Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1830, November 9th, 2011





There was a race for District Attorney between newcomer Republican Stefanie Salavantis and long time Prosecutor Jackie Musto Carroll, a Democrat. There were three more ghost candidates in this race, Mark Ciavarella, Michael Toole and Michael Conahan. Salavantis, a late entry into the race ran a textbook campaign of the newcomer fighting the corruption in Luzerne County. Never mind that there was scant evidence that Musto Carroll knowingly contributed to the Cash for Kids debacle, the point was made that she did nothing to stop it. Never mind that Musto Carroll instituted reforms for Juvenile Court after the fact, voters nonetheless were reminded that Salavantis was a clear alternative to a tainted courthouse. The campaign strategies were diverse. Salavantis started early, built a narrative that gave voters permission to vote for an attorney two years removed from a mid rated law school over a 19 year prosecutor. Early polling showed Musto Carroll winning two to one so her campaign decided not to recognize the opponent and keep a low profile relying on the intelligence and objectivity of the voters. Normally a strategy like that would work. But In Luzerne County voters are still trying to get over the corruption era of Conahan and Ciavarella. Every chance they get, the Luzerne County voter wants someone to pay for the past sins of corruption. When Greg Skrepenak promised them in 2003 that Home Rule wasn’t needed because he’d be a good person to run the government, they trusted him. A few years later, with Skrepenak in jail and out of punishment’s long arm, the voters chose a charter. This vetting process has not yet reached its culmination. No one knows at the County level who the next victim of the scandal will be. But one thing is certain, Jackie Musto Carroll was collateral damage in the ongoing angst against being betrayed by government leaders. Stefanie Salavantis had the money, the backers, the creative media and the energy to drive home the point. Two years ago, a sitting Judge, Peter Paul Olsewski Junior was not retained because he had a picture taken with Michael Conahan. One newspaper ran the photo and one talk radio station exposed it to the public. In hindsight it is foolish to think that Jackie Musto Carroll, who was hit with a constant barrage of negativity every day would be able to keep her job. The political landscape of Luzerne County is littered with land mines of corruptions past. Jackie Musto Carroll’s campaign was not deft enough to avoid that explosive and rightly or wrong, was blown away.


Stefanie Salavantis has a big challenge ahead of her. It is tempting to think you were the chosen one when in her first outing you win a big race like District Attorney. Greater men and women of intelligence and character have tried for this office. Attorney Bill Keller and Tom Marsillio come to mind. Salavantis needs to keep her feet on the ground and not believe her own press. Bob Harper was a campaign guru, the narrative is over. Now the serious work must begin. From an electoral standpoint, Salavantis needs to keep in mind she won in a squeaker not a mandate. (Two fellas from Lackawanna County won the Commissioner's race in 2003 by less than 200 votes and took that as an invitation to do whatever they wanted). Salavantis needs to find her Jerry Cohen (Corey Stevens first Assistant DA or someone like Andy Jarbola who served as the First Assistant for many years before becoming a DA). She needs to retain some of the staff in place there now and not do the bidding of Republican attorneys like Bruce Phillips who might want to restock the office. Finally, she needs to think. Salavantis needs to come up with a plan on how this office can serve the citizens of this county. She has to take the best of the administrative policies in place and be a serious, prepared face of this office. At 29, if she accomplishes this, she will have a golden political ticket that could lead anywhere she wants to go. If she screws up, she becomes a political footnote along the way that will be barely remembered in 50 years. Her commercials said over and over that she is a hard worker, now is the time and your chance to prove it. Best of luck.


The Luzerne County judgeship races seesawed all through the night but in the end, the double nominees Mike Vough, Fred Pierantoni, Joe Sklarosky, Junior, Jennifer Rogers and Lesa Gelb prevailed. Jennifer Rogers finished as a top vote getter with a whopping 40,000 votes because she was hellbent on not being the last person left out. She ran a vibrant campaign and was everywhere. For a while it looked like Lesa Gelb would be the odd person out because there was serious cutting of her in key Democratic precincts. In the end the race came down not between Republican Dick Hughes and Molly Hanlon Mirabito but between Hanlon Mirabito and Gelb. Hanlon Mirabito lost by a mere 585 votes to a double nominee who should have had higher totals. This Judiciary now consists of people who are in the early to mid 40s. Conceivably they will shape the future of the Luzerne County bench well into the middle of this century. If they a retained for a second term, that will be ending right around the time Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan are expected to get out of jail.


The Luzerrne County Council race comes down to this:
5 Democrats, 5 Republicans-1 Independent.

They are: Stephen A. Urban (DEM) with 22,741 and 4.96% of the vote,
Jim Bobeck (DEM) with 22,635 and 4.93% of the vote,
Stephen J. Urban (REP) with 21,640 and 4.72% of the vote,
Tim McGinley (DEM) with 20,904 and 4.56% of the vote,
Edward A. Brominski (DEM) with 20,720 and 4.52% of the vote,
Harry Haas (REP) with 20,502 and 4.47% of the vote,
Rick Williams (IND) with 19,765 and 4.31% of the vote,
Elaine Maddon Curry (DEM) with 18,913 and 4.12% of the vote,
Linda McClosky Houck (DEM) with 18,618 and 4.06% of the vote,
Eugene L. Kelleher (REP) with 18,240 and 3.97% of the vote,
So you have to charter founders, Rick Morelli and Jim Bobeck. Three old Democratic hands that despite their protestations are connected, Edd Brominski, Elainer Maddon Curry and Tim McGinley. Throw in one of the Working Family members, Linda Houck, then you have a block of votes that may or may not work with the GOP. Gene Kelleher was endorsed by Controller Walter Griffith. You have the two Urbans on the board. Steve Senior and Edd Brominski are bound to tangle on whether the charter is workable. But the primary deal here is that someone has to be named Chairman. Bobeck and Morelli want it, and you can bet Urban and Brominski would most likely square off. The Count y Council race is over at the polls, now the jockeying for dominance and position begins among the 11. 5-5-1. The most important guy in this thing might be Rick Williams-the Independent. Stay tuned.


Michael Buffer wrote:
A total of 33 Democrats were on the primary ballot, and Stephen A. Urban had the 33rd slot. His name was also on a second touchscreen page because only 30 names fit on a page. A lottery drawing of numbered balls determined primary ballot positions.
Yonki said "name recognition will trump ballot position" in Tuesday's election and both Urbans will likely win seats on county council.
"It's those two and nine others," Yonki said.


Tom Leighton waltzed into a third term as Mayor of Wilkes Barre. Leighton did what two of his predecessors, Tom McLaughlin and Tom McGroarty could not do, win a third term. Much was made of the fact that Republican Lisa Cope and Libertarian Betsy Summers were going to split the vote. Overtures were made for one candidate to join the other in solidarity against Leighton. That turned out to be much ado about nothing because Leighton polled over 3800 votes and Cope and Summers combined total would he still kept Tom Leighton up by about 750 votes.
There was a clean sweep of Democrats on Council with George Brown winning District A, Tony George winning District B, Maureen LaVelle in District C, Bill Barrett in District D and Mike Merritt in District E. Kathy Kane won the Controller’s seat taking over for Bernie Mengrinhausen who retired. Kane had a tough challenge from Karen Ceppa, 3,600 t to 2,935. Word on the street was that voters were unhappy with Kane’s heavy handed handling of Council Presidency duties. My advice to the Republicans in Wilkes Barre is start going after the Council seats. Target a district, start small and then see if you could get a GOP member of Council. The last GOP member of Council was Jack Jones in the late 80s.


The scenario the Republicans and third party people feared in Wilkes Barre came true in Hazleton Republican Joe Yanuzzi won a term in his own right as Mayor beating Grace Cuozzo 1,489 votes to 1,331.
Independent John Medashefski placed third in the race, garnering 336 votes. Half of Medashefski’s votes would have put Cuozzo over the top making her the first woman Mayor in Hazleton.


The one race on the Wilkes Barre Area School board had three candidates. The final result was Lou Elmy got 5,271 votes to beating Kathy Grinaway’s 4,119. Independent Sam Troy got 3,029 to come in last.


Jim Wansacz and Corey O'Brien coasted to victory for Lackawanna County commissioner, keeping the Democrats in control. Patrick O'Malley out distanced fellow Republican Bill Jones II to claim the minority commissioner seat.
Judges Vito Gerulli and Bob Mazzoni were retained for a 2nd term while Gary Debilio becomes City Controller.


At 2:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am stunned and scared of the winner of the D.A. race. There are confirmed rumors that some of the most experienced ADA's, intend to walk leaving us with a lawyer with no experience who will bring in her buddies who more than likely will have no prosecution experience in a county with a murder rate that is rising. We are in trouble....

At 4:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again the voters of luzerne cunty have demonstrated they are nothing but a bunch of heynas. first the asinine county council and now the DA. Bob Harper's hick like characterizations proved to be right on the money.

At 4:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Musto Carroll was not "collateral damage." She was at ground zero in the corruption, right in the middle of it. It happened right under her nose. Good riddance.

At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary Debellio becomes COUNTY CONTROLLER.

Rich Mates

At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw you on TV last night with that Cloud woman. You may want to ask the management up there to be you on a weekly news segment with her, like a point counterpoint. You and Tarone disagree but there is a comon ground there because both of you have what your friend Sue Henry calls institutional memory. With you and that Cloud woman it's like a true right vs left dynamic, it is even generational in a way. Also, I have to compliment you for not throwing Ed Mitchell under the bus because of Musto Carroll. You are correct when you say a consultant is only as good as the tool he has to work with. She did a great job on Corbett last week until she kept on ending every sentence with "etc, etc, etc". I felt like I was being talked down to even though I have a Masters. Anyway, nice job as always.

Helen Fulbright

At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heard you on WILK with Nancy Kman yesterday. I don't understand how you thought the Lackawanna County Commissioners race would be too close to call. The Vitalis boys had it running away.

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hats off to Salavantis. Musto Carroll was taken down by the scandals.
Kids for cash and the Uncle whose name got her started in the first place. The ultimate Double Edged Sword!
Paterno is toast and should have been about 10 years back!
The “Kid” in the Lac made a good showing at 10,000 votes. He was the most impressive. OMalley is a
Lunkhead! OBrien is “little Bobby” to me, but not dishonest. Just serious EGO problems!
Lastly I now consider KELLEHER’s Spot brilliant!! !Absolutely brilliant. I bet every SOB who voted for him sang it.
Never underestimate the power of music or radio!

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is apparent that Salavantis had a huge edge out of the Hazleton area. I always liked Jackie Musto Carroll but she never struck me as having a dynamic personality. Sometimes in politics, cutesy wins out every time overv steady competence. By the way Dave, excellent job on WILK Radio Tuesday morning subbing for John Webster. And your station in Hazleton really did a bang up job covering everyone everywhere.

At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe, Joe, Joe. You stayed way too long and now look whats happened!
Your legacy is in disgrace. You let everyone who ever admired you down. You failed to live up to the ethicical standards you so often talked about, preached about. PSU in in disgrace all the way to the top. 409 Wins wont do anything to restore the honor lost. Joe, Joe, Joe! Say it aint so, Joe.

Sad PSU Grad

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salavantis ran a great campaign. She managed to put into people's heads that JMC was responsible for kids for cash. My concern is will she use this distortion of the truth and facts in court? If so, every case will be lost or overturned on appeal. This is a person with no business or managerial experience about to take over a large staff and budget. I wish her well, but I get the feeling from those that she surrounds herself with we could be looking at the next Bobby Cordaro.

At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Cordaro was an experienced attorney and businessman with both success and failure on his resume.
Bob knew enough to know better. He thought he was smarter than everyone else, but he had life experience and a few years under his belt. This young lady has none of that and moreover at this point it is unfair to make any comparison
to the disgraced Lackawanna County Commissioner! Salavantis is in over her head. Bob was not. He was just not an honest or a good man.
I wish the new DA luck. Under the best of circumstances shes going to need it! What will be important is where she turns for guidance. Bob surrounded himself with yes men underlings. She needs to surround herself with experienced people. I wish her the best.

At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems more than one Republican wants to abolish the Dept of Education and one wants to abolish 3 departments but can only name two. That Rick Perry is a master debater and its easy to see why he's the pride of Texas. Those folks from the Dept of Education must produce fact checkers who prevent the candidates from just making shit up!

At 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was no huge edge out of the Hazleton area...the huge edge came from over hundreds of thousands of $ spent. Nice try on giving credit where no credit is due 3:38.

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree wholeheartedly w/425am- We live among a bunch of nitwits. But they go to the polls and vote faithfully, no matter how misinformed. Steph will need some high-profiled types to support her, like Fannick, but- Can she pay them what they want on what the county pays? Urban will fight against any pay raises, so will daddy have to cough up more money for some under-the-table pay checks? Look here for the next big scandal......

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kelleher and two Urban's plus Salavantis, NEVER underestimate the dumbness of the voters. Kelleher was the hypocrite who as a retired teacher was heard to say the teachers in Wisconsin get to much. Yep, my choice for Hypocrite of the year. Salavantis parents just purchased her the biggest toy available and I only hope she doesn't hurt herself with it because that would translate into the voters suffering. If shooting one's self wasn't terminal, I would have done it last night.

At 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, my question of the year is ........... What do they do with the statue of Paterno?????


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