Rated one of Pennsylvania's top blog/sites, the LuLac Political Letter delves into issues of politics on all levels (with special concentration on Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties: thus the name LULAC) and pop culture.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
The LuLac Edition #1108, Feb. 28th, 2010
PHOTO INDEX: JAMES O'MEARA, SENIOR GOP CANDIDATE IN THE 121st.
James O'Meara is going to be running for the State Legislature in the 121st district. That district encompasses Wilkes-Barre City, Wilkes-Barre Township, Ashley Borough, Plains Township and Hanover Township's 2nd Ward. The seat has been held by Eddie Day Pashinski, prior to that by Kevin Blaum and even further down the time line by the late Bernie O'Brien. They were all Democrats. O'Meara is making the run because he believes strongly in the two party system. Like most of the Democratic incumbents around here, Pashinski will be hard to beat because of his popularity, his laser bean attention to his constituents and his health care plan that is a huge portion of common sense on the issue. That said, O'Meara is a tenacious organizer, is tireless in helping to rebuild the local GOP and is a sincere guy. I first met O'Meara when he e mailed me after reading this blog for a year. We met and talked politics for three hours one afternoon in 2007. We agreed on some things, on many things we did not. But I came away with the feeling that this was a guy who really cared about the future of this country, state and town. My advice to O'Meara is the same I've given to all the GOP challengers:
1. Run against Rendell.
2. Point out how late it took to get a budget.
3. Ask where the money is from gambling in terms of individual homeowner propriety tax relief.
4. Promise not to take per Diems.
Pashinski, even after two terms is regarded as a giant. But the local GOP is hoping O'Meara can become a David in his pursuit for the seat in the 121st.
Today in the Times Leader, Jamie Lake formerly of LPL Financial submitted to an interview where he expressed remorse for swindling customers of his financial advising business. He even seems to be taking those victims to task for not checking up on him and believing everything and every promise he made. Every time I talked to this guy he'd tell me how much God loves me and hoped I had a blessed day and repeatedly said "God Bless you". This goes back to what my father always told me, "If somebody tells you how much they love God, put your hand on your wallet".
THE NEW BISHOP
I think the appointment of a new Bishop, Joseph Bambera is a good thing. I have a passing familiarity with him from people I know in the mid valley. But I was struck by the little party they had at St. John the Evangelist Church in Pittston yesterday. Right across the street lay the ruins of what was once St. John the Baptist Church and School. Oh but don't worry, you could buy a video of the last Mass to ease your pain. That'll make it all better!
This week we got up with a snow plow truck driver who made some big bucks on the side this week. Q: How did you get started? A: In 1978 there was a huge storm in January. Penn Dot put bids out for contractors and the money was good. Q: Doing it ever since? A: Yep. Q: Who do you work for now? A: I gathered my own list of people. Q: Okay, can you tell me what that list is? A: Well I have two municipalities and about 18 businesses. The businesses are easy because they are just parking lots. But the towns are tough especially with little alleys. Q: Best part of the job? A: When I can go home. Q: Worst part? A: Besides the obvious like the damp and cold the worst part is when people don’t stay off the roads and let us do our jobs. Q: Is winter your favorite time of year? A: Hell no. I like the summer. Q: But you can’t make extra money in the summer plowing. How's that make you feel? A: I’ll get by. Believe me, I’l get by.
PHOTO INDEX: THE LAST TIME WE HAD THIS MUCH SNOW, MY CAR WAS WHITE AND MY HAIR WAS NOT!!! BOB MORGAN AT THE LULAC 2009 CONTROLLER'S FORUM, OUR 1966 LOGO AND SCHOOL BOARD APPLICANT HARRY HAAS.
Where were you during the great blizzard of ’10? If you had the opportunity to stay home in the warmth of hearth and family, good for you. This edition of LuLac is kind of late because I spent Thursday morning into late Friday afternoon in or near the friendly environs of my new job. When I interviewed for the position, I was told there was no such thing as a snow day. They weren’t kidding. Our snow policy is that because we are an Internet company, people in California or Nevada don’t care if you have 24 inches of snow. When the storm came out, in the great entrepreneurial spirit of American business rides were provided for employees and for those living under the mountain like me hotel accommodations were provided. So I spent the night in beautiful downtown Drums Pennsylvania and was very glad when one of my co workers the next day found the road for us to get into our facility. As we trudged into work amidst 40 mph winds one of my fellow employees said, “I wonder if we’ll get any mail today”. “Naw” said another one, “That’s government work. Even Tobyhanna closed down today”. National defense and “rain, snow and all kinds of weather” be damned. My company worked at full force this day and I was damn proud to be part of it. The thought occurred to me that working here might ruin me for government work. But I was never one to sit on my ass.
MORGAN UP AGAIN
Bob Morgan who ran a very good campaign for Luzerne County Controller in ’09 is setting his sights on a higher office. The former Young Democrats head (knew the guy since he was a kid!!) is ramping up a campaign to snare John Yudichak’s seat in the 119th. Here’s his announcement: Bob Morgan announced his candidacy to become the next Representative from the 119th District. The seat will be vacated by John Yudichak, who is currently running for State Senate. Morgan, 47, is a Financial Advisor from Fairview Township. Morgan, a Democrat, feels that economic issues are a priority for the constituents of the House District: “I believe that many of our residents have felt the effects of the recession and have had to make tough financial choices in the face of ever present increases in the cost of health care, prescription drugs and school and county property taxes. I believe that my background in finance provides me with a keen awareness of the impact of these issues on our everyday lives and has prepared me to clearly assess the ramifications of proposals before the General Assembly in these areas.”
“Completing the budget in a timely manner and getting people the property tax relief they were promised are tops on my list of priorities; we need to have smart solutions to handle these issues and not just anti-Harrisburg rhetoric,” stated Morgan. “Seniors need relief from crushing tax burdens, jobs need to be created by it. Instead, we need plans. We need green energy programs that provide new skilled, long-term jobs to skilled workers. We need to continue to develop the industrial parks as well as the downtown revitalization projects in our district so that we can keep employers here as well as create new, good-paying jobs. We need to have solid schools so that our teachers are able to shape the leaders of tomorrow and a solid vision for our educational system to train the next generation of workers. I will dedicate myself to these projects to benefit our citizens.”
“The people of the 119th District work hard, pay their taxes and make sacrifices to educate their children. I believe that we need a person who recognizes their needs, works hard to address their concerns, and reaches out,” said Morgan. “My office will always be open to help people in any way that the state government is able. The people of this district deserve that in their representative.”
The 119th District extends from Bear Creek Township, portions of Mountaintop, Nanticoke, Newport Township, Nanticoke, Hanover Township, Sugar Notch, Warrior Run, Plymouth, Plymouth Township, Larksville and Edwardsville.
I was very impressed with President Obama yesterday when he met with the party of no marionettes. Obama took no crap, called out the ridiculous statements of his invited guests and finally showed he had a set of stones. This health care bill has to be passed by reconciliation. These GOP national miniatures are so worried about the budget deficit, where the hell were they when we ran up the bills paying for a war that assassinated 4,000 of our troops? Obama better pass this now or he’ll get a primary challenge and be certain to be a one term President.
Got a very interesting link via the e mail this week from long time Democratic consultant Ed Mitchell. (I have an article on Mr. Mitchell perculating and it’ll come down te pike soon). But Mitchell makes some very good points about Commissioner Mary Anne Petrilla and here’s that link: http://bit.ly/aSyGXy.
WILD ABOUT HARRY!!
The Wilkes Barre Area School board has a decision rto make about a vacancy. The board can go along way in appointing a guy like Harry Haas who has some good ideas, actually has some serious thoughts about how a school district can be run and has passion for education. The board will go a long way in restoring confidence in appointing a true independent thinker rather than following the lead of the Valley West Board who appointed Lois Schumacher , a very nice woman– but one who is politically connected to replace Allen Belles. The county GOPweighed in on this too:
The Luzerne County Republican Party is urging the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board to “do the right thing” and appoint Harry Haas to the open seat on the board. Haas, a Republican, finished fifth in the November 2009 race for four seats on the school board. Haas missed out by 116 votes. “We are asking the School Board to do the right thing,” Republican Chairman Terry Casey said. “Harry is exactly the type of person we need to make decisions for the district, its taxpayers and most importantly, its students. He is intelligent, open-minded, fair and has a background in education.” Appointing Haas to the vacancy created by the resignation of Frank Pizzella would offer the school board the opportunity to prove to residents of the district that it is “not business as usual, or even, politics as usual,” Casey said. Haas, 34, of Wilkes-Barre, is a teacher in the Dallas School District. During his campaign last year he advocated the preservation of the Wilkes-Barre Area School District’s old buildings, promised a fair-hiring process and supported training and advanced technology to meet the needs of a changing student body. Haas has submitted a letter of interest to the school board which is expected to make an appointment on March 8.
William J. McClane died way too young the other day in Scranton. McClane was a former State Re[presenjtative and long time politico in the Lac. He ran spirited campaigns for the State House in the 70s and stayed actoive in public life. Here’s his obit from the Times:
William J. "Bill" McLane, 62, died Monday at VNA Hospice at Community Medical Center. He had been a resident of the Gino J. Merli Veterans Center, Scranton. Born in the Minooka section of Scranton on March 5, 1947, son of the late John "Jack" and Miriam Gilroy McLane, he was a graduate of South Scranton Catholic High School. Bill earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Scranton in 1969. Initially employed as the director of the Lackawanna County Head Start program, after returning from the Army Reserve officers training, Bill ran for and was elected to the office of state representative in the 112th District. Following four years of service in the Legislature, Bill was employed as the executive director of United Cerebral Palsy of Pennsylvania. Later, Bill was employed by Prudential Insurance and McCarthy Cab Co.
BOOZE, BROADS AND CEEGARS
The Canadian women’s hockey team is in hot water after its impromptu on-ice celebration Thursday night. The gold-medal party has drawn the ire of the International Olympic Committee. Nearly an hour after the Canadians won their third consecutive Olympic gold medal with a 2-0 win over the Americans, the players came back out on the ice in the near-empty arena, smoking cigars and swigging champagne and beer. (Rebecca Johnston even tried to drive the zamboni.) I’m glad they won but you know true champions display class not crass. But that is a lost commodity these days among self absorbed young people who feel they are entitled to everything with no regards to consequences or methods of behavior. They earned the gold, let them keep it. Even though their actions reminded me of tin, which is far from a precious mettle.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT:
U.S. astronauts Charles Bassett and Elliott See are killed in an aircraft accident inSt. Louis, Missouri....Soviet space probeVenera 3 crashes on Venus, becoming the first spacecraft to land on another planet's surface...Statewide, Ltn. Governor candidate Walter Allesendroni begins to barnstorm the state in hopes of running with current Ltn. Governor Raymond Shafer….in Wilkes Barre a huge fight breaks out among members of the Democratic party in the city of Wilkes Barre who protest Mayor Frank Slattery’s wage tax idea. The party in Wilkes Barre becomes deeply divided over the issue and in LuLac land the number 1 song here and in America was “These Boots Are Made For Walking” by Nancy Sinatra.
PHOTO INDEX: REPRESENTATIVE PHYLLIS MUNDY AND COMMISSIONER MARY ANNE PETRILLA.
OPEN HOUSE CANCELED
The Open House advertised in the last edition for Vintage Tub and Bath has been postponed dye to the weather. It will be rescheduled for the spring.
MUNDY TOUTS SEMINAR
Elder Abuse Task Force to hold free seminar for seniors March 8
Representative Phyllis Mundy is encouraging area seniors to attend a free seminar the Luzerne-Wyoming Counties Elder Abuse Task Force of Pennsylvania is hosting in March. The seminar, "Protecting Yourself from Elder Financial Fraud: Don’t Become a Victim!" will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, March 8 (snow date: Wednesday, March 10) at Insalaco Hall, Misericordia University. Lunch will be provided following the morning seminar and light refreshments will be available at the evening session. More and more, scam artists are targeting the elderly for sensitive information to exploit and steal from them. Seniors suffering from senility, dementia, or Alzheimer's Disease often are prey for scam artists due to their vulnerability. But seniors and others who simply lack the sophistication to spot these scams fall prey, as well. The information most commonly stolen is Social Security, credit card and bank account numbers. This seminar will be extremely informative, and I am encouraging area seniors, their families and caregivers to learn how to protect themselves and those they love from this form of elder abuse. The seminar will feature guest speakers Ronald Costen, director of the Pennsylvania Institute on Protective Services at Temple University; Brenda Colbert of Marshall, Parker & Associates, which specializes in elder law and estate planning; and representatives from the Pennsylvania State Police and the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office. Those who wish to register for either of the seminars, or who would like more information about financial exploitation, can call the call the Luzerne/Wyoming County Area Agencies on Aging at 570-822-1158. The deadline for registration is March 1. Formed in 2008 under my leadership and that of state Rep. Karen Boback, R- Columbia/Luzerne/Wyoming, the task force is comprised of 33 members, including representatives from local district attorney's offices, law enforcement agencies and elder services providers, as well as elder abuse experts and state lawmakers. Its mission is three-fold: to facilitate and develop expertise in prosecuting elder abuse; to train professionals such as bank staff and medical personnel who are in constant contact with senior citizens to identify and report cases of potential fraud and abuse; and to educate the public about elder abuse and how to prevent and report it. Additional information about the Luzerne-Wyoming Counties Elder Abuse Task Force of Pennsylvania is available by visiting www.elderabusetaskforce.org.
PETRILLA ADDRESSES MIX UP
Commissioner Mary Anne Petrilla issued a statement today regarding the Homestead Act but also took the opportunity to touch on a few other issues.
I want the taxpayers of the county to know I hear their frustration and anger at the recent mix-up concerning the Homestead Tax Exemption. There was a mistake made here. We’re all human. I told the people attending the commissioners’ meeting last week who protested that we would correct this. And we have. I can’t dial back the play clock on this one item. We will make sure things like this don’t occur again. I also hope that all I have tried to do to improve county government at this crucial time in our history will not be judged by this one incident. I’ve finally put an end to the wasteful practice of seemingly endless county borrowing. We had to raise taxes, but we made many cuts in this year’s spending to try to minimize the pain. We now have a fairer tax system with everyone paying their fair share instead of some receiving a better deal over others. This preferential treatment went on for decades beyond when other counties reassessed. Additionally: I singlehandedly worked with the principals of PA Child Care to end their lease that cost $58 million. Discovered the practice of contract piecemealing, stopped and exposed it, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars. Completely put an end to nepotism and cronyism by hiring professional and experienced directors to fill jobs. Developed a cooperative working relationship with the courts to streamline their budget and save taxpayer’s two million dollars a year. There has been much to cleanup since I became chairwoman of the commissioners. I’ve worked hard to begin the cleanup. I hope people won’t rush to judgment on my overall record before some time passes and it can be judged in it’s entirety. These have been tough times in Luzerne County for a variety of reasons. We’re doing our best in these trying days. I hope people will look at the big picture. Thank you to the taxpayers for any patience they can afford us. We will continue to try and do better.
PHOTO INDEX: REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN MURPHY AND THE MAN HE DEFEATED TWICE IN 2008, FRANK ANDREWS SHIMKUS.
Former state Rep. Frank Shimkus and Scranton School Director Kathleen McGuigan told the media early this week they will run against Rep. Kevin Murphy for the Democratic nomination for the 113th House district seat. Murphy won a contentious election with former Representative Frank Andrews Shimkus in the spring primary. In the fall Shimkus ran as a Republican and lost again to Murphy. Shimkus blames Barack Obama for his loss, a lot of Murphy’s supporters say it was the former newscaster’s abuse of per Diems. Shimkus says Murphy hasn’t done anything laying higher taxes and a bad budget deal at his feet. Murphy did not take his salary while the budget mess went on and was front and center for the people involved in the Scranton State School for the Deaf. This will be a campaign of charges and counter charges and lots and lots of yard signs.
Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien is challenging U.S. representative Paul Kanjorski to 10 debates. In a letter to Pennsylvania campaign director Joe Werner (ahh I knew Mr. Werner when he was just a lad!!) the O’Brien people want to debate 10 times before the May 18th primary. Lots of luck with that. In 2006 Dr. Joe Leonardi couldn’t get Kanjorski to debate him at all and in 2008 Kanjorski grudgingly deigned to debate Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta. Kanjorski gave a primer in the good things government can do and won a lot of respect with his debating skills. But he was pretty grumpy and nearly passed Barletta like the proverbial paycar passing a bum until someone told him to shake hizzoner’s hand. So guys good luck with your 10 debate request.
PHOTO INDEX: CONGRESSMAN PAUL KANJORSKI AND AUDITOR GENERAL JACK WAGNER.
KANJO AND ROLLING STONE
Paul Kanjorski might not have made the cover of the Rolling Stone but he sure got quoted in it recently on the bank bailout. On Feb. 17th writer Matt Taibbi wrote an article on Wall Street. Here’s the Congressman’s quotes and a bit of the story: The idea behind the flood of money, from the government's standpoint, was to spark a national recovery: We refill the banks' balance sheets, and they, in turn, start to lend money again, recharging the economy and producing jobs. "The banks were fast approaching insolvency," says Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a vocal critic of Wall Street who nevertheless defends the initial decision to bail out the banks. "It was vitally important that we recapitalize these institutions." That's why the biggest gift the bankers got in the bailout was not fiscal but psychological. "The most valuable part of the bailout," says Rep. Sherman, "was the implicit guarantee that they're Too Big to Fail." Instead of liquidating and prosecuting the insolvent institutions that took us all down with them in a giant Ponzi scheme, we have showered them with money and guarantees and all sorts of other enabling gestures. And what should really freak everyone out is the fact that Wall Street immediately started skimming off its own rescue money. If the bailouts validated anew the crooked psychology of the bubble, the recent profit and bonus numbers show that the same psychology is back, thriving, and looking for new disasters to create. "It's evidence," says Rep. Kanjorski, "that they still don't get it." More to the point, the fact that we haven't done much of anything to change the rules and behavior of Wall Street shows that we still don't get it. Instituting a bailout policy that stressed recapitalizing bad banks was like the addict coming back to the con man to get his lost money back. Ask yourself how well that ever works out. And then get ready for the reload.
WAGNER STEPPING UP
Democratic candidate for Governor Jack Wagner is stepping up his campaign effort. With the withdrawals of Tom Knox and Chris Doherrty, Wagner has been making a huge presence in the state via regular media and You Tube. Check out this new video:
PHOTO INDEX: A RED ROOF INN HOTEL ROOM AND FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE ALEXANDER HAIG.
ONE UP FOR TOM
The Citizen Voice reported today that State representative John Yudichak has a home in the Harrisburg area. Or a building. Or a property. Whatever. But he has access to a domicile in town. Which is fine. But Yudichak has been taking the daily per Diem that provides legislators about $160.00 a day for expenses incurred when in business in Harrisburg. This is in addition to his salary of over $70,000 grand. Defenders of the practice say that using the per Diem for a house is just like using it for a hotel room. Maybe, but I think Mayor Tom Leighton has just had an issue dropped right into his lap from the political gods. Yudichak may overcome this because he has built up a great deal of good will with his record and effectiveness. Plus he did provide a pretty good explanation telling the newspaper, "he only has a quarter interest in the home, has always disclosed his interest in it, does not accept annual salary or pension increases, does not use a state car and has among the lowest annual per Diem totals among lawmakers. "Yes, it is used for lodging," Yudichak said. "It's not really taxpayers paying for a home. I've always looked at it and really consider it, I'm paying rent." So Yudichak seems to have put a little fire out here but I wonder just what Representative Jim Wansacz was thinking when he was interviewed by Times Shamrock. Wansacz Wansacz said he was losing money on the house deal and that when he was first coming to Harrisburg he was staying in “a terrible apartment”. He defended his actions saying that he was saving money for the taxpayers by having the house and he could stay at the Hilton if he wanted. When the Times Shamrock reporter, R.B. Swift (a frequent panelist on PCN's "Journalist's Roundtable") pointed out he could stay at a Red Roof, this is what he said, "Would you want to stay four days a week in a place that's going to be $20 a night and is disgusting?" Even though Wansacz said he didn’t mean to disparage the Red Roof Inn, HE DID. There are thousands of working people in this state who stay in Red Roof Inns because that’s what their business per Diem allows them. There are hundreds of Pennsylvania residents who could only afford to stay at a Red Roof if they have a relative getting a procedure done at the Hershey Medical Center. There are thousands of Pennsylvania residents who are teetering on the poverty line that would think a Red Roof Inn would be a step up. There are thousands of Pennsylvanians that work hard in the hospitality industry here that make hotels like the Red Roof Inns livable and affordable. Jim Wansacz being in Harrisburg for ten years should know that the Travel Industry is the linchpin of the Pennsylvania economy. They call it the Keystone State because so many people travel through it Jim and they stay at Red Roofs. But it appears Jim Wansacz has lost touch with those people. And now he wants Mellow’s seat? I will not argue that being away from home is a tough job but you boys asked for it. I’d advise them to take lessons from their predecessors Kevin Blaum, Tom Tigue and Gaynor Cawley who split an apartment for years in Harrisburg near the Capitiol. Or a guy with eight kids who stayed in a one room/one bath efficiency in Lemoyne Pennsylvania for 8 years when he was Auditor General. His name was Bob Casey Senior and I doubt if he would refer to any Pennsylvania business as “disgusting” or too good for him to stay at.
AL HAIG DIES
I always thought Alexander Haig got a bad rap for his performance when Ronald Reagan died. He never lived down his televised response to the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan saying”I am in charge here at the White House” Haig died Saturday at age 85 having held high posts in three Republican administrations and some of the U.S. military’s top jobs.
Haig was a four-star Army general who served as a senior adviser to three presidents and had presidential ambitions of his own. He ran in 1988 but barely made it out of the starting gate. Haig’s long and decorated military service launched the Washington career for which he is better known, including jobs in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations. Haig from my viewpoint was instrumental in keeping an embattled Richard Nixon on an even keel during the Watergate crisis. It is my belief that Haig gently persuaded the erratic Nixon to surrender the Presidency and give way to Gerald Ford.
MURTHA’S FIRST “GIG”?
While watching the funeral of the late Congressman John Murtha on PCN the other day, commentator Kat Prickett asked a Johnston reporter co-anchoring the funeral service with her, “So what was John Murtha’s first gig?” Visions of the late Congressman in tie dye tee shirts tuning an electric guitar sprung to my head. His first, uh, political position was as a State Representative. I say position, she says gig, tomato, tomahto……
I recently talked with an older worker who was laid off from one of those big box stores. She handed out food samples.
Q: How did you find out? A: They called us in one day. Said see ya. Budget cutbacks.
Q: But the company makes a billion a month. A: Yeah, tell me about it. I don’t see any of it.
Q: What was your job? A: I handed out food samples, tried to get people to buy the product.
Q: Did you have any favorites?
A: (Laughing) the easy ones that are self contained. The chilis and soups are tough with the little cups they give you.
Q: Why did you work?
A: To pass the time. My husband is gone 11 years now and I just needed to get out of the house and socialize.
Q: Girlfriends? A: The married ones are afraid I’ll take their husbands, and my other girlfriends are dead.
Q: So no BFFs? A: Huh?
Q: Never mind. How about a senior center, they have a lot of activities there don’t they? A: I suppose but there’s a lot of old people there. I don't want to hang out there.
Q: How old are you? A: 78.
Q: Oh pardon me. A: How old are you?
Q: 56. A: You’re a baby yet.
Q: Thanks. A: Your welcome.
PHOTO INDEX: OUR EDITION #1100 LOGO (AS IF WE NEEDED AN EXCUSE) MAYOR LOU BARLETTA OF HAZLETON, OUR 1966 LOGO AND THE TALKER 94.3FM LOGO.
ANN HAYES WIDEMAN
If you are of a certain age in LuLac land, then you’ll remember a time when WNEP TV had a 15 minute 11 o’clock newscast, when the anchorman sported a crew cut, the sports guy doubled as the host for Dialing for Dollars and the weathercaster modeled dresses from the Hollywood Shoppe in downtown Wilkes Barre. That newscast was done by the late John Foster and John Glawe for sure two quality broiadcasters. But with all due respect to their memory, the “star” of that broadcast was Ann Hayes Wideman. Summer, winter , spring or fall, Ann did the weather with panache and style. Her forecast was straight forward, no banter or musings about her anchor’s weekend plans or the sports guy’s favorite teams. It was a straight up forecast followed by a 1 minute fashion show where Ann described the latest outfit available at the Hollywood Shoppe in downtown Wilkes Barre. Hayes Wideman stayed with the station until the late 60s when WNEP went to half hour newscasts and her late husband Ed Wideman’s political career as a county commissioner in Luzerne County blossomed. I met her once on the campaign trail when I was a kid going to an event with my late uncle Timmy Pribula and again in 1978 when she and her husband helped out the late Tom Lehman in his bid for the Senate in the 20th District. Years later I formulated a great friendship with her daughter Caprice and son in law Rick Ryman. She was gracious, friendly down to earth and was vigiliant of anyone who dared to attack “her Ed” in the political warfare of Luzerne County. Our condolences to her family. Here’s her obituary from the Citizen’s Voice.
Ann Hayes Wideman of Kingston passed away Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010. Born Nov. 1, 1930, in Wilkes-Barre, she was the daughter of the late Joseph and Angela Azat.She was a graduate of St. Ann's Academy and attended Wilkes College, where she was active in the college theater.Ann was one of the pioneers in local television, popularly known as the weather girl on WNEP-TV, Channel 16, for more than 17 years. Most notably, she was remembered for modeling fashions for the Hollywood Shop after her weathercast. Prior to that, she started her career in radio and television, hosting local talk shows and cooking shows and working with many local news celebrities. She was also wellknown for hosting local beauty pageants and fashion shows.She was active in politics with her late husband, former Luzerne County Commissioner Edmund C. Wideman Jr., the love of her life.A natural athlete, Ann excelled in basketball while in school and became very active in the local tennis community, playing almost daily. One of her proudest achievements in tennis was placing fourth in the country with her local USTA team at the national competition in Florida. If she wasn't on the tennis court, she would be walking her dogs around the neighborhood.She was a member of St. Ignatius Parish, North Maple Avenue, Kingston, and belonged to the Altar and Rosary Society.She was also a member of the Kingston Indoor Tennis Club, the United States Tennis Association and a former member of the Fox Hill Country Club, the Westmoreland Club and the Valley Tennis and Swim Club.In addition to her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by her brother, Lt. Joseph G. Azat.Surviving are her daughter, Caprice Hayes Ryman; son-in-law, Rick Ryman; and her grandchildren, Tyler and Devin Ryman. She will also be missed by her loyal dogs and companions, Hogan and Quincy.A funeral service will be held Saturday at 9 a.m. from Hugh P. Boyle and Son Funeral Home Inc., 416 Wyoming Ave., Kingston, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 9:30 a.m. in St. Ignatius Church. Interment will be in St. Mary's Cemetery, Hanover Township. Friends may call Friday, 5 to 8 p.m.In lieu of floral tributes, memorial contributions are requested in Ann's memory to the SPCA of Luzerne County, Fox Hill Road, Plains Township, PA 18705, or to Hospice of the Sacred Heart, 600 Baltimore Drive, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702.
BARLETTA ON THE ATTACK
GOP Congressional candidate Lou Barletta went on the attack this week in his campaign to unseat Paul Kanjorski. The anniversary of the President’s Stimulus Bill and the mailing of a Kanjorski constituency piece got the Hazleton Mayor’s dander up. This week mailboxes all across Northeast Pa. were stuffed with a four page glossy mailer that promoted Paul Kanjorski and DC’s failed stimulus package. This mailer was paid for by taxpayers of the 11th Congressional District. The timing of the mailer also needs to be called into question. The piece arrived on the same day Kanjorski announced his intentions to run for Congress and on the anniversary of the failed stimulus. Is it possible that Kanjorski is coordinating his taxpayer funded self-promotion to coincide with his campaign activity? The best thing Congressman Kanjorski can do to clear the air about this controversial behavior is to answer the following questions as soon as possible:
1.How much did the Kanjorski mailer “Recovery Act Update” cost the taxpayers?
2.Who was the vendor contracted to do the work on this taxpayer funded piece?
3.Has this vendor ever done campaign work for Kanjorski or contributed to his
In regards to the stimulus, Indiana’s Democratic Senator Evan Bayh summed it up best when he said this to CBS News yesterday: “If I could create one job in the private sector by helping to grow a business, that would be one more than Congress has created in the last six months.” Mayor Barletta asked, “It’s one year later and where are the jobs? While Paul Kanjorski and his friends have spent the last year piling up mountains of debt and record deficits through their misplaced priorities, American families are still looking for relief. Paul Kanjorski and his colleagues promised that their trillion-dollar spending bill would keep unemployment under 8 percent, but it stands nearly two points higher today.”
BOLD GOLD’S TALKER
Dr. Joe Leonardi always said there was room for an FM talker in the market and he was right on target. BOLD GOLD recently bought FM 94.3 and AM 730, the old WNAK. On the FM side you will be hearing some conservative talk on that station. Beck, Hannity and imus. 94.3FM is a powerful frequency that covers Wilkes Barre Scranton and out into Wayne County. It will be interesting to see how this new FM product will stack up against WILK.
KANJO RUNNING AWAY?
Yesterday we told you Congressman Kanjorski was running for Congress. In a few newspaper stories today it appears Kanjorski who embraced then candidate Obama in 2008 is now gingerly backing away from the beleaguered President. Look at this quote from the Citizen’s Voice: "His administration and he seemed to freeze in place, and so did the Congress that 'we don't give a damn, we're going to have health care,'" Kanjorski said during an interview Wednesday with The Citizens' Voice editorial board. "That was sort of a disconnect with the American population," Kanjorski said. "Most people out here in the land were realizing that their biggest concerns were jobs and the economy". Now this from a guy who said in a TV ad in ’08 that he needed to be re-elected to help President Obama with his sweeping change. This from a guy who showered us all with photos of himself and the President at a summer White House lawn barbeque. I mean the contrast is striking. Kanjorski is doing what he needs to do to get re-elected. It is apparent that even long time Dems are tanking on this President or are talking sternly about him. Such is the fleeting fate of Presidential politics. One thing Kanjorski said that made sense was his seniority. Pointing to the recent death of John Murtha and the retirements of Senators Musto and Mellow, Kanjorski makes a very good point about his longevity and effectiveness. But unless something changes, we may not see the good Congressman invoking the name of Mr. Obama in his ads this spring or fall.
THE C WORD
So I’m watching MSNBC TV’s “Morning Joe” today and the commentators on the show, many to the left of me uttered the C word in relation to President Obama. The roundtable made the point that the White House staff has been as inept as members of the Carter administration. I was waiting for the comparisons to the former Georgia Governor and President to occur. Mrs. LuLac always made the point that Obama never knew the Senate so how would he know the inner workings of Washington. True enough. But it is one thing for Fox to pile on but when MSNBC does it…look out.
Even though he’s been kicked around on the success of the Stimulus package, the President’s political arm made a comment about its success on the first anniversarty. Take a look:
Former Republican and candidate for Governor turned Democrat Barbara Hafer said she might be interested in running for the seat of the late John Murtha in Johnstown. Hafer was a political power in the 80s and 90’s even facing off in the 1990 Governor’s race with the late Bob Casey. She became a Democrat a few years back. The district might be reapportioned out of business in the next census.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
While Soviet author and translator Valery Tarsis is abroad, the Soviet Union negates his citizenship...A military coup in Syria replaces the previous government with a Ba'athist regime…..Statewide, Philadelphia Mayor James Tate prepares for a reelection campaign in the city of Brotherly Love one full year before the voting and in the same race, a little known District Attorney named Arlen Specter makes noises about running for the top job on the GOP ticket.... the State of Pennsylvania demands Wilkes Barrd reimburse the Tresasury department for damages incurred on Blackman Street…And the number 1 song in America and LuLac land was “Uptight” by Stevie Wonder, his first number 1 hit since “Fingertops Part 1 a few years back.
The FBI is now setting its sights to the north. – An attorney for former Lackawanna County commissioner Robert Cordaro said he expects federal authorities will soon seek an indictment against him. Flamboyant barrister William Costopoulos of Lemoyne declined to say what charges he expects will be filed, but said Cordaro has vowed to fight the allegations. Rumors that Cordaro and current Lackawanna County Commissioner A.J. Munchak would face federal charges have been circulating for months. Speculation that an indictment was imminent heated up last month, when Munchak spent several hours being questioned by FBI agents. Sources close to LuLac have been speculating about this for months but there was nothing firm. In the summer an associate and source of mine took me to the new Cordaro house off of Route 307 in Scranton. Speculation is centering on that deal. A.J. Munchak, Cordaro's long time partner in business and politics will also be on the hook with the feds. Our sources tell us there will be a laundry list of charges against the two elected as a team in 2003 by a scant 200 votes.
DOHERTY TO THE SENATE
In a loosely kept secret, Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty has dropped his bid for the Governor's race He will run for the seat of Senator Mellow in the 22nd Senatorial District. With the entry of Tom Leighton into the Senate race in the 14th, and Doherty's change of plans, this will be the first time two sitting Mayors of the twin cities in LuLac land might be elevated to the upper House in the State Legislature.
STIMULUS 1 YEAR LATER
From Senator Specter's website where he talks about the impact of the stimulus package on our Commonwealth. Pennsylvania expects to receive more than $26 billion from the Recovery Act. $15.7 billion will flow through state and local governments and nonprofit agencies to build highways and bridges, employ teachers, police officers and firemen, and develop housing and alternative energy. Additionally, $11 billion in federal tax credits and benefits to individuals and businesses will aid those most in need, including helping Pennsylvanians obtain Medicare, emergency unemployment compensation and food stamps. To learn more about what the Recovery Act is doing throughout Pennsylvania, please visit www.recovery.pa.gov.
PHOTO INDEX: AUDITOR GENERAL JACK WAGNER, REPRESENTATIVE JOHN YUDICHAK AND WILKES BARRE MAYOR TOM LEIGHTON.
LEIGHTON VS. YUDICHAK
It seems as if the race for Ray Musto’s seat. This afternoon Wilkes Barre Mayor Tom Leighton announced his seat to succeed Musto. The other day State Representative John Yudichak announced for the office. This match will pit two incumbents on two different levels, Leighton on the city side and Yudichak at the State House level. You might say this race is dead even from the start. Both men have won multiple terms, both are strong in their home areas and both have the backing of certain party insiders. Here’s a capsule version of both candidates. YUDICHAK: Strengths: 1.He is young, articulate, photogenic and has a body of work at the State Level that will serve him well. He can make the argument that he knows Harrisburg and can hit the ground running. 2.Yudichak is a tireless campaigner and uses media sparingly but well targeted. In this type of campaign look for the Representative’s credentials to be bandied about in all media. 3.Yudichak has contacts in the Wilkes Barre business community. The Mayor is not the favorite of everyone in the city and Yudichak has built a strong network of associates from his days as a corporate fundraiser for the Osterhout Library in town. WEAKNESSES 1.In the year of the incumbent, Yudichak can be painted with the broad brush of Legislative inaction. Even though he has done good things, it might be easy to hang the budget debacle on him. 2. Leighton can come out of the city of Wilkes Barre strong like Bill Amesbury did. This will force Yudichak to play “catch up” in a few districts just to break even. LEIGHTON Strengths 1.Name recognition as the head of the district’s largest city. Leighton can point to many downtown improvements as well as his relationship with Ed Rendell as a benefactor of state funds. 2.Leighton has been a winner in five straight elections. He can build an organization, raise money and when he has to can be very charming on the campaign trail. 3.Leighton’s media will have to portray the Mayor as wanting to bring home the bacon for the 14th district. His best course is to say he will be a new voice to follow in the old tradition of Senate Musto’s tenure. WEAKNESSES 1.Leighton, while pointing to many downtown accomplishments has his share of detractors. Looking at the Times Leader comments after his announcement story tells a tale of people not happy with the Leighton administration. Many charged he has paid more attention to the city and the real estate interests of others than to the neighborhoods. Leighton also is not one to take any guff from anyone whether they be a TV news reporter or anyone else. That might be endearing to some but some say it is a YOU TUBE moment waiting to happen. 2. Leighton’s political strength in the city might be diluted by the Courthouse scandals. While the Mayor has never been connected with any of the wrong doing, a few of his political benefactors from years past will be concentrating on other matters this spring and not necessarily the elevation of Leighton to the Senate. Right now the race is too close to call.
KANJO UP AND RUNNING
Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski has announced via his campaign's Twitter account that he's seeking a 13th term in Washington. The Nanticoke Democrat will face Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien, of Moosic, in the May primary election. The winner will battle the Republican nominee in November. Right now Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta and Sky Top hedge fund manager Chris Paige are the two declared Republicans in the race. Today on kanjo4congress, the campaign's Twitter account, the campaign tweeted "Congressman Paul Kanjorski's volunteers in PA-11 are circulating his nominating petitions. He's running for reelecton." Times Leader.com
Auditor General Jack Wagner announced an endorsement in his campaign for the Democratic primary for Governor. The Pennsylvania Restaurant Association endorsed Wagner, saying he "has a well established record in public service and what it takes to navigate our state through the difficult waters ahead." "I am honored to have earned the restaurant industry's support and endorsement for the Democratic primary for Governor," Wagner said. "As Auditor General, I consistently have advocated for reforming the operations of state government and promoted competition, transparency, performance, and accountability. I will continue to fight for Pennsylvania families, taxpayers, and businesses."
PHOTO INDEX: PA. ATTORNEY GENERAL TOM CORBETT AND FORMER CONGRESSMAN PAT TOOMEY.
On Friday during Edition #1094 we highlighted the State GOP of 1966 getting all their endorsements in a row during the middle week of February. The top of the ticket went on to win that year too. This time around, 44 years later the State GOP is following the ’66 model and endorsing a field of candidates with very little primary opposition. Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley won the endorsement for Lieutenant Governor from the Republican State Committee , savoring victory onthe second-ballot voting shortly after party insiders also endorsed former Congressman Pat Toomey for Senate and Attorney General Tom Corbett for Governor. Support for Toomey and Corbett had been a given for months so the filling of the second spot rounds everything out just nicely for the state GOP.
COUNTY WORK FORCE
Luzerne County has come up a winner. Finally. I guess. Turns out we have more staffing than most counties in the Commonwealth. That is not a big secret. Commissioners want to study proposals to cut, the budget director’s interest is piqued by the news and it appears there will be a struggle with the unions and the county administration. All the more reason to lay off every county employee except the management team and the elected officers. Have them reapply for their jobs after rightsizing (companies in the corporate world use that term anymore) and you’ll have a more responsive workforce. Note to politicos: if you want to have a bloated payroll and get away with: DON’T STEAL. People might not notice one but they’ll certainly take note of two major discrepancies in government.
HELP FOR HAITI
King’s College students had a massive fundraiser for the victims of the Haiti earthquake this weekend. The event earmarked money for the people still suffering in that nation.
1. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE FOCUS ON THE FAMILY AD WITH TIM TEBOW AND HIS MOM? I THOUGHT IT WAS BRILLIANT, UPSETTING AND STRANGE. BRILLIANT BECAUSE THE LEAD UP TO IT WAS IMPRESSIVE. PEOPLE WERE TALKING ABOUT IT FOR WEEKS. UPSETTING BECAUSE HIS MOM BEING TACKLED WAS INAPPROPRIATE AT LEAST BY MY STANDARDS. STRANGE BECAUSE IT WAS A AD THAT SEEMED PRETTY DISJOINTED. YOU HAD TO KNOW THE TEBOW STORY TO GET IT. BUT I THINK IT ACCOMPLISHED WHAT IT NEEDED TO DO, TO DRIVE PEOPLE TO THE FOCUS ON THE FAMILY WEB SITE. 2. WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THE SAINTS WIN?
YEAH A LITTLE BIT. BUT I THINK IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN TOM JACKSON FROM ESPN THAT PARALLELED SEAN PAYTON WITH HANK STRAM . HE SAID STRAMOUT COACHED THE VIKINGS WITH HIS CHIEFS BY DOING DIFFERENT PLAYS AND KEEPING THE MINNESOTA OFFENSE AND JOE KAPP AT BAY. TURNED OUT THE SAINTS COACH DID THE SAME THING. GOOD PREDICTION. HAPPY FOR THE SAINTS AND THE TOWN.
3. SNOW OR RAIN?
4. FUTURE SUPERBOWL ENTERTAINERS? YOUR THOUGHTS?
DEFINITELY THINK CAROLE KING WOULD BE A REAL HIT. SHE TURNED 68 THIS WEEK BUT I THINK TEAMING HER UP WITH JAMES TAYLOR OR HIS BROTHER MIGHT BE A GOOD SHOW.
5. WILL IT BE HARD FOR THE DEMOCRATS TO REPLACE ED RENDELL?
BIG TIME. RENDELL IS A HUGE PRESENCE AND YOU CAN TELL THAT THERE IS A VOID AMONG THE DEMOCRATIC CONTENDERS. I MEAN LOOK AT THE LAST GUYS STANDING. ONORATO, WAGNER AND HOEFFEL. I LIKE WAGNER PERSONALLY BUT NONE HAS BIG ED’S STAR POWER OR CHARISMA.
6. WHO DO YOU THINK WOULD BE A LOGICAL SUCCESSOR TO ROBERT MELLOW?
DOHERTY BECAUSE HE HAS THE ORGANIZATION IN PLACE. BUT DON’T COUNT OUT JOE CORCORAN WHO CAN COUNT ON A GREAT DEAL OF MID VALLEY SUPPORT FROM HIS OLD COMMISSIONER COHORT RAY ALBARIEGI.
7. ON THE MELLOW SEAT, WAS HIS QUITTING A BIG SURPRISE TO YOU?
NOT ENTIRELY. WHEN HE WAS MAKING THE SOUNDINGS FOR GOVERNOR I THOUGHT THAT WAS KIND OF TELLING. BUT I THINK HE THOUGHT 40 YEARS WAS QUITE ENOUGH. MAYBE HE CAN GET BACK TO BASKETBALL OFFICIATING AGAIN IN HIS SPARE TIME.
8. LATEST PERSON TO FALL IN THE COURTHOUSE SCANDAL?
WELL, LOOK FOR A CERTAIN ROW OFFICER TO BE HAVING SOME MAJOR, MAJOR PROBLEMS. THIS PARTICULAR OFFICE HOLDER HAS CONNECTIONS TO THOSE ALREADY CHARGED. THE WORD I HEAR IS THAT IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME.
9. AS A COKE MAN, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PEPSI THROWBACK DRINK?
LOVE IT. BRINGS ME BACK TO THE GOOD OLD DAYS.
10. WITH THE DESTRUCTION OF YOUR GRADE SCHOOL COMPLETE AND YOUR BOYHOOD CHURCH ENTIRELY DEMOLISHED, HOW CAN YOU AS A ROMAN CATHOLIC KEEP ON GOING TO CHURCH EVERY WEEK AFTER THIS BETRAYAL?
I WISH I KNEW, I CAN’T GIVE YOU AN ANSWER.
11. PEROGIES. YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO EAT THEM?
WELL THERE ARE DIFFERENT KINDS AND YOU CAN'T EAT THEM THE SAME WAY. WITH CABBAGE OR SAUERKRAUT ONES I MAKE A COOPER CHEESE SAUCE AND BOIL, THEN BROIL AND BROWN THE ‘ROGIES. THEN SERVE THEM WITH THE CHEESE SAUCE. THE JALAPENO ONES I BOIL AND BROIL, NO BUTTER, WITH COLD BEER. AND THE POTATOES AND CHEESE, BUTTER AND ONIONS. MY MOTHER IN LAWS RELATIVES FROM POLAND MAKE SOME WITH FRUIT A FEW YEARS BACK. MY DAD LOVED PRUNE PEROGIES. I TEND TO EAT THOSE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE. SOME PEOPLE EVEN PUT POWDERED SUGAR ON THEM BUT I DON’T.
12. WILL THE KENNEDY FAMILY EVER SERVE AGAIN IN PUBLIC OFFICE?
YES, LOOK FOR ROBERT KENNEDY’S SONS, JOSEPH III AND RFK JUNIOR TO MAKE RUNS IN THE FUTURE.
13. WHAT WAS THE SUPERBOWL MENU AT THE LULAC HOUSEHOLD LAST WEEKEND?
WELL UNLIKE LAST YEAR WHEN I WAS FINISHING UP CHEMO, THIS YEAR I COULD DRINK SOME COLD DRINKS. SO I DRANK A FEW SHASTA ORANGE DIETS, 1 AQUAFINA, HAD SABRETTSHOTDOGS ON MARTIN ROLLS WITH KOSHER HEBREW NATIONAL MUSTARD AND A KLONDIKE BAR FOR DESSERT.
With Valentine’s Day tomorrow I talked to a clerk in a candy store. Q: Bigger holiday. Christmas or Valentine’s Day? A: Christmas we get more big purchases because of family. But in volume we do more on Valentine’s Day, then Mothers Day. Q: Even more on Easter? A: Easter is good too but our store does bigger margins on Valentine’s Day. The biggest sellers are the chocolate covered fruits. Q: Any last minute shoppers? A: Tons. Q: Did your boyfriend get you chocolate? A: No, I wanted cigarettes. Q: Cigarettes? A: Yeah, they are way more expensive than a box of candy. Q: You guys serious? A: Yeah. Q: And you want him to buy you cigarettes? Would you refuse candy? A: No but he’s pretty cheap. Q: Dump him. A: Ya got any available nephews or sons? Q: They (the nephews) are all taken. No sons. A: Can I sell you some candy? Q: No I still have a lot left over from Halloween. Even have one of those big ass chocolate covered apples. A: Better eat it before it gets buggy. Q: I will. Favorite candy bar outside of this joint? A: Hershey's Dark. Yours? Q: Used to be Chunky but I love those Take 5’s. A: So what are you going to get for the lady in your life? Q: Her birthday is close to Valentine’s Day so the birthday flowers last until Valentine’s Day. Maybe I’ll take her out to eat, get her a Talbot’s gift card or maybe pay a car payment. A: Wow, that’s a lot of cigarette packs!!! Q: You mean he’s not even buying you a carton? A: Hell no. I told you he was cheap. Q: Okay, I guess it’s the thought that counts, not the gift. After all, when you’re in love every day should be Valentine’s Day. A: That’s pretty corny but I guess you’re right. You know I think I’m going to ask him, no wait demand he take me to dinner. You made a lot of sense. Q: Just a few suggestions, but don’t get me in the middle of this. (Walking away). A: Yeah and Christmas was pretty ****ty too. I’m gonna have a talk with that cheap ****** ****** let me tell you that. You know you made a lot of sense, what’s your name? Hey, where you going? You move pretty fast with that cane when you want to!!!!
PHOTO INDEX: LUZERNE COUNTY COMMISSIONER JAMES B. POST WITH THE ENDORSED GOP TICKET FOR 1966, LOUISE RUSSELL SECRETARY OF STATE GOP, RAYMOND SHAFER, ENDORSED CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR, JOHN TABOR CANDIDATE FOR SECRETARY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS, WALTER ALLESANDRONI, CANDIDATE FOR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR AND JUDGE HAROLD WATKINS CANDIDATE FOR SUPERIOR COURT, OUR 1966 LOGO AND STATE REPRESENTATIVE PHYLLIS MUNDY.
With the impending retirement of State Senator Robert Mellow, three candidates, Democrats Chris Phillips and insurance executive Joseph Albert and Republican Frank Scavo, a former Old Forge school director, have publicly said they plan to run. Three others, Lackawanna County Recorder of Deeds Evie Rafalko McNulty, former City Councilman Gary DiBileo and state Rep. Jim Wansacz, are considering running. One of the most interesting people being mentioned is long time former Democratic commissioner Joe Corcoran. Corcoran has one heck of a record to run on and might be very formidable. A battle between Doherty and Corcoran could be titantic in scope. Refalko McNulty is interesting too. The woman has a huge following and despite her loss for Commissioner in the ’07 primary she has name recognition and gender on her side if the field is crowded with alpha males. More to come on this race.
RENDELL A VISIONARY
Gov. Ed Rendell is proposing changes in the state's sales tax to address financial challenges awaiting Pennsylvanians in the two years after he leaves office. Rendell is looking at the long view and proposing a reduction of the state income tax but increasing it in its scope. He acknowledged that he has some work to do to convince lawmakers. In his budget message Rendell proposed applying the state sales tax to 74 items and services that are now exempt including candy, over-the-counter drugs, and accounting and legal services. Rendell proposes reducing the rate from 6 percent to 4 percent. His plan would maintain exemptions for food, clothing and prescription drugs as well as exemptions for machinery, supplies and materials used in manufacturing and farming. His administration figures the changes, if implemented by Sept. 1, would generate $531.5 million in 2010-11.
The governor proposed that this money plus that from other new taxes on tobacco products and natural gas drilling would go into a lockbox to help the state tackle two budgetary challenges: the looming spike in public employee retirement costs and next year's disappearance of at least $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds. Rendell is recognizing that the stimulus money will go away and is making provisions for the state’s future. I’m sure Rendell will be opposed by the tea party people as well as the GOP in the state but he is making a lot of sense.
MUNDY AND HEALTH CARE
Long time State Representative Phyllis Mundy has some interesting thoughts on health care. From her web site, here are some excerpts:
Phyllis Mundy believes that working families deserve access to affordable health care. She also believes that steps must be taken immediately to reign in the costs of health care. And older Pennsylvanians on fixed incomes shouldn’t have to choose between paying their household bills and paying for medications they need. That’s why Mundy is fighting for lower health care and prescription costs and better patient safety.
Patient Safety and Preventing Medical Error A July 2004 study by Health Grades, Inc. concluded that little has been accomplished to improve medical error prevention and patient safety since the 1999 Institute of Medicine study over five years ago. According to the study, with no significant improvement over the last five years, we may have lost an additional 490,000 Americans due to our failure to improve patient safety. Medical errors are currently not recognized as a cause of death by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, however, if they were, medical errors would be ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
In an effort to respond to this continuing crisis, Mundy has introduced legislation to give a 20% discount in medical malpractice insurance to health care providers that implement a total quality management system. Total quality management systems, such as ISO 9000, which have been successfully implemented for years in private industry, are reducing medical errors and reducing health care costs in health care facilities in many parts of the nation.
Protecting Employees Who Report Medical Errors The lack of reporting by employees in the medical field not only costs lives and preventable injuries, but results in increased costs in health care, litigation, and malpractice insurance rates. Phyllis has introduced legislation, entitled the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, to prohibit retaliation against conscientious employees who try to remedy improper quality of patient care. It also protects employees who provide information or testimony in an investigation conducted by a public body, and specifically protects a licensed or certified health care professional who provides information to any public body conducting an investigation. Also, this legislation protects an employee who objects to or refuses to participate in any activity which they believe to be in violation of the law.
Lower Health Care Costs Mundy knows that in addition to protecting patients, we must begin to control the costs of the health care system. While this is a very complex problem for which there are no easy answers, Mundy is working on the state level to help control health care costs. Since the sunset of the Certificate of Need (CON) program in the mid 1990s, there has been no statutory requirement that health care facilities prove the need to buy expensive new equipment or that there is need in the community for these additional services. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of ambulatory surgical facilities, diagnostic imaging facilities and similar non-hospital health care facilities around the state. The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council believes this adds unnecessary cost to the health care system. Mundy has also been fighting for years to hold Pennsylvania’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations accountable as they amassed millions of dollars in surplus at the same time they raised rates in the double digits every year and made charitable contributions with ratepayer money. Mundy achieved a victory against the Blues in February of 2005 when Commissioner Diane Koken placed a cap on the Blues’ surplus. As a result of Koken’s decision, Blue Cross of Northeastern PA will not be allowed to include a “risk and contingency factor” in future rate increase requests, i.e., they will not be allowed to build further surplus at subscriber expense. The decision also requires that if a Blues’ surplus exceeds the cap, the Blues will have to report to the Commissioner how it intends to spend down the excess surplus. In continuing the fight for lower health care premiums, Phyllis has reintroduce her legislation to limit the Blues surplus to three months of claims payments and require that any revenue above that level be used to lower rates.
A TAXING SITUATION
A fight between the majority Lackawanna County commissioners and Controller Ken McDowell over staffing cuts has brought renewed interest to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a former auditor who says Mr. McDowell fired her to "make room" for political supporters. In the suit filed in February 2008, former county audit supervisor Heather Delhagen claims she was fired for supporting former Controller John Mellow in his campaign against Mr. McDowell. Shortly after Mr. McDowell beat Mr. Mellow in the Democratic primary, Mr. Mellow directed Ms. Delhagen to audit the Single Tax Office. At the time, Mr. McDowell was the tax collector. Ms. Delhagen claims her civil rights were violated when she was sacked two hours after Mr. McDowell was sworn in as county controller. Also fired were deputy controller John Malos and office manager Michael Shumek. Ms. Delhagen and Mr. Shumek were unionized employees. While U.S. District Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie decides whether Ms. Delhagen's accusations against Mr. McDowell merit a jury trial, the controller's motivations have also been questioned.
WB AREA 6TH DISTRICT
Wilkes Barre's 6th District will hold a meeting this month. Here are the deailts: Start: Feb 23 2010 - 7:00pm
End: Feb 23 2010 - 9:00pm
Attention Sixth District Republican Committee Members!
Our next Committee Meeting will be held at:
Luzerne County Republican Headquarters41 South Main Street Wilkes-Barre, PA.
Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2010Time: 7:00 PM.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
Soviet writers Yuli Daniel and Andrei Sinyavsky are sentenced to 5 and 7 years, respectively, for 'anti-Soviet' writings.... The Belgian government resigns.........The State GOP meets and endorses its ticket. The State GOP, riding the popularity of outgoing Governor William Scranton endorses his second in command Raymond Shafer for Governor and Attorney General Walter Allesandroni for Ltn. Governor and in Luzerne County area dress factories are starting to make a recovery from revenue losses due to the New York Transit strike earlier in the year and 44 years ago this week in America and LuLac land the number one song was “Lightning Strikes” by Lou Christie.
I wanted to jump in on this for a few days now but things have been busy politically and I haven't had the chance. The Electric/Diamond City wrote an article by Rube Lomax about a future career move rumor featuring Steve Corbett. Corbett took offense because a story/item/tidbit/filler was published without attribution. His point was that the item could be harmful to his current career standing. The larger point is people writing columns and talking about real people while not identifying themselves. If you are going to write it, own it. And if you are going to print anonymous comments on a bog, filter them and respond to them. From the WILK website is Corbett's column of last week: Thanks For Listening Steve Corbett Reporting Friday, February 05, 2010Time and time again I tell callers to “Corbett” that they cannot spread rumors on my live time news radio show. If the rumors are false and hurt somebody’s reputation, the damage is done even when the truth emerges.Most people understand that it’s impossible to get a genie back into the bottle. And nobody likes to have their reputation in the hands of a reckless spirit.So I don’t know what possessed “Rube Lomax” to write what appears in the current edition of the Diamond City and Electric City weekly newspapers. I do know that what is written is not only reckless but completely false as well. I know the whole truth in this case because the untrue story is about me.Here’s what the “barbed wire” column says: “The local rumor mill is grinding that Scranton carpetbagger and WILK whiner Steve Corbett is trying hard to latch his wannabe star on a nationally syndicated FOX radio show through his worship of all things Sara Palin. Allegedly, he’s working to impress Greta Van Sustern via her husband John P. Coale, who worked locally on the Hillary Clinton campaign. Corbett became acquainted with Coale through the Rodham brothers (his good buddies and Hillary’s wearisome siblings) which is why he’s now got his sights on a national show, hence his lips on the derriere of all things Palin-related.“Perhaps he and Caribou Barbie could team up together. Now that would make for some good talk radio.”I hope you don’t believe what appears in the Lomax column – including the alleged writer’s incorrect spelling of Sarah Palin’s first name and Greta Van Susteren’s last name.If you do believe what the newspapers published both in print and online, you might wonder if I’ve been lying to you as I repeatedly stressed my commitment to WILK and Northeastern Pennsylvania since moving “home” a little more than three years ago.If that demon seed planted in your brain takes root, my credibility is damaged.Your trust in me is undermined.The reputation for honesty that I work very hard to maintain is impugned.But some people likely will believe what they read. And for that I’m very sorry.Back in 2006, when I was living in California and contemplating moving back to Northeastern Pennsylvania, I spoke with two newspaper executives who wanted me to consider working for them in Boulder, Colorado. They told me how nice Boulder was and how my lifestyle and politics would fit in. They painted Boulder as a dream destination, which, for many people is absolutely true.But I had something else in mind.“I’d rather be in Scranton,” I told the publisher.Three years later, I’ll take the cold, gray chaos of this city where my grandfather moved from Ireland in about 1904, the city that five generations of my father’s side of the family have called home, Colorado or California or anywhere else. I’ll take hard coal country over anywhere in the world. And I’ll face off against anybody who spreads or condones lies to the contrary.My wife and I bought a big old house in the Hill section that’s loaded with stained-glass and hard wood that shines and sometimes seems to breathe because our home is so alive. We put down our own deep roots, built a Zen garden of stillness and committed our lives to making each other and the people with whom we share our city and region as happy and as empowered as possible.Every day I encourage people to find their own voice, to stand against generations of political corruption and express themselves in the fight to make Northeastern Pennsylvania a stronger, better and more honest community.My wife has dedicated herself to working as a community organizer upon whom her co-workers depend to help them in the fight for what is right and true and honest. That’s how neighborhoods grow. That’s how people grow. That’s how life gets better for everybody.I’m 58 and wanted to live in Scranton every since I was a little boy and my father sat on the edge of my bed after I said my prayers telling me tales about growing up in the Minooka section of Scranton. To Shamus, good old Minooka was the world and remained that way until the day he died.After all those years, I finally made it. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I been someplace else and nothing matched what I know and love in this town that I’m proud to call home – this town for which I’m willing to fight and sacrifice and ask for more.Still, I worry that some of you might believe what “Rube Lomax” wrote, that you might think I’m using you to get someplace better. For me, there is no such place. The best is exactly where I am.Thanks for listening.And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
PHOTO INDEX: TORN OFF MIRROR ON MY CAR PARKED IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE THE NIGHT OF FEB. 5th THROUGH FEB. 6th, TWO BIG RECYCLING CONTAINERS OF BOOZE FROM KING'S COLLEGE STUDENT HOUSE, AND SAID RECYCLING CONTAINER DUMPED OUT ONTO THE STREET.
NEWS ITEM: Citizen’s Voice: Feb. 7th, 2010 Someone damaged the side mirrors on a 1994 Honda owned by Kate Bossert, a 2003 Chevrolet owned by Stephanie Weling, and a Chrysler Sebring owned by David Yonki on North Main Street on Saturday afternoon.
GRADUATING TO VANDALISM
Friday night Father O’Hara’s drunks from King’s College were having one of their weekend blow outs on North Main Street. (Their weekends are like an old Polish wedding reception, they start on Thursday night and end on Sunday afternoon). It was the usual crap with loud cursing, screaming obscenities and unruly behavior after midnight. The noise was coming from the student housing in my neighborhood. Now I know people need to let off steam but when it starts to interfere the right of others, then I complain. So please bear with me in this edition. Apparently Father O’Hara’s drunks have now graduated to vandalism. Saturday I’m usually up and out by 8AM but the past week was pretty intense for me on a professional level. I had a test scheduled for Monday night and did not even look at the sections so I spent the whole day trying to figure out the relationship of a medical code to a covered entity. At 4:30PM I went to help Mrs. LuLac unload the groceries when I saw my passenger side door mirror ripped off and lying on the ground. Sometimes when you lose a mirror it is on the driver’s side when a car swerves and hits it. I called 911 and filed a police report. They are going to label it under criminal mischief. A few things: I do not know who did this and I cannot prove that it was the partying drunks of Father O’Hara. But I can’t prove that it wasn’t either. The facts are the car was in its parking place from 6:30PM Friday night. From 11PM Friday to 2AM there were party hoppers running up and down North Main Street in full gallop fueled by massive quantities of alcohol. (See photo index). I can only surmise that one of the party house’s guests did this either by intention or by accident. But this incident happened because of college alcohol abuse. No damage was ever done by people shuffling up and down the street when King’s was not in session. And my car is not the first vandalism to happen in North End. Earlier in the fall handicapped parking signs were stolen from their posts in the neighborhood. Why they were taken, no one knows but they caused concern and also the taxpayers money because they have to be replaced. But the greater cost is the emotional toll it takes on the neighborhood. I have an elderly neighbor who lives in the back of my house on Madison Street. His house is next to a building populated by King’s women. One day he told my wife that he was astounded at the behavior of the young ladies next to him. “If their mothers only knew how they behave, cursing, screaming, acting like tramps, they’d be surprised”. Neighbors don’t mind the students when they are sober and on their way to classes, they do mind when they are on drunken tears and bellowing in the middle of the night. I can’t accuse any King’s student of vandalizing my car or those of the others listed above but I can make the connection that off campus alcohol abuse and rowdy behavior increases the chances of property damage as well as other safety issues. The police officer, like all Wilkes Barre city cops was professional, empathetic and promised more patrols in the North End to control the drunks. But as another neighbor said, “If a King’s student urinates (that was not the term she used either) on the Baby Jesus, what chance do we have”. Indeed.
THE NEXT NIGHT.....
It was about 3AM and I was awakened by the sound of broken glass. Getting up from my bed, I tried to navigate down the stairs. I heard three male voices one of which was screaming, “I don’t give a ****, I don’t give a ****”. More breaking glass. Then there was quiet, because the rats retreated back into their respective holes paid for by mommy and daddy in New Jersey. The next morning there was a recycling can dumped over into the street. The photo is above. Now what happened here is pretty interesting. In the 70s there was a sociological report on “Black on black” crime. Statistics said that most crime committed against blacks were by other blacks. The breaking of glass and dumping of the recycling container was a crime by students against students. (After their party the students dutifully filled up the recycling containers like good citizens.) However a few bad citizens chose to knock it down and commit even more vandalism. Now you might not think knocking over a can of bottles is a big thing but it blights a neighborhood. It gives people the impression that there is disorder and that “anything goes”. And it is likely a fellow King’s student that did this against their own classmates. One of the other cars damaged, was that of a King’s student who attained the Dean’s list in 2008. I’m sure if the people who did this knew she was a fellow classmate, they might have spared her car. But alcohol abuse and the ensuing vandalism knows no reason or judgement. For the safety of everyone in the neighborhood and everyone’s possessions I am going to take the following steps. 1.CRIME WATCH: I will contact the Wilkes Barre Crime Watch to see if activities on party night can be monitored. 2.VIDEO: I am getting bids from companies to see if videos could be taken from the street of unruly behavior and pass that information on to the police and college authorities. Going to college and living in the host city neighborhoods should be a privilege and not a right. 3.ALUMNI: While this is only a modest little blog, many King’s College Alumni read this site. I am encouraging all of them to withhold their donations to the College and contribute to one of their own local community colleges. This is not the King’s College we attended. 4.I have sent a letter to U.S. News and World Report outlining the outrageous behavior of the King’s students and will ask them to keep this in mind when they are ranking their top colleges in America. Rewarding an institution for bad behavior is just plain wrong even at the expense of the image of the city. These steps are just the start if any more vehicles are damaged or any other incidents occur. A few weeks back at a social event I was asked what school I attended for college. It was just days after completing my Medical Coding semester at LCCC and I instinctively said, “Luzerne County Community College”. I was then going to amend my answer but then the conversation trended elsewhere. The fact is the King’s College I knew and participated in as a student is in the side view mirror. Broken and cracked (just like my mirror) by a new generation of unthinking slobs, drunks and dare I say budding criminals.
Location: Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, United States
Author of the book "A Radio Story/We Wish You Well In Your Future Endeavors" and "Leges Vitae" "26 Rules of Life" and the new novel, "Weather Or Knot". The blog editor also writes various news articles and columns as well as upcoming literary projects. The blog editor was a frequent guest on WYOU TV'S INTERACTIVE NEWSCASTS when political issues were discussed on the national, state and local level. Currently, Yonki is a weekly panelist on WYLN TV 35's Friday Topic A program. He also appears on the Hazleton, PA. stations Election Night coverage and does special projects and stories for WYLN TV 35's 10PM Newscast "Late Edition".