Saturday, December 17, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1863, December 17th, 2011

Outgoing Wilkes Barre City Controller, banker and one time room mate of mine, Bernie Mengrinhausen.

8 term Luzerne County Treasurer Mike Morreale.

Union Township Supervisor, former member of The Lady Killers softball team, and host of the Beatleed Hour, Ed Raineri.


A few public servants are leaving office this month. Some voluntarily, others not. Here are 3 interesting stories. Let’s start in Wilkes Barre City.


I first met Bernie Menringhausen when I was a staff member at United Way of Wyoming Valley in the 80s. Bernie was a volunteer from United Penn Bank and was a constant presence during the fundraising campaigns. Later I was a member of the Wilkes Barre Kiwanis club with Bernie. It was through that association that I “roomed” with Bernie on a road trip to Washington, D.C. The Wilkes Barre Kiwanis had a wheelchair program that was very successful back then. If anyone needed a wheelchair for any reason, the club provided one. No income guidelines, no forms to fill out, just an expression of need. Run by Nelson Carle, the program was nationally recognized. In 1985 fellow member Rob Friedman contacted Marc Holtzman who at that time was a young Republican powerhouse in Washington, D.C. Holtzman arranged for the Kiwanis Club to meet with then Vice President George H.W. Bush who would also recognize the club’s efforts. About 6 Kiwanians went to Washington, D.C. in anticipation of this great meeting. Joey Shaver, Frank Procopio, Rob Friedman, Nelson Carle, Bernie and me. The night before, we stayed at a Washington, D.C. hotel. Since Kiwanis was a service club, we bunked up with roommates. Mine was Bernie Menringhausen. We had dinner the night before and then got ready for our big day. On the trip Bernie was funny, charming and quite insightful as to his opinions on public service. The next day we got to the Executive Office Building and were 15 minutes away from our meeting. As we waited, we were told the meeting place had changed. One of the members had claustrophobia and refused to enter the elevator for the short trip. Bernie looked the guy up and down and told him he could gut it out and enter the elevator or he, Bernie all 6’5 of him would carry him up the few flights of stairs like Santa carrying a load of presents. As time ticked by, the man relented and entered the elevator terrified. On the ride up, Bernie put his arm around the shaking man and just kept talking in slow measured tones. We arrived, met Mr. Bush, and returned home, our mission accomplished. In that encounter, Bernie was firm, kind and most of all compassionate. Grace under pressure.
Through the years Bernie and I saw each other at various events and I was glad when he ran for City Council. He served 8 years there and then replaced the legendary Mercedes Leighton as City Controller for another 12. Bernie’s election victories came with overwhelming pluralities which was a testament to his hard work, competence and popularity. Bernie Mengringhausen leaves public office this year after twenty years of service. Good luck Bernie, enjoy your retirement. Next time you go to meet a Vice President, give me a call.


Mike Morreale has been the county treasurer for 32 years. Morreale won that office in 1979 when he became part of the Crossin coup against the ingrained Democratic party in Luzerne County. Frank Crossin broke with his partner of 12 years, Ed Wideman and chose Edd Brominski as his running mate. (Brominski recently was elected to the new County Council). Morreale ran for the Treasurer’s position which was then occupied by Shickshinny native Bill Curwood. Morreale ran an old fashioned grassroots campaign beating back the incumbent. It was the start of a string of election victories that were only stopped by the elimination of his row office with the new home rule charter. Through 8 terms, Morreale’s office was customer friendly. His staff was good and even though he was not there all the time, his presence was felt. Mike retires with a legion of good will and friendships built up through three decades. At the last County Commissioner’s meeting, Chair person Mary Anne Petrilla said to Morreale, “You and your work will not be forgotten”. Amen to that. Good luck Mike and don’t bust my buddy Vito that much when you visit the body shop on 8th street.


I’ve known Ed Raineri for about 30 years. I met Ed when I worked at United Way and he was at Catholic Social Services. Ed and I became fast friends with our two major interests, baseball and the Beatles providing the very foundation for our association. Through the 80s, Ed and I went to various ball games at the Vet and Shea Stadium. When Bill Brace’s Killer Bees teams got too big with too many members, we were given the option to design our own teams. My team was called The Lady Killers. I don’t know where the name came from but I think Raineri might have been partly responsible. We had some pretty funny looking guys who did some strange things. We never won a lot of games but we did have fun. Ed went into the Addiction Treatment business and was noted for many contributing articles to the local newspapers. Ed’s latest venture is a very popular radio program dedicated to the Beatles called “The BeatleEd Hour”. It originates from WRKC FM, 88.5 in Wilkes Barre and streams on the Internet worldwide. Ed has had a legion of fans who share the common link of love for the Fab Four. Raineri organized a fundraiser with Joe Nardone and Eddie Day Pashinski for flood victims at Genetti’s. Over 800 people attended and a lot of money was raised. Raineri also is ending a term on the Union Township Board of Supervisors. Raineri distinguished himself by getting various grants for the township from the DCED. He lost his re-election bid and you can be sure that it will have an impact on that community once that grant money dries up. I have seen a few of the other Union Twp. “leaders” and they don’t hold a candle to Mr. Raineri. But hey, I’m biased here. In his political retirement, I wish Edd nothing but the best.
In any dealings with Ed, the hallmark of his reasoning for any problem, political or social, lies in the title of a Beatles song, “We Can Work It Out”.


At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good stuff Dave.
This is the reason why you were so missed earlier this month.

At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More indepth stories on these guys than the newspapers and TV can do. Nice work.

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, I think you need a little clarity re the Morreale election with the Chink team.
There was no incumbent. The Party led by Loftus endorsed Paul Maher and Morreale ran against him. There is trouble in Pittston City Hall. Tony Ferrara supported Morreale over Maher. Loftus was livid because she didn't know Tony wanted Morreale. He said at the time that if he knew who Tony wanted, he would not have endorsed Maher and was very upset that Tony embarrassed by giving Morreale the Pittston vote. Remember, voter fraud was alive and well in Pittston at that time. The anger subsided and things calmed down. Crossin would run things past Loftus as a courtesy but he did what he wanted and Loftus and county chairman had little to no say. OK, that's today's history lesson.

At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernie is and was a good guy. I wish him well in his retirement. Loved the story too Dave. Robbie Friedman was a great member of the Kiwanis club at the time and was always a pleasure to deal with in his business.

At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've known Ed longer than I care to admit Yonk.
He has always been above reproach, period.
His optimistic enthusiasm seems inexhaustable - much like the early Beatles.


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