The LuLac Edition #1662, June 30th, 2011
PHOTO INDEX: BOB CORDARO AND A.J. MUNCHAK, ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST CHURCH AND OUR 1972 LOGO.
Days after the convictions of Bob Cordaro and A.J. Munchak reasonable doubt still seems to exist in the minds of some of the general public. People I hear on Talk Radio as well as individuals I have encountered are showing different emotions in this corruption trial. When Mark Ciavarella was convicted in February there were no doubts and second thoughts. If anything people thought the former Judge might have gotten off too easy. But in this recent case, people seems bothered by the following:
1.The witnesses who testified all had grants of immunity. It was not lost on the commenting public that Hughes, Kalina, Pasonick and others went home to their lives while Bob and A.J. faced prison.
2. The fact that it was rumored that A.J. Munchak was hit hard by the feds to get him to flip on Cordaro is a matter of great consternation. People in Lackawanna County look at A.J. as a hapless friend loyal to a fault. It is my experience, that counts for a lot with people especially in the Mid Valley. We don’t have to like it but it is a fact.
3. The late School Director Tommy Genova’s killer never has been caught. The person who was convicted of manslaughter in a 1996 slaying in Clarks Summit got 6 years. The fact that both Commissioners could get more than 400 years in jail in comparison to these two cases resonate with people.
4. Notice the lack of outrage over the vandalism to Al Hughes’ Funeral Home. I can’t tell you the number of times I heard this week, “He had it coming”.
5. There are some who feel that the two should have been tried separately because it was evident that Cordaro was calling the shots. All you needed to know about that was the Cordaro association with the New York Yankee deal.
A.J. Munchak and Bob Cordaro were convicted to be sure. They weren’t blameless in the way they ran the County. But the fact is there are real concerns about this conviction. It will be appealed and perhaps then the duo might be granted a new trial. The prosecution said that they won a major victory in weeding out this part of corruption. I agree with them. But unlike the Ciavarella case where there were real victims (children) people are hard pressed to feel sorry for an alcoholic gambler and a philanderer that had two mistresses. Te prosecution might have won the battle but not the war in this case.
A SON’S PLEA
A.J. Munchak’s son wrote a letter to Richard Caputo on behalf of his father. In the letter obtained by the Scranton Times.
The younger Munchak refers to the fact that his father never took a deal offered by the Feds. It is a compelling letter.
My name is Anthony Munchak. Please forgive me for the informality of this letter, but I am writing to you only hours after learning the fate of my father AJ Munchak. I am sending this note with both a humble heart and a great respect. And feeling as helpless as I do, this letter serves as both a therapeutic exercise for me as well as aplea to you. As you might guess, our whole family is devastated by the outcome of the trial. Quite simply,when one gets to the heart of the matter, my father will be sent to prison for life based simply upon one man's word -Don Kalina's. As you know, there was no audio evidence, video evidence, corroborating witnesses, search warrants executed, bank deposits, large cash purchases, cashier's checks to pay bills, e-mails,Outlook appointments, phone records, exact dates, credit-card receipts for lunches, or recorded conversations "after the fact"that were presented in this case. Even the 2005 gambling "losses" that the prosecution tried to imply via the "markers" did not exist. My dad's 2005 tax return actually showed small gambling profits. I feel very strongly that no one in this great country of ours should be sent to prison for life as a result of a single "he said - he said" accusation without any evidence. I'll add that it just doesn't make sense that my dad would forgo the "opportunity" (at the time) to pocket $2,500 in cash contributions, yet call Don Kalina on the phone and demand $60,000 and then some. It doesn't make sense that a person who gives blood every six weeks like clockwork (180 pints is top ten in PA)and has over 200 years of community service with 20 organizations would demand money like that. The only explanation for this conviction is that the jury was unduly swayed by the evidence against and the testimony from Bob Cordaro. As such, I don't think the jury followed your instructions correctly in separating each charge and weighing the evidence of each one individually. I believe that Mr.Cordaro's problems played a large role in my dad's conviction. Rhetorically speaking, isn't it reasonable to assume that ifmy dad was tried alone, the trial would have lasted only three or four days, and the outcome would have most likely been different? Instead, the jury I heard damning testimony regarding the more numerous charges against Mr. Cordaro. . Again, I believe the jury failed in adhering to your instructions in separating the evidence in all the charges. Finally, all the proud work that my dad has done for the community over the past 40 years is now irrelevant and is vastly outweighed by the stain of this conviction. My dad rejected a plea deal of 36 months because he had confidence in the system, and he had the truth on his side. On June 21st, the system failed him. He must now resign in shame. It won't necessarily be a sad day because he was convicted. It will be a sad day because he is innocent and was still convicted. I don't know the law, and my letter to you most likely makes that very clear, but I
know what is right and what is wrong... You may read this letter once and easily not think of it again, but my hope is that you read it more than once and give it some further thought. My hope is tha~ at l::ast :;ome of what I have written is reasonable to you, and perhaps it may appeal to your ability to use the extraordinary legal powers that you have as a federal judge to right this wrong in some way. Thank you so much for your consideration. With the very greatest of respect, Anthony J. Munchak, Jr
Arts and culture ultimately were modest winners in the 2011-12 state budget, although the issue was in doubt until nearly the end of the process. The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is likely to end up with about $9 million, or about the same amount that Gov. Corbett proposed. But that was only after experiencing a serious scare in the House, where lawmakers voted to slash PCA funding by 70 percent. The funding, which is mostly used to fund grants for arts projects around the state, was restored in the final budget at the insistence of Senate Republicans
While Gov. Tom Corbett proposed an increase to the Pennsylvania corrections budget to implement reform programs aimed at reducing the number of repeat offenders and long-term costs to taxpayers, the Legislature stripped those increases out and cut the Corrections budget by more than $200,000.
Corrections is one of the fastest-growing costs to taxpayers. Other states have demonstrated that relatively small investments in reform can result in significant savings. Texas spent $250 million and saved nearly $2 billion. Pennsylvania, apparently, will not be following that strategy any time soon.
The new program to pay county jails to house selected inmates near the end of their sentences as they transition back into the community — a strategy aimed both at reducing recidivism and freeing up enough beds to bring Pennsylvania inmates back from Virginia — may have been scrapped.
Inmate education and training — another proven strategy for reducing recidivism that the governor — has been cut by $1.5 million.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development are both taking a hit in the proposed budget.
The business community was handed a win outside of the budget with the enactment of the Fair Share Act, which lessens the financial burden businesses with deep pockets face when they are sued along with other more responsible parties.
Labor and Industry is losing $14.4 million, which is a $13.9 million deeper cut than Gov. Tom Corbett proposed. DCED is facing a $114.6 million cut, which is about an $11 million deeper cut than Corbett proposed.
There are no increases proposed to the corporate net income tax and personal income tax rates. The budget also restores the phase-out of the capital stock and franchise tax, which most in the business community see as a nuisance.
While the agreed-to Pennsylvania budget calls for smaller cuts than Gov. Tom Corbett proposed for school districts, districts are still looking at receiving less in all of their major funding lines.
The budget provides for $5.35 billion for basic education, a reduction of $420 million from this year. This is the first time in two decades public schools will see a drop in basic education aid.
On top of that, it cuts block-grant funding used primarily to fund preschool and full-day kindergarten to $100 million, down $159.5 million from this year. It also eliminates $284 million that districts received to offset the cost of paying charter school tuition, for tutoring and for high school reform.
But Pre-K Counts and Head Start escaped with a 3 percent cut.
When Gov. Tom Corbett unveiled his budget in March, it included an infusion of cash for the Department of Public Welfare. When the final version reaches Corbett’s desk, that money will likely be out of the picture.
The legislature cut $54 million from what the department received last year. It did restore a few programs Corbett placed on the chopping block — notably the Human Services Development Fund — but they will be smaller.
By law, counties will still have to provide the same service in some areas, like child welfare, which gets $45 million less. But programs like behavioral health, which takes a $5 million hit, will likely serve fewer people.
So the bottom line is Governor Corbett got everything he wanted and had a reduction in the budget. Locally taxes may go up in school districts or layoffs will happen because of the education cuts. The cuts in social programs too might have a long term impact. The Democrats are not happy because they feel there was money to restore those cuts but they are not in the majority.
Harrisburg Patriot News/LuLac
11th Congressional District Congressman Lou Barletta gave a 6 month report to his constituents. Here’s what he said he did:
I voted to repeal Obamacare
I voted to cut record amounts of wasteful government spending
I voted to put an end to President Obama’s un-elected czars
I voted for a budget that puts our country on track to a sound fiscal future, and
I even voted to reduce my own budget
We recently won an important victory in the Supreme Court for Hazleton’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act and I’ve been working to put an end to the “Sanctuary” cities that harbor illegal immigrants in this country.
A few more Catholic Churches in the Scranton Diocese were eliminated this week. St. Therese’s on River Road in Wilkes Barre is gone as is the historic Sacred Heart Church in North Wilkes Barre. The Diocese did their usual dance of setting up a committee to “study” the issues. I mean that’s a lot like Mussolini asking his victims of WWII to help him study and come up with a reasonable plan for survival. The dye was already cast. The Sacred Heart Church is the home of Father Joseph Murgas. All he did a century ago was invent the radio. But that didn’t mean a hill of beans to the somber faced bean counters on Wyomng Avenue in Scranton. No regard for history. No regard for ethnic history either. A friend of mine told me that all the churches being leveled are all ethnic. I thought he was crazy to say such a thing but I think he’s right. By the way next weekend St. Patrick’s Parish in WhiteHaven is going to have an annual festival. Festival 2011 from Friday, July 8 through Sunday, July 10 at 411 Allegheny Street in White Haven. There will be Polish, American, and Italian foods, a flea market, a homemade booth, plant and doll booths, and entertainment. There will be a DJ there on Friday. Saturday is Family Fun Day, with a Fun Run at 2 PM, a Chili Cook-Off at 3 PM, and the Jeziorskis inside from 3 to 5 PM. Flashback will be there at 6:30 PM and Tux from the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins appears at 7 PM. Sunday is Community Day, with emergency services people from noon to 3 PM and much more. The Festival Turkey Dinner will be served on Sunday, July 10 from 2 to 6 PM. Dinner includes turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, apple pie, and a beverage. The cost is $7 for adults, $5 for children age 6 to 12, and free for children under 5 years of age. Take-outs will be available. For tickets or more information, please call the parish office at 443-9944.
Yeah go and support the event. They need to pay off their mortgage. Then presumably after they do that, the Diocese will shut the place down and make the parishioners go 11 miles down the road to St. Jude’s in Mountaintop.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
This Week on Sunday Magazine July 3rd
Brian Hughes speaks with Doctor Tony Mills and Jim Howley, the Director of Community Relations at Abbott Labs about the 30thanniversary of the discovery of HIV/AIDS in the U.S., and how far research and understanding has come in the past 3 decades. Frankie in the Morning speaks with Michelle Quinn from HKQ Kids about their annual bike helmet giveaway during the Fourth of July fireworks celebration at Kirby Park in Wilkes Barre. And highlights from the Families USA teleconference on how proposed Medicaid cuts would negatively impact Pennsylvania's economy, featuring remarks from Kathleen Kuck, the CEO of Pocono Health Systems & the Pocono Medical Center.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.
ECTV (Comcast Ch 19) will be off the air for a few days. The station's server, the device that sends the programs out to the cable system, had a malfunction on Monday night. The unit is being sent out for repairs. I'm hoping all is back to normal by July 4th. If so our scheduled guest for ECTV Live will be Diane Boone who will be discussing the upcoming 'Unity Day' celebration in Scranton.
This week Tiffany Cloud welcomes County Council candidate Harry Haas on Storm Politics. Storm Politics can be seen on WYLN TV 35 on Thurs 9:30PM, Sat 5PM, Sun 11AM, Mon 9PM, Tues 4:30PM
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Shadoe Steele's guest this week on Saturday Night Live at the Oldies is Leo Sayer. Saturday Night Live at the Oldies can be heard from 7pm to midnight on WILK AM & FM Saturday with ABC News on the top of the hour.
U.S. President Richard Nixon announces that no new draftees will be sent to Vietnam Furman v. Georgia: The Supreme Court of the United States rules that the death penalty is unconstitutional....An extra leap second (23:59:60) is added to end the month……In Pennsylvania National Guard troops help in the clean up of the Agnes Flood……and in Wilkes Barre both the Times Leader and Sunday Independent newspapers get back to publishing on a regular basis after being shut down by the Agnes Flood. In the meantime thousands of Wyoming Valley residents try to deal with the loss and devastation. Even the tranquility of the dead are disturbed from the flood. Cleanup begins at the Forty Fort Cemetery to re bury bodies that were unearthed........
And 39 years ago the number 1 song in America and LuLac land was “I Wanna Be Where You Are” by Michael Jackson.