Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The LuLac Edition #1091, Feb. 9th, 2010



He came out of nowhere in 1970 to reclaim the Bob Casey Senior Senate seat that was taken away by a Republican grocer in the 1966 General Election. A young Robert Mellow defeated the incumbent Arthur Piasecki to win the first of an astounding ten terms as the State Senator for the 22nd District. During that time Mellow amassed a political run unheard of in Pennsylvania politics. Today, to the surprise of a few, Bob Mellow eschewed another term in the Senate. He finished as the Pennsylvania State Senate’s longest-serving member and its highest-ranking Democrat.
Two personal stories about Mellow. One night back in 1978 I met Mellow and his then wife coming out of the Woodlands Restaurant. At the time I was on Channel 44’s “Phone 44” TV show and casually asked him if he’d be a guest on the program. He accepted and when we did the show I was impressed by the minutia the Senator knew about the state. Years later the Senator showed that same knowledge when he was a guest on “The State of Pennsylvania”. Whatever the criticism, Mellow knew his job, the policy and the state. Another story, back in the fall of 2009, I went to Mellow’s office on a personal constituent matter. I was not in Mellow’s district, but nonetheless got an appointment with a staffer who did his best to accommodate me. Within days of my request, I received in the mail a copy of a letter Mellow sent to certain organizations on my behalf. Never was there a question as to where I lived or what he needed from me to get this done. That impressed me.
Mellow issued this statement through a press release:
“It has been my profound personal honor to serve the citizens of Pennsylvania. It has literally been my life’s work. I am deeply grateful for the trust that my friends and neighbors from northeastern Pennsylvania have shown me by electing and re-electing me to work for them. We have accomplished many great things together,” Mellow said in a statement. “The long hours in Harrisburg over the years have cost me precious time with my daughters and now my grandchildren. My choice to put them first is the right thing to do and, as jarring as this decision has been to make, I am confident that now is the right time to do it," he said. "All of those days devoted to my constituents have resulted in many good things for the 22nd District – some I never imagined possible. With those successes in mind, I am shifting my focus. My daughters and grandchildren mean the world to me, and in this next chapter of my life, I need to devote more of my time and energy to them.”
Mellow’s list of accomplishments are the stuff of legend. Senator Mellow spearheaded the efforts to establish the Commonwealth Medical College which accepted its first class of students in the fall of 2009. The regional medical school in Scranton is the first of its kind in the United States in over 50 years. He obtained $35 million in state grant funds to found the school. Senator Mellow successfully advocated for the state law that requires insurance companies to cover annual mammograms. The law makes it possible for the women of Pennsylvania to access quality preventive care. Senator Mellow was the driving force behind building the veterans' home in Scranton and naming the building after Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Gino Merli. The senator serves on the Advisory Board for the state-of-the-art facility. Among his many honors and awards are the Distinguished Public Service Award by the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, the "Guardian of Small Business Award" from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the “Adler Friend of Education Award” by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, "Man of the Year" by the Northeast Alliance of Pennsylvania Retirees, AFL-CIO, and the “Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers’ President’s Award.” Senator Mellow received the prestigious “Legion of Honor Bronze Medallion” from the Chapel of Four Chaplains, signifying his contributions toward national or international peace and interfaith and interethnic understanding. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from The Commonwealth Medical College, Keystone College, Lackawanna College, the Widener University School of Law, the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine and Marywood University. Senator Mellow has been paid lasting tribute by many regional institutions that have named facilities in his honor. They include: Lackawanna College, Marywood University, Friendship House, Keystone College, the Boy Scouts of America and his birthplace of Peckville, PA named their community recreation facility, “Mellow Park.” Senator Mellow received the “Wings of Pegasus Award” for child advocacy and is the recipient of the Broadway Theatre League of NEPA’s “Sam and Jane Cali Star” award for distinguished service to the artsMellow’s exodus along with that of State Senator Ray Musto of Luzerbne County leaves a serioius void in seniority and service for LuLac land. It will be interesting to see the political ramifications of what happens after these two lions of ther Senate


Ed Rendell has announced his nominations to fill two vacant seats on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas and the Sheriff's department. Rendell has nominated Lewis Wood Wetzel of Dallas and Joseph Van Jura of Kingston to fill the judgeships. He also nominated John F. Gilligan of Wyoming as Luzerne County Sheriff. Van Jura is a former educator turned Attorney who piloted debate teams in the Catholic School system in the early 70s. As a member of the St. John’s debate team in Pittston, we never, ever wanted to go up against Van Jura’s guys. Van Jura is popular in the Hanover Area and has shown no previous inclination to run for Judge. Lewis Wood Wetzel comes from the T. Newell Wood branch of the aisle. I first met Wetzel during the 1978 Tom Lehman for State Senate campaign in the 20th district when I had weekly meetings with the campaign treasurer Al Aston Junior. Wetzel later on distinguished himself as a constant United Way of Wyoming Valley volunteer in the 80s (where I ran into him again) serving on the Allocations and Social Justice Committees. These two picks for Judge, like the Joe Cosgrove choice will serve the county bench well. Incoming Sheriff John Gilligan can bring some common sense and stability to the beleaguered lawman’s office. Gilligan would make a good choice as a transitional leader in that department should Home Rule abolish that department.


State Rep. John Yudichak Monday announced that he will seek the Democratic nomination for state Senate in the 14th district.Yudichak, 39, made the announcement at the construction site of the Luzerne County Community College's Culinary Arts Institute in center city Nanticoke. He is the first Democrat to officially announce for the seat that will be vacated at the end of the year when Sen. Ray Musto retires. Yudichak brings with him Legislative experience and a very good reputation in terms of issues and politics.


Drums attorney Tarah Toohil has announced that she will challenge state Rep.
Todd Eachus, D-Butler Township, for his seat in the 116th Legislative District. Toohil, a 30-year-old Republican from the Drums section of Butler Township, said she will kickoff her campaign Tuesday night with an official announcement. The 116th Legislative District includes the city of Hazleton, the townships of Black Creek, Butler, Foster, Hazle and Sugarloaf and the boroughs of Conyngham, Freeland, Jeddo, West Hazleton and White Haven. The last Republican to represent that district was Tom Stish who switched parties from the Democrats to ensure a GOP majority in the last days of Robert Casey Senior's tenure in the Governor's office.


At 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look at Mellow's exit and think there is some urgent reason for him to bail out, like bonusgate, among other things. But Musto also throwing in the towel raises a flag- He could say what he wants about family, but timing is everything.....


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