PHOTO INDEX: LACKAWANNA COMMISSIONERS BOB CORDARO, A.J. MUNCHAK AND THE SCRANTON/WILKES BARRE YANKEES LOGO.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
The release of season tickets for the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees has caused concern among some politicos in Lackawanna County. It seems the staff of the baby Yankees used visuals of Commissioners A.J. Munchak and Bob Cordaro in the release of season tickets. To me, this is no big deal because:
1. Both Cordaro and Munchak were in the majority when the Yankees decided to come here. When President Ford was in office, he got to ride and sail with the tall ships in New York harbor because he was the sitting President. Same with these guys.
2. The visuals are from news stories not posed pictures of them in replica jerseys imitating Jeter's or A-Rod's batting stance.
3. Some season ticket holders won't notice, care or wonder. All they know is they have their beloved Yankees on real grass.
Nonetheless, in case you missed it, here's the report from the Scranton Times/Tribune:
Lackawanna County’s Republican majority commissioners do, however, appear on tickets shipped to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees season-ticket buyers this week. The sight of incumbents’ faces on tickets for the county-owned team, during an election year, had political opponents in an uproar Friday.“This is a public agency that is paying for the tickets,” said Andrew Eldredge-Martin, campaign manager for Democratic commissioner candidate Corey O’Brien. “This is something that’s owned by the people of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties. I don’t see the Luzerne commissioners on the tickets, and I don’t see (Lackawanna) minority Commissioner Mike Washo.”The majority commissioners, together with team management, maintain the tickets were not politically motivated. Both Mr. Cordaro and Mr. Munchak said they knew nothing about the use of their images until asked about the tickets by The Times-Tribune on Friday afternoon.“They in no way had anything to do with this,” Yankees executive vice president Jeremy Ruby said. Instead, team staff chose images of events leading up to opening day, starting with the Sept. 21 announcement that the New York Yankees was bringing its Triple-A farm club here.One of the images — which shows up on the April 5 opening-day tickets in a pack obtained by the Times-Tribune — shows the newspaper’s Sept. 22 front page, featuring a picture of the majority commissioners and the headline “Yankee-Mania!”“We in the office thought, that’s the shot to remember,” Mr. Ruby said.Another image shows Mr. Munchak holding a Yankees jersey from the December press conference when the local team’s name and logo were unveiled. That shows up on several tickets during the season, including ones for the May 13 game, two days before the primary election.“Are you kidding me? That’s complete irony,” said Mr. Ruby, who admitted he didn’t know exactly what a primary was. “We’re not about politics. We’re all about baseball in our office.”The images do not appear on general sale tickets, he added.Mr. Cordaro had a clear message for those who would politicize the tickets.“A.J. and I brought the Yankees to Scranton, and the other candidates did not,” he said. “We’re very proud of it.”Mr. Washo, the incumbent Democrat, wasn’t surprised, nor did he want his own picture on a ticket, calling that “inappropriate.”“Moms and dads and kids that are going to ballgames aren’t interested in seeing a county politician’s mug on their tickets. It’s tawdry,” he said. “A Washo majority would not permit this.” Instead, Mr. Washo wondered why Yankees greats weren’t pictured on the tickets.Most of the season tickets feature dancing mascots, smiling children, fireworks and similarly cheerful scenes. But, Mr. Ruby said, the team did not have approval to use images of the New York Yankees. And because the Triple-A Yankees have not yet played here, local action shots weren’t available.Republican commissioner challenger Phil Spinka said he wasn’t bothered by the commissioners’ pictures. Fellow Republican contender Robert G. Castellani was less obliging.“What does any commissioner have to do with a baseball game? Or any facet of baseball, period?” Mr. Castellani asked.“The Yankees brought themselves here,” he continued. “Let’s face it, it’s a lot closer than Ohio or the other choices ... (George) Steinbrenner owns the team. If he didn’t want to be here, the team wouldn’t be here.”A call to the home of Democratic candidate Evie Rafalko McNulty wasn’t immediately returned Friday.The images may have caused political consternation, but do not seem to have broken any laws.Asked about the situation, an official with the state Ethics Commission said it didn’t sound like an issue that would fall under the agency’s purview.State elections officials described the question as “murky,” adding that direct political appeals on the tickets would be a different story. There were no such messages on the tickets.Barry Kauffman, executive director of Pennsylvania Common Cause, a nonprofit government watchdog group, drew a fine line between legality and propriety.“It certainly smacks of political advertising paid for, ultimately, by the taxpayers,” Mr. Kauffman said. “It’s another example of how public resources are used to perpetuate incumbents.”Mr. Cordaro, however, suggested the opposition’s posturing could effectively become advertising for the majority.“Silly candidates like this are now putting this out to 60,000 newspaper readers, versus the few thousand people who actually got the season tickets,” he said.
NEWS FROM MARIO
Got an e mail from Mario Fiorucci who has decided not to run for County Commissioner but instead return to closer political roots. Here's what he had to offer:
I am replying to the March 4 letter from Mark Cour of Wilkes-Barre.
Mr. Cour says that “elections at any level of government should not be turned into free-for-alls.” He goes on to say it would “further cloud the multitude of clouded issues.”
Third parties have to gather huge numbers of signatures to get on the ballot. But they do not have to run in a primary. If other candidates vie for the same office in their party, they hold a caucus.
In December 2005, I announced I would run as an independent candidate for Luzerne County Commissioner. To get on the ballot, I needed over 1,000 signatures. The best way to obtain that number, which is four times more than a major-party candidate needs, is to have people with petitions at the polls during the primary election. This way you know that those who sign are probably registered voters.
To gather more signatures, the best method is to knock on doors. After Carl Romanelli, the U.S. Senate Green Party candidate, lost a challenge to his petition, he was required to pay over $80,000 in related costs to the Democrats and courts.
Fearful, I registered as a Democrat to compete in the May primary for Luzerne County Commissioner. Then the big winter storm hit us, just as the three-week primary nomination period started. Not able to overcome such bleak weather conditions, I chose not to run.
Instead, I am running for Sugar Notch Mayor again. But I have also developed issues over the years for the Hanover Area School District. Some of them were reported in the local papers.
So I have also submitted petitions to put me on the primary ballot for school director. If I win both elections, I will have to choose one. As a low-income resident, I will rely on the letters to the editor I have written over the years to inform the public that I am a qualified candidate for those positions. (I also have a master’s degree in government from Georgetown University.)
Mr. Cour goes on to say those who are circulating petitions for council and mayor are making “spectacles of themselves and the electoral process.” He says “that a serious candidate would know what office they aspire to, before they pick up nomination petitions.”
I believe I could be more effective than a lot of elected officials. Most major-party candidates seem to lack a vision for the future. I have developed progressive issues for commissioner, school director and mayor.
Mr. Cour says, “Why should anyone have unfettered access to the ballot?”
I believe in democracy, not just the two-party systems. And to put my money where my mouth is, I am bestowing the 2007 Free Speech Award to Tim Grier at my Eighth Annual State of the World Forum.
He is running for both Wilkes-Barre Mayor and City Council. I think that his qualities and abilities make him a real candidate for whatever office he seeks.
Mario Fiorucci Republican Hanover Area School Board candidate Democratic Sugar Notch Mayor candidate Sugar Notch .