The LuLac Edition #1420, Dec. 30th, 2010
NOT A PERFECT ’10
This year, 2010 was anything but perfect. No Bo Derrick running on this beach especially down in the bayou. Locally things were uneven but not catastrophic. Here’s a rundown:
10a. Scranton city budget: The city of Scranton gets a budget this time from the City Council. Led by Council Chair Janet Evans the legislative body cuts taxes, keeps public service jobs and lays off administrative staff. Mayor Chris Doherty calls the budget veto proof and grudgingly supports it. But that’s not before the Mayor vetoes it and says it is underfunded.
10. Monsignor Joseph Bambera becomes installed as the tenth Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton. Bambera, a hometown boy from the MidValley is expected to heal the wounds from the tumultuous reign of Bishop “Hey you can’t do that or I’ll refuse you Communion” Martino.
9. Conahan and Ciavarella, two oldies but goodies return as Conahan says he’ll cop a plea and testify against his old Judge mate. Ciavarella on the other hand asks for a change of venue and requests to be including on the interviewing of jurors. And the beat goes on….
8. Senators Robert Mellow and Ray Musto say they won’t run for another term. In the 22nd, a donnybrook ensues when Representative Jim Wansacz, former County Commissioner Joe Corcoran, Mayor Chris Doherty, Scranton School Director Chris Phillips and John Blake run for the seat. Blake comes out of nowhere and wins in a 5 man race. On the GOP side Frank Scavo faces off against Blake in November and loses. In the 14th, Musto’s seat John Yudichak squares off against Wilkes Barre Mayor Tom Leighton and wins big. He staves off then GOP Commissioner Steve Urban and Libertarian Betsy Summers in the fall.
7. Much drama ensues regarding the Lackawanna County Stadium. The Yankees threatened to move if they don’t get a Stadium renovation plan, Luzerne County plans to sue for their stake in the team, Northeast baseball’s John McGee’s says he’ll sue to keep the team and as the summer dragged on you thought the only guys getting rich here would be lawyers. By the fall the Yanks decided to stay, Ed Rendell pumped in 20 million and baseball will stay here in NEPA but not without the political machinations that make us famous. The Yanks who are worth about a few billion bucks refuse to kick in any money for the stadium work. And the beat goes on…..
6. In Luzerne County voters go to the polls and say yes to Home Rule. After two previous attempts, the voters said no to more of the same politics. The powers that be, meaning the people in office now gnashed their teeth and held their breath but the Home Rule Charter passed and by this time next year a new government will be in place in scandal ridden Luzerne County.
5. The continuing debate on Marcellus Shale, gas drilling and just who will get rich over this will spill into 2011. Complicating all of this is Governor Elect Tom Corbett’s pledge not to raise any taxes while simultaneously accepting nearly a million bucks from the drilling industry.
4. At the start of this decade, Greg Skrepenak was a rich, ex pro football star with a bright political future ahead of him. By the end of this year he was well into serving a 26 month jail term for accepting bribes. The former County Commissioner asked for leniency. He did not get it.
3. In Lackawanna County former Commissioner Bob Cordaro and current official A.J. Munchak are indicted on multiple counts of corruption and racketeering. The investigation into corruption headed north in 2010 with this stunning development.
2. The biggest, shocking political story of the year has to be the indictment of Senator Ray Musto. Musto has been a near god in these circles for years. A guy who made sacrifices in his youth to let younger siblings go to school and who ran the family business wile his father worked in Harrisburg as a Legislator. Musto has been the pinnacle of integrity for years. The charges against him prove that when the feds want you, they are going to get you. After a long and distinguished career, Musto toward the end was charged with taking a kickback on a deal involving his hometown. Musto has indicated he will fight the charges. That aspect of the number 1 story in local politics this year will sure to be one of the top ten news events of ’11.
1. We can’t ignore the sea change in the two adjoining Congressional districts. Incumbent Democrats Chris Carney and Paul Kanjorski are unseated by Tom Marino and Lou Barletta. Like the Musto story, the ramifications of this dual news event will go into 2011 and beyond.
And as we enter 2011, the beat, as they say will go on.