The LuLac Edition #2073, May 31st, 2012
FORMING A BUDGET
One of the things that has been rolling around in my mind since Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton brought up the 2013 budget is the fact that a budget is a living, day to day document. And very few people understand that. I’ve seen agencies and governmental entities bring out the budget tools just a few weeks before figuring out what the next year’s expenses are going to be. And in the past, they pretty much got away with it because the cost of government was more manageable. But as we have seen in Luzerne County, those days are long gone. It is scary that Lawton says he is operating on a razor thin margin. That’s not his fault as we pointed out the other day. The County Council did not have the political will to pass a tax increase that would give any manager any wiggle room. Again, I said this back before Lawton was even hired and Tom Pribula was getting pilloried in public for even suggesting a bigger tax increase. Imagine if a tax increase was voted down! There would be no room whatsoever in the budget. Lawton has a huge task ahead of him but I wonder if he, as an outsider (and believe me I thought bringing in someone from the outside was and is a good thing so he wouldn’t get strong armed) really is equipped to handle this budget. With all due respect, I have heard nothing from his part time budget chief Vic so I’m wondering what he is doing to formulate the plan. There is a paper trail of detail left by the interim county manager, a man who was not only a previous Director of Budget and Finance, but also has 30+ years of accounting and finance experience. “Vague” is not a word in Tom Pribula’s vocabulary. But I don’t see any evidence, at least from Lawton’s public comments that he is using that information. What bothers me about this budget is that Lawton has labeled this budget as “vague”, without reviewing the details. How can you create a 2013 budget without a through understanding of the 2012 budget? And that’s dangerous here in Luzerne County where taxpayers and average citizens are extremely skittish and nervous about any vagaries or any element of “trust me; I know what I’m doing”. Vonderheid and Skrepenak essentially destroyed the county (with them past was prologue, Vonderheid destroyed the Chamber and Skrepenak destroyed himself), then the three left over Commissioners purposely held back any real money for salaries of managers with the Home Rule Transition committee, so Lawton is starting, as we predicted at a deficit. But he can help himself by possibly looking at Tom Pribula’s files, his PC and other information that might make his life easier. Pribula was vilified for telling the truth and trying to give the new manager some room for error. I hope Lawton is looking at his reports which I understand are detailed and can provide a road map to an ultimate destination. There is a tendency for the newcomers to say that the previous administration did everything wrong. The fact is they didn’t. The Budget Director, Tom Pribula began a strategic plan of building on one year after another. Even Maryanne Petrilla at first was very happy with his work. The newspapers also said the banks were happy they had a guy in charge who could speak their language and understand the long range implications of finance. With the buyouts and the cuts which were effective on March 1st, , as well as the 2% tax increase, the 2013 budget will have at least 6 million dollars to the good. If the tax monies unwind, I think the term is monetizing, it could be as much as 8 million bucks. Lawton is the guy now who has to work with the Council, a Council I might add that had to be kicked and dragging for a tax increase. The numbers that Lawton has to work with are part of the strategic plan begun by Tom Pribula on day one. A budget process, a good one doesn’t start with the wish list for next year. It is an inherited road map for the trip. Whatever the journey, you can be sure it will be a rocky road given the cynicism of the general public in Luzerne County as well as the trepidation of the County Council to raise taxes. The 2013 budget coincides with the first re-election year of the new County Council. The Council may be new…..but unfortunately for Mr. Lawton’s budget, the politics of this area are not.
YOUNG DEMS TO MEET
The meeting will be held at Rodano's on Public Square Wilkes-Barre May 31 at 7:00 P.M. The Luzerne County Young Democrats will hold their Post-Primary Election at Rodano's located on Public Square on Thursday May 31, 2012 at 7:00 P.M. Representative Phylis Mundy will be attending the meeting to discuss Pennsylvania's Delaware Loophole. Democratic Congressional Candidate Gene Stilp will be sponsoring the meeting and will also be speaking to the group. The Young Democrats will be discussing the upcoming General Election, endorsing the Democratic slate for the General Election, and discussing agenda items to support such as the opposition to the Delaware loophole and Voter ID Laws. The Luzerne County Young Democrats encourage all registered Democrats age 18-35 to attend.
MUSTO’S DELAY TACTICSFormer State Senator Ray Musto is fast becoming the Hyman Roth (played by Lee Strasburg in Godfather 2) of the LuLac land corruption episodes. Roth was the mythical gangster who in the Godfather series was dying of the same heart attack for 20 years. Now it seems Musto’s lawyers are playing the health card and saying the rigors of a trial may kill him. I do have sympathy for someone with a health condition but this has to end somewhere and sometime. A trial has to go forth and even if it takes a special arrangement, a medical crew standing by or some other consideration, let’s start the proceedings. It was the Senator after all who wanted his day in court. For many, not knowing the fate and outcome would be worse than letting it drag on and on. Let’s quit playing games and start.
DYLAN A MEDAL WINNER
Bob Dylan received the Medal of Freedom from President Obama the other afternoon and despite some snickering, it was well deserved. Dylan was the person who inspired a young generation with his brand of thoughtful music. Among the other honorees were John Glenn, Pat Sumitt, Shimon Peres and Madeline Albright. Dylan, 71, was the last to receive his award, a vestige of his legal surname, "Zimmerman." He seemed lost in thought when his name was called, leading Obama to prompt him. Before the ceremony, the Marine Band's pianist played a medley of some of Dylan's songs — "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and the political "The Times They Are a-Changin.'"
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVETune in this week for Shadoe Steele’s “Saturday Night Live At the Oldies”. From 7pm to midnight, you’ll hear the best in oldies, as well as ABC News on the top of the hour.
Riverfest 2012 is coming up soon in Lackawanna County and Bernie McGurl of the Lackawanna River Corridor Association will join ECTV Live hosts Tom Munley and David DeCosmo to highlight the event during the week of June 4th. ECTV Live is a Public Affairs program broadcast each day at Noon and Midnight on Comcast Ch 19 in the Greater Scranton, Pittston, and Wilkes-Barre areas. You can check Electric City Television's daily program schedule at http://sites.google.com/site/ectvschedule/
This Weekend on Sunday Magazine. Magic 93’s Frankie in the Morning speaks with Lackawanna County Commissioners Jim Wansacz and Patrick O’Malley about the renovation work at PNC Field in Moosic and what local baseball fans can expect for next season. Brian Hughes speaks with Dr. David Borinstein about a unique form of arthritis that strikes adults between the ages of 20 and 40. And an encore of Brian’s April interview with Rev. Ronald Weeks from the Keystone Rescue Mission Alliance, and its work in the Scranton Wilkes Barre area. Sunday Magazine, Sunday morning at 5am on Great Country 93.7, 5:30am on 97BHT, 6am on 97.9X, 6:30am on Magic 93, and 7am on WARM 590 AM.
1967Moshe Dayan becomes Israel's Minister of Defense......The Beatles legendary release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, nicknamed "The Soundtrack of the Summer of Love"; it would be number one on the albums charts throughout the summer of 1967………
in Philadelphia Mayor James Tate says that added police will be put on during the summer months to control crime. The action was encouraged by the Mayor’s Police commissioner Frank Rizzo who was becoming a constant critic of the Mayor’s administration……in Lackawanna County, fresh off of another Democratic primary victory, Majority Commissioners Patrick Melody and Edward Zipay start formulating plans for the fall campaign. With Democratic control of the City Council as well as the Mayor’s office, the outlook is good for a repeat of Democratic control come November….and 45 years ago this week the number 1 song in America and LuLac land was “Release Me” by Englebert.