Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The LuLac Edition #941, Sept. 15th, 2009



Ex Luzerne County judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella entered pleas of not guilty to charges contained in a 48-count indictment filed on September 9th. The former judges entered the pleas during a brief hearing before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Thomas Blewitt. The case will now proceed through the normal criminal trial channels, areas where the two men were no stranger to when they presided on the other side of the bench. . Prosecutors will be required to turn over certain evidence gathered as part of the lengthy investigation. Numerous pre-trial motions are expected to be filed. Conahan and Ciavarella are charged with racketeering, bribery, extortion, money laundering, wire fraud and tax evasion. Prosecutors allege the former judges improperly accepted $2.8 million in payments from the one-time co-owner and builder of the Juvenile Detention Center.
In an ancillary development in the trial, the federal attorneys asked a federal magistrate Blewitt to amend conditions of bail for the former judges saying they are trying to hide assets and may flee.
U.S. Attorney William Houser told Blewitt that Ciavarella had transferred a sizeable sum of money to his daughter last year. The daughter in turn bought a townhouse in Kingston in which the judge currently resides. Houser also disclosed that Conahan was recorded by federal agents saying that he was "judgment proof" because nothing was in his name. The U.S. Attorneys said they believed the ex judges were trying to hide assets. The feds also asked Judge Blewitt to reduce bail. He didn’t. Attorney Philip Gelso and Joseph Russo represented Conahan and Ciavarella respectively.


Jury Commissioner and Housing Authority Member Jerry Bonner has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of aiding a fellow board member in obtaining a bribe. The plea was entered in the same courtroom before the same Magistrate, Judge Thomas Blewitt referred to in a previous article. (Scroll up).


Questions seem to be abounding over the community field organization ACORN. Those came to light when a series of YOU TUBE videos surfaced by a young, independent investigative team that essentially got some pretty interesting directions from paid ACORN workers. ACORN is a nationwide group credited with propelling the candidacy of Barack Obama in the 2008 election as well as being known for voter registration drives that have been numerically successful but laced with dubious accuracy. The group seems to have good intentions advocating affordable and fair housing, better schools, fair taxes, gulf coast recovery, living wage and health care reform. Hell we are LuLac here feel the same way. And ACORN certainly has done some good in these areas. But as always I have a few thoughts and questions. First off, an organization is only as good as its people, especially its front line staffers. A good rule of thumb is to have professional, informed, sharp people manning your offices. (Also make sure your offices are open for starters). I can’t help but wonder in this age of high unemployment how these ACORN staffers got their jobs. Plus who was their immediate supervisor and why did the staff seem to enable obviously bad behavior by suggesting more. If you represent an organization that has lofty goals set forth on their website, why would you even suggest encouraging underage prostitution but also giving pointers on how to beat “The Man” in doing so? Do you think maybe these ACORN workers needed to pass an IQ test? Who in the world hired them and why? Also, many viable organizations get money from the government. But this is the first time I’ve heard of a blatantly political organization receiving federal funding. Does the AFL CIO which surely has a political position or the NRA get federal dollars for any aspect of their existence? I don’t think so. If they can’t, then ACORN shouldn’t. All but 7 U.S. Senators pulled the plug on this organization this week due to this investigation. On its website, ACORN Chief Organizer Bertha Lewis said this,
"The relentless attacks on ACORN's members, its staff and the policies and positions we promote are unprecedented. An international entertainment conglomerate, disguising itself as a "news" agency (Fox), has expended millions, if not tens of millions of dollars, in their attempt to destroy the largest community organization of Black, Latino, poor and working families in the country. It is not coincidence that the most recent attacks have been launched just when health care reform is gaining traction. It is clear they've had these tapes for months. We are their Willy Horton for 2009. We are the boogeyman for the right-wing and its echo chambers. If ACORN did not exist, the right-wing would have needed to create us in order to achieve their agenda, their missions, their ideal, retrograde America. This recent scam, which was attempted in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia to name a few places, had failed for months before the results we've all recently seen. I am appalled and angry; I cannot and I will not defend the actions of the workers depicted in the video, who have since been terminated. But it is clear that the videos are doctored, edited, and in no way the result of the fabricated story being portrayed by conservative activist "filmmaker" O'Keefe and his partner in crime. And, in fact, a crime it was - our lawyers believe a felony - and we will be taking legal action against Fox and their co-conspirators."
The Willie Horton of 2009? Oh come now. Willie Horton was an inmate let out of jail on a furlough by then Mass. Governor Mike Dukakis. Horton killed when he was on his free pass. Al Gore and then George H.W. Bush used it as a legitimate issue of the Bay State parole system. Dukakis as Governor had no control over the actions of Willie Horton when the prisoner went on that furlough. However ACORN organizers had control over the quality, intelligence, empathy and street smarts of the people they paid to staff their offices. To blame the media, even if it is Fox to defend your own organizational shortcomings is bush league at best and disingenuous at worst. What this does is give a black eye to the true community organizers like the late Stan Hamilton, Sister Adrian Barrett and homeless advocate Vince Kabachinski of VISION. If the ACORN staff had their type of quality staff that video would never have been shot because the young lady and her procurer would’ve been on the streets in ten seconds flat. Check out the video:


At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yonki...very fair reporting on acorn.

At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Valley went to pot

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you bleeding heart liberal, the only reason you think willie horton was a legit issue is because your tree hugger for profit algore brought him up first!

At 11:15 PM, Anonymous System Purge said...

So Bob Casey voted to keep funding ACORN.

He's not known for a backbone so could he possibly be in the pocket of the nuts?

Just another symbol of the corruption that permeates the system.

At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's get hold of life. Does anyone really belive that the judges were planning the great escape? Not even in Disney World would that be believable. Why can't things just be handled without all of the goofy reactions? This is still America and the process will go forward and maybe, just maybe the truth will come out. None of the terror tactics that they pull with their life time jail sentence threats. Jerry Bonner is a great example. They thought they could bully him into a plea agreement and he told them flat out, if you have me, convict me but I'm not going to convict myself out of fear. Good for you Jerry.


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