The LuLac Edition #956, Sept. 27th, 2009
I was prepared to publish the photo of Judge Peter Paul Olszewski, Junior that was in the Citizen’s Voice the other day along with a YOU TUBE video that would make me appear to be somewhat satirical, cutting edge and funny. But then I had dinner with a friend at Mohegan Sun Friday night. The buffet was as always over abundant in quantity but not necessarily so in quality. While I sat looking at the hundreds of people in the ballroom, a few people approached me asking how I was, what I was doing, etc. They remembered me, asking detailed questions about my health, my mom’s death and my books. I was polite and even after one of them mentioned her name, I had no clue where I knew them from and under what circumstances. Then I began to wonder about the people who approached me. What was their story “now”? Surely I didn’t remember their story “then”!
Olszewski as you know is running for retention and his tenure on the bench has been above board and filled with exemplary behavior. In some cases the Judge has used his prerogative to make statements from the bench about defendants. Some feel these were well deserved and warranted, others did not. Olszewski was also the first Luzerne County Judge to express outrage at the behavior of Judges Conahan and Ciavarella. It always appeared to me that Olszewski was never interested in winning a popularity contest. I got the impression he just wanted Justice served.
My knee jerk reaction is to throw everybody out in government at this stage of the game. I am on video saying the entire Courthouse should be put on unemployment compensation and have everyone re-apply for their jobs. I hope and pray that every State Legislator has primary and general election opposition for their impotence in dealing with the state budget.
When the news came out that Judge Olszewski was at the Florida condo of Judge Conahan many voters in the area were suspicious of why Olszewski was there. His motives and character were questioned. Then a photo emerged with Olszewski along with another attorney, a convicted drug felon and Judge Conahan. It emerged in one of the local newspapers who received it anonymously. Without attribution, Times Shamrock printed the picture. Now you might say this is like the pot calling the kettle black for bloggers who use anonymous comments. Well so do newspapers. And, much to the chagrin of my regular readers, I edit those comments. Printing the photo and not knowing where it came from is a huge problem for me. Bloggers are constantly castigated for that. So I’m not sure if the newspapers have beaten us or joined us. But then there’s the timing. Here are the facts that have led me to an opinion on Judge Olszewski.
1. He went to the condo once on an invitation from his boss the President Judge. If you are an ambitious person (and anyone who runs for DA in their 30s and becomes a Judge in their early 40s fits that bill) you don’t refuse an invite from your boss.
2. His boss at the time, Michael Conahan, was riding high. The argument that he was an unindicted co conspirator in the 90s in a drug case was far away in time. Maybe Olszewski should have been quick enough to realize that, but in our society, old news is old news. And the President Judge seemed to have skated away from the case with the blessing of higher authorities than Peter Paul Olszewski.
3. There are no other reports that Olszewski enjoyed the hospitality of the Conahans of Florida. As far as we know it was a one-time thing. Do we penalize a judicial career for a one time visit?
4. As mentioned earlier the photo was not attributed. That bothers me.
5. Olszewski had his picture taken with guys drinking and exhibiting liquor. A mistake in judgment especially if you are serving on the bench. What if there were criminal charges on a drunk driving case coming before Olszewski? The only explanation I have for this is that when you are at a party, photos are going to be taken. Many times I have been in photos that on further reflection I should have stayed away from. But I didn’t. I think if the Judge had a “do over” in this case, he’d jump at it.
6. During the 2000 campaign, the handlers of Al Gore’s campaign talked about the “picture face”. The “picture face” was the look on Gore’s face that registered little emotion. If you had to caption it, you might see “I don’t know who this person is and why I’m having my photo taken with them”. Clearly this was not the case with Ozsweski’s photo. He looked like he was having a good time. But that’s not against the law. But no one is denying the fact from the Conahan camp that the question was asked by Olszewski who “Ronnie” was. The fact that Olzsweski asked that question and never went back again is okay with me. The voters? Who knows!
7. Olszewski stated he made the Florida trip when he was estranged from his wife. You go places and do things you never did before in that situation (I’m a recovering expert) because you feel like you’re missing out on something. And when the realization hits you that you’re not missing anything by that pattern of behavior you either rebuild the marriage or move on.
Olszewski has been candid and open about this latest flap. A flap that could very well end his career. People in this county are angry and they want to hurt someone. Conahan and Ciavarella are light years away from punishment which makes the two sitting Judges up for retention the easiest targets. I have never tried to impose my own voting and beliefs on any of my readers. I won’t start with whether Peter Paul Olszewski should or should not be retained. But I will urge all of my readers to think and reflect before they vote on this issue. A misguided one time photo at a time of personal upheaval in one’s private life at the home of your boss might be enough to indict someone of a singular count of guilt by association. But it shouldn’t be a kneejerk conviction that ends in the loss of a Judicial career that has been otherwise error free in the service to the public.
45 YEARS AGO: THE COLLAPSE
The Milwaukee Braves beat the Phillies like a old rug with a 22 hit barrage. Lee Maye has a 5 hit game while Hank Aaron, Felipe Alou, Joe Torre, Dennis Menke and pitcher Tony Cloninger have multiple hits games too. The Phils fall out of first place, one game back as starter Jim Bunning is rocked for 10 hits lasting 3 innings and his replacement Dallas Green gives up 7 hits in just under 2 innings.