Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The LuLac Edition #2021, April 11th, 2012

Len Piazza was always on the scene on Election Day. During the primary in 2011, Piazza was at a polling place investigating a situation.


Luzerne County Board of Elections Chief Len Piazza was sacked earlier today by County Manager Robert Lawton. Piazza goes into the history books as the first employee fired by the new, permanent County Manager. And if someone Had told me when I voted for Home Rule that Lenny would be its very first personnel casualty, I’d have never believed it. Piazza was a hands on, 24/7 Voter Registration Chief that would answer any question, any request, at any time. He followed the letter to the law. If you missed a deadline for an absentee ballot once even though you were doing it for twenty years, you missed it. If you did not file a report on time, you got a bill. Piazza’s firing is an example that we all knew but most did not understand at the time: the County Manager is the man. And the man got rid of Piazza. With less than two weeks before the Pennsylvania primary, which albeit is a light ballot, Lawton said he contacted state officials about his decision. With no deputy, Lawton said he is going to use employees in the Courthouse who had prior election office experience. The only one I can think of that actually ran the office is former County Commissioner Tom Pisano, who ran that office in the late 80s and 90s before he made a successful run for County Controller after Joe Tirpak died. As is the case with Luzerne County, there are many layers to this onion. Local Democratic party and former State committeeman Bob Caruso wanted a public meeting because he was concerned about the fact that the current staffers in the election office do not have the knowledge of technology that Lenny Piazza had. All of them are helpful enough and very pleasant but according to Caruso’s account in the Times Leader, when a candidate called the office to get information on a computer disc, that candidate was told they had no working knowledge of how to access this. Piazza had no Deputy and according to conversations I had with County officials in the summer of 2011, he had no desire for one. It is said Piazza was a one man show and that was great but many wondered what would happen if he got ill or worse, got terminated. The reasons for his termination are also murky. Is there a state or federal law that prevents a Voter Services Chief from investigating the finances of an elected official? If Piazza had personal problems with the County Controller could they not have been mediated? Piazza has said he will call in the ACLU to take up his cause. But in the meantime, we have a presumably overworked County Manager taking on more because of a firing that I believe should never have happened. On Piazza’s FaceBook page, many area politicos, former County employees and friends left messages of support.


At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just another reason to vote out Walter..... This guy has been a menace since he was elected; and just curious has he completed any of his audits?

If this firing turns out to be political; it is also time to petition the council to fire Lawton. Piazza was one of the few competent public officials; an employee who didn't need a time clock, because he was never off work.

Fire Lawton NOW!

At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This new county manager has had 10 jobs in the last 18 yrs. I think I know why . He is an *** hole !!!!!

At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrong, just wrong. Lawton has made a life changing decision concerning P:iazza and he has done so with no experience or investigation. What happened to the ethics Commssion? Every time there has been a problem, Walter Griffith is at the head of it and Lawton seems to have cast his lot with Walter. First Bruce Simpson and now Len Piazza. Why have an ethis commission if it is going to be ignored? They chould ignore Simpson's resignation and bring him back and then do a proper investigation and bring that almighty transparency into play.

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

time for lenny to fact, time for a lot of them to go...kudos to the firing..

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yonk, the Times Leader is reporting that Tom Pisano is going to be the interim head of the Elections Board. You referred to his tenure in this article. You are always on point man.

At 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lawton appears to have no clue what's going on in the county and has never seen or witnessed Piazza at work. I know personally that he would return emails 24/7 and that's a fact. At one point I received a reply to an email from Leonard and it was a Friday night (10:30 PM) and he was in Philly for the weekend. I've told that story dozens of times so I might have mentioned it to you earlier.
No warning, no letter of reprimand just flat out fired and no public explanation. Is this the transparency we expected fro our new Home Rule Charter. I hope that Mr. Lawton will rethink his decision and if he finds he made a hasty decision, I will have total respect for him being big enough to own up.
Leonard charged me a $130 fine for filing a campaign report late. No wink, no forgiveness, the report was late and there is a late fee due. Years ago I filed a complaint on a campaign expense being wrong and it was investigated by the county and their Election Board made the decision and thier solicitor wrote the opinion for the Board. At no time was the state involved.
The public needs to be made aware of what's going on. This new government was supposed to be transparent.

At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regard to Len Piazza, remember this. ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD! Enough said.

At 5:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about you two putting down Len Piazza cite something specific? So far, those who are supporting him can cite verse of his incredible job performance, dedication and modernization of the office. If he has done something that warrants firing speak up and back it up!

At 6:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:49 PM. According to the Election Report Guide the fine for filing a report after the due date is $250.00. If Mr. Piazza in his position as Director only fined you $130.00 as you said in you post he violated the guidelines set forth in the Guide in regard to a late report.The fine for the late violation is very clear and specific. Your post, if is true, tends to make the case for his dismissal.

At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yonki, this story kind of proves that you don't need "Write On Wednesday".

Helen Fulbright

P.S. Love your books.

At 12:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:48, You're wrong! There is a daily late charge with a maximum. YOU should read the entire rule and not just the hilights. The fine I received was looked at at the Election Bureau front desk and it was shown to me to satisfy my quesations. I p;aid the propoer amount.

At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lesson to Learn.......

If you've ever worked for a boss who reacts before getting the facts and thinking things through, you will love this!
Arcelor-Mittal Steel, feeling it was time for a shakeup, hired a new CEO. The new boss was determined to rid the company of all slackers.
On a tour of the facilities, the CEO noticed a guy leaning against a wall. The room was full of workers and he wanted to let them know that he meant business. He asked the guy, "How much money do you make a week?"
A little surprised, the young man looked at him and said, "I make $400 a week. Why?"
The CEO said, "Wait right here." He walked back to his office, came back in two minutes, and handed the guy $1,600 in cash and said, "Here's four weeks' pay. Now GET OUT and don't come back."
Feeling pretty good about himself the CEO looked around the room and asked, "Does anyone want to tell me what that goof-ball did here?"
From across the room a voice said, "Pizza delivery guy from Domino's.
The new CEO's name was Lawton.

At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've got to agree with Anon - 12:48 AM. Lawton has severed ties with those who can help Luzerne County emerge from the muck of the past. There is still some dead wood at the Courthouse, but you prune a tree you don't chop it down. Tom Pribula seems to have disappeared from the scene and I understand the acting Finance Director and friend of Ken Mohr (Home Rule Consultant) is just treading water. Piazza had his flaws but Pisano has trouble turning on a computer. Pisano, a true politician, has survived many years with no real skills. A true manager accentuates the positives and develops staff to complement the organization. Lawton seems to be marching in lock step with Griffith and anyone who doesn't bow before King Griffith ends up out the door. There are many skeletons in Walter's closet. A professional manager with no political ties would be great but Lawton seems to be aligned with a few local individuals.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When did Lawton get a visa to work in Germany. ArcelorMittal is hq'd in Luxenburg.

At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you bloggers, steve corbett and sue henry for encouraging the voters to go with home rule... What a mess... Is there anyway we can recall walter. he is a disgrace.


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