The LuLac Edition #1023, Nov. 29th, 2009
PHOTO INDEX: THE STOOGES IN TUXES, THIS BLOG EDITOR IN HIS FORMAL WEAR/RESTROOM ATTENDANT UNIFORM, LACKAWANNA COUNTY COMMISSIONER A.J. MUNCHAK, AKA "COMMISSIONER HOLY ****" AND COMMISSIONER MIKE WASHO.
In my life, both private and corporate I’ve been to many parties. They’ve ranged from the sumptuous (when I belonged to this wine tasting club in the 80s) to the elegant (when United Way volunteer Presidents hosted gatherings at their homes) to the very cheap (when I worked for the pagan online travel company that hosted employee Christmas parties where you had to take a blue ticket for a piece of chicken, a red ticket for a potato and a green ticket for a veggie). Some of the very best parties I attended were things for non profits. The Scranton Public Library’s “Books and Bubbly” was one of my favorite events. And I even had a hand in coordinating parties when I worked at WVIA TV and FM and the United Way. But none of the aforementioned parties ever cost $176,00. Think about this, the local United Ways raise about 3 million dollars for their agencies in one campaign. $176,000 can fund three agencies comfortably. is about a third of that revenue. Times Shamrock is reporting in their newspapers today: "Last week, airport Director Barry Centini said federal investigators also asked for records concerning the party celebrating the completion of the Joseph M. McDade Terminal Building, a $41.5 million steel, stone and glass structure that replaced the airport's 47-year-old terminal.Centini has said about 900 people attended the party at the terminal". As always with the reporting by the Voice and Times there were some gems. Allow me to give you a few highlights and comment on them:
Besides the free drinks and food, which ranged from mussels ala Centini to lobster au gratin, the crowd was entertained by three bands, a string quartet and a harpist, all framed by more than $16,000 worth of backdrops, signs, lamp posts and flowers. Mussels ala Centini? Does the airport director have a sideline we don’t know about? Did he oversee the cooking of said shellfish and did he do it on bi county time? Centini said he did not have any information on who the contractors were who paid for the party. Okay, you run the airport, that’s your job. You have access to all of the files, correct? How would you give a financial report to your board if you didn’t know who paid for the party? Plus wouldn’t you make it your business to find out who the big guns are just in case you needed them for something else? Plus the innate curiosity would kill me. Wouldn’t you want to know who the donors were or maybe you think good things like this just fall into your lap llike your $90,000 a year salary?
Catherine Shafer, the president of CDS, which lists offices at 1221 Wyoming Ave., Forty Fort, said in a brief interview last week that "somebody requested the documents." Asked who wanted the records, she said, "I don't know if I can (say)."
"All of the payments from the contractors were paid to us," she said. "We ran the party. We paid the vendors." Okay, a few questions for CDS. Why can’t she say who asked for the documents? Was she sworn to secrecy? Did somebody threaten her family? Centini admits who asked for his files. Why can’t Shafer say anything? After all, the party her agency ran was paid for with funded money run through a government agency supported by tax dollars. Also did CDS Creative bid for the work for the party and were other advertising agencies and/or catering/party planners given the opportunity to bid?
And how ‘bout that job as Rest Room Attendant? $15 bucks an hour to hand out towels and other necessary items. I’d do it, how come nobody called me? I look decent in a tux and sure as hell didn't get an invite!
My favorite has to be the reaction of Minority, then Majority Commissioner A.J. Munchak who just gave himself a new nickname. Commissioner “Holy ****”! Munchak said the party was “fantastic” but stunned by the cost. Munchak said that the airport had a marketing budget but when the cost was higher than said budget, contractors made up the difference. This is the thing that sent me over the edge, Munchak said he did not know the names of the contractors that paid. Asked if he could track down their names, he said, "No, I'm not going to find out." This guy is a watchdog commissioner, right? Does he not owe it to the taxpayers, himself, his party, his own intellectual curiosity to find out? What the hell is that all about??? Commissioner “Holy ****” better understand that when he is asked a question of interest concerning a party that is under scrutiny by the FBI, maybe he should try, as a matter of decency and public service to lend a hand.
The only person who actually made any sense in this story was Commissioner Mike Washo. Lackawanna County Commissioner Mike Washo said he was unaware how much the party cost. When he was told the amount, he said, "I think that's an extraordinary amount of money to spend on the opening of a public building, no matter what the source of the funds may have been." He said the airport should have served hot dogs and hamburgers and invited the public to attend. Poor Mike, see all he seems to understand is that this was funding for a public building that only a fraction of the populace was invited to attend. Washo even had the temerity to suggest that hot dog and hamburgers should have been served. Mike, Mike, no wonder you’re a Democrat! A fiscal budget cutter. No room for you in a black tie event, you might be caught in the corner with a bag of sliders!! Tutt tutt!!!
For all we know, this party may not have any legal ramifications. Everything might be on the up and up. But the facts are the FBI is investigating and no one involved with the event is saying anything to the press. I’d be thrilled if just someone said, “Look, the vendors who built this place wanted to have a party for themselves. We didn’ t want the hoi polloi there, we just wanted an elite event. They kicked in for it and we had a great time and did not give a second thought to the poor bastards who use the airport to take their dreadful children to Disney once every three years or the poor working stiff who has to fly to the Midwest every week to keep his or her job. We wanted “our own kind there” and not Uncle Willie and Aunt Millie in their polyester breathing on our tuxes and designer wear evening gowns”. I’d be good with that if someone just said that, admitted that. But all we get is the airport director’s best imitation of Sergeant Shultz, and an elected official's canonization of feces as a response. The party was swell, and the FBI will determine whether there was impropriety. The naming of the airport of Congressman McDade is okay by me because of his distinguished service to the 10th district and all of Northeastern Pennsylvania. And the airport is beautiful and the hub of what we jokingly refer to as our industrial employment base here. I just wished that in my youth I used it a little bit more….to get the hell out of this area and come back to visit occasionally.
HOI POLLOI INDEED!!!