The LuLac Edition #1595, May 15th, 2011
PHOTO INDEX: LUZERNE COUNTY COUNCIL EDITION, ATTORNEY HARRY SKENE WHO IS AGAINST GAS DRILLING, BRUCE SIMPSON, CANDIDATE FOR LUZERNE COUNTY COUNCIL, WIL TOOLE SIGNAGE IN HIS NEIGHBORHOOD AND AD FROM COUNCIL CANDIDATE MIKE GIAMBER WHO IS FOR GAS DRILLING.
Wil Toole has put signage up in the town of Dupont to let his neighbors know he is running and willing to represent them on the County Council as well as the rest of the County. The Toole signs augment the rest of his campaign throughout the County.
This is from informed sources in the county. With some members of the Third District still reeling from Phil Gianfricaro’s power play of endorsing Lesa Gelb for Luzerne County Judge while all the Pittston Area bench candidates were left at the alter, we here that this is the ticket Red O'Brien - Jimmy Haddock will be passing out in the Greater Pittston area on Tuesday.
The theory is that they will have Bednar, Wapwallopen; Tom Rovinski, Dallas; McGinley, Wilkes Barre and Wolfe, Plymouth Twp. gathering votes from their home areas for the entire ticket and in particular the greater Pittston candidates. If they can pull off six candidates or at least four, the Pittston Area will have a good shot at controlling the County Council Board.
Candidates running on their own are saying tt is a shame that the four novice candidates Bednar, McGinley, Wolfe and Rovinski don't realize they are being used. That said, in such a fragmented and truncated race, why wouldn’t any of them grab an endorsement for a voting block with their names attachwed to it.
Since Gas Drilling is going to be a major issue in this campaign, here is a rundown of candidates against the drilling.
Strong Opponents of Gas Drilling
Harry W. Skene D
Michelle Bednar D
Casey Evans D
Blythe Evans R
Bruce Simpson D
Harry Haas R
Wil Toole D
For gas drilling:
Michael Giamber D
Eugene Kelleher R
Giamber has been a proponent of gas drilling because of what he believes will be the economic boom to the area. Giamber also makes a good point about his surrounding neighbors. Here's an excerpt from the Times Leader:
Opponents of drilling, however, cite a slew of potential environmental indignities from overt destruction of bucolic rural lands to more insidious but less-proven threats, such as groundwater contamination, overuse of regional water supplies and geologic shifting that might cause earthquakes.
Giamber sees much of that as hypocritical moralizing, and he has but to look down his road for an example of it. Every time he drives from his yard to state Route 1, he passes what he calls a homemade scrap heap on a neighbor’s property that’s filled with abandoned cars, rusted appliances and other items long beyond their usefulness. “It blows my mind how they just abuse the land, and now we’re going to bring in some money, and they get all up in arms,” he said.
If people truly cared about the earth, he reasons, they’d be outraged by such overgrown trash piles. But it’s been there for years, and no one’s complained about it. There are no doubt more just like it, too, he says.
In fact, in that context, Giamber sees his use of the land as beneficial. At least it has a positive purpose – providing a cleaner alternative to oil and coal, creating jobs and providing wealth – instead of just being a place to throw trash.
There are people who are saying that Giamber would be a pawn in the hands of the gas companies. Giamber bought into a lease, so did many other people in the county. to his critics, Giamber says, "The discussion concerning gas drilling in Luzerne County is moot. Two natural gas companies drilled three exploration wells and have determined that Luzerne County does not have viable gas. However, let me say that responsible gas exploration is possible with strict controls using best management practices. If gas were to be found in Luzerne in the future, I would see to it that drilling permits were issued only after an exhaustive risk analysis was performed and watchdog group established with full access to the well site, documentation and findings."
How this issue is going to play out is anyone’s guess but there is a vocal group of people making their voices known against it. How that will translate into the results on Election day, is anyone’s guess.
KELLEHER NOTES DEBT
Republican Gene Kelleher is running in the primary as a Republican candidate for County Council. He is for gas drilling and here are some of his thoughts on the job of County Councilman. Luzerne County Taxpayer,
We are entering a very challenging period in Luzerne County. Due to its financial difficulties, in 2004 Luzerne County entered into the Commonwealth’s Early Intervention Program for local governments. After this action was taken, the County borrowed money every year from 2004 through 2009. From 2006 through 2009 the County borrowed $67 million dollars, enacted a County-wide reassessment and raised taxes 10% in 2009 while eliminating 138 jobs. The 2010 budget raised taxes 15%. The County’s debt is approximately $464 million which is nearly 4 times its total annual revenue. The debt service in the 2011 budget is $21.8 million out of a $125 million budget. The county will not pay off the debt until 2027 if it borrows no more money. County government will have used over $100 million of taxes to pay the interest on the debt. Fiscal accountability must be restored.
The members of the first Luzerne County Council must be people who will take the time to study the budget and are willing to make tough decisions. The members should be people who will do what is in the best interest of the County taxpayers. The first important decision will be the appointment of a County manager who has responsibilities comparable to those of the CEO of a large company. This person must be a professional.
The following pledges I make to the taxpayers of Luzerne County.
1.I will spend whatever time is necessary to be able to make informed decisions.
2.I will object when government attempts to spend more money than it receives.
3.I will report to the media any person who tries violating that which is ethical.
4.I will make all decisions based on what is in the best interest of taxpayers’ money.
5. I will work to eliminate waste from County Government.
Someone once said, “A problem is an opportunity for a solution.” Applying that statement to Luzerne County results in many opportunities for solutions. I have been consulting with Walter Griffith, Luzerne County Controller, to get his input on ideas which will eliminate waste in Luzerne County government and save taxpayers’ money. Every effort will be made to stop waste in government spending.
I ask for your vote on May 17th
Line 16 (last) on the Republican ballot
SIMPSON'S FED EXPERIENCE
One of the candidates running for County Council has an impressive record with the Federal Government. As Gene Kelleher pointed out in his letter, the County is in massive debt. Look at the experience Bruce Simpson brings to the county with his financial background. God imagine the meetings between him and Walter Griffith once they start looking into issues like why nearly every Courthouse employee has a printer at their desk and why someone has not made an effort to partner with any of the high end office suppliers located here in the County. Anyway, take a gander at this:
After serving at MSHA headquarters as Chief of Collections for seven years, I was transferred to the Department of the Treasury to take up that position for the entire Federal Government. I finally retired from public service as an acting GS-14 level employee of the United States Department of the Treasury. In this capacity, I helped write and implement the Debt Collection Procedures Improvement Act of 1996. Under this new Federal Law, it was my responsibility to implement the new law throughout the Federal Government and then act as the supervisor for the entire collection entity for the collection of non-tax debt owed to all departments of the federal government. This program was responsible for attempting to collect $50 billion dollars in lost revenue. As a result of my effective leadership in this area, I was the recipient of an award from the Vice-President of the United States as well as the Secretary of the Treasury.
EVANS ASKS FOR VOTE
Casey Evans, a candidate for a spot on the Luzerne County Council believes his youthful enthusiasm as well as his commitment to the area are reasons why he should be considered. Evans put it in writing: Luzerne County is at a crossroads, and we are on the cusp of electing a new government to lead us into the 21st century. We can either stay with the same old names and same old faces, or we can elect thoughtful, hardworking people who will bring this job a fresh new point of view. I hope to be one of your 11 choices in this upcoming Democratic primary.
If you are opposed to natural gas drilling and want to hold the gas industry accountable for their actions, I am your candidate for County Council: My plan will require land development plans for each fracking site that must include emergency plans in case of a blowout. I will also never vote to surrender any more county land or county property to the natural gas companies. If they cannot "frack" safely, they will not "frack" at all: Unlike some of my opponents in this primary, I have not signed a gas lease, and I have not and will not take any money from the natural gas companies, or for that matter, any corporate entity.
If you believe in accountability and empowering taxpayers to track how their tax dollars are being spent, I am your candidate for County Council: I will work to authorize and create a website that will track every county transaction over $25, posted on the internet for every citizen to see exactly where the money goes. It's time we keep spending in check and make the process as open as possible. It is an inexpensive, common sense measure that will finally crack open the court house dome and let the sun shine in.
If you believe in fiscal oversight, I am your candidate for County Council: My plan would require purchase orders for everything over $50, because there must be greater oversight for a county with a history of misusing taxpayer dollars. Under the new home rule charter, the county manager can move funds around however s/he wants, requiring only notification to Council within writing five days after the fact. I do not believe that's acceptable. This is a simple, reasonable protocol that we can establish to make sure that our financial house is finally brought into order. Our neighbors in Columbia County have had a similar protocol established for some time now, and their government works just fine: isn't it time that we restore that same faith in our own county government?
Finally, I've heard a lot of people make jokes about my age. My only response to that is this: It's my future, too. I just have just as much of a stake in this election as every other citizen of this county. I've even been called a "meddling kid", and to that, I must say that if I was a "meddling kid", I would go out, grab 3 of my friends, buy a Great Dane and name him Scooby, and we'd hop in a van and we'd go solve mysteries. However, I'm not doing that, because the only things I'm interested in solving are the plagues of corruption and misgoverning that have vexed our county for far too long. I am a lifelong Luzerne County resident -- born, raised, and educated here -- and I am endorsed by EqualityPA, the only statewide organization dedicated to achieving equal rights for all Pennsylvanians with a specific focus on LGBT issues. I stand for what is right, for what is fair, and for what is just. I'm dedicated, I'm sincere, and I'm honest -- Believe me, all you have to do is look to the newspapers, because I believe I've proven that I answer EVERY question honestly! I am running to build a home rule government that works for everyone; and if you stand for me for just one day on May 17th, I will stand for you every day of this campaign and every day at the Luzerne County court house. Please visit my website at
www.CaseyEvans.org for more information on my candidacy. I humbly ask for your vote in the Democratic primary, because If we work together, united in our common interests instead of divided by our common differences, we will build a new Luzerne County Council that we can all be proud of.
Democratic Candidate for Luzerne County Council
WORKING FAMILIES ROBO CALLS
I still waiting for the specifics of HOW they plan to do that. Nice words though.