The LuLac Edition #1340, Oct. 20th, 2010
PHOTO INDEX: CHARTER YES REPRESENTATIVES JEFF NIEMAC, C.J. KERSEY AND RICHARD "KICK" HEFFERNAN AND YOUR BLOG EDITOR, A SHOT OF THE PUBLIC ASKING QUESTIONS AND MAYOR JIM HAGGERTY INTRODUCING ME.
HOME RULE FORUM
I had the pleasure of moderating a Home Rule Informational session at the Chester Street Middle School in Kingston last night. Jim Haggerty opened up the evening introducing me as the moderator. Committee members Richard Kick Heffernen, CJ Kersey and Jeff Neimac answered questions from me. I asked Hefferen, a former employee if he could’ve done his job better with Home Rule. He answered yes saying that hiring should be done on merit. The former county employee said jobs were doled out according to commissioners wishes not merit.
C.J. Kersey pointed out that a county manager will be chosen by council and that body will not be involved in day to day running of county. I pointed out that in 2003 without corruption, indictments and tax increases, the home rule yes people still got 46%. If the charter was successful, what type of transition team would be formed. County Council commissioners and others elected in the election of council in 2011 would make up the transition team to be up and running in 2012. A big issue was the streamlining of the legal services in the county. Kersey said there would be one law department so the county could have all legal work under one department instead of various row officers having their own solicitors.
Niemec added that the Charter would prevent the county row offices from suing each other in the county from suing itself. On the finances I told the group I was surprised to learn there were 68 different bank accounts for Luzerne County government. When I asked if there was a way to stop this if the Charter did not live up to expectations, the members said the charter structure remains for five yrs voters before voters can change it. Charter can be amended and Kersey pointed out that Lehigh Valley which has had a charter since 1976 has added more than 80 amendments. Other points, tax collectors won't lose jobs and the annual salary at least $80000 county mgr not to-exceed $160000. After consolidation there will be two row offices left. Division of Judicial services and Controller as well as the D.A. will be left. Elected officials were asked to attend, none did although Red O’Brien made an initial commitment. One man summed up his feelings by saying, “this is our home, we have to make it better, that’s why I’m voting yes”. More than fifty people were in attendance.
Overheard at the Home Rule forum: Hate the dike tax. We are being punished and then have to buy flood insurance on top of it…….. Casino gaming funds Republicans in Senate voted1/3 for property tax relief and 2/3 for stadiums and other projects and that if Ed Rendell winds up in Washington he and Obama deserve each other.