of Nursing at NPW and later Geisinger for many years. I'd want people to know about my relatives. I'd want the voters who might have known these two high profile figures in local politics and health care that I was a nephew. Related. It's good political sense. Apparently Council candidate in District E Mike Merritt decided that he doesn't want to tell us who his relatives are. When Merritt stopped by my house a few Saturdays ago, he made no mention of his relationship with Bill Brace. He should have.
Bill Brace is a fine fellow. I had the honor of playing on one of his Killer Bees softball teams in the eighties and Brace even encouraged me to field a team in the league which I did. (We were called The Lady Killers and were dreadful save for our starting pitcher David DeCosmo of WYOU TV fame). If I were related to Bill Brace, I'd tell someone. Well, Merritt told the Democratic Committee members who were endorsing last week. He recieved the endorsement in District E. Too bad he hasn't been bringing up his relationship to the voters with the average rank and file citizen. Still, I have no problem with using your relatives to get you votes. What bothers me the most is that Merritt works in the same facility as Tony Thomas, current incumbent on Council. When we need independent voices on the Council, that relationship to me is way too cozy and close for comfort.

Charlotte Raup wrote me a quick note and told me she'll be particpating in The LuLac Political Letter Forum on May 6th at Genetti's. Here's her information:

Charlotte Raup
Democrat, District E which includes North End, Brookside,
Parsons and Miners Mills sections.

50 years old / Married 27 years to Greg Raup
Wilkes University / B.A. Philosophy
President of the Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch Coalition

Charlotte was the recipient of the 2006 Governor’s Citizen Crime Prevention Volunteer Recognition Award. The award is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Coalition on Crime and Delinquency. It is given annually to those who organize crime prevention initiatives in their communities. She has also received three Resolutions from Wilkes–Barre City Council members extending their appreciation for service to the community.

For the past ten years, Charlotte has been working for the people as a volunteer with the police, city officials, magistrates and the District Attorney’s Office to improve the city, prevent crime and reduce illegal drugs. She has seen first hand how the city works and what problems need to be corrected. If elected, she will apply the knowledge she has gained to implement stronger ordinances that will assist the police, health department and The CAT Team to eliminate slum landlords that house drug dealers and illegal aliens. Charlotte is also committed to beautification of our neighborhoods and recreation for our youth.

Charlotte is President of the Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch Coalition,
Coordinator of the Parsons Crime Watch, Member of the Luzerne County Crime Watch Coalition, Member of Wilkes-Barre City Charter Review Commission , Member of the Wilkes-Barre Shade Tree Commission, Member of the Community Emergency Response Team and a Luzerne County Penn State Master Gardener.

WEB site -

Tim Anderson, candidate for Council in District D weighed in on the ridiculous dual endoresement of incumbents Bill Barrett and Mike McGinley in that district. Great letter, superb logic. Imagine this type of thinking on council!

Dear Editor,

I would like to go on the record as saying that I am glad that I was
never even considered to get the endorsement from the Democratic Party
for this year's primary election. Even though I am not really shocked
about who was endorsed, it never really ceases to amaze me. First off,
every district that has a current council member running for
re-election gets the proverbial rubber stamp from the committee. Then
the District E endorsement (which has no incumbent) goes to Mr.
Merritt. It just goes to show that it is all about who you know. But
my personal favorite (and not just because it is the district where I
live) is the council race in District D. In this case, both
incumbents, Mr. Barrett and Mr. McGinley, get the endorsement!? This
shows that the committee wants to make sure that they endorsed the
winner come May 15, no matter who it is. No one in this area is
willing to stick their neck out and do what is right for us, the
taxpayers, the citizens. It has nothing to do with ideas or
leadership, only politics as usual. Are we just going to keep allowing
politicians to lead us around like blind sheep? Let's show the people
in power that we are not as dumb as they think we are. This year,
let's look at the person running for office, not their lineage or
family tree, not their party affiliation or endorsements. Let's look
at their moral fiber and their credentials. Let's look at their ideas
and the supporting information to back those ideas. Let's vote for
individuals that can represent us in a way that correspond to our own
values and principles, people that will do what is right for the City
as a whole, not just themselves. Let's look for individuals who
understand that true leaders put themselves last in order to do what is
right for everyone else.

Timothy Anderson
City Council Candidate

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The LuLac Edition #198, April 15th, 2007



There are days when we think we know what Patriotism is all about. My heavens, the Bush administration has told us how unpatriotic we can be if we disagree with their flaws war policies. Patriotism sometimes comes out on rare occasions, like the Fourth of July when everyone goes to their local fireworks extravaganza but would be hard pressed to tell you who wrote the declaration of Independence or even if anyone signed it. Patriotism comes to the forefront when we welcome the local guy or gal home from combat, thanking them for their service. While I applaud the local celebrations for those fighting in Iraq, and have joined in one or two of them, I can’t help but think Americans are trying to make up for guilt because of the way Vietnam vets were treated. But that’s another story for another time and place. Patriotism comes in bombast and flourishes, embracing the thousands jumping on the bandwagon. But Patriotism also comes from commitment to core beliefs, and sometimes fighting the lonely battle where there is no bunting and no banners. A Patriot serves in many ways and today I’d like to offer up some food for thought.
A true patriot is someone who cares about his or her community.
A true patriot will appear before a Council or Township meeting on their own time to question budgets, courses of action and the future of their local government.
A true patriot will put himself or herself out there for all the world to see, sometimes questioning what was unquestionable and making the powers that be uncomfortable. Those people usually get escorted or thrown out of public meetings.
A true patriot will relentlessly seek the truth about administration’s relationships with business people, partnerships and even relatives of those elected. This stance will not make the Patriot popular and most likely make their lives very uncomfortable.
A true patriot will go the extra mile when they shouldn’t have to. When existing governmental bodies do not provide answers, or worse yet, provide non answers and pass the buck or make it so draconian for someone to get a simple basic answer (I point as an example to Steve Corbett’s battle with the Lackawanna County Sherriff’s office as well as others in Luzerne County and Wilkes Barre that are getting the runaround) to a question, then the inquiring person is not only a Patriot but a Super Hero. (Most interested citizens don’t want to be Super Heroes but sometimes they are forced into it).
Patriotism is on display locally right now but the citizens who are being affected by the local governments have to be part of it. Currently there are many men and women doing the ultimate patriotic thing, running for office. Particularly in the city of Wilkes Barre more than 20 people are offering themselves up for public office on the Council level. They don’t want the pensions, they don’t want the perks, they want to serve. My question desperately asked is this: IS ANYONE PAYING ATTENTION? Voters and citizens pay attention sometimes when it is too late. The war in Iraq and the problems with the returning vets were issues on the radar screen a few years ago but no one paid attention. Voters in this little corner of the world have to start paying attention. NOW. Wilkes Barre and Scranton have entrenched administrations that have systematically tried to stymie public debate. Its elected officials have insulted taxpayers and citizen advocates labeling the voting public as malcontents and people who we should be “ashamed” of. This is the unpatriotic behavior. You notice that this comes from the entrenched few who govern and not the masses?
I went to two political meetings this weekend. One in the Wilkes Bare area, the other in the Mid Valley. The people putting themselves up for office had no prominent attorneys with fat checkbooks giving them contributions. There was no shrimp and bananas foster. Pretzels, cake, beer and soda. There was no Versace wear or people there with $300.00 haircuts. But there were interested voters and the electoral challengers who told the assembled multitudes about their ideas, their plans, their passion. They spoke of the shoddy treatment they as taxpayer advocates have received from their Mayors and Council bodies. The candidates talked about the frustrations of running for office because they feel their main enemy is not political power brokers money or the back room deals of the connected but the lack of focus on these issues by the voting public. These candidates have put themselves on the front line and seem to be asking the question. “Is anyone out there?”
The city of Scranton is facing a huge financial crisis and its council members have tried to shut out the citizens posing questions. The city of Wilkes Barre has a Council that rubber stamps everything the administration proposes sometimes straining the rules of credulity and logic. Are there any other people out there besides the candidates caring and listening about these issues?
Patriotism is a two way street. Coming up the street are the people, patriots who have decided to run for office because they want answers and change. Voters and citizens have to get out of their Lazy Boys, put the Coors Lite down and get out in that street and understand the issues and care about them. It’s the Patriotic thing to do. The consequences for inaction are downright scary. The candidates running are doing the “Patriotic” thing, now the voters must too. If not, we get the government we richly deserve.


Council candidate Ray Arellano running in District B had a meet and greet Saturday morning. I understand he had a respectable crowd for a first time candidate. Arellano’s foes in that district are incumbent Tony Thomas, Bruce Reilly, Sherry McGylnn Cope and Vince Guarneri.


Talked to County Commissioner Steve Urban this week. Urban and I chewed the fat over public entities funding private developers. Urban said he’s all for economic development and would be happy to lend a prospective business county money to bring jobs into the area and enhance it. But not outright give money to profit making companies to enrich themselves more. If one takes a look at some of the investments government has made locally to bring in “high paying jobs” with tax forgiveness and grants, it would curl a citizen’s hair. As a county official, Steve Urban has kept on eye on these things and in my estimation has been working overtime. After all, do you think Mary Ann Petrilla is going to ask the hard questions Urban would? Urban is running for re-election for another term. He is a hands on commissioner who has a bead on how county money should be spent and distributed. Not given away to the greedy fat cats who get rich on taxpayer dollars. We wish him the best.

We had the opportunity to speak to Linda Stetts who is running for both Council District D and Mayor on the GOP ticket. Stetts, a long time community activist asked about the ground rules for the political forum in May. She has promised to send me information on her plans as a candidate which should be interesting.

Another conversation we had this week was with Walter Griffith Junior and Tim Grier. My head was swimming after sitting down with these guys regarding some ideas they individually and collectively have for the city of Wilkes Barre. On a warm Saturday afternoon, these guys spoke with passion about where they want Wilkes Barre to go. While I personally did not agree with everything, I thought how wonderful it would be if one of these guys achieved public office in Wilkes Barre. Think about it, when was the last time you heard a Council member currently serving say anything except Jim McCarthy? Personally I can’t wait to hear Griffith who is running in District A and Grier who is running for Mayor and also Council in District A at the LuLac Political Letter City Council Forum on Sunday May 6th starting at 430PM at Genetti’s in Wilkes Barre. Think about this, Grier, as a Dem and Griffith as a Republican facing off for a Council Seat in District A in the General Election. Now that would be an interesting race full of ideas and dare I say it again, patriotism.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The LuLac Edition #197, April 12th, 2007



Franklin D. Roosevelt died on this day in 1945. Roosevelt was the consummate war time President. FDR had his hands on every strategic battle, every aspect of the war, both economic and social and knew the nitty gritty details down to the last kernel and nugget of information. He build relationships with Churchill and even danced with the devil in the person of Joseph Stalin. He became acquainted with his future Vice President Harry Truman because during the war years the bespectacled Senator from Missouri was watching every penny the military spent like a mafia accountant on Super Bowl Sunday. FDR included his 1940 GOP foe in every discussion and asked his input on all things great and small.
Contrast FDR’s handling of the war with President Bush’s activity with the Iraq War. There have been multiple strategies, no straight forward reason why we went there, a military that has to resort to giving bonuses for the troops to stay and the let down of services for wounded returning troops. Now we’re told the President wants to appoint a War Czar to take over the administration of the conflict. At least it is an action by President Bush but it might be too little too late. On this day of FDR’s death, it is jolting to see the comparisons between the two war time Presidents.


"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." Thomas Jefferson.
Just a reminder, the LuLac Political Forum meeting is set for Sunday May
6th, 430pm at Genetti’s in Downtown Wilkes Barre. We’ve gotten responses from a good amount of candidates. Here’s a copy of the letter we sent to the candidates:

Dear Council Candidate:
You are cordially invited to attend the LuLac Political Letter’s City Council Forum, Sunday May 6th from 4:30PM to 7PM at Genetti’s Best Western Imperial Ballroom in Wilkes Barre. The LuLac Political Letter will be closing in on its first year anniversary and what better way to commemorate that than with a lively exchange of ideas between the council candidates and the general public. Here are the ground rules:
A. Candidates will be seated by district at individual tables at the front of the room.
B. Each Council candidate will be given 5 minutes maximum to present their credentials and plans for the city. After every candidate has made their presentations, questions will be asked from the audience to any candidate. To save time, it will be one question per audience member. What we need from you:
1. A confirmation of your availability by April 30th. You can respond by calling 570-821-6152 leaving a voice mail or by e mail to or
2. By that date, April 30th, we will also need a typed 1 minute or less introduction of the candidate outlining his or her experience, work history, hobbies, family, whatever. You can send this to: 253 North Main Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702 in care of David Yonki or e mail to the addresses listed above. If we don’t receive an introduction from a candidate, we will just introduce them cold by name and district.
This is the first time to my knowledge that a City Council Candidates Forum has ever been tried. We hope you’ll participate for the interested voting public and bring forth your ideas and concerns. Our moderator for the afternoon will be WILK’s Sue Henry.
In the meantime, if any candidate has a JPEG photo and any press releases, we will be more than happy to post them on our site prior to the May primary election. You can send them to my e mail addresses: or Or check out my site address at
Thank you in advance for your service in this important city-wide election.

David S. Yonki –
LuLac Political Letter


Well CBS fired Don Imus. And I have mixed feelings. First off, what Imus said was wrong. Inexcusable. But he apologized immediately, he didn’t put out spin on what he meant and went to the young women he offended and asked forgiveness.
It seems to me that Imus was caught up in a hypocritical corporate world that he easily embraced as a schizophrenic that had him as half rebel, half glad hander. When Imus made the statement, it was in reaction to one of his gang. Sometimes the gang was more crude than the I man and in this incident they did not serve him well.
I’m bothered by three things,
1. That we can forgive a Rose O’Donnell for saying the World Trade Center bombing was an “inside job” and let Ann Coulter go on after her crazy, insensitive statements. We can’t forgive Imus?
2. CBS owns MTV. They, as a corporation are outraged by Imus’s comments when the fare on the music channel is all about gang banging, killing and forgive me, “ho’s”. CBS taking the high ground in this matter is like me preaching against the evils of girl watching. In short, CBS has lost their credibility as a company if they don’t do something about the violent and degrading rap videos directed toward young people. Firing Imus was easy, he was a tired old shoe who’s act has worn thin. And when the advertisers went off the reservation, that was all the push the company needed. But don’t tell us its about integrity.
3. The moral judges of this drama were Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Jackson was a heroic civil rights figure marching with Dr. King (even though he did whip his shirt off when King got shot to blot it with blood for a good photo op) and paved the way for a run for President by Barack Obama and other minority candidates. But he did refer to Jews as “hymies” and has had dubious business dealings. Sharpton has much baggage of his own too and has never seemed to be the successor to a Dr. King but more like a Reverend Ike. I’d feel better if there were other black leaders with less dubious pasts passing judgement.
So, I Man is gone. But maybe something can be learned. As Bernard Meltzer once said, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past -- but you sure do change the future.” Maybe ikf we can forgive, we’ll learn.