The LuLac Edition #643, Nov. 18th, 2008
PHOTO INDEX: NEW DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SPEAKER KEITH McCALL, FLOOR LEADER TODD EACHUS, PLUS MAYOR TOM LEIGHTON.
There will be new leadership in the State House of Repreentatives this coming session and it will have a decidedly local flavor. Rep. Keith McCall, D-Carbon, was unopposed for speaker. Rep. Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne, won election as floor leader, taking over from Rep. Bill DeWeese, D-Greene, his party's floor leader or speaker since 1990. DeWeese won a four-way race to be elected whip, the No. 3 position. Both McCall and Eachus have adjoining districts. On the GOP side, Rep. Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, defeated Rep. John Perzel, R-Philadelphia, to retain the floor leadership job he has held since Perzel gave it up to become speaker in 2003. Perzel reluctantly gave up the speakership two years ago, after Democrats reclaimed the majority by a single seat. He has held the caucus-granted title of "speaker emeritus" since then.
FREE SPEECH WINS
Freedom of speech and dissent won a major victory today. Remember when Mayor Tom Leighton and the city administration tried to put a gag on all dissent in the city of Wilkes Barre by slapping activist Denise Carey with an $11,000 plus court fee? Well today a federal jury had its head on straight and awarded Carey $67,000 in damages. Damages at the hands of the Mayor and the City. A panel of four men and four women deliberated for about 4 hours and 15 minutes before issuing its decision that Mayor Tom Leighton had retaliated against Carey for speaking out against the 2004 closure of a fire station in the Heights section of the city. According to news reports, the jurors awarded Carey $15,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress, $2,000 for economic loss and $50,000 in punitive damages against Leighton. The verdict followed five days of testimony before a U.S. District Judge. Carey said it wasn't about the money but about her right to state an opinion and try to reverse a decision made by City Hall. The Council and Leighton thwarted Carey's efforts to try and get the FireHouse closing on the ballot. The action against Carey basically said to city residents, you dare to criticize or God forbid organize in oppostion to the City administration policies, and we, the rich, wealthy and powerful will squash you like a bug. Maybe put you in debt, maybe take your home and livelihood away. The city most likely will appeal the ruling because they could never admit they'd be wrong on something. Fees of course will be paid by the same taxpayers they tried to muzzle with this action, which by the way was unheard in the entire northeast section of the U.S.