Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The LuLac Edition #336, Oct. 31rst, 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.


Yes my frriends there is a "Lac" in LuLac and last night there was a rip roaring debate at the University of Scranton featuring 4 fine fellows by the name of Cordaro, Munchak, O'Brien and Washo. And guess what?? Unlike in Luzerne County, they are running as team mates.
Anyway, llast night Republican Lackawanna County Commissioners Robert C. Cordaro and A.J. Munchak defended their four-year record while saying their foes knew nothing about government.They said county taxpayers are better off than four years ago when they took office. Both defended the tax increase they signed on for when they took office saying they gave the bucks back to the taxpayers. But Democratic candidates County Commissioner Mike Washo and Corey O’Brien said "not so fast" reminding the crowd that what the GOPers gave with one hand, they took away with another. Commissioner Washo said taxes were just as high now as they were in the earlier part of the administration and that an FBI probe was putting a cloud above the county. He referred to a company that administered a compensation fund owned by a close friend of Mr. Cordaro.
Mr. Munchak and Mr. Cordaro repeatedly returned to a campaign theme: they made tough decisions to rid the county of $20 million in deficits. they inherited from the previous administration. Mr. Munchak blustered that he and Cordaro fixed a county courthouse and bridges that were falling apart. He also said their government was transparent in bringing to the fore any and all mistakes they made. THere seemed to be a look of concern on Cordaro's face when Munchak mentioned that. Still the GOP team conceded and you have to give them this that they acted quickly in bringing the investigation to the public. The Dems critcized the cost of the renovated courthouse with both Majority commissioners shooting back that the project is on budget and they'll release the names of all vendors. The cost of the 911 center was also criticized but the Republicans rejoinded with the old "we're as safe as we can" routine" which for a 911 center was legitimate.
Politics reared its head to with Munchak accusing O'brien of trying to derail Evie McNulty his Democratic foe off the primary ballot as well as blaming he and Mr. Cordaro for the new ethanol project in Mayfield. O'Brien and Washo pushed back saying there was more cronyism in this administration in 4 years than at any other time in county history and that they would instiitue a personal policy where jobs would be advertised to get qualified people. When Munchak said beware of people who run on a code of ethics and then don't act according, both Washo and O'Brien seemed ready to jump out of their seats.
And of course, the GOP team heralded the attraction of the New York Yankees Triple-A baseball. The Democrats said they welcome the investment associated with the team but warned they wanted to see the team here longer than the proposed agreement.


All in all things were a bit more animated than the Luzerne County Commissioners debate but this campaign has been intense because the Democrats feel they have a chance to regain power. And as I've said a hundred times on this site, Joe Corcoran lost that 2003 race by only 200 votes...More than 100 attended the debate and the crowd virtually hung on every word.


All candidates wore navy blue with white shirts except for Cordaro who had on a sky blue shirt anmd navy tie.....Both O'Brien and Cordaro seemed to corner the market on hair jell while the bespectacled Washo and Munchak looked absolutely studious on the dias....Bianca Barr from WNEP looked rather fetching in a light colored blazer and sensible shoes.


With all this nonsense of each state on both the Democratic and Republican side trying to move up their primary dates to outlast the others and be the first to conduct their primaries, here's a prediction. It may not happen in 20012 but sooner or later political conventions and their intrigue is going to make a comeback. Since 1952, when President Eisenhower was nominated by the GOP in a bitter convention fight and in 1956 when then Senator John Kennedy lost a Vice Presidential bid, conventions have been coronations. But with this siliness of one state trying to outdo the other in becoming the earliest state, you might see the pendulum swing the other way in the future. Here's the plot line of that great movie.
William Russell (Henry Fonda) and Joe Cantwell (Cliff Robertson) are the two leading candidates for the Presidential nomination of an unspecified political party. Both have potentially fatal vulnerabilities. Russell is a principled intellectual (believed by many critics and fans to be based on Adlai Stevenson. A sexual indiscretion has alienated his wife Alice (Margaret Leighton). In addition, he has a past nervous breakdown to live down. Cantwell portrays himself as a populist "man of the people", but is a ruthless opportunist, willing to go to any lengths to get the nomination. Neither man can stand the other; neither believes his rival qualified to be President.
They clash at the nominating convention and lobby for the crucial support of dying former President Art Hockstader (Lee Tracy). The pragmatic Hockstader prefers Russell, but worries about his indecisiveness and overdedication to principle; he despises Cantwell, but appreciates his toughness and willingness to do what it takes.
One of Russell's aides digs up Sheldon Bascomb (Shelley Berman.) He served in the military with Cantwell, and is willing to link Cantwell to homosexual activity. Hockstader and Russell's closest advisors press Russell to grab the opportunity, but he resists. As the first round of voting begins, he arranges to meet Cantwell privately, to let his rival know what he can do. But though Cantwell does not understand what makes his opponent tick, he knows this much - Russell does not have the stomach for tactics that dirty. Certain of this, Cantwell refuses to concede. In the end, Russell shocks him by throwing his support behind a third, relatively unknown candidate, ending both their chances.


........That Ross Street is finally being paved weeks before the election?

........That the Times Leader, that rebel, that bastion of community involvement, that agent of change are not endorsing any New candidates in the general election? You might say you're a rebel, but in the end, you're under the thumb of "the Man".

........That the city street sweepers find their way to downtown every morning cleaning up in front of the empty store fronts but ignoring the neighborhood streets filled with residents in their homes?

........That people still refuse to believe that Lou Barletta has his sighhts on bigger fish to fry that Congressman Kanjko's lttle Congressional seat?

........That now the entire Napierkowski family, including the kids are mad at Greg Skrepenak launching attacks in the local paper every other day? What did he do to tork off that family?

........That the DPW guys in Wilkes Barre never pick up stuff they drop on recycling day and just let it sit in the street or on the sidewalk?

........That by this time next week, at least in Luzerne County, the same names and families will be running things?

........That a group of candidates in Mayfield, Pennsylvania are taking it upon themselves to run a write in campaign against the powers that be who backed the ethanol plant?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The LuLac Edition #335, Oct. 30th, 2007



So it's Tuesday night, I'm bone tired, went out to dinner last night to fete my sister in law's birthday, stayed up late to see the Packers win an overtime game against Denver, (by the way Brett Farve is back!!!) worked a full day plus an hour of overtime, ran errands, went to see my mom and visit and then picked up some books at the warehouse for back orders. As Dr. Joe Leonardi e mailed me, "I am one busy guy". So I get home, grab the Red Lobster leftovers from last night, check the e mail and get a phone call. Thinking it is someone from Rutgers calling Mrs. LuLac for a donation, I reached for the phone and asked her if she was available. Before I got an answer from her, the voice on the other end introduced himself.

Them: Is this Mr. David Yonki?
Me: Yes it is.
Them: Would you like to participate in a short one question political question?
Me: Sure.
Thinking it was a late night Tom Leighton or Greg Skrepenak question, I was ready. Instead, I got this.

Hello, my name is David Bossi, perhaps you've seen me on Fox News. I am just finishing up a documentary movie that will save this country from the left leaning, power grubbing, over financed campaign of Hillary Clinton. In association with former Clinton adviser, Dick Morris, I am going to present a documentary that will rescue us from the liberal policies of the Clintons. Watch for it in theatres soon. Our mission is to save our country and destroy the careers of Senator and President Clinton who will put this country on the road to ruin. Now, one of my associates will get on the line and ask you an important question that is vital to our survival of our country. Thank you.

After that, a young man gets on the line and is totally unprepared to answer my questions, like the name of the movie. He couldn't do it. So I unload on him. Then I fear he'll hang up. I pull back and proceed.

Me: Okay, let's take a step back, can you give me the name of the man making the documentary and the organization he represents. By the way, I'm sorry I snapped at you, I had a long day.
Them: No problem Mr. Yonki. The name of the man is David Bossi,
Me: How do you spell that?
Them: B o s s i.
Me: Thanks.
Them: You're welcome. Mr. Bossi is associated with Citizens United, a good government group committed to telling the truth about America.
Me: That's great, just what we need. The name of the group again?
Them: Citizens United.
Me: Thanks.
Them: You're welcome. Mr. Yonki, let me ask you the question for the survey.
Me: Sure, go ahead.
Them: Mr. Yonki, do you think if Hillary Clinton became President she will support our troops overseas?
Me: Without a doubt, I think Senator Clinton would be the best President we can have in these unsettling times. I believe she will support the troops, bring them home safely and restore the foreign policy relationships ruined and besmirched by this President currently in office.
Them: Oh.
Me: Surprised?
Them: Well, your entitled to your opinion.
Me: Yes I am and I voice that opinion every day on a blog/website. I try to be fair but you people might call me one of those left leaning, liberal bloggers kissing up to the Democrats and destroying this country with our views on free speech and "live and let live". Mr. Bossi used the words "destroy" in terms of Mrs. Clinton's reputation. If he wants a war, he's got one because I will do everything in my power to counter all the malicious charges he and his fascist right wing group intends to make on the Clintons or any other Democrat. Do I make myself clear?
Them: Everyone has an opinion sir.
Me: Yes they do and tonight, what's your name again?
Them: Matt.
Me: Matt, right, and tonight you picked a guy with a forum to fight the crap that Mr. Bossi represents. See you at the war! Have a great night.
Them: Yeah.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The LuLac Edition #334, Oct. 28th, 2007



Now this is what Luzerne County politics is all about. Never mind ads that feature chimps and monkeys, let's get down to brass tacks here. The GOP minority commissioner, a former military guy goes on a commando raid to get a document on the Juvie Detention Center that the Majority won't give him access too. So instead of meekly walking away like a Red Jones might do, Urban gets the report and starts saying some pretty interesting things. His former bud, Commissioner Greg Skrepenak, who in 2004 included Urban in on all county business starts calling him untrustworthy and a terrorist again. Skrepenak, who's heart was in the right place at the start of his term learned fast what happens when you carry the ball and not block in county politics, you become a target whether it's justified or not. And Skrep, who has put good programs on the books and been supportive of very good social service programs with county money is not taking well to be refered to as a man not in touch with the people. Urban feels the same way about his tenure too so you have a natural competitive rivalry there. That's interest enough. But the pot was sweetened when interim county Commissioner Rose Tucker said of Urban's actions that "she could just strangle him!!" Tucker, who goes back into political retirement at the end of this term really is the wild card here and can let loose with just about any comment. As my friend Shadoe Steele from KRZ says, "Hollywood couldn't make this stuff up". As the days wind down toward the election, look for this report to take center stage with allegations flying. Meanwhile, I saw Steve Urban walking his dog this morning in Parsons and just in case any potential stranglers have any ideas, FYI, it's a pretty big dog.


Mike Merritt candidate in District "E" Wilkes Barre stopped by my house Saturday afternoon. We weren't home but Mike left a flyer. Merritt told me at the King's College debate that he's going door to door to almost every house in his council district. Told me he's a little behind schedule because of his involvement with his son's fall baseball program. Merritt, a Mets fan, is making his pitch and voters are responding. He's doing politics the old fashioned way, he's asking for the vote!


Chris Doherty, mayor of Scranton not saying much about another run in 2009 for Mayor. Doherty is midway throygh his second term and has been touted for state wide office or a job with Governor Rendell's office. Doherty was up and running at 5AM suited up in navy blue suit, white starched shirt and designer tie for WBRE/WYOU's coverage of "The Office Convention" kick off friday morning.


When Ray Arellano ran for Council in District "B" as a Democrat, he made quite an impression as a newcomer to the city who wanted a seat at the policy table. Even though Ray lost his bid, he's been active in the realm of community and politics. Here's his take on the Council race going on in his district:
Dear Mr. Yonki,
As you may recall, I ran a campaign for Councilman in District B in the Primary. I ran because my friends, neighbors, and fellow parishoners asked me to take a shot at it. Basically they had a "Anyone but Tony Thomas" agenda. Considering that I had only been in a resident of Wilkes-Barrel
ong enough to be eleigible to run, and considering that I was not a "native" of this region, I feel that I did a fair run against a well "oiled" Democratic career politician steam roller. Think about this, "Why would a Fire Department Captain with 3 years to go for full pension, be willing to give that up and run for Council with NO pension"?? Duh? When you consider that most of the Police calls for prostitution, drugs, home invasions, and assaults occur in District B, those that had supported me asked for my input. as to a new champion for our cause? We researched who would be interested in picking up the sword, and who would best serve the District? We came up with former police chief Anthony George. He graciously has accepted the challenge, and is running as an Independant, because he too feels that there has to be a change. The man has experience, connectivity with the Wilkes-Barre Police Department, and has the knowledge on how to deal with crime that can only come from years of being "street wise". I am not besmirching Mr. Thomas, I am merely stating that he has won his seat on the council based on his popularity, and name recognition not his effectiveness as a civic leader. When you consider that placing Mr. George on the Council will give us TWO ex Police Chiefs, ( Mr. George, and Mr. Barrett) who can work hand in glove with Chief Dessoye in the irradication of the vermin that plague our city, the future looks so much brighter!! The "Meet and greet, we'll drink your beer, eat your hot dogs, and vote for you""crowd may once again outnumber the more sensible voters at the polls, but hopefully when reality sets in , and the votes are counted we will have Mr. George, and Mr. Barrett on Council.
Sincerely, Ray Arellano

Friday, October 26, 2007

The LuLac Edition #333, Oct. 26th, 2007



It’s getting late and the candidates have taken to the TV and Radio waves to plead their case. On TV, we have Skrepenak and Petrilla buying the networks and cable, and in Lackawanna County Cordaro and MUnchak followed the Bill Clinton strategy before the ’96 election, being on the air on a consistent basis since the primary. Their opposition has responded with two ads, one staid and conventional, the other funny featuring a bunch of chimps trying to run a government. The ad is funny, biting and attention getting. The only thing wrong with it, in my opinion was the placement at the end of the head chimp wearing glasses. A person I was watching it with said, “Do either Cordaro or Munchak wear glasses? Doesn’t the Democrat?” True, Munchak has been seen at meetings with glasses but not all the time and Cordaro wears none. With the terrible attention span of voters, they might confuse it as an anti-Washo/O’Brien ad. But other than that, it’s pretty good. Take a look at it:
Mayor Tom Leighton in Wilkes Barre has been on both cable and the nets with an effective spot that touts his positive accomplishments.
On the radio there’s Barry Stankus for Sheriff, Bill Jones for Commissioner, Cordaro and Munchak, and Walter Griffith, Junior in Wilkes Barre Council District A. Expect more to come as the days close.


One of my favorite talk show hosts, Sue Henry and I have two questions for public office holders.
1. Why do you inundate talk shows before an election asking for free exposure and yet, never bother to show up for a debate or public forum?
2. And then after the election, there seems to be no clamoring for free time or even an explanation of how you govern. How come?


$467.00 round trip airfare to Chicago for a conference.
$48.00 for a dinner on the road at a non chain restaurant.
$12.00 for cab fare.
$16.00 for an airport breakfast.
$1,000.00 conference registration fee.
$800.00 for 4 day hotel stay.
$100.00 tips and incidentals.

S T U P I D ! ! ! ! ! ! !



The County has asked that the debit cards for employees be returned and the policy cancelled. This is a shame because the employees that need them for travel are being penalized. The tracking issue is curious, credit card companies routinely send summaries of expenses. They enjoy adding that interest. My guess is that every voting (especially these days) use credit cards for convenience. Sadly, some use credit card to live on given the $8.00 an hour jobs some people are forced to take because there’s nothing else here. My point is, unlike our parents, people understand credit cards. They know how they work, they can know in minutes by phone or on line how each penny is spent, where it went, if it was misdirected and how that can be corrected. This is a more understandable and concrete issue than the Juvenile Detention Center and reassessment. People in this day and age understand how easy credit cards can be to use, abuse and pay off. Unless of course your work for a government entity. Linda Stets has weighed in on this and what this has do with her campaign for Council or Mayor is besides the point. As always, it’s entertaining.
Well, well, well, what do you know......some of our fine elected officials at the court house are "USING" your hard earned tax money through another source.....DEBIT CARDS. Check out Tuesday, CV News, page 2. Gee, I wonder if they are planning to report the additional income on a 1099 tax return? After all it is "REPORTABLR INCOME."Whom is funding the debit card accounts? What person/s have taken the liberty to give away our tax dollars? Gee, here again, no one knows. Even the County Controller Petrilla. So who does know? Answer: A local banker that's who. Question: Where are the receipts?What are these men using their debit cards for? Dinner - drinks - flowers - gifts - bar tabs - gas - vehicle repairs and to what vehicles - cash for trips - catered events - what? Again, where are the receipts? No one at the dome knows......Don't they earn enough money to manage their job descriptions? Does your boss give you a DEBIT CARD? Where are the bank statements to reflect the monthly, or bi-monthly amount "placed" into these accounts to draw down for these "expenses" ?Since the debit cards were never approved.....I wonder if our county boys know what the word L A R C E N Y....means under PA Crime Code? Hmmm......Somebody has alot of explaining to do as far as I am concerned.......Remember the last cash scam we found? The $10,000.00 California trip for what?Stealing is theft and the word larceny also means the same thing; BUT worse!The cards were NEVER APPROVED......that is theft.Commissioner Urban again; not involved. He knows better. It's called ethic's. PLEASE CAN'T WE RID OURSELVES OF SUCH GREED? YES. NOV. 6TH!STOP THE CORRUPTION NOW.


Senator Hillary Clinton turned 60 this week. This added gravitas has got to help her campaign. Plus boomers her age are hitting retirement. Health care are huge concerns to aging boomers, maybe her health care plan of the 90s will come full circle as an issue whose time has come


So this weekend “The Office” convention is in Scranton. One of my favorite shows, “The Office” makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. I’ve had radio bosses very similar to Michael, that’s what makes me cringe. What makes me laugh are the older characters like Creed and Stanley, guys that are mailing it in a very distinct ways. “The Office” also illustrates the vast difference between economic development in Scranton (where buildings are middle aged and filled) and Wilkes Barre (where the buildings are empty but shiny and new).


And how about Cordaro and Munchak making the announcement that the Scranton Wilkes Barre Yankees had extended their contract through 2010. That was part of the initial deal but the usage of it right before an election is meant to remind the voters that Cordaro brought you the Yankees. A good, workable ploy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The LuLac Edition #332, Oct. 25th, 2007



Democrats Rick Cronauer, District A;

Tony Thomas Jr., District B;
Kathy Kane, District C;
Bill Barrett, District D;
Republican John Yencha, District E,
Ind. candidate Tony George, District B,
write-in candidate Sam Troy, District C.

Take note when they ask you for your support at the polls on Election Day. I guarantee they won't be hiding then!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The LuLac Edition #331, Oct. 24th, 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.


The King’s College Politics and Media Class, along with the League of Women Voters hosted a debate for City Council candidates on a rainy Wednesday night. Moderator Sue Henry used a baseball analogy to introduce the candidates. She noted that the front runners, the establishment candidates were no shows while the insurgents, those aching for a chance to lead actually showed up. Only five council candidates made an appearance, they were Democrat Mike Merrit, running in District E, Republicans Walter Griffith in District A, Linda Stets in District D, Vince Guarneri in District B and Peter Gagliardi in District C. No one else showed and despite the gracious comments by Dr. Jayne Moore of King’s College saying some had previous commitments, let’s be real here, Five candidates came to meet the voters, the rest hid. Let’s break it down.


Merritt: Running because he’s concerned about the neighborhoods and wants to get more people involved in the community. Touted his business experience and volunteerism.
Griffith: Spoke of his past run at Council, losing by less than 1% of the vote city wide, talked about the Council as Legislators who must deal with the city administration in solving problems, not acting as a rubber stamp.
Stets: Said she was running because the seat needed o be filled by the GOP. Also a candidate for Mayor, Stets told the group that democracy and involvement is needed in keeping the neighborhoods safe.
Guarneri: Told the group he was running because he felt there needed to be more employment opportunity. In describing his background, he mentioned his Accounting degree but told the group he also worked in a warehouse because he couldn’t get a job pumping gas. That drew a laughs from the crowd but it underscored a very good point about the city’s economics and demographics. His other two election foes, incumbent Tony Thomas and Tony George did not attend.
Gagliardi: Perhaps the most eloquent statement came from the former King’s grad who said that his 4 years At King’s was the very embodiement of why he runs for public office. He said it is important to serve the citizens by getting involved and making a change.


Said it could be done cheaper pointing to the County’s involvement in buying the rail station. Is for it but it is in the wrong place.
Stets: Told the group the transportation unit was a good idea if only there were more businesses in the downtown. Pointed to the lack of business growth and reported high rents for the shiny new buildings.
Guarneri: Said it would aid the downtown in terms of development.
Gagliardi: Supports the idea and said he’d like Wilkes Barre to return to its former glory of hustle and bustle when public transportation was the norm rather than the exception.
Merritt: Thinks it’s a good idea and a building block for stronger economic development.


Told the group he’d put the position of Police Chief out to bid. Said Wilkes Barre needs more police efficiency and that the city needs to work smarter not harder. Proposed more foot patrols and neighborhood involvement.
Stets: Pledged to get rid of absentee landlords, real estate home flipping and a more vigilant neighborhood presence.
Guarneri: Said that clutter clean up is important when it comes to crime. He said people need to take care of their properties first and restore pride. In protecting their properties, crime would have a tough foe to fight. Get rid of the junk and you’ll get rid of a crime presence.
Gagliardi: Remembered a more peaceful Wilkes Barre when he as a youth delivered the Wilkes Barre Record at 4AM with no fear. Said that drug dealers have to be told Wilkes Barre is not the place for them. Mentioned his “Knock” plan where if neighbors see drug activity or anything suspicious, a police presence reveals itself right in their face.
Merritt: Neighborhood and crime watch involvement units are the key. Noted that more police need to be in neighborhoods.


Said if she were Mayor, Solid Cactus would have had more communication before it left. Mentioned it was disgraceful that a free standing tax based business left because of a breakdown in communications with the administration.
Guarneri: Said he won’t criticize the Mayor because it was already a done deal.
Gagliardi: The candidate said that lessons can be learned from the Solid Cactus debacle. He said this is what happens when a government is not accommodating and accessible but aloof and unavailable to its tax paying entities.
Merritt: Was not going to criticize the Mayor because he did not know what the Mayor did and did not do.
Griffith: Communications was not stellar. Used it as an example of a rubber stamp council that never questions the administration on important issues or just something as basic as asking what’s going on with an issue.


Provide a sense of pride and purpose in the city. Noted we are the most entertained and bored people on the earth. Said each resident must take ownership of a better city. Noted if theatre closed downtown, people wouldn’t be coming for the three restauraunts in town.
Gagliardi: Said the city has to rid itself of the negative attitude. Mentioned the Council needs new blood and new enthusiasm to take a more active approach in government. He also said the city should make it very uncomfortable for drug pushers to do business in the city.
Merritt: Crime reduction. Get the drug element off the street, and let the good hard working people feel safe.
Griffith: Clean up the neighborhoods, get rid of the apathy and let people know things won’t be business as usual.
Stets: Jobs, quality high paying jobs to stop the brain drain in the city. And cleaning up the parks and streets where children play.


Told the crowd he wasn’t in it for the money but to serve. Said the Mayor’s salary in comparison to a County Commissioners is out of line and screams for an adjustment saying it didn’t make sense. Said the GOP will earn its salary, no matter what it is as opposed to the current crop just taking it.
Merritt: Defended the Mayor’s salary, said the job is a difficult one and the Mayor would get more in the private sector. Said he would not change the Council salary one bit.
Giffith: Recounted how he tried to pass a petition outlawing the perks and high salaries and was taken to court by the council and administration. Said that in some cases when you break down the meetings vs council salaries, members are getting paid $3000.00 an hour.
Stets: With neighborhoods going downhill and getting filthy, and parks unattended, the Mayor and Council are not earning their salary. Said there is a projection that at the age of 75, Mayor Leighton will have earned 1 million dollars in perks and pensions and said he just isn’t worth that.
Guarneri: Rejected perks, said people make less than that in full times jobs but conceded the Mayor had a “good gig”.


Said students pay $30,000 a year to go to school in Wilkes Barre and said there should be a way to have free parking for students.
Stets: Said maybe commuters could have a common parking ground with a shuttle system.
Guarneri: Work with the 10 colleges to solve problems including potholes and parking.
Gagliardi: Mentioned that it was all for students to do to try and earn a degree and work hard in school and not have to worry if they get a ticket. Agreed with Griffith that something workable could be done.
Merritt: Approached it as a neighbor and not a council candidate. Said students park in North Wilkes Barre on residential streets and parking is at a premium during lunchtime and on weekends when students have parties and residents can’t find a place to park. Suggested colleges handle it themselves.


To prevent it from happening again, take an audit of equipment and supplies on hand so the city won’t be caught short.
Guarneri: Called for an up to date assessment of city equipment.
Gagliardi: Said it illustrated what is wrong in the city. Said hearings should have been held to find out why things went wrong and prevent it from happening again. Commented this is what happens when you have one party government.
Merritt: Said there were a lot of retirees and budget constraints. Reminded those assembled that Wilkes Barre s still paying off a debt.
Griffith: Said there has to be a union negotiation that will allow the city to hire other people to help on a non union basis in an emergency.


Says the job of government is to make its people safe. The closing of the Firehouse in the Heights did not make that happen. Said he could not understand why there was no money for a firehouse in the heights yet city leaders were willing to spend 1 million dollars in Kirby Park for a 911 monument.
Merritt: Told the group it was due to budget constraints, said there was no danger in the Heights with no firehouse because the response time was very good from other areas.
Griffith: Said that this was a classic case of the city not taking care of what it has and building things that are not needed. He intimated that someone’s friend must have gotten the contract for the new building efforts.
Stets: Talked about response time. Said people were in danger because fires in the Heights with the houses 3 inches apart in some cases was dangerous.
Guarneri: Worried about response time in bad weather.


Meet with the out of town landlords and tell them if they bring drug dealers in for cash, she’d personally escort both out of town in a cruiser.
Guarneri: Clutter clean up, neighborhood revitalization.
Gagliardi: Find out who got elected and begin the process of governing with those people and sharing a common ground and understanding.
Merritt: Meet with the police chief to see how crime can be reduced and how he can help the city achieve that goal.
Griffith: Meet with the Mayor and remind that office that Council is a legislative body and one that needs to be listened to and respected.


Says Kathy Kane is a remarkable public servant and educator who has served the people the best way she knows how. But told the group a bi partisan government is needed. One party rule does not work in Cuba, Russia or Wilkes Barre. Said there was need for new blood.
Merritt: Said he wishes his foe John Yencha well in his electoral efforts.
Griffith: Told the crowd that his opponent Rick Cronauer is just that. He criticized his opposition as not wanting to meet the public and says his comments were not directed at him personally.
Stets: Said Bill Barrett lives up the street from her and walks through their neighborhood looking straight ahead and not seeing the terrible problems Wilkes Barre is facing. Mentioned that not showing up for meetings and treating people at Council meetings badly is a sure sign of arrogance.
Guaneri: Told the group his opponents are Tony Thomas and Tony George. Said it was impolite and improper to speak of them when they were not at the forum.


Mike Merritt showed up ready to work, white dress shirt, tie undone. No suit coat, you got the impression he was ready to roll and as the only Democrat who bothered to show up, he made an impression with more than his appearance….Walter Griffith had a burgundy dress shirt and matching die, very un-GOP….Linda Stets was resplendent in Nancy Reagan red…Vince Guarneri opted for the casual look in a slate blue pull over and Pete Gagliardi wore a dark suit and red tie. Pete did an Urban like entrance at 7:10PM because of traffic problems getting to the event… Sue Henry had a smart brown ensemble with moderate colored flats while Dr. Jayne Moore was sporting what looked like to be a brown and white saddle shoe sneaker combination.


Merritt got points for showing up and taking on the issues, not playing to the crowd and defending to a degree the current administration…Griffith showed what a well versed passionate public service he could be if given the chance…Stets showed great enthusiasm and vision for her role in the city....Guarneri added humor and common wisdom to his discourse but it was perhaps Gagliardi who nailed it when he said Wilkes Barre needs to be represented by new blood. He mentioned how the good people of Wilkes Barre only want a fair shake, saying those making $8.00 an hour and raising a family on that are courageous. Said the least we could do was to put new blood in the city to serve those people and return Wilkes Barre to its thriving self.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The LuLac Edition #330, Oct. 23rd, 2007



Wednesday, Oct. 24th, 7PM at King's College's Burke Auditorum in the McGowan Business Center the Wilkes Barre City Council candidates will have a forum, meeting, debate, however you want to catagorize it. I'm calling this event "Pete's Debate" after Pete Gaglardi. A graduate of King's (he spent most of his life at the Library there, thus the brilliant letters to the editor) Pete has been wrangling for more discussions during this campaign. LuLac tried to get another forum together but we had a few roadblocks in terms of finding a suitable place. Pete convinced some King's Government students to take this forum Wednesday night on as a project and with much persistence, it's a done deal. How many people will show is open to conjecture but the fact that the thing is being held at all is a tribute to Pete's belief in open government and the sharing of all ideas to make the city a better place to live. Way to go, your old Government professors would be proud you got out of the library and into the arena!


We have an Urban, a Jones and now a James. My God these Republicans are something. You can't get them to run for anything together but seperately, they break their necks to go it alone. James said he is mounting a write-in campaign for Luzerne County commissioner on Nov. 6.
James ran as a Republican in May but lost. He said Monday that he wants to give voters an additional choice on Nov. 6 because he is not enthused with the other four contenders – Republicans Bill Jones and Stephen A. Urban, and Democrats Greg Skrepenak and Maryanne Petrilla.
Voters get to pick two, and the top three vote-getters land seats.
If the 2003 commissioner race is any indication, James would have to get more than 28,000 votes to land a seat.
Urban, who ran on a team with James in May, said he has no involvement in James’ write-in plan.
Jones said voters already rejected James twice because James also lost the 2003 general election.
Skrepenak was blunt about what he thinks is going on. Skrep says James is in the race to take votes away from Jones, thus giving Urban an edge. Skrepenak intimated that he thought Urban might be running scared but of course the Minority Commissioner disagreed.
This will be interesting to watch for the following reasons:
1. To see if James has enough name recognition to pull some votes.
2. It will be a gauge to see how a write in effort would work with the new voting machines. Bob Cordaro did it in Lackawanna County in the spring primary but he had a huge organization in place. James is just starting out. We shall see. But Skrep just might have a point, even though Urban has denied involvement. And I believe Urban. However this is just too Luzerne County Republican! BILL JONES----BILL JAMES, a perfect match except for a few letters. Vanna baby, where are ya?


Up in the Crestwood District, School Board member Bill Jones is facing
some interesting input from a non resident. It appears Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen A. Urban plans to join picketing Crestwood School District support workers on Thursday. Jones said health insurance co-payments are “the major sticking point” in the contract.
Urban said he plans to stand with the union workers because they have been working without a contract since August 2001. Urban said the county would never allow negotiations to drag on for six years. He pointed out that Jones was on the board for eight years.
“This tells a little about his leadership and not being able to sit down and negotiate in good faith,” Urban said of Jones to the Times Leader. “To me it shows a lackadaisical attitude on his part.”
Jones, a Crestwood School Board member, is running for county commissioner, and Urban is seeking re-election. They are both Republicans but are not running as a team on Nov. 6. That fact has to be a sheer delight to both Greg Skrepenak and Mary Anne Petrilla who curiously are not running against each other but on the same ticket. Only in this county would a GOP team for county office not only run against each other for office but openly antagonize each other.
In the meantime, reports from under the dome say that Skrep and Mary Anne have named their new campaign mascot, Mad Magazine "What Me Worry?" kid, Alred E. Newman. With this kind of stuff, why should they!


Walter Griffith in District A has sent along a few words about his intentions.
Common sense reasons why you should vote Walter L. Griffith, Jr. for City Council:
I am a man of my word. My opponent flip-flops. My opponent said he supported small businesses coming to town, and then he went to a zoning hearing to try to stop a business from moving into his neighborhood. He has clearly demonstrated that he will do what he thinks is best for himself, not what is best for our city. I would have welcomed that business into our city, and along with it, the tax revenue that it would have generated. My campaign finance reports clearly indicate who has financially supported me and how I have spent my money. My opponent has been the subject of scrutiny due to the fact that his campaign finance reports incorrectly listed contributions and expenditures. I have frequently attended Wilkes-Barre City Council meetings for more than four years in order to gain the knowledge of how our city operates.
My opponent has not attended City Council meetings, even after
winning his party's nomination in the primary, showing us all how unconcerned he is with what is really going on in the city. We can clearly see by his attitude that he is just another one of the good ol' boys looking to take advantage of you and your trusting nature. I am not related to anyone in City Hall. My opponent has a son-in-lawwho is the mayor's assistant. How can we expect him to remain impartial as a councilman if his daughter depends on the mayor's good will for income?!?
The anwer is, we can't. My lack of family ties to the administration will allow me to make decisions that are in the best interest of everyone in Wilkes-Barre.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The LuLac Edition #329, Oct. 21rst, 2007


"C" THAT!!!!!

So far its been a quiet election season in the city of Wilkes Barre but some interesting things have surfaced in Wilkes Barre District C. In the spring primary Sam Troy lost his bid to become the Democratic candidate for Wilkes-Barre City Council but has decided to mount a write-in campaign for the seat.
Troy, 57, lost to incumbent Kathy Kane in the primary for District C. Troy garnered 124 votes to Kane’s 437. Republican Peter J. Gagliardi received 123 votes.
Troy said by jumping in the race he is giving voters another choice, one that is more in line with the people.
Troy told the local papers that feels a sense of arrogance when he attends council meetings. Troy has been insulted, chastised and criticized at Wilkes Barre Council meetings for speaking his mind.
Troy's pet issues are lower taxation, more open government and a skate park for the kids in the city.
Kane wished him luck but also made the point that primaries were set up to pick a candidate for the general. She intimated that once one runs and loses, they should go to the sidelines but Troy doesn't appear to be doing that.
Kane said she will run a clean campaign and run on her record.
The GOP candidate, Gagliardi welcomed Troy to the race, saying he was glad he is running. and he hoped Troy’s candidacy increases voter turnout.
This might make for an interesting scenario in "C". Even though Kane got a combined number of votes outscoring Gagliardi and Troy, in the General anything can happen. One might be that disgruntled Democrats would vote for Troy taking votes away from Kane. Another might be that the anti-Kane, or anti incumbent vote would be divided and give Kane even more votes. As usual, Gagliardi is running a shoe string budgeted campaign devoid of signage and relying on the local GOP and his fellow ticket members to get his name out there. If he is to make inroads, he has to become more well known personally. It would be history making if Troy's entry gave an underfunded Gagliardi the seat. But that's a longshot from where we sit.


Unlike other incumbent council candidates, Pete Gagliardi has taken to the pen to articulate some of his positions and ideas. The guy has some thoughts and ideas and are worth repeating. Here's his recent letter to the newspaper on the Drug problem in the city.
I am alarmed by the drug problem and the crime it produces.
We must develop a hostile environment for drug dealers so that they leave our city. This will significantly reduce our drug and crime problems. I have a plan to develop that hostile environment for our drug dealers.
The plan is called the police knock and talk program and has been successful in Kingston. When citizens see suspicious activity, they report it to the police and provide the address where the suspected drug dealer is operating. The police then knock on the door and tell the residents that they have reports of suspicious drug-related activity coming from this address. They will also patrol the area and park a police car in front. The drug dealer then moves from the house. Eventually, Wilkes-Barre will be known as a difficult place to deal drugs and drug dealers will leave the city.
Peter Gagliardi
Wilkes-Barre City Council
District C candidate.


In explaining why he would not give every Pennsylvania homeowner property tax relief, the Speaker Emeritus of the House Republicans this week said, "Let's forget this nonsense about trying to help everyone. The communists tried it and it didn't work." John Perzel, Philadelphia Inquirer 10/11/07. And, to add insult to injury, the leader of the Senate Republicans says the Senate won't even talk about property taxes this fall. And that is the reason why Perzel is no longer the Pa. Speaker of the House.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The LuLac Edition #328, Oct. 20th, 2007


We've been trying to post a few interesting stories all day. But our parent system won't allow me to post pictures and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Anyway, those stories can hold and we'll get to them soon.

A few notes, there will be a Candidates debate for City Council down in South Wilkes Barre on Sunday. It appears the GOP candidates will show up but not the Dems.
"Author Fest" is at Genetti's in Wilkes Barre Sunday afternoon at 2PM. You can have a chance to meet national authors telling you about their creative works. Tickets are available at the door. $16.00 per ticket but $5.00 goes for the purchase of a book. The Tudor Book Store in Kingston and the Luzerne County Library System are running this thing.
Speaking of libraries, much is being made of the closing of the Parsons branch of the Osterhout. Some have even gone so far as to criticize Mayor Tom Leighton for making the vacant firehouse there unavailable to the Library. This is not accurate, Mayor Leighton offered the Osterhout Board the building for a buck and they turned him down. The GOP needs to know that even though there might be holes in the Mayor's record, you can't blame the guy for everything.
Much talk today about Joe Torre and the Yankees. I had to weigh in on WILK Sports Talk Saturday. My feeling is that Torre was insulted by the incentive program the Yanks offered. The guy made the playoffs 12 years straight. Rob Nyehard asked me on the air who was the only Yankee manager to quit other than Torre and I froze. Then when I hung up the phone I remembered. Ralph Houk. The New York Daily News had one of the best lines I've heard on this, "Torre fired the Yankees". Look for some gloomy days ahead in Yankeeland.
Speaking of the Yanks, today Mickey Mantle would've been 76. Have some great photos of the Mick with my various encoiunters. Who knew as a kid growing up, I'd meet the great Mantle, not once but many, many times although my favorite Yankee of that era was Clete Boyer who I also met and helped move with him a huge barbeque grill for his restaurant in Cooperstown.
Two bummers today, Jill Knopka was not anchoring the Saturday morning news on WBRE and the Indians lost. But on the other hand, I got in touch with two old friends, Eddie Ackerman from the Sunday Dispatch and Jim Gibson from the Colorado Democratic Leadership Council. I also took a trip to opposite ends of the county, going to my favorite bakery The Sanitary in Nanticoke and then looping back north to Sabatelli's Italian Market in Pittston. Scones and imported provolone, you just can't beat them.
Being asked who I thought won the debate for Commissioner the other night. My feeling was that everybody was very good but I was really impressed with Greg Skrepenak's command of the job and the facts and figures surrounding it.
Hopefully when the photo index gets fixed, we'll be back to normal Sunday for another LuLac edition.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The LuLac Edition #327, Oct. 18th, 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.


The League of Women Voters sponsored a debate with the candidates for Luzerne County Commissioner. About 100 people attended the forum, the format was simple, a League official read a question from a card and all candidates answered. Each candidate presented themselves well and it was evident from the get go that this was going to be a civcs lesson for those gathered.


Talked about his family’s business association, his eight years on the Crestwood School Board as well as his mission to make government more accountable.
Petrilla: Spoke of her role as Township official, her experience in state government as well as her experience as Controller where she oversees all financial aspects of the County.
Skrepenak: Said it was an honor to serve as County Commissioner, touted his record in Drug and Alcohol prevention services and business development and making the county a better place to live. And he mentioned the name of his running mate at least twice in his opening statement.
Urban: Urban arrived at 7:03PM right in the middle of his fellow GOPer’s opening statement. How ironic is that given the order of speaking was picked well before he arrived. Urban touted the personal touch as Commissioner, being accessible to people and spoke of his accomplishments on projects in Shickshinny and Exeter.



Petrilla: Said that a dedicated tax for libraries like the one in Lackawanna County is not needed given the contributions made by the current board. Said the two libraries in her region thrive and should be supported.
Jones: Spoke of the two libraries in his school district, felt no new tax was needed and told the crowd his record supports supporting libraries.
Skrepenak: Mentioned that under his leadership with Todd Vonderheid, millage was set aside for libraries. He also mentioned that libraries make up the entire county system and that the money from the county supports every library in every community.
Urban: Spoke of his affinity for libraries, said he felt a dedicated tax was not necessary, mentioned that libraries are important to communities where people of all ages could benefit. Drew some smiles when he said he had first library card.


Skrepenak: Spoke of the implementation of a personnel policy and director, said that the Commissioners have taken active role in making sure they got the right, qualified people for the right jobs.
Urban: Said personnel policy started out the right way but after the first two years of the Skrep/Vonderheid administration, things went downhill. Complained he was not included in hiring process and got agendas minutes before meetings.
Jones: Mentioned that he had experience in that area in private business and the school board, said that Commissioners must listen to department heads when hiring instead of political flacks.
Petrilla: Quality of managers was extremely important in the input, said that seeking information on new hires as a team was a good approach to use.


Was in favor, said that keeping skate boarders out of the neighborhood and public squares was preferable to kids on their own.
Jones: Said more than one county wide park was needed, proposed a network of parks to serve all residents.
Petrilla: Spoke of a $300,000 effort in Butler Twp that served dirt bikes, said that government needs to change with times and said parks are a good idea.
Skrepenak: The former athlete talked of the logistics of getting funding, neighborhood approval and suitable locations. Pointed out that activities like this would keep kids and young adults off the streets.


Use the money for fire and police protection and to hire a few grant writers to obtain more money for local communities.
Petrilla: More money to municipalities for infrastructure.
Skrepenak: Applied for funding through legislators. Made the point that Casino money is allocated to communities close to Plains Twp. and that fact must be taken into consideration. Would use money for regionalization.
Urban: Said property tax relief not yet in sight, preferred money go to local communities for libraries (said he understood Parsons Branch of Osterhout was set to close in December which is unconfirmed) and police protection and infrastructure.


Told the group that the county does monitoring of hazardous situations and has a good EM team in place.
Petrilla: Said many environmental problem areas require the cooperation of federal, state and local. Pleased with the county effort so far.
Urban: Took the opportunity to say he was on call 24/7. Gave out his cell phone number (262-9840) and said he responded to specific incidents which were handled at his behest.
Jones: Echoed Petrilla’s comments that the issue of railroad spills was federal but that cooperation between all bodies of government was needed.


Made great points saying that regional police forces were tried but needed more time and money to develop. Touted his Regional Records system that will enable local police forces to see warrants on all criminals in various towns.
Urban: Said there has to be enabling legislation to give towns the power to vote and create regionalization.
Jones: Better response time needed for local police, more money needed for training and development.
Petrilla: Spoke of her association with Casey administration that tried to provide start up monies for local police. When a new administration came in that went by the way side but said that might be a good place to start again.


Mentioned a daughter who left the area because of lack of jobs, said more high tech, higher paying jobs needed.
Jones: Less warehousing, more high tech jobs, less KOZ zones and freebies.
Petrilla: Pointed to the Zogby survey which said the hourly rate was increasing. More high tech.
Skrepenak: Said he is working with Chamber in order to get businesses to compete over the County. Expansion of non profits as well as efforts like wireless. Said colleges must be realistic in fitting the right jobs for the right people.


Selling of Valley Crest, life transition of county employees for early retirement as well as working as a team to cut costs and still provide efficient services.
Skrepenak: Getting on with reassessment so that properties are equal, and more money can come in. Said many people confuse reassessment with higher taxes.
Urban: Said the borrowing has to stop. Mentioned that borrowing to meet operating expenses is not a good option.
Jones: Mentioned that the county debt terrified him and that he’d be dead before there was ever a balanced budget. Agreed with Urban that borrowing was not a good thing.


Said they were needed for travel and are tracked monthly to make sure there is accurate accounting.
Urban: Mentioned he never saw accounting of services and said it bothers him there seems to be carte blance on this type of spending.
Jones: Said the budget needs to be watched especially on things like this.
Petrilla: Pointed out that debit cards were essential in everyday business life. Agreed with Skrepenak that cumbersome issuing of checks and purchase orders were not efficient.


At the prison, no.
Jones: That would be the last resort he’d look at given the talent pool locally.
Petrilla: Only when needed and with the best contracts negotiated.
Skrepenak: When there is a need, it will be done but only with a demonstrated need.


Has to run numbers to see if doable, said he’d have no clue where it would go.
Petrilla: Said a prison would pay for itself in over 25 years. Looked at it as an investment that would bring money into the county.
Skrepenak: Pointed to prediction by Warden Gene Fischi in the 90s that we’d need new prison by now. Said it is needed for more space and we could charge for incoming out of area prisoners instead of paying money out.
Urban: Said the prison was not needed. Claimed the Probation Dept. could create 300 prison spots by dealing with parole violators as well as disposition cases.


Pinpoint management of health care costs and benefits. Said a delicate balance between serving the taxpayers and employee is important.
Skrepenak: Said his health plan did not mandate copays but he chose a plan with one figuring that if he asked the employees to do it, he should too.
Jones: Touted his experience on the Crestwood School Board where he claimed the only district in the county has a copay.
Urban: Says that he only takes his own health care costs and does not have family members on it.


Made a plea for the vote, said he was accessible, proactive and makes things happen. Said his eight years was all about serving the people and hoped he could do more of the same.
Jones: In a swipe at Urban, said he’d be constructive, not negative and use his consensus building abilities to move county government forward.
Petrilla: Touted her 20 years experience in government, said that she can bring a woman’s perspective to the commissioner’s board but had no intention of taking over with her gender, said that a team approach was important to solving problems.
Skrepenak: Thanked the voters for the honor of serving, mentioned that the greatest form of government was democracy in America and he was proud to be part of it. Said the question Luzerne County voters must answer is, “are they better off now than they were four years ago?”


The event was well attended, in the crowd were Wilkes Barre Council candidates Walter Griffith (District A) and his wife, Peter Gagliardi (District B), GOP Chair Lynette Valvano, County Public Information Officer Kathy Bozinski, Dr. Jayne Moore from the King's Faculty, Pittston Area School Board member Terry Best and representatives of the two daily newspapers plus many more politicos I missed.


Both Republicans Urban and Jones wore navy blue suits while Skrepenak and Petrilla wore your basic black ensembles. Some wags in the crowd commented on how Petrilla squeezed into her open toed heels which I dare say were quite fetching.


Everyone acquitted themselves well. Urban provided the personal hands on touch, Jones was refreshing in the sense that he said there were things he didn’t know, Petrilla while not charismatic in her presentation was fact filled and informative and Skrepenak calmly recited statistics, nuances of county government and made a good case for a second term. Out of the four, Skrep and Urban were the most informative in presenting their cases but Urban relied more on his association with the Democratic team taking credit for the successes and running away from the failures. Pointedly, he was not too critical of the shortcomings. It was evident that Skrepenak and Petrilla were comfortable as a team while both Urban and Jones were non communicative. It was democracy at its most civil and finest.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The LuLac Edition #326, Oct. 17th, 2007



Political differences appear to be all in the family for Dick Cheney and Barack Obama.The Vice President is an eighth cousin to the Illinois senator and Democratic presidential hopeful. Cheney's wife Lynne stumbled across the connection while doing research for her recent memoir about growing up in Wyoming, "Blue Skies, No Fences.""This is such an amazing American story that one ancestor ... could be responsible down the family lines for lives that have taken such different and varied paths as Dick's and Barack Obama," Lynne Cheney told MSNBC during an interview on Tuesday. Ginny Justice, a spokeswoman for Lynne Cheney, said that Obama is adescendent of French Huguenot Mareen Duvall. Duvall's son married the granddaughter of a Richard Cheney, who came to the fledgling United States from England in the 1650s, settling in Maryland. An Obama spokesman had this to say of the ancestral link between the two pols: "Every family has a black sheep."


State Senator Robert Mellow has been touting legislation to stop teacher's strikes. I grew up in a family of teachers and I saw first hand how hard they worked. I was a substitute in two districts in the early 90s and saw very good educators and others who were mailing it in. What struck me was the factory mentality some of them had toward the students, if they didn't get paid, they rarely volunteered. Then there were those teachers who threw themselves into the student's lives without regard for compensation. The current strike at Lake Lehman hinges on health care and copays. No one gets free health care anymore, and teachers by pushing for that this in these hard economic times are going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. I have disagreed with Senator Mellow on many things but on this, I say, "go Bob". Here's his statement and justification for his legislation.
History teaches us that we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if we don’t learn from them. A good teacher taught me that many years ago.
I was disappointed to hear that children who attend Lake-Lehman School District are being victimized by a teacher’s strike for the second year in a row. Without pointing fingers or taking sides, this divisive strike in Lake-Lehman underscores the need to end school strikes in Pennsylvania.
The sad fact is that we are one of only nine states that permit teacher work stoppages. Last year, more than 30,000 children were affected by school strikes in Pennsylvania. Statewide, there are three ongoing school strikes keeping more than 10,000 students out of the classroom.
Meanwhile, there are 76 school districts operating without teacher contracts. An additional 110 contracts are set to expire at the end of this school year. It is important to note that many of these labor impasses drag on for several years – resulting in huge retroactive contract awards and massive property tax hikes.
My bill, Senate Bill 20, would impose strict negotiation parameters and a reasonable timeline for both sides to reach an agreement through a variety of means — including a non-binding arbitration panel. Once this process is exhausted without any agreement, both parties would submit their last best offer to an impartial common pleas court judge who would then ratify one of the two final offers as the final settlement plan.
It is a way to avert strikes, keep teachers teaching, protect taxpayers, and assure our children that their education will not be needlessly disrupted. My bill is fair to all sides and encourages settlement over confrontation. Equally important, it eliminates retroactive pay packages and prevents the consequential large spikes in property tax rates.
If my bill remains bottled up in committee, I plan on offering it as an amendment to the first viable education bill that reaches the Senate floor.
Prohibiting strikes honors the dignity of the teaching profession while protecting our children and community from this senseless and needless divisiveness.
Robert Mellow
Senate Democratic leader


The Luzerne County Commissioners debate takes place Thursday night starting at 7PM at the Burk Auditorium, King's College McGowan Business Center. Hope to see you there.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The LuLac Edition #325, Oct. 15th, 2007



Democratic candidate for Sheriff Mike Savokinas had a lot of his campaign signs stolen over the weekend. First and foremost it is an act of theft and bad political gamesmanship. And the candidate offering a reward is a good thing. This type of petty politics borders on oppressing freedom of speech. In the 2004 election, I can't tell you the number of times I had to replace an Arlen Specter sign in my front yard. The sign was stolen numerous times and since there was no passionate uproar for the Democratic candidate that year, I can only assume it was the Pro-Life crazies stealing the sign. In no small measure it is a terrible thing and frankly you feel violated. On the other hand, Savokinas has to be flattered. His candidacy must be a threat to someone. In the 2006 election I'd drive through various neighborhoods and see stacks of Rendell signs on porches. No one took them. Same thing with representative races, they'd be sitting there on a committeeman or woman's porch and no one touched them. 100 at a pop leaning against a swing or a set of steps. It's a pain and an insult to Savokinas but you have to believe someone is running scared. And for election day, that's a good thing for Mr. Savokinas.


Chris Carney's campaign for Congress is heating up as this year ends. He's raising money, visiting the district, making his way around towns. But there seems to be chinks in the old armor. There was a fascinating letter in the Scranton Times from a former supporter that I think bears sharing with you. If this letter is representative of the core group of people who supported Carney in '06, he might have some trouble in this upcoming race. This letter reminds me of the old country and western song entitled "If You Don't Stand For Something, You'll Fall For Anything." Here it is from the Scranton Times:
Carney's 'betrayal'
Editor: An open letter to Rep. Chris Carney:
Dear Chris,
I voted for you. The fact that you were running against yet another faceless Bush rubber stamp . . . a "family values" guy who got caught allegedly choking his mistress and then paid her off to keep her quiet, certainly made my decision less than painless. Plus, from all accounts you are a stand-up guy. Nice wife. Good kids. No mistress. I even broke one of my cardinal rules and placed one of your signs in my front yard. So many Democrats have embarrassed me by becoming mini-Liebermans, that publicly supporting the party became akin to self-flagellation. So I generally just pulled the lever and hoped for the best. But for you, I made an exception. I not only voted for you, I encouraged others to do the same.
I also publicly endorsed Bob Casey against Rick Santorum. Now while it's true I would have endorsed a Shetland pony if one ran against Santorum, I had high hopes for Casey. He then promptly went along with Bush and said it's OK to wiretap me without court approval. You and many other Democrats were swept into power last November on a current of anti-war fervor. Bush and his draft-dodging band of ideological foot soldiers have turned the so-called "war on terror" into a jihadist feeding frenzy. Our brave men and women in uniform are now stuck in the midst of a sectarian civil war. But all this would soon change. You were put there to end the war. Our long national nightmare would soon be over. Except it isn't. Largely because you, especially, have done your best to expand it. When Bush needs more billions, you give it to him, seemingly oblivious to the fact that we don't have it to give, and are simply borrowing it. When this master military tactician proposed his "surge," you endorsed his delusions. Other than the not choking a mistress part, it's hard to tell the difference between you and Don Sherwood. And just in case anybody was still giving you the benefit of the doubt, you recently joined with Republicans in voting against Hate Crimes legislation. To be fair to you, I and many others conveniently ignored the fact that while working at the Pentagon, you were actually instrumental in building the bogus case for war against Iraq. How you, with your insider clearance and access to reams of so-called "intelligence," could have gotten it so wrong while folks like myself, armed only with common sense which is, alas, not classified, were proven correct is certainly aquestion for the history books.I shudder at what your magic 8 ball will say Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is capable of. The more I think about my active support for you, the more I feel betrayed. And furious. Your campaign promised change. You said you were different. The only question in my mind right now is why the Republicans would even contest your seat in the next election. You're already doing their bidding. For free.
This letter illustrates the true frustration not only citizens feel about the war but also about the Democrats elected to effect change. True, there are no veto proof majorities but if the Dems don't watch it, in the Bush world of swiftboat propaganda, they'll get blamed for the evils of this war instead of the party that started it.


Greg Skrepenak and the Democrats, both elected and unelected took a hit from this WB Township resident annoyed with the entire Courthouse crowd and the fact that Skrep called Steve Urban a "terrorist".
Check this one out:
I take issue with the letter to the editor in the Oct. 8 Citizens’ Voice about my military status and employment with Luzerne County.
People like Hyder and Guesto are only county employees. They are bottom-feeders off appointments made by Skrepenak. As far as me being fired by the county three times, there’s a lot more to it.
Hyder, you claim you never sued the county. Well, isn’t it true you are suing the county and Commissioner Urban about revealing the $70,000 workers’ compensation settlement you received?
I was an Airborne Ranger K-75 with my Ranger team in Vietnam for 18 months with Mike Katchur from Dillsbury, Joe Kohler from Altoona, and Mike Stepanski from Pittsburgh. We were attached to the 4th division in An-Khe, Vietnam, in 1970-1971. So get your facts straight or shut your mouth.
Now, the real facts: Skrepenak, produce the records and whereabouts of the $58 million of taxpayers’ money for the juvenile detention center. Plus, what is the cost of the next two years to lease it?
Fact two: Reassessment figures. Produce the paperwork to the public. Taxpayers have that right to know. What is Guesto hiding? Commissioner Urban is your boss. He should fire you. Bring it out before the election. Is Skrepenak running scared?
Fact three: The $10,000 of taxpayer money wasted to go to Los Angeles. Hyder, where are the informative classes or lectures to police departments. What a joke.
Fact four: Hyder is looking to become warden. Check the records. How many friends did Hyder get a county job? Now, who has the facts and is telling the truth?
Please, veterans and their families, remember that Skrepenak called Commissioner Urban a terrorist. Vote Skrepenak out, along with his cronies.
Joseph Naperkowski
Wilkes-Barre Township