Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The LuLac Edition #409, Jan. 30th, 2008



PHOTO INDEX: SHE'S NOT GEENA DAVIS OR MRS. LULAC BUT HEY, I'VE SEEN WORSE IN A HOSPITAL.


SICK BAY


Might be away for a day or so, having a long anticipated surgical procedure that should remove some nasty critters growing inside my body politic. With God's help, we'll be back sooner than a blink of an eye...or the wink of a cute female nurse.

The LuLac Edition #408, Jan. 30th, 2008








PHOTO INDEX: OUTGOING PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES JOHN EDWARDS AND RUDY GIULIANI AND CASINO OWNER LOUIS DENAPLES.


WITCH HUNT


Dan Flood and Joe McDade come to mind when I think of the DeNaples indictment for perjury today. If the government is out to get you, they're going to get you. The most troubling thing to me about all of this is that DeNaples is being hounded for something he did thirty years ago and getting nailed for testimony that had no bearing on life and death. We didn't indict a former President for lying to a Grand Jury, but we go after a self made man who worked his butt off to get where he is, who shared his wealth with his community and built a business without tax breaks to bolster his region's economy. It's a witch hunt and it's sad. Here's what it's all about, from the Times Leader:
A wealthy businessman who owns a slot-machine casino in the Pocono Mountains was charged with perjury on Wednesday and accused of lying about his connections to organized crime figures to win a casino license.
Louis A. DeNaples, who opened Mount Airy Casino Resort in October with the blessing of state gambling regulators, was charged with four counts of perjury by the Dauphin County district attorney's office after a seven-month grand jury investigation. His company, Mount Airy No. 1 LLC, was also charged.
Prosecutors say DeNaples didn't tell the truth to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board when he talked about his relationship with four people.
The four are: William D'Elia, the reputed head of a Scranton-area organized crime family; the late Russell Bufalino, an organized crime boss; Ron White, a now-dead Philadelphia businessman accused of trying to trade government contracts for political donations; and Shamsud-din Ali, who is serving a seven-year prison term for using his political connections in Philadelphia to obtain dubious loans, donations and city contracts.
The gaming board, which vetted casino applications, awarded a license to DeNaples after investigating his background for organized crime ties, financial troubles and more.
Through a spokesman, DeNaples has maintained that he has no ties to organized crime. His lawyers have accused Dauphin County prosecutors of misusing the grand jury as a fishing expedition and a tool in a turf war over who should regulate the state's casinos.
More than two dozen witnesses, including D'Elia, appeared in front of the grand jury. D'Elia is in federal prison awaiting trial on charges of money laundering and conspiring to kill a prosecution witness.
Dauphin County prosecutors brought the case to the grand jury last year after reviewing information given to them by state police investigators.
DeNaples, 67, has business interests that span waste hauling, auto parts and real estate. He chairs a bank in which he is the biggest shareholder, and is a generous philanthropist and campaign donor.
DeNaples opened his casino and hotel on the site of the storied, but shuttered, Mount Airy Lodge resort with the promise of spreading economic cheer to northeastern Pennsylvania. Anticipating that he would beat a competing group to win the license, DeNaples had already razed the old lodge and broken ground on the new facility by the time the gaming board voted unanimously for him in December 2006.
For years, law enforcement agents have taken an interest in DeNaples, whose name has surfaced several times in state and federal intelligence reports on organized crime.
In 1978, DeNaples was fined $10,000 and placed on probation for three years after pleading no contest to a felony charge of conspiracy to defraud the federal government in a case involving government payments to clean up the aftermath of Hurricane Agnes.
Take a look at that second to last paragraph, for years law enforcement has taken an interest in DeNaples. They didn't give up until they found something. Good for them. I hope they're proud of their work.


EDWARDS/RUDY OUT


John Edwards dropped out of the Presidential race today and it brought to an end a populist effort that in any other time had all the earmarks of a successful campaign. But Edwards' message was dwarfed by the two giants in the field, Senators Clinton and Obama who brought their own cosmetic credentials to the race. The first woman or first black nominee of the Democratic party. By that comparison, Edwards was just another good looking white guy trying to be heard. Many said he was too cute, too passionate, too phoney and too southern. Then there were some who said he lacked depth and experience. They're all right to some extent. But despite this setback, the Edwards story may not end. He's a young man, still has the ambition and may be around for years to come trying to get that brass ring. If he doesn'tmake it, it won't be for lack of effort.
In the meantime, America's Mayor Rudy Giuliani dropped out of the hunt and backed John McCain. The Mayor's race was a great ride as long asthe election was held in 2007. His popularity hovered over the 50% mark for most of last year but began to disintegrate when his Police Head Bernard Kerrick was indicted, when dubious things came out about his then girl friend's security detail and some of his own business associations. But what hurt Giuliani was not personal but political. His one state strategy gave the other candidates a chance to gain a foothold, his message seemed unfocused and his more than $60 million dollars in campaign funds seemed misdirected. The only saving grace of his candidacy was the fact that he was gracious in ending it well and preserved some dignity. The failure of the Giuliani campaign proved once again that one issue (911, which became almost a parody of itself) does not a campaign make. Look for the Mayor to do the TV pundit thing in the future sitting alongside Bill Bennett and Pat Buchanan.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The LuLac Edition #407, Jan. 29th, 2008








PHOTO INDEX: A FEW WEEKS AGO, NATIONAL BLOGGERS WANTED A LOOK AT THE WORKSPACES OF VARIOUS WRITERS. A LITTLE LATE, BUT HERE'S MINE, AND CAN THERE BE A LOCAL VERSION OF "ED, EDD AND EDDIE" AGAIN?


BROMO BACK?



The recent news that former Commissioner Edd Brominski has thrown his hat into the Controller’s sweepstakes is good for some, not so good for others. Edd Brominski who was chosen as the young counterpart to Frank Crossin, Senior's revolt against the Democratic party in 1979, is hankering to get back on the scene. For a report on Crossin and Bromo's historic election, see LuLac Edition # 297, here’s the link:
http://lulacpoliticaletter.blogspot.com/2007/09/lulac-edition-297-sept-1rst-2007.html
Bromo became one of the most polarizing figures in Luzerne County politics. It only took him four years to accomplish that. Brominski was the fair haired boy running with the older Crossin. Both were former athletes and promised to change Luzerne County Politics and Government. They succeeded in the first area but failed in the second due to Crossin’s untimely death in January of 1981. Former party regulars who were employed by the County, but fired by the new regime filed a lawsuit against the new regime. After Crossin’s death, Brominski had to pick up the pieces. The lawsuit, which was won by the workers also split the party. There were still many Ed Wideman Democrats (the man who the team of Crossin & Brominski defeated in ’79) who were more than happy to divide the party. Plus, a large Human Services scandal rocked the county giving the impression that the hand of the government was just not that steady. When you added that up, by 1983 the County was ripe for the picking by the GOP.
Minority Commissioner Frank Trinisewski, Junior teamed with businessman Jim Phillips and ran a grassroots effort to retake the county. With the Democratic party divided by the death of Crossin, Senior, Frank Crossin, Junior’s development as a Commissioner (he was thrust into the job at a young age) and the coalition of so called “Trinicrats”, (a type of political force cultivated by Trinisewski for years,) the GOP had a fighting chance. During that spirited campaign, Brominski tried to tell voters that the work of the Crossin-Brominski team was not finished. But with the elder Crossin gone, it was a tough sales pitch. The “Trinis” were outnumbering the “Eddies” On Election night 1983, for the first time since 1963, the County Courthouse was in Republican control. Frank Crossin, Junior breezed to a new term reminding people of a younger version of his late father with Brominski finishing last.
Crossin, Junior continued on as Minority Commissioner until Trinisewski himself changed parties and formed a majority with him. Brominski headed off into the sunset until being appointed as Head of the Assessors Office. In 1999, he ran against the man who appointed him, Atty. Tom Makowski and lost his bid to become Commissioner again. Brominski was fired shortly thereafter. He was elected to the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and has been active on the political scene but flying below the radar. Whether Brominski is appointed to the Controller’s job is open to question but one thing is not in doubt, if Governor Ed appoints our Edd, things will be spinning like a whirling dervish under the dome. Calm just never suited Edd Brominski. And his loyal band of "Eddies" a core of support that propelled him to the Mayor's office in Swoyersville and elected him to the Commissioner's office, will be ready to support him in his new endeavor.


LULAC ON YOU TUBE


Tonight, the premiere of the LULAC YOU TUBE video. A fun look at what we try to do on this site. As former WNEP TV news director Eldon Hale used to say, "we always welcome your response". Here's the link:

Monday, January 28, 2008

The LuLac Edition #406, January 28th, 2008








PHOTO INDEX: LUZERNE COUNTY COMMISSIONER GREG SKREPENAK, HARRY S. TRUMAN, OUR 33rd PRESIDENT AND A YOUNG CAROLINE KENNEDY WITH HER FATHER, THE 35th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.


CAMELOT COMES ALIVE



The recent endorsement of Barak Obama by Caroline Kennedy and subsequently Ted Kennedy is intriguing at best. First off, I cannot imagine growing up like Caroline Kennedy did with various people, friends of the family and perfect strangers telling you what your father was like. Having been robbed of the experience, there had to be a void. Add to that the fact that many, again friends and perfect strangers tell you what he meant personally has to be another trip altogether. Through the years, Caroline has been flying under the radar. She let the spotlight go to her younger sibling John, Junior while carving out a substantial life in academia, helping to manage some of the late President’s library holdings and of course, parenting. But the untimely and reckless death of JFK Junior thrust her into a limelight she fulfilled with dignity and dare I say, forced resignation. It was Caroline who awarded the Profiles In Courage award to the late Gerald Ford for his role in the Nixon pardon as well as making select appearances on behalf of her father’s institutional events.
In terms of politicking, Caroline never emerged as a spokesperson for any candidate. She spoke at the 2004 convention and endorsed John Kerry and at the 2000 event touting Al Gore. But she made it clear she was standing in for her late brother and her nod toward those standard bearers was perfunctory at best. Sunday’s New York Times changed all that. In the edition, Caroline endorsed Senator Obama. She embraced him as the embodiment of inspiration for Americans and compared his crusade to the feelings of inspiration her late father engendered in people. Fair enough, John F. Kennedy as a candidate got people moving. His charisma, and I was lucky enough to see it in person was a thing of beauty and awe. Kennedy talked about change in America, a "New Frontier," a move away from business as usual. People bought into it and became moved. And this was a surprise to the politician, motivator, JFK. The Peace Corps was an idea Kennedy floated out there, just adding space in a speech. Much to his surprise, he was presented with a petition by college students asking to be the first to sign up for the venture. Kennedy then moved on getting the program started. He talked about equal rights for all men but had to be cajoled into making the phone call that eased the mind of Coretta Scott King while her husband was jailed for 4 months hard labor for a traffic stop. He was a cold war warrior who invaded Cuba on the “say so” of holdovers from the previous administration he criticized. Kennedy was a politician, first and foremost and every calculation, right down to putting a fierce primary opponent on the ticket, Lyndon Johnson, was far from a Profile In Courage. All that said, Kennedy had three things going for him. He knew how to surround himself with good people, had a special grace born of confidence and education and a knack for knowing how to move a nation. His tragic death in 1963 kept those strengths frozen in time, never to be chiseled away by second guesses or scandal. Had John Kennedy lived and gone through a second term, would he be the revered figure he is now or regarded as just another politician? I ask these questions, not out of historical disrespect to John Kennedy but to the current candidacy of Mr. Obama. Inspiring people is one thing but governing is quite another. Can Obama govern as deftly as JFK or will he become another disappointment in our long line of Presidential hopes that were dashed? It is true that one must win an election, inspire the masses to get the chance to govern. But will Obama have that further gift JFK had, the smarts to pick good people who believed even more than he did in “the dream?”
It is refreshing to see the Kennedys endorse anyone this early. The clan that was openly contemptuous of Jimmy Carter and prevented Hubert Humphrey from picking R. Sargent Shriver as his Veep in 1968 because they wanted to keep the way clear for their own palace guard has finally let go of its death grip on the Oval Office. If Obama makes them feel a kinship to their late President, more power to them and to Mr. Obama for eliciting that feeling. The Democratic party has always revered and respected the Kennedy family and there are countless people in the party who will follow their lead. But unlike John Kennedy who was politically battle tested and vetted, Mr. Obama is brand new to the scene and you know there will be countless attempts to hold his character up to scrutiny. This early in the race, the Kennedy imprimatur is on Barak Obama. All Democrats hope, whatever the outcome of the 2008 race, he is worthy of it. No one wants to hear, especially Caroline and Ted, later on in the game lament, “Say it ain’t so, Barak”.



SKREP LIKE TRUMAN



The recent rehiring of Sam Hyder tells you on thing about Greg Skrepenak, Luzerne County Commissioner: he is loyal. He had the chance to throw Sam Hyde under the bus but did not. Tried to save Kathy Bozinski too. Harry S. Truman was once criticized for his loyalty to the corrupt Pendegrast political machine in Missouri. He even went to the funeral of the big boss when his friends in Washington told him it was not politically wise. Truman replied to be disloyal would cause him lack of sleep at night. Noble. Like Harry Truman did, sleep well tonight Mr. Skrepenak. In politics, loyalty is rare. Sam Hyder should thank his lucky stars!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The LuLac Edition #405, Jan. 27th, 2008






PHOTO INDEX: AN AERIAL SHOT OF OUR LANDSCAPING AND FENCE INSTALLED WITH THE LAST GEORGE BUSH TAX CUT, AND DAN MUESER FOR CONGRESS BANNER.

TAX CUTS


Well Congress and the President have been rushing to get an economic stimulus program going to prevent a recession. It is estimated that many Americans will get a tax cut or rebate between $300 or $1200.00. This is insane. I am a card carrying liberal to center Democrat who doesn’t mind paying taxes as long as good services are provided and feel that certain social programs need to be mandated. But a tax cut during a time of war when we are spending billions in Iraq? The U.S. right now is headed for a 13 trillion dollar debt. When you break that down to every U.S. resident, it comes to $30,000 a person. Most people interviewed have said they will use the money to pay off debt or and a very few said they’d put it away for a rainy day. The idea the Government wants to convey is this: they want us to spend the tax money to stimulate the economy. JFK had “Ask Not”, FDR had “The only thing we have to fear…” and Ronald Reagan had “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”. President George W. Bush’s quote seems to be “Shop till you drop”. The tax cuts, combined with the spending on this war in Iraq will keep this country on a downward slide to debt that will strip us of any effectiveness in the world. It is a mistake but no politician, Democrat or Republican has the guts to say so. If we do get a rebate, Mrs. LuLac and I will most likely do a meager home improvement. What the heck, we’ll be dead and safely ensconced in our crypts at St. Mary’s Cemetery when the crap hits the fan on this one. But if we had a voice in this matter, we’d tell the government to keep the money and wind down the debt. But they won’t. There are no profiles in courage in this century.

SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS


Barack Obama routed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the racially charged South Carolina primary Saturday night, regaining campaign momentum in the prelude to a Feb. 5 coast-to-coast competition for more than 1,600 Democratic National Convention delegates.
"The choice in this election is not about regions or religions or genders," Obama said in remarks prepared for a victory rally. "It's not about rich versus poor, young versus old and it's not about black versus white. It's about the past versus the future."
The audience chanted "Race doesn't matter" as it awaited Obama to make his appearance.
But it did.
About half the voters were black, according to polling place interviews, and four out of five of them supported Obama. Black women turned out in particularly large numbers. Obama, the first-term Illinois senator, got a quarter of the white vote while Clinton and Edwards split the rest.
Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina was running third, a sharp setback in the state where he was born and scored a primary victory in his first presidential campaign four years ago. Even so, aides said he would remain in the race.


DANNY BOY ON THE RUN

130 supporters and well-wishers gathered at the Ramada Clarks Summit for a rally for potential Republican party candidate Dan Meuser on Saturday. Meuser, who resides in the Back Mountain region of Luzerne County, is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democrat Christopher P. Carney (D-Dimock) for the House of Representatives seat in the 10th Congressional District.

Meuser said that his biggest motivations for entering the race were to help advance the Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania areas.
He called his campaign a growing grass roots effort. Nearly 400 supporters attended a similar rally in Luzerne Borough on Friday. From YOU TUBE: his campaign ad:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmdarNhnfwM.

P.J. BEST, THE BEST?

In 2006 Pittston Area School Director Terry Best ran for the 118th District seat vacated by Tom Tigue. It was a three way primary between Best, James “Red” O’Brien, the newly elected Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds and John Yudichak staffer Mike Carroll. Carroll won the primary and later the General. Now there’s talk Terry Best’s son, P.J. wants to take aim at Carroll in the primary. Carroll has been visible in the district but there are a few who say he hasn’t done enough as the other new reps in Harrisburg. Now that’s what people running against a newly minted incumbent always say. It will be interesting though to see if Best can prevail over Carroll. The key is of course making it a two man race where the two could go head to head. Watch out for this one. Here’s Best’s website:
http://www.pjbest.org/.
*FULL DISCLOSE: I graduated high school, St. John’s Class of 1972 with P.J.'s father, Terry Best, his business “Terry’s Bagel Station” was one of my radio clients for both WARM and ROCK 107 and I also contributed to his 2006 campaign for State Representative.

ED PICKS HILL


Ed Rendell endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton for President this week when the candidate made two stops in the Keystone State. Governor Ed is in a hurry to get his health care plan moved through the Legislature before the Democrats meet in Denver. Could the Guv be jockeying for a Cabinet position or role of Health Care Czar in a Clinton administration? At least Katherine Baker Knoll hopes so.








Friday, January 25, 2008

The LuLac Edition #404, Jan. 25th, 2008














PHOTO INDEX: DEPARTED DEMOCRATIC HOPEFUL DENNIS KUCINICH WITH THE MRS., JIM GIBSON, COLORADO DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL OFFICIAL, THE LULAC 1968 LOGO AND GOP PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER FRED THOMPSON WHO'S ROLE AS ARTHUR BRANCH LASTED LONGER THAN HIS CAMPAIGN EFFORT.


YOU'RE OUT


Fred Thompson left the race for the GOP nomination and it seems like no one noticed. Highly touted, the former Senator and Law ands Order celeb was supposed to have great star power in grabbing the undecided in the party and becoming a 21rst century version of Ronald Reagan. But Thompson was no Reagan in terms of governmental experience and core beliefs. In the upcoming Florida primary, it will be interesting to see how many of the Thompson supports move either to McCain, Romney or Huckabeee.
Another guy departing is Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich. The Congressman has had a very good ride as a Presidential contender and has been a very good advocate for getting out of the war. Kucinich's presence on the debate stage in the early days of the Presidential campaign was entertaining and interesting because he had the freedom to articulate issues and stands that the more cautioius front runners avoided. Kucinich goes back to Ohio with his lovely 6 foot 1 redhead in tow.
When I was in college, my good friend Jim Gibson worked at the college radio station WRKC FM with me. Also there at the time was a blond stunner who served as the news director. Gibson would repeatedly say, (now keep in mind he was just 18 at the time) "Boy I could take any amount of crap at work my boss gave me if I had that (meaning the blond stunner) to come home to". Note: the blond stunner in question rarely spoke to the two of us. I thought of those days today as I thought about Kucinich's failed bid for the White House, I mean, look at him, look at her, who needs the headaches of the White House when that's your main squeeze.


GUESTO GOES!


Sam Guesto resigned the other day citing he'd like to spend more time with the family. Let's see, Courthouse employees leave at 4:30Pm, get weekends and holidays off, okay, it's a stretch, I'll buy it. He also hinted that he might be available for the job of Administrative Court officer, a newly created position. Many of my fellow citizens feel he shouldn't get the job but I feel differently. Even though Guesto signed off on the debit cards, the Controller Petrilla should have been overseeing all of that. As Court administrator, Guesto could hit the ground running, have a clear idea what to do and has the experience in the Courthouse to make the Judges look good. Guesto's work ethic and contributions have been praised by people in and out of government, give him the job, one more chink in the dam isn't going to improve or destroy the reputations of the polliticos under the dome.


1968


Early in 1968 the Communists launched a major offensive to coincide with the traditional Vietnamese New Year celebrations. It was a time of an agreed cease-fire. NVA/VC suicide troops struck in Sai Gon, Hue was temporarily occupied, news media reported immense damage in the South and 19 suicide sappers broke into the compound of the American Embassy. They were all killed.
Loss of life during the Tet Offensive were 1536 Korea, U.S. and Austrailia, 2788 South Vietnam and 45,000 North Vietnemese..........Statewide, Scranton Attorney, former State Senator and candidate for the Governor’s office, Robert P. Casey, Senior announced his intention seek the office of State Auditor General…..in Luzerne County, the State Legislative races began to shape up, in the third district, (now the 118th) incumbent James Musto announced for re-election as did his General election foe, Sam Daley who would run on the GOP ticket…in the fifth (now the 120th) Frank J. O’Connell was poised for another run. His Democratic opponent would be Richard P. Adams. Ironically both men at one time owned restaurants in Kingston…..in Pittston, final exams were conducted at St. John the Baptist Grade school where students were told pass or else. Most did…..and forty years agothis week in LuLacland and the rest of America, this was the number one song, courtesy of YOU TUBE, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap with "Woman Woman".
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDVVleXoMRI

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The LuLac Edition #403, Jan. 22nd, 2008











PHOTO INDEX: WILK'S SUE HENRY 9am to 11:45am, ROB NYHARD AND JOE THOMAS, SATURDAYS 10am to 11:45AM, CORBETT 3pm to 7pm AND NANCY AND KEVIN 6AM to 9AM.


WILK TOPS


The latest radio ratings came in a few weeks back and WILK AM and FM scored very big placing in the top 5 stations in the market. For a talk radio station that is extraordinary. Like a successful sports team, WILK has filled in its programming with stars at every corner who contribute in their own unique and talented way. Kudos to the staff at WILK Radio, one of the most listened to and influential stations in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And lest we forget, the behind the scenes people like Mark Michaels, aka Bosco, Johnny L, Bud Brown and Phil Cummings plus Rusty Fender with traffic makes the entire lineup complete. A complete success!

The LuLac Edition #401, Jan. 22nd, 2008











PHOTO INDEX: PRESIDENT LYNDON BANIES JOHNSON, 36TH PRESIDENT OF THE U.S., PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, AND GOVERNOR ED RENDELL.


LBJ 35 YEARS ON


On this night 35 years ago, I started my college career at King's College. I drove down for a night class and my dad went to visit a friend while my class took place. After it was over, I entered the car and my father told me that Lyndon Johnson died. He was 64. Many in the 60s will debate the greatness and evil of Lyndon Johnson. His judgements on the Vietnam War were not stellar. However his commitment to civil rights made certain that the dreams of Martin Luther King, Junior became reality against a hostile Congress filled with Southerners. Johnson had correctly predicted that the Dems would cede the South in Presiential elections to come. But he did the work anyway and should be remembered as a key player in the triumph of Civil Rights in America. From YOU TUBE, LBJ before a joint session of Congress:


BILL DEFENDS HIL


A lot of Democrats are telling Bill Clinton to tone it down regarding his criticism of Senator Barak Obama. That isn't going to happen. Clinton has always been a political animal and he sees this as his third term. The Clintons seem to be playing a classic role of good cop-bad cop and the former President has to be given some props for defending the political honor of his spouse. You can bet Mrs. Clinton will find a way to channel his energy if she gets elected but right now, she seems to letting "Bill be Bill" much to her advantage. My personal feeling is that if Al Gore unleashed Clinton in the South in 2000, he'd be President. But I digress. The Clintons have a way of attacking someone that is more like an atom bomb than a swipe at a gnat. Whether that works will be open to conjecture until all the votes are tallied. But Mrs. Clinton who once said she's not a "stand by your man cookie baking woman" is getting a leg up from the political chivalry of Sir William Jefferson.


BUDGET SHOWDOWN


Heads up! Just when you thought it was going to be a quiet year in Pennsylvania, a big budget battle is looming. And Governor Ed is ready for a fight with a 9 vote majority GOP controlled Senate and a razor thin one vote House majority. Rendell and the Legislature are on a collision course over state spending and it could get nasty. The governor and lawmakers have their own priorities and have shown little willingness so far in compromise.
Rendell wants to spend $27.3 billion for the fiscal year starting July 1. Since taking office, Rendell has increased state spending by $6 billion. He’s raised the state income tax and borrowed money to support his spending habit. To balance his proposed $27.3 billion general fund budget, Rendell wants Pennsylvania residents to cough up $2 billion in new or additional taxes. That is surely enough to ignite the fires of debate. Look for the GOP to fuel the fire that Rendell is a tax and spend liberal, just in time for the 2010 Governor's race. (Remember the 8 year cycle folks!) Anyway, this is going to be fun to watch. Of course, Ed Rendell has always been wildly entertaining.

The LuLac Edition #400, Jan. 22nd, 2008



PHOTO INDEX: BLOG EDITOR AT 2007 CANDIDATES FORUM IN WILKES BARRE.



POLICY REMINDER




As we publish the 400th edition of The LuLac Political Letter, let me take this opportunity to give all of our readers, posters and if you will public, a reminder on what we are all about.

This blog/site was formed to provide a dialogue about politics in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties, statewide and national developments in politics and a bit of history and pop culture. We have been fortunate to have the support of many people who read us frequently. We thank you for all of the support.
That stated, a few housekeeping items, which are fairly obvioius but we'll go over anyway:
1. Personal attacks on candidates, government officials and citizens is prohibited. We will criticize the actions we disagree with, on some days we'll be extremely judgemental but nowhere in print will we ever degrade, defame or attack a person's character, lifestyle, looks, religion or views.
2. Any postings we get will be edited to eliminate any personal attacks on the subject of one of our stories. We reserve the right to delete, edit and correct any posting we get that is deemed untruthful and unfair.
3. We will not link or promote suggestive, obscene, or defamatory web sites that's main mission in life is to tell untruths and hurt people personally. Keep in mind we will be aggressive in our efforts to uncover the veneer of the political world and its sometimes hypocritical nature, but we will never actively and knowingly defame anyone in our dealings with them.
4. If we report on a news story no one else has, we will check two confirmed sources, face to face, eye to eye, in person.
This policy reminder is just the way I chose to do business when this site/blog began. That philosophy continues today. We are grateful for your readership and always welcome your responses.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

The LuLac Edition #399, Jan. 20th, 2008






PHOTO INDEX: VINCE SWEENEY, FORMER WBRE TV WEATHERCASTER AND THE LULAC TELEMARKETING CHICK.


SWEENEY OPTS OUT


Vince Sweeney, Executive Director of the Luzerne County SPCA has opted out of running for Congress in the 10th Congressional District. Sweeney cited his commitment to the position at the SPCA as well as his feeling that the time is just not right for a run for Congress. While Sweeney has huge name recognition and wouldn’t need the reported millions Donald Meuser is spending to get known, it is a smart move on his part. Here’s why:
1, Chris Carney has built a record as a middle of the road moderate. He has been visible in the district and has made some good moves. For the most part he has been accessible to the local media and has not slapped around any blondes during his first term in D.C.
2. It is going to be a Democratic year and even with the large GOP registration in the 10th, the inclination is to go for the Democrats in 08. Pennsylvania has gone Democratic in the last 16 years in Presidential elections.
3. Also as far as registration goes, Phyllis Mundy has proved in the 120th District that an incumbent can be re-elected even if the opposing party has the edge.
Sweeney can bide his time, build his off camera resume and still be involved in community activities utilizing his high profile for something down the road. And folks, let’s face facts, being a Congressman isn’t what it used to be. Even though I love politics, there are so many of my fellow Americans if you will who have nothing but disdain for the political process. Sweeney might have taken that into consideration when he made his decision too. However no one can doubt his sincerity and interest in the process. He may want to make this stop at another time in his life, but for right now, many observers are saying Sweeney did the right thing by pulling back. In politics, like comedy, timing is everything. And ’08 is just not going to be the year for Sweeney or any new face to take on and beat Chris Carney.


HELLO? HELLO?


So yesterday afternoon the phone rings and it's someone from the REpublican National Committee specifically asking for me. I've been getting these calls and e mails from the GOP since 2004 when I chanfged to the Republican party for a few weeks to vote for Arlen Specter against Pat Toomey in the primary. Even though I changed back to the Dems right after the Specter primary win, apparently I'm still on their radar screen. So with that as a backdrop, here's how the phone conversation went with the telemarketer from the Republicans.
T.C. (Telemarketing Chick): Mr. Yonki, how are you today?
Me: Fine.
T.C.: Good. Mr. Yonki, how important is it to you to have a Republican elected to the White House in 2008?
Me: Not very important at all.
T.C.: Pardon me?
Me: Not important at all, my God I wouldn't even let a Republican near the White House for the next three or four generations, do you have any other question for me?
T.C: Click.
Me: Hello, hello.
Needless to say I'm not going to getting calls from the national GOP anytime soon. Or..........maybe I will!


PRIMARIES


In Nevada, it was Senator Clinton over Senator Obama on the Democratic side and Mitt Romney over Ron Paul and others on the Republican side. South Carolina embraced Senator McCain by a small margin over Governor Mike Huckabee and an entire TV audience is wondering just what the heck former Senator Frted Thompson was trying to say in his Saturday night speech to the country. Next up, South Carolina for the Dems next Saturday and then Florida at the end of the month.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The LuLac Edition #398, Jan. 17th, 2008










PHOTO INDEX: COVER OF FIRST PAUL McCARTNEY ALBUM WHERE SONG "MAYBE I'M AMAZED" CAME FROM, THE LULAC 1968 LOGO AND THE JANUARY 1968 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT ISSUE.


MAYBE I'M AMAZED


MAYBE I’M AMAZED That new revelations about the spending by the County Board of Commissioners on outsourcing and goldren parachutes for “retired” employees has not received more media play than normal. There is only so much voters can take and the Home Rule revival just might have all the earmarks of the Boston Tea party.


MAYBE I’M AMAZED That the mother in Hazleton where the little boy died the other night had three kids taken away from her already. If you ask me, there was something dead in her eyes when she was interview by WBRE’s Andy Mehalschick. She makes a great case for involuntary sterilization of some irresponsible women.

MAYBE I’M AMAZED President Bush is actually working with Congress for an economic stimulus program. The President is finally recognizing the economy is not as great as he’s been saying it is.


MAYBE I’M AMAZED That Presidential hottie Jenna Bush has declined to have a White House wedding. Only a handful of brides have taken their vows in the White House and what better place to secure security than at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Youth wasted on well, the youth.


MAYBE I’M AMAZED The bloodsucking credit card companies have not yet tried to buy off the Democrats running for President trying to fix the system. Both Senators Obama and Clinton have come up with radical plans to keep the greedy shylocks in tow.

MAYBE I’M AMAZED That Sheriff Mike Savokinas refuses to speak on the air with Corbett but has conversations off air. Does the top lawman think Corbett is going to distinguish the two in terms of truth?


MAYBE I’M AMAZED After all these years, memories of Vispi’s Camelot lounge are still vibrant and close to people’s hearts and minds. The Times Leader’s Joe Healey is doing a retrospective this Sunday on the popular night spot.


MAYBE I’M AMAZED That young women take for granted the historical significance of the Hillary Clinton candidacy. Clinton went to law school when less than 15% of women attended. Younger women who are taken with the allure of an Obama or the presence of a Thompson should delve into the history books and see how difficult the woman’s movement was in the 70s and early 80s. Most young women employees under 25 in the workplace who have gained managerial positions were born on third base and thought hit a triple. Notice that older women, women who were in the struggle backed Clinton without blinking an eye.


MAYBE I’M AMAZED The Democrats in the 10th District, a long held safe seat by the GOP since 1960 feel incumbent Chris Carney is at a distinct advantage in his upcoming re-election bid.



1968


Forty years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson was preparing for his State of the Union address. Johnson had intended to step down during that speech but decided against it. The speech was given against the backdrop of the Vietnam War……The Green Bay Packers were basking in their second straight Super Bowl win, (third straight championship) after defeating the Oakland Raiders. The score was Green Bay 33 (whose regular season record was 12-4-1) Oakland (whose regular season record was 14-2) 14. Get this, the winning players got $15,000.00, the losers $7500.00………..at the Luzerne County Courthouse, Judges Robert Hourigan and Peter Paul Olszewski, Senior were preparing their courtrooms after becoming the newest Judges for the Court of Common Pleas and in Pittston, at the Yonki household, 14 year old David was perplexed because his long awaited issue of the Sports illustrated swimsuit edition (a new fangled fad) turned up missing. At first the young lad suspected his mother of destroying it, then his mailman of stealing it. But an investigation revealed that David’s father, hid the magazine saying it was immoral reading for such a young kid. At least that was his story and he was sticking to it…..and forty years ago this week, the number one song in LuLacland and America was “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers. Here’s the link from YOU TUBE:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iv6GhRDERsk.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The LuLac Edition # 397, Jan. 16th, 2008





PHOTO INDEX: JUDGE ANNE LOKUTA AND SENATOR BARAK OBAMA AND OPHRA.


LOKUTA


DAY 3


Judge Ann Lokuta testified she never ruled in favor of any political supporter.
Lokuta's past law clerk, Ted Krohn, said earlier today that Lokuta ruled in favor of someone in a lawsuit who was " a big supporter or mine in the Hazleton area."
Lokuta later testified and denied that. She said she didn't even know the parties involved in the case.
Lokuta was the final witness in her trial on misconduct charges.
The parties will give closing arguments at a later date.
A verdict in Lokuta's case is not expected for months.
Lokuta seems to have done "okay" on the stand. She has withstood some tough cross examination but there are some gaps in her story. Plus the notion that a "cast of thousands" can't be wrong might be the deciding factor against her success in this endeavor.


OBAMA LIGHT


So Senator Obama tells the world last night he is not big on policy and position papers. Kind of does things on the fly, at the last minute, so he can get a fresh perspective. Oh yeah, this is a guy I want leading the country after this mess for the last eight years! Kudos to Senator Clinton for making the wise comparison that a President needs to be informed, not briefed. Maybe Oprah can brief him on the Home Mortgage crisis.


DOWN SOUTH!


The pressure's on for Republicans to show staying power in a presidential primary race where, as Fred Thompson put it Wednesday, "everyone gets to be hero of the day." Next stop, South Carolina.
After three major contests with three different winners, Republicans are deep in an anything-goes scramble for South Carolina's primary Saturday, with
Mitt Romney the latest to take a victory lap. "I'm not making predictions about what's going to happen in every other state, but I'm feeling pretty darn good at this point," he said, coming off of a much-needed win in his native Michigan.
Thompson hopes it's his turn to be a hero.
"There's no question we've got to do very well here," said the former Tennessee senator, who fizzled in earlier states. "Different people are winning these different major contests and I think a different person will win Saturday in South Carolina. No one has settled in on anyone."
The same was true, with a smaller cast, in the Democratic race. Democrats competed for Nevada's caucuses, also Saturday, after a toned-down TV debate in which top rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama pledged to tamp down arguments between their camps over race.
Romney said the Michigan primary Tuesday "gave me the kind of boost I needed." Anything short of victory would have left his campaign on the ropes, after his losses to Mike Huckabee in Iowa and John McCain in New Hampshire.
Thompson, in a pitched competition with Huckabee for the evangelical vote in South Carolina, said he's the one with consistent social conservative credentials. Of the former Arkansas governor's record, "liberal would be the word I would apply to it," he said. And he pointed to Romney's policy conversions to the right in saying of himself, "Where I stand doesn't depend on where I'm standing."
If Thompson does not do well, he might as well go back to Law and Order. Or start running for Vice President. HIs attacks on Huckabee smell of desperation and he has yet to make an impressive electoral showing that can prove to the GOP and the political class that he can be a viable national entity.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The LuLac Edition #396, Jan. 15th, 2008
















PHOTO INDEX: JUDGE ANNE LOKUTA, BOOKS, BOOKS AND MORE BOOKS, THE LATE MARTIN LUTHER KING, JUNIOR AND LYNDON JOHNSON, 36TH PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.


TUDOR TO CLOSE


A landmark and institution for more than thirty years is closing at the end of this month. The Tudor Book Store located on Wyoming Avenue in Kingston is closing its doors due to rent complications and economic realities of being an independent book seller. The news came in an e mail sent by owner Lynn Gonchar tonight. The Tudor was the local neighborhood book store that combined big city sophistication with a small town welcoming attitude. I had a few of my book signings there and was warmly welcomed. Plus the owner was instrumental in bringing in national authors for local folks to meet and greet. The closing of the Tudor will be a major loss for our community.


KING & LBJ


The recent debate going on between the Clinton and Obama forces over race is amusing. The Democratic party's two biggest and loyal constituentcies, women and blacks are deciding who did the most for civil rights. Senator Clinton compared herself to Lyndon Johnson who engineered the Civil Rights legislation while Dr. Martin King inspired the dream of civil rights. That is simplifying the issue. Civil Rights was something championed going back all the way to Eleanor Roosevelt. Hubert Humphrey at the 1948 Democratic convention in Philadelphia led a Civil Rights plank while Harry Truman integrated the Armed Forces. It is true that LBJ got the legislation through with his legislative expertise and it is also true that KIng galvanized people around the world with his message. But the true soldiers in the Civil Rights fight of the 50s and 60s were the marchers, white and black, Christian and Jew who were killed for standing up for equal rights for all men of every race. For Clinton and Obama to battle over who did more is an insult to those Civil Rights icons, one who celebrates a birthday today, Martin Luther King, Junior.


CARVILLE ON THE MARCH


He's back and he's defending the Clinton's. Here's James Carville who made his bones electing Robert Casey, Senior Governor of this state on Larry King talking about the Obama-Clinton battle.


LOKUTA


DAY 2


Court records show Judge Ann Lokuta didn't handle a single criminal case in the years 2004, 2005, and 2006.
But Lokuta said the numbers for 2004 are wrong because she handled summary cases that year. Those are criminal matters, she said. And she also noted that she's been assigned to miscellaneous court, not criminal court.
The state's Judicial Conduct Board used the records during Lokuta's testimony to show she was a slacker.
The conduct board's deputy chief counsel, Francis J. Puskas II, also noted that judges assigned to other courts, like civil court, still handle criminal cases. And other Luzerne County judges handled far more criminal cases than Lokuta, Puskas argued.
Well you have to get the cases assigned and it is apparent that the President Judge was in no mood to bolster Anne Lokuta's career in any way shape or form.
Judge Ann Lokuta testified she can't exactly recall when she spoke with a federal prosecutor about Luzerne County's judiciary, but she knows it was before she was hit with misconduct charges.
Lokuta on Monday admitted she spoke with a federal prosecutor and the FBI about Judge Michael Conahan's docketing practices after she became upset with cases being taken away from her.
On Tuesday in her cross-examination, she briefly touched on the issue again. She said she contacted the prosecutor to speak with about "docketing," not specifically Conahan.
Puskas asked her when that took place. She couldn't recall exactly when, but knew it was before the state's Judicial Conduct Board filed charges against her in November 2006.
She has said Conahan spearheaded a conspiracy to file the charges against her.
Lokuta's attorney, Louis Sinatra, has said the federal probe into the judiciary was the motive behind the charges.
If Sinatra can prove that, it will only vindicate the Judge but put a big bee in the bonnet of the Legal Beagles under the dome.


MICHIGAN


Mitt Romney gets a primary win tonight. The state his father governed in the mid 1960s has given Mr. Rombey his first primary win. Senator John McCain finishes second. This puts the entire GOP race in a state of flux and you can bet this fight will go to the convention floor. Senator Clinton the only Democrat on the ballot cruised to victory. The other night I sat and watched a national report where students tried to articulate the issues of Presidential politics. It was absolutely horrifying. These kids were unwilling to make the move to get involved in the process and whined about how Michigan didn't embrace young voters with its primary set up. The scary part is that these kids were not from East Jesus Junior College but the University of Michigan! God, raise the voting age to 30!













Monday, January 14, 2008

The LuLac Edition #395, Jan. 14th, 2008









PHOTO INDEX: 117TH DISTRICT STATE REPRESENTATIVE CANDIDATE JAMES MAY AND JUDGE ANNE LOKUTA.


LOKUTA HEARING


DAY 1


A few interesting items from the Lokuta Judicial Conduct hearing in Philadelphia.
Judge Ann Lokuta says it was deputy court administrator, P.J. Adonizio, who was enraged and stormed at her on the third floor of the courthouse in June 2004.
Lokuta merely wanted to speak with Adonizio about an incident with two of her interns.
But when Adonizio saw that Lokuta came looking for him, he charged at her "in a deliberate, stomping march," she testified Monday.
He got within inches of her face and screamed at her, she said.
Lokuta was frightened, she said, and she resorted to trying to "defuse" an "explosive situation, she said.
In the end, Lokuta and her employee, Maureen Gushanas, ended up with bruised arms; Lokuta's from the elevator door as she fled and Gushanas from Adonizio grabbing her.Lokuta's testimony contradicted the testimony of Adonizio and several others who claimed to have witnessed the event. They said Lokuta was rowdy and menacing. But Lokuta's testimony backed up the testimony from Gushanas, who relayed a story similar to Lokuta's in her testimony.
Stomping?? Is this first grade? The worst, misbehaved kids I knew in first grade never stomped. And this person was a well paid county employee? Having a tantrum in front of a Luzerne County Court Pleas Judge? With witnesses? Why didn't someone can this guy's sorry ass?
Judge Ann Lokuta said she spoke to the FBI about Judge Michael Conahan's practices.
She said she spoke to a federal prosecutor about Conahan's docketing practices and ultimately met with the FBI.
Lokuta made the revelation in her testimony Monday. The issue came up when Lokuta was testifying how Conahan took a case from her docket and then had a closed-door hearing on it. The case involved a license suspension for courthouse worker Molly Sheridan.
A closed door hearing? So I guess the President Judge felt he needed a little secrecy? Why is that? Oh never mind, perhaps the FBI will ultimately tell us.
The case was given to Lokuta, then taken from her by Conahan. Conahan later ruled in Sheridan's favor after a closed hearing, Lokuta said.
Ruled in a courthouse employees favor? Shouldn't Judges recuse themselves from cases concerning county workers? Or does that make too much sense!?
There’s been rumors for months about an alleged federal probe into Luzerne County ’s judiciary.
We can only hope and pray those rumors are true. It'll make the debit card fiasco look like child's play.
Testimony continues this week.


MAY DAY!!!!!


James May is gaining some traction in his bid to unseat first termer Karen Boback in the 117th Legislative District. Here's the latest from a Letter To the Editor:
The Conservative Reform PAC is pleased to endorse James May for the state House. The Conservative Reform PAC is an organization committed to helping elect genuine conservatives to public office.
James May understands the need for limited government, lower taxes and less spending. He is a true fiscal conservative who has the conviction and the courage needed to rein in spending in Harrisburg, and to restore fiscal discipline to our state.
As a former Army Officer and an Iraq War veteran, James May will also have the courage, discipline, and integrity needed to implement genuine reform in Harrisburg.
While his likely opponent, Karen Boback, has received the endorsement of the PSEA teachers’ union – a staunch opponent of conservative principles – we believe that the voters of the 117th District are better served by having a representative who reflects the values of the Conservative Reform PAC and Ronald Reagan, not the values of the PSEA and Hillary Clinton.
And because the PSEA recently donated $9,200 to Karen Boback, we are honored to send James May, with this endorsement, a check for $9,201.
If you are a Republican who believes in limited government, lower taxes, less spending and genuine government reform, we urge you to vote for James May in the April 22 Republican Primary.
Bob Guzzardi
President Conservative Reform PAC
Ardmore


JAMES SPEAKS OUT


Former County Commissioner candidate Bill James penned a pretty eloquent letter to the local papers urging area residents not to stop looking at the County government and its finances. Here are his thoughts:
How can we the people of Luzerne County let this be forgotten? We can’t let money and material goods disappear in front of our eyes. The judges have said, “Send it to us; we’ll help it disappear.” Greg Skrepenak has challenged us, the people, and said bring it on if you have it.
The Secret Service needs also to investigate all of the row offices. Take a look at the prothonotary’s office and the Jill Moran and Robert Powell connection. (Let me take a moment to say, hello, John Doe.) Have we forgotten about the trials not brought up on time by our splendid district attorney’s office? Do we care enough to correct this travesty?
The media have taken this so far. We don’t need a big, monstrous ego sitting in his office with a spokeswoman to address us, telling us to shove it. Non-essential is the word.
We need those resignations now. Maryanne Petrilla ignored her job as controller. The treasurer only said, here’s the money; pay the bills. The money that has moved around in the Skrepenak hands is shocking.
The juvie center is a laugh. Years ago Steve Urban and I proved that to you along with the statement by Vonderheid/Skrepenak that they would never get rid of the Valley Crest white elephant. Speaking of Vonderheid, let’s not forget he was there when this started. Now he sits in another office begging for a million dollars in forgiveness from a broken county.
Remember the majority democratic vote. The powers that put them in there and now pull their puppet strings; they should be hung by those strings. They condemn people of the radio and newspaper. It’s your phone and pen that will get you answers, not just a few but all of us.
I also believe that names on liquor licenses should be confirmed. Make sure all laws are being followed to the “t.” There seems to be too much Skrepenak, Bob Reilly and Frank Rodano in the news to make me a believer.
I consider all the people in the county to be my friends. Some are just self-centered, some needing guidance. Some are just wandering but in the direction of our pocket books.
The giving away of county services, land, developed lots and parcels – this was done back in the early reign of Skrepenak and Vonderheid. It’s time my friends -- don’t stop.
William James
Exeter Township

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The LuLac Edition #394, Jan. 13, 2008



PHOTO INDEX: "13 QUESTIONS" BY SEATRAIN 45 CIRCA EARLY '70s.

13 QUESTIONS

1. GIVEN YOUR CRITICISM OF GREG SKREPENAK, WOULD YOU EVER VOTE FOR HIM AGAIN, IF YOU DID AT ALL?

CERTAINLY. MY ONLY PROBLEM WITH SKREP HAS BEEN THE WAY HE HAS REACTED TO SOME OF THE CRITICISM AND SOME OF THE WINS AND LOSSES. I SAW HIM AT THE DEBATES AND THE GUY KNOWS THE INS AND OUT OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT. THE MAN HAS A HANDLE ON THINGS. SURE, I HAVE VOTED FOR HIM AND HOPE TO DO SO AGAIN.

2. YOU STATED IN ONE OF YOUR EDITIONS THAT KATHY BOZINKI HAS BEEN AROUND FOR THIRTY YEARS. THAT WOULD MAKE HER OVER 50, NO?

NO. KATHY IS YOUNGER THAN THAT. SHE IS A SPECIAL BREED OF PERSON THAT LIKE ME, AND COUNTLESS OTHERS GOT THE BROADCAST BUG IN HER TEENS. WHEN SHE STARTED AT WILK RADIO IN THE EIGHTIES AS A RADIO REPORTER, SHE WAS ALREADY A KNOWN COMMODITY. SAME WITH PEOPLE LIKE DAVE DECOSMO WHO IS STILL HURLING IN SOFTBALL GAMES BUT CUT HIS TEETH AS A TEENER ON HAZLETON RADIO. IT IS AN INSIDIOUS DISEASE THAT GRIPS YOU AND MAKES YOU DO STRANGE THINGS LIKE SHADOE STEELE DRIVING FROM DURYEA TO HAZETON TO DO THE OVERNIGHT WEATHER WHEN HE WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, MYSELF WORKING AT A RADIO STATION WHEN I WAS 15, AND GUYS LIKE L.A. TARONE OF THE HAZLETON STANDARD SPEAKER WHO WAS WELL KNOWN AS A COLLEGE RADIO HOST, AS WAS BOZINSKI. NOW THERE IS NO WAY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO START OUT AT THAT TENDER AGE BUT SHE WAS ONE OF MANY WHO GRACED THE AIRWAVES BEFORE LEAVING HIGH SCHOOL.

3. GREAT STORY ON YOUR DAD. HOW OLD WAS HE WHEN HE DIED?

SIXTY SIX. LAST NIGHT IN CHURCH I WAS THINKING ABOUT TWO THINGS I LEFT OUT. HE HAD THIS ENORMOUS FAITH THAT HE ACCEPTED AT FACE VALUE. I ENVIED THAT BECAUSE HE NEVER QUESTIONED HIS RELIGION. HE’D TIP HIS HAT EVERYTIME HE PASSED A CHURCH AND EVERYTIME I’D QUESTION HIM. ANNOYED HE’D SAY, “BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOUR SUPPOSED TO DO!” WHEN I ASKED FOR MORE OF AN EXPLANATION, I GOT THE SAME ANSWER, SO I JUST SHUP UP AND LET IT BE. ON THE OTHER HAND, HIS FAITH WAS NOT SO BLIND THAT HE COULDN'T SEE A FAKER COMING A MILE AWAY. HE HATED PEOPLE WHO TOLD YOU HOW RELIGIOUS THEY WERE. HE USED TO SAY, AND I HAVE THIS IN MY BOOK, "26 RULES OF LIFE", (STILL ON SALE AT LOCAL BOOK STORES FOR UNDER SEVEN BUCKS!!!!) "IF SOMEONE TELLS YOU HOW MUCH THEY LOVE GOD, PUT YOUR HAND ON YOUR WALLET". AND HE WAS RIGHT. THROUGHOUT MY WORKING LIFE, THE PEOPLE WHO SCREWED ME CARRIED BIBLES AROUND WITH THEM AND TOLD ME HOW THEY WERE "SAVED".

4. FAVORITE BEATLE?

PAUL DEFINITELY. IF I HAD TO LOOK LIKE SOMEONE, I’D WANT TO LOOK LIKE HIM. AND YOU GOTTA LOVE HOW HE STAYED WITH HIS FIRST WIFE THROUGH HER ILLNESS AND ON ANOTHER LEVEL, YA HAVE TO LOVE HOW HE WAS OLDER THAN THE SECOND WIFE’S DAD. NOW THAT’S JUST PLAIN GREAT IN MY TWISTED BOOK. FROM YOU TUBE, HIS LATEST. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fPk5rfpFFU&feature=related.

5. WHO ARE YOU GOING TO VOTE FOR PRESIDENT?

EITHER SENATORS CLINTON OR McCAIN. OBAMA IS INSPIRING BUT THIS COUNTRY IS SO SCREWED UP, WE CAN’T AFFORD A GUY WITH FOUR YEARS EXPERIENCE. REMINDS ME OF THAT MOVIE “DAVE” WHERE THEY HAVE A GUY RUNNING THE COUNTRY WITH NO CLUE. CLINTON HAS THE DESIRE AND PASSION FOR HISTORICAL GLORY AND McCAIN IS A REASONABLE GUY. CLINTON’S GENDER AND NINETIES CONNECTIONS MIGHT HURT HER. McCAIN MIGHT BE HURT WITH THE AGE AND WASHINGTON INSIDER ISSUE TOO. BUT THOSE ARE THE TWO I COULD EASILY VOTE FOR IF THE ELECTION WERE HELD TODAY.

6. DO YOU PRAY?

NOT REALLY. NOT FORMALLY, BUT THE OLDER I GET, THE MORE I FIND MYSELF HAVING CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD. HALF THE TIME I THINK I’M GONNA BE STRUCK DEAD BECAUSE GOD IS SAYING, “THIS PUTZ AGAIN!” BUT IN CHURCH, I FIND MYSELF COMMUNING WITH SOME ENTITY. AND INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, MANY OF MY WRITING IDEAS COME WHEN I’M IN CHURCH.

7. FAVORITE CARTOON OF ALL TIME?

NOT A BIG CARTOON BUFF ALTHOUGH I ENJOY “THE FAMILY GUY”. USED TO LIKE “SOUTH PARK” TOO BUT WHEN THEY STARTED MAKING FUN OF JOHN PAUL II'S MEDICAL CONDITION, THEY LOST ME. BUT, FROM 1936, HERE’S A LOONEY TUNES CARTOON THAT I FIND UPROARIOUSLY FUNNY. INVEST ABOUT 8 MINUTES (IMAGINE THE ATTENTION SPAN OF TODAY’S YOUTH TRYING TO SIT STILL FOR THAT LONG!) AND TAKE A LOOK. FROM YOU TUBE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28hk97-vZdQ.

8. FAVORITE TV WAR TIME COMEDY OF THE SIXTIES?

“McHALE’S NAVY” BECAUSE IT WAS JUST SO RIDICLOUS.

9. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF POLITICIANS WEARING RELIGION ON THEIR SLEEVE?

I HATE IT. THE FACT THAT MIKE HIUCKABEE IS RUNNING TOWARD HIS CHRISTIAN ROOTS AND MITT ROMNEY HAS TO DEFEND HIS RELIGION IS REALLY INCREDIBLE TO ME. IT SHOULD BE NO ONE’S BUSININESS. AND FOR RELIGIOUS LEADERS TO ISSUE A MORALITY LITMUS TEST IS IMMORAL IN AND OF ITSELF. I’D LOVE TO SEE ONE CANDIDATE HAVE THE GUTS TO SAY TO ANY HIGH AND MIGHTY RELIGIOUS LEADER, “GO STUFF YOURSELF”. AND AS FAR AS ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS STOPPING PRO CHOICE CANDIDATES FROM HAVING COMMUNION IS ARROGANT AND JUDGEMENTAL. I DON’T THINK JESUS WOULD APPROVE OF THAT. MY PERSONAL FEELING OF MORAL QUALIFICATIONS FOR A LEADER IN THIS COUNTRY IS THIS: AS LONG AS THERE ARE NO DEAD BODIES IN THEIR BED AFTER SLEEP, SEX OR A NAP, THEY’RE FINE WITH ME.

10. LAST BOOK READ?


“SECOND ACTS” BY MARK UPDEGROVE, A HISTORY OF PRESIDENTS AFTER LEAVING OFFICE AND “THE GODFATHER RETURNS” BY MARK WINEGARDNER WITH MOST CHARACTERS BASED ON MARIO PUZO’S NOVELS. IT IS A CONTINUATION OF THE GODFATHER SAGA THAT BRIDGES THE GAP IN THE STORY FROM “GODFATHER 1” TO “GODFATHER 2”. I GOT BOTH OF THEM FOR CHRISTMAS LAST YEAR AND BARELY GOT THROUGH THEM BEFORE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON. BUSY, BUSY.

11. FAVORITE WINE?


REISLING ANY TYPE BUT A FRIEND GAVE ME A FEW BOTTLES OF THE FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA WINE LAST CHRISTMAS AND THAT WAS VERY GOOD.

12. STRANGEST MOMENT OF 1968 FOR YOU AS A KID FOLLOWING THE NEWS?

WITH GREAT FANFARE, OUR SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER TOLD US THAT NEW YORK GOVERNOR NELSON ROCKEFELLER WAS ANNOUNCING FOR PRESIDENT AND THAT WE COULD WATCH IT ON TV. TURNS OUT HE DECIDED NOT TO RUN. ALL THREE NETWORKS CARRIED IT. TWO WEEKS LATER, ROCKEFELLER WAS ON TV AGAIN, THIS TIME SAYING HE WOULD RUN WITH ALL THREE NETWORKS COVERING IT. GIVES YOU AN INDICATION WHY HE NEVER HAD A PRAYER FOR THE GOP NOMINATION IN 1968.

13. DID YOU GO TO “THE VIEW-SCRANTON” FRIDAY NIGHT?

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO SOME OF THE GRACIOUS AND TALENTED PARTICIPANTS IN THE LOCAL HENFEST, “PLEASE!”

The LuLac Edition #393, Jan. 13th, 2008







PHOTO INDEX: 1968 PRESIDENTIAL POSTER OF HUBERT HUMPHREY, HUMPHREY WITH BLOG EDITOR IN 1972 AT THE GREATER PITTSTON FRIENDLY SONS OF ST. PATRICK DINNER AT THE MAYFAIR SUPPER CLUB.


HHH GONE 30 YEARS


It was a Friday night, the weather outside was about 22 degrees and I knew that my political idol Hubert Humphrey, a victim of cancer was going to die. My friend Frank Chebalo and I drove to a bar at the Wyoming Valley Mall called Barrells, Whiskey and Rhyme. I was pursuing a waitress there and our mission on this stormy night was to drop off a present for her kid who was having a procedure in the hospital the following Monday. We chatted, drank and then he drove me home to Pittston in his 1965 Chevy BelAir that was the color of bondo. We called it off gray. On the drive home, given the icy roads, he drove the Chevy sideways. On the way up my hill to DeWitt Street we heard the news that Hubert Humphrey had died. Many people in this day and age only know him as the guy they named the Metrodome after in Minnesota. But to many Americans he was a missed opportunity as a President. (He lost narrowly to Richard Nixon in 1968, 40 years ago.) Here's a snippet of a speech he gave during that fateful year from YOU TUBE:

Friday, January 11, 2008

The LuLac Edition #392, Jan. 11th, 2008






PHOTO INDEX: OUR 1968 LOGO, NEW COUNTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE BOARD OF COMMSSIONERS MARYANNE PETRILLA OVERSHADOWING, WHO'S THAT BIG GUY AGAIN? OH YEAH, GREG SKREPENAK. WAS THIS PICTURE A HARBINGER OF THINGS TO COME?


DESIGNING WOMEN



The latest development concerning Maryanne Petrilla’s actions against now former County PR person Kathy Bozinski just screams for analysis. A few months back when Steve Urban suggested Bozinski be fired, the veteran newscaster, educator and PR person told me the knives might be out for her. Being naïve to a point, I couldn’t imagine how that could happen because, silly me, I thought the sum parts of her total experience was worth double her salary. That of course was not to be. Apparently Petrilla is of that generation of women where experience doesn’t matter. The more you have, well the more you have to pay for and “tut, tut, tut” that hurts the bottom line. That myopic view not only holds women back but in reality a seasoned workforce that can actually contribute to the greater good. Petrilla told Bozinski in a meeting that she wanted to revisit the position and make it more about internal posting on the website. Curiously Petrilla also mentioned that Commissioners should be more accessible to the press and did not need an intermediary to speak for the Board of Commissioners. Ever since the days of the late P.J. Clark, Gene Klein and the MIA Jim Torbik, County Commissioners have had people (like those men, a long time county clerk, a former chief of staff to a U.S. Congressman and a longtime veteran newspaper writer/editor) to craft a message. They did a service to the press and to the county by formulating what the Commissioners were doing. If Petrilla thinks there were problems with the message before hand, just wait until Urban and Skrep start having their own sit downs with the press. The fact that county commissioners were never accessible is plainly not true. In the 60s, a reporter could find Frank Crossin, Senior at Fox Hill Country Club on Sundays, Ed Wideman at the Susquehanna Savings and Loan or Steve Yanoshak at his DME supply store on N. Main Street in Wilkes Barre. In the eighties, Frank Trinisewski could be found at his bar or a Phillies game, Jim Phillips counting heads at the Courthouse or Crossin, Junior power walking through the streets of Kingston. The point is that the press, despite the best efforts of Clark, Klein and Torbik, could find those Commissioners. And if they wanted to talk, they did. But when they didn’t, and that was more often than not, they deferred to their spokespeople to promulgate the message. To think that not having a buffer between the press and the County is a good thing is just asking for chaos.
Petrilla also told the press that she gave Bozinski the option to resign so she wouldn’t have a firing on her resume. God, I laughed when I heard that. Getting fired from a job is sometimes a badge of honor, I mean there have been some people, (I won’t name names here ) who have demanded a police escort from their job to make a point. If you haven’t tried that yet in your life, give it a go. For Bozinski to resign would be untrue to herself. She busted her ass for four years making certain Luzerne County got its message out, nationally, and internationally in times of crisis. On a local level, she built unparalleled relationships with the groups and organizations that saw the magnificent Courthouse building as a “home” to all diverse groups. For her to go gently into that goodnight would be a lie to herself and her upbringing. Besides, from a practical purpose, the late Coach and his dear wife didn’t raise no fool, you quit, no Unemployment Compensation. You get fired, well then you have time to regroup and lick your wounds, in this case considerable ones. Keep in mind, successful Attorney Michael Cefalo and Congressional aide Paul Maher were fired from their county jobs in 1980 and that did not hurt their careers, in fact it enhanced them. Bozinski also said she obtained a lawyer, let’s hope it’s some out of town pit bull instead of some of the local pansies who talk tough but then make deals that benefit only them and not their clients. As one of my posters indicated, Bozinski is over 40, a woman, and if the men like Guesto or Hyder are reassigned or not fired, any out of area lawyer worth his or her salt would shred this firing to pieces. There are some who say the Dome had room for only one flashy female in heels and that Petrilla was threatened by Bozinski’s popularity. Uh, who was it who came in first in the election? Did I see a Bozinski on the ballot?
Petrilla also says that she thinks farming out the county website is not a good idea. I have found the county website up to date and filled with information the day it happened. If you get someone to do that at a lower price, you get what you pay for, a young kid looking to move on to the next big thing or a lackey who will not live up to the standards of the current website. And if she is thinking of replacing the spokesperson position and restructuring it, I can almost guarantee you that one of the successful candidates will be one of two Hazleton residents and broadcast veterans (professional friends who I respect and like) who have traded the same non profit jobs in that city for the last twenty years. (Now if she picked my friend L.A. Tarone, now that would be a spectacular amount of fun! But Petrilla doesn't appear to be the fun type, at least not right now with the axe she's wielding!)
Petrilla’s alliance with Steve Urban will change the political landscape in the county. She will be the front person, taking the heat instead of Skrep. Urban for the first time will be in on the decisions and for better or worse for him electorally, will have to defend them. No longer will he be on the sidelines saying “put me in coach” or “if I were in the game”, this baby puts him smack dab on the fifty yard line. The one guy who will benefit from all of this will be Skrepenak. Skrep gets to rebuild some relationships with the voters and do what he does best, articulate the nuances of county government with clarity and an easy manner that doesn’t intimidate the voters. I predict Skrep will find that despite the vigorous attacks made on him by a segment of the voters, he still has a huge likeability factor. When Jill Knopka interviewed Petrilla she came across as the modern day corporate schoolmarm bestowing punishment on the tall Polish girl from Nanticoke, when Jill asked Skrep his opinion, he simply said, “I love Kathy Bozinski.” I mean who hasn’t for more than 30 years on the public scene? Skrep looked like the Teddy Bear the voters know and like.
Petrilla says she wants to be more accessible to the press. Good. Then let the press ask these questions, questions never asked before. What was the real motivation in Petrilla not stepping down as Controller after winning the Democratic nomination for Commissioner? Was she afraid she’d lose and therefore not have an elected position or did she have an inkling that this debit card thing was in the wings? And by staying in the position, did she stay the execution of the news? Either way, as Controller she looked bad. By not knowing, she appeared to be duped. By knowing (and I’m not saying this is the case) she looked complicit in the dealings.
Maryanne Petrilla has some very tough decisions ahead of her. Even though I disagree with her decision on Bozinski, you can tell she is taking the considerable bull by the horns. In the future, she will be scrutinized, her motives will be questioned and she will take the heat any leader who aspires to the position is required to take. I wish her luck and success. Petrilla, whatever her record in the coming years will be working under a hovering cloud shadowing a rainbow. The events of the last 16 years in the Commissioner's office have been chipping away at the credibility of the county system as we know it. Already there are rumblings about a new push for Home Rule. And this time noises are being made from a prominent businessman whose father was President of a local University. People are talking about getting behind it. How ironic would it be for Maryanne Petrilla’s political legacy to be the first and last female Chairman of the Luzerne County Board of Commissioners.



REILLY’S RAISE


County Clerk of Courts Bob Reilly said that in twenty years as Record of Deeds he only received one raise. It has been said that the county should raise the salaries of the Row Offices. I agree. But the entire County should operate on the Kronos time stamp system where each county worker, from the President Judge all the way down to the newest hire swipes in and out with an accurate accounting of how many hours are worked. If it’s good enough for private business, it should be good enough for the County Courthouse employees. After all, it’s how the real world works.



IN THE LAC


Indictments were handed down in Lackawanna County against Chuckie Costanzo who ran the County Workers Comp unit. Word is that he blatantly stole (it is alleged) over $400,000. I mean even Tony Soprano was smart enough to launder his money. Didn’t Chuckie have HBO with all that extra cash? This will be interesting if any of this trickles down to former County Commissioner Bob Cordaro.



1968


Forty years ago, Senator Joseph Clark, a renowned foe of the Vietnam War was preparing for a run at a third term in the U.S. Senate. The former Mayor of Philadelphia received primary opposition from Western Pennsylvania Congressman John Dent. During this week, both men made their intentions known…..On the county level, machinations were being made to pick a new county chairman of the Democratic party to succeed the late Dr. John Dorris, the mantle would ultimately fall to Pittston Mayor Robert Loftus….Nationally a little known Minnesota Senator named Gene McCarthy and a virtually unknown Brooklyn Congressman named Allard Lowenstein began to plot out a strategy to make a concerted effort to compete in the March 12th (yep, it wasn’t the second week of January back then!) New Hampshire primary…in Pittston, Sister Rosina was thwarted in her effort to impeach 8th Grade St. John the Baptist Class President David Yonki by calling for new elections when Yonki’s best friend, David Dellarte nominated him again in a secret ballot and in this week, forty years ago in 1968 the number one song came from John Fred and the Playboy Band. From YOU TUBE, a tribute to the late John Fred with “Judy In Disguise”.