The LuLac Edition #1012, Nov. 19th, 2009
UNDER THE DOME
Things are really heating up under the dome at the Luzerne County Courthouse. Now there is word that the debit card scandal will be revisited by the feds in their ongoing investigation. The ramifications of that are huge. You have those players who used debit cards and paid the money back. Can it be argued that the use of cards was theft of services? Plus you have two current commissioners who ran as a team in 2007 under scrutiny. Greg Skrepenak for the use of his card and Mary Anne Petrilla for her role as County Controller when those cards were used. Then you have the contract awarded to a Long Island firm providing background checks for prospective employees, That contract was not bid out. Just when you think things are calming down, another flap rears its head. The beat as they say goes on.
TOOLE TIME OUT
In the meantime Judge Michael Toole has told the Court that he is taking the rest of November off. The timing of this is pretty rough given the huge backlog of cases before the Common Pleas Court. There are some who tell me Toole may not return but those telling me that can’t confirm exactly why.
COREY DOOR TO DOOR
11th Congressional district candidate Corey O’Brien is going door to door in an effort to introduce himself to voters. Here’s a message he sent along to his growing base of supporters
As I continue to knock on doors throughout PA's 11th Congressional District, the message is clear. We need change, and we need it now.We need to restore fiscal responsibility in Washington, so that we don't bury our children under a pile of debt. That's why I supported the 2010 Lackawanna County budget, which passed unanimously yesterday. For the third straight year, my fellow commissioners and I were able to balance the budget without raising taxes. Balancing a budget in this economic climate is never easy, but I believe that we must ensure that our government does not spend above its means.If you would like to help us bring the change we need to PA-11 and restore fiscal discipline in Washington, please sign up to volunteer through our website at obrien2010.com.Thank you for your support!
Despite a great deal of criticism by party regulars, O’Brien is impressing many people in his door to door efforts.
A TAXING SITUATION
I never had the guts or the stamina to be a small business owner, let alone run a restaurant. I respect those people who take the plunge and try to earn a living that way. That’s why I have mixed emotions about the Ken Smith tax situation in Lackawanna County. Smith is a State Representative who won election over long time incumbent Fred Belardi when it became evident that Belardi was more a man of Harrisburg than he was of his Scranton District. Ken Smith a popular restaurant owner took him on and won. But as Belardi’s problems ended, Smith’s began. According to the Scranton Times, As of March 2008, Mr. Smith owed $27,274 in penalties, interest and fees for county and Scranton School District taxes from 2005 to 2007. At the time, he said he could not explain how the taxes piled up, because his "wife takes care of that." Again that was pretty tough to buy. When you are so involved in a family business, unless you are trying to sabotage it or the marriage you’re in, you’d communicate about a bill that big. In our arrangement, Mrs. LuLac and I take care of separate entities and there is not a month that goes by that we do not check each other’s work. Back to Mr. Smith, he still owes $9,495.30 in taxes and penalties on the unpaid 2008 taxes. That according to Ron Koldjeski, director of the county Tax Claim Bureau. Mr. Smith said he hopes to pay all the taxes soon and blamed the restaurant's troubles on a decline in customers caused by the economic downturn. I wonder how many business owners having troubles ignored their taxes for so long? I had been in Smith’s Restaurant many times during the day and it never seemed to be hurting for customers. Given the mismanagement of a simple thing like paying your taxes, maybe it wasn’t the economic problem going on but perhaps the way the business was run. Smith told the Times, "If you're a big business such as General Motors, you get bailed out, but how about a family business, 75 years in business?" Mr. Smith said. I can agree with Smith’s sentiment about government bailouts for GM but last I heard they paid their corporate taxes like good citizens. Plus if Mr. Smith is so concerned about family businesses, is there any legislation proposed by him in Harrisburg to help out those concerns he referenced? By the way, Smith earns more than $70,000 a year as a State Representative. He gets pretty good health care too. He owes about $9500 in back taxes. Some of his constituents have to pay about $500 a month for Health Care. If Mr. Smith sets aside $500.00 a month for less than two years, he can have that bill paid off. Unfortunately for him, the 2010 election looms. But with these problems existing in 2008 he won re-election anyway. In the meantime, Lackawanna County residents who make less than $70,000 pay their taxes, economic downturn or not.
WARMONGERS DEFICIT HAWKS
The Republican Senate which laid down like eager hookers for the Bush administration’s Iraq War policies all of a sudden are worried about the big deficits. The Senate GOP reacted today by assailing the Democrats' newly minted health care legislation. They called it a collection of tax increases, Medicare cuts and heavy new burdens for deficit-ridden states. Despite the criticism, there were growing indications Democrats would prevail on an initial Senate showdown set for Saturday night, and Majority Leader Harry Reid crisply rebutted the Republican charges. The legislation is designed to answer President Barack Obama's call to expand coverage, end industry practices such as denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions, and restrain the growth of health care spending. In the meantime the men who gave us the Iraq War now begrudge health care for the very least of us.
MY MAN AL
Al Gore, the elected President of the 2000 election and former Vice President did a guest stint on 30 Rock. Here’s a brief clip:
Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks becomes the first NBA player to score 20,000 points....The Second Vatican Council known as the third period of the Catholic Church's ecumenical council closes... The Verrazano Narrows Bridge opens to traffic (the world's longest suspension bridge at this time)……….in Pennsylvania Governor Scranton begins to plan a strategy to work with a Democratic controlled House of Representatives set to take office in 1965……A survey by the Post Office estimated that 50,438 homes and 5,010 businesses were within the area of the Wilkes Barre post office…..Ethel Price returned to work on Wilkes Barre City Council after an operation….and 45 years ago the number 1 song in America and LuLac land was “She’s Not There” by the Zombies.