Monday, February 28, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1493, Feb. 28th, 2011



Did a report today on WYLN TV 35 for the Adult Basic Insurance program that is ending tonight at midnight. While on the road I encountered a few local officials who were at the Height Murray School reading Dr. Seuss to the kids. Mayor Tom Leighton of Wilkes Barre bounded out of the building looking ready to run a marathon. The Mayor is recovering nicely from an Achilles heel injury. Also there was State Representative Eddie Day Pashinki and local Magistrate Martin Kane. Tina Polachek Gartley, Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge also was in the school. Even though it has become a ritual for schools to celebrate the good doctor’s birthday and the focus is on “The Cat in the Hat”, it is important that young people see public officials in their midst. I remember as a student in Grade School having visits from then DA Tom Mack as well as a few Mayors in the Pittston Area. It does make an impression.


Okay, this is the pop culture part of this edition. Duke Snider died the other day at age 84. Like the passing of relatives, the death of a baseball icon just gives you an insight into how fleeting time and fame are. Duke Snider was big when I was an infant. By the time his baseball career was winding down, I was just getting into the game. At the age of 8 I remember WNEP TV running Mets games late on Friday night from the West Coast. (Never got the full story as to why they only ran those west coast games). But my dad let me stay up and there I saw “The Duke” in his role as the veteran journeyman with the “Amazin’s”. What I knew of his excellence I knew through the foggy memories of my dad and uncles, reading about him as well videos of the time. I had the opportunity to meet Snider in 1980 right after he was elected and then inducted to the baseball hall. 1980 was the year that you could go to Shea Stadium on a Sunday, see a double header (back to back games) for only $12.00. Really! Through the good graces of the PR guy that is still with the Mets, (Jay Horowitz) I interviewed the Duke. He was soft spoken and gentle and at least to me very modest. One reporter asked him if he any bitterness because he was kept out of the Hall of Fame so long after his retirement. There was only the slightest hint of annoyance directed toward the press corps sitting with him. But his answer was simple, “No one will remember or care in a few years how long it took you guys (and he was pointing at me, I wanted to say, “Yo Duke, I’m from a little paper in Pittston, I don’t have a Hall of Fame ballot!!) to vote me in, all they’ll know is that I got there. And if a man isn’t satisfied with that legacy, the fact that forever he’ll be in Cooperstown, then there’s no pleasing that man." To the Duke, thanks for pleasing our dads, uncles and a little later on, the kids like me who came to know and admire you as the career wound down. From the golden age of television, highlighting the golden age of baseball.


Private practice attorney and former Luzerne County assistant district attorney John Aciukewicz will run for Luzerne County judge in the 2011 election. Aciukewicz said he prosecuted between 30 to 35 jury trials as an assistant district attorney and argued five complete civil trials as a sole practitioner. He also has extensive family law experience. Aciukewicz said that as a Luzerne County judge, he might be assigned by the president judge to hear cases in any of those three areas, and he “would be confident and comfortable in any of those courtrooms. He of course plans to cross file on both the Democratic and Republican tickets.



Republican Edward L. Warkevicz, 63, of Lehman Township, has announced his candidacy for Luzerne County Council. A Plymouth High School graduate, Warkevicz attended Nevada Southern College and Plattsburg State College. A U.S. Air Force veteran, he has worked in the financial insurance industry for more than 39 years. Warkevicz said citizens receiving Social Security benefits have not had a cost-of-living increase since 2009, but county property taxes have increased 15 percent since then.


Republican Gina Nevenglosky, 51, of Dorrance Township, has announced her candidacy for Luzerne County Council. Nevenglosy gave current Register of Wills Dottie Stancovic a run for her money in the 2009 election. She came within 1,000 votes or so of an upset. A graduate of Panther Valley High School, Nevenglosky attended college. She is employed by a New Jersey marketing company working locally in promotions and sales. Nevenglosky is also a Republican committeewoman in the township and has worked on the campaigns of several county, state and federal-level candidates. A mother of four and married to Joe Nevenglosky for more than three decades, years, Nevenglosky said she has the integrity, time and commitment to handle the responsibilities of a county council seat.


Republican William “Bill” James, 66, of Exeter Township, has announced his candidacy for Luzerne County Council. James has run for a few offices in the last decade and most notably for Luzerne County Commissioner. Born and raised in Kingston, James attended Kingston public schools and graduated from the first class at Luzerne County Community College with a degree in architectural engineering technology. He also attended Long Island University and Hunter College in New York. He started BJ Electrical Contractors Inc. in 1983 and was recognized as a small businessman of the year in 2003. James, a Vietnam vet, ran on the Republican ticket for state representative twice. He won the Republican primary in the 2003 race for county commissioner against Greg Skrepenak and Todd Vonderheid but lost in the general election. James publicly endorsed home rule in that county commissioner race.


Democrat Bob Quarteroni, 63, of Luzerne, has announced his candidacy for Luzerne County Council. Quarteroni has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from King’s College and a master’s degree in journalism from Penn State. He was an editor and columnist for the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., for seven years before pursuing a career in academic public relations. Since returning to Northeastern Pennsylvania from New Jersey three years ago, Quarteroni has written editorials for The Times-Leader and worked part-time for a public relations firm in Scranton. He currently handles publicity on a part-time basis for Eckley Miners’ Village as well while pursuing freelance writing and editing opportunities. Quarteroni said his main qualification for council is that he never held or run for public office before, which means he hasn’t “been contaminated by association with the professional political piggies who have been feeding – and fattening themselves –at the public feeding trough for decades.”


Rick Morelli, one of the founding members in the creation of the home rule charter, and resident of Sugarloaf, PA, announced his candidacy for Luzerne County Council in January. “It is imperative that our new form of county government which the citizens of Luzerne County supported is implemented correctly and efficiently come January of 2012. I believe my work on the Government Study Commission as well as being on the Home Rule Transition Team gives me the unique knowledge and experience to ensure that this new form of government moves in the right direction.”
“While being on the Government Study Commission, I fought vigorously to implement vast reforms which would lead to more accountability, a transparent government that would help to eliminate corruption and a county government that works for all its citizens and not just the politically connected. I am running for this office to make sure that these goals I set forth in the charter are carried out,”
Morelli is a 1989 graduate of Hazleton High School. He attended Villanova University on a full athletic Scholarship where he earned a B.S. in Finance and later furthered his education by attending Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia where he obtained an MBA in Finance. He has worked in the financial services industry for over 16 years before his current position as a Strategic Customer Specialist for a national biopharmaceutical company. Rick is also the owner of the Sleep & Wellness Center of Greater Hazleton.
Rick is one of the founding members of the Luzerne County Government Study Commission where he served as Treasurer and helped draft the new home rule county charter. He currently sits on the Home Rule Transition Team in helping to prepare a smooth transition from one county structure to another. He also served on the Hazleton Area School Board from 2003 – 2007 which gave him the experience in working with municipal budgets of over $100 million like the current Luzerne County budget. He is currently on the board of the Greater Hazleton Can Do and Hazleton Area Quarterback Club. He is a proud member of the benevolent and protective order of the Elks Lodge # 200. Rick also hosts a local TV program on SSPTV called “Inside Scoop” which discusses local community topics that take place throughout the Greater Hazleton Area. “I am eager to engage in active dialog with my constituents, pursue an ethical, efficient and effective government that we expect out of this new charter and to bring a new voice with fresh ideas to Luzerne County's new government,” says Morelli. Morelli intends to reach out to as many voters as possible over the coming months, via community events and door-to-door meetings, in order to listen to their priorities for Luzerne County, and hear any issues community members may have with the existing charter. He also urges the citizens of Luzerne County to visit his website at where they will be able to read more about his background and experience as well as read about his plan of action as a county council member. Viewers will also have the ability to reach out to him on his Home Rule Transition blog where he intends to update the public as to what he sees taking place with the county transition process. Rick is the son of Irene Morelli and the late Anthony Morelli of McAdoo, PA and is married to his wife Doreen. Here's his website:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1492, Feb. 27th, 2011



If there was a movie involving a tow truck driver, a city council and a small sized eastern city, then Bob Kaduluboski would be playing the angry man. At Thursday night’s city council meeting in Wilkes Barre, the “Bobster” was at a slow boil but then when he didn’t get answers to his questions, because Council thought they were inappropriate, all democracy ended as the gavel pounded adjournment and other items were tabled. Chair woman Kathy Kane berated the media earlier saying that the collected bunch never focused on good news. Local film producer Scott Spinucci started to film the meetings that night and as luck would have it for him, all hell broke loose. Spinucci, owns Integrated Media Services, and said he plans to film all council meetings. He will upload them to YouTube so people who cannot attend meetings can see what’s happening.
Kadluboski, of City-Wide Towing turned a quiet affair into a 3 ring circus. He questioned how Kane's son found a job for the state Department of Revenue, continued to argue against the city's towing policies and hurled insults at deputy city attorney William Vinsko. Why Vinsko? Because it was Vinsko - who drafted the city's towing ordinance . The Bonster labeled Vinsko as "nothing more than an idiot, imbecile lawyer." As if lawyers don’t hear that every day!
So in the end, Kane was angry because she had to adjourn the meeting, Kadluboski was mad because he felt nothing was wrong with his questions and feels that again he was shut down by the Council. Film maker Spinucci was torqued too because he felt that there was a freedom of speech issue involved and questioned Council members Tony Thomas and Bill Barrett as to the quick hook. Both men said that the questioning was way out of line and had nothing to do with city business. True. But when can those questions be asked? Kadluboski wants to know, I’m sure city residents do too. And certainly Scott Spinucci does too. Here’s the video, the action doesn’t start until about 11 minutes and 30 seconds in. By the way, Kadluboski was the only resident speaking at Council that night.


Attorney Paula Radick, who last week announced her intent to run for Luzerne County judge, will hold a campaign kickoff fundraiser from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Cork Bar & Restaurant in Wilkes-Barre. The cost of the event is $60 per person and will include hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and a chance to meet and learn more about the candidate.
Tickets for the fundraiser can be purchased by calling the Paula Radick for Judge campaign headquarters at 763-9737. For more information, visit


The Citizen’s Voice reported that State police arrested a Maryland man early Friday for exposing himself to a woman at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. A Maryland man faces charges of indecent exposure and disorderly conduct. The 57-year-old was taken into custody around 3:38 a.m. on the gaming floor near a bank of slot machines. A female custodial worker told casino security that the man who was seated, said something to her as she swept the floor in front of him. She looked up and observed that the man had exposed himself. The gambler was taken into custody, charged and jailed overnight in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. He appeared for morning arraignment but then was remanded to prison in lieu of $2,000 bail.


What’s broadcast broadcast news legend David DeCosmo up to? The new edition of his series 'People, Places, and Things' will be added to the program rotation at ECTV (Comcast Ch 19) beginning the week of February 28th. It's a behind the scenes look at the Scott Township Police Department. The week's guest on ECTV Live with my co host Judge Tom Munley will be Deb Petterson of the Voluntary Action Center in Scranton. ECTV Live airs at Noon and Midnight throughout the week.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1491, Feb. 26th, 2011



Monday the Adult Basic Program is going away. The program was funded in part by the Blues (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) of Pennsylvania and the state. I talked to someone who is going off that program.
Q: Adult Basic is going away at the end of this month, are you making alternative plans?
A: I’m going to have to. I am extremely frustrated because it took so long to get on it.
Q: How long did it take you to get on?
A: At least 15 months. It was crazy. Then when I got on, I found out they were going to terminate it.
Q: Where do you work and how much do you make if I might ask?
A: What you want to do my taxes?
Q: You wouldn’t want that. No, give me a ballpark figure.
A: I have two jobs. One at a mini mart and the other one in a bakery. Combined I make maybe $325.00 a week.
Q: That’s well within the guidelines.
A: You’re telling me.
Q: Why not go without health care like others seem to do?
A: I was brought up to be a responsible person. I might be poor but I know what I need to do to take care of myself.
Q: Did you vote?
A: Yeah, I voted for Obama primarily because of health care. I’m an American, why should my health care be any different than a rich guys. We both breath the same air, walk the same streets.
Q: Some will say that health care is a privilege, not a right.
A: Well then why did they take my privilege away? What did I do to have that taken away from me? Did I rob a bank? Did I hurt someone? No. I just got on a list that was made for people like me and then the rug was pulled out from under me. Those Blue Crosses have millions, have you seen their fancy offices?
Q: Well I could tell you first hand that most of the offices are pretty spartan. There might be one or two fancy offices but I wasn’t in them. That said, it seems like the Blues Crosses are ducking their responsibilities.
A: Yeah, I never did though.
Q: What’s your plan?
A: I have a Special Care package from them. Weighs a ton.
Q: Yeah they do send out bundles. (Smiling).
A: I have no choice. I have to pay more.
Q: Well the good thing is under the Special Care plan I believe you get 4 doctor’s visits a year with a ten buck co pay, I don’t think you have a deductible and you get your hospitalization covered. So that’s a good thing.
A: Yeah, but I have to pay more. I don’t have more!!! I was paying $36.00 a month. Now I have to pay triple. I am going to have to find that money somewhere. It’s not going to be easy. I used to be worried about being lonely because I’m by myself. But it looks like it’s a blessing.
Q: What would you do if you had a family or a husband?
A: I’d either take the bridge or rob a bank.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1490, Feb. 25th, 2011



Maybe I’m Amazed……that India has a bill of rights for cows.
Maybe I’m Amazed……that the guy who got sentenced for selling fake sports memorabilia today says “it’s all behind me, now I can move on with my life!” Uh, doesn’t he have to make a stop at the jail for 18 months?
Maybe I’m Amazed……that Pat Patte got home confinement and that he didn’t lose his business for running a criminal enterprise. Doug Lane lost his radio stations for serious crimes against minors. But that testimony was from years before. But a criminal enterprise is a criminal enterprise, isn’t it?
Maybe I’m Amazed…..that the Shenandoah youths who beat on an illegal immigrant got 9 years a piece and got a break because they were so well thought of by the community.
Maybe I’m Amazed…..that the right wing Tea Party people were no shows for the Labor Rally in Scranton the other day. All bluster, no bite.
Maybe I’m Amazed…..that no one knows that there were numerous programs in the Obama stimulus package that were actually rejected and tabled by Vice President who in no uncertain terms defunded them. But you never hear about that from anyone. As a matter of fact, Biden’s attention to detail and waste in the Stimulus got him the nickname “Sheriff Joe”.
Maybe I’m Amazed…..that no one seems to know when we are going to get out of Afghanistan. As a matter of fact I hear there are generals saying we’ll be there another ten years.
Maybe I’m Amazed….that Rush Limbaugh is making very nasty remarks about Michelle Obama’s figure. I guess Limbaugh is a way better man than the President, the Rushter trades in wives like a geezer trades in Pontiacs every few years. Newer model anyone?
Maybe I’m Amazed…..that my man Governor Ed has not turned up on the tube recently. Rendell was on MSNBC right after he left office but I haven’t seen him for a bit. In the meantime, new Governor Tom Corbett’s new budget is going to be very interesting to see who and what he cuts.
Maybe I’m Amazed……that I seem to be the only person that really likes Godfather 3. You have to love Oscar times, that’s when the old movies are pulled out. Saw two of my favorites this week, “The Best Years Of Our Lives” and “Friendly Persuasion”. And of course “The Godfather” trilogy. Guys can’t resist quoting lines from it.
Maybe I’m Amazed……that so many great comments have come in regarding my latest book, “Weather Or Knot”. Many people have told me that the harsh winter and the regard and/or disregard for weather forecasters has fueled sales. From the shameless self promotion department:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Lulac Edition #1489, Feb. 24th, 2011



The actions of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker the last few days started a debate within me that I found very hard to shake. On the surface, Walker paints a picture that in this tough economy everyone should make concessions. Since tax funded jobs are always a favorite target for those who don’t have them, this politically was an easy stance to take. It was thought that conservative Walker would make a stand and then back down. He did not. It has been said that unions had their day. We were told that unions were formed to promote worker safety and fair wages. But in this the greatest country in the world, where we want for nothing, unions aren’t necessary to protect the dignity of anyone anymore. To be sure there have been abuses in unions. Just take a look at the United Mine Workers Union. I remember stories from my father who told me that after a 17 hour day of clearing snow, he had to endure a three hour meal in White Haven (more than 35 miles away from our house) because his union steward wanted to get an even twenty hours from the company. My father would’ve preferred the extra time at home. There are enough horror stories in teacher’s union too. It is no secret that some of the less proficient teachers and workers are protected by unions. I have called many times for a mass firing of the Luzerne County Courthouse because of corruption and inefficiencies begot by numerous unions. So unions are not the angelic forces that many would have us believe.
That said though, Wisconsin tells us that the conservative right, primarily supported by big business now has its eye on what was once sacrosanct, unions. American business today is not at all about people, but about profit. Years ago, business people would provide a product, they’d sell it at a fair price and then take a profit. It was enough profit to let them reinvest it in the business, give them sometimes a higher standard of living than those who bought it and in effect rewarded them for their risk. Right around the end of the 70s, unions lost their juice. In the Wilkes Barre Area, the employees of the Times Leader went on strike. Within a few days, replacement workers gladly took over. It was no longer taboo to be called a “scab”. While the early non union employees at the Leader had some rocky times, they soon subsided while the striking employees formed the Citizen’s Voice. Within 30 years, the Voice itself was absorbed by a non union paper. To date there are less than a handful of union employees at the Voice. Nationally Ronald Reagan got kudos and high heroics for firing the air traffic controllers. Union disintegration continued into sports when the NFL and baseball hired replacement players.
Meanwhile, American business started to flex its muscle. Corporations cared only about the bottom line. Eager politicians gave the companies tax breaks while weak knee Chamber of Commerces gave into their every demand. I worked for three companies that got federal money to set up shop. Only one is left (and that’s after they outsourced 75% of their jobs to India and Canada) and last I heard the starting pay is $11.00 an hour. Workers are told to be grateful for their jobs. The same workers are told they’ll be vested in a retirement plan after 5 years. Those workers never make it to five years. Super market chains come in here and offer jobs. 90% of them are part time with no health care. Even “family” businesses look out for number 1 keeping the help in line by reduction of hours or threatening to fire at will. Which they do regularly. The horse is out of the barn in our economy regarding “at will” workers. One must go into any job today thinking like a baseball manager, “you are hired to be fired”. Things can never return to the way they were in the 50s and 60s.
But given all the trepidations I have about unions, the Wisconsin story is troubling. Once a concession is taken back by an entity, whether it be business or government, it never comes back. In the mid 80s, the management at the old Sunday Independent repeatedly asked for concessions from their employees. “Help us, help you protect your jobs”. The union did. It made many concessions they never got back. One day when those union workers were coming to work, the Independent was padlocked. No notice, nothing. My question is: What good were the concessions if management couldn’t use that extra money to stay competitive?
Wisconsin is important because workers need to keep what they fought for. Empty promises just won’t cut it. Wisconsin is important because concessions always come at the expense of those who can ill afford to give it. Wisconsin is important because if this Scott Walker plan succeeds, the elimination of the middle class in this country will be complete.
State workers are an easy target. Teachers are an easy target. It’s because of envy. But that envy is fueled by $9.00 an hour jobs and no health care. It is a typical divide and conquer mentality. But the fact is government workers have not received raises in years. In states like Pennsylvania they are at the mercy of Legislators who make over $100,000 a year. The recent attempt to privatize liquor stores in Pennsylvania is as much about union busting as it is about getting a one time windfall for a strapped Commonwealth economy.
Wisconsin happened because of greed. Greed by business owners. Two years ago a local concern lost a sales contract to a competitor. At a meeting with the Executive Board, the manager was told by the company CEO, “I don’t care how you make it up, fire, cut, demote, reorganize. I don’t care what you do to get this money back. But know this: I will not change my lifestyle that I’ve been accustomed to one bit because of this. This is your problem, not mine”.
And that my friends is why Wisconsin is so important. We are at a crossroads. One bad turn and we’re done.


The recent article in the Citizen’s Voice by Dave Janoski about the circumstances regarding the tragic death of Edward R. Kenzakoski III are both compelling and confusing. The boy’s father admitted to Janoski that he and his friends set the young man up when they felt he was getting out of control by planting drug paraphernalia in his vehicle. The intention according to the father was to haul the boy before Judge Ciavarella who would “scare him straight”. Instead Ciavarella sent him to the Juvenile Detention facility. After those stint and a few brushes with the law, the young man committed suicide. After Judge Ciavarella’s conviction on 12 of the 39 counts filed against him, Kenzakoski III’s mother Sandra Fondo went off on a tirade against Judge Ciavarella holding him responsible for her child’s death. She later appeared on CNN, Good Morning America and The Today Show. With the revelation from the father, Edward Kenzakoski Junior that he had a hand in all of this illustrates just how complex these cases are. Surely Judge Ciavarella had a hand in all of this young man’s spiral downward but it appears as if he came in on the second or third act of this drama. I am not defending Ciavarella here and I am very sympathetic to the loss of any young person who’s potential is cut short by an untimely death. But the Juvenile system, such as it is or was or will be cannot be blamed fully. It can share part of the blame but not all of it. My sister taught first grade for over thirty years in a local school district. When parents brought their kids to her, more than a few would say, “Thank God he or she has you. Now maybe you can do something with them”. My sister replied that the foundation for good, bad or indifference had already been built. There is a role of personal parental responsibility and in the case of divorced parents, (as the Kenzakoski Case) there has to be communication. And perhaps there was but I can’t believe that after Ms. Fondo’s passionate plea against the Judge that she would permit her ex to “set up” her son.
The other day the Times Leader had a story about a young woman who wanted to be a doctor. At the age of thirteen she threatened her grandmother and even though her relative dropped the charges she was sent away anyway. After her release she broke a few rules. Then a few laws. At the age of twenty she now has two babies. Even though Ciavarella sent her away, how is he responsible for her opening her legs and having those babies?
A few months ago I was going to The Bake House. As Mrs. LuLac drove to a parking space, this guy kept on eye balling me in as I sat in the passenger seat. It was a kid I knew from Hanover Area who was hell on wheels back then. He had a few runs in with the law and dropped out of school. No one gave him a chance. He has a business in Kingston now and has two kids who he told me proudly are on the honor roll. Why I asked him how he did, all he said was, “It was time to get my shit together and I did”. Now I understand that everybody can’t be this guy but everybody sent to the Detention Center by Ciavarella can’t be without blame either.
A hard look at the schools has to take place too. The “zero tolerance” policy gave administrators and teachers an easy out in handing over to authorities any kid who was a pain in the ass. So if someone broke a window (or in my case when I was in the 8th grade with my buddy Paul Komensky a plate glass door) is that warranting a kid being sent away? And where was the legal profession in all of this? Like any line of work, attorneys gossip. You mean to tell me that local lawyers didn’t know that Ciavarella before and after Pa. Child Care wanted to make a name for himself as a “tough little bastard”? Anyone who observed Ciavarella’s demeanor in Court knew this guy wasn’t going to be warm and fuzzy. Did anyone not know that he loved to run a tight court where disposing of the cases was more important than actually hearing them? Ciavarella, like former Judghe Ann Lokuta’s behavior in all those years did not occur in a vacuum. There were warning signs but parents, school officials, lawyers, the probation office , and the courts took the easy way out. Perhaps Judge Ciavarella’s greatest crime will never be on the court ledger. Perhaps his greatest sin was that in terms of the easy way out, Ciavarella let everyone take it.


The race is heating up for Luzerne County Council. Here are some names being bandied about. On the GOP side you have Michael Cabell, Kathy Dobash, Harry Haas, Rick Morelli, Gina Nevenglosky, Moderno "Butch" Rossi, John C. Ruckno, Linda Urban, Frank Vandermark and Edward Warkevicz.
The Democrats have an array of candidates running too. They are; Michelle Bednar, Kevin Casey, Casey Evans, Mario Fiorucci, Thomas Ksiezopolski, Thomas Rome, Gary Reese, Wil Toole and Bruce J. Simpson. Plus there are still at least another 15 who have told me that they are in "the mulling stage".


Tom Borthwick for Scranton School Board Campaign Kick-Off will be at Kilcoyne's, Friday, March 11 at 6:00pm. Borthwick is a candidate for Scranton School Board and will cross file.

ORIE OH!!!!!

Republican State Sen. Jane Orie's former chief of staff said the lawmaker tried to cover up campaign work being done by her taxpayer-funded staff after learning an intern had reported the activity to authorities in October 2009. Those darn interns!
Orie's former top aide, Jamie Pavlot, continued testifying this week in the corruption trial of the senator and her sister, Janine Orie, that the senator told Pavlot to post a sign on a seldom-used office upstairs of Orie's legislative office to make it appear that location was the campaign headquarters of a third sister, now-state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. Pavlot said Orie also hand wrote a letter later sent to the intern and her professors at the University of Pittsburgh denying campaign work was ever done by the senator's staff on state time.


We first met Attorney Vito DeLuca when he campaigned for rejection of the Home Rule Charter in the County. He’s running for Luzerne County Judge now having hosted a campaign kick off at Alden Manor. To learn more about Attorney Vito DeLuca’s candidacy for Luzerne County Judge please visit his website at



King’s College Government and Mass Communications Students and departments hosted a fine event this week at the college. Both Congressmen Lou Barletta and Tom Marino were on a panel hosted by Sue Henry. It was a very good meeting exhibiting the interest young people have in government.


Penn State students raised A record $9.56 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital at the annual Thon. The Four Diamonds Fund benefits pediatric cancer patients. About 700 dancers kicked up their heels for the 46-hour dance marathon, which is billed as the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.




This week on Saturday Night Live at the Oldies, tune in when Shadoe Steele’s guest is the biggest 70s novelty hits artist, of Cheech and Chong - Tommy Chong live from Stamford, Connecticut 8 - 9 PM. Saturday Live At the Oldies is on WILK AM & FM Saturday from 7PM to midnight with ABC News on the hour.


Join WARM’s Brian Hughes at 9:30AM for his weekly public affairs program “Sunday Magazine”. This Week on Sunday Magazine Brian Hughes speaks with Andy Mehalshick from WBRE-TV about the aftermath of former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella's corruption trial, and what's next in the ongoing federal corruption probe, And Brian speaks with Doctors Jeffrey Becker and Robert Bohlander from the Neurosensory Center of Eastern Pennsylvania in Kingston on a wide variety of ailments treated by the center, ranging from Autism and ADHD to Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Disorders. Sunday Magazine, Sunday morning at 5:30am on JR 93.7, 6am on 97BHT & 97.9 X, 6:30 on Magic 93, and 9:30am on WARM 590 AM.


Tune in every day at 5:30 and for the rebroadcast at 11:30PM to Topic A on WYLN TV 35You can see WYLN TV 35 on Service Electric Channel 7 in Wilkes Barre.


President Nixon continues his historic trip to China this week 39 years ago……
As the economy in Pennsylvania rebounds, Governor Shapp singles out his legislative Democratic leadership in the General Assembly--Senators Murray and House Speaker Howard Fineman, Majority Leader Leroy Irvis and Majority Whip James Manderino—for shepherding his income tax proposal in the previos year…….in the 117th District, Shickshinny’s George Hasay announces that he will run as a Republican for State Representative........ and 39 years ago today, the number 1song in America and LuLac land was “Sweet Seasons” by Carole King.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1488, Feb. 23rd, 2011




Mining has a long and storied history in Pennsylvania. The western part of the state is home to large deposits of bituminous coal, and the culture of these areas was shaped by the prevalence of the mining industry there. However, coal is not the only mineral found in natural deposits in Pennsylvania – the state was also one of the few in the U.S. to mine asbestos.
The U.S. Geological Survey has records of four former asbestos mines in Pennsylvania, all in the southeastern corner of the state. Amphibole asbestos came from these mines, and while it is not the most popular type of the mineral for use in construction materials, it is the more dangerous type. Its fibers are more likely to crumble than the more common chrysotile asbestos, making it more likely to be inhaled or ingested. Because of this, in 2005, there were more reported occurrences of dangerous asbestos in Pennsylvania than any other state with the exception of New Jersey.
Sadly, this prevalence of asbestos pollution takes a heavy toll on public health. According to a CDC study, between the years of 1999 and 2005, Pennsylvania had the fourth highest rate of mesothelioma
deaths in the nation at 20.8 per million people. Symptoms of mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the lining of the lung, include shortness of breath, pain in the chest, and fluid on the lungs. Because these symptoms may also occur in many other, less serious lung conditions, mesothelioma often goes undiagnosed until the later stages of the disease, when treatment is far less effective.
Asbestos was commonly used to add heat resistance to many construction materials and pieces of factory equipment. It was also highly popular in the shipbuilding industry, since boats at sea needed to reduce the risk of fire as much as possible. The Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, later the Pennsylvania Shipbuilding Company, operated out of Chester, PA, from 1917 to 1989 during the height of asbestos use. Many former navy personnel and shipbuilding workers have begun to display mesothelioma symptoms in recent years, since the cancer can remain dormant for 20 to 50 years after asbestos exposure.
Nowadays, asbestos in Pennsylvania is largely found in homes and other buildings constructed prior to the 1980s. If these asbestos-containing materials are intact, they are not harmful and should not be disturbed. However, any damaged or worn materials should be removed by a professional. The removal and disposal of asbestos in public buildings is the responsibility of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Though the DEP does not regulate asbestos removal for private homes, it is best to hire a licensed abatement team if you believe you have asbestos at your place of residence. For the name of a licensed contractor or more information, please call the Wilkes-Barre DEP regional office at (570) 826-2511.
Tiffany Best is a guest writer to LuLac. She is very passionate about the proper care that should be taken when it comes to Veteran’s health, especially with deadly diseases caused by Asbestos.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1487, Feb. 22nd, 2011



With the County in a Transition mode and Chamber of Commerce head Todd Vonderheid saying he will call it quits at the end of this year, we asked the following poll question:

1.When the Home Rule Committee begins its search for a County CEO, would Todd Vonderheid be a good choice?
YES 15%
NO 85%


This poll is a series of 2 questions regarding the Ciavarella case.
a. YES
b. NO.


Click here to take survey

Monday, February 21, 2011

The LuLac Eition #1486, Feb. 21st, 2011



Okay here’s a gut reaction prediction on my part for the 2012 Presidential race. I know New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said he will not run for President. I know he said he wants to finish the job he started as Governor of New Jersey. I know that he even told an interviewer that he needed to learn a lot more before he took the step into a Presidential race. But he has started a political PAC (which on its surface doesn’t mean much) and has started to become more defensive of his budget moves in the Garden State. (Can never understand why they call it the Garden State but I digress). With the Conservatives hearts with Ron Paul and the establishment behind Mitt Romney (because it’s his turn) I can see that neither of those men have a passionate base. Look for a straight talking guy like Christie to fill that void. Just a gut feeling but one I thought I’d share.


Both newly elected United States Congressmen from Northeast Pennsylvania will speak about their transition to the new positions at a free public forum, titled “Congress on Campus,” to be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, February 22, in the Burke Auditorium of the William G. McGowan School of Business at King’s College.
Lou Barletta, a Republican from the 11th District, and Tom Marino, a Republican from the 10th District, will speak about their experiences so far in the 112th Congress. A question-and-answer session will follow. The event marks the first time both Congressmen have appeared together at a local public forum since their election.
The event is being sponsored by the Political Science and Mass Communications Departments at King’s College as well as the Communications Club and the student radio station, WRKC, 88.5 FM. The forum will be broadcast live on WYLN-TV, Hazleton, and WRKC. WYLN TV 35 is on Channel 7 Service Electric Wilkes Barre. The William G. McGowan School of Business is located at the corner of N. River and W. Union streets. Free parking will be available in King’s-owned parking lots.


The Luzerne County Young Democrats will be having their first meeting of 2011. Here are the details:
Wednesday, February 23 • 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location Barnes and Noble, Downtown Wilkes-Barre
Don’t let that 3 hour time frame scare you off. After official business the “party” is moved to Bart and Urby’s down the street.


Mike Blazick who ran for Judge in Luzerne County the last time and scored big with newspaper endorsements will be back again for a run at one of the 6 open seats. Blazick will kick off his campaign Tuesday night at 6PM on Rodano’s on Public Square.


Riding down River Street in Wilkes Barre I saw Attorney Jennifer Rogers smiling face on a huge billboard promoting her candidacy for Luzerne County Judge. Also Mike Vough is on the radio steering people to his web site. Again, any Judicial candidates interested in participating with a joint project between LuLac and WYLN TV 35, please e mail your advertising or contact people information to

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1485, Feb. 20th, 2011



So how about the fact that the county can’t find a buyer for Valley Crest? How about the fact that the former budget director Tom Pribula said they should not count that revenue in the projections because it wasn’t real? How about the fact that somehow someway the county is going to have to find the extra money to fill that hole? Yeah, how ‘bout that!


If you think the trials and investigations are over after the Ciavarella trial, you’re incorrect. This is just a lull. But the next big deal might be the investigation into former Senator Bob Mellow. A federal court opinion disclosed that an FBI probe of former Pennsylvania state Senate leader Bob Mellow concerns extortion, fraud and money laundering. A U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia denied the former Senator's bid to have authorities return evidence seized in June 2010 raids of his home and district office. They’re not giving it back. That can only spell trouble for the long time legislator.


Jim O’Meara, local GOP official and former candidate for State Representative in the 121st district was being urged to run for Luzerne County Council. I was urging Jim to run for Council. He made his decision and I want you to pay particular attention to the last sentence which I highlighted in red.
I decided against running for Luzerne County Council. The prohibition section for County Council reads in part: " member of County Council employed or compensated by any individual or business serving as a contractor to the County or any County authority, board, or commission." I work for a branch of a national food distributor. My branch is not doing business with the county, but another branch has within the past year. Do I think the prohibition section is too sweeping? Yes. If you sweep the floors at an office supply company that does business with the County, you're excluded, as I see it. I may not agree with the way the charter is written in this regard, but it is what it is. This will disappoint some folks, but I'm taking the high road. I think people here are tired of folks who try to work around the system.
If you want to boil the problems of our county down to one sentence, it's this: Too many people in the past felt the rules don't apply to them. I won't be one of them.
I plan to run for Board of Commissioners in Plains Township. Win or lose, I will learn a great deal about my own community. Good luck Jim.


During the trial of Mark Ciavarella this week there were people in the courtroom speculating about the 6 vacancies that are going to occur on the Luzerne County bench this year. Candidates are already forming committees and a few have even started advertising. You can be sure that more will be joining the fray. Reports I’ve heard is that there is a backlog in the court cases. So far the candidates running, with the exception of those who ran the last time have little or no name recognition. That could easily be overcome. A retired attorney I ran into during the trial said, “The main challenge the candidates for Judge, or any candidate for that matter will be to convince the voters that they are honest people and will remain so. Here’s a list so far of who’s in by alphabetical order.
John Aciukewicz
Michael Blazick
Mark W. Bufalino
Vito DeLuca
Lesa Gelb
Richard Hughes
Molly Hanlon Mirabito
Jim McMonagle
Fred A. Pierantoni
Paula Radick
Jennifer Rogers
Tony Ross
Joseph F. Saporito Jr.
Joe Sklarosky Jr.
Joseph J. Van Jura
Mike Vough
I'd ask any Judicial candidate to send me his or her contact information to LuLac is planning a special TV project for this Judicial Election and I need every one's contact people.


State Senator John Yudichak has directed staff members to come to senior citizens the coming weeks to discuss issues of importance. Here’s the schedule:
Staff members from State Senator John Yudichak’s office will visit senior centers and apartment complexes to offer senior citizens assistance with filing the necessary forms for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. The passage of the Taxpayer Relief Act is helping seniors and disabled residents remain in their homes through property tax relief.
More seniors than ever before are getting the extra help they need through a major expansion of the state Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program.
The dates are:
Friday, from 9 a.m. until noon at the Apollo Apartments, 161 S. Main St.,Pittston;
March 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Park Towers Apartments, 1 E. Green St., Nanticoke;
March 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Temple Apartments, 5 Heisz St., Edwardsville;
March 18 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Edwardsville Apartments (Community Room at Eagle Ridge) 9 Beverly Drive, Edwardsville;
March 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Oplinger Tower Apartments, 270 E. Main St., Nanticoke, (in cooperation with Rep. Gerald Mullery (D) 119th District);
March 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Nanticoke Towers Apartments, 100 Nanticoke Ave., Nanticoke.


You know how much I love Coke but I’m not going to be making it in my house anytime soon now that the recipe is out. But it is interesting that it came out this week.
According to "TAL," in 1979 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a little-noticed article on the history of Coca-Cola and -- this is the important part -- included a photograph. That photo allegedly showed a handwritten copy of the Coca-Cola recipe invented by John Pemberton -- including the exact contents of Merchandise 7X, "the cartoonishly super-secret, cloak-and-dagger name" of the key ingredient, host Ira Glass said.
The recipe was apparently written down in a Pemberton friend's journal of remedies and ointments, which makes sense since Coca-Cola was originally sold as a tonic.
"TAL" staffers were apparently the first to examine the photo closely enough to realize what it actually showed. Here's the recipe, according to the program:
Fluid extract of Coca: 3 drams USP
Citric acid: 3 oz.
Caffeine: 1 oz.
Sugar: 30 (unclear quantity)
Water: 2.5 gallons
Lime juice: 2 pints, 1 quart
Vanilla: 1 oz.
Caramel: 1.5 oz. or more for color
The secret 7X flavor (use 2 oz. of flavor to 5 gallons syrup):
Alcohol: 8 oz.
Orange oil: 20 drops
Lemon oil: 30 drops
Nutmeg oil: 10 drops
Coriander: 5 drops
Neroli: 10 drops
Cinnamon: 10 drops




U.S. Congressmen Lou Barletta, R-11th District, and Tom Marino, R-10th District, will speak about their experiences so far in the 112th Congress at a free public forum, titled “Congress on Campus.” The event will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Burke Auditorium of the William G. McGowan School of Business at King’s College.
The event is being sponsored by the Political Science and Mass Communications Departments at King’s College as well as the Communications Club and the student radio station, WRKC, 88.5 FM. The forum will be broadcast live on WYLN-TV, Hazleton, and WRKC. The William G. McGowan School of Business is located at the corner of North River and West Union streets. Free parking will be available in King’s-owned parking lots.


For those who have Service Electric TV Cable, WYLN TV 35 is now on Channel 7. You can tune in to their “Late Editon” news at 10PM every night as well as the Daily News program at 5:30PM “Topic A”.


For all of you people who are so concerned about the deficit, for all of you who wanted to send a message that this huge federal debt will saddle “the children” (please!) and for all of you have apparently forgotten that the GOP ran it up with a sham of a war in Iraq, well take a look at what “your Congress” is going to do to Public Broadcasting. Currently our local outlet will experience a one million dollar cut. It is punitive, short sighted and will hurt “the children” the GOP is so worried about. Where do you think the money comes from for Children’s programming? See this is still another example of how the national GOP is anti family. I think it is hysterical how the Republicans are so in favor of deficit reduction when they voted against the Clinton deficit reduction package in 1993 which actually gave the country a surplus. Look what these guys are cutting and you tell me where their heads and hearts are at. Not for the middle class that’s for sure.


“Write On Wednesday” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” will return to their regular slots next week. They were preempted because of the coverage of the Ciavarella trial.


The Soviet unmanned spaceship Luna 20 lands on the Moon........U.S. President Richard M. Nixon makes an unprecedented 8-day visit to the People's Republic of China and meets with Mao Zedong. This history making trip is surprising to many since Nixon was the ultimate cold war warrior. It also gave Nixon incredible media exposure as the 1972 Presidential election began……….................In Pennsylvania the Shapp administration increases funding for transportation increasing the number of jobs in Penn Dot…… Wilkes Barre citizens begin to form committees to overturn the Home Rule Charter which instituted a Manager form of Government instituted in the late 1960s…..and the number 1 song in America and LuLac land this week was a remake of the old Tokens hit, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.

The LuLac Edition #1484, Feb. 20th, 2011



Every day we lose more people from what was term as “The Greatest Generation”. Last week my Godfather, Joseph “Lefty” Pribula passed away at the age of 87. My uncle could be described in many ways but to me he was “the guy” He was “the guy” who visited our home most weekends when he and his his wife came down from Towanda to go out with their friends on the West Side. A visit from him meant that we would build an elaborate model of some kind out of my building blocks. He was “the guy” who had the wife who would give me a shiny new dime every time she sat down at the kitchen table. (Don’t laugh, dimes were a big thing back in the late 50s!!) He was “the guy” who made sure every nephew had the chance to inspect his company car provided by Commonwealth Telephone. He was “the guy” who educated me as to the greatness of the Green Bay Packer teams of the early 1960s. He was “the guy” who drove me and my mom to Philadelphia’s Wills Eye Hospital when I was having major eye issues that almost threatened my sight. He was “the guy” who was outraged by Richard Nixon’s disregard for the Constitution. He was “the guy” who always dropped in on my mom as she aged to make sure she was okay. Sometimes he stayed and gabbed for hours. He was "the guy" who substituted the word "blazes" for hell. His golf and bowling buddies called him "Lefty". Until P.J. his son came along, because I was a left hander, I'd get his old cracked golf clubs. He was “the guy” that became the defacto Vice President of my cousin P.J’s business enterprises. He was “the guy” that never told me about his exploits during WWII. I found out about his role in that conflict when he went to his reunions of the old Army Air Corps. He was “the guy” who supported me in every endeavor, driving to my book signings and buying my books for God knows who. He was “the guy” who booked his air flights with me when I worked for the on line pagan travel company even when I told him all I got out of it was a 15 cent commission. He was “the guy” who overcame cancer and heart disease. He was “the guy” who was thrilled by the birth of his grandson, Connor Joseph. He was “the guy” we all looked up to and who made us better by osmosis. He was “the guy” who was my “Godfather”. He’s gone now, and will be buried tomorrow. He’ll be remembered as a father, a brother, a husband, a grand father, an uncle, a cousin, a relative, a co worker, an employee, a boss, a friend, a neighbor, a citizen and a Godfather. But to me, he will always remain “The Guy”.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1483, Feb. 19th, 2011


Scroll down for coverage of the Mark Ciavarella trial on this site. Then check out our archives from last week. And watch this video of the post verdict news conference courtesy of the Times Leader.

The LuLac Edition #1482, Feb. 19th, 2011




He gets his own lunch and carries it in a simple paper sack. At 85 he has the appearance of a former bantam weight fighter. It is said that he likes to be home every day at 4PM. We also learned that if need be, he’ll come in on a Saturday and bring the rest of his crew with him. He most likely has forgotten more law than most of the attorneys who practice before him know. In the Conahan/Ciavarella case, he was the Judge who rejected the initial pleas by the two former jurists because he just didn’t like their attitude. Despite requests to take him off this case, Judge Edwin Kosik presided with efficiency over this trial. Kosik was born in Dupont, Pennsylvania. He received a B.A. from Wilkes College in 1949. He received an LL.B. from Dickinson School of Law in 1951. He was a Corporal in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946 and a Reserve Colonel in 1975. He was in private practice in Scranton, Pennsylvania from 1951 to 1953, became an assistant U.S. Attorney of the Middle District of Pennsylvania from 1953 to 1958, before returning to private practice from 1958 to 1969. He was a Chairman, Pennsylvania State Workmen's Compensation Board from 1964 to 1969 and became a judge on the Court of Common Pleas, 45th Judicial District of Pennsylvania from 1969 to 1979. He became a President judge, Court of Common Pleas, 45th Judicial District of Pennsylvania from 1979 to 1986.
Kosik was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on May 14, 1986, to a seat vacated by Malcolm A. Muir on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 13, 1986, and received his commission on June 16, 1986. He assumed senior status on July 15, 1996. Kosik ran the trial like a conductor running the railroads. There was a reason for every stop and everything had to be on time.
He was a member of the fading “Greatest Generation” Tom Brokaw wrote in his book of the same name. Mark Ciavarella’s fate when he is appealing his case will be what side he will see of this man of a different generation. Will he see the career lifer Judge who is abhorred by his (Ciavarella’s) disregard for his office or the compassion of a man who has literally seen and heard of failing of humanity?
Whatever will be in the future, the last two weeks Judge Edwin Kosik was a veritable quote machine. Here are a few of his dandies:
“One thing lawyers love to do is talk, that’s why I left the profession”.
“You do your job, I’ll do mine”. (When the Prosecution asked him about a procedural question).
“This is the way it should always be, nice and quiet”. (When he entered an almost empty courtroom shortly after a lunch break)
“I ‘m wearing my carpenter’s coat, you caught me with it on”. (On his way to lunch one day as he opened the front door during lunch).
“You are most likely going to hear as many words as you will ever hear in your lifetime”. (On the day he charged the jury with instructions. )
“Since you didn’t seem to take that too seriously, let me explain it to them directly”. (Scolding the prosecution when they provided a rather curt clarification of a legal point).
“You seem to be holding your own”. (To Defense witness Gina Carelli as she battled with Government attorneys).
“Jesus Christ almighty”. (As he struggled with Ciavarela’s name three times in the midst of reading instructions for hours on end).
“A lawyer asked me why I gave him more time to talk than usual, I said because I knew he was prepared and not wasting time”. (To a lawyer who questioned him regarding a prior case when he (Kosik) was accused of not giving the attorney adequate time”)
“You’re nodding your head there but I don’t know what you’re thinking, do you agree with him or not?” (To Defense Attorney Bill Ruzzo who sat stone faced when Kosik wanted affirmation on a point from the two of them”.

The LuLac Edition #1481, Feb. 19th, 2011



In any major case like this, there are bound to be, well sidebar stories. Here’s a recap of some items maybe not covered by some other media outlets:
THE DEFENSE TEAM: Most out of town observers were surprised that Mark Ciavarella’s defense attorneys, Al Flora and Bill Ruzzo were also Luzerne County Public defenders. A few questions of conflict of interest were raised but after it was explained that both men had private practices and that they suspended their Public Defender duties the people I talked to then had an understanding of their roles. One gentleman told me after the verdict, “I really wasn’t impressed at first but Flora’s closing was very good and beating 27 out of 39 charges ain’t a bad percentage”
EDIBLE PARKING: A controversy ensued in the second week of the trial when a downtown Scranton woman who owns a flower shop was annoyed with the media parking in front of the federal courthouse. She complained to the Scranton Parking Authority saying the vehicles were ruining her business, especially during Valentine’s Day week. One camera man from a local TV station was angry when he got a ticket because he had just spent $200.00 in her store the previous week.
MEDIA COVERAGE: All of the local TV stations were there. WILK AM & FM was there. Every newspaper had multiple reporters on sight. There were a couple of guys there with book contracts as well as students from the Wilkes College Masters Writing program. AP, the New York Times, and a few European reporters were covering the trial. As well as one local blogger.
FASHION REPORT: The Government prosecution team looked like a couple of guys out of "Men In Black." Actually their suits were gray/black with white shirts and subdued ties. Defense attorneys sported gray/black suits the first week of the trial but gradually wore sport coats and lighter slacks. The defense team also wore blue shirts once in a while. On the last day of trial, Al Flora wore a light green tie. Former Judge Ciavarella wore blue suits most of the time with patterned ties. On Judgement Day, the Judge had a blazer, yellow shirt, patterned red tie and gray slacks. Judge Kosik wore khakis and a yellow or white shirt on most days with a subdued striped tie. When the jury was deliberating he wore a navy blue sweater. His outerwear consisted of his bubble coat. WBRE’s Andy Mehalshick and Joe Holden sported scarves with their overcoats (Andy’s was pink, Joe’s was white). The winter weather brought out the camel for Sarah Buynosky and the local blogger. WILK’s Sue Henry was in her favorite color purple while Steve Corbett sported a black pinstripe suit sans necktie. Only one male juror wore a tie and on Valentine’s Day, five of the women jurors wore red which was duly noted by Judge Kosik. On Fridays the well dressed people in the federal building all of a sudden looked like they were shopping at Sam’s on a Saturday. Friday is dress down day and jeans are not only allowed but I understand encouraged. Except for the guys trying the cases.
TRIPPING UP: An AP reporter broke his camera lens and reportedly hurt his knee back pedaling when defense witness Gina Carelli emerged from the courtroom. WILK’s Carol Zerblos was hit in her noggin while she walked briskly along Ciavarella and his defense team. And WYLN TV 35’s Ann Gownley smacked her spine into one of those huge flower pots in front of the courthouse. All those injured seem to be doing well and as far as I know no lawsuits are pending.
OVERFLOW COURTROOM: The overflow courtroom was utilized on a number of days when Judge Kosik’s was filled. People can sit at defense tables and in the jury box if they want to.
NODDING OFF: Two of the alternate jurors were seen to be nodding off during testimony. None of the others jurors were. A courtroom observer stretched out on one of the court benches and took a rather long nap on Thursday afternoon.
PROFESSIONAL COURTESY: Even though they were adversaries, both the Prosecution and Defense attorneys were polite. This was extended to Judge Ciavarella as he testified. At one point Prosecutor Bill Hauser told Ciavarella “When I turn around and walk away, it is not a sign of disrespect toward you. I’m just trying to formulate my thoughts and this is how I do it. So please understand that I’m not turning my back on you”. The security detail were helpful and very accommodating to all.
PROVISIONS: The drink of choice in the courtroom was Aquafina Water. Jurors ordered lunch from places like Subway, Pappas’s Pizza, Abe’s Deli, and surrounding eateries. Jurors usually picked a place, then ordered whatever they wanted off of one menu. There were no multiple restaurant selections. McDonald’s coffee was a huge favorite before deliberations began for the jurors. In the morning sometimes a juror would bring donuts for the group. For the media, it was like a giant tailgate party especially after the weather got nice. The video chow hounds ate everything from stuffed perogies to corned beef on rye. But no one ate any edible carnations.

The LuLac Edition #1480, Feb. 19th, 2011



This week of course we were at the Ciavarella trial but that didn’t stop us from talking to the folks there. Here’s a few conversations.
Q: Why are you here?
A: I want to see what I can get out of this from a writing standpoint. I have never been in a courtroom and this thing is the most fascinating thing I’ve ever seen.
Q: How would you write this story?
A: I’m just processing it, there is so much to take in I don’t even know where to begin.
Q: What outcome do you want to see?
A: The kid thing is a tough one. I mean I can see why people are bitter because they didn’t have representation. But you can’t tell me that there weren’t kids there that deserved to be there. I’m torn on that, really I am. But I’m not a mom yet, maybe I might change my perspective after that.
Q: Why are you here?
A: To look him in the face and see him carted off. Judge Ciavarella needs to get his.
Q: You sound like you want revenge?
A: Oh I do.
Q: Why?
A: I appeared before Judge Ciavarella a few years back. Drunk driving. I got a year;s sentence. My lawyer tried to get me out after 6 months and he said, “Tell him to enjoy his stay”. I did the whole year. I want him to see me every day. I want to say, “how does it feel Mark?”
Q: Why are you here?
A: I’m writing a book.
Q: Got a contract?
A: Oh yeah.
Q: What strikes you the most about this case?
A: The complexity. The jury is going to have to grasp all these details. I’m having a hard time keeping the stuff straight.
Q: Do you think people will want to buy your work after its done?
A: I hope so, I’m not spending two weeks here for my health. This is historic. It has all the elements of human frailties.
Q: What are your thoughts on Judge Ciavarella?
A: A very smart man.
Q: Is he an honorable man?
A: That’s in question right now isn’t it?
Q: Why are you here?
A: For my boy. I want him to know I’m doing this for him.
Q: What was his experience with Judge Ciavarella?
A: 20 seconds and then he was sent away. He got into a shoving match. That was it.
Q: How’s he doing now?
A: Good thank God. He is in school and going to get his degree in computer tech.
Q: Is he following the trial?
A: No, it’s in his past.
Q: But evidently not in yours.
A: No, I can’t let this go. This is now my fight. My boy was lucky. I’m here for the parents who are working, and for those that can’t be here.
Q: What would be adequate punishment for him?
A: Life. Appropriate for the lives he destroyed.
Q: You’re lugging a lot of stuff around these days?
A: Yes I am. But somebody has to do it. This is big and we need every piece of equipment at our disposal. Plus we don’t have to double back.
Q: So even though you’re working hard, life is good?
A: Living the dream Dave, living the dream.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1479, Feb. 18th, 2011



The Mark Ciavarella trial ended on Friday afternoon around 3:15 PM. But the drama and the debate over the verdict was just beginning. As the counts were added up, debate began among the media and courtroom observers. Like a political primary, the lawyers almost became spin masters putting the best possible face on their efforts.
At around 3:40 Defense Attorney stood with Mark Ciavarella. Ciavarella reiterated what he had said all along, that he "never took a dime to send a kid anywhere," and that the verdict proved it. This was an important thing to Ciavarella. I believe it is the reason he went to trial. On the night the indictments were handed down in January of 2009, a prominent Attorney who was guesting with me on WYOU TV said that Ciavarella would never plea to that. That night, the attorney predicted a jury trial, at least for Ciavarella. To a certain extent, Ciavarella believed that Juvenile Justice needed to meted out with a stern hand. He was given Carte Blanche by school authorities that had a zero tolerance policy. He went to schools admonishing kids that the next place they’d see him if they were out of line would be in court and it wouldn’t be pretty.
Ciavarella's attorney Al Flora fed the flames saying "We're amazed the jury rejected 95 percent of the government's case."
"He never took a kickback," Flora said, "there was never a bribe, this was not a cash for kids scandal."
That was way too much for one woman standing next to Ciavarella screamed "this was not a cash for kids scandal? My kid's not here anymore." She alleged her son's death stemmed from his sentencing by Ciavarella.
The woman, Sandy Fonzo of Wilkes-Barre was pushed away from Ciavarella by security after she jabbed at him. She had booked to the courthouse after hearing a verdict came in so that she could see him taken away in handcuffs. She was incensed that he was allowed to remain free pending sentencing.
Fonzo's son, Edward Kenzakoski, had been jailed by Ciavarella when he was 17 for a minor infraction. He was never the same after he was released, becoming bitter, angry and plagued by depression. That depression she said led him to commit suicide by shooting himself in the heart. The woman was outraged by Ciavarella’s smirk and the fact that he claimed no recollection of her.
Ciavarella and his party then beat a hasty retreat to go home.
Meanwhile in room 207 of the Federal Courthouse, the Prosecution team were holding a press conference. A female federal employee complimented an agent about his tie which I thought was particularly ugly. But I digress. One government official said to another that Ciavarella got better than the kids he csarted off to jail right after their convictions. The prosecution then patted each other on the back and in particular lauded the team effort of the Prosecution. That should have gotten more than a compliment. These prosecutors should have received a citation because of the precision and unity of purpose they displayed in their pursuit of a conviction.
Asked about Ciavarella's claim of a victory because he was not convicted of extortion or accepting bribes in exchange for sending children to a private facility, Smith said "If a man thinks a racketeering conviction is a victory," what does he consider a defeat? "We're very sympathetic to the pain of the community that was caused here," Smith said, "But federal judicial courts" are not the place to resolve those complaints.
In what I thought was a bombshell, Prosecutors revealed that the investigation stemmed from the conviction and jailing of reputed mobster Bill D’Elia. It was said that the investigation into the Judge’s misdeeds flowed from the D’Elia probe.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Gordon Zubrod noted that the indictment alleged the tenure of MIchael Conahan and Ciavarella "was a criminal enterprise," stressing the "was."
After that, the media packed up their bags and the Prosecution returned to their quarters in the federal building. TV teams (including WYLN TV 35) had impromptu meetings on the street trying to figure out how we all were going to present all of this information. Newspaper reporters pounded out their stories on laptops. To be sure for us covering this event, we have no time to reflect on the events of the day. We are in the processing mode. The reflection of what went on today are in the homes of convicted felon Mark Ciavarella and Sandy Fonzo, the parent who accosted the Judge on the steps of the Courthouse. No matter how much lawyers of both sides tried to spin this, this was a no win for those two households.