Sunday, July 26, 2009

The LuLac Edition #888, July 26th, 2009



One of the things writers sometimes go through is writer’s block. Mrs. LuLac says I am so full of something or the other that I have yet to encounter such a problem. And she’s right. But what happens to me sometimes is that I get writer’s envy. Doesn’t happen often but when it does, the effect is twofold. The first is that I salute the creativity of the writer. The second is I slap my forehead and declare, “I wish I wrote that”.
It happened today when I read Christopher Kelly’s story in The Times Tribune about the $158.00 the State Legislators get for their per diem. Kelly more than outlined the perks of the richest, highest paid lawmakers in the country. He took $158.00 and bought food for the the Church of the Good Shepherd in Green Ridge. That church has an open door policy when it comes to need and also has a soup kitchen and food bank. Here’s what the $158.00 bought:
Twenty boxes of Hamburger Helper.
Twenty-five boxes of pasta.
Ten cans of spaghetti sauce, 10 cans of Manwich, 10 six-packs of juice drinks, five boxes of instant potatoes and a dozen boxes of cereal.
Twenty-three institutional-sized cans of vegetables, fruit and pudding, and 10 each of brownie mix, fruit cocktail, cookies and crackers.
It was quite a haul - 155 items in all. Took two shopping carts to wheel it out to the car.

Kelly’s point was to spend $158.00 for stuff people need. Come now, with a base salary of $76,000 does a legislator; does anyone need a per diem in addition to that? For years people around here have bitched about the salaries of school teachers. I don’t see them getting a per diem. Kelly had to give his bosses from The Times Tribune a receipt for the stuff he bought. But he pointed out that Legislators don’t have to keep receipts for any of that $158.00 a day. And they could buy anything with it. So if a Legislator decided he or she wanted to sleep in their car (and with a $600.00 a month allowance for that, I’m sure it would be as comfortable as some of the beds the working poor in NEPA sleep in) they could use the per diem to buy $158.00 in Lottery tickets, NASCAR magazines, Cigarettes or booze. Or lunch. Or a hotel room. Or maybe just pocket it. No one could call them on it because that per diem is an inherent right. We, the tax payer foot that bill.
We are hearing about the budget impasse and how the Governor says he doesn’t want to cut programs and how the Republicans say they don’t want to impose a tax increase on the public. How about this? Here’s a suggestion. The boys and girls from the House and Senate were sent home on a six hour call. (If summoned, they have 6 hours to get back to the Capitol). If you see them on the street, or at a church bazaar, or visit their office, ask them if, as a way to help this budget problem, ask them if they are willing to give up their $158.00 per diem to help out? Here's their phone numbers and address, get them on the horn or drop by, I'm sure they'll be glad to hear from you.
Hon. Mike Carroll
42 Center Street
Hughestown, PA 18640
(570) 655-4883(800) 894-0960
Hon. Todd A. Eachus
1 West Broad St.Suite 3
Hazleton, PA 18201
(570) 450-7905 Fax: (570) 459-3946
Hon. Phyllis Mundy
400 Third Avenue
Park Office Bldg Suite 113
Kingston, PA 18704
(570) 283-9622 (570) 655-3375
Fax: (570) 283-9626
Hon. Kevin P. Murphy
409 North Main Avenue
Jays Commons
Scranton, PA 18503
(570) 342-4348 Fax: (570) 342-4353
Hon. Eddie Day Pashinski
152 South Pennsylvania Ave
Wilkes Barre, PA 18702
(570) 825-5934 Fax: (570) 826-5436
Hon. Ken Smith
1414 Monroe Avenue Dunmore, PA 18509
(570) 342-2710 Fax: (570) 342-2845
Hon. Edward G. Staback
843 Scranton Carbondale Highway Eynon, PA 18403
(570) 876-1111 Fax: (570) 876-5304
Hon. James Wansacz
319 South Main Street Old Forge, PA 18518
(570) 451-3110 Fax: (570) 451-3306
Hon. James Wansacz
Scott Township Municipal Building
1038 Montdale Road Suite
4Scott Township, PA 18447
(570) 254-9672 Fax: (570) 254-7063
Hon. John T. Yudichak
156 South Market Street Nanticoke, PA 18634
(570) 740-7031 Fax: (570) 826-2584
Hon. Karen Boback
5315 Main Road PO Box 333 Sweet Valley, PA 18656
(570) 477-3752 Fax: (570) 477-3468
Hon. Karen Boback
6 Cross Country Complex
Tunkhannock, PA 18657
(570) 836-4777 Fax: (570) 836-4772
Hon. Karen Boback
7844 Blue Ridge Trail Mountain Top, PA 18707
(570) 868-7780 Fax: (570) 868-4658
Hon. Lisa Baker (20th Senatorial)
22 Dallas Shopping Center Dallas, PA 18612
(570) 675-3931
Hon. Ray Musto (14th Senatorial)
81 South Main Street Pittston, PA 18640
(570) 654-1483
Hon. Robert Mellow (22nd Senatorial)
524 Main Street Post Office Box B Peckville, PA 18452
(570) 489-0336


At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yonk, way to go, giving credit where credit was due. and thanks for the numbers. gonna post it on the fridge.

At 6:34 PM, Blogger Gort said...

Great point.

At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is a reasonable request for the lawmakers to give up something. especially smothing they don't need. do you realize the average person makes 22,5 a year in luyzerne county? one lawmakers salary equals 3 and 1/4s of workers.

At 8:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a great story by Kelly. These giuys are only holding the budget up because they are afraid of running in 2010 and having the same crap happen. what these fools fail to remember is, people will remember this time. if i'm a state worker, even in they got me my job, am i going to vote for an incumbent? If they do., they are dumb asses.

At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The argument you'll get, and predictably so, is that even with per diems and car allowances and a decent annual salary, the position of state representative doesn't always attract the best people available. There may be something to that sentiment, although I'd be the first to admit that on its surface it's a little hard to swallow.

If you take a quick glance at some of our reps, you'll see people who, while not independently wealthy, do have other sources of income. Pashinski and Boback, both retired school teachers. Smith has an ongoing family business that appears to be quite successful, and Yudichak, I do believe, also has ties to a family business. Nothing wrong in any of what's mentioned here, but there are those who can "afford" the job only because of other income.

If you live in, let's say, the Philly suburbs, such as Montgomery County, your level of living is likely to be diminished seriously by stepping down to PA's House for a sole source of income. Take Mike Gerber. Gerber comes from a wealthy family and held a position at the Philadelphia law firm of Drinker, Biddle and Reath. Knowing not what his financial arrangements are with that law firm, one might still speculate he was making far, far more in the private sector.

My own personal solution to this lies in reducing not the salaries and perks, but reducing the size, the number, of state reps in a dramatic fashion. At the very same time, don't you think it might make sense for our state senate to follow Washington, meaning that each county in PA gets two senators, no more, no less, regardless of population.

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great listing of the state reps. Isn't it interesting that in the blue pages of the phone book you don't see a listing of the representatives from the great northeast? You have to hunt and peck. I'm making copies of this edition.

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't attract the best possible people? It attracts the connected. The only true grassroots person who ever won an election was Mundy in 1990 but that was because the guy she was running against had problems and she had the Dem nomination by default because it was a GOP district for 3 decades! The others ones either worked as staffers, or elbowed their way into the job through a political interest group, Staback the hunter, Pashinski the teachers. These guys are4 not Rhodes scholars. And I dare say there are many unemployed people with MBAs who would gladly take half of their salaries. We pat them 70 plus a year so we can get those $9.00 an hour jobs!!!!

At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While Kelly's article was very good, it only paints a depressing picture of what these guys and women do. The only 3 people I can think of that stand out are Baker, Bobeck and Mundy. Baker for her reaction to the Cash for Kids scandal, putting forth a bill to curb the Judiciary, Bobeck for her town meetings on Child Protection and Mundy for her battles against the insurance industry. (Although all I hear from her is bitching but no concrete legilation. ) THe common theme here is that they aren't the guys. Hmmmm.

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reference guide to these I mean fine public servants.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

Chris Kelly
First place in the 2002 Spotlight Contest sponsored by the Keystone State Society of Professional Journalists Pro Chapter for 5 submitted columns.
First place in the 2002 Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors awards for his column, "An unseasonably warm day in Hell," about a day in Scranton warmer than Hell, Mich.
First place in the 1999 Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors awards for his column, "Rare gift: reminder of basic humanity," about a homeless man at Christmas who taught him some valuable lessons about life.
Second place in the 2000 American Association of Sunday and Features Editors awards for his column, "Invisible ties to loved ones grow stronger in times of need," about his father's recovery from a stroke


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