Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The LuLac Edition #1926, January 31st, 2012

New County Board appointee, Bruce Simpson of Wilkes Barre.

Florida winner Mitt Romney on the night of his big win.


The County Council forged a type of compromise tonight voting for a 2 and ½ per cent tax hike to get the budget in line. That means the number of Luzerne County government layoffs will be reduced from an estimated 106 to 56 Republican Harry Haas and Democrat Elaine Maddon Curry reconsidered based on further analysis of the impact of cuts. I understand Manager Tom Pribula sent new budget figures to managers this morning based on the expectation that council would raise some sort of taxes. Other Council members who were realistic and said they were going to pass the budget in addition to Haas and Maddon Curry were Jim Bobeck, Tim McGinley, Linda McClosky Houck and Eugene Kelleher. So it appears that the new County Council and its new manager will not have their hands tied and be able to reduce the debt, fund vital county programs, keep the Courts from filing a lawsuit for money and be able to have some breathing room. If more revenue comes in, that’s all to the good.
Now a few words though about what this really means. This in no means should be interpreted as an endorsement of the behavior of the County unions. In my opinion they have done nothing to deserve the break they got. With this new plan, there will not be 150 layoffs but 56. Was there a hint of gratitude from the union President? Nope, all she was bitching about was the 56 jobs being eliminated, not the 100 saved. Some of the comments on WBRE TV too were over the top. Art Boubouine was stated as saying that the atmosphere at the Courthouse was “morbid.” Really Art? Layoffs are a tough thing to go through but last I heard they haven’t killed anybody. And Attorney Jim McMonagle who I almost cast a vote for judge the last time around (thank God for all those female Democrats running last year) was speaking about people making $21,000 a year. He’s right, those people will get fired while some of the union cronies will stay on. The fact is there has been no talk of unions letting employees contribute to health care or making any concessions. I would hope that after the County Budget is adopted and things settle in with a new manager, that a performance audit be done in every single department of the Courthouse. Despite the hand ringing of the unions, there are ways to make things more efficient. But that will most likely come from the County Manager and not the unions.
On public safety, I’ve already heard partisans say that if not for the newly installed District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis’ letter to the editor and news media appearances on WNEP TV and WBRE TV speaking about public safety, that there would be no tax increase. We are told “she saved the day”. Uh no. The credit for this goes directly to Council members who used common sense and good judgement. They did what good government people put them there to do: make tough decisions. To those who voted for the tax increase on Council , you will hear from “the tax crazies” in Luzerne County who spout words like “transparency” and “keeping an eye on the money”. Remember who won the last election (you) and those who were soundly repudiated (them).


Bruce Simpson was named to the County Ethics Board along with Professor Margarita Rose, Ph.D., professor of economics, King’s College. County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, Controller Walter Griffith, and the county manager make up the rest of the ethics board. Presumably the ethics committee will use the same standard the Supreme Court used in regard to pornography in the 70s when they couldn’t define porn but would know it when they saw it. Same with ethics, they’ll know it when they see it and certainly recognize it when it is not there. Especially in Luzerne Coiunty. They might need HazMat suits.


Mitt Romney romped to a very large victory in Florida tonight. Buoyed by early voting when he was riding on a New Hampshire high, the businessman/Governor scored an impressive victory over former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Rick Santorum pulled in a respectable third and Ron Paul finished last. The significant thing about Floria is this: it is a true reflection of the Republican party because it is a closed primary. Unlike the Iowa and New Hampshire, only registered Republicans can vote. Plus Florida is a broad based stater in terms of demographics and income levels. It is said that “Florida is the state where people from everywhere come to settle”. The winner-take-all primary was worth 50 Convention delegates, the biggest prize of any state so far. Remember folks, it’s all about the delegates. However the bigger opportunity was political momentum in the race to pick an opponent to spar with Barack Obama this fall. About half of Florida primary voters said the most important factor for them was backing a candidate who can defeat Obama in the general election. In a state with an unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent, the Sunshine state voters said the economy was their top issue. More than 8 in 10 said they were falling behind or just keeping up. And half said that home foreclosures have been a major problem in their once booming towns. The move from the early voting states to Florida saw an increase in negative attack ads and a surge in campaign spending. Negative ads accounted for 92% of political ads airing in Florida over the last week -- a record rate for political campaigns, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks advertising content and spending. Romney spent more than 17 million dollars in Florida on ads.


For the next month there are no debates scheduled and no primary contests either. The next caucus state will be in Nevada next Saturday. Most likely the two leading candidates, Romney and Gingrich will reinforce the identity of their campaigns. Romney will continue to build his ground game and try to shake loose some endorsements. Gingrich should try to get a game plan together for the next wave of primary states. Those states are in the South and should be friendly to the former Speaker. However, there will be great pressure to have Gingrich give up which is something he said he will not do.
During the month of February you are going to see two halves of the Republican party pitted against each other. The establishment wing will be touting Romney but they better be more forthcoming in their support. It is telling that Romney got very few endorsements even as he was on the upswing in Florida while Gingrich snared Herman Cain and Sarah Palin as supporters. The Conservative wing is going to try and use Gingrich as their stand against the establishment that picked John McCain the last time out. What I don’t understand is the fact that Rick Santorum, who on paper is everything the Conservative wing of the party wants and preaches is not getting the nod. Gingrich is a divisive figure, Santorum is not. It appears the right wing of the GOP would rather go down in flames with Gingrich than present a viable conservative, family values alternative with Santorum.
The final result of the so far bruising primary season is that Romney and Gingrich are beating the snot out of each other. Ron Paul is cracking wise on the sidelines and Rick Santorum is wagging a finger at all of them like a disgruntled school marm left outside of the barn dance. The next month the GOP better reach a consensus on a candidate and a strategy. It is not enough to say “we need to beat Obama”. Someone has to emerge with a game plan on how to do that. Meanwhile for the next 30 days, all the campaigns will go to ground and reformulate strategies to get this thing over with quickly. If the race slogs on until the convention, the candidates we now see front and center might be relegated to the background and someone not on the radar just might emerge.
But for tonight, Mitt Romney has to savor this win. The victory proved just how efficient the Romney machine can be. And if there are glitches or fixes there’s always money to take care of that issue,

The LuLac Edition #1925, January 31st, 2012

Luzerrne County Council member Rick Morelli.

Luzerne Ciunty Council member Steve Urban.


That restless political cowboy Steve Urban Senior is looking again to try for another political office. My sources tell me it’s for the job he’s always wanted U.S. Congress. Urban has had his eye on that seat for a long time since he moved back to the area. Urban’s friends (and yes he does have a few) under the Dome are circulating petitions for his run in the new 17th Congressional district. Incumbent Tim Holden and Moosic attorney Matt Cartwright are also in the race.


So the Archbishop of Archbald weighed in on the latest health care mandate and he’s not happy. Bishop Joseph Bambera is speaking out against about a new requirement that all employers, even those religion-affiliated, provide health insurance coverage that includes free birth control. In a letter emailed to The Scranton Times on Friday, the bishop of the Diocese of Scranton called the move a violation of the First Amendment, "denying to Catholics our nation's first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty."
Unless the legislation is overturned, he said Catholics will be required to either break conscience or break the law, referring to the penalties for dropping health care coverage.
Bishop Bambera's letter directed particular disdain at the requirement that the health insurance plan must provide access to the morning-after pill, which the letter calls an "abortion-inducing drug”. Citizen's Voice.
Okay, a few things here. The Bishop is once again playing fast and loose with words like liberty. No one is forcing anyone to take the morning after pill. No one is forcing anyone to take contraceptives. A sensible health care mandate though is making them available and at no co pay. For the leader of any church to be against contraception and attack the government for offering it is offensive and totally out of line.
The Bishop has to know that at least 90% of practicing Catholics use birth control. If they didn’t, he wouldn’t need to close so many damn schools!!! The Bishop has to realize that in order for Catholics to pay the freight on his Bishop’s Annual Appeal, these families have to use birth control. If there are some Catholics crazy enough out there not to use it, fine. Let them have it at…..but don’t deny the choice to those people. The key word here is choice. The Bishop’s statement makes it sound like cohersion. It’s not!!!!!!!
Deny the availability of contraceptives. Do it your Excellency. And we’ll get more little babies born because the church said no to contraception. Those babies would then get their heads bashed in with cinder blocks and left for dead by parents who don’t value the word “life” that you so easily bandy about. We’ll have more unwed teenage mothers popping out babies and then handing them off to their baby boom, parents to raise. There will be good Catholics using your blessed rhythm method having late in life babies born with disabilities. Because they did not use contraception, parents in their late 40s will now have to care for a handicapped child well into their senior years. This statement by the Bishop only proves one thing, the old white men who still run the church, yes even ours locally still want to tell a woman what to do with their body in all manners. Don’t have abortions, don’t use birth control, and by God if you do get knocked up, even if you aren’t prepared to take care of a human life, bring it on. Somehow it seems to me, the church is worried about the wrong set of “lives” here. And the beat goes on.


In response to what is going on with the County Budget, new District Attorney Stafanie Salavantis has written an open letter to the public. Here are her thoughts:
LETTER TO THE EDITOR Stefanie J. Salavantis
To the Residents, voters and taxpayers of Luzerne County:
This county is facing many detrimental issues, two of which are the county’s budget and crime rate. When I took over as district attorney in the beginning of January, the former commissioners cut the funding for the District Attorney’s Office by $623,000. As a result, other than my secretary, who took the place of the prior secretary, and my administrators, who were already in the office, I did not hire a single additional individual. Despite positions vacated by five attorneys who had left to become judges or moved on to pursue other endeavors, I resisted replacing open positions for several reasons.
As an outsider entering as the district attorney, I did not want to have personal ties to any employees. I wanted to assess for myself if the office had “fat to be trimmed,” so to speak. If cuts were possible, they would be implemented, but not unless they could be made responsibly. I vowed in my campaign to fight against corruption and the old-school politics that led to the scandal which engulfed our county. Part of that fight involved ensuring that the District Attorney’s Office was not understaffed, undereducated or undertrained. Leaving the office in such a state would lead to the inability to follow the Constitutional, prosecutorial and ethical obligations which the courts, the public and I so adamantly demand of the District Attorney’s Office.
The laws passed by the General Assembly provide that the district attorney, elected by the people, shall decide the minimum staff required to ethically perform the duties of the office. We are not seeking plush and surplus staffing, but merely the ability to do the job as required by our legal and ethical mandates. We seek sufficient funds to prevent cases and investigations from falling through the cracks as crime victims, police prosecutors and residents of this county expect. We must be able to ensure dangerous people are not returned to our neighborhoods when they should be in prison.
My administration and I have spent endless hours examining and dissecting the operation of the office and the budgetary issues. In investigating the prior years, we found that for the 2010 fiscal year, the commissioners cut the office’s budget by $300,000. They asked the District Attorney’s Office to tighten its belt. The office restricted the use of experts and overtime and did not make hires, which were needed, unless absolutely necessary.
For the 2011 fiscal year, the commissioners cut the office budget another $400,000. The public was told all the excesses had been trimmed and once again the District Attorney’s Office was asked to “tighten its belt.” It did. The office moved money from line items where it was not immediately needed, essentially borrowing from Peter to pay Paul whenever it could be legally done. Grants were sought to make necessary hires needed to maintain the workload. Assistant District Attorneys worked extra overtime without pay to ensure cases were prepared, briefs were filed and trials were ready.
At the advent of the 2012 fiscal year, prior to the seating of the new County Council, commissioners cut the budget of the District Attorney’s Office another $623,000. I was told that cuts were made “across the board” and it would be up to the new council to fix it. I immediately set to work on the logistics of running this office on a tight budget. Seeing the impossible workload the staff is trying to handle quickly makes one realize that more attorneys are needed to fill the positions vacated by newly elected Judge Vough, Judge Hughes, First Assistant Tokach, Deputy DA Pedri and ADA Dudick, who together had a total of nearly 70 years prosecutorial experience. I was asked to delay hiring as the new council was making a complete review of all departments’ budgets, and I did so.
While I felt this type of cut demonstrated a recklessness and indifference to the operation of this office, I was hopeful that the new council would take office, thoroughly investigate which cuts each department could endure and pass a reasonable budget. With a new court, new government and myself as the new district attorney, it was not my desire to begin this new era in Luzerne County in an adversarial fashion. I began with the same faith in the new council that the voters demonstrated in moving away from the three-commissioner system. Nonetheless, I realize we now have a full complement of judges who will demand that our office work overtime to alleviate the backlog of cases in our system, which cannot be done with our current staff.
The budget proposed to us on Friday completely disregards the essential needs of this office. It actually increased the cuts from $623,000 to $680,211. A total three-year cut of nearly $1.4 million, or almost 25 percent of our budget. I met with the interim manager, attended budget meetings, spoke at the January 17, 2012 managers’ meeting, and discussed our position with Manager Lawton at his meeting with the administrators on January 25, 2012. All of my pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears.
Adding insult to the injury of the debilitating cut in budget, at our January 25, 2012 meeting, the new manager advised the crowd that the District Attorney’s Office could decide to “not prosecute cases.” Imagine a scenario where your home was burglarized, a heroin dealer was apprehended or your wallet was stolen at gunpoint at the local mini mart. The police investigate, apprehend the perpetrator and prove a case at the magistrate, resulting in the District Attorney’s Office utilizing a “luxury not to prosecute” and closing the file, sending the perpetrator back to your neighborhood. This statement alone shows a gross misunderstanding of the operation of the District Attorney’s Office. Further, it is contrary to state law for county officials to require me to prosecute fewer cases or ignore crime to save money.
It has been purported to the media that this cut in our budget will result in a loss of six employees. This statement is either misguided or disingenuous. It ignores the fact that, as I stated above, we currently have five fewer assistant DAs than we did 30 days ago. They were some of our most experienced attorneys, capable of handling extremely large caseloads. The actual total loss, therefore, is currently proposed to be 11. This number also ignores the fact that cuts would likely come from the least senior, lowest-paid employees, some of whom, our hardest workers, are earning under $20,000 salaries. Thus, 11 layoffs (or 20 percent of our staff) would not come close to making up the difference.
Since taking over, I have worked on every measure to save taxpayer dollars. I have further restricted overtime and directed my administrators to pick up overtime hours without pay to make up some of the backlog. I am implementing policies which will garner the smallest of savings such as directing that notices be faxed instead of mailed when the law permits to save postage and directing that documents provided to defendants be printed on two sides of pages or on a CD when possible. I have even requested that our employees take rolling layoffs one day per month. Unfortunately, in an understaffed office, such layoffs, while better than a complete loss, would still exacerbate our problems.
In very limited circumstances, our office can generate revenue. One possibility is to implement fines in addition to court costs in every criminal case. Fines are currently an option in every criminal grading under the law, but not utilized in many cases. People who commit crimes should be required to defray the cost of their actions currently borne by taxpayers. However, these actions would never make up a $680,000 difference in an already severely strapped and understaffed office, and could not be enacted in the 25 or so days I have been the district attorney.
At the time of Friday’s budget announcement, only one of 11 council members had spent any appreciable time learning any of the operation of my office. I would like to thank Councilman Tim McGinley for taking time to understand the procedures and volume of work performed each day.
It is my sincere hope that council will reconsider the severe cuts to the District Attorney’s Office. As I said, I am willing to work in every way possible to see this through to an amicable conclusion. I have worked every day since my election, before even being seated, to make this office and this county better. This office cannot continue in its current state, and this budget honestly prevents my office from executing its functions as required by law.
I believe our council members are trying. Just as a marathon cannot be won in the first hundred yards, the adversity left to council cannot be fixed in the time they have had to learn the county’s operation and amend the budget. It simply is not possible to fully understand the operation of every office in the past 25 days and reasonably implement the appropriate cuts to close the vast debt immediately. Learning the intricacies of one office while working in it full-time and trained in the law was a formidable enough task. Tying our hands with the purse strings designed to administer justice simply cannot be the answer and leaves only one unpleasant and unwanted choice.
I have attempted to and will continue to work and cooperate in every way possible to act in a diligent, responsible manner with the new council and for the citizens of this county so long as council will do the same. Nonetheless, I will not neglect the citizens of this county. My first and foremost responsibility is to the safety of our citizens, the prosecution of criminals and the administration of justice.
Stefanie J. Salavantis,
Luzerne County District


Council member Rick Morelli sent a letter along the other night regarding the budget and the new County Council. Here’s what he had to say:
Dear Editor,
Now that the new county government is officially in place, those of us on County Council are currently facing our first major challenge in amending the 2012 budget that was put forth by the previous county commissioners. The positive news is that the majority of council, including myself, opposes any tax increase this year. The unfortunate part of this latest budget option is that it seems to have a majority of support for cutting the county workforce by approximately 106 people. I feel that layoffs of this magnitude will be detrimental to the delivery of necessary and expected county services and puts us on a direct collision course for costly litigation with our own court system. I cannot and will not support this option as a responsible choice for the residents of Luzerne County.
I do, however, believe that there are better alternative budget options that we can choose from which would still allow efficient government, no tax increase this year, and which would give the proper time to implement more permanent and realistic cost cutting measures for budgets ahead.
Below are a number of alternative options that I believe should be implemented in this year’s budget, and I am requesting that the following options be offered for council's consideration and vote for the 2012 budget. Some of these are one time streams of revenue while others are long term. These options will also allow us to balance this budget with no tax increase, and allow the new manager (Robert Lawton) the time and means to properly transition our government.
I suggest the following:
1. Using $1.4 million in unspent bond proceeds borrowed in 2008 as a revenue source to pay down county debt: Revenue equates to approximately $1.4 million
2. Utilize monetization (selling liens on 2011 delinquent taxes for an upfront payment): Revenue equates to approximately $1.5 million
3. Eliminate health benefits for part-time non-union attorneys. There are about 40 part-time non-union attorneys on the payroll, and they are all eligible for benefits, including family coverage. Savings of approximately $400,000
4. Increase the health premium co-pay for non-union employees from 10 percent to 20 percent. Savings of $220,559
5. Eliminate 10 days of management wages: One (1) day of management wages (i.e. non bargaining units) equates to $39,070; hence, 10 days equates to $390,700 in annual savings.
6. As stated in the PFM five-year financial plan, allocate $100,000 from the liquid fuel fund.
7 . Staff layoffs of approximately 60 people. Equates to approximately $3 million.
I understand that some of these options may not be popular with everyone but tough times require tough decisions! I believe we can get through the 2012 budget without being reckless and abandoning the county’s services. The budget options that I propose are not just to protect jobs but to protect the county services and to give our new form of government the time to properly implement long term effective solutions.
It is important to note that because of time constraints in approving this budget by February 15, 2012, we do not have adequate time to negotiate saving options with the unions. However, I do believe that we can work with the unions in the upcoming year to find ways for future savings.
Although the council members have different opinions as to which approach is best, I can assure the public that all 11 council members, along with the interim manager Tom Pribula and his staff, are trying their best to do what they feel is right for the future of Luzerne County.
I believe that the future of Luzerne County will be brighter and that this new form of county government will deliver more efficient county services while maximizing the taxpayer’s dollar. In this first step of implementing Home Rule governing it is crucial that we, the citizens AND the Council, consider and choose the options that pave a path to success and avoid the reckless and irresponsible pitfalls of our previous government.
Rick Morelli
Luzerne County Councilman

Monday, January 30, 2012

The LuLac Edition #1924, January 30th, 2012

Bob Cordaro and A.J. Munchak.



In my experience in covering federal trials and sentences, I have been used to a quick outcome. During the Ciavarella, Conahan, and Powell sentencing proceedings, the deed was done and the news reports were filed by 11AM. That didn’t happen today. The proposed 11 o’clock deadline came and went. The reason was not the expected theatrics of Bob Cordaro but A. J. Munchak. For the very first time since his association politically and commercially with Bob Cordaro, it was all about A.J.
Munchak stood before Judge Richard Caputo and related to him that the breaths he was taking were labored, Munchak, referring to his children’s statements, impored, begged the judge for mercy. Citing a 5 day hospital stay, Munchak declared that he almost died in the hospital. Munchak told reporters outside that “he was on the mend” but in the Courtroom before Caputo Munchak said that a long prison term would not be very helpful to his health. Munchak had his record in community service highlighted before the judge maintaining that these good deeds should not overshadow this small part of his life. His children made the point that without him in their lives, they as well as his grandchildren will suffer. Munchak did show some remorse saying, "I take full responsibility. I stained the office of commissioner. I am truly sorry."
Munchak was halting and emotional in his speech. There were many in the community who maintained that Munchak was just along for the ride with Bob Cordaro. Speculation ran rampant that Munchak might get a break on the sentencing and it could be on the low side of the federal guidelines. That was not to be. Judge Caputo gave Munchak 7 years to be served at a facility in Florida `so that he could have access to the health care he needs. Munchak was given a reprieve of sorts, the Judge declared Munchak can report on April 3rd. The long delay and the long speech came from the least ubiquitous of the duo. Munchak was fighting for his freedom but in the end, his pleas for mercy were denied. The spotlight that was so kind to Cordaro during their careers, did him no good.


Bob Cordaro fresh from a going away party this weekend, came to Federal Court this morning channeling the late Lou Gehrig. Proclaiming he was “the luckiest man alive”, Cordaro reprised Gary Cooper in “The Lou Gehrig Story”. Standing on the Courthouse steps, Cordaro was blunt when asked how he came to this crossroads in his life. "Because I'm not that smart. It means in terms of associations, in terms of placing trust in the wrong people, I made a lot of bad decisions. There were a lot of situations where decisions were called for, so it was actions, inactions and associations which led to this. I'm the only to blame for being here today, "said Cordaro. This was pretty ironic since Cordaro always fancied himself as the smartest guy in the room. In Court Cordaro’s son Michael, 24, went to bat for him. In tears, the young man said that it bothered him that the world doesn’t know him as his children do. The younger Cordaro said that the community would be a worse place without his father in it. Cordaro said that he would miss great things in his life like seeing his sons graduate and walking his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day. Calling an audible, Cordaro himself asked the Judge to consider the gifts he and his fellow defendant Munchak brought to the table. He made a pitch to the Judge that the tainted men of power could teach inner city kids a thing or two about living their lives. Noting he was a person "of some means," Cordaro said he has "lost every material possession and asset I own." Echoing his pre trial assertions, Cordaro said the county was "bankrupt" when he and Mr. Munchak took office and they turned the county around. He said the prosecution ensures that people will not remember the "good works" they did.
The former commissioner, however, also noted that the "punishment meted out is much more than (my family) can bear."A master salesman all his life, Judge Caputo obviously was not buying. He sentenced Cordaro to 11 years in jail and was taken into custody immediately. Most likely he will be housed in Philadelphia before getting a permanent assignment.
Caputo said that his sentencing was done to send a message. The Federal Judge told the more than 135 people assembled that there are consequences for corruption. Caputo even intimated that he believed Cordaro lied under oath. Caputo, while acknowledging that the men might have done good deeds in their times as public officials as well as being loved by their families and friends, said that there has to be a deterrent to this type of crime.
The prosecution noted that the crimes the men were sentenced on were things that they could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt indicating that the corruption was widespread. It could not have helped that the Cordao and Munchak reign was very brief in County politics, 2004 to 2008. Like two political meteors blazing across the Lackawanna County skyline, as the sun sets today, all that’s left is a burning ember of two men who won election 8 years ago by telling voters things would be different. Indeed they were, but not the way any one would have envisioned it.

The LuLac Edition #1923, January 30th, 2012

In a happier time, former Lackawanna County Commissioners A.J. Munchak and Bob Cordaro.

A photo of one of the ethnic churches the Diocese destroyed to break even. While other churches were merged, St. John the Baptist Slovak Roman Catholic Church, got the wrecking ball.


Today most likely will be Judgement Day for former Lackawanna County Commissioners Bob Cordaro and A.J. Munchak. I worked briefly as a board operator for one of Bob Cordaro’s stations in the mid 90s. Saw him only once, got my check and learned a lot about NASCAR at that sports station. Years before, I attended a fundraiser for him when he ran for Congress in 1988 with a lawyer friend of mine. He gambled and lost to Joe McDade that year. I thought about that this morning and came to the realization that Bob Cordaro’s public life has been one big gamble. When he ran against an entrenched incumbent like oe Corcoran in 2003, it was a gamble. He and A.J. Munchak won by a mere 200 votes. I wondered after that win if Cordaro thought that he had this run of luck that would never run out. Cordaro and Munchak moved fast saying they were fixing things in Lackawanna County that had grown stagnant with 24 years of Democratic rule. Cordaro forged business relationships with dubious business characters like Al Hughes a Scranton funeral director and some engineer types from a Clarks Summit engineering firm. I think both men gambled that what they were doing was the way things got done in the County, or the way they needed to get things done or damn the torpedoes full speed ahead the way they wanted things to get done. Cordaro and Munchak said they never took money, the dubious business people who were never charged said they did. The people who counted, the jury overwhelming said Bob and A.J. were crooks. No one believed Cordaro was a cash only guy especially when they saw checks cashed with his name on them. And no one believed that A.J. Munchak gambled at the casino with his life savings. The roll of the dice was not kind to Cordaro and Munchak.
Over the weekend the newspaper released letters of support for the two from an NFL head coach, various friends and relatives, nieces and nephews, friends, co workers and even lovers. Judge Caputo most likely read them all. This morning in Federal Court the Judge will pronounce sentencing. This morning, the wild ride is really over. This morning, their luck, manufactured or providential according to whose story you believe, runs out.


During the Bill Clinton Impeachment hearings, people marveled at Clinton’s luck in having good enemies in the Congress and right wing America. It appears Barack Obama has the same good fortune.
Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal is under fire after asking Republican House members to pray for President Barack Obama’s death. This “Christian” legislator, a person elected by American citizens has wished the President’s children to be fatherless. I’m not a fan of Obama, never have been. And last night, ironically as I was sitting in church, I wondered if there was a viable alternative in the GOP that if push came to shove, I could vote for in the general election. And just when I was thinking of the idea of finding an alternative, up pops this news story the next day. These religious right wingers are down right dangerous. And THEY ARE BAD FOR AMERICA. THESE ARE CHRISTIAN TREASONISTS. THESE ARE PEOPLE JESUS WOULD BE ASHAMED OF. Yet they live and worse yet, they breed. O’Neal made the request via an email he forwarded to GOP colleagues in the House. In an email sent in December, O’Neal asked his fellow Republicans to pray Psalm 109, which contains the following lines:
Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
The email has become the subject of a mini-media frenzy. Numerous major news outlets began reporting the details surrounding the disturbing prayer request on Friday.
The relevant verse from Psalm 109 is considered a prayer for vengeance, a prayer for the death of a leader. The most damning part of the prayer is lines 7-12:
'When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.
Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labor.
Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children.'O’Neal forwarded the prayer with his own message:
“At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!”
Please keep in mind this is not your run of the mill wacko that every little town has. This is not some drunk guy in a bar mouthing off. This man is an elected official of the Republican party in Kansas. He is an elected official of the Kansas Legislature. He is not some back bencher no one takes seriously. He is a member with power sanctioned by his political party, the Republicans. Just when you even think about voting for a Republican, shit like this washes ashore.
And my response to this waste of sperm and egg is simply this: If you are a Christian………….bring me the atheists!


The Times Leader reports that the Diocese of Scranton rebounded pretty well financially by taking drastic measures like closing schools and churches. A friend of mine told me that the Diocese systematically closed ethnic churches. I wasn’t sure that was entirely true but here it is in black and white. From the Times Leader: Martino determined that Church Law allowed the diocese to take about 42 percent of the assets from a closed “ethnic” parish built to serve immigrants of a specific ethnicity when that parish merged with a “territorial” parish built to serve a specific area.
I called the aforementioned friend and related the article to him. A fellow former parishioner at St. John the Baptist and class mate at the school, he said, “If they were going to merge ethnic parishes, then why did they tear some of them down for parking lots”? Good question. I hope they sleep well at night with their financial security.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The LuLac Edition #1922, January 29th, 2012

WBRE TV's Pa Live's Dave Kuharchik and Karel Zubris skating away at Coal Street.

112th District Candidate Kevin Haggerty.


It’s always amusing and interesting when a bomb throwing candidate faces the reality of the office they were seeking. Once the signs are put away, the consultants are paid and the checks are all cashed, the real work of governing begins. And sometimes the distance between a campaign issue and running the office can be measured in country miles. Such is the case with newly elected District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis. She touted herself as an innovative manager during her race against Jackie Musto Carroll but now she faces the tough reality of actually doing a budget (which she presumably is working very hard on this weekend as she told the Times Leader) and finding money. As an incoming DA she certainly had no help from the previous commissioners or the new County Council in their decision not to raise taxes. Salavantis is faced with finding more money and has said she will consider some of the money donated by Real Estate Develper Rob Meicle. To the Times Leader: “ Because of drastic cuts, I think everybody is looking for help, I’m here to listen to what PCCD (Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency,) has to say. I’d like to get some funding for our juvenile division.” Now stop me if I’m wrong but didn’t Salavantis run an anti corruption campaign and now wants some of the settlement money from the very corruption case she railed about? (Sorry, media flack Bob Harper did the majority of the railing). This is Mericle’s money. Som,e people are referring to it as “blood money. So to recap, Salavantis wants money for the same office that she accused of doing nothing while a corrupt Judge was overseeing it’s Juvenile Division. If Jackie Musto Carroll did that, there would be political hell to pay. Young Ms. Salavantis is learning quickly that campaigning and running attack ads is easy, the hard part is making the tough decisions that require integrity, not expediency.


Kevin Haggerty is pleased to officially announce his candidacy for Pennsylvania's 112th legislative district.
"I believe this district needs somebody who represents their values and so I'm asking for the support of the voters of the 112th," said Haggerty. "The blue collar, hard-working families need a voice. They've been ignored by Harrisburg for too long."
Haggerty's previous experience running for state representative, along with his continued outreach to its residents, lends him insight into the needs and wants of the people of the district, he argued. "People prioritize education, they want to see legislators working to bring in new jobs, and they want to make sure their representatives are accessible and accountable. I hear that message loud and clear."
Kevin has a deep respect for public education. He knows that without adequate investment in education, our future is in jeopardy. As the state has failed to properly fund out schools, local property taxes have risen, teachers and programs have been cut, and students are being shortchanged. Coming from a family who attended public school from K-12, Kevin has a great interest in the public school system and would never vote for cuts to education. Instead, he will work to restore funding to our schools to give our kids the education they deserve and need to compete in the 21st century. Haggerty's opponent, current Representative Ken Smith, voted with Republicans to take vital funds away from education on HB 1330 and has been a supporter of charter expansion.
As a Former Member of the Board of Directors for Penn's Northeast and NEPA Alliance, Kevin has the background and experience needed to create and strengthen regional businesses. Supporting the growth of small business is essential to creating a healthy tax base in our communities. Kevin wants to strengthen programs that invest in family-owned businesses and go after employers who don't pay their fair share or allow unsafe working conditions. Representative Smith has not, in his nearly 6 years as a legislator, co-sponored any pro-union legislation, nor even written or introduced major legislation in the General Assembly. Kevin will be an active legislator who doesn't stay on the sidelines. Additionally, Mr. Smith has never adequately addressed the issues of his failure to pay taxes, his failure repay a government-backed loan, and his failure to pay into Social Security and Unemployment for his workers during the time he owned Smith's Restaurant. Kevin believes our representatives need to be held to a high standard: one of integrity and credibility.
As this is a Democratic Primary, it should be noted that Mr. Smith voted with Republicans to gerrymander the state during the Congressional Redistricting process. Kevin is vehemently opposed to disenfranchising Democrats, particularly since they have a roughly 1.8 million voter registration advantage over Republicans. Mr. Smith guaranteed Republican dominance at the expense of those whose interests he should be guarding.
Kevin hasn't stopped being an active participant in his community and his district. Reaching out to community members through local events and door-to-door, Kevin has made sure to be there to listen to the concerns of residents. That won't stop if elected. "It would be my priviledge to serve as a voice for the citizens of the 112th," Haggerty said. "I'll work tirelessly to be the representative the 112th deserves."
Kevin is a Dunmore resident along with his wife, Jennifer Griglock Haggerty, and his son, Kevin Joseph. Kevin graduated from Villanova University and is a former US Marine. Visit TalkToKevin.com for more information.


Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter endorsed Iraq war veteran and former prosecutor Patrick Murphy for Pennsylvania Attorney General.
On the heels of announcing a major crime prevention initiative, Mayor Nutter said Patrick Murphy is the partner Philadelphia needs at the state level to help reduce violent crime in the city
“We need a tough Attorney General who is smart on crime, who understands that consumers need to be protected, that seniors need to be protected, that all of us need the protection of a strong, independent Attorney General. He has been a great champion for this city, this region, and of course, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Mayor Nutter. “His military career and his service to the nation as a military officer and as a lawyer in the military again demonstrate his true commitment to public service. What I really like about Patrick, my friend, is that he will defend our rights while at the same time make sure we are all safe.”


There has been a lot of back and forth on this budget here in the County. We all recognize that we are now paying for the past sins (laziness, wasteful spending, cronyism, you name it) and corruption of past leaders. But read these two statements from the newspapers. It gives you an idea of just how inbred the entitlement mentality is among some County workers.
"The union has refused to make concessions that would allow him to reduce costs, including overtime, he said. Joseph Piazaa, Prison Warden, Luzerne County. I’ve asked the union over and over and over again, and I keep getting the same old answer – no,”
And my question to the union leadership is WHY?
Then there’s this: The courts received $23.6 million in 2011 and face $400,000 in county-mandated union pay increases in 2012, he said. The new allocation: $20.77 million.
“We’re in a holding pattern and will continue to review our options,” Burke said.
$400,000 in county mandated union pay increases this year! Judge Burke and a few others better continue to review options because this thing isn’t going to fix itself. The Corruption case has left a stain on this county that will take years to fix. But this current budget battle is going to do something much worse with the taxpaying public. With the unions in the prison giving the Warden a hard time, and the Courts having to pay mandated county wages there will be little patience or good will left among the tax paying public. It’s one thing for people not to trust their government. It’s quite dangerous when the people who support it with their tax dollars begin to hate it.



Karel Zubris has a single minded goal as far as the Coal Street Ice Rink is concerned. She wants everyone to skate at that rink. The woman is persistent in her pursuit of promoting the rink and her association with teaching people how to skate.Monday at 4PM, she prevails upon WBRE TV's PA Live’s Dave Kuharchik to don the skates and do his thing. When WYLN TV 35 did a remote broadcast of “Topic A” from the Coal Street rink, Karel got L.A. Tarone to take a turn on the ice. Check out PA Live tomorrow afternoon at 4PM as Karel Zubris teaches one of the best weatherman a thing or two about ice.


There are people who try to be famous and fail. Then there are people who just go about living their lives and boom, fame find them. That happened this week with WNEP TV’s Joe Snedeker. The Sned and I share the same birthday as well as the same disdain for winter weather. When in the midst of a snow storm that makes travel impassible and Snedeker calls it “Death”, I’m with him. When he refers to the cold winter as “the dearth of all living things”, I’m down with that. Jimmy Kimmel played a clip of The Sned on his late night show this week where “our Joe” reacted to critical e mails accusing the weather guy of not liking cold weather. He explained that he doesn’t. Then got off on a tangent about liking co workers. It was classic. Here’s a You Tube clip from the Kimmel show, it’s not the best quality but you get the point. In the meantime Joe, keep on keepin’ on.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The LuLac Edition #1921, January 28th, 2012

Our "Interview" logo.


This Tuesday the Florida primary takes place. A new poll out today has Mitt Romney up by about 9 points over Newt Gingrich with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul trailing in the mid teens. I took the opportunity to question a good friend of mine from college. In school he was innovative and brilliant in his college broadcast career. I regard him as my "go to" guy. If I have a technical question or ask for a quick answer he's there. And when I asked his opinions on the upcoming primary in his adopted home state, as always he was there. Here are his thoughts on Florida Campaign 2012.
Q: You've lived in Florida a long time, what is the importance of the Florida primary?
A: Very important locally and statewide. I haven't personally seen much interest locally on the presidential level.
Q: Have you always voted the primary?
A: Every year, every election since Nixon.
Q: As a resident, do you get much face time with candidates or is it all on TV?
A: Mostly TV - but the DVR comes in handy. Met quite a few local politicos thru my wife's family and helped a friend run for school board - that was sufficient.
Q: What do you think of this year's field of candidates?
A: Uninspiring so far but I'm enjoying the "theater".
Q: Tell me your favorite candidate and why.
A: Romney. He's not Obama.
Q: Least favorite and why?
A: Romney. He's not Obama.
Q: Do people talk about it or is it more a more compacted thing between political people. A: At this stage the people I know are focused on the state and local races. There is a visceral hatred of the Republicans by a lot of people around me. They run both state houses and were no better than the Democrats when it came to ramming legislation thru both state chambers. Stupid stuff, like a baggy pants school rule and reworking teacher evaluations, tying them to salaries and cutting back on promised retirement benefits to all state workers. Gingrich is taking advantage by morphing Romney into Rick Scott, our Governor in a recent ad. Its has a quiet impact, very effective.
Q: I guess I'm asking is Florida like a political New Hampshire?
A: Jeez Dave, remember we're the hanging chad state. We were played as fools in the national media - and when they trotted those "senior" citizens out after "med distribution" and "twilight effect" - it was all over. We were branded. Still paying the price, no matter what, we'll never be mistaken for New Hampshire.
Q: How different is Florida politics than Pennsylvania politics where you grew up?
A: The mud dries quicker in the sun. The party is in control so it's pretty much the same but I haven't become active. Some days I think I'm more attuned to the hometown scene though. Ever since names from school have been showing up in the media the politics take on more meaning. Of course all the guys with their poli-sci's have got to flex the skills. So even grass roots politics is becoming "big business".
Q: Favorite Florida politician?
A: Any challenger in any race.
Q: Are you a Tea Party Republican, a moderate or a conservative?
A: I'm a Tea Party supporter. Each and every one I've met have been the kind of people I could have over to the house. There are "shades of Tea" but they all walk the walk, are empathetic and respectful. Their reasoning resonates with me they impress me as being individually consistent in how they live their philosophy. Maybe Tea Party Conservative. Polar opposite of the Occupy Movement.
Q: Care to make any predictions for Tuesday?
A: Sunny and mild with increasing temperature and humidity as we approach August. I'll be ready with my vote.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The LuLac Edition #1920, January 27th, 2012

The late Michael Morreale, Luzerne County Treasurer.


Longtime former Luzerne County Treasurer Michael Morreale died this evening after a long illness. Morreale lost his elected position with the implementation of home rule this year. He was first elected County Treasurer in 1979 when the late Frank Crossin and Edd Brominski swept into office during a Democratic landslide. Morreale was elected to 8 terms in total, and was a top Democratic vote getter. Morreale's had a huge following and a political party that was a "must go" event was his annual pig roast. Morrerale paid special attention the needs of hunters and pet owners in his tenure. It's been reported that Morreale had been battling health problems the last year.

The LuLac Edition #1919, January 27th, 2012

"Maybe I'm Amazed" logo.


MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….that the new County Manager Robert Lawson is “happy as all get out” to be coming to Luzerne County. What is even more amazing is that he thinks this job is going to be a day at the beach. But hey, let him have the honeymoon. I think we should all welcome him with open arms, wish him luck and support him when he starts to make the very tough decisions.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that the national media keeps linking the late Joe Paterno to the Sandusky scandal. Paterno did nothing heinous in terms of those kids. He was not part of nor was he involved in a sex scandal. He failed to follow up on something he may not have fully grasped or wanted to understand. But he should not be linked to it in that way.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that (a) Jerry Sandusky had the stones to release a statement of mourning when his former boss died and (b) the national media actually ran it as news. I mean under the definition of “no shame” in the dictionary should be Sandusky’s mug.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that Charlie Sheen came to town to pay his respects to the late Dick Cosgrove. Sheen has always gotten a bad rap for being the bad boy of celebrities but when push came to shove, he was there, here thousands of miles away from the glitter to support his friends the Cosgroves.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED……..that during the County Budget hearings with the County Council , the Union President Paula Schnelly said the Council members should go into the offices and look in the eyes of the people they are laying off and see their tears. Lays offs are a tough thing but they happen in private business every day. To lay that emotional guilt trip on the County Council members who are working until midnight most nights really is harsh. But in light of the fact that the Council chose to not raise taxes and take the easy way out, maybe the Union head has a point! On the other hand, Kudos to Steve J. Urban (Steve Junior) who related that he had to personally face two downsizing of his private industry positions in the last ten years. Urban Junior’s comments should be reminders to those employed in the County and elsewhere that there is a real world out there in terms of jobs and market forces.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…that 8 coaches have led the Oakland Raisers since this century began. 8. Remember when there was John Madden and then Tom Flores for a few decades?
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that people took out of context Newt Gingrich’s comments about space exploration. Gingrich said that if there was going to be a colony on the moon, Americans should be there first. I watched his entire speech and he was speaking about the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and how the two brothers beat out a government supported program to fly the first aircraft. Gingrich’s point was that this country needs business to stay competitive and handle space exploration rather than the government. I’m not a defender of Gingrich but this constant lampooning of what he was trying to say was symptomatic of today’s attention span of citizens who get only half the truth. And what Gingrich says has a grain of truth in it. Our friend Wil Toole tells the story on how NASA spent millions of dollars developing a pen that could write upside down in outer space while the Russians sent their guys up with a pencil.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..at this quote from Interim County Manager Tom Pribula who told the County Council, “The bright side is you’ve got a new manager coming in that’s going to have all the answers and he’s going to solve all your problems and everything’s going to run like a clock. ” Pribula said that after warning the Council not to do too many quick or temporary fixes with this year’s budget.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that there are people out there who still think there are not two Americas. Listen to this: a Wall Street businessman paid $240,000 to rent a 70 foot RV stocked with prime beef, lobster and caviar, staffed by two waitresses, a driver and a chef to transport him and 5 other people to the Giants/Packers playoff game a few weeks ago. Not envious, the guy could do what he wants with his money but my heavens, what an extravagance.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that some numb skull dad in Nanticoke who was causing a problem at a bar told the police “God was watching”his children (all under 8) at home. When Children and Youth came to investigate, they found safety issues in the home as well as some pretty unlivable conditions for the tykes. The guy though was driving a Jaguar when he was arrested by police. This “Father of the Year” should be detained a long time. And by the way, where were (a) the mom or (b) the moms?
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..at just how good Pittston Area native Jimmy Cefalo was in giving one of the eulogies to Coach Paterno. Cefalo was just plain wonderful. He has a morning talk show on WIOD in Miami and was of course a 9 year member of the Miami Dolphins. I’m amazed because I remember a halting Cefalo doing news on the old WPTS/WARD during the summers when he was home from Penn State. Cefalo, most likely with the inspiration from a Paterno/Penn State education made himself into a world class broadcaster.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that Pat Sajak admitted to ESPN 2 that he and Vanna White sometimes got a little tipsy in Mexico when on remote for “Wheel” while doing several tapings. Both never looked worse for the wear.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that Robert Hegyes who played Epstein on “Welcome Back Kotter” played football at Wilkes College. Hegyes died the other day at the age of 60.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that the Indianapolis Colts are sitting on the story that Payton Manning most likely won’t be back next year. You don’t get rid of a GM, and a Head Coach, have a number 1 draft pick waiting and expect your injured QB to stick around. But your city is hosting the Super Bowl and to speak of that situation would detract from the big game.

The LuLac Edition #1918, January 27th, 2012

Band Aid.

GOP Presidential candidates Santorum, Romney, Gingrich and Paul Thursday night at debate.


People in Luzerne County concerned about higher taxes from the Courthouse have nothing to worry about. The County Council said they will not be raising taxes in this year’s budget. However, employees at the Luzerne County Courthouse have plenty to fear. This new budget calls for lay offs of 106 people. Under Interim Manager Tom Pribula’s budget and modest tax increase, the lay offs might have been numbered in the 30s given retirements and attrition. This lack of guts by the County Council as one of its first financial decisions will have the following ramifications:
1. Increase the number of positions eliminated in the Courthouse. There will be an impact on services.
2. It is a repudiation of the Interim Manager’s business acumen and straight forward attitude that they all praised when they hired him in the first place. When you have a tumor, and the doctor tells you to remove it, you’d be a fool not to take his advice. The County Council has decided to keep the finances of the county gravely ill instead of on the road to recovery.
3. This move puts the new County Manager Robert Lawton in a box. Because he is not going to have much wiggle room if and when he has to make more cuts. No new revenue ties his hands in his first year as Manager.
4. Instead of reviving the sick budget and finances, the Council is putting a band aid on the bleeding.
5. Most intelligent County taxpayers know that the county taxes are the best bargain around. More so than the school taxes one pays on property. County taxes pay for a myriad of mandated services with expenses shared by the federal and state government. The County Council is simply pandering to the tax crazies who oppose everything.
6. Finally, the county Council broke the first rule of the Founding Fathers of America: NO GUTS NO GLORY. If this County Council was around in colonial times we’d be bowing to the Queen and eating fish and chips.


A feisty Mitt Romney challenged Republican presidential foe Newt Gingrich in a fast-paced campaign debate last night on CNN, making sport of the former House speaker's call to colonize the moon. Romney said that Gingrich was going from state to state telling people exactly what they wanted to hear. He said the former speaker had called for construction of a new Interstate highway in South Carolina, a new VA hospital in northern New Hampshire and widening the port of Jacksonville to accommodate the larger ships that will soon be able to transit the Panama Canal.Gingrich responded that he was merely responding to local issues saying that when a candidate visits a community, he has to know the needs of it. Gingrich said that the Port of Jacksonville had to be expanded and that he wasn’t making a promise but identifying a need.
Romney hammered the former Speaker when the topic turned to Gingrich's proposal for an permanent American colony on the moon. That is an issue of interest to engineers and others who live on Florida's famed Space Coast. Gingrich has been lampooned for that but put in its context, Gingrich pointed to the technological war he said we are losing with China.
Gingrich struck back on immigration. Romney denied Gingrich's accusation that he anti-immigrant – more than any other candidate. Romney responded that his father was born in Mexico. While the clashes between Gingrich and Romney dominated the debate, Santorum drew applause from the audience when he called on the two front-runners to stop attacking one another and "focus on the issues." Ron Paul inexplicably invited the candidates to a bicycle race. The second debate this week highlights a Florida primary that has Romney and Gingrich in a dead heat with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul bringing up the rear. Gingrich's upset victory in the South Carolina primary turned the race upside down. Most political observers say they are seeing a “meanness” in the battle between Gingrich and Romney. Many say Gingrich is ruining the GOP brand by his pomposity and off the wall proposals. Others say Romney is wilting under the pressure and may have lost his electability and inevitability strengths. The Florida race is essentially a TV race. That is where people see the candidate and judge them. The winner of this race is going to be the guy who comes across the most Presidential on the tube. God knows Romney and Gingrich are spending millions on their message.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The LuLac Edition #1917, January 26th, 2012

Attorney Matt Cartwright left making a point on the set of WYOU TV's Interactive News. Your blog editor is in the center, Eric Sheiner is on the right.

Prospective candidate for the State House, Ransom Young.

Hiram Fong for President button.

The Apollo 1 Astronauts, Ed White, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee.

Como Phobia logo.

Our 1967 logo.

Pa. State Supreme Court: Standing L-R: Justice McCaffery, Justice Baer, Justice Todd, Justice Orie Melvin . Seated L-R: Justice Saylor, Chief Justice Castille, Justice Eakin.


The Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the new redistricting plan that was put into motion earlier this year by the geniuses in the State Legislature. By a vote of 4 to 3 the Court essentially invalidated the redistricting plan and put everyone back on Square One. The two-page order says current district lines remain in force until the commission comes up with a new plan that passes legal tests. Justices Thomas Saylor justices J. Michael Eakin and Joan Orie Melvin, said they were not persuaded the plan was contrary to law "as reflected in the existing precedent." The majority votes came from Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, Justices Max Baer, Debra McCloskey Todd, and Seamus P. McCaffery. This decision has many ramifications for LuLac land. In Lackawanna County Ken smith’s district reverts back to the way it was impacting on a possible challenge there. In Luzerne County, GOPers Rick Arnold and Maiiloux are effected too. Mailloux lives in the 121st in the new plan, does not in the old plan. Arnold’s campaign against incumbent Gerry Mullery gets a little more challenging with the old rules in play. And Tarah Toohill’s challenger, Ransom Young now sees a Toohill district that goes back to the Todd Eachus days. The Court sent the Legislators back to the drawing board. Since the line makers are controlled by the GOP it would be in their best interests to get this done quickly. If not, chaos will ensue.


With the faltering of the Mitt Romney campaign, the insurgency of the Gingrich campaign, and the less than passionate embracing of Rick Santorum and Ron Paul as logical standard bearers, there is talk among GOP power forces of a brokered convention. If that appears to be happening, look for certain Republican governors to be approached to run as “Favorite Sons”. The definition of a favorite son is a state delegation sometimes nominates and votes for a candidate from the state, or less often from the state's region, who is not a viable candidate. The technique allows state leaders to negotiate with leading candidates in exchange for the delegation's support. The technique was widely used in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Since nationwide campaigns by candidates and binding primary elections have replaced brokered conventions, the technique has fallen out of use. But consider this, if Romney and Gingrich split the delegates and Santorum has a fair share too, the Convention may not nominate on the first ballot. Large states can take a portion of their uncommitted delegates and run a candidate say in Pennsylvania like Governor Tom Corbett. Corbett’s name is put in nomination on the first ballot. State GOP officials then pledge to vote on the second ballot for a candidate. In the 1960 Democratic Convention, Lyndon Johnson had many pledges of support for the second ballot if John Kennedy did not get the nomination on the first ballot. He did and made the point moot. The last time “favorite sons” came into play was the 1968 Republican Convention. Nixon came to Miami short of 50 votes for nomination. Favorite Sons that year were Senator Hiram Fong of Hawaii, Senator Clifford Case of New Jersey, Governor Raymond Shafer of Pennsylvania (who was a stand in for Nelson Rockefeller and held 22 votes in his name) Winthrop Rockefeller, Governor of Arkansas nominated receiving 18 votes, Louie Nunn Governor of Kentucky , Governor Dan Evans of Washington State and Governor Ronald Reagan of California. The conservatives rallied around Reagan giving him 182 in the final count on the first ballot. If Nixon’s totals began to falter, the role of “The Favorite Sons” listed would be to release their delegates either to the leader, Nixon or the runner up, Nelson Rockefeller. Nixon had the votes because Rocky was trailing him with a total of 250 votes. In the 1976 GOP convention, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford were fighting tooth and nail for delegates. Reagan named his Vice Presidential pick early. It was Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania delegation Chair Drew Lewis (later to become Reagan’s Transportation Secretary) reportedly said he could shake loose 90 delegates from the Pa. delegation by Reagan making the move. Reagan did get some votes from Pennsylvania but not enough to beat Ford. So when you hear the term “Favorite Son” and ‘”brokered convention”, it’s all about delegate numbers and where they can go in a tight residential race for the nomination.


It’s official, Tim Holden has an opponent for the 117th District. A district that was tailor made for a Democrat like Holden (because the GOP wanted to bolster the districts of Lou Barletta and om Marino) is now going to feature a battle royale between the incumbent Congressman and the Scranton area attorney. Cartwright kicked off his campaign for the new 17th district portraying himself as an advocate of the middle class and working families. Cartwright introduced himself as a Democrat from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. He said he would act like a real Democrat and invoked the name of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his presentation. Cartwright interestingly enough never mentioned his foe by name. The April Primary is going to be the second straight contested Democratic party primary in Northeastern Pennsylvania,


The Scranton Times reports that more than 50 Lackawanna County employees will have to reapply for their jobs if they want to be part of Democratic Commissioners Jim Wansacz and Corey O'Brien's new administration.
The majority commissioners said Tuesday they have sent or will send letters to all department directors and deputy directors, along with every solicitor, advising them to make an appointment to discuss their position if they wish to be considered for continued service in county government.
The administration will also accept new applications for all of the jobs as Mr. Wansacz and Mr. O'Brien continue what they described as a top-to-bottom review of county operations.
Mr. Wansacz said he and Mr. O'Brien have made it clear since winning the majority in the November election that they planned to evaluate every county employee. Both O’Brien and Wansacz essentially owe the county managers nothing. The practice of hiring on merit came about after the Cordaro/Munchak administration. Both Mike Washo and Corey O’Brien faced with tremendous debt were quick to streamline staff. This on going endeavor is only going to strengthen the perception that the new duo want transparency and merit. Both men were bitter primary rivals in the spring 2011 primary but ran as a team in the General Election. Patrick O’Malley former Democrat turned Republican is the minority Commissioner.


Bob Cordaro and A.J. Munchak might have been home for Christmas but whether they are going to be in town for the Super Bowl is another matter. Both men were in Federeal Court in Wilkes Barre before Judge Richard Caputo arguing for leniency in their sentences. In news interviews, Cordaro looked chastened and sincere. Munchak looked worried but resigned. Both men face sentencing on January 30th in Scranton. It should be noted that the witnesses who said they bribed both Munchak and Cordaro were never brought up on charges themselves.


He wants it to the last address of his first term. The GOP wants it to be the last State of the Union address ever. Tuesday night the President was in rare form showing some punch and fire. In his third State of the Union address, Obama issued a populist call for income equality that echoed the Occupy Wall Street movement. He challenged GOP lawmakers to work with him or move aside so he could use the power of the presidency to produce results for an electorate uncertain whether he deserves another term.
Facing a deeply divided Congress, Obama appealed for lawmakers to send him legislation on immigration, clean energy and housing, knowing full well the election-year prospects are bleak but aware that polls show that the independent voters who lifted him to the presidency crave bipartisanship. The reality of all of this is that nothing much of substance is going to get done this year. Obama is in campaign mode and did his post State of the Union address to battleground states. Obama did tout the killing of Bin Laden, the fact that his administration saved GM and that the troops are home from Iraq. Those are huge accomplishments. Those are just a few things the GOP can’t pick at him about. Meanwhile 4 GOP challengers, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul all continue to slog on in hopes of being the candidate in November to take on Obama. One has to wonder why anyone would ever want to do it after seeing the wear and tear on reputations, personal lives and even the aging process.



Ransom Young Announces Candidacy for State Representative in 116th District.
Ransom Young announces today that he is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for State Representative in the 116th district. Young, 57, a life-long resident of Butler Township with deep roots in Southern Luzerne County, owns and operates the family farm of four generations that has been enrolled under the Luzerne County Agricultural Preservation Program since 2001. He is married to Deborah Jones, formerly of West Hazleton.
Young, no stranger to civic involvement has been a member of Butler Township Board of Supervisors for 28 years and was former chairman. Young has been chairman, vice chairman and is currently treasurer of the Luzerne County Association of Elected Officials. He feels his involvement will benefit both his candidacy and the people o the 116th district. "I'm proud of the fact that Butler Township boasts one of the lowest property taxes in Luzerne County. I've worked hard over the years to make sure we've kept taxes low while still providing the services the citizens of the township deserve. Despite our low taxes we've managed to build and maintain a full time police force, provided recreational facilities and maintained good roads and invested 17.7 million dollars to update our sewage treatment plant." In describing his desire to run, Young states; "This district needs a representative that symbolizes the face of the community, and I am willing to fight for those people. I'm a blue-collar person who will use common sense when facing a problem. I think what is missing in Harrisburg is the common sense approach. As a candidate and State Representative, I promise you, no one will work harder for you than I will. I will surround myself with quality and caring people."
"The Marcellus Shale issue is something that concerns everyone. Once we lose our fresh water source, we lose it forever. We have to make sure that regulations are in place to keep our people and our water safe. We have an amazing opportunity to eliminate our dependency on foreign energy sources, if we manage it correctly. With nearly 8% unemployment in the state we must ensure that the jobs created in the gas industry are for Pennsylvania residents; we have the best skilled and most dedicated workers in America. If the gas industry paid their fair share in a severance tax, the money could go into the general fund so that the gambling revenues would go towards property tax relief as it was originally intended."
"I believe I am the best choice for this office, because I understand the issues and will represent the diverse people of the 116th district, from Huntington Mills to Hazleton. I am a farmer, worked blue-collar jobs and I have balanced budgets in local government. I'm ready to take on this responsibility and I'm asking for your support in April and November.
Ransom Young is running for the Democratic nomination for State Representative in the 116th District. A fourth generation resident of Butler Township, Luzerne County, he currently runs a family farm, and has served on his local Board of Township Commissioners for twenty-eight years, including time as Chairman. The district was comprised of the city of Hazleton; the townships of Black Creek, Butler, Conyngham, Dorrance, Hazle (part), Hollenback, Huntington, Nescopeck, Salem, Sugarloaf, and Union; and the boroughs of Conyngham, Nescopeck, New Columbus, and Shickshinny in Luzerne County.


A bill to reduce the size of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to 153 members, from the current 203 members, heads to the House floor, after the bill passed out of committee. The bill, House Bill 153, authored by Speaker Sam Smith, passed the House State Government Committee by a vote of 18-6.
“There is nothing magical about the number 203, in fact, it came about by accident, yet reports and studies have indicated that groups more than 150 tend to be less efficient,” Smith said. “Reaching a consensus with 203 people on major and controversial issues has proven more difficult in recent times.”
With 203 members, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is the second largest in the country. “In order to right-size Pennsylvania’s government, the Legislature needs to put its own house in order,” Smith said. “Today’s committee vote positions the bill for consideration by the full House in the next several weeks.”
To change the size of the Legislature requires an amendment to the state Constitution, which means the same bill must be debated and passed in two consecutive sessions, and subsequently approved by referendum vote of the people of Pennsylvania.


NARAL Pro-Choice America will mark the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade with an annual dinner on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at the Hilton Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C. The program will include remarks from NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan and a keynote address from The Honorable Patrick Murphy. In addition to the speeches and award presentation, Susie Essman, comedienne starring in the critically-acclaimed HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm, will serve as the event’s mistress of ceremonies. She has also appeared in her own half-hour HBO comedy special, made numerous appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The View, and Crank Yankers, to name just a few of her many television credits.



The Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) will air LIVE coverage of the public memorial service for former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno. Coverage is courtesy of WPSU-TV. The service, which will be held at the Bryce Jordan Center, is scheduled to air statewide on PCN beginning at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 26. The coverage will also be streamed LIVE at www.pcntv.com by clicking on the “watch now” streaming option located on the website’s homepage.
Following the coverage of the memorial service, PCN will open up the phone lines to allow viewers to share their comments about Joe Paterno with a statewide audience. Viewers are asked to dial toll-free at 1-877-PA6-5001 to participate.
Joe Paterno coached the Penn State football team from 1966 until his firing in November of last year in the aftermath of the child sex abuse charges against former Penn State football defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky. The 85-year-old former coach passed away on Sunday just months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
PCN is a nonprofit, noncommercial news organization created and supported by cable television companies. PCN receives no state or federal funding. Network programming is distributed on more than 150 cable systems in Pennsylvania serving more than 10 million Pennsylvanians in 3.3 million homes. A complete listing of PCN affiliates and network channel designations is available by visiting PCN's website at www.pcntv.com.


ECTV Live will welcome Sarah Keating, Vice President for Enrollment at Keystone College for it's weekly schedule of programs beginning on January 30th. The school will be offering some special activities to mark Black History month in February. Those, and many other free events open to the general public will be the topics of discussion for the show which, as hosted by Judge Tom Munley, was created by co-host David DeCosmo to highlight events and organizations improving the quality of life in the area. ECTV Live is available to Comcast Cable viewers on Ch19 and is presented each day at Noon and Midnight with additional 6pm showings several days during the week. You can check the complete ECTV daily schedule at http://sites. Goggle.com/site/ectvschedule/home.


This week Shadoe Steele presents Saturday Night Live at the Oldies on WILK AM and FM. The show starts at 7pm and is on until midnight with ABC News on the top of the hour. Shadoe’s guest this week is Brett Michaels, of the Celebrity Apprentice.


What it's like to run for office for the 1st time as a political novice--the good, bad and ugly. Guest: Former Hazleton Mayoral Candidate, Jeff Cusat. And at the end of this show, a discussion of Hazleton issues and Tiffany’s "polite" request of Hazleton officials...this week on WYLN TV on Th 930p, Sat 5p, Sun 11a, Mon 830p, T 930p.


This Weekend On Sunday Magazine...Brian Hughes speaks with political activist & State Representative candidate Kevin Haggerty about the school voucher bill in Pennsylvania, and issues in the 112th Legislative District. Brian speaks with Karin Volo, the founder of the website bringingjoytotheworld.com, who discusses the 4 years she spend in prison for a crime she did not commit, and how she’s dedicated to bringing joy, and helping others facing difficult situations in life. And Magic 93’s Frankie in the Morning speaks with Scott Hall & Nick Walet from the Graham Academy about their free baseball clinic for youngsters with autism and special needs. Sunday Magazine, Sunday morning at 5:30am on JR 93.7 & 97BHT, 6am on 97.9X, 6:30am on Magic 93, and 9:30am on WARM 590 AM.


U.S. astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward Higgins White, and Roger Chaffee are killed when fire breaks out in their Apollo spacecraft during a launch pad test.

In Pennsylvania as Governor Ray Shafer’s term begins, a constitutional convention was meeting to overhaul state government. Shafer had made this the very foundation of his term as Lt. Governor…..in Scranton City Councilman James Doherty criticizes the Walsh administration’s meetings with the Scranton Redevelopment Authority. Doherty says that Council members were not duly informed of the times. A meeting was held to resolve this issue and 45 years ago the number 1 song in America and LuLac land was “Kind of A Drag” by the Buckinghams.