Friday, December 04, 2009

The LuLac Edition #1028, Dec. 4th, 2009



Fathers will always try to do right by their sons. Giving them guidance and purpose in life. When a father has a son, the son carries the unfulfilled dreams of the father. I thought of that today when I got myself to Sam’s after a turbulent week at LCCC. I heard the news today the Jeff Piazza, the son of Luzerne County political powerhouse Auggie Piazza plead guilty to a federal charge of mail fraud. Piazza is accused of taking thousands of dollars from a vendor at his position in the Wilkes Barre Vo Tech School system. Piazza had a pretty soft job of over $50,000 grand keeping attendance of the students at the school. Students would arrive either in the morning or early afternoon from various school districts. If they showed up, it was noted. So too when they didn’t. Not heavy lifting and akin to poking one’s head into a room and saying, “you here today bud?” Piazza had an IT position but had to make way for another politico’s kid. His accomplishments appear to be unremarkable so it is safe to say that his father got him the job. In addition to that position, Piazza got a loan from the County, yes the cash strapped county of Luzerne for his overrated eatery Gelpiaz and promptly failed to pay it back. The family that has benefited from the political largess of the county essentially screwed it financially. Jeff Piazza certainly had a leg up over all of his from his father’s connections. Usually you use them to do good. Not in this case.
Another father and son I thought of today was Dick and Joe Cosgrove. It was 40 years ago this summer that I met Dick, an old time newspaperman that was very kind to an aspiring 15 year old writer at a paper in Pittston. Even though I was only writing a music column, Dick Cosgrove told me I had a responsibility because what I did with the chance would matter. A few years later I met his son Joe at St. John’s in Pittston and even at that young age he had a passion for the way government worked. Cosgrove made his way to Notre Dame where he served as the Mascot (a national gig at the time) and pursued a degree in Government and International Studies, a Master of Arts in Theology, and a Juris Doctorate; all from the University of Notre Dame. He also earned a Master of Studio Arts degree from Marywood College in Scranton. Through the years Cosgrove has been an activist for the accused and poor and has been labeled many times as a bleeding heart. But Joe Cosgrove stayed true to his mission and took a path that today led him to an appointment as a Luzerne County Judge from Governor Rendell. Truthfully I was shocked. Guys like Joe Cosgrove aren’t supposed to be judges, they are supposed to be attorneys in store fronts toiling away for the downtrodden. The last time I saw Cosgrove at a political rally was when Hillary Clinton came to town. Obviously a fan, Cosgrove deftly moved through the crowd like the Notre Dame Leprechaun of old to snare a photo with her. Joe was thrilled to meet the candidate because he understood that good government comes from an innate enthusiasm for its craft. Through the years Cosgrove has carved out his role as an attorney. It was not a traditional Luzerne County path to power, but rather a set of steps that his belief system propelled him to take. In any other environment Joe Cosgrove would never be nominated. His choice is a pleasant surprise and is sorely needed.
Tonight, two sets of fathers and sons are on a roller coaster of emotions. The Piazzas are trying to pick up the pieces from squandered opportunities. The Cosgroves celebrate the straight undeterred path of a son who took no shortcuts, had no handouts, or heads ups and who took considerable political risks. I can’t say what Auggie Piazza told his son along Jeff’s path to adulthood. But I do know from personal experience with Dick Cosgrove that he told Joe the same thing he told me. When you have an opportunity, it comes with a responsibility. What you do with it matters.


At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once more you prove what a brilliant writer and thoughtful analyst you are on the political scene. The newspapers around here will never provide the insight you do.
That said, I was truly shocked when I heard it on Corbett. Governor Ed has redeemed himself for a bit with this pick of Joe Cosgrove.

At 9:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dave:
This is a really good choice. Joe is a legal activist plus he has that theology degree to temper the legal side of his resume. I was surprised but very happy. A JOHNNIE finally gets his due!
And this time you hit a homerun. My compliment quota though is depleted.

At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The number of corrupt judges in Luzerne County is astounding, but wait until its all said and done. The lawyers could outnumber them.
Apparently the county justice system was a culture of almost complete corruption. These were the people who accepted honors and sat in judgement of others! These were the people who looked out for our rights! These were people making good wages with great lifestyles and they were all for sale.

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1236PM brings out a great point. there are a number of corrupt attorneys who go before the judges they know and get the gravy. why do you think, despite the 17 that ran in the spring so many attorneys NOT running for anything? up until this time they could fly under the radar and make tons of money. fat, happy, corrupt easy money. who wouldn'r want that deal? cosgrove marches to his own beat. and yonk is correct, in any other climate or year, joe cosgrove wouldn't be near a judicial seat. even big ed realizes lc needs the good guys now.

At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, a really nice job on the Piazza and Cosgrove boys. You have become the Bill Griffith/Joe Flannery of local political commentarty.

At 4:37 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

Dave, a really nice job on the Piazza and Cosgrove boys. You have become the Bill Griffith/Joe Flannery of local political commentarty.

At 10:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be careful how many roses you throw at Cosgrove, just keep in mind that roses contain thorns and Joe Cosgrove is no perfect rose.

At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what my comment concerning cosgrove and corbett's disaporoval isn't lulac worthy?


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