Friday, January 13, 2012

The LuLac Edition #1900, January 13th, 2012

1900 and counting!!!

Working on the blog with a constant companion on my left.

Interim County Manager Tom Pribula.


Today marks the 1900th Edition of the LuLac Political Letter. We thank you for your support and for comments. These articles, contrary to public belief are not fueled by performance enhancing drugs or liquids. All we use on occasion is TAB. All that said, on to 2000!!


A friend of mine from college and the radio station there, WRKC FM, Pat Fadden intervened recently in a LuLac crisis. Pat and his wife Marian were visiting one of their daughters in the Philadelphia area. Pat knew that since Sunshine closed, my supply of Tab was at its nadir. He was kind of enough to grab some in a Philadelphia area store. So I wish to publicly thank you and as the articles get better, you should too!


Interim Luzerne County Manager Tom Pribula joins the growing rank of elected and unelected public officials that are encountering a problem: shock and surprise. Pribula was always a budget hawk under the Petrilla administration telling the Commissioners what they didn’t want to hear. He was kind of like that one buddy of yours who knows the calories count of the wings and beer you consume at a Super Bowl party and dutifully tells you what you don’t need to hear at the 2 minute mark: in excess this stuff will kill you. Pribula has made a practice of telling people in government that in order to get the budget under control, you have to trim the sails. Last night Pribula proposed cutting some calories off of the County’s on going Super Bowl bash that has plunged it into debt for years. He proposed a tax increase and everyone seemed to be fainting in shock and surprise, slapping their foreheads until they were bloody and expressing wide eyed shock. I thought it hysterical when I saw the comments on the newspaper on line editions. In one week Pribula went from a “straight shooting savior” to a “lackey we got to get rid of”. The tax increase is 3.93 percent property tax increase in the amended 2012 county budget. It wasn’t a whopping increase like Lackawanna County officials are so fond of doling out.
The increase would raise taxes from 5.215 mills to 5.4 mills and amount to $20.50 more on a $100,000 property. Plus the tax hike would generate about $3.5 million and reduce the number of staff cuts from up to 150 to 56. No one likes taxes but I thought everybody who voted for the charter was on the same page that the reason why we needed a change was to put leaders in charge who would do the right if not painful thing. In true Luzerne County style, not one County Council member supported the proposal. I mean what in the world did they think he was going to come up with? The County is in debt. Its bills aren’t being paid. It has no credit rating. And these guys on Council take a straw poll? In real dollars a tax increase will cost a guy like me twenty bucks. A year. That’s lunch at the Beer Deli. For those who live in better neighborhoods or areas and have more expensive houses, that might compute to $60.00 bucks a year. Not to promote class envy here but if you have a $300,000 home and bitch about paying $60.00 bucks extra in county taxes, shame on you. Maybe when the county does get enough money to build a new prison they should put it across the street from your McMansion.
Then there are the County employees. Never been a fan because when I worked in the news media covering trials and Commissioners meetings I’d see my fair share of people preening through the halls and socializing. But the County does need people to make it work and run. Without the tax increase, 156 people would lose their jobs. The County Council wants to do a modified increase that will only come back to bite them in the butt in a few years. With the tax increase, there would only be 56 staff cuts.
Plus staff cuts are concerning because there are many working in the county that are paid by state and federal reimbursements. So you can’t touch those people. Then you have tenured people that with their union’s will threaten to sue. More trouble than its worth. The courts, don’t even think about it. So the county worker who will get screwed will be the person with the least protection, the least clout and the most to lose.
Without a tax increase, (unless Pribula can contact one of Tom Leighton’s 2006 benefactors or prevail upon the Applewood Golf Course guy who won 32 million to donate) that money needs to be raised. And yes I’m sorry to say but it has to come through your taxes.
The Interim Manager did what he said he was going to do. Now the County Council, most of them who ran as “citizen activists and not politicians” are sitting back and calculating how this will impact on their future. Please! What fools the people who voted in this form of government were to think that politics would be set aside as the guy they hired to get them through this crisis told them what needed to be done. If the Council does not vote for an increase to save the county from its debt, my only wish is that all 11 of them have to look in the eyes of the county employees they are letting go in order to save their political asses. Pribula like Tom Corbett told them what he was going to do in terms of cuts and budgets……to take a straw poll is totally ridiculous. But I guess people without spines shock easily.


At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was that Fadden in the speeding black Camaro with a CB radio that pass me on the turnpike?

You need a product placement contract with Tab Yonk. Just promise them it will always be on the set with you and Tarone. No worries.

Keep the change.

At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay Yonki, let me ask you a question, when was the last time you saw commissioners debate a budget in public? The answer is and the fact is, they never did.
Give them credit, the new council members you bashed at will let it all in the open, the good/bad ugly. Did you know the council is doing interviews for volunteer boards and commissions out in open? Did your sainted Crossin, Wideman, Petrilla and Cooney ever do that? NOPE!!! Never.
Have you seen these guys in action, all except Urban who never showed up! They all use the term “we”. Why do you think that? Because in 50 years, no one will remember any of them but they'll surely know about the work the Council did in getting this government off on the right foot.
Pribula did a great job with that budget, and things need to be worked on. However, you gotta remember, the straw poll is the only way people can get a feeling from one other. There's no other way to do it. And it was out in the open.
The old time Commissioners would sit in a back room and know the votes. . They sat there, do it right out in front, and then people laugh at whether a straw poll looks crazy. Like you!
Dave, it's the only way to see where people stand. If you followed this, the council ran through various options, but (and not many people have the stones to say this) but people are very upset because the courts and the unions REFUSE TO BUDGE!
They act like everyone's bluffing.
There is no shared sacrifice by these people, people who should know better and be more ethical. That's infuriating because they are really leaving people out to hang. The tragedy of that is many of those left out are the young ones who are the best and most energetic workers. You must be healing pretty well from your procedure because you’re shooting from the hip with a lot of sensationalism and misinformation!

At 12:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pribula is taking a lot of heat. Good to see someone defending his actions.

At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, good article. I don't think we can blame Pribula for telling people what they need to hear. Nor shall we blame the newly elected Council. They are most likely crapping a brick thinking....this is serious stuff. I blame the stupid voters of Luzerne County. And by extension the stupid taxpayers of this area. The County taxes are the best bargains in the whole system. All of the other government benefits flow from the county administration, be it commissioners or council. Yet these clowns show up at County Council meetings bitching and screaming.......BUT you'll never see them at a school board meeting where the bulk of a home owners tax is inflicted. As Forest GUmp said, STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES!!! THe Council should bring in Kathy Kane to run their meetings and have these loudmouths just shut up and let them fix this county.

At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet the people who show up at County meetings are all renters!!!! Buy a house or get out of your mom's attic and then you'll see how much real taxes are!!!

At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know I think people have to understand that the county can't run on nothing. The new Council was elected to fix stuff. And if that meant raising taxes, so be it. Go to it guys. Pribula is just doing what any other administrator would do.....but I think he's being too nice of a guy. Do you actually think one of those guys from the outside is going to put up with this crap from the citizens?

At 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a pretty sharp edge since you got back. Just saying.

At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats on 1900 articles. You do very good work. It's entertaining too.


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