Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The LuLac Edition #807, May 6th, 2009



When I went to the Lackawanna County League of Women Voters Judicial Forum in Scranton last night, I thought I’d get a respite from all the talk about Luzerne County shortcomings. I was wrong. Every candidate running for Judge in Lackawanna County referenced the scandal in one way or another. Before a group of 75 interested citizens, the 4 candidates presented their views in a fast moving, civil and friendly exchange. Here’s a recap from the four attorneys vying for the newly created 9th seat on the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas. By the way, the candidates are Frank Castellano, Margaret Bisignani Moyle, District Judge John Pesota and Jim Tierney.


CASTELLANO: Told the group that a judge had to have experience, integrity and honesty. He said he felt it was important for a public servant to give back to the community. He talked about the dark cloud in a “neighboring county” and said that people expect more from their judges. He said you must judge the totality of a person’s character.
BISIGNANI-MOYLE: Citing her many years of courtroom experience, Bisignani-Moyle said that a judge needed to be prepared to take the helm from day one. She said that her experience as a trial judge in all aspects of the law prepared her for the position. The attorney said that there should be on the job training and pointed out that “a judge is a judge is a judge” no matter what the case, civil or criminal.
PESOTA: Pointed out that everyone on the stage were all fine lawyers but felt he was the most qualified because of his 10 years as a District Justice serving the Mid Valley. He pointed out that his court was the court of “first entry” and that sometimes it is the first contact people have with the system. He pointed out that he presided over central court and that his three opponents in the primary appeared before him in court proceedings.
TIERNEY: Said before he decided to run for Judge, he met with all of the Judges and primarily President Judge Chester Harhut to see where the need was in the system. He was told that civil cases were at a dangerous backlog. Citing his experience as a civil attorney, Tierney made the point that if he was elected and assigned to the civil division, his background would serve the voters well.

BISIGNANI-MOYLES-Explaining her varied experience in both Pennsylvania and under former Attorney General Janet Reno’s justice system in Florida, she would try to keep up with the various areas that the court is divided into like Mental Health and DUI. She said a re-entry court might be a good way to cut down on repeat crime.
POSOTA: Said that he was glad to see the system somewhat streamlined and pointed out that when he started as an Attorney, sometimes three or four judges heard a case. He said that a Veteran’s Court might be an innovative addition.
TIERNEY: Cited his experience with Judge Harhut in the “Kids First” program that was adopted. Said that a Trial Master might be a good idea to serve as a go between to resolve issues before they went to trial.
CASTELLANO: Said the Lackawanna Court system is a model court. Advised that he has traveled to various areas of the United States to educate them on the new ideas. Talked about the “One Judge-One Family” idea that would have just one judge handle all matters before the court dealing with one family unit.


PESOTA: Pointed out he is not accepting money from attorneys. Said that the Judicial Conduct board’s responsibility lies with policing judges but only after a complaint is lodged.
TIERNEY: Said the board is doing a good job. Advised he hasn’t asked anyone for contributions. Pointed out that people can be fair and impartial with or without contributions. On the Luzerne County dilemma, he said that all of the juvenile cases had to go through the D.A.’s office and wondered what they were doing when all these cases were going through their office.
CASTELLANO: The board is doing a good job but said the ultimate judge of a judge is the voter. He said a voter must find out which candidate will be the best public servant and that a review board can’t do that for the people. On donations, he said he made it clear that whoever gives to his campaign will not be granted any special favors whether it’s a law firm giving him $1,000 or a neighbor donating $10.00.
BISIGNANI-MOYLE: Said that campaign contributions do not matter if the person elected has integrity. She pointed out that lawyers judge the judges and it has nothing to do with money. To prohibit lawyers from giving money is not wise because a practicing attorney knows the judge who does the research, what he or she’s strengths are and how fair they will be in a case.


TIERNEY: No. Said it would politicize the process and said all four contenders who have similar working class backgrounds would not even be considered by a merit board that might be steeped in favoritism.
CASTELLANO: Pointed out that they all were running for the Court of Common Pleas, a court that affect people on a daily basis. Merit Selection would wipe that out.
BISIGNANI-MOYLE: Merit selection for Judges picked to serve out an unexpired term. Advised that she would like to see politics taken out of the entire process but said NEPA is an area where politics is an industry. Said that if Judges could run with no party affiliation that might make it a more level playing field.
PESOTA: Wanted to know how you’d define merit? Said he was against it and would rather let the voters decide.


CASTELLANO: Said the worst thing in the world is to have two systems of justice. Pointed out that everyone needs and wants to be treated fairly no matter who might be an insider or an outsider. A Judge has to be fair and impartial above all else.
BISIGNANI-MOYLE: Said that campaign contributions are published and out in the open. But what is not known are the political connections and friendships that exist in a case behind the scenes. Said that nepotism and back room connections led to the problems in Luzerne County.
PESOTA: A judge has to be a good listener and use common sense and experience. Said a Judge has to use courage as well as real life experience.
TIERNEY: Said there’s a reason why there is a blindfold on the scales of justice. Pointed out a judge had to be impartial. Must listen to both sides. “If the facts of the law don’t support your case, you lose, if the facts support your case, you win” no matter if you support me or not.
All four candidates gave summations citing their legal background, personal life, aspirations for the post as well as asking for the votes of those assembled.


Seen at the event was WNEP TV’s and League Board member Thom Welby……Councilman Herman Johnson from Clarks Summit Borough also was in attendance…..One of Steve Corbett’s favorite callers was there too. Joe Gilhooley made the rounds looking more and more like Mitt Romney everyday…………Families of all the candidates were there……An audible gasp was heard in the crowd when Bisignani-Moyle said matter of factly she had triplets……..and the event was held at Scranton University’s Brennan Hall in an easy to find and comfortable auditorium.


All male candidates wore dark suits, black wing tips, Castellano sported a light gold and blue striped tie, Pesota wore a red one while Tierney chose a blue gray patterned type. Bisignani-Moyle wore a black business suit, white blouse and heels while moderator Professor Dr. Jean Wall Harris wore a gray suit with beige piping.


Today May 6th marks the third anniversary of The LuLac Political Letter. Here is what we wrote on our opening day.
Our intent is to provide readers with thoughtful views, provoke discussions on the political process, as well as educate the participants on some politicos who came before making all of what we are observing today possible. (We can debate on whether we can thank them or not!) We will also work in tandem with the current contemporaries available that opine and observe the political scene like the WILK Talk Radio network, local columnists, TV reporters and political consultants and activists. If there is a philosophical disagreement with any of these entities, we will not insult, intimidate or belittle them as other sites have done. There will absolutely be no personal attacks of any kind against how people look or comport themselves. There will be some commentary from the Blog Editor and Publisher but it will be listed as that, commentary. Opinions and varied points of view as they used to say on the TV editorials (whatever happened to them???) will be welcome.As we grow, we will add more interesting features that hopefully will entertain, enlighten and inform. As a political junkie, the past will be celebrated, the present will be reviewed and analyzed and the future will be considered. The site will be updated frequently with the goal to have something new posted once a day by 6PM. Let us begin on this new and exciting intellectual adventure!!!!
Sincerely, The Editor In Chief
Since we started this endeavor, the LuLac site has expanded into a few areas that we could never have predicted just a few months ago. Public forums, linkage to other blog sites as well as statewide newspapers, TV appearances as well as our own line of video productions. Unlike other sites, we told you a little bit about the triumphs and tragedies in our life as well as the challenges. But I don’t think we went overboard on the personal stuff. We’ve focused in on pop culture and the fun side of the political world. To be certain, this site is more personality driven but I attribute that to my years in and out of the local broadcast media. That said, our main focus will stay on the political process. As for the future, with the amount of news on politicians in both counties, plus the rich political heritage of this region………well, let’s just say we’ll be keeping busy for a while. Thanks for reading, commenting and venting.


A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday shows former Republican Gov. Tom Ridge is within 3 percentage points of U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter — and that’s before any hint Mr. Ridge might be interested in taking a shot at the party-switching Mr. Specter. Meanwhile, even though former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey would have beaten a Republican Specter in a primary battle, the poll also shows he would be defeated by a Democratic Mr. Specter in the general election, 53 percent to 33 percent. The problem that faces the GOP today is whether to go with the moderate Ridge, who was very close to Specter in ideology or go with the right wing of the party.


Rose Tucker died on Monday. A long time Democrat, Tucker served as county commissioner a full term from 1992 to 1996. During her time in office, she consistently supported a proposal to back bonds to pay for the construction of an arena in Wilkes-Barre Township.The county’s two other commissioners, Jim Phillips and Frank Crossin Junior put the proposal on the ballot, and voters defeated it by fewer than 50 votes. But Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza was built after supporters came up with another funding plan. Tucker later said the success of the arena vindicated her steadfast support. Tucker also served as county commissioner in 2007 after Todd Vonderheid resigned as commissioner. She was sworn in as a commissioner in June and served until January of 2008.


As part of our on going series in covering the Luzerne and Lackawanna County Judicial races, we are going to do brief profiles on those candidates running. In today’s edition, we continue with Attorney Thomas Marsilio. The order was determined by our lottery at the LuLac Forum last week.


As a candidate, Thomas Marsilio said he thinks Luzerne County deserve a judicial system of HONOR, Courts must stand ABOVE POLITICS, Judges MUST NOT accept campaign contributions from law firms & attorneys who te appear before them. He says cronyism, nepotism, and inept political performance have caused SERIOUS INJUSTICE. He claims no other candidate has served civilian, multi-level government, AND military courts of law. The Hazleton attorney says, This I Pledge . . .To bring to the Luzerne County Judicial System: Honesty. Integrity. Dignity. Equality.
Trust Impartiality: NO racial, religious, or economic bias and a commitment to UPHOLD the letter of the law.

Tom Marsilio has been described in the newspapers of Luzerne County as "aggressive and tenacious in the courtroom"; "an individual who commands respect"; and "an organized and fierce advocate". He is just the type of attorney you want fighting for your rights! Tom graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, Penn State Dickinson Law School, and the Naval Justice School in Newport, RI, with honor. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Colonel Marsilio has distinguished himself as a Deputy Attorney General, an Assistant District Attorney, a Marine JAG Officer, an Assistant Public Defender, and as an attorney in private practice for over 20 years. Attorney Marsilio provides all legal services and concentrates in Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, and Social Security Disability. He has offices in Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton to serve the residents of Luzerne, Lackawanna, Schuylkill, Carbon, Columbia and surrounding counties. He is also a family man with six children and two grandchildren and is heavily involved in civic affairs as it has been a family tradition to make Northeastern Pennsylvania a better place to live and work.


Tom Marsilio calls himself an outsider, a maverick and somewhat of a renegade.
He told The Times Leader Editorial Board Friday that his courtroom experience is “vastly superior” to the other 16 candidates in the race for two open seats on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. Marsilio, 60, of Mountain Top, says he will spend a modest $10,000 to $15,000 in his campaign. He has run for office before; three times unsuccessfully. In 2007, he lost a bid for county judge; in 1999 and 1991 he ran unsuccessfully for district attorney. Marsilio has been a prosecutor on the county, state and federal levels during his 27-year legal career. The United States Naval Academy graduate promises to restore integrity and honor to the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. “I have a passion for the courtroom,” he said. “I enjoy every minute I’m there. As a judge, I would have the opportunity to be there every day.” The husband, father and grandfather said he has the fortitude 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.
“My vow to the fine people of Luzerne County is to restore trust in our judicial system,” Marsilio said. “And I will be gracious and respectful to all who appear before me. I have the demeanor necessary to be an effective judge.” Marsilio served for one year on the Crestwood School Board. A few days after he was elected president of the board by his colleagues, Marsilio resigned from the board. “The priorities were politics, athletics and education in that descending order,” Marsilio said. “I got tired of the party politics and constant bickering.” Marsilio switched his party registration from Republican to Democrat in 2004. He said he never received the kind of support he felt he should get from the GOP. Then, in 2004, President George Bush and Vice President Cheney targeted “greedy trial lawyers,” Marsilio said. He decided to switch to the party that was more sympathetic to the types of clients he represented. Marsilio said he was the first candidate in the race to publicly announce he would not take donations from fellow attorneys to “avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.”
Marsilio graduated from Hazleton Senior High School in 1966. He received his juris doctorate degree in 1981 from
Penn State Dickinson Law School, and graduated in 1983 with honors from the Naval Justice School, Newport, R.I. In 2003, he graduated from the Trial Lawyers College, Dubois, Wyo. He is married to the former Murtie Lou Trabitz Marsilio. He has five children and four grandchildren.


I was just ready to wrap up this edition when I received an advisory on my FACEBOOK page from the Jennifer Rogers campaign. It concerns "bullet voting", where supporters of one candidate would only vote for one candidate and ignore the others. Here's what it said:
Subject: Remember to Bullet VOTE !!!! This is a reminder for everyone to Bullet Vote if Jennifer is your only choice for judge. Yes there are 2 spots open, and everyone can vote in 2 names, but YOU DO NOT HAVE TO. You can only vote for one person and leave the other blank. So please vote for Jennifer. If you can pass this along to your families and friends it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks much-
PJ Biscontini
Okay, as a campaign tactic I can understand this. The way this message was couched was not one of cohersion. It was a suggestion. Plus, give the Rogers campaign credit, they are bringing something out in the open that has been whispered for weeks in the Luzerne County Judicial campaign. And once voters get in the booth, they'll do what they want to do. But folks, you have two open seats here. This election is less about strategy and more about the direction of the courts in Luzerne County. There are two ballot positions, vote for two. As I said a few editions ago, the best outcome is to have 4 candidates come out of this as nominees for both the Democrats and Republicans. That would serve democracy well.


At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Joe Leonardi said...

Hi Dave,
Congrats on the three years... You have definitely lived up to you mission statement and more. Your endevaors are a plus to our local community.

Finally shaking off my jet lag and getting back on my computer. Cel phone internet access is nice, but you blog doesn't load well on my cel phones browser so, I have been playing catch up on your site, a lot went on since I left only last Friday.

I spent a long weekend in southern California, talk about beautiful, the Pacific Coast Highway is a ride everyone should take at least once.
For the short time I was inside, perfect weather to be wasted not out doors, I watched some public access t.v., for the 15 minutes or so I watched it there was some type of council or board meeting on, much more civilized than around here.
Talk to you soon.

At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice coverage of the Lackawanna County race. We even make a mark in another county when we aren't trying. I'm going for Tom Marsilio because I think he's the most qualified and can only serve one term. Happy anniversary.

At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Lu Lac, what kind of womanizer, recovering or not are you? How could you not get a better shot of Margaret Bisignani-Moyle's great legs?

At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

okay how bout this observation, im sure tina and jenn once in office or not, edited for content……… lol lol lol lol
everyone is so damn serious.. like anything will ever change in this county... let's at least have fun before the next group screws us...

At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at that Forum on Tuesday night and thought Tierney made some very good points about civil cases. Now who knows what area of expertise will be assigned though, that's the rub. Castellano seemed the most genuine while Pesota seenmed very down to earth. I felt that Margie Moyle was just rushing in and rushing out and seemed to make no meaningful contact with the audience after the event. Young lady in way too much of a hurry. And for the record, I'm a woman. Nice site. Just saw it a few weeks ago.

At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

concerning Margaret Bisignani-Moyle why do all her billboards and ads have Margie? If her name on the ballot will be Margaret this could be a major error.... Name recognition is important, but if you have a different name on the ballot who is gonna recognize it?

At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just stumbled onto your site and need to tell you that your coverage of the debate last night at the U. was head and shoulders above what I read in the Times today. Good job, I'll pass this along to my friends. Still haven't made my mind up, but I should be grateful, we only have 4 running up here while Luzeerne has 17! Good Lord!

At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy I don't know what to make about this bullet voting thing advocated by the Jennifer Rogers campaign. It is true, as you said that it is part of campaign strategy and after all no one remembers who ran for Governor in say 1974 against the winner, I mean winning is the objective of any campaign. But I just have an uneasy feeling that this blatant invitation to support only one candidate says a lot about one's characrer. If she is elected Judge, will she be a good fit with her other court officers or will it just be a one man band type of thing? I was for Rogers but now I'm on the fence.

At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bullet voting is what will win for a candidate in Luzerne County. It is what all are privately asking their supports to not only do, but encourage others to do. The fact that Jenn is upfront about it is a plus in my book.

At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are correct. The best possible outcome would be for two Dems to win 2 seats and 2 Republicans or two other Dems to get the GOP nod. That way there would be competitive races all the way around with enough time to delve into the background and characters of these people. Right now I'm leaning toward Hughes and Bufalino. My wife, who is a Republican is going for Pendelohi and Marsilio. That would be a great faceoff in November. But we have to get away from this winner takes all routine here in Luzerne County.

At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far a Margie rushing in and out... She can rush in and out on me anytime... wow, a looker, smart and accomplished the classic triple threat!

At 2:28 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

Bullet voting is what will win for a candidate in Luzerne County. It is what all are privately asking their supports to not only do, but encourage others to do. The fact that Jenn is upfront about it is a plus in my book.
As far a Margie rushing in and out... She can rush in and out on me anytime... wow, a looker, smart and accomplished the classic triple threat!
after all no one remembers who ran for Governor in say 1974 against the winner,

At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is delicious irony that Tom Ridge, a pro choice, GOPer may become the Senator after all the crap Arlen Specter got from the right wing of the GOP. When a certain talk show host calls the right wingers "knuckle draggers", he is right on the money.

At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yonki, gotta tell you the only 2 in the Lu that impressed me were Lumbis and Musto. Lumbis because he seems to know what he'll do and Musto because he's a Judge already. Was one before until Mike Conahan ran that dirty campaign. Those are my picks. Going up the charts....WITHOUT A BULLET!

At 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good report on the Lackawanna Judges. Margie Moyle made a good point about the political connections. Never mind the contributions, that's a smokescreen, what is big in this area is who knows who who knows someone who knows the guy who knows the brother of the guy who knows the cousin who works in the office next to the sitting Judge. She's right on point!

At 7:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch out Uncle Willie and look out Colin Powell. I'm sure the General, who represents everything Rush Limbaugh never was and never could be, A Man, is terrified that Old Rushbo is angry at him! Powell saw combat in Vietnam. Rush had a boil on his ass and he was thrilled to have it. Powell led men and made tough decisions daily. Rush spun records in tiny market McKeesrocks, PA.
Powell held his tongue and served admirably in the administration of a madman and his gang of fools. He tried common sense on the senseless. Meanwhile Rushie talked...and talked... A word of advice Rush, dont call out this man. He will kick your sorry ass in this case with integrity alone. This man stands for things you will never understand, you piss ant.


At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy third anniversary Dave. You are one of the best writers and commentors on the political scene these days. And as far as the Judges, I think Frank Castellano is one heck of a guy and shows the true passion and temrement needed for Justice number 9 in Lackawanna County.

At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read in the TL that Daniel Zola says his age is an asset. Please, the last thing we need is a kid judge who thinks he's entitled because he's young. Look what we got with Conahan and Ciavarella! I'm going for the old guys, Amesbury, Musto or maybe Marsilio. One term, less damage and you're out. The Court of Common Pleas judges have parking spots for vehicles...without training wheels.

At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy anniversary Yonki. And Rose Tucker, RIP. You had the stones to stand for the Arena while the other 2 commishs did not. They should name a walkway after her there.

At 2:34 AM, Blogger Gort said...

Happy Blogiversary my friend. Many more years to come.

At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Kevin J. Jordan said...


Congratulations on your third anniversary. The LuLac Political Letter is a must read for me every day.


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