The LuLac Edition #852, June 19th, 2009
When I was a guest on WYOU TV Interactive News during the height of the revelations about Corruption in the Courthouse, I made a statement on the air that got its fair share of criticism. I’ve gone back and forth on whether I was accurate or not. Just when I think I was too harsh, another story from the Courthouse comes along. Last night on WBRE TV, I Team member Joe Holden reported on a Luzerne County Deputy Sheriff whose time card was in dispute. Holden reports that three independent sources claim Charles Guarnieri hasn't been in the office for four weeks. Reached by phone on Monday, Sheriff Michael Savokinas said Guarnieri was, in fact, on vacation for two-and-a-half to three weeks. "It was time that was coming to him," Savokinas said.Payroll records dated April 15th through June 9th obtained by WBRE Eyewitness News reflect Guarnieri never clocked any vacation time while he was supposedly away from the office, as the I-TEAM was told by Sheriff Savokinas. Luzerne County Commissioners Maryanne Petrilla (D) and Stephen Urban (R) said there's no reason the payroll records would not properly reflect time taken off by any employee. Commissioner Urban called it "fraud."During a 15 minute confrontation with the I-TEAM outside the sheriff's department, Savokinas and Guarnieri repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Guarnieri shoved a station microphone while being questioned. Savokinas said he does not do payroll, but he chalked up the issue to an accounting glitch. He referred us to the payroll department. Representative from that department said time cards are turned in by every county employee and are then internalized in a computer system. Guarnieri said the lack of any vacation time appearing on his time could have been "a typo." Commissioners said that wasn't possible. (SOURCE: WBRE TV News).
I give much credit to Commissioners Maryanne Petrilla and Steve Urban who weren’t buying the argument from the Sheriff’s department. I believe there are good employees at the Courthouse who are hard working and accountable with their time. But every time a story like this comes out, I tend to stick with my theory as to how Luzerne County Government can be fixed.
Saying it was not the fault of the residents of Pennsylvania, the State Lawmakers or himself, Governor Rendell blamed the budget crisis on the greedy few on Wall Street who messed up the economy. Rendell told his Cabinet this week that this was a situation they had to deal with. The agency heads are under orders to make an additional $500 million in spending cuts to offset the recession-caused drop in state tax revenue. Rendell issued target amounts Wednesday for more than two dozen state agencies. It will be up to agency heads to implement suggested cuts or else offer alternate cuts that meet the goal. As I pointed out in an earlier edition, the state budget by law has to be passed. Either the tax will be enacted or serious cuts will be made. But after this budget resolution is done, perhaps the State should take a hard look at how it does business. I have stated numerous times on WYOU TV that Governor Rendell could cement his legacy in history by taking a hatchet to the State Legislature and reducing it. There is no love lost between the Governor and the lawmakers. Every year since 2003, the state budget has not been delivered on time. This is the main job description of the Legislature. Can you imagine if in private business or in your job you failed to meet a deadline for 7 years in a row? Do you think you’d get a raise? Do you think you’d have a job? In an editorial the Scranton Times called for a Constitutional Convention to revamp the way we govern in this state. The last one was 1967. The Legislature as well as the rest of state government have established they cannot act responsibly. Like the vultures on Wall Street who went off unregulated, the State Government has proven it cannot even accomplish the basic tenets of their mission, i.e passing a budget on time. It’s time for the grownups to take over and straighten things out.
The two Shenandoah-area teens convicted of simple assault in connection with the death of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala were sentenced Wednesday to at least six months in county prison. Their attorneys were shocked at the sentence saying the beat down was only a street fight. Brandon J. Piekarsky, 17, of Shenandoah Heights, and Derrick M. Donchak, 19, of Shenandoah, were convicted of simple assault. Many feel the boys skated with the verdict but more than a few are pleased that the felons will be doing a modicum of hard time.
STUDYING THE STUDY
The Government Study Commission for Luzerne county is getting into high gear. The 11-person commission appointed Commissioner Charmaine Maynard secretary. Four commissioners were named to a committee on study committees. They are Veronica Ciaruffoli, elected vice-chairwoman of the commission, Walter Griffith Jr., Richard Heffron and Jack Schumacher. The group will be looking for an assistant recorder to organize their thoughts as well as a consultant. They also started a web site. Here’s the address: Luzernegsc.org.
Unhappy with the appearance of the 100 year old Luzerne County Courthouse? Host a party. The North end of the Courthouse got a bit of sprucing up this week. There was a guy sandblasting the north side of the building and its steps. That hasn’t been done in many a moon. Turns out Geisinger Health Care System is having a dance party Saturday Night. Hey, when company is coming, you straighten up.
43 SPEAKS FOR 41
Former President George W. Bush in a speech in Erie before a manufacturing trade group delivered a greeting to one of the state's most famous faces from his father George H.W. Bush. It's not often that a member of the Bush family sees Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, a noted Republican who supported the campaign of the elder Bush, the nation's 41st president. In front of about 1,600 people at a dinner in Erie, the younger Bush said he had been reminded by his dad to "Give my old buddy my best . . . 41 sends his best to No. 1 in the heart of Penn State fans." The former President touched on familiar themes during his talk but began his hour-long appearance by talking about his father, who celebrated his 85th birthday last weekend by parachute-jumping out of an airplane near the elder Bush's home in Kennebunkport, Maine. "So this weekend I had an amazing experience: I watched an 85-year-old jump out of an airplane, and it wasn't about to crash," Mr. Bush said, snickering while the crowd laughed. Then, comparing his father to Mr. Paterno, who's 82, he said, "These are two people who could have easily taken out the Airstream (trailer) and traveled to some camping ground . . . but, no, these guys are going to live life to the fullest." Paterno of course will begin a new season this fall as the long time Penn State Coach. As a politico, Bush 43 realizes you can’t go wrong invoking the name of Joe Pa when you visit the Keystone State. Partial Source: Associated Press.
NO NEW STADIUM
A study says that PNC Field, formerly known as Lackawanna County Stadium needs 13 million dollars in repairs. Those repairs will happen in the long term. The Lackawanna County Commissioners said that because of the economy, there will no new stadium construction. And that’s a good thing because the stadium we have right now is quite functional. Sure there needs to be some upkeep but a spanking new facility in the land where you see 4 help wanted ads in the Times Tribune and 7 in the Times Leader would be a foolish waste of money. Let’s fix what we have and enjoy it. The Scranton Times Tribune broke the news on the stadium study Thursday.
Senator Edward Kennedy, 32, is seriously injured in a private plane crash at Southampton, Massachusetts; the pilot is killed. Also in the plane with Kennedy is Indiana Senator Birch Bayh and his wife Marvella. The Bayhs also survive the crash. The accident leaves Senator Kennedy flat on his back for his 1964 re-election campaign. His wife Joan becomes his campaign surrogate through the rest of the election year. The crash also begins talk of “The Kennedy Curse” following the successful family around like a black cloud……..Three civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, are murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi, by local segregationist law enforcement officials………Statewide Attorneys for Supreme Court Justice Michael Musmanno ask the Pennsylvania Superior Court to review 6,000 ballots cast in the Philadelphia area in the U.S. Senate primary. The lawyers say the ballots were cast on the wrong line of the voting machines and therefore were invalid. Musmanno trailed this week by 636 votes to the eventual winner Secretary of Internal Affairs Genevieve Blatt…………..The Philadelphia Phillies open up a 5 game series against the New York Mets that will turn out to be quite historic. The Phils sweep a double header on Friday night with the pitching exploits of Art Mahaffey, running his record to 7-2 and Ray Culp who improved his record to 3-5. On Saturday, they lose 7-3, with rookie spot starter Dallas Green taking the loss evening his record to 1-1 against Jack Fisher to the Mets before the crucial Father’s Day Twin bill at Shea……..In Scranton, at 420 Spruce Street, a Scranton For President headquarters opens up. More than 750 people attended the ceremonies which featured a 35 minute program as well as a brass band with hundreds of placards bearing the face and name of the recently announced candidate. The main speaker was a Montgomery County Congressman Richard Schweiker who told the enthusiastic crowd “that Scranton was a new face who will bring new blood to the Republican party.” Schweiker also said Scranton’s wife and children were huge political assets and that Scranton could “beat Lyndon Johnson who is not, as people think, 10 feet tall”. Schweiker, a future Senator and Cabinet Secretary himself said the election could be won on foreign policy and fiscal responsibility, all of which Governor Scranton was well versed in……………..and 45 years ago this week, the number 1 song in LuLac land was “Rag Doll” by the 4 Seasons.