Sunday, September 30, 2007

The LuLac Edition # 316, Sept. 30th, 2007














PHOTO INDEX: THE INDIANS, THE YANKEES, THE PHILLIES AND THE ROCKIES LOGO.


THE PLAYOFFS


The regular baseball season ended today except for of course the sudden death game between Colorado and San Diego Monday. As a baseball fan, it is going to be a great post season. For my alligances, man am I confused. First and foremost, I'm an Indians fan but really respect the job Joe Torre and the Yankees did in their remarkable season. Left for dead in May, they battled back. Then there are those Phillies. Again, a team that scrapped its way to the top. I''ve always been hard on Charlie Manual especially when he was manager of the Tribe but this year he seemed to push the right buttons. Then there are the Rockies, two years ago Mrs. LuLac and I enjoyed a great game at that beautiful stadium with Jim Gibson and Bonnie Gilbert. One of my best friends since childhood David Dellarte is an Angels fan and one of my favorite people in the broadcast business, Sue Henry is a diehard Red Sox fan, not to mention my brother-in-law Owen Barnett. Plus a former radio buddy Pat Fadden is a true blue Phils fan. I love the Indians (a good friend Jim Petrie) is actually going to see the Tribe for the playoffs. And then there's this prediction from Yankee rookie and former SWB Yank Jaba Chamberlain:
I think the Rockies will win and go to win the National League pennant, where I, Joba Chamberlain, will shatter their World Series hopes.
Posted at
9:00PM on Sep 30th 2007 by Joba Chamberlain.
The hurler posted that to a website dealing with Major League Baseball. So everyone's getting into the act, even the players! What a great time of year.
With all of this going on, you can see how I would be torn. But that's the best kind of stress for a baseball fan. As September ends and October begins, I refer you to my old baseball adage, "For true baseball fans: there's no sleep in October".


SURVEY SAYS!!!


During the Green Bay game today, I got a call asking me about Tom Leighton's performance as Mayor. The person calling asked about Paul Kanjorski, Lou Barletta and Steve Urban too. But the poll seemed to be focusing on Leighton and his tenure primarily as Wilkes Barre Mayor.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The LuLac Edition #315, Sept. 29th, 2007









PHOTO INDEX: COUNCIL CANDIDATES RICK CRONAUER AND WALTER GRIFFITH.


WHERE'S RICK??


That's what Council candidate in District A Walter Griffith wants to know.
Where was Rick Cronauer when the City Council threatened the Master
Chemical Co...and almost shut this 35 year business down and force them out of the City..Where was Rick Cronauer when the City Council levied a 2.57% BID Tax on the Downtown merchants??? Why hasn't Rick Cronauer come to a City Council meeting regarding the Solid Cactus Co. moving out of Wilkes Barre .. This City Council Candidate seems to think
like the City Council and Administration that we have at the present
time....maybe there is some truth to the rumor about how he won the Primary against a 2 term incumbent...
The campaign is on in South Wilkes Barre, the signs are out and Walter Griffith is just getting warmed up. This is going to be fun to watch.


LOKUTA: DAY 5 (WRAP)


Judith Flaherty, a former law clerk/tip staff, or others would have to call Lokuta to tell her she was needed in court.
It would be late morning, or early afternoon, Flaherty testified, and it sounded like Lokuta had just awakened.
Flaherty ended up spending a lot of time at Lokuta’s Dupont home – by Lokuta’s command.
She had to do yard work.
Store collectibles.
Sit with Lokuta’s elderly mother.
Flaherty previously told investigators Lokuta made her scrub the floor.
But a lot of that was by choice, not by order, Lokuta’s attorney, Sinatra argued.
Flaherty actually attended several social events at Lokuta’s home, the attorney argued. She even went with Lokuta to a Halloween party at the nursing home where Lokuta’s mother was staying.
Sinatra showed Flaherty a picture of the trio to remind her.


REACTION


As testimony ended, here are a few thoughts. The people who have accused the Judge of bad behavior stayed with her for a long time and some even returned back to work to her. Again, their choice.
On the yard work and floors and sitting with mom, if indeed Lokuta pressured employees to do work at her house, that is an abuse of power akin to what the Lackawanna County Warden Gilhooley did a few years back. Censure would be the mildest form of punishment in my opinion. But there has to evidence, concrete evidence that there was cohersion. Gilhooley's deeds were done by prisoners who essentially had no coice, I mean where were they going. But Flaherty was a professional woman with a viable skill that could have been transfered anywhere. Why would a professional demean themselves doing that? Now a friend would watch mom, pick up the dry cleaning and even lend a hand. Which was it, a professional or buddy? The photo of Flaherty, Lokuta and her mom is a little damning. And not to the Judge.
This process will take months and a decision might not be made for a good while. But in my opinion, all I see against the Judge are undocumented allegations and hearsay. I think the testimony against Lokuta reflects worse on the accusers than it does the Judge. But that's from where I sit.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The LuLac Edition #314, Sept. 28th, 2007










PHOTO INDEX: THE PROVERBIAL DECK OF CARDS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOHN EDWARDS, AND FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR MARIO CUOMO.


EDWARDS TAKES MATCH


John Edwards, the millionaire lawyer running for President has decided to take matching funds in the 2008 Presidential race. The former Senator's move was seen as an act of desperation by some and by others a strategy to see if he can deliver a knockout blow in the Democratic primary. Edwards has struggled to remain in the so-called top tier of Democratic candidates ever since Clinton and Obama both doubled and then tripled Edwards fundraising over the last 9 months. Well, that struggle became even greater yesterday with the campaign's decision to accept matching funds. While the campaign is desperately spinning that this decision means they'll have $20 million to spend at the start of the year, it means the campaign has no long-term strategy. They are going for a quick knockout and if they don't get that KO in the early going, look for Edwards to lobby for the number 2 spot once more.


CUOMO


Every once in a while, we political people are reminded of what could have been. I caught former New York Governor Mario Cuomo tonight on Hardball. Even the show's host, Chris Matthews was less obnoxious than he normally is with the three term chief executive of the Empire State. Cuomo made the point that no Democrats have been talking about a withdrawal strategy and seem to be enabling the President in the war effort. Then Cuomo brought up something very few members of Congress have since 2003, the role they have in declaring war. The comments were remarkable and tell you that there are at least a few Democrats who are trying to articulate an anti war message and not keep this mess going.
Here's the MSNBC link to Hardball, scroll down under Matthews picture and click on "Cuomo Plays Hardball". http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036697/.


LOKUTA: DAY 5


Attorney Virginia Murtha-Cowley just wrapped up a case in front of Judge Ann Lokuta and took a seat.
She shouldn’t have.
“Why are you sitting down?” the judge asked, according to Murtha-Cowley. “You sit down when this jurist tells you to sit down!”
So, Murtha-Cowley testified Thursday, she kept standing – even after the next case was called.
She shouldn’t have done that, either.
“Why are you standing?” Lokuta boomed, according to Murtha-Cowley. “Now you’re just being ridiculous.”
That type of humiliating, contradicting demand unfolded in front of others inside Lokuta’s courtroom, Murtha-Cowley testified.
But it really wasn’t that humiliating for Murtha-Cowley, Lokuta’s attorney, Louis Sinatra, argued.
It was Murtha-Cowley who purposely engaged in the “childish” act, in an attempt to give Lokuta a “comical” payback, Sinatra argued in his intense cross-examination of the attorney.
“That was a flippant gesture, wasn’t it?” Sinatra asked her.
“No,” Murtha-Cowley responded.
Murtha-Cowley, like so many others, was often disrespectful to Lokuta, Sinatra argued.
But those who were respectful, such as former prosecutor Ingrid Cronin, never had a problem with Lokuta, Sinatra argued in the fourth day of Lokuta’s trial on misconduct charges.
Sinatra has been making his defense clearer in the case, arguing that only people who were disrespectful to Lokuta, or unable to adequately perform their jobs, were the ones who complained about Lokuta’s behavior.
But the state Judicial Conduct Board says Lokuta’s behavior crossed that line, claiming she violated judicial code and the state constitution in her behavior and handling of cases.
The conduct board’s deputy chief counsel, Francis J. Puskas II, called Murtha-Cowley to the stand before the Court of Judicial Discipline on Thursday.
On one occasion, Murtha-Cowley was in Lokuta’s courtroom and had to turn around to check a file.
Lokuta, the attorney said, leaned forward in her seat and pointed at Murtha-Cowley.
“Don’t turn your back on this jurist,” Lokuta exclaimed, according to Murtha-Cowley.
But in Cronin’s courtroom experience, she’s seen other judges acting worse, she has said.
The former assistant district attorney conceded Lokuta often made her court sessions “long and drawn out.” She would regularly start late, about 30 minutes, and take a lot of breaks.
But Cronin said she never had a problem dealing with Lokuta.
Others have.
Cronin has seen Lokuta castigate a probation officer unfairly.
She’s seen Lokuta experience wild, unpredictable mood swings.
And she’s seen Lokuta get mad over someone clicking a pen.
That behavior created a noticeable tension in the courtroom, Cronin said. And it made several prosecutors want to stay clear of Lokuta’s courtroom, she said.
Clerks were troubled, too.
Prothonotary Jill Moran saw her clerks come back from Lokuta’s courtroom “visibly shaken.”
Clerk Donna Miscavage always worried if she would be the next to catch a Lokuta lashing over something little.
“A witness, a noise, something someone said,” Miscavage testified. “She would just explode.”
Prothonotary clerk Maura Cusick always worried whether she was going to be with “the good judge or the wicked judge.” She relayed some stories about her time with the “wicked judge.”
Like the time Lokuta “chastised” Cusick because her chair was squeaking – and then demanded an apology from her.
And the time Lokuta ordered her to remove a cough drop from her mouth when she was sick – then later accused Cusick of giving her a cold.
But Sinatra, as he has argued, continues to point out that noises can be a distraction to the judge. A distraction she can’t afford when she handles important court cases.
And he probed Cusick about whether she had received poor work reviews in the past.
Cusick’s boss caught some heat, too.
Sinatra grilled Moran about her office procedures, noting that Lokuta has often pointed out deficiencies with several procedures in Moran’s office.
That, Sinatra argued, made Moran biased against Lokuta.
And he didn’t let Moran slide on the notorious “John Doe” debacle.
He asked Moran whether she “altered” a tax lien filed against her law partner, Robert Powell, in the prothonotary’s office. She denied altering the records, but conceded the lien would only show up under the name “John Doe” in the office’s computer system.
Sinatra still used it in his argument.
“You’re still filing records under phony names and you’re still altering records,” he boomed.


REACTION


I have to tell you that being a worker in Anne Lokuta's courtroom demanded high standards, a strong constitution, the ability to take abuse and the very tough strength of not taking anything personal. That's my gut reaction from the testimony written today. There is no doubt she could be unreasonable and sometimes out of line. But I'm waiting to hear what provoked her behavior. The cross examination of Atty. Murtha by Lokuta's Attorney points to various sides of the story. Left standing without rebuttal you'd think Lokuta was meting out corporal punishment, most likely the way the nuns did to her in the little Polish grade school in Dupont. Or one might wonder why Murtha stood there. Was she truly scared of the Judge? Or, as the Defense Attorney points out, was she making a defiant statement?
There were mixed reviews from Atty. Cronin who on one hand told us of other Judge's behavior being worse (bet those stories will never see the light of day) but then highlights some of the Jurist's lowlights with other Court personal. Cronin seems to not have had a problem with Lokuta. However the clerks from Jill Moran's office did and complained to the Prothonotary. Ms. Moran of course allied herself with her staff, leaving herself wide open to the forged records controversy coming out of her office. It was give and take today with an eye doctor explaining Lokuta's visual problems and grimaces. Legitimate. I grimace and scare small children when I try to navigate with my cane in tight spaces on tough, cold winter days when my back pain is unbearable. But it's a natural reaction. The testimony today though was about a deck of cards.
It is how one handles the hand, the cards they are dealt. Atty. Cronin handled hers one way, Atty. Murtha her way and the clerks from Ms. Moran's still another. In the testimony today I heard no attempts from any of these victimized workers to reach out to the Judge. Just complaints. Carrying tales up to higher ups, the mommies and daddies if you will of the Courthose instead of saying to the Judge, "why?" I referenced Mario Cuomo here earlier and one of the most valuable rhetorical lessons I learned from watching him was to ask a simple question of an unreasonable foe with an unreasonable position. And that question was "why?" "Why are you acting that way toward me?" Maybe Lokuta was a bully but you deal with it. You play the cards in your hand. You do it as an adult. Because the clicking pen, the sqeaking chair, the throat lozenges all screamed out for the question a reasonale adult asks another adult veering off into questionable behavior, and that question was "why?" No one asked it or acted as an adult, they had other people handle their problems. Paternalism whether it comes from Jill Moran or the Judicial Review Board ( Judge Conahan didn't want to seem to get involved in even dealing with Lokuta as President Judge for three years begging the question just what he was doing for his paycheck) won't solve the problems of employees who can't play the hand and the cards they are dealt.


DAVID WEISS REPORTS FROM THE TIMES LEADER WERE USED IN THIS FEATURE. HE IS A THOROUGH AND TALENTED REPORTER.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The LuLac Edition #313, Sept. 27th, 2007










PHOTO INDEX: WVIA TV/FM PRESIDENT A. WILLIAM KELLY AND JUDGE ANNE LOKUTA.


VISIONARY


The word is bandied about loosely these days and locally every business/corporate "wannabe" uses the term as often as pre teens say "awesome". But in the case of WVIA's Board of Directors and its President Bill Kelly, the word is not only accurate but a true statement of fact. I took my very first airplane ride with Bill Kelly to a Public Radio conference in Chicago in 1974. Even back then, the man had plans for what Public Broadcasting could be. He always was one step ahead of those who claimed to be the innovators. Tonight, WVIA Public Media was introduced to great fanfare. What was once a cold, cavernous shell of a studio that looked like a clean but non descript factory now has been transformed into a High Definition mecca. (George Strimell and Atty. Chuck Boyle gave me the opportunity as a young kid to actually broadcast from that studio. They might have regretted it, but my mom and I never did!) As a young boy, in 1966 I waited with baited breath for the broadcast of the "new 4th station". It turned out there were technical difficulties but it got on the air. And it stayed. And it flourished. And it grew. That all happened because of one thing: a vision to do more and serve its constituency. Here's a link to the WVIA TV/FM website, check out the progress. We, as a viewing audience are lucky and blessed.
http://www.wvia.org/.



BUSH AND AIR TRAVEL


President Bush promised on Thursday to take steps to reduce air traffic congestion and long delays that have left travelers grounded.
“Endless hours sitting in an airplane on a runway with no communication between a pilot and the airport is just not right,” he said. Bush met in the Oval Office with Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and acting Federal Aviation Administrator Bobby Sturgell. The president urged Congress to look at legislation to modernize the FAA, and instructed Peters to report
on how passengers are treated.
Oh great, we are trusting the guy who led us into a war with such competency that now we want him to have the planes run on time. Here's what's wrong, the airlines don't give a shit. Their employees have been stripped of pensions, their salaries have been cut and they fly planes that are overbooked and loaded to save money. If you remember pre 911, those three planes that were highjacked weren't even close to being filled to capacity. A President asking "pretty please" isn't going to improve air travel. The airlines (and I worked for a major online Travel company for 5 years) have been bailed out from bankruptcy, been rewarded for bad behavior and horrible customer service and realize they are the only game in town. What is a lame duck President going to do? Nothing. Only the consumers have the power, but we won't because we need those big birds to get us to our destination. And the airlines know it, which is why nothing will happen.


LOKUTA: DAY 4


A former intern of Judge Ann Lokuta testified she heard the judge and a staff member, Maureen Gushanas, arguing for about half an hour.
Then Gushanas gave Lokuta a request for vacation time. Lokuta denied it, the intern, Rebecca Sammon, testified.
Then there was more bickering before Gushanas "screamed at the top of her lungs," Sammon said.
"Just because I'm not sleeping with you anymore, judge!" Gushanas said, according to Sammon.
"I had no idea anything like that was going on," Sammon said. "I just thought they were friends."
Sammon also said the judge went from calling her "brilliant" one year to calling her "stupid" the next year.
Sammon said Lokuta also called her a "tramp" one day when Lokuta didn't like the shirt Sammon wore one day.
Sammon said Lokuta had her write sympathy notes. That, Sammon said, was the "the most consistent" duty she had one summer.


REACTION


First off, I find it interesting that the person yelling and getting emotional was Gushanas and not the Judge. Was her outburst a planned move to "out" herself and the Judge or was she just feeling some pain?
As for the intern, I thought many young people were attuned to various diversity in sexual preferences, more than in my day. Oh well, if she was sheltered, so be it. But really, it was none of her business. If one thing my former federal government employee Miss Lewinsky taught us about being an intern was is that you want to stay away from even discussing sex. And as for the sympathy notes, boo hoo. One summer, as an intern, and this was at the aforementioned WVIA TV/FM, I spent the summer cataloguing classical records by day and running to the old Mayfair Supper Club on Rt. 315 for sandwiches for the Action Auction crew. As an intern, you do what you are told. God, I'd trade those sympathy notes for what I had to do, but then of course, I did not have aspirations to be a member of the spoiled, ultra sensitive, 20 hour a week legal community in Luzerne County.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The LuLac Edition #312, Sept. 26th, 2007









PHOTO INDEX: LACKAWANNA COUNTY COMMISSIONER A.J. MUNCHAK AND LUZERNE COUNTY JUDGE ANNE LOKUTA.


A.J. SPEAKS


The Republican candidates for Lackawanna County Commissioners have TV spots running on the airwaves. And interestingly enough, one of the ads features A.J. Munchak on the voiceover. Munchak has been accused here and other places of being Bob Cordaro's Charlue McCarthy. But the commentary is crisp, clean and effective.


LOKUTA: DAY 3


Judge Ann Lokuta caused security concerns in court by directing deputy sheriffs where to stand and when to take prisoners out of court, a deputy sheriff testified.
Deputy Sheriff Anna Torres said Lokuta would sometimes move deputies away from where prisoners were stationed to stand on the other side of the courtroom. That, Torres said, made a lot of people, including the judge, vulnerable to an attack.


REACTION



If this is true, then this can be a safety issue. Lokuta’s style might have caused the security concern, given the undermanned staff and the sometimes overpowering strength of criminals. Can’t argue with this one unless there is conflicting testimony. Safety first.


J.R. RETURNS ON PCN


One of my favorite political geek shows returns on PCN THursday Night, Journalists Roundtable with the personality challenged host Bill Bova.
Here are the details for Thursday night:
9:00 PM
Journalists Roundtable
Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
R.B. Swift, Times-Shamrock
Dave Pidgeon, Lancaster Intelligencer Journal

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The LuLac Edition #311, Sept. 25th, 2007






PHOTO INDEX: JUDGE ANNE LOKUTA.




BANKS 25 YEARS LATER


25 years ago George Banks went on a rampage and killed his lovers and kids. He's still alive, they're dead. Something not right about that, which is why people are pissed about the justice system. It might have been better for all of us if someone had just shot him dead that day with no mercy. Like a dog. Like he did to his kids. They say he's crazy, doesn't know right from wrong. He did then! But we let him live. Thanks Al Flora! Good job!


LOKUTA: DAY 2


Luzerne County Court Administrator William Sharkey testified that Judge Ann Lokuta constantly complained about the way his office scheduled matters.
And she gave his employees such a hard time, it sometimes brought his employees to tears, Sharkey testified Tuesday.
"Anything we did was wrong," Sharkey testified.
Sharkey testified in Lokuta’s trial on a slew of misconduct charges before the state’s Court of Judicial Discipline.
The state’s Judicial Conduct Board charged Lokuta last year, claiming she violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and the constitution through her behavior and handling of cases.



REACTION



Okay, who is in charge here, the Judges or Sharkey? Maybe the reason why Lokuta was complaining was because the other male judges got favorable treatment. And can’t another person, a Judge, complain to an underling about how things are scheduled? Does Sharkey realize everyone has freedom of speeches, even judges?



A Luzerne County court stenographer said Judge Ann Lokuta used an extensive vocabulary when speaking to high school dropouts and once spoke French to a Colombian immigrant.
The stenographer, Dan Coll, is testifying about the hardships of dealing with Lokuta during her court sessions.


REACTION



Boo Hoo. Maybe she was trying to impress on these drop outs that perhaps is they stayed in school and used better words, they might not be in her courtroom.



Judge Ann Lokuta's attorney is arguing that it was other judges, not his client, who were causing jams in the county's court system.
Attorney Louis Sinatra is cross-examining former president Judge Michael Conahan about the assignment and handling of cases. The attorney is continually showing instances where Conahan interfered with cases assigned to Lokuta, often postponing cases over her head.
That, Sinatra is arguing, stopped Lokuta from moving cases and created a backlog.


REACTION



Conahan is testifying in Lokuta’s trial on a slew of misconduct charges before the state’s Court of Judicial Discipline.
Conahan testifying. How sweet. This is the same guy who smeared Atty. Joe Musto to get into office for his first term. He’s quitting now. Maybe someone should ask him about his lavish Christmas parties under the dome and a few of those bench trials. People in glass houses………………………


Monday, September 24, 2007

The LuLac Edition #310, Sept. 24th, 2007









PHOTO INDEX: MAYOR TOM LEIGHTON AT NAACP MEET THE CANDIDATES MEETING SATURDAY (COURTESY OF WILKES BARRE ONLINE) AND JUDGE ANNE LOKUTA.


THE RACE IS ON


The local NAACP had a meet the candidate meeting on Saturday. Mayor Tom Leighton attended and gave brief remarks before he had to attend the Marker unveiling for Planters Peanuts on S. Main Street. There are reports that no incumbents or winners of the nominations for Council on the Democratic side were there. That comes from Council candidate in District B, Pete Gagliardi.


MORE MEETS


This Wednesday, the 6th District GOP will host a Meet the Candidates Night at Norm's Pizza.
The 6th District Republican Committee presents:
Start: Sep 25 2007 - 7:00pm
End: Sep 25 2007 - 9:00pm
"Meet the Candidates Night!"
September 25, 2007 at Norm's Pizza.
7PM to 9PM immediately after the 5:45PM meeting of the 6th District Republican Committee.
Please come out and MEET THE CANDIDATES!
Sponsored by: The 6th District Republican Committee, Stephen J. Urban, Chairman, James M. O'Meara, Sr., Treasurer.


THE LOKUTA TRIAL


So Judge Anne Lokuta's trial/hearing started today in Harrisburg. I plan to comment on this everyday and after thinking long and hard, this is how I am going to do it. I am going to take a news report about a piece of testimony, print that and then comment on it as if I were a juror in this proceeding. These comments will be coming from the gut and will not necessarily reflect what the outcome will be. But it will be my reaction, for better or worse as if I were hearing it in the courtroom. It is not meant to be right or wrong, just how I'm reacting.


LOKUTA: DAY 1


After attorney Michael Kostelaba suffered a stroke a couple years ago, his typing skills worsened a bit. But he was still able to return to work as a law clerk for Judge Ann Lokuta.
At first, Lokuta was very nice to him. But then she got "excited," Kostelaba testified.
"She started riding me," he testified. "She was constantly criticizing me."
Then, Kostelaba testified, Lokuta claimed he was making so many typing errors, she had to have another employee, Maureen Gushanas, review his work before giving it to Lokuta.
But then she reprimanded him for failing to put his completed work on her chair as she claimed to have told him in the past, he testified. She denied telling him to have Gushanas review his work, the attorney testified.
"She chastised me," he testified.
Kostelaba is testifying in Lokuta’s trial on a slew of misconduct charges before the state’s Court of Judicial Discipline.
Testimony will continue throughout the week.


REACTION:


I'm sorry the Attorney had a stroke but apparently that did cause him a problem in being less capable than he was. I can speak from experience, after my injury in an accident, I could no longer do the physical things required of me by being a Media Account Executive. I couldn't go out on TV shoots, and could not stand for long hours making a presentation. I was told that the accident limited my effectiveness and was told to look for other work. I was an employee. There were expectations of me and my performance for the good of the organization. I could not meet them. Was I chastized? More than that, I was stripped of my prime accounts and led toward the door. I know government, especially at the Luzerne County Courthouse is different than private industry, but Judge Lokuta, as an employer should have had expectations of accuracy, stroke or not in having the work completed. If you ask me, the Judge asking someone else to help him was more an act of compassion than chastisement. In the real world, you work for a boss and if your boss hurts your feelings, get another job.


Senior Judge Patrick Toole Jr. testified that Judge Ann Lokuta wasn't "shouldering" her fair share of court cases when she took the bench in 1992.
"She was not producing the same amount of work as other judges," the Luzerne County's former president judge testified Monday.


REACTION:


So Senior Judge Patrick Toole complained about her work load. Is there any documentation that he disapproved of her lack of work ethic in 1992? As President Judge, did he call for an investigation, is there something in her Employment file to justify his testimony? Or is it hearsay?

Friday, September 21, 2007

The LuLac Edition #309, Sept. 21, 2007














PHOTO INDEX: LINDA STETS, CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR, CITY OF WILKES BARRE, STATE SENATOR JEFF PICCOLA AND GOVERNOR RENDELL TAKING IN A PIRATES GAME THIS SUMMER WITH A LOBBYIST.


STETS SHUNNED


A few weeks ago Linda Stets wanted to know if she was being covered on my blog. So I dutifully sent her an e mail regarding some of the events that I publicized on the site for her campaign. It appears that after yesterday's council meeting, Stets doesn't need my help in getting her name out there. The Wilkes-Barre Republican mayoral candidate was escorted from council chambers Thursday after she leveled accusations at Mayor Tom Leighton, her political opponent.
Stets was upset to learn that Solid Cactus, a business that employs around 300 people, was leaving the city and relocating to KingstonTownship. Solid Cactus also recieved a corporate welfare grant from Harrisburg to expand its operations. No word from them on what the newly expanded work force will be paid though. She said she has learned that Mia Bella Candles in Parsons plans to leave the city with its 300 employees."To allow another company to leave this city is placing a greater burden on the taxpayers," Stets said. "How are you going to stop this from happening?" When Leighton did not respond, Stets became upset."The mayor is not answering and that doesn't surprise me," Stets said. "He doesn't answer his phone, doesn't return letters and ignores company owners. Wilkes-Barre is losing a lot of revenue." At one point, Council President Bill Barrett slammed the gavel repeatedly and asked Stets to refrain from carrying on. When she continued, Barrett asked police Capt. Thomas Ungvarsky to escort Stets out of the chambers. Stets left quietly. Leighton later said he worked closely with Solid Cactus, but its needs -115,000 square feet and 250 parking spaces - could not be met anywhere in the city. The attack on Leighton continued when former mayoral candidate Tim Grier asked if the mayor has ever used his office at City Hall to conduct private business. The key question many people want to know is why Leighton declined to answer the question directly of Stets and waited until she left. A larger question is constitutional, just when does a citizen cross the line when they disagree with a public official and make them uncomfortable. The big thing politically to remember is this, people like Stets, Grier and Sam Troy aren't going away no matter how uncomfortable they make the Mayor and Council. As a matter of fact, Troy said he feels the city and the county are not giving serious consideration to the idea of a public skate park. Troy said a park would help retain young people and attract new residents.


LOMBARDO TO RENDELL


Well, the good old boy network is alive and well in the Valley. Former Pittston Mayor Michael Lombardo who was recently with the Chamber landed on his feet working as Governor Rendell's point man in the area. Lombardo, former Mayor of Pittston needed a new job because the Chamber was having budget problems. His salary of over $100,000 was needed for other things, like staying afloat. So when an opening came up in Rendell's office, it was only natural that Lombardo received the job. This hiring accomplshes three things:
1. Gives the Chamber more dollars with the elimination of his position. His duties are being absorbed by other people.
2. Puts a strong leader in charge of Rendell's northeastern effort. 3. Provides a safety net, few if any other citizens receive when their jobs are downsized, eliminated or their duties are absorbed by other staffers.
But here's the kicker, Lombardo's salary is reported to be $103,000 while the guy he replaced was making only $57,000. That's nearly half a salary increase. And Jimmy Connors is making something like 45 grand. A poster seemed confused as to why Lombardo was making more money. Simple. He is one of the chosen. No one will ever admit it, but this area has a class system. And if you aren't "one of them", you don't get the big bucks. You have those who blithley go from high paying job to high paying job, while the rest of the people are stuck in second gear. Lombardo is a member of this area's ruling connected class who will be taken care of no matter what they do. John Blake on the other hand merely did his job. Which is why he got half of what Lombardo is getting. He wasn't one of the cool kids!


EDDIE AND THE ANCHOR


The hot story going around the Capitol is my man Ed's relationship with a Pittsburgh anchor woman turned lobbyist. John Baer reported in thePhilly Daily News Monday that the woman in question, FOE, a friend of Ed did not properly register as a lobbyist. The relationship as well the lobbying effort is being investigated by long time GOP state senator Jeff Piccola. Piccola, who sought and then abandoned a bid for the GOP nomination to oppose Rendell last year, is investigating lobbying by a major film company, Lionsgate, and a friend of Ed's, Leslie Merrill McCombs,and a $75 million tax credit for film and TV companies working in the state. The credit was part of a negotiated state budget settlement in July, one of those behind the scenes things buried in the middle of the night. The problem is that the company and its rep apparently violated a new lobbying law by failing to properly register as lobbyists with state officials. That's what Piccola says he's looking at. He's hiring a private eye and wants one or two Senate hearings. He chairs the Senate State Government Committee, which has lobbying oversight. McCombs is a former anchor for WPGH-TV, Pittsburgh. Campaign-finance records show she gave Rendell $4,000 for his re-election last year. Given Ed's teflon reputation, this will lead nowhere but like all gossip, this will be fun to talk about. Look for the good State Senator to start his probe soon.


THE HOGS ARE BACK


A group of State lawmakers including our hometown boy Bob Melloow recently came back from a junket to Taiwan. Billed as a trade mission,the trip was paid for by special interests. Is trade with China really a top priority of the constitents in the state? MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM, I don't think so. But what the heck, at least they didn't charge us a per diem for the trip, or did they????


SKREP BESTED


The recent revelations that Greg Skrepenak might move into the 11th Congressional District has caused all type of denials from the Commissioner as well as courthouse insiders. But word of this came fromTerry Best, Pittston Area School Director. Best was the one who basically transmitted what other people were saying. He had no axe to grind, and was just telling people what he heard. In all my years of dealing with him, I have found that you take what he says at face value. He is a man of true integrity and is a valuable public servant. So despite the hue and cry his remarks have engendered, I have to tell you that when a guy like Terry talks, I'll listen. Or, as far as the comments made go, "where there's smoke, there's fire".

The LuLac Edition #308, Sept. 21rst, 2007







PHOTO INDEX: ALICE COOPER AND THE REMAINS OF THE STANDARD BRANDS BUILDING.


COOPER ROCKS


Mrs. LuLac and I had the opportunity to see Alice Cooper Tuesday night at the Kirby. Although I was never a die hard fan, I always respected him as a performer and the way he energizes an arena or a theatre. When the tickets became available, we went even though I was the only guy there most likely wearing Polo loafers and a Donna Karan blazer. Mrs. LuLac was enthralled with some of the lyrics and we had a wonderful time. However, I'll leave it to my fellow blogger from Wilkes Barre On Line to review the show.
http://wilkes-barre.tripod.com/


MR. PEANUT RETURNS


A century and 12 months after Planters Peanuts was established a historical marker honoring the company and its founders will be unveiled during a noon ceremony Saturday on South Main Street.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker is the result of a request by Michael Chmiola of Hanover Township. Chmiola petitioned the commission for the marker because he felt the internationally known company with roots in Wilkes-Barre should be recognized. Kraft Foods is sending its corporate face – Mr. Peanut – to witness the event.
The marker will be installed at the site of the former Planters Peanut headquarters at 632 S. Main St.
The building is gone and only a smaller building that once housed some offices for Standard Brands still stands.
The photo you see was taken by Mrs. Lulac when the building was torn down.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The LuLac Edition #307, Sept. 19th, 2007










PHOTO INDEX: WILK RADIO'S STEVE CORBETT AND KEVIN LYNN.


RADIO WISDOM


Two bits of interesting sound bites from Talk Radio. The first is on going.


IRAQ DOLLARS


You just can't argue with Kevin Lynn's assertion that the Iraq War has drained us of much needed dollars that could be spent elsewhere. Our roads, our meat and food inspections, our consumer goods, health care are all being abandoned for lack of dollars. All the money that can be used for us are in Iraq. But hey, we have to stay safe, don't we?


STEVE'S STRATEGY


Steve Corbett had an interesting take on the Congressional races this afternoon. Corbett felt that Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta might have a better shot at getting to Congress by running as a candidate in the 10th district. Barletta ran against Paul Kanjorski in the 11th in 2004 and ran a credible race. But Corbett's contention is that with the heavily carved out GOP district, Barletta's conservative message just might resonate. Currently Barletta's name is being bandied about for statewide office, no less an authority than the Harrisburg Patriot has touted him as a candidate statewide in 2008 or 2010. And it is a little known fact that you don't have to live in the district to run in it. My personal feeling is that Dr. Joseph Leonardi, an articulate, intelligent conservative (yeah there are a few) might have been better off if he had challenged Don Sherwood in 2006. So Corbett's theory and/or strategy just might be interesting. And as for the issue of carpetbagging, that issue might work with the diehards but can be easily overcome with smart, savvy advertising.
As for the 11th, Congressman Kanjorski has a huge war chest, seniority and the services of Ed Mitchell, long time political consultant. But there are some vulnerabilities and the one guy who can exploit them is Representative John Yudichak.
Anyway, Lynn can be heard 6am to 9am on WILK'S MORNING NEWS WITH NANCY AND KEVIN and Steve can be heard on CORBETT 3pm to 7PM.


WALTER'S OPINIONS


Council candidate Walter Griffith, Junior has an opinion on that downtown business tax in Wilkes Barre. From his website, here's his take:
The Diamond City Partnership and the City Council have decided that the City businesses of the downtown must now pay an additional 2.57% more in taxes and fees to get the same services that their city taxes are supposed to be funding. However, the tax exempt organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the Colleges and KOZ properties do not have to participate. This is completely and totally unfair to the downtown merchants who did not support this district, and it is unfair as well for the taxpayers of the City who will be deprived of the services from their city government due to the overworking of the already overworked staff of the City Public Works Department and the City Police Department. I will vote to have this BID District abolished when it come up for renewal in 5 years if it proves to be unsuccessful, and I would not have voted to place this burden on the businesses of Downtown in the first place.
Sincerely,
Walter L. Griffith, Jr.
City Council Candidate District "A"














Monday, September 17, 2007

The LuLac Edition #306, Sept. 17th, 2007







PHOTO INDEX: WILKES BARRE CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR LINDA J. STETS, GOVERNOR ED RENDELL AND BLOG EDITOR.


SANTA ED???


You know I love Ed Rendell, you know I was one of the first guys in the area to see he had a chance to be Governor, you know I gave him money and Mrs. LuLac and I get Christmas cards every year and even went to that that freezing 2003 inaugural. I think Ed would make a damn good President someday too. All that said, I couldn’t help but notice the story on Saturday.
As you know, three companies in Luzerne County received $5.8 million in economic incentives from the state to create 1,000 new jobs over the next three years.
Lowe’s Home Centers Inc., Solid Cactus and Medico Industries were awarded opportunity grants, job training funds and job creation tax credits and vowed to expand their facilities and workforces.
“If you just looked at the narrow focus of state money when we give out that type of state money, we are getting back 10-fold that money in state taxes down the road,” Rendell said. “But more important than that, we are getting jobs that are sustaining families. Good high-quality jobs.”
Notice that quote? Good high paying jobs he says. Yet during the news conference, no one from Lowe’s, Solid Cactus, Medico Industries, the Chamber or the Gov himself mentioned a dollar amount. They used words like life sustaining but that to me conjures up a diet of bread and water. No one has given any information on an hourly wage. The word “competitive” wasn’t even used. Job creation is a good thing, the people who have these businesses employ many local workers but at what rate? And is it a good idea to throw million of dollars at already successful businesses to expand while people in the local workforce are getting wages of $8.00 an hour? I worked for a national company that got tax breaks for coming in here a few years ago. Even had Senator Specter tour the facility. Yet, because of corporate belt tightening, Wall Street pressure and constantly revised incentive guidelines, I made less every year, ultimately getting laid off last year. That’s my story and I don’t want to make it indicative of what the Governor is proposing. But what bothers me is that in no news story I saw was there a dollar amount for the new employees who are getting these jobs because of expanded economic largesse from the state. At some point, a balance sheet should be produced to see how much the big guys profit and how much the little guys make. And to those people in the community who will say I’m a naysayer, I’ll tell you this, “I’m just asking the question”. Is this corporate welfare or will those new employees be making more than 9 bucks an hour?



AND WE’RE OFF!!!!


The fall general election campaign has begun in earnest in the city of Wilkes Barre. Kathy Kane, candidate for a seat in District B has her campaign benches out and about and Linda J. Stets held a widely attended meeting Sunday at the Anthracite Café on Scott Street in Wilkes Barre. Here are two YOU TUBE videos from Stets, one that features the events of yesterday afternoon’s fundraiser. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VFmXbe6pD4http://youtube.com/watch?v=epPLeJoQ1pI.



HARKIN HOSTS


Former Presidential candidate and 30 year Senate veteran Tom Harkin on Sunday hosted his annual steak fry in Iowa yesterday. Most of the Democratic candidates came out for the event and there were many, many references to Iowa cornfields, building it and they will come and field of dreams. It got to the point that the words and candidates could be interchangeable.


SALLY, STOP!!


I love Sally Field, the very first fan letter I wrote as a nine year old kid produced an autograpghed photo of her. Still have it somewhere. Last night's speech though at the Emmy's was great. Until of course she refused to stop. She should have ended when the music started. You don't always have to tell everyone everything that's on your mind. Sometimes it's best to stop. And Sallty should've last night.


MASH AT 35


Today, 35 years ago, MASH came on TV. It was a commentary on war and peace, humility and humanity. A masterpiece.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The LuLac Edition #305, Sept. 15th, 2007












PHOTO INDEX: CONGRESSMAN AND MRS. ELZABETH KUCINICH, THE LATE SENATOR THOMAS DODD, READING A BOOK TO HIS THEN YOUNG SON CHRISTOPHER WHO FOLLOWED HIM TO THE U.S. SENATE AND ACTUALLY WROTE A BOOK.


MEN OF THOUGHT


The early entry into the 2008 Presidential race has given some of us political junkies something to really enjoy. That being a thoughtful exchange of ideas among all the candidates and an insight into the talent pool of people interested in the job. The way politics is set up today (and for that matter the last half of the 20th century) unless you really pay attention, you lose out on some of the people of thought who have entered the race. Two guys who have no chance in hell are Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Senator Thomas Dodd. Both come from vastly different worlds, Kucinich growing up in working class Ohio and Dodd, the privileged son of a U.S. Senator. But the two men have some interesting things to say.
Dodd has written a book that profile his father's letter from the Nuremburg trial to his wife in 1945. Tomas Dodd was a staffer on the legal team prosecuting the German high command. Dodd felt the tide was turning against the forces of freedom and resorted to courtroom drama by placing a skull on the defense table shouting to the galleries, "this is who these people are!" Dodd had wanted to try the case as a trial and many say this tactic was the turning point in that judgement.
As a prosecutor at Nuremberg, Thomas Dodd charged the Nazis with "the apprehension of victims and their confinement without trial, often without charges, generally with no indication of their detention."
His son, Sen. Chris Dodd, wonders today whether he and his fellow Democrats did enough to stop the United States from violating that same rule of law in the war on terror.
"For six decades, we learned the lessons of the Nuremberg men and women well," the presidential candidate writes in his book, "Letters from Nuremberg" published this week. "We didn't start wars — we ended them. We didn't commit torture — we condemned it. We didn't turn away from the world — we embraced it."
"But that has changed in the past few years," Dodd writes.
The book is a compilation of the letters future Sen. Thomas Dodd wrote home to his wife, Grace, from the trial of Nazi war criminals. On a deeper level, "Letters from Nuremberg," is a story of the symmetry between a father and son, and their times.
Thomas Dodd was a young lawyer in the summer of 1945 when he traveled to Nuremberg, Germany, to interrogate such notorious figures as Hermann Goring, Albert Speer and Rudolf Hess, rising to the No. 2 prosecutor on the U.S. team.
The elder Dodd saw the trial as a triumph of the rule of law, with civilized countries conducting a fair trial for mass murderers who didn't seem to deserve one.
Flash forward six decades and the U.S. leaders, including the younger Dodd, are faced with the same moral dilemma on the issue of how to treat prisoners in the war on terror.
President Bush has argued that the commander in chief is authorized to hold enemy combatants indefinitely without trial or formal charges.
The Bush administration established military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, drawing a rebuke from the Supreme Court in a June 2006 ruling that said the president overstepped his authority. Bush responded by seeking the necessary authority from Congress, which Dodd saw as a political maneuver aimed at casting Democrats as soft on terror.
In the book's opening pages, the Connecticut senator recalls how the patriotism of former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland was questioned by the White House because of his opposition to a provision in the bill creating the Homeland Security Department in 2002.
Cleland lost his Senate seat that year.
"I had no doubt that if we, as a group, had the audacity to take a firm stance against the commander in chief on the interrogation issue we'd get the same treatment," Dodd writes.
Chastened Democrats backed a GOP compromise, but the deal didn't withstand Bush's review. The final legislation allowed the president to define U.S. commitments under the Geneva conventions.
" ... We had been played," Dodd writes. "In agreeing to all this, Congress has shirked its oversight responsibilities."
A filibuster might have blocked the bill, Dodd writes, but he ducked the fight. Dodd called that "my last compromise on the issue."
Before voting against the bill, Dodd reminded the Senate what Justice Robert Jackson said about the need for a fair trial at Nuremberg: "To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our lips as well."
Dodd now seems to wonder whether he dampened his lips on the chalice by not fighting harder against the Bush administration.
He also regrets voting in 2002 to give Bush authority to wage war.
Dodd sees many parallels to this era and post-World War II, including a new and shadowy enemy (Soviets then, Islamic terrorists today) and the uneasy balance between security and civil rights.
His book "is an epistle to this generation as much as it was letters to my mother," Dodd told The AP.
Its lessons for today?
"The rule of law," he said. "When evil happens, build those international relations and stand up for the principles that are universal."
No matter what the pressure.



KUCINICH'S PLAN


Dennis Kucinich has a plan to end the war and it's a doozey. Check out this points program he is espousing across the U.S.
Announce that the US will end the occupation, close the military bases, and withdraw.
Announce that existing funds will be used to bring the troops and the necessary equipment home.
Order a simultaneous return of all U.S. contractors to the United States and turn over the contracting work to the Iraqi government
Convene a regional conference for the purpose of developing a security and stabilization force for Iraq.
Prepare an international security peacekeeping force to move in, replacing U.S. troops, who then return home.
Develop and fund a process of national reconciliation.
Restart programs for reconstruction and creating jobs for the Iraqi people.
Provide reparations for the damage that has been done to the lives of Iraqis.
Assure the political sovereignty of Iraq and ensure that their oil isn't stolen.
Repair the Iraqi economy.
Guarantee economic sovereignty for Iraq
Commence an international truth and reconciliation process, which establishes a policy of truth and reconciliation between the people of the United States and Iraq.
I'm not even going to get into the impeachment of Dick Cheney that he is proposing.
But one thing is clear as we hear these lower tier Presidential candidates, we might not agree with them or what they stand for but no one can deny they are men of thought that have made the political landscape more knowledgable and interesting. For us junkies anyway.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The LuLac Edition #304, Sept. 13th, 2007





PHOTO INDEX: SEATRAIN'S "13 QUESTIONS".




13 QUESTIONS



In keeping with our new monthly tradition, we answer your questions sent to us by e mail, phone, on the street or up an alley, anywhere except the places Larry Craig frequents. You can e mail me a question at
yonkstur@aol.com or yonkstur@ptd.com.



1. YOU CERTAINLY HAVE NO LOVE FOR THE CORDARO/MUNCHAK TEAM, DO YOU?




HERE ARE MY IMPRESSIONS. I WORKED BRIEFLY FOR BOB CORDARO IN THE 90s AND FOUND HIM FAIR. OTHERS WHO HAVE WORKED FOR HIM HAVE NOT. I LOVE HIS SUITS, THOUGHT IT WAS A GREAT MOVE TO SNARE THE YANKEES AND THINK HE THRIVES ON BEING CONTROVERSIAL. I THINK HE HAS PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT LACKAWANNA COUNTY POLITICS. A.J. MUNCHAK, I'VE NEVER MET. SAME WITH COREY O'BRIEN. BUT HERE'S WHAT I KNOW ABOUT THESE GUYS, WHEN I WAS OUT OF WORK, I E MAILED THEM PERSONALLY

ABOUT POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITIES I WAS INTERESTED IN. NEVER GOT A RESPONSE, AN "F" YOU OR AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT BACK. TO ME THAT SPEAKS VOLUMES. WASHO HAS RESPONDED TO A FEW E MAILS. I'D RATHER HAVE A FLAMBOYANT HELL RAISER WHO RECOGNIZES YOU AS A HUMAN BEING AND A SCHOLARLY GUY WHO GETS BACK TO YOU RATHER THAN TWO DOLTS WHO COULDN'T BE BOTHERED. I'M NOT TAKING SIDES IN THIS ELECTION, I WAS ROOTING FOR EVIE McNULTY BECAUSE HER ADS WOULD'VE BEEN ENTERTAINING. I JUST REPORT WHAT I SEE REGARDING THIS RACE. CORDARO HAS BEEN HEAVY HANDED SOMETIMES BUT LOOK AT THE CRAP HE'S FACING FROM THE COURTS. AND YOU CAN'T BLAME MUNCHAK FOR LAYING LOW AND KEEPING HIS MOUTH SHUT. IF BOB GOES DOWN, A.J. IS STILL A COMMISSIONER. AND YOU CAN'T FAULT O'BRIEN AND WASHO FOR EAKING OUT EVERY OPPORTUNITY THEY SEE TO GET ELECTED. NO SIDES TAKEN HERE, I'M JUST SITTING BACK, ENJOYING THE SHOW.



2. FAVORITE WESTERN MOVIES?




NEVER BEEN MUCH ON WESTERNS IN THE MOVIES. I SAW "TRUE GRIT" IN 1969 WITH A GIRL WHO WAS MY FIRST DATE. IT WAS PRETTY AWFUL, SHE KEPT ON USING THE PAY PHONE AT THE AMERICAN THEATRE TO CALL HER GIRL FRIENDS UP AND TELL THEM WHAT A DORK I WAS. I LOVED "HIGH NOON", AND "UNFORGIVEN" BUT THAT'S ABOUT IT. I THINK I WAS SPOILED BY THOSE WILLIAM T. ORR WARNER BROTHERS TV SHOWS LIKE "MAVERICK", "SUGARFOOT" AND "BRONCO LANE".




3. THOUGHTS ON THE SURGE?




WOW, WHERE DO I BEGIN. WE SHOULD END THE WAR BUT WE HAVE TO HAVE AN ORDERLY WITHDRAWING OF TROOPS. THIS IS NOT A REAL WAR, THE REAL WAR ENDED A FEW YEARS BACK. THIS IS A SITUATION WHERE OUR TROOPS ARE SITTING DUCKS FOR ASSASINATION AND TERRORISM. THERE HAS TO BE A PLAN BUT WE CAN'T EXTEND IT ANY MORE THAN WE HAVE. DIPLOMATIC SOLUTIONS HAVE TO BEGIN, EVEN WHILE WE GET OUT. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE, WE'VE GOT TO GET OUT. WE ARE DRAINING OUR RESOURCES FROM MUCH NEEDED THINGS HERE IN THE U.S. AND WOULDN'T IT BE IRONIC IF THIS WERE BIN LADEN'S PLAN ALL ALONG. SEE A RUBE AS PRESIDENT, GET HIM INVOLVED IN AN ENDLESS PIT AND DRAIN US OF ANY ECONOMIC STRENGTH WE HAVE TO SURVIVE.




4. ANY THOUGHTS ON JOE PETERS DROPPING OUT OF THE 10TH CONGRESSIONAL RACE?




A REAL PITY, HE WOULD'VE BEEN A GREAT CANDIDATE AND EVEN BETTER CONGRESSMAN.




5. ANY ENDORSEMENTS FOR CITY COUNCIL IN WILKES BARRE?




NOPE, I'LL TELL YOU WHO I VOTED FOR BUT I DON'T ENDORSE.




6. FAVORITE CABLE NEWS CHANNEL?




MSNBC, THEN CNN, FOX, PCN. I TRY TO WATCH THEM ALL WHEN THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING SERIOUS. ONCE THEY GET INTO THE BRITTANY OR ANNA NICOLE REALM, I PROCEED DIRECTLY TO ESPN.




7. OPINION ON THE STATE OF TALK RADIO IN THE AREA?




I THINK IT'S VERY GOOD. I COULD DO WITHOUT MICHAEL SAVAGE BUT HE'S FUN WITH HIS RANTS. LISTENERS HAVE THEIR PICK, CRUSTY LIBERAL GOPER KEVIN LYNN, RIGHT WING MOM SUE HENRY AND RADICAL ADVOCATE CORBETT. EACH HOST HAS THEIR OWN CONSTITUENCY, THEIR OWN TRIBE, IF YOU WILL AND ARE WILDLY ENTERTAINING. THEY ARE GLUED TOGETHER BY NANCY KMAN'S PROGRAMMING ABILITIES. GO OUT OF THE AREA AND YOU'LL ONLY HEAR ONE LOCAL SHOW, THEN THE HANNITY AND LIMBAUGH DREK. WE ARE FORTUNATE.




8. SURPRISE IN NEXT YEAR'S PRESIDENTIAL
ELECTION?




A RESURGENT JOHN McCAIN. SENATOR CLINTON'S VEEP TOO. LOOK TO THE WEST.




9. IN LAST WEEK'S STORY ON FRANK CROSSIN, YOU TALKED ABOUT THE LOCAL TV NEWS REPORTERS? WERE THEY BETTER YESTERDAY THAN TODAY?




YOU CAN'T MAKE THAT JUDGEMENT. THERE ARE DIFFERENT ERAS. TECHNICALLY, EVERYTHING IS EASIER TODAY. IN THE OLD DAYS THERE WAS MORE SUBSTANCE BUT THERE WAS MORE TIME BECAUSE THERE WERE LIMITED CHOICES. A COMMISSIONER'S MEETING TODAY BARELY GETS A 5 SECOND LINE WHILE BACK THEN, IT COULD DOMINATE 5 MINUTES OF THE CAST. THE CLOSEST THING WE HAVE TO A THROWBACK TO THE OLD DAYS IS HAZLETON'S WLYN TV. THEY HAVE A LIMITED COVERAGE AREA, AND ARE COMPREHENSIVE IN THEIR SCOPE.




10. MARTIN OR LEWIS, ABOTT OR COSTELLO, HUNTLEY OR BRINKLEY, BETTY OR VERONICA, GINGER OR MARY ANN?




MARTIN, COSTELLO, HUNTLEY, VERONICA, GINGER.




11. WHY THE LOVE OF BASEBALL?




IT'S TRADITION, MAGIC, TIMELESS, AND UNPREDICTABLE. IT'S A MARATHON RATHER THAN A SPRINT. A GAME OF STRATEGY AND EMOTION. THE YANKS CAN SWEEP A FIRST PLACE TEAM THEN GET BLOWN TO BITS BY A LAST PLACE TEAM. WITH BASEBALL, YOU JUST NEVER KNOW. THERE'S ALWAYS A CHANCE UNTIL THE LAST OUT. AND NO CLOCK.




12. FAVORITE 20TH CENTURY POPES?




JOHN XXIII, (ANGELO RANCALLI) AND JOHN PAUL II. (KAROL WOJTYLA)

BOTH WERE REVOLUTIONARIES.
RUNNERS UP, POPE PIUS XII (EUGENE PACELLI) AND BENEDICT XVI.
(JOSEPH RATTZINGER). PIUS HAD A LOT ON HIS PLATE AND RATTZINGER HAS TO FOLLOW A ROCK STAR.



13. THOUGHTS ON CRIME IN THE AREA?




IT'S THERE MAN. IF SOMEONE WHO DIDN'T LIVE HERE TUNED IN TO TV ON ANY GIVEN NIGHT, THEY'D THINK THAT WAS THE WILD WEST.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The LuLac Edition #303, Sept. 12th, 2007












PHOTO INDEX: MINORITY COMMISSIONER MIKE WASHO AND MAJORITY COMMISSIONER BOB CORDARO.


BOB ON BALLOT


Efforts to chase Bob Cordaro off the ballot failed this afternoon. Two Lackawanna County judges rejected today an attempt to have County Commissioner Robert C. Cordaro thrown off the Nov. 6 election ballot.
Judges Thomas Munley and Carmen Minora gave no reasons for their rulings, but said they would issue an opinion to back it up shortly. Former Republican commissioner candidates Robert Castellani and Lee Jamision had challenged Mr. Cordaro's right to be on the ballot. Their lawyer argued Mr. Cordaro gave up the right to be on the ballot when he withdrew in July and the Republican Party's renomination of him later violated the state election law. However Cordaro's attorney came up with a 1941 precedent from Lackawanna County Court that proved an individual could have himself renominated by his party, even after declining said nomination.


PAVING THE WAY


Well, all roads it seems leads to counter claims regarding cronyism in the 2007 Lackawanna County commissioners race.
Mr. Cordaro chastised Mr. Washo for saying one thing and doing another. Mr. Washo routinely calls for bidding of county contracts for goods and services and criticizes Mr. Cordaro and fellow Commissioner A.J. Munchak for not seeking competitive bids.Mr. Cordaro said P&W Washo Inc., a firm owned by Mr. Washo's brothers, received no-bid contracts for paving from the county housing authority, Scranton Redevelopment Authority, the state, Scranton School District and the county recycling center. He estimated the contracts total at least $1 million.Mr. Cordaro's claims could not immediately be independently verified. Until he became commissioner in May 2005, Mr. Washo said he was general manager of P&W Washo for about 10 years. Mr. Cordaro accused Mr. Washo and The Times-Tribune of being part of a "concerted effort" to portray him as engaging in cronyism and political favoritism." Cordaro says if his family sold a hammer to the county, everyone would be notified through the press in the county. But Washo, who was not the owner but worked for the company denied knowing anything about the no bid contracts. Fair enough, but if you are in a position to work for a company, a family run company owned by your brothers, would you not have the curiosity to ask where the money was coming from to pay your salary and support a family run business? Washo seems too smart to be a stooge for anyone, which is why his denials seem implausible.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The LuLac Edition 302, Sept. 11th, 2007





PHOTO INDEX: FORMER MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI AND FORMER
GOVERNOR WILLIAM SCRANTON.


RUDY AT 911


From the "you can't win" department of politics, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was criticized for speaking at this year's 911 memorial service saying his participation was too political since he's running for President. In my view, Giuliani, who went to all the funerals of the 911 victims, who lived and breathed the disaster is being unfairly criticized. The 911 event event, for better or worse was a true part of his leadership and legacy, it is open to scrutiny. But the latest salvo against his participation is just petty and degrading to the office he held as well as his participation in the 911 event and recovery.
By tradition, only mayors of New York and governors of New York and New Jersey have been invited to speak each year at the 9/11 commemorations.
Still, many of the relatives were upset that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who led the city through its darkest days, was invited to speak. They accused the Republican presidential candidate of trading on their tragedy for political gain.
So Giuliani kept it short, telling the gathering, "In the midst of our great grief and turmoil, we also witnessed uncompromising strength and resilience as a people." People wonder why Giuliani, a liberal on most social issues resonates with all GOP voters. His response to attend the ceremony, despite criticism shows him as a guy who won't take polls on an issue and operate from the gut. American voters, Democrats and Republicans alike, understand that and admire that in a leader or dare I say, a President.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, a Democrat who is also running for president, also attended the ceremony but did not speak.


A SCRANTON HONOR


Former Pennsylvania Gov. William W. Scranton will be the first community leader of Northeastern Pennsylvania to receive the Andrew J. McGowan Cornerstone Award at ceremonies set for Nov.18 at the Scranton Cultural Center.
The award recognizes a regional community leader who most reflects McGowan’s legacy of spirit, leadership and service and is presented by a collaborative group of more than 20 community organizations to whom the monsignor contributed his time.
“The selection of Governor Scranton as the first recipient of this award was unanimous by the entire collaborative group. Given the close relationship between Monsignor McGowan and Governor Scranton, we couldn’t have found anyone more deserving of this regional award,” said Ann Moskovitz, event co-chair.
“Governor Scranton’s work throughout the region as a resident, philanthropist, businessman, Congressman and Governor has provided both guidance and support for our overall growth and development.”
Sandy Insalaco, event co-chair, said it’s an honor that Scranton accepted the award.
“Probably best of all, the Governor knows and respects how much Monsignor McGowan did to regionalize the area. Our goal with this annual award is to continue building on Monsignor’s cornerstone of service and recognize those who serve with the same spirit and dedication,” he said.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The LuLac Edition #301, Sept. 10th, 2007








PHOTO INDEX: LACKAWANNA COUNTY COMMISSIONER ROBERT CORDARO AND WILKES BARRE MAYORAL CANDIDATE LINDA STETS


THE COMPANY WE KEEP


Yesterdsay, I had the opportunity to get out of work a bit early because of a medical appointment. I heard Lackawanna County Commissioner Robert Cordaro on WILK Radio and he was telling host Steve Corbett about the latest travails in the county involving Charles Costanzo. It appears that 12 FBI agents converged on Costanzo's business and started an investigation.
Mr. Cordaro and Commissioner A.J. Munchak announced Wednesday they fired Mr. Costanzo's company, Executive Claims Administration, after FBI agents told them they were investigating overbilling by Endless Mountain Investigations, a firm that worked for Executive Claims.FBI agents believe "a misappropriation of county funds has taken place," Mr. Cordaro said. The commissioner said Mr. Costanzo told him he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing.In the wake of the commissioners' announcement, Mr. Cordaro said he still believes Mr. Costanzo is a good man and hard worker and portrayed him as a victim of a bad vendor. He said the past arrests had nothing to do with Mr. Costanzo's performance as a claims administrator, which he said was exemplary.
On WILK radio, Cordaro said that he believed the charges against the firm were manipulated by the Scranton Times and that Costanzo was a good man. Host Steve Corbett probed the Commissioner on the past charges against Costanzo which include at least four arrests since 1997, including twice since 2004, when the county awarded his company the workers' compensation contract. The most recent arrest was in December, when Dunmore police charged him with slapping a female. The case was later dismissed. His most serious legal entanglements came in 1997, when he assaulted two women and a deputy sheriff, and in 1999, when he fled from police in his car after an apparent domestic dispute. Both times, his defense lawyer was Lackawanna County Commissioner Robert C. Cordaro, who pleaded for mercy for his longtime friend during sentencing on the 1999 charges. At the time, Mr. Cordaro was not a commissioner, but was a candidate for the office.
On the radio show and in the press, Cordaro has said Costanzo is a good man and a good worker. That might be true enough but what has happened to the old adage "the company we keep". Mr. Costanzo can be the best claims administrator that ever came down the pike but wasn't there ever a question of personal ethics to serve the taxpayers of the county? Sure, Costanzo was a vendor but aren't vendors moral codes held to scrutiny? Why would a team of people running the government in Lackawanna County hire someone with this moral background? And then, defend the guy after not re-upping his contract. Weren't there any other people in the entire county who could have done that job without the "anger issues" or the "moral baggage"? Louis DeNaples is hauled before a grand jury in Harrisburg because he is trying to convert a resort and might have ties to dubious characters? No one is defending DeNaples as vigorously as they are Costanzo who pales in comparision when it comes to DeNaples charitable work in the area. Bob Cordaro hired a dubious character and defends him? If you ask me, DeNaples has had the wrong lawyer all around. There is an old saying, "the company you keep". It is evident that the company the Lackawanna County majority has been keeping is pretty sad. And to just refresh your memories, from YOU TUBE, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Charles Costanzo.


WASHO/O'BRIEN ADS START


You have to check out my friend Gort's site for the new Washo/O'Brien ads. The ads stress the family values of both men, complete with feeding the kids breaskfast, sending a daughter off to a college and looking to the future. There are reminiscent of the Munchak/Cordaro ads in the closing days of the 2003 campaign when the team gathered their wives and kids in an ad that castigated the opposition for making noise about the GOP team's personal finances. Anyway, it's a good ad, gives O'Brien some much needed gravitas and Washo more of a personality. Here's Gort's link:


COMMANDO BOB


Congrats to Wilkes Barre tower and the jury that acquitted him on Monday
of interfering into an investigation. Bob Kadluboski's actions snared a suspect who stabbed another person. But the D.A.'s office decided to prosecute. Funny, they didn't lose the paperwork on this case, did they?


STETS SETS FUNDER


Sunday Dinner with Linda J. Stets for Mayor? Hey, it might be fun!!! If interested, please respond by Sept. 12th. Here are the details: Date: Sunday, September 16th, Anthracite Cafe' Parsons section of WB, 12:30 doors open. 1pm or 2:30pm seating. Good food - Good company - Good time! Donation $25.00. Cash bar and Live entertainment. Call 825-2901

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The LuLac Edition #300, Sept. 9th, 2007











PHOTO INDEX: THE LATE RICHIE ASHBURN WITH BLOG EDITOR, CIRCA MID 80s, AND KENT
WESTLING, FORMER YANKEE
AND RED BARON PLAY BY PLAY
ANNOUNCER.


WHITEY


Ten years ago today, Richie Ashburn was found dead in a New York hotel room. Ashburn was the Hall of Fame center fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies throughout most of his career. Ashburn came from Nebraska and was a fleet of foot center fielder who led the 1950 Whiz Kids to a National League pennant. In the fifties, he was a big deal, one of the premiere center fielders on the east coast. From YOU TUBE, check out this vintage commercial.
After a year with the Cubs and Mets, Ashburn stepped into the Phils broadcast booth where he stayed until his death in 1997. Fittingly, he was elected to the Hall of Fame n 1995 along with Mike Schmidt, the MVP third baseman for the Phils.
I first became aware of Ashburn as a third grader. He was picked in the expansion draft and was playing for the newly minted New York Mets. Being a moronic grade schooler, I took great delight in strolling the neighborhood saying, “my Richie Ashburns, my Ashburns”. Yeah, I was a bit of an idiot. As I got older, my dad and uncles would tell me what a great defensive player he was and while not a home run threat, he’d always find a way to win a game. During the 1964 Phillies season that I followed virtually every minute, Ashburn was one of the voices that I’d hear to recount the celebrations, the defeats, the highs and the lows. I remember one game when Ed Roebuck, a Phillies reliever saved a game over the Cubs for Jim Bunning. Bunning left the game with the bases loaded, no outs. He got three batters out on a ground out to the mound which forced the run at home, and two full count strikeouts. After the win, 4 to 3, on the radio as the crowd cheered, Ashburn simply said, “If I were Jim Bunning, I’d buy Eddie Roebuck a steak. A big one. Phillies win, 4 to 3”. Then he cut to a commercial. An uncle said he didn’t have the greatest voice in the world, but knew the game. Indeed he did.
Through the years, Ashburn delighted Phillies fans with stories, good humor and anecdotes that enriched the baseball culture. During my time in broadcasting and newspapers, I must admit that when I met someone famous, I’d initially be a tad nervous. With my numerous encounters with Ashburn, I can say that never was the case. At the Vet in the runway as he strolled talking easily about the virtues of a Von Hayes (which wasn’t easy sometimes) or in the broadcast booth where he accepted a huge home baked caked made by former Pittston Postmaster Art Prandy and presented to Richie from Art’s son Barry, he was a study in calm. His knowledge was never lorded over you, but shared. At a card show, hosted by Bob Biscontini of Hanover Twp., I had a long time to interview Ashburn. When we talked baseball, he’d begin with, “and as you know” or “I’m sure you realize this but…”, the fact is I knew or realized neither. But Ashburn gave me, as a fan and writer the respect and that benefit of the doubt. He lost a child but never publicly told the story of that pain. Many wanted him to run for office but the self effacing Ashburn quietly declined without bombast or fanfare.
When he died, the Mayor of the city, Ed Rendell talked about his relationship with Ashburn and the transistor radio. As a baseball fan in the 60s, they went together like bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly. Thousands passed by his coffin including Curt Schilling in full uniform. Since his death, they named an alley for him at Citizen’s Bank Park, honored him in many ways to preserve his memory and put his name on the broadcast booth he worked in joyously for so long. Despite all that, there has been a tremendous hole in the Phillies organization since his death. While that gap will never be filled, one thing does help. Every baseball fan I know has a Richie Ashburn story. It’s either about a play he made on the field, a comment he made in the broadcast booth or an act of kindness some were witness to in person. While the honors the Phils bestowed on him are proper and fitting, what will keep Richie Ashburn alive, even after ten years, are those stories of his people, the fans. They miss him but will always remember Whitey. The name itself, the memory brings an easy going smile to the faces of those who remember. And you have to know somewhere, Whitey is smiling back.



A CLASS ACT



I don’t know why Kent Westling is quitting the Yankees. Maybe he does want to spend time with his family and do other things. But after 19 years, gee that seems like such an odd number to me. Westling, like Ashburn was a constant in the fans who followed minor league baseball around these parts. First with the Red Barons, then with the Yankees, Westling could always be counted on to be fair, accurate and interesting. Perhaps we’ll never know the real reason, people quit and get severance packages so they won’t talk. Not my business anyway. Maybe Westling was soured because he got passed over by the Phillies organization for a top job with them. Again, not my business. But the new regime is going to be hard pressed to find someone of his caliber. Prior to joining the triple A team, Westling worked at WARM and and WYOU. His last broadcast was Saturday Afternoon after the Yankees kicked away a chance at advancing to the playoffs. He thanked all those associated with the old WICK and the new owners of The Game, Fox Sports Radio, thanked the organizations, his producers and board ops. He went out as a class act. The best we can do is follow his lead and say many, many "thank yous" to him for 19 golden years. Thanks, Kent! You were the best!