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.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The LuLac Edition #2069, May 29th, 2012
Did Columbo have a clothing allowance for those raincoats?
The Citizen’s Voice had an article in the newspaper on Sunday that should infuriate tax payers in Luzerne County. As many of you know, I am not a tax crazy. There are some instances where I would volunteer to pay higher taxes. I understand that taxes are the dues we pay for services. But these days, especially in Luzerne County, services can be found wanting. Last week a man was jailed by accident because some worker in the Clerk of Courts office entered incorrect data. Interim head Tom Pisano said the mistake happened because the office was understaffed. That’s a joke and is an indication of what is wrong with the system. Pisano should have owned up to the mistake saying it was a human error. People make mistakes. Own up to it and move on but to blame it on under staffing in a Courthouse bloated with employees is really reckless on his part. Or just plain dumb. Take your pick.
But I digress.
The article referred to the continued news about the sweet deal the County detectives have in the County. As always, Walter Griffith uncovered more information that just makes the blood boil. Griffith uncovered the fact that each County Detective has a county car that they take home every night on the theory that if there is an emergency, they need to get to the scene of the crime immediately. They can’t take their own cars? Does a hospital issue a company car to a surgeon on call if there is an life threatening emergency? Nope. Now not to be cruel here but most times when the detectives arrive on the scene, the victim is dead. The medical professional has a legitimate shot to save a life.
Then of course there is the clothing allowance. The County provides the detectives a clothing allowance in case they get blood, guts, dirt or donut filling on their threads. How many average working stiffs get a clothing allowance? Does the single mom making 8 bucks an hour (THANK YOU CHAMBER OF COMMERCE FOR THE HIGH PAYING GIGS BY THE WAY!!!) get a clothing allowance? Does the factory worker get a clothing allowance when a machine jams up and rips their shirt? How about the bank tellers who are told to look professional every time they appear before a customer? No clothing allowance for them. Why do the detectives get a clothing allowance? But more importantly, where did the idea come from? One day, was a previous DA looking over his staff and said, “You guys are slobs, you better dress better since the crooks might not be impressed when they see you in those crappy clothes?” I’m curious about things like that. But that’s me.
Finally, there’s the salary. Each County Detective makes over $100,000 a year. And they get overtime. Are they worth that much? What crimes exactly have they solved? If you tell me that they solved a murder case, sorry I’m not buying that. The Wolfseffer case was solved by Wilkes Barre city detectives. The Selinsky case, which I’m sure they’ll take credit for, was a State Police investigation from the get go. If the County detectives contributed to it, it wasn’t worth the sum parts of their salaries. I was told that because of the lack of funding in local municipalities, county detectives take up the bulk of the case work. Really? What rural crime was solved by the county detectives?
During the last election, Jackie Musto Carroll took a lot of heat for the Ciavarella/Conahan problems in the Courthouse. She was painted as aloof and not aware of the extreme crimes going on in what would be termed as the “Kids for Cash” scandal. But at any time, did these overpaid county detectives make a move to get the investigation moving? You tell me!
Should the County Detectives division be abolished? I have no Criminal Justice degree so I can’t say 100% to get rid of them. But I can say that Robert Lawton needs to break this union. The detectives salaries need to be reduced as well as the staff. They aren’t lawyers and aren’t CSIs. So that doesn’t entitle them to a specific skill set salary bump. Plus, I understand that some county detectives already have other pensions. That should be stopped too but that’s a discussion for another time.
The current District Attorney, elected on the promise that she would change the way business is done in her office needs to step back and reevaluate her staff priorities. Would she rather have more trained lawyers on her staff to prosecute the backlog of cases or would she rather keep the high paid detectives (who I’m sure are blowing smoke her way and telling her how invaluable they are to her) who are not 100% necessary? Lawton needs to analyze this office. And as far as the cars go, just because her predecessor used a county car and the detectives did, it doesn’t necessarily mean Stefanie Salavantis needs to now. Her campaign was all about change. That’s what the ads said anyway. Maybe if one of Bob Harper’s ads said something about the county detectives, this wouldn’t be an issue. But it is time to look beyond the campaign and start doing what’s right. And that begins with a meeting among the District Attorney, Walter Griffith and Robert Lawton. At least we’ll start knowing that they bought they own clothes.
Location: Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, United States
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. Currently, Yonki is a weekly panelist on WYLN TV 35's Friday Topic A program. He also appears on the Hazleton, PA. stations Election Night coverage and does special projects and stories for WYLN TV 35's 10PM Newscast "Late Edition".