Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The LuLac Edition #959, Sept. 30th, 2009



In an e mail this afternoon Corey O’Brien Lackawanna County Commissioner has said he’ll make an announcement about his political plans this Saturday at 10AM at his boyhood home in Dunmore. Our friend Gort broke this story last April. Corey isn’t going to be on the porch opining about the fall foliage. Here’s a recap of his public career. As an 18-year old Dunmore High School senior, Corey successfully lobbied for a $600,000 federal appropriation to build a community center in Dunmore. Today, residents of Dunmore enjoy a $4.5 million state-of-the-art community center that mirrors Corey’s early vision of providing residents with a multi-generational community center. Corey O’Brien continued his civic involvement in college. While attending Penn State University, Corey testified before a Pennsylvania House Education Sub-Committee promoting affordability of higher education. After college graduation, Corey interned in the Clinton White House and was later appointed to a position in the United States Agency for International Development. After serving in the Clinton Administration, O’Brien attended and graduated in the top of his class from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. Corey is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and in the District of Columbia. Corey is also licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court and other federal courts. After 10 years in Washington, D.C., Corey and his family moved home to Northeastern Pennsylvania. After being back in Pennsylvania for only four months, Corey launched the public affairs television show, The Pulse with Corey O’Brien on FOX56. After only one season, The Pulse with Corey O’Brien was recognized by the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters as an Outstanding TV Public Affairs Program/Series. The Pulse was also recognized by the Electric City newspaper as the region’s top public affairs television talk show. In addition, Corey served as a political analyst on the ABC-affiliate, WNEP-TV 16, and WILK News Radio. Corey also hosted a radio program, Corey O’Brien Now on WILK News Radio. In 2007, Corey O’Brien was elected to the post of Lackawanna County commissioner in an unprecedented landslide victory, with Corey and his running mate winning in all of Lackawanna County's 163 precincts. Corey O’Brien resides in Moosic, Pennsylvania with his wife, Atty. Michelle R. O’Brien, and their two young children, Kate and Casey.


Bridget Giunta, Wilkes-Barre city’s administrative coordinator during the Leighton administration, is leaving her position at the end of business Wednesday.
Giunta has accepted a position as associate director of alumni relations at Wilkes University. She starts her new job Thursday. Seems like short notice to me but I have a viable replacement for her, one who knows the city, is a great communicator and is passionate about the Leighton administration. As a taxpaying member of the city of Wilkes Barre I nominate Mark Cour. He’ll do a good job expounding on the merits of the Leighton initiatives and few would be hard pressed to disagree with him because of his powers of persuasion. It would be kind of like Harry Truman meets Spin City.


Sept. 30th, '64 Phillies.

Former Phillie Curt Simmons wins his 18th game beating Jim Bunning in an 8 to 5 Cardinals win over the Phils. Philadelphia falls further behind 2 and 1 games behind the front place Cardinals. Tim McCarver homers off Bunning while Bill White drives in his 97th run and Ken Boyer drives in his 117th of the year.


As the month ends, let’s go out with a legend:.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The LuLac Edition #958, Sept. 29th, 2009



Independent Controller candidate Wil Toole wrote a letter to the newspaper regarding property taxes and the casinos.
This is the second letter I've written on gaming funds for property tax relief. When we the voters were asked to vote in favor of casino gambling, we were led to believe that the revenues from the taxes and fees would be used for property tax relief. Wrong! We the voters and taxpayers received very little in the form of property tax relief but local politicians were given access to a wish list for community projects. These local politicians were made heroes to those citizens who didn't understand that the money used for those "created" projects should have been their personal property tax relief.
Now it is going to happen again. Table games are being approved by the State Legislature and again the revenues are not going to be used for taxpayer property tax relief. The money is going to be given to "host" communities. There is only one casino and one host community in Luzerne County. It is time that our legislators understand that these gaming revenues are the only hope taxpayers have for true property tax relief. Call your state representative and state senator today and tell him/her in the strongest terms possible that you want the rules changed to give you tax relief. Not one penny should be used for anything other than tax relief for every single taxpayer. That money should not be used to fund special state projects or local pet projects. It should and must be used to help our overtaxed citizens pay their property taxes. Call today.
Wil Toole


GOP Chair Terry Casey sent a letter to local media outlets today asking the following questions of all the candidates running for Judge in Luzerne County:
We pose these questions to attorneys Richard Hughes, William Amesbury and Tina Polachek Gartley:
1. Did you, a member of your immediate family, or member of your law firm ever travel on the private jet that was owned by Robert Powell or provided by former judges Ciavarella and Conahan?
2. Were you, a member of your immediate family, or member of your law firm ever a guest on Robert Powell’s yacht “Reel Justice?”
3. Were you, a member of your immediate family, or member of your law firm ever a guest at the Florida condominium owned by the wives of former judges Ciavarella and Conahan?
I thank you in advance for partnering with me in offering the voters some insight into this election.
My first e mail came at 1:40Pm, a forwarded version came at 3:52PM. Almost immediately the three candidates responded in the negative to Steve Corbett on WILK. First Tina Polachek Gartley took the airwaves coming up with the line of the day, “I’ve never even flown first class never mind being on someone’s private jet!”. Bill Amesbury was rather pointed with Corbett about a number of issues primarily his objection to being part of the old boy network. Richard Hughes replied in the negative and this issue seemed to be put to rest for now. The tactic of the letter was I believe targeted at Polachek Gartley who has endured a whispering campaign since the primary. My people tell me that these stories of her flying on a dubious jet aren’t coming from the GOP but from members of the legal community envious of her upstart campaign effort. The Casey letter was an inquiry and you can’t fault the guy for asking the question. I mean when was the last time a GOP Chair in LuLac land got involved in a campaign debate? The Casey missive tells us the GOP is going to pose the questions and in a way it helped the clear the air. But the wording reminded me of Lyndon Johnson’s statement on the Vice Presidency in the summer of ’64 when he eliminated all of his Cabinet members from consideration as his Veep. Bobby Kennedy told a Cabinet meeting, “I’m sorry I took so many of you fellows over the side with me”. LBJ's comment was clearly aimed at Kennedy as was Casey’s questioning targeted at the Polachek Gartley campaign based on what was heard from the spring campaign.


Seems the general public is blaming the Governor for not signing the state budget. Well that’s impossible because there is no budget. There’s a budget agreement highlighted by the big handshake photo op but there is no budget until the lawmakers figure out what they want in their various conference committee. It’s them, your friendly State Legislators….not the Guv holding it up.


Sept. 29th, ’64 Phillies

Cardinals pitcher Ray Sadecki wins his 20th game in a 4 to 2 defeat of the falling fast Phillies. Dennis Bennett, lasting only one inning, takes the loss going 12-14. Johnny Callison pinch hits having been rested for this game. He goes 0 for 1. The Phils remain in third and the Cardinals are in first.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The LuLac Edition #957, Sept. 28th, 2009



The 6th District GOP had their annual tailgate party at Republican headquarters in Wilkes Barre Saturday and the event was enjoyed by all. Atty. Richard Hughes spoke before the crowd and was both eloquent and economical in his remarks. Hughes said he was running “to restore integrity to the bench” and mentioned his work as an Attorney in the private sector as well as in the Prosecutor’s chair. Hughes said he has met many people in the county looking for the type of change that is more transitional. Hughes pointed out that certain people failed the institution of justice, that justice did not fail the people. Controller Candidate Walter Griffith offered remarks saying that the GOP has a great opportunity to change the course of corruption. Griffith said he is and always was there for the taxpayers and will be a full time Controller. He encouraged all to go out and work. Representatives of candidates Carolee Medico Olenginski and Gina Nevenglosky respective candidates for Prothonotary and Register of Wills gave remarks. Commissioner Steve Urban made an appearance. Harry Haas running for Wilkes Barre Area School Board hit a home run (at a tailgate football party that’s an off analogy but he did) referring to the G8 Summit in Pittsburgh. Haas stressed that school board members need to look out for the future education of children and gave sobering information that America is not so competitive anymore in education. He noted that foreign scholars are taking the prime places at choice universities because of lagging educational standards. Haas also said it shouldn’t be out of the question to have a school curriculum offer Mandarin Chinese since China is a huge trading and business partner of the U.S.
While the speeches revved up the crowd, the great food sustained the workers ready for a tough campaign battle. I promised a brief food review so here it is:
Pat Umbra’s pasta sauce: Sweet but not overwhelmingly so, a hardly noticeable kick but smooth tomato consistency.
Bob from Wilkes Barre’s Chili: Very intriguing. At first taste you get a real hot kick but only for a mili second, thenm afterwards you there is no after burn or aftertaste.
Haluski with Bacon bits: a delectable combination of tastes.
A Barbershop Quartet entertained and 6th District official Jim O’Meara, a regular poster to this site did a great job organizing and emceeing the event. Executive Director Renita Fennick as always encouraged the GOP to unite and bring victory in November. (If they could pass out that pasta sauce and chili at the polls they’d win in a landslide!!)


Walter Griffith sent us a communication on the Richard Wren Veteran’s Affair for Luzerne County decision by the County Commissioners. Here’s what he said:
This week I attended the Luzerne County Commissioner meetings which included the County Prison Board Meeting, Work Session and the Commissioner meeting. The Public comment portion of the meetings I was allowed to address some issues at the Prison Board meeting and I asked about the Deputy Warden Sam Hyder issue regarding his taking vacation and not placing the time in the record for the payroll department and what if anything the County Prison Board was planning to do about this constant ability of our County Employees to take advantage of the taxpayers of this County. I was told they cant discuss it because it was a Personnel issue, but the question still remains as to why the Deputy Warden is still allowed to be on the payroll at all because of his constant and never ending ability to defraud the taxpayers of this County. The Commissioner Meeting was then held on Wednesday and there was an issue regarding the termination of Veterans Director Richard Wren and 4 people spoke to his ability to be a fantastic Director and the fact that he has made a mistake and should be given a reprimand but not as severe as termination and this was ignored by two of the Commissioners and Mr Wren was terminated without a question or discussion. My question and confusion here with this situation is a simple one, if the people that have abused the taxpayers by using the debit cards illegally were not terminated, and there was clearly plenty of evidence that they abused their power, then why was Richard Wren terminated without the ability to repay his mistake as well? What was different with this incident that was not the case with Mr Sam Hyder and James Blaum and the others ? What was it that made the crime that Richard Wren did to the taxpayers less offensive than that of the "Magnificent Seven" with the debit card debacle. I think Mr Wren deserves proper reprimand and discipline but is termination of a Director of Veterans Affairs for a $70.00 infraction the proper punishment and what about the thousands of dollars that were taken by the "Magnificent Seven" and they were all allowed to keep their positions, and some were even rewarded with promotions. The County Commissioners need to rethink their personnel policies and start looking at doing the right thing instead of the politically correct things for themselves.
Walter L Griffith Jr.
Luzerne County Controller Candidate


Sept. 28th, '64 Phillies.

The Phillies, now in third place a game and half back travel to St. Louis. Bob Gibson wins his 18th while left Chris Short a 17 game winner takes the loss in a 5 to 1 defeat at Sportsman’s Park. Ken Boyer hits a home run off short and Dick Groat, Bill White and Mike Shannon contribute key hits as the Phil’s slide continues.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

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.


Sept. 27th, '64 Phillies.

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.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The LuLac Edition #955, Sept. 26th, 2009



Much is made of the fact that many of the WWII greatest generation are passing on. Sadly the men who fought the fight in Vietnam are dying and leaving the scene. My cousin who served in Vietnam died in 2006 way too young. A good friend e mailed me about the passing of his friend Tom McEntee. McEntee was a Green Beret but later worked in the music business. He worked at ABC/DOT records and was responsible for launching the career of Jimmy Buffet with his intial hit on ABC Dunhill “Come Monday”. He was waiting for a bone marrow transplant and got an infection. None of the Vietnam vets were greeted with huge airport celebrations, banners and bunting and top of the segment news stories like you see for today's returning vets. When we talk about WWII vets we also hear that they are reticent to tell stories of their heroics, putting it as part of their past. Many Vietnam vets did the same thing. Here’s a story shared from my friend about his friend, Tom McEntee.
Tom was one of the original Green Berets caught up in the glamour and adventure of JFK’s elite Special Forces. It was a good way to get away from New York City. He eventually found himself somewhere in the Mountains of South Vietnam with the Legendary Montagnyard Tribesmen as an advisor.
Coming home for the first time on leave to New York City, Tom emerged from the subway decked out like a warrior. Green Beret, spit shined Jump Boots, Dark Green Class A Dress Uniform with Medals and Sergeants Stripes and a duffel bag over his shoulder. As he walked home he noticed that he was being followed by a growing group of neighborhood kids. He felt proud.
They think I am a Soldier home from a new war and they admire me, he thought to himself. The little boys want to be like me and the girls think I’m handsome. He went on thinking along those lines for several blocks. Upon reaching his family’s front door, Tom turned to face his followers.
One little boy looked up at him and said, “Hey, mister. You in the Boy Scouts?”
That’s the only Army Story Tom ever told me.


Sept. 26th, ’64 Phillies.

In a 3 hour game, Phils pitcher Art Mahaffey gives up 10 hits. The Milwaukee Braves Joe Torre, Hank Aaron, Felipe Alou and Rico Carty pound the Phillies in a 6 to 4 loss. Bobby Shantz takes the loss in relief. The reeling Phils make some lineup changes starting Cookie Rojas in Center while putting Frank Thomas back at first after his return from an injury. Denny LeMaster started the game for the Braves. When he left after one inning, the Braves used 7 other pitchers including Frank Lary, winner Wade Blasingame (8-5) and future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn to put this game away.

The LuLac Edition #954, Sept. 26th, 2009



This week a few incumbent Judges Peter Paul Olszewski Junior and Thomas Burke went on “Corbett” and said they had no inkling that something was amiss on the third floor of the Luzerne County Courthouse. One of the things I have known in my life as a truism was that workplace gossip and supposition happens all over. What makes the Judges claim so unbelievable is this: everyone talks about work, at work , while at work, home from work, away from work all the time about WORK! . Here’s a conversation I had with a friend who works in a small factory.
Q: What do you do?
A: I weld lamp bases.
Q: Do you like it?
A: It’s easy. I have my walkman on , do my job, nobody bothers me.
Q: How many people work in your plant?
A: 14. 8 in production, 6 in the office.
Q: Do you know what’s going on in your factory?
A: I do my job, yeah I know what I’m doing.
Q: No, no. Do you know what’s happening in the place? Like if the place was going to close because of the slow economy or one of the owners was messing around with someone, smoothing, I mean are you aware of stuff like that?
A: Well yeah. Everybody knows everything. In a workplace you can’t keep anything secret.
Q: Down where I live some Judges say they were unaware of some of the other Judge’s behavior and dealings. What do you think of that?
A: As long as people work, that’s their world. To not be aware of it, well, I’d rather not say.
Q: Go ahead.
A: Well I think if you don’t know what’s happening where you work, and you admit that, you’re either a liar or an idiot.
Q: Even if they are educated Judges and lawyers?
A: Especially.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The LuLac Edition #953, Sept. 25th, 2009



The brain trusts in the State Legislature have done it again. Caving in to lobbyists, the lawmakers refused to do an across the board tax on all tobacco products. If you are a cigarette smoker, the proposed budget includes a 25 cent-per-pack increase in the state tax on cigarettes, to $1.60. That tax also is being extended this year to little cigars — small cigars sold in packs of 20, just like cigarettes.
So if you “do the chew”, you are exempt from state taxes. And to be sure, this is not grandpa’s chewing tobacco. Remember when the old man would open up a crusty old can and take a pinch with his fingers? Nope. Today the tobacco comes in sanitary little white dissolvable packets that melt in your mouth like M&Ms. The public health people are disappointed, but it is the taxpayers that should be angry. First off the legislator does what it does best: be inconsistent. Second: by not taxing this stuff the state lost more than 50 million dollars in new revenue. If they had taxed it by 60% of the wholesale price, the revenue projections could have been over 100 million dollars. Just still another reason to pony up some opposition for the 2010 primary election in your legislative district.


So I was told that a citizen, Wil Toole happened to be at the Commissioner’s meeting Thursday. Toole is running for Controller as an Independent. But that’s not what this is about. Toole showed up early at the meeting and gave prepared remarks. Afterward he put them on a table for anyone interested to pick up. In his statement there was no reference to his candidacy. It wasn’t a campaign commercial. But I was told by three sources that the papers he put on the table were overturned so no one would pick them up, see them, take one or Jesus Lord above possibly read them. It is the type of close mindedness that makes government in the Courthouse what it is. If you have an idea, some small minded flunky or lackey will stifle that information. I’ll bet a hundred bucks the same person who turned that paper over in an attempt to muzzle information from the public is the same deadbeat you see at the polls trying to hand off palm cards to save his worthless county and politically funded ass. Here’s Toole’s remarks……..and hey Walter Griffith, Carolee Medico and anyone else …………..if they do the same to you……………..send your stuff to LuLac.
My first comment is with regard to the planned sale of the Valley Crest property and the sales commission involved. Why? Why should the county pay a 6% commission for the sale of the most desirable property in Wyoming Valley? This should be a negotiated commission and not the standard 6%. We have fiscal problems and I can't see paying more than a 4% commission and I agree to that very reluctantly. I urge you to not award that contract to anyone for anything more than a 4% commission. You could also have the value appraised and sell it without a broker.
There must be a point where the county stops spending and stops hiring consultants. Commissioner's run on a platform that they have the answers and know the solutions but the first thing they do after taking office is to hire consultants.
Did we really need to spend almost $200 thousand dollars to learn what the budget short fall is?
Sure there are problems but spending a million dollars on an ice skating rink doesn't solve budget problems.
Paying off the Tax Anticipation Note early last year and losing $400 thousand dollars in reinvestment funds doesn't solve budget problems.
Paying the Philly law firm 2 million dollars as a commission on recovered pension funds when you cashed in the Wells fund investment will not solve budget problems; these things only adds to them.
I've come before you many times and have offered suggestions and some of those suggestions are now being acted upon but there are others that remain dormant or ignored. There is talk about additional layoffs but it is impossible to balance the budget on the backs of the employees. There are services to be performed and jobs to be done. It is not the responsibility of county government to fund community development plans. Do the taxpayers of Luzerne County need to pay a million dollars toward the upkeep of the Lackawanna County stadium. They changed it from a multi use stadium to a baseball stadium and now they want us to pay the costs? Why don't they ask Wyoming or Monroe county to foot the bill. They have as much to do with it as we do. All I ask is that you slow down, stop spending, evaluate what must be done, what needs to be done and then do what we the taxpayers can afford. Finally, Mr Urban can lead by example and pay the 10% for health coverage that you demand of the employees. ……. All meetings should be held early evening so working taxpayers can attend.
Wil Toole


A state appeals court has upheld Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty's write-in victory as the Republican nominee in the 2009 Mayor’s race in the city of Scranton. Mr. Doherty is a Democrat who also won the Democratic nomination in the May primary. Businessman Bob Bolus was the candidate on the GOP primary ballot. He was barred from holding public office because of a past felony conviction. More Republicans voted for Doherty's write-in candidacy in the election than Bolus’ total votes. Bolus lost an appeal in Lackawanna County Court, and a three-judge panel of the state Commonwealth Court upheld that ruling this week. The long and short of it is that Doherty will be listed on the city's Nov. 3 ballot as both parties' nominee for mayor. Doherty, like many other Dems in the state is considering a run for the Democratic nomination for governor next year


We can’t let the week pass by without an acknowledgment of the passing of Steve Lukasik. Lukasik died this past week and his work in the photography business as well as the political world is legendary. He was there at almost every Presidential trip to the area, every Friendly Sons dinner as well as any big news event you can think of. His photos of the Knox Mine Disaster hang in museums and his work was internationally used by the various wire services. With the advent of digital cameras, we now have a world of “do overs”. With guys like Lukasik, the first few shots were critical and literally works of speed, dexterity and art. He lived a full life but his legacy will always be that if it happened, he’d have proof.


For Luzerne County Controller:
Walter Griffith:
Wil Toole:
Luzerne County Judges:
William Amesbury:
Tina Polachek Gartley
Richard Hughes:


Sept. 25th, ’64 Phillies.

Despite Richie Allen’s inside the park home run and Johnny Callison’s blast, the Phils and left Chris Short fall again to the Milwaukee Braves 7 to 5. Joe Torre and Felipe Alou lead the hit assault with Torre hitting a two run home. Rookie Clay Carroll gets the nod over Short who escaped the loss. John Boozer in relief is tagged with the defeat. A struggling Tony Gonzalez goes 0 for 4.


Warren Commission Report, the first official investigation of the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy, is published. That weekend, network news shows ran specials that lasted for hours, and newspapers had special elongated editions. The Kennedy assassination wound that was healing was torn open again. President Johnson, noting the criticism of the Secret Service in the report kind of went crazy at a Boston campaign rally the next day. As if to prove his belief in the Secret Service, Johnson plunged into crowds constantly that day pressing the flesh and demonstrating subtle support for the much maligned agents….in Pennsylvania incumbent Senator Hugh Scott seeking a second term distances himself from GOP nominee Barry Goldwater…Mrs. Anna Abraham of 32 Blackman Street holds up the Blackman Street project. She is the sole occupant on the street that was designated for redevelopment. Mrs. Abraham first said she had no money to move, when the State reimbursed her, she told city and state officials she had nowhere to move to. The woman continued her negotiations with the American Asphalt Company….and 45 years ago this week the number 1 song in America and LuLac land was “It Hurts To Be In Love” by Gene Pitney.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The LuLac Edition #952, Sept. 24th, 2009



Apparently Wil Toole has his up and downs in the signage department. First off we have to apologize for putting the wrong sign up in one of our previous editions. Turns out that sign had a circle with his name in it, the signs on the streets are with an oval. Wil had a few signs torn asunder off of route 81. I’d like to think it might have been an errant squirrel but I bet I’m wrong on that one.


Tuesday the Citizen’s Voice had an editorial about the state budget. Seems they pointed out that everyone sustained cuts except of course the State legislature. None of their caucus money or budgetary money was cut one iota. As a matter of fact, the reserve they hold was not even seen as an option to be lowered even when people in the State were hurting. Since the Legislature is incapable of reforming itself, voters should do it by voting out incumbents.
The Times Leader on Wednesday was appalled that the county commissioners gave permission to the Mericle Group to sell Valley Crest. The Mericle Company will of course get a huge commission on that deal. Here’s the thing; that is prime real estate, anyone can sell that property. Any reasonable real estate agent. But apparently the Commissioners feel the Mericle group is the only set of sellers that can move that land. Unreal.


Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hosted a town hall meeting with seniors in Silver Spring, MD and released a new report, Health Insurance Reform and Medicare: Making Medicare Stronger for America’s Seniors. The report, authored by HHS, outlines how health insurance reform will help seniors and answers key questions about President Obama’s health insurance reform plan. The complete report is available now at
"We will protect seniors - not burden them with out of pocket costs," said Vice President Biden. "The bottom line is, seniors will be better off under what we are proposing, and not a dollar from the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for health insurance reform." “Under health insurance reform, seniors will get better care and their health care costs will go down,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Reform will strengthen Medicare, cut drug costs, and help ensure all seniors get the high-quality, affordable care they deserve.” The report highlights several problems in the current health care system and health insurance reform solutions such as:
Preserving and strengthening Medicare. According to the Medicare Trustees 2009 report, the Medicare Part A Trust Fund will be exhausted by 2017. Health insurance reform will extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by an additional four to five years – and delivery system reforms included in health insurance reform have the potential to keep the Trust Fund solvent even longer into the future. Health insurance reform will also reduce overpayments to private plans and will clamp down on fraud and abuse to strengthen Medicare for all seniors. Coupled with improvements in the quality of care, expansion of the health care workforce, and reductions in out-of-pocket costs, health insurance reform will ensure that Medicare will continue to provide the high-quality, affordable coverage that America’s seniors deserve and expect. Cutting high prescription drug costs. Prescription drug costs represent a significant expense for seniors. While Medicare added a prescription drug benefit, this benefit includes a coverage gap commonly called the “donut hole.” In 2007, over 8 million seniors hit the “donut hole.” For those who are not low-income or have not purchased other coverage, average drug costs in this coverage gap are $340 per month, or $4,080 per year. Health insurance reform will close the coverage gap in Medicare Part D over time, so seniors do not have to worry about losing coverage for their drug costs. While the closure of the coverage gap is phased in, health insurance reform will also provide seniors with a discount of 50 percent on their brand name medication costs in the coverage gap, saving thousands of dollars for some seniors. Making preventive services free. Many seniors do not receive recommended preventive and primary care, leading to less effective and more expensive treatments. For example, 20 percent of women aged 50 and over did not receive a mammogram in the past two years, and 38 percent of adults aged 50 and over have never had a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. Seniors in Medicare must pay 20 percent of the cost of many preventive services on their own. For a colonoscopy that costs $700, this means that a senior must pay $140 – a price that can be prohibitively expensive. Under health insurance reform, a senior would not pay anything for a screening colonoscopy or other preventive services. Reform will eliminate any deductibles, copayments, or other cost-sharing for obtaining preventive services, making them affordable and accessible. Ending overpayments to private insurance companies that cost all Medicare beneficiaries. The federal government pays private insurance companies on average 14 percent more for providing coverage to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries than it would pay for the same beneficiary in the traditional Medicare program. There is no evidence that this extra payment leads to better quality for Medicare beneficiaries, and all Medicare beneficiaries pay the price of these excessive overpayments through higher premiums – even the 78 percent of seniors who are not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. A typical couple in traditional Medicare will pay on average nearly $90 next year to subsidize private insurance companies that do not provide their Medicare benefits. Health insurance reform will eliminate excessive government subsidies to Medicare Advantage plans, which could save the Federal government, taxpayers, and Medicare beneficiaries well over $100 billion over the next 10 years.


Sept. 24th, ’64 Phillies.

The Phillies open up a series with Milwaukee. Wade Blasingame wins his seventh beating Jim Bunning who goes 18-6. Joe Torre, Rico Carty and Hank Aaron each collect 2 hits a piece to help Bobby Bragan’s Braves win over the Phils 5 to 3.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The LuLac Edition #951, Sept. 23rd, 2009



Those two words are unusual when we are talking about health care reform. After all the shouting and pointed swords at each other this summer, there seems to be at least a civil approach bubbling to the surface locally. That comes in the form of a book written by a local physician and surgeon. Daniel Kopen wrote the book “Common Sense Health Care Reform”. The book, all 80 some pages of it has some intriguing suggestions and suppositions. Dr. Kopen says that currently we have no health care system but rather we posses “a murky amalgamation of special interest groups which in aggregate provide the semblance of a dysfunctional system of health care delivery”. In his book, Dr. Kopen touches on the player’s involvement in this which range from Doctors, Insurers, Lawmakers and Drug companies. The doctor also talks about a special court that would handle medical malpractice, taking the judgments out of the hands of lay jurors and having impartial medical experts weigh in on any problems. On rationing care, the doctor tells us that the very nature of today’s health care system does just that, universal health care does not necessarily mean coverage for everything. The book is a fascinating read, informative, packed with information and required reading for anyone concerned about the direction health reform is headed. For more information on the book contact Doctor Kopen at his office in Forty Fort.


Pa. reports that Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel has decided to seek the Democratic nomination for governor, jumping into an increasingly crowded primary field as he seeks to portray himself as a progressive standard-bearer for the party. Hoeffel, fueled by a concern that the party may be tacking right, made his decision after
commissioning a poll on the race that his campaign said yielded encouraging results. While no formal announcement has been scheduled, Hoeffel, a former Congressman, is in the process of staffing up for his first statewide campaign since he lost a Senate race to Arlen Specter in 2004.
“I do intend to run,” he told in an exclusive interview on Sunday. “I’m going to move forward aggressively. I’m in the race and ready to ride.” The last county commissioner to make the leap from that executive level to the state wide center stage was Mark Schweiker who became Tom Ridge’s Ltn. Governor in 1994. Elected to two terms with Ridge, Schweiker assumed the office when Ridge became head of homeland security.


Sept. 23rd, ’64 Phillies.

The Reds continue their winning ways over the Phils with rookie Billy McCool besting lefty Dennis Bennett. Bennett’s record falls to 12-13. Pete Rose, Vada Pinson and the middle of the batting order give Cincinnati all it needs to defeat the Phils 6 to 4. The Phils remain in first but the Reds are closing in only back by 3 and ½ games.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The LuLac Edition #950, Sept. 22nd, 2009



Two Luzerne County Judges vying for retention in the November elections emerged yesterday on the Steve Corbett program on WILK Radio. Both incumbent judges have been making the rounds at social events over the summer but this marked the first time both took to the airwaves to discuss their retention bids. Burke said that he didn't have any campaign funds this go round and hoped his reputation as a fair minded jurist would carry him through. Olszewski addressed the issue of his being in Florida at disgraced Judge Michael Conahan's condo. Both acquitted themselves well. In an ordinary election year, a retention vote race would not be notable but because of the indictments of Judges Conahan and Ciavarella, this these races will loom large. There is a knee jerk reaction to throw everyone out and paint everyone with the broad brush of corruption. The instinct is to just vote no as retribution for the scandals. Many fear both incumbents will be caught in that crossfire. It is extremely important both Judges asking for retention get in front of this issue by offering their credentials as well as their personalities to the public. Yesterday on Corbett was a good start. Whether it will work or not, we'll know on Election night. Not to be trite, but the jury is out on this one.


Love football? Love tailgate food? No excuses now, that Penn State game on Saturday doesn't start until later and if you root for Notre Dame, 'c'mon, what's the point there. Come on out Saturday for The Second Annual 6th District Tailgate Party Saturday, September 26th, 12pm to 5pm at GOP Headquarters, 41 South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre. Food, fun, activities, entertainment, GOP candidates and of course let's mix a little business with pleasure, voter registration! A $10 Donation is requested, and children under 6 attend for free. Tickets are available now at Luzerne County Republican Party Headquarters. RSVP by September 22, that's today to:
Optional donations to the cause are also gladly accepted. They are:
“Quarterback” - $25 Tailgate
“Coach” - $50 and up. For tickets, call Steve at 574-9811, Pat
822-3597 or Renita 208-4671. Do it today.


Sept. 22nd, '64 Phillies.

Chris Short, 17 game winner gets rocked by the Reds in a 9-2 defeat. Pete Rose, Deron Johnson and Frank Robinson pace the Reds with an all out hitting attack that gives the Phils their second loss in a row. Jim O'Toole holds the Phils to just 2 runs. O'Toole gets his 16th win in a complete game performance while Short is relieved by John Boozer, Ed Roebuck and spot starter Rick Wise. The Phils still remain in first place.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The LuLac Edition #949, Sept. 21st, 2009



Mrs. LuLac and I went around the Valley yesterday because of the beautiocity of the fall weather. Bowing to her wishes that we rid ourselves of the music of the late 50s and early 60s, I popped in some music of the 80s and we drove through the little towns of LuLac land. On the way we spotted Amesbury for Judge signs along with the Tina Polachek Gartley signs. Walter Griffith for Controller signs adorned most of Luzerne County, Walter going with the blue and white persuasion this time. Independent Controller candidate Wil Toole’s signs also dotted the landscape. His are black and yellow and Mrs. LuLac pointed out that those colors are known to be the most visually noticeable. Toole’s signs also have his name inside what appears to be an oval. Mrs. LuLac saw a football shape in Toole’s signs but she might have got that from my stressing over the Packers as we had the dulcet tones of Merrill Reese on doing the Eagles play by play. The power of suggestion is great when you live with me, at least I’m told. Dottie Stankovic signs also were up in strategic areas. Do signs work? Well it gets your name out there, indicates that you’re serious about your intentions, gives a barometer of your campaign organization and volunteer depth as well as the signaling to those uninterested or uninformed that another election is bearing down on them.


Sept. 21rst: ’64 PHILLIES

On this day the Phillies were 6 and ½ games ahead in the National League. Art Mahaffey pitched and lasted 6 innings. The turning point in that September 21 game was when Chico Ruiz otherwise known as “bench me or trade me”(?) stole home, with Robinson at bat, in the bottom of the 6th inning. The game ended with a Reds victory – 1-0. Mahaffey lost the game making his record 12-9. This performance , giving up only 6 hits with one run would be considered a million dollar performance by most managers today. Not so in 1964. This began the Phillies 10 game slide. 21 – The Phillies were about to go on a ten game losing streak, and the Cincinatti Reds was going to win nine in a row.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The LuLac Edition #948, Sept. 20th, 2009



Ten years ago today I walked into the Call Center on South Main Street in Wilkes Barre and essentially started a new segment of my working life. Prior to this association I had no idea how to use a computer or anything connected to it. By the time I left, shortly before the place shut down, I worked as a trainer for various clients the center had as customers. It is ironic that a decade after this start, my new novel is finishing its final edit. The setting: a call center. Hopefully if things go well, we'll have the new book out by Christmas or shortly thereafter. I must stress that the book is fiction and any similarity to characters or situations is purely coincidental.


The other day NBC/MSNBC reporter Chuck Todd got a lesson in disease prevention from the very top. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took on the role as the sheepish veteran reporter gamely accepted her advice. Here's that video:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The LuLac Edition #947, Sept. 19th, 2009



With the wake of still another school director charge of bribery this week I thought this conversation would be appropriate. I touched base with an old friend who happens to be an educator in another part of the state.
Q: Do you like teaching?
A: If I could just deal with the kids, I’d be fine. But our administration, any administration I think is counterproductive to education. I know you need a structure but honest to God sometimes they do more harm than good.
Q: How so?
A: They are the kings of minutia.
Q: My friend John Webster from Rock 107 once told me that the smoothest time Rock 107 ran was when they had no GM.
A: I can believe it.
Q: What do you teach?
A: Music and theatre.
Q: How do you make it relevant?
A: Use current events. But with the constant information cycle, you have to be careful. Like I wanted to use Michael Jackson’s music as an example of the merging of theatre and music, and that’s fine. But I can’t tell them anything new about him because it’s been covered to death. He’s old news.
Q: Bet you can tell them a few facts about Beethoven?
A: You know it.
Q: How come you never tried to get a job here where you grew up?
A: I did. As recently as three years ago. But all the interviews were……….
Q: Perfunctory.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We both said the word “perfunctory” simultaneously.
Q: Were you ever bribed?
A: Once. This is in the 80s. Some guy told me to put a sack of money in a bag at a location near Nanticoke and I’d get a job.
Q: What did you do?
A: Nothing. Not because I was so high and mighty but think about it Dave. Money in a sack, at a location where people go. Who’s to say someone wouldn’t stumble on the money? What if the guy had a flat tire on the way to the drop off when he was supposed to pick it up. What if he had a fight with his wife? And the bills. What was I going to say if I didn’t get the job. Hey I gave you a sack of money and you screwed me? What if someone else on that board was doing the same thing and they mixed up the money? And the bills, if you mark them, you can go to jail. If you don’t mark them, how can they prove the money was yours? It was all too stupid never mind seedy and illegal.
Q: There are rumors that in some districts there is sex exchanged for jobs. What do you think?
A: I have never in my life seen a “hot” looking school director, have you?
Q: Point taken. Would you move back here if given the opportunity?
A: Yes but it won’t happen. For all your knowledge about politics you are very naïve. This has been going on for years. When we went to school you thought all these politicians were freakin’ rock stars. They aren’t. They’re crooks.
Q: Not all.
A: See, you’re still defending them. You’re like the last guy on the Titanic saying “it wasn’t an iceberg, just a few cubes”.
Q: So I’m thinking you have no use for crooked school directors and meddling administrators?
A: They should all burn in hell and die.
Q: You mean die and then burn in hell right?
A: No you didn’t hear left handed. I mean what I said. Burn first, then die.

The LuLac Edition #946, Sept. 19th, 2009



Gov. Ed Rendell and a few legislators from both sides of the aisle announced a deal on a $27.9 billion state budget Friday night. It brought an apparent end to the budget and political battle. Rendell met twice Friday with Senate Republican leaders to broker an agreement that adds several new sources of state tax revenue, expands legalized gambling, reduces spending by $400 million from last year's budget and provides enough revenue to satisfy negotiators that a balanced budget can be achieved during the next two years. The budget agreement comes 80 days late. Massive amounts of federal stimulus aid helped balance this budget. Rendell seemned pleased by the end result once the budget is adopted by lawmakers because it cuts spending yet safeguards key education and health programs.


The Scranton Times and Congressional Quarterly are reporting Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien is looking at a run for Congress in the 11th District. This was first reported by my friend Gort 42 in the spring. O'Brien has been candid and accessible to bloggers. Here's a report from CQ:
Pennsylvania: O'Brien Preps For Primary Against Kanjorski
By Greg Giroux September 17, 2009 5:53 PM

He's not ready to formally announce his campaign, but Pennsylvania Democrat
Corey O'Brien has taken formal steps to prepare a 2010 primary challenge of veteran Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski in the state's 11th District. O'Brien is a lawyer and county commissioner in Scranton who also has a broadcasting background. He filed a statement of candidacy and also formed a campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, which processed his paperwork on Sept. 16. O'Brien told CQ Politics Thursday evening that he filed his FEC papers "out of an abundance of caution at this point, just to ensure that we're following all the appropriate procedures with respect to looking very closely at getting into the race." "I have not made a public pronouncement with respect to the congressional race at this point, but I am seriously considering it and looking into it in a very serious way," O'Brien added. "We'll have more to say about that, certainly before the end of the year." O'Brien said that he's looking seriously at the race "because I think it's an important opportunity in our nation's history to be actively involved to ensure that our children have a better quality of life than we do today."
O'Brien, 36, was
elected in 2007 as a commissioner in Lackawanna County, which includes Scranton and is the most Democratic-leaning of the five counties that comprise the 11th District. He worked in Washington, D.C., for a decade, including a stint in the Clinton White House. Kanjorski, 72, is a senior member of the Financial Services Committee and chairs its panel on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises.
O'Brien, who worked for a financial services law firm, suggested that there has been too much focus on shoring up hedge funds and the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and not enough on the everyday struggles of people. "While we're worrying about those entities, I think we're failing to remember what built this country, and that's the people who are living in our communities," he said. "We need to start refocusing our efforts to make sure that the middle class doesn't evaporate in this process and that our communities aren't weakened in this process." O'Brien said that he has emphasized ethics as a county commissioner and suggested he would do the same as a candidate for Congress. First elected in 1984, Kanjorski has not faced opposition in the Democratic primary in his past 10 re-election campaigns. Kanjorski's only primary challenge came in 1986, when he won 94 percent of the vote.
O'Brien said that it would be "extremely difficult to beat a 25-year incumbent, but I feel confident moving forward that we'll be able to get our message out and let the voters decide." Pennsylvania's 11th, which includes Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton, has a decided Democratic lean, having backed Barack Obama over John McCain by 57 percent to 42 percent in the 2008 election. Yet Kanjorski was re-elected with just 52 percent of the vote over Republican Lou Barletta, the popular mayor of Hazleton. It's not clear who the Republican nominee will be. CQ Politics rates as Democrat Favored the November 2010 general election race in the Pa. 11th.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The LuLac Edition #945, Sept. 17th, 2009



Mary Travers, a member of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary passed away the other day at 72. It is scary when the people you listened to as a teenager start to die off. It is even more frightening when they depart the pop culture stage only to be replaced by the likes of Kanye West. Anyway, all that said, here’s my Mary Travers story. It was the last weekend of the 1984 Presidential election and Luzerne County Chairman Joe Tirpak had an ambition fulfilled. Throughout the 1984 race, Tirpak had been bugging the Mondale national staff to have either the former Vice President or Veep nominee Geraldine Ferrarro visit our area. I had volunteered for the campaign for a number of reasons but the primary one was a promise I had made years before. In a 1973 thank you get together for his old volunteers and supporters in Washinginton, D.C. Senator Hubert Humphrey asked those assembled to channel our efforts into a possible Walter Mondale run for President if that ever happened. It did in 1984 and I worked closely with the local chapter of the ILGWU in the spring working phone banks as well as distributing signs. In the fall campaign, I was promoted to “coordinator of logistics”. Basically I had to make sure that if there ever was a campaign stop, the people traveling were picked up at the airport with Mondale and herded to the proper buses. My responsibilities was solely for the entertainment. So in effect I was the chauffeur for the band. Not even a roadie. Well since Mondale wasn’t visiting, I had little to do. Until that last weekend. The week of October 28th there was a rumor that Ferraro would be coming to town. Joe Tirpak squashed that rumor like a bug saying that Walter Mondale was coming instead. Most political pundits thought the election was a foregone conclusion but Tirpak was saying with a straight face that Mondale still had a chance and it was imperative he visit Luzerne County before the election. No one thought anyone, let alone the Mondale campaign would buy that but Tirpak was adamant that there would be a rally. On Halloween word came from the Mondale camp that indeed the former Vice President would address a rally on Public Square. Everything went into high gear. All of a sudden the local Mondale office started handling logistics with the national staff. A laundry list was made of things the campaign needed including hotel rooms. All of a sudden my job was in play, people were excited about the prospect of a candidate coming to town and Joe Tirpak was looking like a political genius…..again. A guy who played softball with me, Joe Sekusky also accompanied the campaign working in another area. But we touched base often on the big day. On Friday afternoon, November 2nd, the first of the planes began landing in Avoca and the bus I was assigned to had the “entertainers”. I sat down next to a guy who looked pretty familiar but my mind was on politics. We talked about the campaign for about 10 minutes until I introduced myself and he said, “pleasure to meet you, I’m Paul Stookey”. It didn’t sink in until 5 minutes later and it was then that I had the presence of mind to snag an autograph for Mrs. LuLac. The bus emptied on the square and the entertainers, after a brief respite began to sing. It was 4PM. Mondale was due at 5pm. After an hour, the entertainment stopped. The late Christine McLaughlin, the wife of then Mayor Tom McLaughlin had a group of Irish Step dancers and other youth groups with her. Quickly they were dispatched to the stage. After they were finished, the high school bands started to play. It was an improvised effort to keep the now gathering crowd focused. By 6:00PM, Peter Paul and Mary took the stage. They sang….again. It was a raw cold November Friday night. There was a time change the weekend before and things were as dark as Mondale’s prospects all across the country. Sekusy meanwhile was working crowd control helping with security to pave a way for Mondale's entrance. At that point we were told Mondale had landed and was at the hotel to “freshen up”. After 45 minutes, it appeared that the entertainers were suffering from “If I Had A hammer” fatigue and stopped playing. With the Step Dancers doing their third encore a livid Mary Travers made her way toward Joe Tirpak. Tirpak, no fool made a deft move to talk to some of his fans assuring people Mondale would be coming out of the Sheraton Crossgates shortly. So Mary Travers got me instead. She said, “Are you in charge?” Seeing Tirpak working the crowd and with no one else in sight my ego got the better part of me and I said, “Yes”. Her body language totally escaped me as I extended my hand and said, “I’m David Yonki and I’m coordinating here”. She put her hand on her hips and said, “What the **** is a David Yonki and why the **** should I care? Where the **** is he, we’re singing our ****ing asses off here in this cold!?” Somewhere, someone uttered the words, (and it wasn’t me) “I think he’s taking a bath in the hotel”. That immediately set her off again with expletives flying as she stormed the stage. With that her group started singing the meanest most biting version of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” you ever heard. By the time the tune was over, I saw Sekusky and the security people along with the Wilkes Barre Police escorting Mayor McLaughlin, the Mayor’s wife, Controller Merecedes Leighton, County Controller Joe Tirpak, and local labor leader Sam Bianco to the stage. The entertainment stopped and as the speeches began Mary Travers brushed past me headed for the Crossgates hotel. To this day I wonder if she was headed to the bar or for a hot bath.


Former Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge, will sit down to discuss his book, “The Test of Our Times” on a special “PA Books” set to air Friday, September 18 at 12:00 p.m. and again at 4:00 p.m. on the statewide television network. Tom Ridge left his post as governor in 2001 after his appointment by President George W. Bush to head the newly-created Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As the nation’s first secretary of Homeland Security, Ridge was given the task of coordinating a federal domestic counterterrorism effort after the attacks on September 11, 2001. “The Test of Our Times,” is a political memoir which not only looks back on the challenges, political pressures, successes and missteps of the newly-created department, but looks to answer how America can protect itself in the future while still preserving personal freedoms. A native of Pennsylvania, Ridge served as Congressman for 12 years and Governor of Pennsylvania for 6 years. Ridge served in the Bush administration as the head of the DHS until 2005. A Harvard graduate, Ridge is currently President and CEO of Ridge Global. “PA Books,” which is hosted by PCN President and CEO, Brian Lockman, features authors or editors of new or recently released books about Pennsylvania. Since “PA Books” began in 1997, more than 450 episodes have been produced by the network and hosted by Lockman. The program is part of the network’s regular Sunday evening primetime lineup which includes “PCN Tours” and “PCN Profiles.” To learn more about upcoming PA Books programs and subscribe to an audio iTunes podcast of PA Books, visit


The longest running broadcast program leaves the air Friday. The Guiding Light ends its 72 year run as a soap opera staple for many in America. A few facts about the show: The Guiding Light was created by soap writer Irna Phillips, and began as an NBC Radio serial on January 25, 1937. In 1947 the show moved to CBS radio, before starting on television on June 30, 1952, on CBS television. The show's title refers to a lamp in the study of Reverend Dr. John Ruthledge, a major character when The Guiding Light debuted in 1937, that family and residents could see as a sign for them to find help when needed. Dr. John Ruthledge was based on the personality of Warren Moyer, a resident of Stouffville, Ontario, Canada. On September 11, 1967, the show was first broadcast in color. A year later, the show expanded from 15 to 30 minutes. The 1960s saw the introduction of African-American characters, and the main focus of the show shifted to Bill and Bert's children, Mike and Ed. A number of new characters were introduced during the mid- to late-60s, perhaps most notably Dr. Sara McEntire, who would remain a central character through the early 1980s. Guiding Light taped its final scenes on August 11, 2009, and it is scheduled to air its final episode on CBS on September 18. On October 5, 2009, to replace Guiding Light, CBS will air an hour-long revival of Let's Make a Deal. Through the years the series dealt with all type of social problems most notably alcoholism. It had a long run. The theme song was based on Variations on "Romance" from Wieniaswski's Violin Concerto # 2 in D Minor from the early days until 1967. Since we are a pop culture blog, here are three videos to mark this momentous departure.
In the first video, we see a young Bert Bauer talking things over with Poppa Bauer.

Then there were the sponsors and the theme:

There was a reason they called them soaps.
And there was this great promo when GL hit year 70.


Goldfinger opens in the UK.......Bewitched, starring Elizabeth Montgomery, premieres on ABC......King Constantine II of Greece marries in Athens, who is now Europe's youngest Queen at age eighteen years, nineteen days. Senator Barry Goldwater questions the need for Medicare saying that private citizens should help older Americans through volunteerism……The Pa. State Treasurer’s Association has their annual conference in Paoli. Treasurer for Luzerne County Matt Leib attends……the 1964 Phillies triumph over the Los Angeles Dodgers with Jim Bunning going the distance. The pitching staff is showing wear and tear but the Phils are 6 and ½ games ahead with only 12 to play. A Sports Illustrated color photographer is trailing Bunning taking possible cover shots of Bunning if the Phils get to the Series……..It is estimated that the Luzerne County nursing home Valley Crest provides over 1,000 meals a day…and in LuLac land the number 1 song in America was Do Wah Diddy Diddy by Manfred Mann.

The LuLac Edition #944, Sept. 17th, 2009



For a guy who has been toiling over the Health Care bill for months now, Senator Max Baucus pretty much accomplished one thing: he pleased no one with the release of his bill. Baucus' plan would require insurance companies to sell coverage to all seeking it, without exclusions for pre-existing medical conditions or prohibitively expensive premiums. The legislation would create so-called insurance exchanges in the states where companies could sell policies that meet criteria set by the government, with federal subsidies available for lower-income individuals and families who would otherwise be unable to afford coverage. Any policy offered for sale in the exchanges would have to cover preventive and primary care as well as dental, prescription drug, mental health and vision services. In general, consumer copays on preventive coverage would be banned. Some of that is a good thing but the co-ops he's talking about would impose fines on people for not taking the insurance. It would further expand the pool of members for health insurance companies but nothing was said about curbing any costs regarding what they could charge. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has long been involved in health care issues, said the proposal doesn't go far enough to control costs or guarantee a greater choice among health plans for consumers. In the House, Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York, who favors a government-run program, said, "I think I speak for many members of Congress in saying that the Senate proposal simply will not pass muster in the House of Representatives and fails on very basic levels to satisfy the objectives of the president and the citizens of the United States of America."
As far as the GOP goes, if Baucus had any illusions about getting support he was totally taken in by his oppoonents. Senator Charles Grassley said he's against it and Senator Olympia Snowe says she still isn't sure. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia said “there is no way in its present form that I vote for it unless it changes in the amendment process by vast amounts.”
When this bill is ready for mark up, look for the fireworks! The bottom line is that the Democrats have been bending over backwards to compromise on this bill to placate the Republicans. And they have not gotten any support. So in effect they compromised for nothing. They have a bi partisan bill......without the bipartisan support. I mean...why bother. There is no political cover here so why not do what the President promised instead of doing this through half measures. While insurance companies do many good things in health care like pay claims, this bill if passed the way it is written now instititionalizes all the shortcomings between the Insurance industry and their customers. Here's a former executive from Cigna with his thoughts:

Maybe Senator Baucus should take a listen to this song and the words in it.