The LuLac Edition #476, May 9th, 2008
PHOTO INDEX: OUR 1968 LOGO, LUZERNE COUNTY RECORDER OF DEEDS JAMES "RED" OBRIEN AND CONGRESSMAN FROM THE 10TH DISTRICT CHRIS CARNEY.
I’m not sure how I feel about Chris Carney, Congressman from the 10th district and his recent endorsement of Senator Clinton. Mixed emotions I guess. First, as a Hillary voter, I’m glad he did it. Most agree though it should have been sooner. My political paranoia says, “did Polosi put him up to this?” Then I think maybe he wants to get out from under a situation that could be dangerous. His district went over 70% for Hillary and his endorsement is reflective of the will of the people, right? But yet a true profile in political courage might be Senator Bob Casey’s open embracement of Senator Obama against many factors, especially in his hometown. Like it or not, Casey stuck his neck out. He might gain in the end if Obama becomes President but that was not a done deal when he made his decision. Then I thought that Carney is just indicative of what a Congressman is today, a follower, not a leader. See, I grew up with guys like Dan Flood who opposed the Panama Canal as a foreign policy issue, a stand that most likely got him indicted. Or Senator Joe Clark who was anti gun and anti war and paid for it by a defeat in the Senate. Or Albert Gore Senior who lost a re-election bid for the same reason. Governor Raymond Shafer who endorsed Nelson Rockefeller for President even if it meant no consideration for a Cabinet post. See, the politicians, members of Congress I grew up with made stands, got out in front, took chances. Today, all tread lightly making no waves. Chris Carney did what was expected of him, he acted like a 21rst century politician. No more, no less.
Word is after the West Virginia primary Senator Clinton is going to have a meeting with top aides and fundraisers. There it is said an exit strategy will be developed with a concentration on getting the Vice Presidency. That would be a smart move by the Dems.
Once more citizens of Luzerne County got another slap in the face from an elected official. Word came out from the Times Leader that County Recorder of Deeds James “Red” O'Brien owes back taxes on his bar on Main Street in Avoca. There are reports that the bar was kept off the tax rolls for the past few years so the property would not go to sheriff’s sale. O'Brien has been a Pittston Area School Board member and ran an unsuccessful race for State Representative in 2006 in the primary. Current State Rep Mike Carroll beat him that year. In 2007, O'Brien ran for Recorder of Deeds outlasting incumbent Mary Dysleski by a few votes. O'Brien ran a campaign blaming Dysleski for money taken from the Deeds office by two long time employees who predated her election in 1999. Ironically, the voters turned out Dyselski who discovered and reported the financial irregularities which led to arrests and convictions of the two employees. Now O'Brien has to defend the fact that he got special consideration from the political powers that be. Four points here:
1. Again it points out the pathetic state of the Republican party. You mean to tell me they couldn’t do a little opposition research on this guy? The vote he won by was so razor thin, this revelation might have put him behind that bar instead of under the dome.
2. Questions have to asked about who ignored O'Brien’s back taxes issue since 2003 enabling him to run the establishment while owing taxes. If that were the average home owner, if that were me or Gort, or Wilkes Barre On Line, we’d be looking for a new house. But we’re not Red O'Brien, are we?
3. O'Brien ran his campaign as a successful businessman who knew how to handle management problems. How good of a businessman was he to fall so far behind in taxes? I understand the bar business is a tough one, I have empathy for those who kill themselves 12 hours a day. But does this tax issue inspire confidence in the way the Deeds office is now being run? I think not.
4. Again, this is one more chink in the County system of government. While Maryann Petrilla has received a waiting period until citizens start up the government charter talk again, things like this remind tax payers that even with newly elected row officers, “the more things change, the more they stay the same!”
BIG JOBS, BIG DOUGH
3,042. That's how many state employees earn more than $100,000 a year.
Combined, they earn a total of $368 million. You pay the salaries. You may be surprised at some of them. It's up to you to decide if they're worth it. Gov. Ed Rendell earns $164,396. Catherine Baker Knoll earns $138,091 as lieutenant governor. Judy Hample, chancellor of the State System of Higher Education, is paid $327,718 to oversee the 109,000-student university system. In comparison, Graham Spanier receives a base salary of $545,016 to run the nearly 84,000-student Penn State University. Richard E. Willey earns a base salary of $289,118 as president and CEO at PHEAA. Five PHEAA executive make the top 10 list, earning acombined $1.14 million. They're also eligible for bonuses as high as 60 percent of their base salary. James J. Rudisill, the head swimming coach at West Chester University, earns $182,446. His swimming programs generated $621,605 in revenue for the university. Ralph Cappy, chief justice of the state Supreme Court, earns $180,336. That makes him the state's highest-paid elected official. Judges were allowed to keep the controversial 2005 pay raise. Joseph Brimmeier, chief executive officer for the Turnpike Commission earns $178,427 to oversee one state highway. PennDOT Secretary Allen Biehler is 788th on the list, earning $131,517 to oversee the rest. The two newest high ranking state positions each pay $150,006.That's for Tad Decker, chairman of the Gaming Control Board, and Joe Conti, chief executive of the Liquor Control Board. See our 1968 feature to get an idea what a State Senator made forty years ago.
Tuesday afternoon Monkee Davey Jones visited downtown Wilkes Barre to tell us “he believes” The event was put on by “Leadership Wilkes Barre” after many months of painstaking planning. Jones later met people at the Ramada. He sang “I’m A Believer”, the Monkees biggest hit, penned by Neil Diamond on the Square. Mayor Tom Leighton was in the crowd and adding to the bi partisan atmosphere was former GOP Council candidate and activist Peter Gagliardi. Here’s a link to the Monkees greatest hit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfuBREMXxts&feature=related.
This week, the Alabama Governor Lurleen Wallace, 41, died after a battle with cancer. Mrs. Wallace was the only female Governor of Alabama succeeding her husband in 1966 after he could not run for a second term. George Wallace, running as a Third Party candidate suspended his campaign for a suitable period of mourning……in 1968 State Senators made $7400.00 a year $4800 in expense money….Nick Perugino of Kingston was awarded the contract to operate a restaurant and lounge at the Wilkes Barre/Scranton airport….at St. John the Baptist grade school, rehearsals still continued for the spring concert/play written by class vice President Paul Komensky and in LuLac land and America, the number one song this week was “The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde” by George Fame. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubOI9yY55JU.