Rated one of Pennsylvania's top blog/sites, the LuLac Political Letter delves into issues of politics on all levels (with special concentration on Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties: thus the name LULAC) and pop culture.
The LuLac Political Letter was also named Best Political Blog of the Year for 2014 by NEPA BLOGCON.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The LuLac Edition #1617, May 31st, 2011
PHOTO INDEX: U.S. SENATOR BOB CASEY AND U.S. CONGRESSMAN LOU BARLETTA.
CASEY FUND RAISER
Bob Casey is going to have a summer outing. The date is June 25th and will be held from noon to 3pm in Hanover Township at 323 Countrywood Drive, Hanover Township, PA 18706. Recommended contribution is $35.00. You can get tickets Please make contributions payable to: Bob Casey for Senate PO Box 58746, Philadelphia, PA 19102 RSVP IS MANDATORY BY JUNE 21st 570-575-5067 or Cassandra@bobcasey.com.
BARLETTA’S SANCTUARY CITY BILL
Congressman Lou Barletta will be on the steps of Hazleton City Hall later this morning introducing his Sanctuary City Bill. It seems like there are many Americans who agree with the Congressman. A national poll by Rasmussen Reports show that 59 percent of Americans support a new bill being drafted by Barletta, that would cut off federal funding for so-called sanctuary cities. The Rasmussen survey showed that three out of five likely voters favor a cutoff of federal funds to sanctuary cities. Just 28 percent are opposed and 13 percent say they are not sure. Also, 58 percent of voters think the U.S. Department of Justice should take legal action against cities that provide sanctuary for illegal immigrants. Twenty-six percent (26 percent) oppose having the Department of Justice prosecute sanctuary cities, and 16 percent are not sure. On May 4, Rep. Barletta announced that he is finishing drafting his first piece of legislation, the “Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act,” or MASC Act. This bill will crack down on cities whose elected officials willfully choose to not enforce immigration policy by withholding all federal funding from them as long as their sanctuary policies are in place. “The people of the 11th District know that illegal immigration is a serious problem that affects all of us. It’s good to see that people in the rest of the country feel the same way. Elected officials of local municipalities cannot pick and choose the federal laws they enforce. If the elected leaders of these cities choose to ignore federal law, they should not expect to get federal money. That’s just common sense,” Rep. Barletta said. “I stood up against illegal immigration as a mayor because I saw the effect it was having on my small city’s limited budget. Now I can really see that, at the federal level, this problem is costing the American taxpayers billions of dollars a year. The American people are tired of seeing their money wasted, and the Rasmussen poll clearly shows they feel sanctuary cities do not deserve federal money as long as they willfully ignore federal law,” Rep. Barletta added. The Rasmussen poll shows that 65 percent of likely voters oppose the establishment of sanctuary cities; only 17 percent support their creation, and 18 percent are undecided.
So I took a few minutes this morning to sit on the front porch and just think and reflect. I rarely do that because invariably someone will walk by and I’ll have to engage them in conversation. (I come across as a people person but the fact is I have no use for about 80% of the people in the world.) As I sat there drinking a Snapple, I saw my next door neighbor come out of his house in full military regalia. Nothing unusual here, as a Vietnam Veteran he takes part in those ceremonies. But then I suddenly remembered that I see my neighbor dressed like that at least 4 times a week. He is either getting in his car, taking his dog for a quick walk or standing across the street from his house waiting for a ride. But 4 times a week I see him in his full uniform. He is one of the military guard that goes to the funerals of all veterans. Retired and a disabled vet this is a daily part of his life. It dawned on me that while we are constantly beseeched to keep the “memory” and “reason why” in Memorial Day alive, for my neighbor, Memorial Day” is almost every day. When he dons that uniform and salutes the memory of a fallen comrade, Memorial Day is not just another three day weekend in May but “every day”. To my neighbors and others like him, “I say thank you for your continued service”.
The Flack family came on my radar when I was just 12 years old and Rusty’s grandfather, Harold Flack was involved in a politial battle for the 20thDistrict Senate seat with T. Newell Wood. It was a very bombastic campaign and is seared in my memory as one of the most interesting in Luzerne County history. Rusty Flack died the other day and the outpouring of affection and respect is testimony to someone who was a true community leader. Flack was born into significant opportunities but what struck me was how he personally expanded that franchise. He never rested on any laurels and was a perfect example of someone who built on his talents and gifts, and then shared them with institutions important to him. A political buddy of mine summed it up this way in an e mail to me, “Could you imagine if a guy like that had more time? My mind boggles with what he could have accomplished had he lived to be 80 or 85!” Very true. Our condolences.
When I was running off the rails about twenty five years ago , I’d see Jon Balester in Hottle’s now and then. We talk a little politics and then he’d insist on buying me a drink. Much to his chagrin it was always a coke. Years later I saw him at a GOP event and again we reconnected on the state of his party. His tragic death cut short another life that had more potential in it. Memorial Day is a day to honor those war dead but also all who contributed something to our everyday lives, whether it be family, friends or people like Rusty Flack and Jon Balester. May their memories live on.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day and officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Although there are many stories as to the actual beginnings, with over 24 cities claiming to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead". While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
Today would have been John F. Kennedy’s 94th birthday. Kennedy was killed at the age of 46 in 1963 and to this day remains one of the most memorable political figures of the 20th century. One of his famous quotes was the “Ask Not” that everyone knows but here are a few other gems. "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future." "An error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it." "Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be President, but they don't want them to become politicians in the process."
This week I interviewed someone who makes it their mission to decorate graves of veterans in their home town. Q: How did you start doing this, are they relatives? A: No, I was born in Jersey and came here at the age of 7. But my dad and mom joined this church when we moved here. Q: How long ago was that? A: Oh 1951. Q: Are you a veteran? A: No but my dad was. He felt that veteran’s graves should be remembered and kept up. Especially on Memorial Day. Q: They used to call it Decoration Day? A: Yes they did but that changed somewhere along the line. I remember as a boy my mother referring to it as Decoration Day. Q: So tell me about this section here. A: This is a section of the cemetery my dad was assigned. Back then the Diocese had no perpetual care and the surviving soldiers volunteered to take a plot. I used to help my dad with an old push mower. When he died I continued the tradition. My boy used to help too before he went out of the area. Q: What do you put on the graves? A: A small flag and a floral blanket. It’s small but I get to about 11 of the guys. Q: What wars were they from? A: WWI and WWII. Then one from Korea was added. But these are my guys, this is who I take care of. Q: What’s the hardest part about this job? A: As I get older it gets tougher because they are scattered. The cemetery is pretty big and I have to find them. Q: Ever miss one? A: Once but I doubled back. If I have some left over and I have the energy I find another one that can use the extra touch. Q: Ever think about who will take your place once you’re gone? A: Don’t know but I’m recruiting up a Vietnam vet. He came with me last year but this year he had plans. His son just joined the Army so I think he wants to keep tabs on him. Q: You do this out of your own pocket? A: Yes, small price to pay though for such a big thank you. Q: Some will say that it’s strange you do this for people you never even met. A: That’s all silly talk anyway. Well they served for me, you, all of us, they didn’t know us either though, did they? Q: No they didn’t. A: Well then I better get back to work before it rains.
Maybe I’m Amazed……that there are more candidates running from the GOP nomination race than people actually running toward it. You wonder whether this might open the way for a conversation about a Jeb Bush candidacy. Maybe I’m Amazed……that most of the campaign signs that littered the highways and byways of LuLac land now are starting to slowly disappear. Maybe I’m Amazed……..that when you look at the numbers for the candidates in the county council race, most of the winners carried their own areas very strongly. Maybe I’m Amazed…….that Joe Saporito and Jim Haggertycouldn’t get a GOP nomination for Judge. Saporito’s family pedigree goes back to the John Fine administration when his father was a party stalwart. And Haggerty has been a GOP mainstay for years. Their poor showing confirms the story that many of the Democratic candidates were playing footsie with a certain old school GOP power broker who’s ring needs to be constantly kissed if you want to break through politically around here. Maybe I’m Amazed……that I’m actually enjoying the Donald Rumsfeldbiograpghy that Mrs. LuLac got me for my birthday. Maybe I’m Amazed…….that our eyes are always the same size at birth but our nose, and ears never stop growing. Maybe I’m Amazed……..that Governor Tom Corbett was up and around quickly after his back surgery. Maybe I’m Amazed…….that PNC Field is such a great place to be for one of those 10:35AM games. You see the game then have the rest of the day to get back to work or just bum around. If those early games were marketed to more than schools, they just might get a nice attendance. Maybe I'm Amazed.......that it took Sarah Palin so long to get herself roused up and get on the campaign trail. It took competition from another woman candidate, Michelle Bachman to get her moving.
PHOTO INDEX: HUBERT HUMPHREY AT A NEWS CONFERENCE IN 1972 AT THE WILKES BARRE/SCRANTON AIRPORT, HUMPHREY AT THE ST. PATRICK'S DAY DINNER IN PITTSTON WITH ATTORNEY JOE QUINN, CONGRESSMAN DAN FLOOD AND INKERMAN'S BOB DAUGHERTY.
HUMPHREY AT 100
Hubert Humphrey would have been 100 years old today. Earlier this year the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birth was marked and we of course told you about that. I don’t know how many people are going to be marking this date but as a long time Humphrey supporter and admirer, it was something we had to do. Humphrey visited our area numerous times in his quest for the Presidency. At the age of 14 I helped the ILGWU and UAW as a volunteer passing out literature in that crucial 1968 campaign. Both offices were down the street from St. John’s so it was a no brainer for me. In 1972 I met him at the annual Friendly sons of St. Patrick Dinner in Pittston. I later wound up as a youth coordinator for Luzerne County. Even though HHH’’s running mate Ed Muskie carried Luzerne County with the support of the Democratic machine, Humphrey won his very first Presidential primary of his career in Pennsylvania. While his career and his memory is long forgotten by many, it is important to know that Humphrey’s name is on every significant piece of legislation that is involved in helping people in this country. Humphrey moral manta is now virtually ignored by the people currently in power, some by design others because of the ineffectual approach to government. We would do well to remember it once in a while: "The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."
Hubert H. Humphrey was born on May 27, 1911, in Wallace, South Dakota. He left South Dakota to attend the University of Minnesota but returned to South Dakota to help manage his father's drug store early in the depression. He attended the Capitol College of Pharmacy in Denver, Colorado, and became a registered pharmacist in 1933. On September 3, 1936, Humphrey married Muriel Fay Buck in Huron, South Dakota. He returned to the University of Minnesota and earned a B.A. degree in 1939. In 1940 he earned an M.A. in political science from Louisiana State University and returned to Minneapolis to teach and pursue further graduate study, but began working for the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration). He moved on from there to a series of positions with wartime agencies. In 1943, he ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Minneapolis and returned to teaching as a visiting professor at Macalester College in St. Paul. Between 1943 and 1945, Humphrey worked at a variety jobs, including teaching at Macalester, serving as a news commentator for radio station WTCN, and managing an apartment building. In 1945, he was elected Mayor of Minneapolis and served until 1948. In 1948, at the Democratic National Convention, he gained national attention when he delivered a stirring speech in favor of a strong civil rights plank in the party's platform. In November of 1948, voters in Minnesota elected Humphrey to the United States Senate. While in the Senate, he was known as a Senate liberal, working on issues of civil rights, social welfare, and fair employment. He served as the Senate Democratic Whip from 1961 to 1964. In 1964, at the Democratic National Convention, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked the convention to select Humphrey as the Vice Presidential nominee. The ticket was elected in November in a Democratic landslide. In 1968, Humphrey was the Democratic Party's candidate for President, but he was defeated narrowly by Richard M. Nixon. After the defeat, Humphrey returned to Minnesota to teach at the University of Minnesota and Macalester College. He returned to the U.S. Senate in 1971, and he won re-election in 1976. He died January 13, 1978 of cancer. After Humphrey's death, the governor of Minnesota appointed Humphrey's wife, Muriel Buck Humphrey, to fill the vacant Senate seat. She served until November 7, 1978, and was not a candidate for the unexpired term. Hubert Humphrey's papers are located at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.
OUR 1972 LOGO AND CONGRESSMEN MARINO AND BARLETTA.
The recent announcement by Congressmen Marino and Barletta that they were not going to allow recording devices in town hall meetings was to me devoid of any type of logic. Both men are afraid of a “You Tube” moment where either of them will be caught off guard. The fact of the matter is that in this new world of politics, “You Tube” moments are part of the territory. And if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the proverbial kitchen. It is ironic that both Marino and Barletta who seized on their opponents unguarded video moments at town hall meetings are now afraid that they will have the same political consequences. Both Congressmen Carney and Kanjorski were taken to task by both Barletta and Marino for not being in touch with the people. And I get the fact that a certain amount of campaign rhetoric exists but I don’t get the logic of this pronouncement. Barletta and Marino say they don’t want citizens, regular folks and uncredentialed media allowed in a meeting with a video recorder. Yet they are okay with the regular, traditional mainstream media covering the media. But do they honestly think that if they are ambushed on an issue, fairly or unfairly that the media will not cover it? Do they actually think that WBRE’s Joe Holden, WNEP’s Sarah Buynovsky, WYLN’s Anne Gownley, the Citizen’s Voice’s Mike Buffer, the Times Leader’s Jennifer Learnes Andes, the Scranton Times Erin Moody, the Hazleton Standard Speaker’s Sam Galski or WILK’s Steve Corbett is not going to cover the meeting? If there is an outburst or a citizen going wild, do the new Congressmen actually think that’s not going to wind up on the Internet? That’s where the illogical direction of this comes in. When politicians try to manipulate coverage of any type whether it be a meeting or an event, we expect that. They want the best outcome. But when they try to undermine freedom of speech, they look at best desperate and at worst cowardly. The national GOP Congressional Leadership since the mid 90s has been both desperate and cowardly. I just thought it would take a bit longer for those two elements to rub off on our new guys we sent to Washington.
The Luzerne County Commissioners announced that their appraiser has valued the local Triple-A baseball franchise at $18 million -- $3.4 million more than the sales price set by Lackawanna County officials. Lackawanna County had agreed to sell the franchise to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees for $14.6 million. The Times Leader reports that Luzerne county wants compensation for their original investment in the mid 80s. The counties had co-purchased the franchise, and Luzerne County has a pending suit arguing that Lackawanna must give Luzerne half the proceeds if the franchise is sold. Lackawanna County also has a pending countersuit arguing that Luzerne County isn't entitled to any proceeds and owes Lackawanna millions of dollars for past stadium repairs. How this plays out is anyone’s guess. But Governor Corbett released the allocated money for the upper deck to come off PNC Field and remodel the park. The Yankees are going to be here longer than I’ll most likely be alive. NEPA has given them pretty much whatever they wanted to locate here. The least the rich and powerful Steinbrenner clan can do is cough up a few bucks for a settlement and get this issue off the table. Luzerne County took a chance on this thing in the 80s, they were in effect taken out of the loop by the Lackawanna County Commissioners so the county is owed something. Let’s just quit the countersuit and get this thing done.
The teachers in the Wilkes Barre Area School Board are not going to allow themselves a pay freeze. While other school districts across the state realize the shared sacrifices that must be made, the Wilkes Barre Area teachers do not. While other school officials realized that the Obama stimulus money was a short term increase in funding and that those levels would return to pre Obama/Rendell levels, the Wilkes Barre Area School teachers do not. It is typical of a teacher union that looks at the short term rather than the long term. Sue Henry brought up a great point today saying that if there are layoffs in the district, the newly minted teachers will be hit and those long term recipients of largess will still be standing. Unlike Wisconsin, no one is asking to take away their benefits or salary. It will stay the same, it will be a freeze. But Wilkes Barre Area school teachers just don’t get it !
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
ON THE BUDGET ROAD
Majority Republicans in the Pennsylvania House sent their state budget proposal to the Senate on Tuesday over the objections of Democrats during a marathon floor debate. The chamber voted 109-92 to approve a $27.3 billion spending plan and move the process closer to negotiations among legislative leaders and Gov. Tom Corbett in the weeks ahead. The vigorous debate divided the chamber sharply along party lines, with Republicans pushing their proposal as a responsible approach amid a trying economic climate and Democrats predicting dire consequences from wide cuts in government programs. The budget plan has the same total spending figure that Corbett, a Republican, has proposed. Like the governor’s budget, it also would not raise additional taxes. The House GOP plan, however, dedicates less money to the Department of Public Welfare to restore money for education and makes other changes to specific line-items. With the House and Senate having a clear majority of Republicans, this budget will be one of nuances not monumental differences. And for the first time in 8 years, Pennsylvania will have a budget on time.
The complaint filed by the city’s police union against the city of Scranton has been dismissed by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, The complaint centered around the March 20 arrest of a drug user by Scranton Police Chief Dan Duffy. The criminal arrested allegedly was in possession of marijuana. The union contended that a Dec. 27, 2002, order excluded the department superintendent from the collective bargaining unit, removing Duffy’s ability to conduct off duty arrests. Duffy made the arrest off duty. The complaint as it should have been was dismissed. This case proves that sometimes union officials don’t use one thing that most people expect of them: common sense.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
This week on Saturday Night Live at the Oldies Shadoe Steele’s guest will be Andy Kim. Saturday Night Live at the Oldies is heard Saturdays from 7pm to midnight with ABC News on the top of the hour.
This week Tiffany Clloud’s guest on “Storm Politics” will be the Hazleton Police Chief Robert Ferdinad. “Storm Politics” is seen weekly on WYLN Wed 8PM, Thurs 9:30PM, Sat 5PM, Sun 11AM, Mon 9:30PM, Tues 4:30PM.
Norma Reese will be the featured guest on ECTV Live the week of May 30th.Ms Reese is with a group conducting informational tours of the Forest Hill cemetery where anumber of area Civil War Veterans are buried.She'll discuss a few of their stories on ECTV Live seen at Noon and Midnight on Comcast Ch 19.
This Weekend on Sunday Magazine Brian Hughes speaks with Shannon Ludwig of the American Red Cross who discusses Upcoming June blood drives, and some incentives to give blood, as well as the Red Cross response to flooding in the South, and tornado damage in the Midwest Brian speaks with Tara and Kelly from the Volunteers in Medicine free clinic in Wilkes Barre, who discuss their big 1970’s theme Fundraiser Gala June 17th at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Brian also speaks with Paul Taylor, the Vice President of Met Life Group Disability about how all Americans should have Disability Insurance. An encore of Brian’s interview with Dr. Don Rucker, who discusses the increase of allergies and asthma in children. Sunday Magazine, Sunday morning at 5:30am on JR 93.7 & 97BHT, 6am on 97.9X, 6:30am on Magic 93, and 9:30am on WARM 590 AM.
OBAMA AND THE QUEEN
Take a look at this video where the President talks over "God Save the Queen" at a formal dinner in London. These British are very formal and stick to protocol. The President seemed like a disc jockey trying to hit the post as the anthem played. Who in the hell in the White House protocol office let this happen? He most likely has a wet behind the ears 20 something who has no clue on how national anthems and foreign visits work. Just when you think the guy is getting out from under, he reverts back to Jimmy Carter.
Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev sign the SALT I treaty in Moscow, as well as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and other agreements……The Watergate first break-in, the "Ameritas dinner", fails……..Wernher von Braun retires from NASA, frustrated by the agency's unwillingness to pursue a manned trans-orbital space program……Willandra National Park is established in Australia……..On May 27– A second Watergate break-in attempt fails……in Pennsylvania Governor Shapp and Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo clash over the death penalty…….and in Scranton produce supplier Joseph Notariani says he is seriously thinking about running for Mayor of Scranton in the 1973 election. Against Gene Peters…and 39 years ago today the number 1 song in America and LuLac land was Todd Rungdren’s “I Saw the Light”.
PHOTO INDEX: HARMON KILLEBREW WITH SICK BOY IN THE MID 60s.
WRITE ON WEDNESDAY
RUTHIAN IN ALL WAYS
Harmon Killebrew died last week. He was a great power hitter who hit the most home runs of any player in the 1960s. He also was compared to Babe Ruth for his home run power as well as some of his spectacular strikeouts. Unlike the bombastic Ruth, Killebrew went about his business quietly and was barely on the radar screen. However, like Ruth, he had a special place in his heart for kids as this story will indicate. He was a great player as well as one of the good guys of a now golden era of baseball.
THE STUFF OF LEGENDS This is the stuff that legends are made of. Eight-year-old Jack Guiney, hospitalized in New York for weeks with burns over half of his body, greeted his hero as he strode into the room on May 20, 1964. It was Harmon Killebrew. The Twins slugger was in town for a two-game series with the Yankees. Killebrew gave an autographed baseball to Jack, who pulled a ball glove from under his pillow and said, "Would you autograph my glove, too?" After a little baseball chatter -- "I'm a shortstop," the bandaged boy said -- Killebrew made a deal with the lad: "If you hurry up and get well, the next time I'm in town, I'll take you out to the ball park and you can meet all the fellows." With the afternoon game near, Killebrew said it was time he headed head to the stadium. "I'll watch you on television," the blue-eyed, freckle-faced youngster said from his Manhattan hospital bed. "Maybe I'll hit you a couple," Killebrew responded. Sure enough, he did just that, starting with a two-run home run in the first inning. The second homer came on his last at-bat, a solo shot in the eighth inning, capping off the Twins' 7-4 victory. The New York Daily News and Jack's father arranged the visit for the boy, whose altar boy robes caught fire as he was lighting candles at his parish church in Brooklyn. The newspaper's bedside photo appeared in the Minneapolis Morning Tribune the next day and was sent across the nation on the UPI picture wire. Jack soon left the hospital and indeed was Killebrew's guest in New York nearly four months later when the Twins played the Yankees on Sept. 12, 1964, posing together for news photographers along the rail before the game. Killebrew gave him one of his bats. And this time, Jack saw for himself Killebrew's awesome power when the Twins star belted a two-run homer deep into the left-field stands in the first inning. Guiney is now 55 years old and lives in Queens, not far from where he met his childhood idol. That hospital visit 47 years ago "lifted my spirits. I watched the whole game from my hospital bed. I was shocked" when Killebrew made good on his two-home run call. "[Last week] I was listening to the radio and heard he was sick," Guiney said. "I said a little prayer when I heard that." Guiney said he took the news of Killebrew's death Tuesday pretty hard and can attest to what "they said in the paper -- that he was a great ballplayer but a greater human being." Star Tribune staff writer Pamela Huey contributed to this report. Article by: Minnesota Star Tribune writer PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
Since the AdultBasic Health Care plan went away in February, one entity, the Pennsylvania Health Access Network has been trying to find a way to establish an adequate successor to the program. As you are aware, on Feb. 28th, 42,000 of our neighbors in Pennsylvania lost their adultBasic health coverage. While the coverage wasn’t fancy, it was a critical lifeline to thousands of hardworking people across the state. AdultBasic offered coverage to working Pennsylvanians who were caught in the middle: those who made too much to qualify for Medicaid but far too little to afford coverage on the private market. It made sure that working people didn’t have to fall through the cracks of our broken health care system by offering lower-income Pennsylvanians the chance to purchase basic health coverage at a rate they could afford. AdultBasic allowed people who were doing everything right—working, doing their best to make ends meet—to not have to live in constant fear of being wiped out financially by one accident or illness. Unfortunately, Gov. Corbett chose to shut down the program earlier this year, despite having a dedicated funding stream under the Tobacco Settlement Act and despite multiple funding solutions proposed by advocates in the Legislature. The loss of adultBasic has added 42,000 more people to the ranks of the state’s 1.2 million uninsured residents and has placed additional strains on the Commonwealth’s community health centers and hospital emergency rooms. Already overburdened health centers across the state have already seen an influx of newly uninsured patients and are struggling to meet the increased demand with already-thin resources. To date, no viable solution for offering comparable coverage has been put in place. Governor Corbett has urged former adultBasicenrollees to sign up for Special Care, a private Blue Cross-Blue Shield plan that costs 400% more than adultBasic with severely limited benefits. For many if not most adultBasic subscribers, a catastrophic health insurance plan is not sufficient; these individuals, many who are struggling to manage chronic conditions like diabetes and cancer, need regular doctors’ visits, regular diagnostic testing, and affordable prescriptions in order to remain healthy. The simple reality is that the lives and livelihoods of the 42,000 Pennsylvanians who lost their coverage are now on the line. These folks are now staring down impossible choices every day—how long can I put off starting chemotherapy without risking the spread of my cancer? What if I get into an accident and I can’t afford to pay out of pocket? Will I be there to see my children grow up if I get sick and can’t afford treatment? These are choices that no American should have to make. And they’re the choices that no Pennsylvania resident who had adultBasic coverage should have to make, because the funding is there to establish a successor program, if the Legislature chooses to use the Tobacco Fund money as intended by law. The Pennsylvania Health Access Network opposes the Governor’s short-sighted plan that has resulted not only in immeasurable anxiety and strife for those who lost their coverage, but one that will also raise taxes for all Pennsylvanians and raise premiums for those with private and employer-based coverage, as the state is forced to absorb substantial costs in uncompensated care for the newly uninsured. PHAN continues to mobilize patients,advocates, faith leaders, the small business community and providers to oppose Gov. Corbett’s plan to shift Tobacco Settlement Fund money away from programs that benefit the health of all Pennsylvanians. We support the current statutory language that allocates 30% of Tobacco Settlement dollars to adult health insurance programs including Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities and adultBasic or a successor program or programs. PHAN will keep working to ensure that the voices of all Pennsylvanians are heard in this debate, and remains committed to working with lawmakers and those most directly impacted by the loss of adultBasic to establish a successor program with adequate benefits at a rate that’s truly affordable. http://www.pahealthaccess.org/.
It appears that Pennsylvania's tax coffers are rebounding from the big recession. Tax receipts are now coming in at a brisk rate and it appears there might be about a half billion dollars extra in state revenues. Tom Corbett and the uber Conservative House want to set it aside and put it in a type of improvised rainy day fund. However the Senate wants to spend that money and possibly restore cuts to the State Education system. While this will not hold up the budget a la Ed Rendell, it will make for some lively (as lively as the state GP can get) debates.
PHOTO INDEX: PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE NEWT GINGRICH AND CREDIT CARDS.
Newt Gingrich’s Presidential campaign got off to a rocky start because he bothered to tell the truth about the Medicare Program. Gingrich said that Congressman Paul Ryan’s plan to have Medicare recipients buy vouchers was conservative social engineering. The right wing of the GOP has been going nuts on him. So much so that Gingrich has back tracked on his previous statements which is unfortunate. The man might have been a horn dog but he is brilliant when it comes to addressing public policy. While Medicare is one of the largest entitlement programs run by the government and it does need some tweaking, asking seniors to bear the burden of the costs is unconscionable. Nowhere have the GOP deficit hawks asked for the oil companies to give up their government subsidies. Nowhere have the GOP hawks explained why a voucher system sold by a government clearinghouse is so different than the health care bill they were all opposing last year. Nowhere has the GOP asked those making over a million dollars a year to sacrifice for the sake of the deficit. No, the national GOP way is to ask from those with the least to give…to give more. My disappointment in Gingrich is that he caved in to the right wing extremists of his party. Like the old country song goes, “If you don’t stand for something..you’ll fall for anything”.
It is ironic that as Wilkes Barre raps up the Fine Arts Fiesta this weekend, one of the men who was a constant on Public Square in the 60s, 70s and 80s passed away in Virginia. Tom Finn was the guy who set up the band shell, made sure the microphones worked, made certain there was no feedback and handled any crisis real or imagined with a very calm demeanor. He worked for years at Charles & Mary Music and was the father of the late TV Weatherman Hugh Finn. Mr. Finn was a pleasure to work with when I coordinated special events in the 80s for the United Way of Wyoming Valley. He was one of those behind the scenes guys that public events couldn’t do without.
President Obama’s Credit Card Reform act helped consumers so that the major credit card giants would not rip off the little folk. But the same safeguards that consumers got are not being afforded those card holders who own or represent a business. The sudden interest-rate hikes, high fees and steep penalties that last year’s credit card regulations were designed to eliminate are still lurking in one segment of the credit card market: cards designated for businesses. As a result, consumers who don’t carefully read the fine print on card applications may learn the hard way that when it comes to such practices, “It’s just business, nothing personal.” The credit card law that took effect a year ago has been deemed successful at making personal credit easier to understand, while saving consumers millions in interest charges, late payment penalties and over-the-limit fees. But the law that restricts the way banks can change rates or charge fees doesn’t apply to cards labeled for business or commercial use. A study released Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trust’s Safe Credit Card Project says that consumers are still vulnerable to these practices, because more than 10 million offers for business cards are sent to U.S. households each month. It’s going to be difficult to get any new legislation through the current Congress, said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., who wrote the credit card legislation, in an emailed response to a request for comment. Pointing to efforts underway to repeal or delay aspects of last year’s financial overhaul, she said, “Congress is not passing any new consumer protections given the change in control of the House.” Translation: The Republicans are in charge. These are the guys who champion small business as the back bone of the American economy. Yet they do nothing to screw the small business person out of a few dollars.
PHOTO INDEX: CHARLIE HATCHKO ADDRESSING THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATE TIM MULLEN AND ASSISTANT DA MOLLY HANLON MIRABITO WITH DISTRICT ATTORNEY JACKIE MUSTO CARROLL.
The fall campaign for County Council will as you know feature 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans. However two men taking the center stage in the summer will be Libertarian candidate Tim Mullen and American independent entry Charlie Hatchko. Mullen ran a respectable race against Phyllis Mundy and Bill Goldsworthy in the 120th Legislative District. And Hatchko is rarely seen in public without his petitions in hand. Hatchko has made every one of the meetings in the spring campaign and is determined to get on that ballot. I ran into Hatchko last night at dinner and there is no quit in the man. As the parties take a well deserved break during the summer months, you are going to see Mullen and Hatchko take center stage in presenting their petitions as well as their credentials for independent runs on County Council.
There are a few candidates who last for County Council that are considering a run as a write in. Talks and meetings are currently underway and if they come to fruition, an announcement will be made. If the plan is a no go, then you’ll most likely not here any more of it. The key here is not that there are thoughts and meetings but with the fact that just a few days after the election, people in party circles are not happy with some of the choices. So much so that there are meetings going on as you read this. Plus we have been getting e mails regarding write in candidacies for some school districts that have members with no opposition for the fall.
MOLLY REPLACES MIKE
Throughout the Judicial campaign of 2011 at times when District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll made an announcement, the guy standing next t her was Assistant DA Mike Vough. I noticed this because I’m a political guy and read a lot into just about everything. With Vough winning one of the dual nominations on Tuesday you can say the Pittston attorney who has onlty lost 3 cases in his career has a leg up. So when I saw the paper on Saturday and read the story about the Domestic Violence shooting in Hanover Village, who did I spy nxt to DA Musto Carroll? Molly Hanlon Miriabito who is gong to be in a general election fight this November for the remaining seat on the Common Pleas bench. Now Hanlon Mirabito has been working on Domestic Violence cases for years and she has been an assistant DA for years too. I am not saying this photo was politically motivated or manipulative. All I’m saying is that there was a photo and as they say, “I’m just saying”………………..
The Times Leader reports that a federal judge has ruled the city of Wilkes-Barre and Mayor Tom Leighton must cover the legal fees and cost of activist Denise Carey. Carey had waged a six year battle before winning $67,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, convincing a jury Leighton had retaliated against her for circulating a petition that opposed the closing of a fire station in the Heights section of the city. Leighton had sought $11,000 in attorney fees the city incurred fighting the petition, a move Carey argued was retaliation. After winning the case, Carey's attorney, Cynthia Pollick filed papers seeking more than $240,000 in legal fees and other costs from the city. U.S. District Judge Sylvia Rambo issued a memorandum and order today awarding $187,547 in legal fees and $8,163 in costs. Will this case become a campaign issue in the fall? Even though the city of Wilkes Barre has insurance, tax payers pay it. And given the Kadluboski lawsuits as well as this one, the fact that there are payouts are going to be a legitimate campaign issue. That is if the local GOP can mount a campaign.
JOBS JOBS JOBS??
Remember when a big grant was announced for big medical jobs in downtown Wilkes Barre a few years ago? The folks were saying the jobs would pay between $35,000 and $60,000 a year. A few of my fellow Blue Cross co workers who were laid off with me in 2009 went down for an interview. When we got there they had so many inquiries that they just took everyone’s resume at Career Link and told us they’d get back to us. Well the company started but things didn’t pan out the way people thought they would. As you know I’m an economic liberal whose readers say that I border on being a socialist. But even I know that good jobs come from private businesses. Take a look at this video:
This week I talked to an employee of Luzerne County about the recent elections specifically about the County Council. Q: What were your thoughts about some of the people picked? A: Well some were very good, some not so good. But I’m not too worried yet because there is going to be an election and those people have to run against each other. Q: Are you in a union? A: Yeah. Q: Did you vote for the entire union ticket? A: I can say that I voted for some of them but I vote for the person. Very rarely do I pull the straight ticket. Working in the Courthouse there are a number of good Republicans. Q: Name one! (Just kidding). A: No, I know you do a lot of Republican stuff locally. My favorite Republican of all time was Jim Phillips. That guy, well with him you knew where you stood. Editor;s Note: Jim Phillips served as both a majority and minority commissioner in the 1980s with Frank Trinisewski and Frank Croosin Junior. Q: I liked Phillips too. He loved Reagan. A: Yes he did but he was a straight shooter. Q: Do you have any concern about this new government? A: Oh yeah, there are no districts and you have an appointed guy. So going by school board logic, it’ll take 6 to pick a county manager. But people like you said Charter Yes. So we got what we got. Q: There were some candidates on the Council like Eddie Brominski who remember what the Commissioner form of government was about. Is that any comfort? A: Small. The guy served 20 years ago. I know this is going to sound odd but I’m glad Rick Morelli and Jim Bobeck won. One’s a Dem, the other is a Republican. Both are on the transition committee, both were on the Home Rule Committee. I may not agree with them all the time but they both have knowledge of what the Commission is all about. Q: And that’ll help in your mind? A: Yeah, they remind me of the “Rocky” movie where Rocky tells Paulie that he’s marrying Adrian because of “gaps”. They fill each other’s gaps. When this Council starts up, and the politics of it starts up, and you know it will, those two guys can restore some sanity and fill in the gaps. Q: Good thoughts. Are you going to be working for any candidates? A: Nope I’m going to do what I’ve been doing for the last few decades. Going to work, doing my job and staying under the radar. Then when the election happens, I’ll say a prayer to St. Jude to look after me until I retire and that’ll be that.
Maybe I’m Amazed…….that the ballot position especially in the County Council races in Luzerne County had almost no bearing at all in the final tallies. Apparently the voters are a little more savvy than we thought. Maybe I’m Amazed…..that the Luzerne County GOP could only nominate one Judge in the spring primary. The vote disparity between Richard Hughes and Jim Haggerty was about 3,000 votes. Maybe a slate card might have helped. Maybe I’m Amazed…..that in Lackawanna County the big winners were Jim Wansacz and Corey O’Brien. I thought there was a great chance this would happen but wasn’t 100% sure. It will be interesting to see how the fall campaign shakes out. The GOP winners,(Bill Jones and Patrick O’Malley) as of Thursday, have not even had a strategy meeting. Maybe I’m Amazed……that the average dream only lasts three or four seconds. And the nightmares just get longer and longer. Maybe I’m Amazed……that a criminal tried to rob the law office building occupied by the Mayor of Kingston Jim Haggerty. These cons certainly get an award for world’s dumbest criminals. Haggerty might have lost for Judge but by alerting the police, he gets the Bob Kadluboski Batman award. Maybe I’m Amazed…… that this rain isn’t letting up. I mean this is getting very, very nasty. Will our summer be a wet one? What a place to live weather wise. I had an old boss who told me you had to be tough to live here, we have horrible winters, rainy springs and humid summers. Maybe I’m Amazed…… that Arnold the Governor was such an idiot. His next movie should be “Dangerous Liaisons”. Cheating rule # 1, keep it out of the house. Cheating rule #2; if you’re going to risk it, risk it with a looker not someone who looks like your Aunt Sally. Maybe I’m Amazed…… that President Obama actually said that he recommends that Israel go back to pre 1967 borders along with the entire middle east. Peace in that region is important but not at the expense and protection of one of our allies. One of the reasons why those borders were changed after the ’67 war was because Israel was attacked, fought back, claimed the land and won the war. Which is what I thought your were supposed to do in a war. Maybe I’m Amazed........ that it was just 40 yeas ago that these two great vocalists sang these two songs that still stand the test of time.
PHOTO INDEX: THE LATE LUZERNE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS ED WIDEMAN (LEFT) AND FRANK CROSSIN (RIGHT) LACKAWANNA COUNTY COMMISSIONER DEMOCRATIC NOMINEES COREY O'BRIEN AND JOHN WANSACZ, STORM POLITICS LOGO AND OUR 1972 LOGO.
THE CROSSIN/WIDEMAN MODEL
With the election in the primary of John Wansacz and Corey O’Brien in Lackawanna County, we have a situation where the two top Dems really have their issues. This stems from the two picking running mates and then waging nasty media campaigns. How can this team survive? Perhaps a model they could look to is the Crossin and Wideman team in the late 60s and 70s. Unlike Wansacz and O’Brien, Crossin and Wideman were the party pick of the Democrats in the 1967 take over of the Courthouse in Luzerne County. Wideman, a former Republican was the Democratic minority Commissioner and Crossin was a former State Representative who got gerrymandered out of his district. The duo won big on Election Day 1967 and it looked like wine And roses were ahead. But then the party Chairman Dr. John Dorris died in December of '67 and the united party quickly became fragmented shortly after swearing in day. At one point, Wideman formed coalitions with the GOP minority commissioner. No love was lost between these two Commissioners but in subsequent elections of 1971, and 1975 both Crossin and Wideman suited up in the name of party unity. It wasn’t until 1979 when Crossin then teamed up with Swoyersville Mayor Ed Brominski (yes the same Ed Brominski elected on Tuesday to Luzerne County Council) and won ’that 79 primary eliminating Wideman. Both men were civil to each other in private but in public there were huge disagreements. Yet they both ran with each and however tenuously governed the County. So a word to Wasanz and O’Brien, it can be done. Not just for this election but beyond.
BURNING UP THE E MAIL
More than a few candidates who did not make the cut for County Council are burning up the old e mail machine. I’m privy to a lot of back and forth e mails from various candidates who cite the fact that there is still an elite power structure at work in the county as well as the fact that the local media played favorites in terms of their endorsements. This is not sour grapes but rather a fascinating dissection of the races. If I can put them together in a cohesive form, I’ll do a story on it soon. All of the people involved in the e mails sent to me will not be named either. But there were some real good points made that need to be shared.
A polling place in Exeter was featured on WBRE TV News the other night. Reporter Joe Holden revealed that some residents were offended because there was a tip jar to give paid poll workers some money to get snack and lunch throughout the day. No tips were solicited but the jar was pout there in full view. One of the election workers told WBRE news that “they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to do that”. Really? Last year in Lackawanna County this was all over the news when a few precincts there had a jar out. Look, poll workers are very much under appreciated. It is a long day and a hard job. But to say you didn’t know you weren’t supposed to do that? C’mon! If you were serving on a jury, would you whip out a PB&J and eat it like you were attending a baseball game? Voting is serous business and yes poll workers should be given a break and get lunch. But a tip jar isn’t the answer. Len Piazza the head of Voter Services confiscated the money and gave it to a worthy cause. The money went to the family of the late Matthew Chipolis, a nine teen year old Worming Area graduate who died in an accident a few days ago.
With most of the drama removed from the Luzerne County Judicial race (multiple candidates winning dual nominations will do that) look for a war with various battles on the County Council front. There are some candidates saying they’’ll run alone and in some cases that might be a good idea. If there is someone on your ticket that is “out there” you might want to just say “vote for me!” Will this thing develop along party lines? It might but I think you are going to see more of a battle from a geographic standpoint. You will also see alliances forming that might just have the earmarks of the numbers 6 and 7, just enough to control the Council. The 4 Working Family candidates, Linda Houck, Theresa Marcavage, Jane Walksh Waitkus and Sal Licata are going to be the targets of every tax payer group in this county. And the media is going to start taking attendance like old time school marms at all of the County Council transition meetings. The primary was only the warm up to an incredible drama, the birth if you will of a new government in the year 2012. I wonder if there are any Madisons or Jeffersons that will emerge from this group.
MIKE AND DONNIE OUT
Mike Huckabee a legitimate Presidential candidate opted out of the race for President last week. Huckabee won the Iowa primary and finished well in North Carolina. He was well thought of and was seen as a conservative alternative for the Christian right. In the meantime, the next day, that old carnival barker himself, Donald Trump said what we all knew, he won’t run. Trump wasted valuable time and news print with his stupid immature dance. We’re all getting old Mr. Trump and no one likes to waste time. Even on an imbecile like you.
Only a tiny percentage of folks who lost their adultBasic health insurance decided to sign up for Special Care, Governor Corbett's "solution." Why? Because most people can't afford to pay a premium that costs 300% more for crappy coverage. The big "non-profit" insurance companies received huge tax breaks on their 6 billion dollar surplus while working Pennsylvanians lost their only lifeline. The Blues, Governor Corbett and the State Legislature all need to come together - get their priorities straight and bring back adultBasic! To that end there will be a big rally in Harrisburg next week to try and save adult basic. Tuesday, May 24th - all day, Harrisburg. Lobby day and press conference in Harrisburg. Everyone is welcome to participate! Whether you're an old pro or have never done anything like this before, please join us as we demonstrate the urgency of the issue to our General Assembly. For more information - including car pool options - email Athena at email@example.com.
RICK ON THE ROPES?
With the click of a forwarded email, Rick Santorum let Sen. John Ensign know that the cuckolded husband of Ensign's mistress was going public. Santorum, formerly a Pennsylvania senator and now a presidential candidate touting family values, is only one of many political and spiritual figures drawn into the tale of Ensign's sexual misconduct, political dealings and personal ruin that led to the senator's resignation May 3 and a scathing Senate ethics committee report this week. Many of those named in the report are only incidentally connected to the case. Others tried to help hush up Ensign's unpleasantness with cash, advice or both. The list is a long one. It includes Ensign's parents; Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Tim Coe, Ensign's longtime spiritual advisor connected to the National Prayer Breakfast and the C Street townhouse where Ensign and other lawmakers lived while in Washington. Ensign made his resignation effective on the day before he was to have testified under oath about his affair with the wife of a top aide, the aide's subsequent lobbying of Ensign's office and a $96,000 payment from Ensign's parents to the couple involved, Doug and Cindy Hampton. The ethics committee said Thursday that Ensign broke federal laws, made false statements to the Federal Election Commission and obstructed the Senate panel's investigation. The committee sent the results of its investigation to the Justice Department for possible prosecution, saying it had assembled enough evidence to warrant expelling Ensign from the Senate if he hadn't resigned. The report's brief reference to Santorum alleges no wrongdoing on the part of the Republican presidential aspirant. The committee wrote that Doug Hampton, Ensign's former chief of staff and husband of his mistress, Cynthia, wrote a letter to Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly on June 11, 2009, in which he disclosed the affair and sought a meeting. On June 15, Hampton emailed the letter to Santorum and asked for help. Santorum forwarded Hampton's email to Ensign at a Gmail address that evening at about 10:20 p.m In an interview Friday, Santorum adviser John Brabender said he had not spoken with Santorum since the committee report came out but had no reason to dispute it. Brabender said he did not know why Santorum forwarded Hampton's email to Ensign. Santorum, then a contributor to Fox News, did not know Hampton at the time, but did know Ensign from the Senate, so "I can't imagine that he wouldn't forward" the email, Brabender said.
This week on “Storm Politics” Tiffany Cloud interviews Amy Crego, founder of The Rolling Angels for Armed Forces. “Storm Politics” is the newest entry into the WYLN TV 35 programming line up and can be seen on Service Electric Channel 7 in the Wilkes Barre area on these dates and times. Wed 8PM, Thurs 9:30PM, Sat 5PM, Sun 11AM, Mon 9:30PM, Tues 4:30PM.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
This week Shadoe Steele’s guest on “Saturday Night Live at the Oldies” is is Fee Waybill of "The Tubes". Saturday Night Live at the Oldies is heard from 7 to midnight on WILK AM and FM with ABC News on the hour.
The guest for ECTV Live the week of May 23rd will be Kelly Pulice of the North Pocono Public Library. Kelly will be discussing several free public service programs offered by the library including "Movie Night" which is scheduled for this coming Thursday. ECTV Live is hosted by Judge Tom Munley and David DeCosmo and airs at Noon and Midnight on Comcast Ch 19.
This Weekend on Sunday Magazine May 22. Brian Hughes speaks with Rosemarie Rossetti about her first hand experience with, and the need for all Americans to have disability insurance. An encore of Magic 93’s Frankie in the Morning's interview with Cheri, the co-chair of the upcoming Relay for Life of Greater Hazleton. And Brian speaks with travel expert and blogger Chris McGuiness on how to find the best deals in summer travel. Sunday Magazine, Sunday morning at 5:30am on JR 93.7 & 97BHT, 6am on 97.9X, 6:30am on Magic 93, and 9:30am on WARM 590 AM.
May 21, 2011 will be the last day, the day of judgment -- the rapture, according to the Harold Camping’s prophecy and those who follow it. In less than two days, Campaign says the following will be the sign that Doom’s day is upon us: An earthquake will shake New Zealand in the late night hours, around 6p.m.As night falls around the world, the quake will spread across the earth . “A great earthquake will shake the island asunder, triggering an apocalypse that rolls relentlessly our way,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. He and his followers prepare to ascend to heaven this Saturday. Whew, good thing I got the yellow bananas at the store this week!
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
In Rome, Laszlo Toth attacks Michelangelo's "Pietà" statue with a sledgehammer, shouting that he is Jesus Christ……in Pennsylvania Ltn. Governor Ernest Kline heads a committee on Emergency Preparations in case of any natural disasters……and in Scranton Mayor Gene Peters steps up police protection with the hiring of 10 more police officers for the Electric City and 39 years ago today the number 1 song in America and LuLac land was “Taxi” by Harry Chapin.
This election for Luzerne Counting Judge will go down in history as a change election. Voters on Tuesday shaped the Common Pleas Court for the next three decades. Five of the candidates who were successful in garnering the nominations of both the Republican and Democratic parties are in the early to mid 40s. That means that if there are no retention issues Fred Pierantoni, Michael Vough, Joseph Sklarosky Jr., Lesa Gelb and Jennifer Rogers will be formulating the character and work process of the court well into the middle of this century. The remaining race will pit Democrat Molly Hanlon Morabito against Republican Dick Hughes. The vote totals were: Fred A. Pierantoni . . . . . . . 16,787 Michael T. Vough . . . . . . . . 15,103 Joe Sklarosky Jr.. . . . . . . . 14,076 Lesa Gelb . . . . . . . . . . 13,850 Jennifer Rogers . . . . . . . . 13,072 Molly Hanlon Mirabito . . . 12,170 Joe Saporito and Dick Hughes registered Republicans finished less than 500 votes from the coveted top 6 position. The top 6 on the GOP side were: Dick Hughes. . . . . . . . . . 9,912 Joe Sklarosky Jr.. . . . . . . . 7,274 Michael T. Vough . . . . . . . . 7,251 Fred A. Pierantoni . . . . . . . 7,156 Lesa Gelb . . . . . . . . . . 6,350 Jennifer Rogers . . . . . . . . 6,280 93 votes separate 6th place winner Jennifer Rogers over Kingston Mayor Jim Haggerty. This class of Judicial candidates seem to spend less than those in the ’09 class. It seemed they also went to every event that was held in the county and stressed the fact that they will restore pride and integrity to the Luzerne County bench. Barring any unforeseen difficulties among the top 5 candidates who won the dual nominations, there will be one election pitting two veterans of the District Attorneys office, Dick Hughes and Molly Hanlon Maribito. That election will test the strength of the Luzerne county GOP. It will be their challenge to see whether they can put a quality candidate like Hughes over the top in a one on one race. Hughes finished a strong third in the 2009 General behind William Amesbury and Tina Polachek Gartley.
The County Council race on the Democratic side was impossible to predict and improbable to analyze. Here are the results: Stephen A. Urban . . . . . . . . 12,142 Linda McClosky Houck. . . . . . . 11,001 Jim Bobeck . . . . . . . . . . 10,526 Edward A. Brominski . . . . . . . 10,299 Jane Walsh-Waitkus . . . . . . . 9,488 Eileen M. Sorokas. . . . . . . . 9,357 Salvatore Licata . . . . . . . . 8,967 Tim McGinley . . . . . . . . . 8,948 Michelle Bednar . . . . . . . . 8,818 M. Theresa Morcavage. . . . . . . 8,106 Elaine Maddon Curry . . . . . . . 7,870 Current Commissioner Steve Urban and former Commissioner Ed Brominski got a seat on the Council proving that old dogs can deal with new tricks. Eileen Sorakas, a long time Democratic state committee woman placed well as did Home Rule committee member Jim Bobeck. Four members of the Working Families for Luzerne County ticket won. They were Linda McClosky Houck, Theresa Morcavage, Jane Walsh Waitkus and Sal Licata. Throughout the night members of this group kept on exchanging leads until all the numbers came in. This group was heavily supported by Wilkes Barre area unions and was criticized for not interviewing members from the Hazleton area. Elaine Maddon Curry got by for the 11th nomination outdistancing beleaguered Hughestown resident John Adonizio by just 282 votes. On the GOP side another Urban was the top vote getter. Stephen J. Urban, the Commissioner’s son was the top vote getter. Not to diminish Steve Junior here but there has to be a segment of the population that think they were voting for Urban senior who earlier this year changed his party registration to Democratic. Others following up were: Rick Morelli . . . . . . . . . 8,769 Kathleen M. Dobash . . . . . . . 8,081 John Ruckno. . . . . . . . . . 7,875 Harry Haas . . . . . . . . . . 7,747 Blythe H. Evans III . . . . . . . 7,081 William Bill James . . . . . . . 6,747 Eugene L. Kelleher . . . . . . . 6,664 Gina Nevenglosky . . . . . . . . 6,601 Joyce Dombroski-Gebhardt . . 6,586 Michael Cabell................... 6582 The GOP race answered a lot of concerns about representation from the Hazleton area. Dobash and Cabell as well as Morelli hail from that area. Endorsements too here took a beating with the GOP contenders. Kathy Dobash was endorsed then unendorsed by the erratic C.O.P.S. group and it didn’t seem to hurt her. Blythe Evans III was inexpicabely not endorsed by the Times Leader and he breezed through to a primary win. So save for that labor group, endorsements didn’t mean a hill of bneans here. Harry Haas a former candidate for school board in Wilkes Barre also had a good showing. Each party was smart enough to put a Transition Committee member on the council in the persons of Rick Morelli and Jim Bobeck. Only 233 votes separated Linda J. Urban, Steve Senior’s wife and Steve Junior’s step mom from winning a nomination. If that happened, the Urban Family most likely would have not only been running against each and with other but most likely would have got a reality show on HBO.
Things have yet to shake out for real because of the 465 write in votes for Mayor on the Democratic side but it appears Grace Cuozzo will face off in the General against Joe Yanuzzi. Congressman Lou Barletta made a belated appearance on behalf of the Mayor and Yannuzzi’s opponent Jeff Cusat was not really endorsing the Mayor when question by WYLN TV’s Tiffany Cloud on election night. Yannuzzi won the renomination by 173 votes. The write ins are intriguing and we’ll have to find out who they were for and how it will affect the race.
Tom Leighton won the Democratic primary for Mayor in Wilkes Barre over Charlotte Raup by about 600 voters. For the amount of money Leighton spent vs the amount Raup didn’t, you’d think it wouldn’t be this close. Leighton isa going for a third term. No Wilkes Barre Mayor since the strong Mayor form of government started in 1975 in Wilkes Barre has won a third term. On the GOP side, Lisa Cope beat Frank Sorick by less than 100 votes. Sorick was on talk radio saying he was Mayor Leighton’s worst political nightmare but he had to win a nomination for that to happen. If you look at this race closely there is an anti incumbent if not an anti Leighton aura existing. If you take the combined GOP field’s numbers, which is 945 votes and add Raup’s and Pinko’s numbers there were 2,819 votes cast against Tom Leighton. Leighton of course win the primary with 2736 votes. Now these numbers might normally scare a politician but in Wilkes Barre you have a pitiful Republican party that will have to unite and try to beat him. It can happen but history dictates that Republicans in the city would rather fight among themselves then fight one common enemy. That said, the Mayor’s people need to study these numbers. Don’t be surprised to see an appliance pick up before the general election in Wilkes Barre.
Rick Cronauer won the nomination for South Wilkes Barre district Justice on Tuesday night. Cronaurer succeeds Bill Amesbury in that post. He faced stiff opposition from Attorney Chris O’Donnell and Jeff Thomas the brother of Tony Thomas current council member who is leaving council at the end of the year. City Council Dems who won were George Brown in A, Tony George in B, Maureen Lavelle in C, Bill Barrett in D and Mike Merritt in E.
THE DREAM TEAM??
The Lackawanna County Commissioner’s race came down to this: John Wansacz and Corey O’Brien are running as a team. The two who faced off against each other with teams Brian Jefferrs (Wansacz) and Jeanette Mariani (O’Brien) now are going to have to find a way to kiss and make up. The GOP nominees are Bill Jones and Patrick O’Malley. O’Malley used to be head of the State wide Pennsylvania Young Democrats so thisa is going to be interesting Liz Randol who worked as O’Brien’s Chief of staff finished a close third. Already wags are proclaiming this team “The Brylcream boys” given their fine head of respective hair. More on this later this week.
Gary DeBilio coasted to victory as the Lackawanna County Controller and Roseann Novembrino won still another term even though she was told she had stayed too long at the fair. I guess she told them! .
One of the candidates who ran for Luzerne County Council, Wil Toole sent this along. This is very appropriate for the day after election day. To all those candidates who put themselves out there, we all say thanks. It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt, "Man in the Arena" Speech given April 23, 1910.
You can have all the advertising in the world, attend all the parties you want but success on Election Day depends on the ground troops. You know them as the people working the polls handing our the palm cards and the slate cards. Be gracious, either politely decline the information or take it with you. You might get a thing called a sample ballot. Earlier today there was a mini controversy at a Wilkes Barre polling place where officials from the Democratic 6thDistrict were handing out sample ballots. Apparently a complaint was filed and they were told by the Bureau of Elections to stop and desist. As you can see the ballots have the names of the backed candidates but the other places are clear. The thought is that by handing out this ballot it appears there are no other candidates for that office. Personally I think that's a stretch but these cards can be confusing to some new voters. When I left the polling place, these cards were not being handed out. Just a little dust up here on Election Day. Voters should always remember that politics is about getting an edge, even the slightest one. So look at the ballot that counts.....the one before you. And take your time and make your choice.
Editor's Note: The ballot on the left included Judicial candidates endorsed by the 6th District other than DeLuca. The other names endorsed by the 6th district are Vough, Blazick, Slorasky Junior, Bufalino and Piierantoni. My scanner is acting up and the people I outsourced this to did not give me ability to edit.
As campaign 2011 winds down, on this day before the big day, we share with you a few of the highlights and low lights of the last few months.
CANDIDATES: Anyone who puts themselves out there for public office deserves a pat on the back. Except for serving in the military, someone going before the voters and asking for support is truly an honorable thing that must be respected. AD REVENUE: The radio, TV and Billboard advertising people are the big winners in this election cycle. Newspaper too but not as much as the aforementioned three. NEWSPAPERS: All of the area newspapers did incredible work in trying to sort this election out. The Scranton Times Tribune did its best to cover the Lackawanna County races while in Luzerne County both the Times Leader and the Citizen Voice did a great public service with their videos, special sections and candidate editorial board interviews. In Hazleton, the Standard Speaker and WYLN TV 35 did a very good job covering a hot mayor’s race that will determine the successor to Congressman Lou Barletta. FIRST TV AD COUNTY COUNCIL: GOP candidate Blythe Evans III. FUNNIEST AD: Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien as Napoleon. TALK RADIO: The Talk Radio Station of local record, WILK did its very best to make sure those who wanted to be heard were heard. MOST CREATIVE OF SOCIAL MEDIA: The Jennifer Rogers team asking their FaceBook friends to change their profile photo and put instead a Rogers for Judge sign. BEST MAIL PIECE: Jim Haggerty’s direct mail piece that personalizes the families he is targeting. BEST ELECTION DAY ON LINE BANNER: Molly HanlonMaribito's "Find Molly" banner on line pointing to where she is on the 16 candidate Judicial ballot. BEST RETRO PIECE: Mayor Tom Leighton’s direct mail piece “The Leighton Ledger” which hearkens back to a time when candidates gave a voter a laundry list in an easy format that can be saved or carried. WELCOME BACK: The reemergence of Gort 42 just in time for the primary.
NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING: You can’t help that but the Lackawanna County Race for Commissioner is getting down and dirty. Allegations that go back for years against Jim Wansacz at a Steelers game as well as repeated attacks on Corey O’Brien just might backfire on these two. In Luzerne County Council’s race, the negative campaigning has come by way of e mails and FaceBook postings. There has been no out and out paid media attack on any of the County Council candidates but certainly there have been rumblings. JEFFER’S JOB: Brian Jeffers being forced to choose between his State job or running for Commissioner was totally unfair and politically motivated. CALORIES: There’s been a lot of consumption of beer and hot dogs at the countless rallies in LuLac land. There’s going to be a lot of SlimFast sales in June. MISSED OPPORTUNITY: I just missed Judicial candidate Paula Raddick knocking at my door as she campaigned in North Wilkes Barre. She did leave a nice note though. THE MYSTERY POLL: Earlier in the campaign a phone poll was taken on the Wilkes Barre Mayor's race. Charlotte Raup did not commission it and Tom Leighton denied any knowledge of it. The big mystery is who bought and paid for it and what were the results? Or was it someone's campaign strategy yardstick. We might never know.
If you don’t vote……you get what you get.
Here’s where we’ll be in the next few days: Monday May 16th: Topic A: WYLN TV 35, 5:30PM and 11:30Pm on Service Electric Channel 7 Wilkes Barre. Tuesday May 17th: WILK Morning News with Webster and Nancy on WILK and Fox TV: 7:00 to 8AM. Tuesday May 17th: WYLN TV 35 Election Night coverage, 8pm to 11pm, Service Electric Channel 7 Wilkes Barre. Wednesday May 18th: WILK Radio, Sue Henry Show, 9:30 AM to 10:00AM.
Location: Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, United States
Political analyst for WBRE TV's Pa. Live program and post election commentator for WBRE TV's Eyewitness News Daybreak show. Author of the book "A Radio Story/We Wish You Well In Your Future Endeavors" and "Leges Vitae" "26 Rules of Life" and the new novel, "Weather Or Knot". The blog editor also writes various news articles and columns as well as upcoming literary projects. The blog editor was a frequent guest on WYOU TV'S INTERACTIVE NEWSCASTS when political issues were discussed on the national, state and local level. Yonki was a weekly panelist on WYLN TV 35's Friday Topic A program. He also appeared on the Hazleton, PA. station on Election Night doing coverage and did special projects and stories for WYLN TV 35's 10PM Newscast "Late Edition".