The LuLac Edition #377, Dec. 23rd, 2007
PHOTO INDEX: RON PAUL SUPPORTERS HIT THE STREETS RIGHT ACROSS FROM TGI FRIDAYS SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND THE COURTHOUSE.
THE FIRST ONE
Even though the Presidential candidates are battling in Iowa and New Hampshire, Presidential politics creeped its way into Northeastern Pennsylvania Saturday when a band of Ron Paul supporters carried signs and made their presence known. Paul is a Texas Congresssman running for the GOP nomination who has raised close to 19 million dollars on the Internet. The only appearances in Luzerne and Lackawanna County so far have come from Senator Clinton in Scranton over the Memorial Day family event and Senator Biden at Borders Book Store, also in Scranton for a book signing. Paul has a dedicated group of people and a fascinating web presence. Check out his site: http://www.ronpaul2008.com/
DEBIT DEBACLE WRAP
A few days before Christmas, let's recap the deebate card debacle. A split crowd came to the Courthouse meeting room. Some, like Duryea resident Al Akulonis supported the Commissioners, while Keith Sorber and Joe Naperkowski called for Skrepenak's resignation. Todd Klein asked Steve Urban about the legal fees the county owes when it was found out a racketeering suit was dismissed. Todd Vonderheid on the other side of the table came asking for tax forgiveness for Chamber properties in Industrial Parks and Steve Urban all but told him he smelled a rat. Urban's suspicions are that the Chamber, in need of money is playing a shell game. Clerk of Courts of Reilly defended the Commissioners (big surprise there) and Mayor Tom Leighton thanked the board for helping to revitalize downtown Wilkes Barre. Urban's feelings were hurt because he felt the Mayor didn't include him in the round of "thank yous". County Budget official Sam Diaz said training and out of town expenses would have to be cut and that department heads shouldn't spend over what is allocated to them. (A novel concept.) Wilkes-Barre resident Tim Grier, said the county is facing a $40 million loss in state reimbursement for the county’s leased juvenile detention center, and he urged commissioners to stop using bond money to pay off county tax anticipation loans. He also produced records that showed he paid for county services as a taxpayer blunting bond lawyer Peter Moses' contention that Grier had no standing to file a lawsuit because he owned no property. Building trades representative Robert Potoski said he is tired of the “negativity.” Wilkes-Barre resident Walter Griffith said debit card holders are guilty of malfeasance, and urged commissioners to fire Guesto.
Vonderheid, complained that “Instead of debating ideas, we focus on minutia and use it with the help of our friends in the media to disturb or discredit folks who try every day to make this – their home – a better place,” he said. Well Todd, it's not the big things that bring down a political empire but the small stuff, minutia, if you will that finally wake up taxpayers from their slumber. If the debit card controversy did anything, and I grant you in the grand scheme of things it is not a huge issue legally, it brought into focus more attention to County government. And as it stands right now, the actions of the debit card holders has put anything the Commissioners propose or do, open to cynical scrutiny by a distrusting public. And it wasn't the media that started the ball rolling on it, it was an unadhered to policy that did that. And as predicted by this blogger on WYOU TV's Interactive News a few weeks back, the county did find the money and despite the gnashing of teeth, no layoffs were necessary. And as the meeting ended, someone was heard to say "God Bless Us Everyone!"
PENNY WISE, POUND FOOLISH
We are getting reports that the City Parking Authority, presumably under the direction of Mayor Tom Leighton has raised monthly parking fees for downtown employees who work in the office buildings using the city run garages. Reports are that the city is not negotiating with major employers and essentially telling them to take or leave the deal. Let's see, you have about 7 retail businesses in your glittering new storefronts, you wouldn't even talk to Solid Cactus when it tried to stay in the city, you're charging those same downtown businesses an additional clean up fee to pay for the services your public works department already gets funded for and now you're busting the chops of companies that employ hundreds of people in downtown Wilkes Barre over monthly parking fees. (What all the businesses should do is try to buy a parcel of land in the city (one of the Mayor's real estate buddies will sell it to them or hey better yet, the Mayor could!) and have all the employees park there and have shuttle buses take them to work). Or they can say screw it and leave. Yesterday, the Saturday before Christmas I drove through downtown Wilkes Barre. I counted 33 people in the downtown, and only 12 were carrying a package or bag of some sort. This is a far cry from the Wilkes Barre I knew as a boy the Saturday before Christmas. Squeezing established businesses who have stayed in Wilkes Barre because of loyalty to the city over monthly parking rates is really stupid. But as they say, "pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered". No matter, the downtown looks pretty for those 33 people wandering around like lost souls a few days before Christmas. "I Believe?" Oh yeah, right out of town baby!