Thursday, April 30, 2009

The LuLac Edition #801, Apr. 30th, 2009

PHOTO INDEX: The top of our photo index is a patch worn by American soldiers in Vietnam. MACV or Military Assistance Command Vietnam. The early advisors wore that patch and it was the overall command unit in Vietnam. All other commands came under MACV. I wore the USARV patch, United States Army Republic of Vietnam. MACV Headquarters was called the Pentagon East. It is significant and something Vets and no one else will get. Patch seen here was worn by Jim Petrie, U.S. Army, Vietnam 69-70 and our video logo.

APRIL 30th, 1975

This day is not really chronicled that much in American history. On the 30th of April, South Vietnam fell. The entire failure in Vietnam though could be traced back to the Paris Peace Accords ending the conflict were signed January 27, 1973, and were followed by the withdrawal of the remaining American troops. The terms of the accords called for a complete ceasefire in South Vietnam, allowed North Vietnamese forces to retain the territory they had captured, released US prisoners of war, and called for both sides to find a political solution to the conflict. As an enticement to Thieu, Nixon offered US airpower to enforce the peace terms. With US forces gone from the country, South Vietnam stood alone. The situation worsened in December 1974, when Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, cutting off all military aid. This act removed the threat of air strikes should North Vietnam break the terms of the accords. Shortly after the act’s passage, North Vietnam began a limited offensive in Phuoc Long Province to test Saigon’s resolve. The province fell quickly and Hanoi pressed the attack. Surprised by the ease of their advance, against largely incompetent ARVN forces, the North Vietnamese stormed through the south, finally capturing Saigon. South Vietnam surrendered on April 30, 1975, following the fall of its capital. After thirty years of conflict, Ho Chi Minh’s vision of a united, communist Vietnam had been realized.
There were many casualties of the Vietnam war. None as tragic as the surviving Vietnam veterans. Jim Petrie, a broadcast colleague of mine wrote a song about the plight of surviving Vietnam vets. It’s called “Uncle Willie” and has been featured locally on “The Mountain” as well as Corbett’s show on WILK. Jim Petrie told us, “Uncle Willie just kind of came to me late one night. It started almost as a joke. I think I wrote the Verses in one sitting. I remember laughing out loud when I came up with “cutting down neighborhood trees” as a line. I e-mailed the lyric to Shawn Z, my principle co writer, and fortunately he saw the potential and took the idea seriously. He wrote the Chorus “Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they aint on their way” and came up with the melody. Shawn decided to record the song and that’s when we got Bret Alexander involved as producer and he turned it into the driving, high intensity tune it became. Its certainly attracted a fair amount of attention. I believe that’s because its so on target for today. I believe we are creating an endless number of Uncle Willies every day in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ticking time bombs for the future. We are asking too much of our young men and women who are serving two and three tours in combat zones. One tour can, and most often does, change a life dramatically. If Uncle Willie calls attention to today or yesterdays veterans circumstances in any way, I would consider it a success.” With the haunting strains of both lyrics and music, “Uncle Willie” became a natural candidate for one of LuLac’s video productions. On this anniversary date of the fall of Vietnam, “Uncle Willie”.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The LuLac Edition #800, Apr. 29th, 2009



With today’s edition, The LuLac Political Letter commemorates its 800th edition. We’re closing in on our third anniversary and all we can say is THANK YOU for reading.


Kevin Murphy has always jumped into the water headfirst with little regard for which way the tide was turning. Many in Lackawanna County would call that politically foolhardy, others prefer to say he is a young man of principle. When he was on City Council, much to the chagrin of many of his supporters, he sided with the Doherty administration on the city tax plan that made much of the downtown redevelopment possible. The move torked off taxpayers and city employees. He paid for that vote with his seat on Council. This time as the newly elected State Representative in the 113th District, Murphy is the point man for the advocates of the Scranton State School for the Deaf. Today the freshman legislator delivered more than 55,000 signatures to the Governor to halt plans to close the school. He is also co- sponsoring along with 80 other lawmakers a bill that would put on hold the plan to run the institution by the Western Pennsylvania School for the deaf. Murphy’s actions come face to face with state powerhouse Robert Mellow who offered a compromise plan to turn the facility into a day school. Hearing Murphy on the Corbett show this afternoon, it was obvious to me he wasn’t buying that option. Murphy said that if the transition took place, it would be a major step backward for special education in Pennsylvania. Murphy said he hoped the proposal would pass and the Commonwealth would have time to study alternatives to privatization and possible closing. Murphy and the group in Harrisburg pointed out the costs between SSSD and the Western Pa. outfit. One of the reasons Governor Rendell sought the school closure was to save money. But look at this cost breakdown provided by WBRE TV’s Kyla Campbell: About half of the students at both schools are residential, which means they live on campus Monday through Friday and stay with their family on the weekend. For the 2008-2009 school year, SSSD's cost for residential students is $72,666, while WPSD's is $99,919. The Department of Education says home school districts pay 20% of the cost for each of their students who attend SSSD. If the school is privatized, that would jump to 40%. Based on this year's residential costs, the number would grow from $14,553 at SSSD to $39,967 at WPSD.
So Lackawanna County which in its history has had many political battles of import now finds itself in another showdown. This time we have a one term legislator vs. a long time Senate member that has buildings named after him in the Scranton area. Mellow has served for 39 of the 44 years Murphy has walked the earth. No one seems to be backing down. Will Murphy prevail? If he does, what of the consequences to his career? Could it mean bigger and better things? What if he fails? Already there is great pressure on him to fold but he has shown a willingness to stand his ground. Murphy is fighting entrenched forces that may hurt him politically. If he knows that, he’s not talking about it. He’s keeping his eye on the ball and swinging for the fences. The Stadium he is playing in and the fans he is working for will not hear their own cheers for his effort. But Kevin Murphy and all of us who just want the SSSD given a fair shake will. And it seems like, surprise of surprises, that’s all that matters to State Representative Kevin Murphy these days. Oh, and to clarify, he’s a member of the Pennsylvania State House. Profiles in courage in that institution are the exception, instead of the rule.

WILK # 2

When I was a radio sales representative, stations lived and died by the Arbritron ratings. The books measured audience members. For all the time I was selling radio advertising, FM stations dominated the top 5. Once in a while an AM station would crack the top 8 but never higher than that. But in the last ratings period, WILK radio came in at number 2 in the 12 plus category. That is truly amazing and shows the strength of the WILK lineup and Talk Radio as a format. (A few indicted Judges never hurt either!) This is not a fluke either because across the country, AM stations regarded as also rans are raking in the money. WBZ in Boston had its best year ever. The hunger for information continues. Congrats to WILK. Note: as some of my posters pointed out, the addition of WILK FM helped increase the ratings a great deal. But the WILK "brand" which started on the AM dial and still has listeners started it all.


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The LuLac Edition #799, Apr. 29th, 2009



In an obvious response to a ton of criticism for his change in stance regarding the Scranton School for the Deaf, Senator Bob Mellow and his staff have been hard at work on some sort of compromise to keep the local school viable. This new development is good news for parents and students involved in an effort to save the school. Mellow has taken a lot of heat from the radio talk station in the area as well as people close to the school. Scranton Mayoral candidate Gary DeBilio even weighed in on saving the school. It is satisfying to see Mellow use his considerable clout to work out some sort of compromise. It seems to me that someone, perhaps Governor Rendell put the State Senator between a rock and a hard place last week by saying the property the school stands on would be disposed. Add to that the bad math the Governor did regarding the cost of the Scranton school vs the Western Pennsylvania facility, and well you have a public relations mess no local politico would want. The Scranton Times' venerable Harrisburg reporter R.B. Swift filed this story:
Scranton State School for the Deaf would remain as a residential school for the 2009-10 academic year and transition to a day school under management by the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf under a plan in the works, said Sen. Robert Mellow and several of his staffers today.Mr. Mellow, D-22, Peckville, and his staff provided key details about the plan intended to keep education services for deaf children in Scranton. Gov. Ed Rendell has proposed closing the Scranton school this June.Discussions continue about a role for neighboring Marywood University under the plan, Mellow aides said.


The first 100 days of a Presidency is a benchmark that came into being when Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933. The 100 day mark was meant to highlight how much FDR accomplished as the nation was in the throes of the Great Depression. Obama’s 100 days will be judged by his governing decisions. Prior to his assuming office, Obama’s only strength was that of political inspiration. He used that to win a big margin in his election. But now, the students who supported him almost blindly, the unemployed who looked to him for new jobs, the uninsured who looked to him for health coverage as well as the Hillary supporters who came over to his side will be the ultimate judges of how he’s doing. After the glow of the first black American ascending to the top job in the world faded, every American involved in the process went back to their lives. The students still face economic uncertainty when they graduate and of course their student loans. I wonder what a student with a huge loan responsibility thinks about the AIG bailout. Why them and not me? The unemployed found at least a President that wasn’t tone deaf to their needs. The stimulus package did provide relief in the form of extra money and a break on COBRA coverage. Health care on a national level will become a reality but there will be a ton of compromises and that won’t make everyone happy. The Hillary supporters? Like it or not, he’s their guy now. Obama’s 100 days won’t be judged by the minutia surrounding his outsized personality or whether he bowed or not before a Saudi prince. No, his 100 days are going to be judged by those Americans who put their hopes in him to listen and act. He has done both. So to me, the first 100 days have been ones of bold action and vision. It has been 100 days of not a promise but a gamble. An administration is not made in 100 days. The ultimate success of any Presidency is the perception people have of it. So far, polls say the nation is heading toward the right track. That’s good news for the President. But to achieve ultimate success, the people who put their hopes in him will need their own good news. Jobs, health care and an internal well being that gives them the perception they are gaining, not losing in the governmental experience. The first 100 days, in my estimation has been a good start. But the work must continue. Or the frantic action of the first 100 days will be meaningless.


Joe Sklarosky’s campaign committee set these events for this week:
On Thursday April 30th, Sklarosky will host a cocktail party from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at The Woodlands Inn & Resort. Entertainment will be provided by the Mark Mack Orchestra. For tickets or more information, call 474-1310.
On Friday, May 1st, Sklarosky will host a meet-and-greet at the North End Slovak Club, North Main Street, Wilkes-Barre, from 7 to 9 p.m. Free refreshments will be provided and the public is invited. An incorrect location was previously announced.
On May 9, Sklarosky will be at Nanticoke American Legion Post 350, 23 W. Broad St., to meet residents from 7 to 9 p.m. Free refreshments will be provided and the public is invited. Sklarosky is running for one of the Judicial seats on the Luzerne County bench.


A Forum for Luzerne County Controller was held at the Stark Learning Center on the campus of Wilkes College Tuesday night. Candidates exchanged views. The LuLac Controller’s Forum is set for Tuesday May 12th, at Luzerne County Community College’s Educational Conference Center in Room 131. Time is 7PM to 9PM. Admission is free.


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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The LuLac Edition #798, Apr. 28th, 2009




In a move that will have statewide and national political ramifications, 5 term United States Senator Arlen Specter announced today that he is leaving the Republican party and becoming a Democrat. Specter has been a moderate Republican and has enjoyed widespread support among Democrats and Independents. He was slated to face fierce primary opposition from his 2004 GOP primary foe, former Congressman Pat Toomey. This is a smart move since he beat Toomey by only 14,000 votes the last time and has raised the ire of the conservative wing of the party. Plus, other than former Pittsburgh Steeler football star Franco Harris, there is no Democrat out there with Specter's name recognition gearing up for a U.S. Senate run. His decision makes it easier for Democrats like me who were going to switch parties again to give him a vote in the GOP primary. In my estimation, barring any unforeseen developments, Specter has given himself a major leg up in his bid for re-election to a sixth term in 2010. Here is the statement from Specter:
"I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have taken each issue one at a time and have exercised independent judgment to do what I thought was best for Pennsylvania and the nation.
Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans. When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing. Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania. I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary. I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election. I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters. I can understand their disappointment. I am also disappointed that so many in the Party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides. I thank specially Senators McConnell and Cornyn for their forbearance. I am not making this decision because there are no important and interesting opportunities outside the Senate. I take on this complicated run for re-election because I am deeply concerned about the future of our country and I believe I have a significant contribution to make on many of the key issues of the day, especially medical research. NIH funding has saved or lengthened thousands of lives, including mine, and much more needs to be done. And my seniority is very important to continue to bring important projects vital to Pennsylvania's economy. I am taking this action now because there are fewer than thirteen months to the 2010 Pennsylvania Primary and there is much to be done in preparation for that election. Upon request, I will return campaign contributions contributed during this cycle.
While each member of the Senate caucuses with his Party, what each of us hopes to accomplish is distinct from his party affiliation. The American people do not care which Party solves the problems confronting our nation. And no Senator, no matter how loyal he is to his Party, should or would put party loyalty above his duty to the state and nation. My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords' switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change. Whatever my party affiliation, I will continue to be guided by President Kennedy's statement that sometimes Party asks too much. When it does, I will continue my independent voting and follow my conscience on what I think is best for Pennsylvania and America.

The LuLac Edition #797, Apr. 28th, 2009


It has been an interesting 24 hours since the Judiciary Forum we held at Genetti’s. A few thoughts:
1. A big thank you to all the candidates that are running for Judge. As I said at the meeting, other than serving in the military, running for public office is one of the most patriotic things one can do. You live your patriotism every day, not just at Kirby Park or PNC Field on the Fourth of July.
2. The turnout was a big topic of discussion. As I mentioned to Corbett on WILK this afternoon, there were people there representing the candidates but we had more than our fair share of walk ins. For that, I am both happy and grateful. Tom O’Connor said it best when he commented on the attention and respect each candidate received. So while the perception was that the turnout was low, (and it was) let me remind people that we weren’t giving anything away except ideas. And those ideas were all very good.
3. One of the posters to the Citizen‘s Voice said 5 minutes was too little time to get a read on the candidates. Maybe, but we had 15 people to go through and we wanted to be fair but not laborious.
4. Was the weather a factor? God yes! This was a miserable winter, especially for me with the chemo. So I could understand people flipping burgers on the deck and getting some sun instead of coming to a hotel ballroom. The first thing I did when I got home was throw on shorts and popped the top for a nice drive around LuLac land. But if it rained, I’m not sure it would not have increased attendance that much.
5. In many of the candidate forums I attended, 50 to 75 is the norm. Personally I wish more could come and be more civic minded. However, I make no judgments as to why people did not attend. But my hits have been up in the past week so people are interested in this race. Will that translate into turnout on Election Day? Most likely not.
6. On Election Day, the winning candidates will prevail by segmenting a block of votes favorable to their cause. It could be as low as 8,000 votes per winner county wide. The people who will vote are those with an interest, passion or connection to a candidate. There will be no storming of the voting booth because as I said to the TL’s Bill O’Boyle as well as Steve Corbett Monday, “Trouble has to be on a person’s doorstep, not necessarily in their neighborhood before they act”.
7. We will keep doing this because we made it part of our mission. When I started LuLac in 2006, I did it to improve the public debate, not to vent my spleen against an individual or institution as many blogs that existed back then did. The Forums are a way to educate and inform which is what this site tries to do. What I have tried to do is expand LuLac in other areas that I thought impossible a few years ago. The producing of videos for YOU TUBE and Google is an area we grew. Plus, LuLac spawned the 590 FOREVER, WARM blog/site as well as the AUTHOR: DAVID YONKI vehicle to sell my books. And of course we always make an attempt at entertaining and making politics fun. Not that I’m comparing LuLac to “George”, or me to JFK Junior, but his mission with that magazine was to connect politics to pop culture. That’s what we try to do here.
8. The best thing that can happen on Election Day for the Judicial race is for 4 candidates out of the 17 to win. Our electorate has a history of giving a candidate the nomination on both tickets. Let’s not do that again. The field is big enough to split the pie 4 ways. Make it interesting and have two Dems facing two GOPers. The ad reps will be happy, the news coverage will be heavy and it will make for a competitive race for both parties. The last time that happened was 1967 when Peter Paul Olszewski Senior and Ralph Johnston ran as Democrats and then DA Thomas Mack and Atty. Robert Hourigan ran on the Republican side. That year, one Dem, Olszewski and one Republican, Hourigan won. Let’s have a replay of that. It’ll be interesting!


On May 5th a Candidate Forum for Court of Common Pleas Candidate of Lackawanna County will be held. 7pm. Room 228, Brennan Hall, University of Scranton. Public is invited to attend.


The LuLac Political Letter will be hosting a Candidates Forum on Tuesday, May 12th for candidates running for Luzerne County Controller at the Luzerne County Community College Educational Conference Center, Room 131. The event will run from 7 pm to 9 pm.


The Luzerne Home Rule committee is continuing to provide Home Rule educational information in preparation for the public question on the Home Rule Government Study Commission in May. The fifth of these weekly forums will be held April 29th at 7:00 PM in West Wyoming Town Hall. This event is free and open to the public. If citizens have any questions about Home Rule or would like to meet the GSC candidates, they are encouraged attend this forum. In addition to providing a forum to GSC candidates, Luzerne Home Rule will review their activities over the previous week and review how people in the county can become involved in this campaign. The media are invited to ask questions. Additional information about the Home Rule movement can be found on the committee’s website, or by calling (570) 891-1987.


C.J. Bufalino for Luzerne County Judge
When: Thursday, April 30th
Time: 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Where: Hosted by Allen & Mary Erwine & Ed & Tara Wilson
Huntsville Golf Club, Lehman, PA
Information: Call 674-7676

Meet the Candidate Pancake Breakfast
C.J. Bufalino for Luzerne County Judge
When: Saturday, May 2nd
Time: 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Where: Villa Foglia, 1133 Wyoming Avenue, Exeter
Reservation/Information: Call 674-7676.


"Meet the Candidate" Breakfast in Hazleton at Lobits Catering on Sunday, May 3rd from 8 a.m. to Noon. $15 per person. Those interested in attending may call The Committee to Elect Jennifer Rogers at 825 6300.


During the month of May, the LuLac Political Letter will profile each candidate running for Judge. That starts on May 1st. Whether a candidate wins or not, at least there will be an internet record of it..........forever. So if you're not happy with the photo you sent me, e mail me another.


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Monday, April 27, 2009

The LuLac Edition #796, Apr. 27th, 2009



Well, The LuLac Political Letter held its candidate’s Forum yesterday afternoon. 15 of the 17 aspirants for Judge of Luzerne County Common Pleas showed up before a group of 50 interested citizens. L.A. Tarone, News Director of WYLN TV 35 was the moderator, Wilkes Barre resident and county wide taxpayer advocate Walter Griffith was the time keeper. Each candidate was given 5 minutes to talk about their qualifications. The 15 candidates spoke in an order determined by a drawing at the outset of the program. Two employees of Genetti’s Best Western Hotel in Wilkes Barre picked the names. Here in speaking order is a brief rundown of what each candidate said at the LuLac Forum.

C.J. BUFALINO Attorney Bufalino said that the major element and ingredient in a Judge was to have character. He pointed out that character is not measured by a snapshot of one person’s life at a particular time but rather as a whole picture of one’s life. He pointed out that demeanor and experience are factors but the main ingredient is character. Bufalino said that character was very important because when one stands before a Judge, they must believe in his or her credibility. He noted he wanted to restore respect for the Court. Bufalino spoke proudly about his family of lawyers pointing out that both his grandfather and father were attorneys of great repute. He said he will work to help restore the public’s confidence in the judicial system. He has 24 years of experience in the civil and criminal courts. Bufalino is self-employed in a general law practice, with emphasis on family law matters.
TINA POLACHEK GARTLEY Told the group that she came from a close knit family. Pointed out that said family was not politically connected or financially independent. Gartley has been practicing law since 1991. The focal point of her career has been family law and protecting the rights of survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Polachek Gartley said she has been in every courtroom regarding every type of case. She touted that experience in the law plus her real life background as an advocate for the voices that need to be heard as extremely important in her campaign. Citing her three children, she said that kids have a natural sense of justice and that she obtained patience from that experience. She also pointed to her role as a trainer/educator of other lawyers which would add to her qualifications to serve.
JENNIFER ROGERS Cited her experience with Hourigan, Kluger, and Quinn. Said that with her, there would be no learning curve and she’d be ready to hit the ground running. Rogers said she is not connected to any political machine and does not have a connected family. She said other candidates will probably spend a lot more money on the race. She said she is accepting donations from attorneys she knows and who know her for her ability. To get her name out in the public, Rogers said she has used the Internet and attends every function she can to meet people. Reiterating her campaign slogan “no strings attached.” Rogers said she is not beholden to anyone and is her own person. Growing up in Luzerne County, she relocated to Maryland before returning to the area 20 years ago. Her practice is in Kingston focusing on family law and general civil litigation. She was also named a part-time solicitor in 2007 for Luzerne County Children and Youth Services where she serves in the field of child welfare. Rogers said that the only thing people will find in her closet are two speeding tickets, which she paid. She said the time is now to lift the shroud of mystery from the Court system and vowed to be transparent in all of her dealings.
MICHAEL PENDOLPHI Michael Pendolphi said the county needs judges who will adjudicate disputes on a level playing field, regardless of who the parties are or the lawyers representing them. He said his campaign platform consists of unparalleled courtroom experience, change, family values, and accountability. He said he would change the way cases are scheduled in his courtroom – making it “taxpayer-friendly.” He said judges presently schedule all cases for one time and that could result in 40 to 50 cases scheduled at 9 a.m. Pendolphi cited the fact that taxpayers need to be involved in the process of cases. Pendolphi said that this was the time to run because change is needed in the Court system. Pendolphi said his experience in all aspects of the law as an attorney for nearly two decades gives him the experience to handle cases in an efficient and trustworthy manner.
RICHARD HUGHES The Mountaintop attorney told the audience that he was running on his reputation and experience. He asked the voters to judge him on his experience working as a District Attorney in numerous administrations. Hughes said one of the proudest moments of his life was practicing law with his late father. He has tried more than 30 jury trials to verdict, including the prosecution of three defendants for first-degree murder. Hughes also said he served as as a solicitor for municipalities, zoning hearing boards and school districts. Hughes told the audience that he wants to restore integrity to the bench and that many people have told him he has the temperament to serve as Judge.
THOMAS MARSILIO Marsilio told the attendees that he wanted to be one of the two people who received a seat on the Court of Common Pleas. Marsilio said that when he previously ran for office, the Times Leader endorsed him as an independent man of integrity and a maverick. He said that had not changed in a decade. Marsillio told of his appointment to the Naval Academy in 1966 when Democratic Congressman Dan Flood and Republican U.S. Senator Hugh Scott endorsed him. He said that to this day he enjoys bipartisan support. Marsilio said his experience is vastly superior to the other 16 candidates. Marsilio has been a prosecutor on the county, state and federal levels during his 27-year legal career. The veteran attorney said he has the guts to render lengthy prison terms for career criminals, particularly drug dealers and those who prey upon children and the elderly, and the compassion to seek treatment for first-time offenders to lower the county’s recidivism rate. Marsilio ran for District Attorney twice in his electoral career.
MOLLY HANLON MIRABITO This candidate told the people at the Forum that this election of new Judges in the county has a potential to be our finest hour in history. Touting her close family ties, Hanlon Mirtabito outlined her front porch announcement that she made at her parent’s home in Forty Fort. Saying she was a product of working class values, Hanlon Mirabito said she was not taking contributions from lawyers. Mirabito said she has the right temperament and experience to be a good judge. Hanlon Mirabito said that her experience in the DA’s office as well as her volunteer work in various social service organizations gives her an added edge to walk in the shoes of those before her. Those organizations are the Forty Fort Ambulance Association, the Forty Fort Civil Service Commission and coaching the Bishop O’Reilly High School Mock Trial Team for approximately 10 years as well as VISION, Family Service Association and the United Way. She said with the economy the way it was, no candidate should be asking people for a lot of money or any for that matter.
JOSEPH MUSTO Judge Joseph Musto is campaigning to stay on the bench. Musto was appointed to fill the vacancy of the man who defeated him in 1993, Michael Conahan. Musto said he worked in his father’s grocery store as a young man. Musto said that as a cuurent Judge, he is doing his best to help clean up the mess on the Courts. He pointed to the appointment of new Prison Board members. He was one of the first candidates to publicly state he would not accept donations from attorneys so that the playing field would be a level one. Musto pointed to his experience in Federal Court, as well as his handling of numerous black lung cases. Musto said that he has been asked to mediate over 800 cases and said that was important because people trust his judgment. Musto said that his experience and demeanor make him the best candidate for election.
WILLIAM AMESBURY In a soft spoken presentation, William Amesbury said that he was not politically connected, did not have big money and did not have a huge family connection. But he said the greatest gift he received was from his parents, Bud and Ruth Amesbury. He said they gave him integrity, honesty and a hard work ethic that came with the family name. Citing his “everyman” experience as a teacher, a counselor, a union shop steward, an attorney and a district magistrate, Amesbury said he can restore integrity to the Common Pleas Court. Amesbury said he has the experience to make tough decisions because he is a sitting district magistrate. Amesbury said drugs are at the root of most crime, especially violent crime, in the region. He said there are ways to make the system more efficient, such as favoring treatment and counseling over incarceration. Repeating an often used campaign theme, Amesbury said that while other candidates will tell voters what they will do as Judge, he pointed out that he has already done it.
ANTHONY LUMBIS Lumbis came right out of the box at the Forum telling potential voters that if elected, he’d want to serve on Orphan’s Court. Lumbis cited the terrible toll child abuse takes on a community. Lumbis said last year there were 832 cases of child abuse in Luzerne County as compared to Lackawanna County with only 279. Out of a 31 year career, Lumbis has practiced child welfare law for 26 of them. Lumbis said there are complex issues when dealing with cases of child custody, visitation, placement and treatment, especially in light of the recent county judicial scandal. Serving as legal counsel to the Luzerne County Children and Youth Services agency, he said he has brought hundreds of cases against parents of abused and neglected children. Lumbis said that juvenile placement has to be changed with children being routed to homes of family members like aunts, uncles, grandparents and not detention centers.
JOSEPH SKLAROSKY , JR. Saying he wants to fix what is broken, Sklarosky said he understands the large responsibility that comes with the position. He told the attendees that each judge holds countless lives in his or her hands every day. He pointed out that the lives of victims and the lives of the accused, and the lives of their family members, friends, and loved ones have to come before a Judge who is impartial and independent. He also added that the lives of husbands and wives going through separation, children affected by crime or by divorce, and those children who are accused of committing a crime are people that need a Judge who will be fair. Sklarosky said the lives of thousands of citizens who have never set foot in a courtroom must rely on the basic fairness of our judicial system for their safety and protection. Sklarosky said he is regarded as a straight shooter and that he offers values, honesty and integrity. Citing his family’s love for the law, the attorney said that it is important that if you become a Judge, you never forget who you are and where you came from when you don that black robe.
THOMAS O’CONNOR Tom O’Connor complimented the audience on their rapt attention to all of the candidates. Then he issued a challenge to them. He asked those attending to ask their friends and neighbors about him. He asked them to find out about his qualifications and temperament to be Judge. O’Connor said the best compliment he gets is when people tell him he has the experience and temperament to be a county jurist. O’Connor, one of 12 children of the late Patrick J. and Helen A. O’Connor, said he has always recognized the importance of community involvement and public service. His mother served as Luzerne County register of wills for 32 years. O’Connor said he is proud of his representation of Vietnam veterans. He serves as the national legal adviser to the Veterans of Vietnam War and the Veterans Coalition. O’Connor also brought up the point that all candidates can cross file on both parties And said he would welcome support from everyone regardless of affiliation.
JOSEPH TERRANA The Pittston Area attorney said that he used to be a daily reader of The LuLac Political Letter and all of the internet sites of local newspapers. Now he said he reads them every few hours given the amount of news regarding what seems like a scandal a day in Luzerne County. Terrana said that this is a tough time for people from Wall Street to River Street. Terrana said that everone has to look inside themselves to see what they can do to solve the problems besetting the county. He advised that’s why he is running. Terrana said the public is concerned about scandals and arrests of judges, school directors and administrators, as well as people charged with stealing from fire companies and Little Leagues. He said people are tired of scandals. Terrana said that he felt this crisis in confidence in the county would pass but was glad that people were waking up to the reality that all is not well. He pointed out that he is running to make things better. He urged others to look within to see what they can do to help. Terrana said he would be accountable to the people who put their trust in him.
STEPHEN MENN Complimenting his fellow candidates, Menn said that no matter what the outcome on May 19th in the election, he pointed out that the people and the County Judiciary would be in good hands. Menn said that there was nothing wrong with the system, that all it needed was a change in faces. Menn said he has the demeanor to be a good judge. He says his experience in civil and criminal court gives him an edge. Menn said his toughest decision as a judge would be to take someone’s freedom away or issue the death penalty. He said a 10-year term is fair for the judiciary. Menn talked about his family’s business, Pittston Electric and said that he does not come from a legal or political family. He said no one should vote for a Judge based on their likeness on a billboard and urged voters to do research on all the candidates running.
MICHAEL BLAZICK Saying his was not a campaign of slogan but action, Blazick said that when an attorney spends days with a client preparing a case, sometimes it is disheartening to face a Judge who might be too lazy or uninformed to read a brief. Blazick said the recent scandals in the county compelled him to get into the fray. He said that every person appearing before him would receive a fair and unbiased decision. The cornerstone of his campaign was to refuse all contributions from attorneys. Conceding there was a toxic environment in Luzerne County, Blazick said he had a passion for justice, the skills to give justice as well as the energy and temperament to be the best Judge possible. Blazick said “The most important person in the courtroom is going to be the one that is going to lose since that person has to leave there getting the impression that they got a fair hearing and impartial judgment.


When the floor was opened up for questions, audience members asked about merit selection, donations from fellow lawyers, how they’d make changes in the courthouse, and Anne Lokuta’s removal from the bench.
On Merit Selection, most had reservations about it because you had to have a political connection to even be considered. However Judge Musto said that having been part of the merit selection process and an election, he had seen the positives and negatives of both. Sklarosky said if there was merit selection, he'd "have zero chance" of being a Judge. Atty. Marsilio took the devil’s advocate stance and relayed his experiences as an interviewee by a selection panel. Even though he didn’t get the position, he said he was comfortable with the broad based make up of the committee.
Donations from fellow lawyers started a spirited discussion. Jennifer Rogers said anyone who knew her realized any money donated would not affect her decision making process. Atty. Sklarosky and Lumbis also reiterated that belief. Lumbis said he raised just $7,000 and that the problem existed with large contributions that amounted to thousands of dollars. Pendolphi said that if he had two friends, a carpenter and a lawyer, why would it be fair to take money from one and not the other? L.A. Tarone asked if any Judge who got money should inform opposing counsel in a case and would the Judges have a problem with recusal from said case. None did.
Regarding a question about changes in the courthouse and the Judiciary, all candidates agreed that the only problem with the system was that the wrong people abused it. Polachek Gartley said that on the campaign trail a woman approached her and said that when Mark Ciavarella first became Judge, he was honest and what can Judges do to keep their integrity and honesty. Gartley said this was of paramount importance to voters who had a right to be gun shy.
On the Anne Lokuta case, Lumbis said that since the case was on going, despite personal opinions, no one could say anything on it in accordance with Judicial canons. Sklarosky referred the audience to the Pennsylvania Judicial Review Board’s web site.
For more information on the Judicial Forum, check the Times Leader and Bill O’Boyle’s report as well as the Citizen’s Voice’s Erin Moody’s take on the event.


All candidates were articulate, friendly and very well versed in what they wanted to do as Judge…………..Most candidates came solo with no family members in tow………….The beautiful weather put a damper on the low turnout although it was pointed out that there didn’t seem to be any turnout from the parents and guardians of those children who got a raw deal from Judges Ciavarella and Conahan……WYLN TV’s 35 and WBRE TV covered the event…..Gort 42 attended as well as frequent caller to WILK “Duke from Dallas”……………Walter Griffith served as time keeper for the event….Some audience members wondered why the Luzerne County Law and Library Association did not sponsor a debate………and the event ended in time for the candidates to get to a Ziti Dinner in the Third District. Atty. Joe Terrana cracked that with all of the campaign events each person was attending, that the winning candidates would need a big robe to hide the weight gain.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The LuLac Edition #795, Apr. 26th, 2009



The LuLac Political Letter Judicial Forum is set for this afternoon at 2PM at Gus Genetti's in Wilkes Barre. Location: Princess Ballroom. The weather is beautiful today so I don't know how that will affact the turnout. But it will be an opportunity to hear what the 17 candidates have to say who are vying for 2 seats on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. Here are the rules for this afternoon's forum:


1. Each candidate will be given 5 minutes to tell the people what their background and qualifications are for a seat on Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. Candidates will be seated at the head table alphabetically.
2. By lottery, we’ll decide which candidate will speak first. Each speaker will follow by lottery in ascending order. All candidates will then give their presentations.
3. After all the candidates have presented their views, questions will be taken from the audience. Because of time constraints, each audience member will be limited to one question. The audience member will ask the question instead of writing it out, face to face citizen participation is preferred. An answer to a particular question by a candidate will be limited to two minutes.
4. All candidates and audience members shall show respect for the diversity of opinions and the manner in which each candidate, incumbent or otherwise is presenting.
5. There will no closing statements.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The LuLac Edition #794, Apr. 25th, 2009



A few weeks ago, two very prominent political movers and shakers of Lackawanna County told me independent of each other that State Senator Robert Mellow was going to make a concerted effort to save the Scranton School For The Deaf. I was told that finally Senator Mellow was going to get the most positive press he has had in his career by the media in Northeastern Pennsylvania. In the two week interim, something changed radically. Thursday WBRE TV reported that Mellow was going to withdraw his amendment that would save the Scranton School For the Deaf. My question is what changed in the last two weeks? Or who got to Bob Mellow?
Friday, WBRE’s Kyla Campbell reported that on July 1st, the Scranton State School for the Deaf (SSSD) will be taken over by the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD). That's according to a confidential three-year transition plan obtained by WBRE TV. Governor Ed was in town handing out stimulus money like Santa. He shook his head saying, "We have to make cuts, it's a shame," But no other state in the union runs its own school for the deaf.” He made the statement in Pottsville where he just coughed up 15 million dollars for an intermodal transportation center. For freaking Pottsville? Governor Ed also said that Pennsylvania was the only state in the union that had a state school for the deaf. Wrong, countered Ruth Gerrity, the President of the Deaf School teacher’s association. 41 states have them. I guess if it were the stats on the Eagles, Governor Ed would be a tad more accurate. And what about the fact that the private school in Pittsburgh where the kids will be shipped to got 8 million bucks while a public school got 6 million last year in state funding? Isn’t that a little out of whack? That's like giving Wyoming Valley West 4 million bucks and Wyoming Seminary 10 million! If these students don’t go to Pittsburgh, they will have to be absorbed into the public school system in LuLac land. And despite the obvious commitment that needs to be made to these children, the school taxes will have to be raised to pay for this. It is also curious to me that the story on the street is that Marywood University had an interest in the property. But Marywood officials said they hadn’t been privy to any news about that. But as sure as Chuckie Castanzo watched porn in the office, you can bet that someone in town is interested in that land. And that is the reason why Mellow caved.
When I was growing up in the Junction section of Pittston there was a kid on my street named Ronnie. Urban legend and Pittston Science said that he cranked up the table radio too loud when he was a baby and went deaf. I later found out that he was born deaf. Ronnie went to that school and the first year he went, we regarded him as the deaf kid. But when Ronnie returned every summer, we began to notice he was a better, faster swimmer than all of us. So "Ronnie the deaf kid" became "Ronnie the swimmer." In high school, I got a job at the old Detato’s Supermarket in Pittston. So did Ronnie. When we were adults, I went to Ronnie’s mother’s wake. When I was introduced to some family members, someone signed to Ronnie that “you could take the boy out of the Junction but you couldn’t take the Junction out of the boy”. See, the Scranton School for the Deaf kept Ronnie, years after he attended school there, a Junction Boy. It is a tragedy that with the State Legislature having slush funds in excess of 50 million dollars for their own political use, that no one, not one official has the courage to get the money for this school. Kevin Murphy is keeping his word but the fix is in. Someone wants that land.
The Scranton School for the Deaf made people perceived as being weak powerhouses in their own right. That will end when they close the school in Scranton.
The late Hubert Humphrey, Vice President, to Lyndon Johnson, often said, that " The compassion of the government is measured, in how it treats --- those in society --- least able to take care of themselves ".
Poor Hubert, he was so naïve, and thankfully never a resident of Northeastern Pennsylvania with its political climate of duplicity and cowardly behavior. If you're looking for "Profles In Courage" here...move along.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The LuLac Edition #793, Apr. 24th, 2009



They say it takes two to tango and I thought about that this week as word came out that two school officials were going down for accepting bribes. Surely the person accepting them has done something wrong but what about the responsibility of the other person who made the suggestion? Should they be prosecuted? That’s a gray area because technically they were the one tempting the official. Granted the office holder could have said no. But I believe that those making the offer should be exposed if not for criminal behavior but unethical codes of conduct. Companies I have worked for had a code of ethics that included clauses where an employee could not accept any gift or gratuity. Bad behavior such as accepting gifts would be subject to warnings. Outright bribery would constitute an outright termination. I feel that politics does not operate in a vacuum and the vendors who sought to take the shortcut to easy success should be revealed in some way shape or form.


The latest has to do with Commissioners Maryanne Petrilla and Greg Skrepenak. By now you’ve all heard that Petrilla burst in on Skrep after hearing him tell a reporter on the phone from the Times Leader that she, Petrilla, was the target of an investigation by the feds. Most likely not wanting to stew, Petrilla called Skrep out on it and it became just one more story of this incredible political saga of Luzerne County. Animosity between two former running mates is the norm, not the exception in Luzerne County. You can go back more than fifty years and chronicle the history between duos of Commissioners from both parties that started out as team mates and then became blood enemies. If anything, the past antics of the Commissioners did more to sell copies of the now defunct Sunday Independent than any other political story in the County. The intrigue will always be there. If I was on the phone with Skrep, I’d ask where did he get his information? Still, for a news reporter, it’s a sweet scoop, akin to walking in on an unanticipated blow up between two parents right after they attended church on Sunday. The drama aside, both Skrep and Petrilla have political problems individually in 2011. Skrep has to answer for his role in the yes vote for the building of the Juvenile Detention Center and Petrilla has to tap dance around the fact that she was the County Controller when the debit cards were passed out and devoured like candy by a bunch of orphans on Easter Sunday. The infighting between the two could be the least of their problems. But in the meantime it is wildly entertaining.


Welcome back to Nancy Kman to WILK Radio’s morning show. Nancy went on a Norwegian Cruise with her mom and certainly deserved it after her health ordeal 18 months ago. As a fellow cancer survivor (at least I’m hoping that for me) indulging in a lifelong dream is a good thing. Her stilettos were superbly filled by the Man Show team of Kevin Lynn and Joe Thomas. But I imagine returning to the airwaves yesterday was like a college student returning back to class in the middle of the semester. You loved the break but have a lot to catch up on, especially in this political climate. Anyway welcome back.


While we’re on the radio track here, two elected school board members from LuLac land provided a very good service to the listeners of the Steve Corbett show the other day. Pittston Area School Director Terry Best and Old Forge Director Frank Scavo gave the host as well as his listeners an insight into what exactly goes on at a school board session. More importantly Best and Scavo answered questions about contract complexities and ethics in their own school districts. Scavo is active as a taxpayer advocate in NEPA and was a participant at the Tea Parties in both Scranton and Wilkes Barre and Best has been a supporter of Home Rule in the County as well as being a Democratic District Leader. Their input was greatly appreciated.


People in Lulac land are wondering just where this cacophony of corruption will end. Will all the people charged be brought to justice? Or will some slick lawyer have the indicted ones beat the rap? All of that is possible but not likely. Anyone associated with taking kickbacks would be stupid to claim it as income. Thus, ill gotten gains not taxed, any income for that matter subject to taxation boils down to one thing: income tax evasion. After the FBI is through, the IRS will come a calling!


A few representatives of the Judicial candidates have been calling and e mailing inquiring if it would be okay to invite friends and supporters of their candidate. The answer is of course a resounding yes. Admission is free and moral support is always a good thing. The LuLac Political Letter Judicial Forum takes place at 2PM, at Gus Genetti’s in downtown Wilkes Barre in the Princess Ballroom.


1964 New York World's Fair opens to celebrate the 300th anniversary of New Amsterdam being taken over by British forces under the Duke of York (later King James II) and being renamed New York in 1664. The fair runs until Oct. 18, 1964 and reopens April 21, 1965, finally closing October 17, 1965…….Statewide the Pennsylvania primary offers huge surprises. Challenger to the Democratic machine, Genevieve Blatt wins a close race over Supreme Court Justice Michael Musmanno for the U.S. Senate nomination. Blatt will face off against incumbent Senator Hugh Scott in the fall. Blatt beat the endorsed jurist in the primary by 3,000 votes in a lead that changed throughout the night….……In the GOP Presidential primary Governor Scranton polled 6642 write in votes for the Republican Presidential nomination while Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge came in second with a paltry 527 votes…….Sports wise, the Philadelphia Phils beat the Chicago Cubs on this day 10-0. Jim Bunning improves his record to 2-0 while Bob Buhl goes to 1-1. Outfielders Tony Gonzalez and Johnny Callison have muli hit games while rookies Richie Allie and Johnny Hernstein both hit triples…….The race for delegates to the Democratic convention resolves nothing in terms of the split in the County Democratic party. Wilkes Barre Mayor Frank Slattery is the top vote getter and pulls in one of his running mates Edward Zolnerowicz. But Dr. Dorris backed Democrats Bernard J. Podcasy and minority Commissioner Edmund Wideman win slots to attend the convention. Out of 4 seats available, the two factions split evenly…..The GOP delegate race is much quieter with Peg Sordoni and John Vivian snaring the top 2 spots on the ballot…..In the state Representative races, James Musto prevails in the Third over Michael O’Brien, in Wilkes Barre’s 6th, Bernard O’Brien beats Ray Chesney and in the Fifth District race two incumbents face off for one Legislative seat due to redistricting. Fred Shupnik beats Frank P. Crossin leaving Crossin without a seat come January 1965………and in LuLac land the number 1 song 45 years ago today is not by the Beatles. However, another English group, The Dave Clark 5 score with “Glad All Over”.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The LuLac Edition #792, Apr. 23rd, 2009



Just one week after it was declared dead and gone, WARM Radio is back on the air. Here is the text of an e mail we received today: "Guess who's back on the air? Tune to 590AM. Don't know how it came about so fast, but its back on the air." Great news. Updates later on this site and our 590 FOREVER location.


From the Times Leader, Bill O'Boyle reports...WARM, the Mighty 590, returned to the AM radio airwaves on Thursday. The station, which went silent on April 14, was back on the air playing The Kinks, The Monkees and other oldies. Bill Palmeri, general manager for the Citadel Broadcasting station, was unavailable for comment. WARM is the AM-radio station that became synonymous with northeastern Pennsylvania for broadcasting news, music and sports for more than 50 years.
The station had been silent and a posting on its Web site thanked listeners for their support. “We love you and we’ll miss you,” it read. The station posted a message that stated a backup transmitter had failed. At its height in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, WARM, known as “The Mighty 590,” featured on-air personalities playing the latest Top 40 rock ‘n’ roll records. They populated their shows with signature characters and their antics entertained listeners well beyond the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area on the strength of its 5,000-watt transmitter. Here's a link to the WARM website where you can listen LIVE to tyhe True Oldies Channel.

The LuLac Edition #791, Apr. 23rd, 2009



Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien is creating a buzz this week with his willingness to speculate about his role in the 2010 elections. Fellow blogger Gort 42 broke the story last weekend about a possible O’Brien run against long time incumbent Paul Kanjorski. If Gort laid the cement for the story, the Scranton Times Tribune etched it in stone the next day. Clearly O’Brien has not confirmed or denied this piece of news. But it is an intriguing possibility. Here are my reasons for thinking that:
1. While one might think most voters are tired of hearing the word “change”, you just have to take a closer look at the mindset of the average citizen. The word “rebellion” comes to mind. People are at the boiling point with bailouts to big companies while the average guy is facing unemployment. The blowback on this emotion is not touching Barack Obama yet but it is certainly hitting the Congress.
2.The attitude toward Congress does not bode well for any incumbent running in 2010. Arlen Specter’s Senate tenure of three decades is being lost on many members of his party who are saying that Presidents come and go for 4 to 8 years. However members of Congress can go on forever if the voters let them. Clearly, the mood in 2010 is that we, as a country, might not allow the incumbents to linger.
3. Add Paul Kanjorski’s last run against Lou Barletta in 2008 and you see a pattern developing. Kanjorski won a close race by winning the counties of Lackawanna and Monroe. The logic was that with Obama almost a sure winner, why send a conservative Republican to D.C. when everyone knew he’d be outnumbered. All that stated, Lou Barletta came very close to a win. Even with Kanjorski reciting chapter and verse what he brought home to the district, his race was difficult. My contention has always been that Mr. Kanjorski has never articulated his Achilles heel which is that 9 million dollars given to his family to start up a business. True, the Congressman tells you that no one else was qualified to do the work but the fact of the matter is the business tanked. To explain that to a voter one step away from losing a job is tough. Fair or not, all they hear are the words, “9 million”, “family”, and “bankrupt” regarding this issue. Despite the ’08 victory by the Congressman, this problem has not gone away.
4. A new dynamic in 2010 is going to be the scandals in both Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties. It is true that the conduct of the Judges, the School Directors and the Chuck Castanzo’s of the world have nothing directly to do with a Congressional race. But politics sometimes is all about the undercurrent. It would not be a stretch for a candidate to connect the dots from a county scandal to an old issue that has stuck to the current incumbent. People seem willing to throw out everybody. Even Judge Tom Burke, who has nothing to do with any of the Luzerne County courthouse corruption will get his share of no votes on retention because the mood of the people is downright angry and irrational. Any incumbent will be in danger in 2010. Chris Carney found that out when he made what he thought were going to be some benign visits to his constituents this week.
5. Say Kanjorski has a challenge in the Democratic primary. Most people will give you a gut reaction and comment like my friend Frank out of Scrantonwho said, “O’Brien will get hammered by Kanjorski!” Even Gort on the Sue Henry Show earlier in the week called taking on Kanjo "a suicide mission”. On the surface that is true. But 2010 will not be just any year. The ramifications of the scandals in LuLac land will carry over to any race because even the old and familiar like Kanjorski and Specter represent the way things used to be. With the success of Barack Obama, any long term incumbent will be seen as part of the past. Obama’s success broke all the old tried and true political rules. His election, especially his triumph during the Democratic nominating process makes anything, even taking on a 13 term Congressman in a primary possible if not probable. Add the attitude of the people toward the bailouts, the debit cards, the trips to a Playboy mansion, the selling of jobs and kids for financial and political advancement to the mix, well let’s just say there’s trouble in River City.
6. People need a reason to vote for someone. Or an excuse not to pull the lever for the same candidate. Kanjorski’s tenure might be reason enough to vote for a new face. The more politically entrenched might need justification or an excuse to vote against him in 2010. I know a few Democrats who left the Congressional ballot blank in a few of Kanjorski’s races because they just didn’t feel the passion for him as a candidate. But being good Democrats, they voted for him when he had opposition. Having rejected change from a Lou Barletta in 2008 might give some voters permission to support another candidate in a primary thinking that backing a Dem, even one with less experience still keeps them in their own party’s tent.
7. And all of my previous points bring me to the major issue in the 2010 race: change. If a Corey O’Brien runs, he’ll represent the new wing of the Democratic Party. Mr. Kanjorski through no fault of his own would not. Mr. O’Brien could lay claim to the Obama legacy which represents a disregard to the old ways of governing and electability. It’s as simple as Old Vs. New. “Back To the Future” Vs. “The Way We Were” if I can use a movie analogy. Right now it seems insane for a one term local official to run against a political icon. Just as crazy as a one term State Senator with a few months in the U.S. Senate being President. The new rules say they are no rules anymore! It all becomes the politics of possibility. When I was in college, I had a Government professor who said that when the world ended, he’d want to be in Wilkes Barre/Scranton because it would take 2 years for us to realize it. The same might hold true for the 2010 election. Radical, crazy, overhauling, political life altering change will come, it’ll just come on our unique political timetable.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The LuLac Edition #790, Apr. 22nd, 2009



Okay, picture this….your politically connected friend tries to get you a job with a claims insurance company. They decide you’re pretty much a doofus and decide not to hire you. Your politically connected friend then hires you to do the same type of contract work that turned you down in the first place. The average taxpayer in Lackawanna County is wondering, “Where oh where do you get friends like that?” Apparently if you were Chuck Costanzo from 2004 to 2007, you were blessed. Even if your friend did a Claude Rains and was “shocked, shocked” by the way you ran the company, you have to admit it was a pretty good run. The background scoop on this is simple: FBI agents raided Charles Costanzo ‘s office. He said the raid was politically motivated. I bet a lot of people are using that line in LuLac land this spring! Constanzo was not shy about identifying his patrron, then County Commissioner Chair Bob Cordaro. Costanzo is accused of stealing $650,000 during his reign as CEO of Executive Claims Administration, a company created to oversee the county’s workers’ compensation fund. An FBI agent testified that when the agency arrived at Mr. Costanzo's Abington offices in September 2007, Mr. Costanzo "said he approached Mr. Cordaro after (the commissioner) was elected and that Mr. Cordaro promised him a job in county government," the agent said. It is alleged that Cordaro attempted to get Costanzo a job at Hennigan Ferrario Inc., then the county's workers' compensation administrator. When that failed, Mr. Costanzo told FBI agents, Mr. Cordaro gave the entire workers compensation contract to Mr. Costanzo's firm, Executive Claims Administration. Another witness testified that Mr. Constanzo was not much of a worker. The LuLac Political Letter's investigative reporter, LuLu LaMouur obtained a copy of Mr. Costanzo’s day planner. This is reportedly how he spent his time.
10:00AM Arrive at office.
10:20AM Eat donuts. Smoke cigar.
10:30AM Watch some porn. Smoke cigar.
12noon Lunch. Smoke cigar. Discuss porn.
2:30PM Nap. Dream of cigars and porn.
2:50PM Meet with aides to figure out how the hell to spend all this money.
3:00PM Call mom.
3:01PM Watch porn. Smoke cigar.
3:45PM Discuss porn.
3:59PM Set schedule for next day. Priorities, which porn to watch and when. Gather cigars.
4:01PM Leave office.
4:05PM Shop for Escalade.


Wilkes-Barre Area School Director Brian Dunn was charged by federal authorities with accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange with hiring teachers and awarding of contracts within the school district. Dunn appeared at the federal courthouse in Wilkes Barre and was released on his own recognizance. Dunn is the second area school official to be federally charged within the past week. Last week, Pittston Area Superintendent Ross Scarantino was charged with accepting thousands of dollars in kickbacks in exchange for helping a person secure a contract with the district. The charges stem from an ongoing federal investigation into area districts that is focusing on hiring practices and the awarding of contracts. Dunn was first elected to the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board in 1997, and has won re-election every four years since. He has served as Board President. His current term expires at the end of this year and he did not seek re-election. This was not the first brush with the law for Dunn. According to the Times Leader, in 2005, Dunn was charged with Driving Under the Influence after he slid his car into a building in snowy conditions and hit Michael Togher in the process. Tests showed Dunn’s blood alcohol level was 0.186, more than twice the limit at which a driver is considered intoxicated. In Pennsylvania, that level is 0.80. The accident occurred about 8:30 p.m. when Dunn hit Togher, who was on a South Main St. Sidewalk in Wilkes-Barre. Dunn told police he was driving northbound when his car started to fishtail and he lost control. The car jumped the curb and struck an abandoned building. He said when he got out to check damage, he saw Togher on the ground in front of the car. Dunn appeared before then Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Conahan and entered the Luzerne County Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program as a result of the charges, a common outcome for first time DUI offenders. Among other things, Dunn was ordered to pay court costs, $50 per month to defray cost of supervision, enroll in and complete safe-driving school, participate in treatment and rehabilitation, surrender his driver’s license for one month and do 25 hours community service. I had a professional associate who got a DUI, his license was suspended for one year. But he wasn’t a school board director either. The news of Dunn’s arrest comes as no surprise to past Wilkes Bare Area School Board members. Two I spoke with said there had been rumors about Dunn for years but no one could ever get a confirmation on it. Apparently, the FBI did and that’s why there was an arrest today.


George Cosgrove was named interim superintendent at last night’s Pittston Area School Board meeting. Cosgrove replaced recently arrested PA school office Ross Scarantino. Cosgrove was a renowned swimmer in high school as well as a well respected swim coach. His new job will certainly have choppy waters ahead. We wish him luck.


All the state legislature members agree on how huge the state’s financial hole is, legislative leaders now get to figure out how to dig themselves out. There are 11 weeks leading up to the expiration of Pennsylvania state government’s current budget and it holds many tough decisions for legislators as they struggle to adjust to the biggest money crisis of many, if not all, of their careers in the Capitol. The course to an agreement on a new spending plan will be fraught with careful political calculations, charged-up rhetoric and closed-door negotiations that — if past years are any guide — all parties will emerge from declaring victory. The big problem: Most years Gov. Rendell and legislative leaders got to divide the surplus for their pet causes. This year they might have to dish out more pain than money. Monday, the Legislature returned from a two-week break to Harrisburg, where they will hold session for nine of the 11 weeks until June 30, the deadline to approve a budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Legislative leaders have begun meeting earlier than in other years (every Wednesday when the Legislature has been in Harrisburg) and say the discussions were cordial and put them in a position to begin shaping an agreement. Let's hope they get it done by the appointed time so that when they do make painful cuts, those agencies involved can make some contingency plans.


Today's Earth Day. Try not to be a slob and pick up after yourself. And for those of you who are tempted to leave that old mattress or recliner on the side of the road, I have one word for you: DON'T!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The LuLac Edition #789, Apr. 21st, 2009



Attorney Thomas Marsillio had a very nice rally the other night at Bentley’s. The Mountaintop attorney is one of 17 running for the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas seats. There are two available.....for now. The place is newly renovated and is quite the classy place. Used to be the Kozy K years ago. Anyway, about 175 people were there mixing it up and chowing down on the light fare offered. There was an equal mix of both Democrats and Republicans there which really can’t hurt him in this crowded race. Marsillio, who used to be a card carrying member of the GOP apparently has not been hurt by his change given the number of Republican faces there Sunday night.


WE have word that Attorney Jennifer Rogers is holding a "Meet the Candidate" Breakfast in Hazleton at Lobits Catering on Sunday, May 3rd from 8 a.m. to Noon. Cost: $15 per person. Those interested in attening may call The Committee to Elect Jennifer Rogers at 825 6300.


The Lackawanna County Republican Executive Board announced they voted to endorse Frank Castellano to fill the open seat on the common pleas court. Lance Stange, secretary of the party committee also said that nods unanimously went to retain incumbent district attorney Andy Jarbola and judges Michael Barrasse and Terrence Nealon for another term. All four judicial candidates were interviewed: Castellano (R), Margie Visignani-Moyle (D), attorney Jim Tierney (D) and district judge John Pesota (D). Lackawanna County seems to have a much better record of having bipartisan electoral selection of Judges than Luzerne County. It is an interesting dynamic that despite being outnumbered in party registration, people like the aforementioned Barrasse and Carmen Minora won big when they ran on the GOP ticket.


Too bad one of our loyal posters is out of town when this video hit the Scranton Times on Sunday. My posrter has been wondering when Paul Sorvino’s move “The Trouble With Kallie” will be out. Sorvino as you know was given $500,000 by the last regime of Lackawanna Commissioners to make a movie. So far, there is no word on whether it will be made, released to theatres, directly to DVD or directly to the ash heap of film maker’s hopes and dreams. Personally, as one who has written a novel about broadcasting in the area and pitched it to various entities out of town, I think one who endeavors to do this should embark without government money. As my poster has pointed out, that $500,000 could’ve been used for many of the worthy arts projects in Lackawanna County or even for a scholarship fund for budding film artists. Anyway, the Times’ Chris Kelly produced a very funny video we’d like to share with you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The LuLac Edition #788, Apr. 20th, 2009



Unlike a few of his Cabinet nominees, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden paid all of their taxes and it was on time. Obama has been preaching to Congress about investing in the future, i.e. education and according to the news released this week, the Obamas have been setting aside money for their kid's education. The First Couple dropped more than $47,000 on their daughters' schooling last year. And that's on top of thousands more they poured into trusts for their kids, according to their tax returns released Wednesday. The Obamas could afford to be generous to their children, thanks to raking in $2.73 million, mostly from sales of Obama's books, "Dreams from My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope" - down from the $4.2 million they made in 2007. Of course, lots of their cash went to the government, with $855,323 forked over to the IRS, and well as an additional $77,883 to the State of Illinois. On top of what they were required to give, the President and First Lady also dug plenty deep to contribute $172,050 to 37 charities, giving away about 6.5% of their taxable income. The biggest payout was $25,000 to the NAACP. One organization that wasn't among those listed as recipients of the Obama largess was his former church, the Trinity United Church of Christ, which he quit during the campaign because of its controversial pastor. Before releasing the numbers, Obama held himself up as an example of the kind of person who should be willing to roll back his tax rate to what it was in the '90s. "We need to end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans so that people like me, who are extraordinarily lucky, are paying the same rates that the wealthiest 2% of Americans paid when Bill Clinton was President," he said. Obama was able to contrast his generosity with the anti-tax "tea parties" that conservatives held across the country, complaining that Americans pay too much. "For too long, we've seen taxes used as a wedge to scare people into supporting policies that actually increase the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams," Obama said, touting his administration's tax-cutting plans. "We've passed tax cuts that will help our economy grow," he said. "We've made a clear promise that families that earn less than $250,000 a year will not see their taxes increase by a single dime." Meanwhile, Obama's second in command, Senator Joe Biden looked like a piker compared to the President in both income and taxes paid. Biden made less than a tenth of what his boss did, but he was a lot more than a tenth less generous. Biden and his wife, Jill, earned adjusted gross income of $269,256, and and gave away $1,885, including $550 worth of old clothes. Biden did not comment on how patriotic he felt to pay taxes but donating old clothing is both a good thing for humanity and for a tax exemption.
*from combined news reports and White House Press Release.