Thursday, March 18, 2010

The LuLac Edition #1122, Mar. 18th, 2010



A big controversy is brewing about overtime pay for Luzerne County Human Services managers which includes 911, Area Office on the Aging and Mental Health Officials. Steve Urban and Walter Griffith voted against the over time stipends saying that the entitlement mentality of managers needed to end. The opposite side of that is that compensation is needed for managers who are on call on certain situations after hours. Really? Look, if you take a salaried position or if you are raking down over $60,000 as a manager, extra on call pay is ridiculous. Whatever happened to serving the public? I value the hard work and education of some of these managers BUT getting extra on call money as a manager doesn’t happen in private business. If you are a small business owner or a salaried employee and you have a task to perform and it takes extra hours or someone calls off sick, you do it. And you don’t ask for extra money. An extra $500 a week? Sorry, no mental health or social worker I ever met in this county is worth that amount!


A great public defender who literally held that office together resigned the other day. Controller Water Griffith fretted that Russin should not have been allowed to resign because he can still collect his pension. He earned the pension and he too the extra money at the direction of a county higher up. I have a problem with people saying that officials don’t have a right to a pension or a set amount. They do, they earned it. And just because we don’t like the rules that engendered it, that’s not the problem of the person who holds the pension.


If you have any doubts about whether a health care bill should be passed, think about this. The Clinton Health Care bill didn’t pass in 1993. Since then has health care costs gone done? Have insurance companies given any breaks to its consumers? Have premiums gone done? Have you payed less for your health care? I thought not.


There is so much misinformation about health care it will shock me if this bill passes. The bill is far short of what it needs to do but it is a start. It will save money and allow the already strapped middle class to afford health care. 3 million -- that's the decrease in the number of middle-income earners who obtained health insurance from their employers from 2000 to 2008. And 3 times -- is how much faster health care premiums are rising compared to wages. While our broken health care system is hurting everyone, it's the middle class that's feeling it the most. A report just out from the non-partisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that the middle class became uninsured at a faster pace than those with less or more income. And if we do nothing, the problem will only get worse. Health insurance reform will lower costs and put America's middle class and small businesses back in the driver's seat of their own health care. The stakes are just too high for the millions of Americans who are hurting because of the way our current health care system works. What astounds me is the way people are reacting to this. I have never seen so many people be so vocal against their own self interest as I have from callers to talk radio or people on the street. The biggest mistake President Obama continues to make is that he says “if you like your health care, it won’t change”. If this bill doesn’t pass, health care will change. The premiums will go up and up and pretty soon the middle class will be squeezed out of health coverage. This isn’t perfect but it is a start.


Ever wonder why Blue Cross has such a hold on people? Blue Cross was started in the 1930s as a way for people to obtain health insurance. It was actually encouraged for people to join. Blue Cross Blue Shield was even promoted by the Boy Scouts of America who in some communities passed out membership forms. It was your patriotic duty to buy insurance. And the Blues were non profits that took everybody. But in the 70s other insurance companies began to undercut rates and deny people coverage. As a way of survival the Blues had to reconstitute their business plan and try to turn a profit. That have done that. Some say the premiums are too high and with that whopping surplus that is very hard to dispute. But the health coverage for those insured has been a such an institution that there are some people who buy Blue no matter what. Medicare Supplemental programs are favored by seniors., When I worked at BCNEPA, some of the most illuminating conversations I had were with senior citizens who had supplemental plans to pick up the 20% Medicare doesn’t pay. With the yearly rate hikes, some had to defer other purchases, tighten their belt and in some cases borrow money from their kids to pay the supplement. But they were never going to let go of their Blue because of the large part it played in their lives. When Medicare came about the naysayers said it would end the insurance companies. Blue Cross and other health plans offer a Medicare Supplemental plan for purchase. And if a Government Run Health Exchange is approved or some form of it, guess who will be what is technically called the fiscal intermediary? Your insurance company. So please don’t spout off or believe everything you hear on right wing radio or from the national party of no. They are lying and approaching the propaganda level of Goebbels in war torn Germany during WWII. If you tell a lie long enough…….


Remember when there was such a crisis at the start of this century that doctors were going to leave Pennsylvania because of medical malpractice? A few retired but as far as I can see the doctors have not migrated.



Twenty-nine influential women from across Pennsylvania have joined forces in "Women for Wagner" to support Auditor General Jack Wagner's gubernatorial campaign. These women recognize Jack as an advocate for structural reforms in government that would open opportunities to women who are often shut out by the status quo, as well as someone who will lead by example in hiring women and minorities in his administration. The new group follows "Students for Wagner," which was launched in November. "Jack Wagner has all of the qualities that are essential to being a great chief executive. He knows state government inside and out, and he has spent his career fighting the political establishment. He's been pushing for reform at every level," said Sandi Vulcano, Easton City Councilwoman. "As Auditor General, he has identified hundreds of millions of dollars in waste and abuse, and he's made some enemies along the way. The people in power today are wary of Jack because he answers only to the public interest, and not to the special interests. He has my full endorsement and support for Governor of Pennsylvania." "Jack's interest in people is as valuable to Pennsylvania as his outstanding record of accomplishment. He has this record because of his commitment to doing the right thing for people all across the Commonwealth. He sees us not just as voters, but as people," said Dianne Gregg, Centre County Democratic Committee Chair. "Too often, politics and government in Pennsylvania are focused on Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but Jack has come to Centre County many times. We feel that he knows us and that he cares about our concerns. When Jack is Governor, we know that the middle of the state will matter too. For us, Jack is a breath of fresh air."
No one from LuLac land on the list I’m sorry to report.


I am not surprised by the level of support and sympathy for Lackawanna County Commissioner a.J. Munchak. Some I have talked to are even seeing him as a victim of circumstances. If I were A.J., I’d run from my long time bud Bob Cordaro and use that as my defense strategy. Today Former Lackawanna Commissioner Robert Cordaro and current Lackawanna County Commissioner
A.J. Munchak pleaded not guilty to charges contained in a 40-count indictment returned against them on Tuesday.


Washington, D.C., General Motors President James M. Roche appears before a Senate subcommittee, and apologizes to consumer advocate Ralph Nader for the company's intimidation and harassment campaign against him……Pope Paul VI and Arthur Michael Ramsey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, meet in Rome…….20,000 anti war demonstrators converge on Washington to oppose the Vietnam War….In Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Raymond Shafer on the campaign trail advises that there should be formations of Economic Development Councils in key geographic areas of the state………in Wilkes Barre city the Council continually slams Mayor Frank Slattery on the wage tax and threatens to change the form of government…...and 44 years ago the number 1 song in America and LuLac land was by an Army Staff Sergeant, Barry Sadler.


At 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because the Yonkster never reached high enough, he seems to think that $60,ooo is a huge amount of money. It isn't! Why do you say that these people are not entitled to a private life and earning a salary of $60,000 means that they have to be on call 24/7? You imply they are managers yet they can't hire or fire so are they considered managers using the Dept of Labor management standards? I guess the Yonkster is right and we should all continue to beg for minimum wage jobs and if per chance we do land a decent job, we should simply sign over our private lives to the employer. They used to refer to these situations as the Company Store, The Company House and the Company Owning your very soul. You're wrong Dave.

At 3:57 AM, Blogger Austin said...

Anon, 60k is like twice the average income of Luzerne county.

Yonkerz, this bill could so decent stuff but since the Prez has been pointing out how only 5 million people will sign up for the public option, that it will not be available to 90% of the people in states that allow it, I cannot bring myself to care if it passes.

I've moved onto supporting a single payer solution for our state. There is a bill in both houses, our government has said he will sign it, the hearing process is underway, we are closing in on authorizing its economic impact study and several other states are closely following our lead.

At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get real folks. You know the salary when you take the job. You know the requirements, including nights and weekends. The truth is that these managers were the beneficiaries of union contracts that covered caseworkers. For years the county gave supervisors the same benefits (on call pay) as the caseworkers. It's simply a case of "We've always done it this way". Now we have the opportunity to fix it and bring the public sector a little more in line with the private sector. If supervisors don't like it, they have the opportunity to seek employment elsewhere, and to "stretch higher" in their quest for a bigger pay check. No one says they should work for minimum wage, but the supervisors are fairly compensated. If they are on call on a weekend or overnight, give them the time off IF they actually work during that time. After all, being on call doesn't mean the supervisor was actually called upon to put in work time. It means being available in case you are needed.

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love = hate, the coal miner mentality. The job is what it was stated to be and now two failures want to change it. When these people took it, these were the conditions and benefits. Because Griffith was a failed auto mechanic and Urban simply a mean heartless bastard that wants to fire everyone doesn't mean that these people are right. As for the average salary in the area being $30 G, well, isn't that just ducky? We should be thrilled that the bastards allow us to make that much. Try to buy a home on a 30 G salary and see what you qualify for. In fact, try to buy one on 60 G and see what you qualify for. COAL MINER MENTALITY. We are what we want to be, a community filled with ambitionless sheep. I would like to see which of these complaining 30 G a year failures would not scream if they got a call at 2 AM, spent several hours responding to it and then not receive any compensation. Yeah right! So now there is nobody on call, the local hospital has a mental patient on hand and can't reach an authority to have that person committed, what do they do? OK, let's send them home till morning and if they do harm to themselves or others we can thank the small minds and the headline grabbing politicians for protecting the taxpayers. I have an idea, let's all get together at a happy hour and we can discuss how we can hold each other down and in the grasp of poverty. My son and daughter never came home after college, I was upset but now I'm thrilled they live in the real world and have normal lives.

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Your friend and political sparing partner said...

On health care reform. If it passes, I have to go to work and pay taxes. If it doesn't I have to go to work and pay taxes. Everyone needs to stop worrying and start living and fuck all the bullshit that you have no control over.

Self reliance is dead.
Self control over one's life is dead.
Self determination is dead.

The American experiment is over. We have proved that self governance and freedom does not work. People do not want to be free to take care of themselves. They want the government, via people who have more, to take care of them.

Can you imagine going back in time and telling a returning WWII veteran that in the next century the U.S. Government would take over General Motors and tell the American people that they would be required to purchase health insurance under penalty of law to include a monetary fine or imprisonment.

You think they would believe it?

At 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so there are about 45 million uninsured. that leave 258 million insured. WTF is the problem. You can't have 100% of anyting

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pass healthcare now im tired of seeing all of these scare tactics by the right we have seen if before it is what they do. Get some bravado and pass the bill.

At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 11:06 I agree you can't have 100% and Luzerne County proves that every day. We're close to 100% stupid population but there are 10% (maybe) with a brain.

The Right keeps pushing and lying and the dumb middle (lower) class continue to vote on issues against themselves. Why? Because they are in the 90%!

I like the idea of a hapy hour where we can get together and hold each other down. What fun!

At 4:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the County "on call" pay:

The fact that the Salary Board is designed in such a way that there is occasion when no clear majority exists (2-2 vote)is a flaw in the design. It appears that certain offices cannot function without the use of manager's involvement in after hours activities. The argument that these are "managers" can be an arguable question in that these employees may not qualify as "managers" under the definition of the Dept of Labor Wage and Hour Board. County mangers do not have the right to hire or fire so they may very well escape the definition of "manager". If that is so, the county may face more legal entanglements that will cost the taxpayers valuable and sparse tax dollars. Common sense needs to prevail and headline making should be on a back burner and not used to score public watchdog points. Children and Youth as well as agencies such as Mental Health must operate outside of the political world and making headline by restricting their operation is not in the best interest of the public. This is an issue that requires thought, not political posturing.


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