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.