The LuLac Edition #1454, Jan. 30th, 2011
Luzerne County Controller Walter Griffith met with a 50 of the county’s 69 elected tax collectors last week and politely asked them to start using the county’s online computer program to track their tax bills.
What???? They’re not doing it now? Most everybody has a freakin’ computer these days. I overheard two people over 80 in Dunkin’ Donuts the other day talking about chat rooms and poker sites. I’d be anything but polite. Griffith told the Times Leader that he has reviewed the law and does not believe he could force them to use the system. The Controller indicated he could seek a court order but doesn’t want to resort to that. Usage of the system will speed up processing, audits and the transmission of delinquent tax bills to the county’s tax claim office. This county needs the money and the faster it gets it, the better.
A GOVERNMENT LEAK
Luzerne Coiunty had a leak last week but it wasn’t to a confidential source to the media or anything like that. It was a hole in the roof. The Times Leader reported that water leaks at Luzerne County’s leased record storage building have angered county Prothonotary Carolee Medico Olenginski. (Past history indicates it don’t take much to set her off!)
The lady does have a point telling the local press, “If the commissioners had apples and oranges to store, then it might have been a suitable site, but not for records that are the history of our county,” said Medico Olenginski.
An employee discovered the leaks on the fourth floor of the Thomas C. Thomas Building in downtown Wilkes-Barre last week. He alerted the impacted departments, and records were moved in the area of the leaks. Buckets and tarp were set up to prevent the water from seeping to the floor below.
But later on in the week, the full time employee discovered puddles and water on top of some file cabinets in several spots on the third-floor, where Prothonotary records are kept. Some papers were warped from the water, but were moved before they were destroyed. County Commissioner Stephen A. Urban said he asked county Engineer Joe Gibbons to check it out, and Gibbons told him that building owner Tom Thomas said permanent roof repairs cannot be completed until the weather breaks. In the meantime..............................................
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed a modification to the plea agreement with Robert Mericle that will likely increase the sentence he faces for his guilty plea related to the Luzerne County corruption probe.
The amendment, changes part of the plea agreement that stated the U.S. Attorney’s office would recommend Mericle be sentenced to the minimum under federal sentencing guidelines. The government has now inserted language that says it is free to recommend a higher sentence, up to the maximum.
The government said language that would allow it to seek a higher sentence based on Mericle’s “obstructing or impeding the administration of justice.” The document does not state what action Mericle has allegedly taken to obstruct justice. What is also interesting is that the agreement also removes language that gave Mericle a reduction under sentencing guidelines for acceptance of responsibility. This is a standard fare given to defendants who agree to plead guilty and spare the prosecution the expense of a trial.
One has to wonder where this came from and why at this time. Does the recent indictment of Senator Musto have anything to do with this? If I were on the Mericle defense team, I’d want some answers.