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.
The LuLac Political Letter was also named Best Political Blog of the Year for 2014 by NEPA BLOGCON.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
The LuLac Edition #1966, February 29th, 2012
WRITE ON WEDNESDAY
RESPONSE TO OVERBILLING CONTROVERSY
This week a poster sent us communication about the Attorney billing fees sent to the Luzerne County Court by Attorney Angela Stevens of Kingston. Since the Attorney and her law firm were getting widely criticized, we ran the post. But to be fair, the thoughts here are so cogent we decided to put them up on "Write On Wednesday" to be fair to the Attorney and her firm. But more importantly to provide balance to what was originally in local papers, radio, and on this site. Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The LuLac Edition #1959, February 24th, 2012": I think the billing may actually have been an oversight. But when they were approved, by THREE layers of county government, including the THE WATCHDOG, county controller; it may have been interpreted by the attorney as "tacit approval." In other words, those who approve/disapprove payment reviewed the billings and did not find fault, so the attorney may have been led to believe that her billing was accurate. Or simply, since the billing was approved and paid, she may have not realized the oversight. If you submit something that has multiple levels of approval, and it continues to be approved, why would you think you have done something wrong? As far as the hours/day; it is not uncommon for those that bill out hourly work to add up the increments and do the billing on one day per cycle. Back in the days when the garment industry was dominant, home sewers were paid a lump sum for the work they performed. It didn't matter if the piece work was done in an hour, day or week. The work was totaled when it was delivered. As long as she can provide documentation for the actual hours worked, there should be no issue. Does it matter if she did 15 minutes on the 3rd, the 23rd and then 30 minutes on the 30th, whether she billed on each day or one? Additionally, it is also very common to factor all components of a work into a bill; ie, the prep,travel, postage,copying, etc... prior to the actual delivery of the bill. Her reasoning that it wasn't adjusted is very valid. It happens in all sorts of work, for the wage slaves out there who have never owned a business; think of going to a restaurant; the bread, accompanying sides, etc.. are all included in your bill ahead of time. If you don't eat them, or tell them not to bring them out, you are still charged. Just because she did the service at one time, doesn't mean that she may have not had the charges factored in prior to the actual delivery; and again, since the bills were approved, no wrong doing was indicated; and one could conclude, with so many layers of oversight, via tacit approval, that what was being done was legal. Unfortunately, in the climate, you will all judge her based on the accusations, prior to all facts being in.
Today is “Leap Day”. Every four years we get an extra day on the calendar. We’ll use it wisely today on LuLac. During 2011 there were a few anniversaries we failed to commemorate. We’ll do that today.
WHAT WE MISSED
The late John Heinz.
1991 was the twentieth anniversary of the death of U.S. Senator John Heinz. He was killed in a plane crash in the Philadelphia suburbs. He was doing what Pennsylvania Senators do, travel the state and speak to constituents at public meetings. Heinz was rumored to be the Republican candidate for Governor in 1994. After an 8 year Democrat stint in the Governor’s office, the pendulum was going to swing back to the GOP. Heinz was going to run for Governor and hopefully parlay that into a run for President in the year 2000. Or perhaps sooner in 1996. The Governor’s chair would give him added public administrative experience. However, then came that fateful day in April. On April 4, 1991, the energetic Senator from Pennsylvania, H. John Heinz III, talked to reporters at a news conference in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. It was important that the public be made aware of his next event, a town hall meeting in nearby Merion. There he would conduct the first in a series of hearings to investigate the telemarketing of medical equipment to Medicare beneficiaries. The topic: "Bleeding Medicare Dry: The Great Sales Scam." At the conclusion of the press conference the self confident man boarded a plane to Philadelphia on his way to meet with the editorial board of the local newspaper, before heading on to Merion. A tall, handsome athletic man, Senator Heinz was one of the most popular Senators in Pennsylvania history. He promoted those social welfare causes fellow Republicans, such as then-President George H. W. Bush, found too burdensome to business profits. True to himself and to the needs of his constituents he chose political independence with a patrician certitude. His autonomy was insured by his personal fortune of approximately $500 million dollars. In his first Senate race, he had spent $2.9 million of his own funds to back his campaign. No language speaks as loudly in Washington D.C. as cold, hard cash. Senator Heinz came to the gaming table with a well backed hand of cards. His voice would clearly be heard. John or “Johnny” as he called himself, was the only child of industrialist turned philanthropist H.J. Heinz II and Joan Diehl (Heinz) McCauley and the only grandson of H.J. Heinz, founder of the H.J. Heinz Company. H. J. Heinz made his jars clear, not green, so people could see that the pickles and tomatoes were pure. Honesty made him rich and revered by Pennsylvania citizens. The Heinz Company, famous worldwide for “Ketchup” and “57 Varieties” was one of the biggest employers in the state. Since the mid-19th century the company had provided thousands of jobs in agriculture and industry, a fact not unnoticed by voters. John Heinz was pro-peace, a bold and dangerous way to do politics any time. In his first campaign for Congress in 1971, Heinz, then age 33, had just completed his service as an enlisted man in the Air Force. Upon his return he urged President Nixon to withdraw American troops from Vietnam. Heinz also favored spending taxpayers dollars to help Americans live better. He said families who earned less than $12,000 annually should get a five percent cut in federal income taxes. He said the federal government should pay welfare costs and increase aid for education. Again his voice was heard when he won his seat in Congress. Once there, he continued to demand an early end to the Vietnam War. He even urged President Nixon to normalize relations with Cuba. In 1976 Pennsylvanians elected him to the United States Senate. Heinz promoted his own type of Republicanism even more intensely. As a Senator, he delved deeply into foreign policy. He criticized President Reagan for using the threat of deploying new weapons as a tactic to push the Soviet Union to engage in arms limitations talks. Heinz took on domestic issues to protect children and help the poor. When the Reagan administration tried to cut federal funding for school lunches for the poor by having ketchup reclassified as a vegetable to save money, Heinz stood up on the floor of the Senate and testified, “Ketchup is a condiment, not a food. And I should know.” The Senator's actions spoke eloquently about his support for the middle class and the hard working public. He pushed laws to protect Pittsburgh steel and the Philadelphia shipyards from foreign competition. He wanted everyone in the world to buy American products so Americans would have jobs and prosperity. His popularity continued to grow and respect for his positions spread beyond the state boundaries of Pennsylvania. As Heinz flew on his chartered plan to Philadelphia, he looked forward to his new town hall hearing. What would people tell him he should do to protect their Medicare benefits? How would he respond? Another Heinz investigative report was a probability. His reports had been effective as the basis for corrective legislation regarding the safety of pacemakers, the Social Security disability review process, the Supplemental Security Income program, nursing homes, hospital discharges and dialysis reuse. Heinz had become known as the “champion of the elderly”. When George H. W. Bush became President, Heinz made his biggest pitch ever to protect Social Security. Bush, on the other hand, started to invade Social Security. In 1990, on the Today Show, Heinz was asked what he thought about Bush's administration using social security funds for the general budget. He was asked whether or not he agreed with the term the Rochester Democrat Chronicle had used to describe the practice. Was it “thievery”? Heinz said, “Certainly not. It's not thievery, it's embezzlement. Embezzlement, sir, is what is going on.” In an attempt to remove the Social Security Trust Fund from federal deficit calculations, Heinz introduced the Social Security Truth in Budgeting Act (1989) and the Social Security Preservation Act (1990). He ended the financial penalty imposed on Social Security recipients who work after age 65. He succeeded in barring the mandatory retirement policies practiced by most employers. His bill ensured payment of the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) (1986). He was the key Senator who pushed through the laws to extend catastrophic Medicare insurance. He battled to provide Medicaid benefits to low-income pregnant women and children. The plane, a two-engine Piper Aerostar, reported difficulty with its landing gear and the helicopter flew nearby to help assess the problem, according to preliminary information provided by aviation officials in Washington. During this maneuver both planes were in contact with air traffic controllers and with each other, an official said. “They were under positive control,” he said, meaning that air traffic controllers were giving them instructions for flying hear the airport. The weather was good and the helicopter was flying under visual flight rules, which do not require an approved flight plan. The Senator’s plane was on an instrument-flying plan taking it from Williamsport, Pa. to Philadelphia the official said. He said the helicopter flew near the Senator’s plane once, but could not detect any problem with its landing gear. The plane flew past the airport, circling for another attempt to land At that point the helicopter made a second pass near the Senator’s plane to take another look, and the two aircraft collided. The New York Times further reported: Investigators will want to determine why the two aircraft were allowed to fly so close to each other. A more common procedure, when a plane reports problems with the landing gear, is to order it to fly low over the airport so that observers on the ground can look at its undercarriage. Sometimes warning lights in a plane’s cockpit indicate problems with landing gear even when they are properly deployed. And even with the landing gear up, it is possible to land a small plane on its belly without severe risk to occupants. Airport fire and rescue equipment would be on hand to handle any fire or injuries. The plane fell onto the grounds of an elementary school in Lower Merion Township. The Senator, two people in his plane, two pilots in the helicopter and two children playing outside at noon recess were killed. The Heinz death changed the political landscape of Pennsylvania. In 1991 a special election was held between former Governor Dick Thornburgh and sitting Bush Attorney General and Bob Casey appointed Harris Wolford. Wolford was one of the founding members of the Peace Corps. In the general with the backing of the Casey administration, Wolford became the United States Senator duly elected to fill out the term of the late John Heinz. Three years later in the 1994 election, Wolford ran against an obscure right wing religious two Congressman from western Pennsylvania. To the surprise of many, Wolford lost that election to one Mr. Rick Santorum. Santorum served 12 years in the Senate and is currently running for President.
Ms. Magazine, original cover on left, NY Magazine tribute on right.
2011 saw the 40th anniversary of the Founding of Ms. Magazine. I was in high school when this landmark magazine was founded by Gloria Steinem. Ms. magazine was featured on the cover of New York magazine, the place where it all started 40 years ago in December 2011. It was appropriate since New York‘s editor Clay Felker offered to make the very first issue of Ms. an insert in his magazine, where Gloria Steinem was a staff writer. Ms.Magazine, founded by veteran journalist and feminist Gloria Steinem and backed by glossy New York Magazine, promised to be something more: a place where women could read about real women like themselves, and connect to the nascent women’s movement - devoted to equality in the workplace and in all aspects of their lives. The right to legalized abortion and birth control was just one of many powerful issues embraced by the women’s liberation movement of the early 1970s. Like the civil rights movement, equality, justice and community were key ideals for the feminists of that era. Ms. is credited with being among the first to bring the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace to widespread attention. Ms. pointed out what women already knew: that such behavior was more than a personal violation. It forced many women to choose between their dignity and their jobs. Ms. Magazine is only quarterly now, other media is now filling in where the Magazine pioneered originally. But its impact on society and politics will outlast any number of issues it might still be destined to publish.
James Taylor and Carole King.
CAROLE KING AT 70
A few weeks back, singer/songwriter Carole King turned 70. King is one of the most prolific writers and performers of her time. As a singer, her Tapestry album topped the U.S. album chart for 15 weeks in 1971, and remained on the charts for more than six years. She was most successful as a performer in the first half of the 1970s, although she was a successful songwriter long before and long after. She had her first No. 1 hit as a songwriter in 1961 at age 18, with Will You Love Me Tomorrow, which she wrote with Gerry Goffin. In 2000, Joel Whitburn, a Billboard Magazine pop music researcher, named her the most successful female songwriter of 1955–99, because she wrote or co-wrote 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100. ]King has made 25 solo albums, the most successful being Tapestry. Her most recent non-compilation album is Live at the Troubadour, a collaboration with James Taylor, which reached No.4 on the charts in its first week, and has sold over 600,000 copies.] She has won four Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her songwriting. In 2009, Carole King was inducted into the "Hit Parade" Hall of Fame. She holds the record for the longest time for an album by a female to remain on the charts and the longest time for an album by a female to hold the No.1 position, both for Tapestry. In 2010, King and James Taylor staged their Troubadour Reunion Tour together, recalling the first time they played at The Troubadour in Los Angeles in 1970. The pair had reunited two and a half years earlier with the band they used in 1970 to mark the club's 50th anniversary. They enjoyed it so much that they decided to take the band on the road. The touring band featured players from that original band: Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, and Danny Kortchmar. Also present was King's son-in-law, Robbie Kondor. King played piano and Taylor guitar on each others' songs, and they sang together some of the numbers they were both associated with. The tour began in Australia in March, returning to the United States in May. It was a major commercial success, with King playing to some of the largest audiences of her career. Total ticket sales exceeded 700,000 and the tour grossed over 59 million dollars, making it one of the most successful tours of the year. Mrs. Lulac and I had the opportunity to see that event at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. We both marveled at how lithe and energetic King was along with James Taylor. It was n the top 5 of the concerts we attended in our lives. King’s most recent effort was a holiday album that was co produced y her daughter Louise.
Statue of the late Frank Rizzo in downtown Philly.
RIZZO’S 20TH ANNIVERSARY
2011 saw the 20th anniversary of Frank Rizzo’s death. Rizzo, former Mayor of Philadelphia died on July 16th while campaigning for a third term for his old job. Rizzo had a tremendous impact on Philadelphia politics. An extremely polarizing figure, Philadelphians were either extreme supporters or detractors. A Democrat, Rizzo's politics were primarily in the conservative wing of the Democratic party. His political appeal, however, transcended political parties. His switch from the Democratic party to the Republican party spawned a political term, "Rizzocrats" -- people who would follow Rizzo regardless of party affiliation.Rizzo was running as a Republican and even after many tumultuous years in and out of office, he was still widely regarded in Philadelphia. His relationship with the media was problematic but even 2 decades after his death, the day he died struck a chord with reporters who covered him. Rizzo had a controversial relationship with the media. He sparred with beat reporters, including Andrea Mitchell, who was one of the first female urban beat reporters, and yet hired several into city posts after his re-election in 1975. His relationship with local television news anchor Larry Kane was especially noted. Both Mitchell, in her book Talking Back, and Kane, in his book Larry Kane's Philadelphia, said that when they heard about Rizzo's death, they broke down and cried.
WALN Party Channel Girls, Vickie and Layla.
WOMEN WE LOVE UPDATE
At the end of last year, when we did our 2011 salute to “Women We Love”, we did a short feature on WALN Satellite Cable Radio’s Party Channel girl Mandee Marie. We were told by our Facebook friend, Happy Jack Burns that Mandee was no longer with WALN. That said we salute the original Party Channel girls pictured in this edition, Layla ands Vickie. Also on that “Women We love” update, Mrs. LuLac was perturbed she wasn’t included in the bunch. Needless to say, she’s always on the top of my list and I’d be in the gutter without her.
The double victory tonight in the Michigan and Arizona primaries by Mitt Romney has kept the wolves at bay and reestablished the former Governor as the front runner for the GOP. Romney scored big in the Arizona thanks to Governor Jan Brewer and Senator John McCain. In Michigan, despite some clumsy campaign events that accentuated Romney’s rich boy dorkiness, Romney won the state by about 5 points. An argument can be made that Rick Santorum lost the state rather than Romney having won it. Santorum seemed to have lost his way the last two weeks taking on the current Democratic President, Barack Obama calling him a “snob” because he (Obama) wanted everyone to go to college. What Santorum did with this was just plain Barry Goldwater wild. He talked about left wing college professors (my friend Sue Henry is a college professor and is not left wing in any way shape or form) and talked about kids being indoctrinated into a liberal philosophy. That’s absurd. Ever since the 80s, I’ve seen more pro life Reagan followers among 80% of the college age kids I ran into. And my frustration was magnified even more in the 2004 race when a majority of twenty somethings I worked with voted overwhelmingly for George W. Bush. Plus, if you are going to take on a President, try Jimmy Carter for a bad economy, not the martyred but still beloved John F. Kennedy who still has an approval rate of 80% and is ranked in the top 8 of American Presidents by historians. (And even though I grew up with JFK, that is just plain wrong). Santorum would have been better off if he had stuck with his stump speech on the economy and his Pennsylvania coal miner roots and just shut up about religion, college and contraception. And to those who say the media kept on asking him, let me say that he is the candidate, he ultimately controls the message. Romney on the other hand is well on his way to stumbling toward the nomination. The two victories have for now, temporally quelled the talk about a late entry from Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan or Mitch Daniels. It is entirely possible that the GOP might resign itself to the fact that they have a candidate who is not an exciting guy. There seems to be no real passion in Mitt Romney. But then again, there was no great passion for Richard Nixon who won two elections as President. I think if the GOP had its druthers, it would take a candidate without passion like Romney rather than an unguided missile like Rick Santorum. Santorum might have gotten away with some of the stuff he said leading up to these primaries but he looked angry. L.A. Tarone brought this up a few weeks back on Topic A. One candidate trait America does not like is an angry man. In the final analysis, maybe the GOP will pick Romney, unsure about how to connect rather than Santorum who has scared some people away with his rhetoric. Unless something drastic happens, (the next primaries are Washington and Ohio) it will be Romney vs Obama……….. or the battle of the teleprompters.
Send us your comments. And as always, thanks for reading!
Example of eye chart verification process on blogs.
The last few weeks have been challenging for many blog posters who are having difficulty posting to various blogs in the area. As many of you know, there has to be a verification process where you enter in one word followed by another. This used to be easy but for some reason the administrators who control our sites from that big IT department in Where/ever/ville, U.S.A. have made it difficult to post. I have tried numerous times to post on Mark Cour’s and Gort’s site but to no avail. The reason is I can’t make out the squiggly lines on the second verification word. My short term fix was to have you send a direct e mail to my personal address or my Facebook page. Many inquiries for our “13 Questions” feature (yes most of them are really from readers) segment as well as some of our comments come via e mail or Facebook. But there are links and sometimes it takes too much time since I know that many comments are made on the run. All of us are busy and don’t have the time to recalibrate a comment three or four times. So, I have decided to dedicate a separate e mail address for your comments. The same rules apply, I’ll edit as I see fit, most people will bitch about that, but post anyway (which I am thankful for) and life will go on in its insane manner. But……..one segment will be at least easier… you won’t get frustrated posting on eye chart like verifications that will frustrate you as much as they did me. The e mail dedicated to comments is: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll check it periodically. And we’ll publish it as soon as we access them. So go nuts. Also......and this is very important, if you want to remain anonymous and still use the Hotmail address, I will of course respect that and not put it on the blog. Simply write in the message line.....Anonymous said....................and I'll take it from there.
Patrick Murphy, Democratic candidate for State Attorney General.
Blogfest 2012 logo.
HERE COME THE ORGANIZERS!
The first signs of the Obama for President campaign have sprung up like the first flower of spring. We were informed by e mail that The Organizing for America Pennsylvania (OFA PA) staff and volunteers will hold a grand opening for their Scranton Field Office this Wednesday night at 6:30PM. The office is located at 216 Wyoming Ave. downtown. The public is invited to attend the grand opening to "learn more about OFA PA’s efforts in the area to build the strongest grassroots organization possible to re-elect President Barack Obama and Democrats up and down the ballot in November." The President has no primary opposition to speak of in the Pennsylvania primary so most of the organizing efforts will most likely center on voter registration.
BLOG FEST REMINDER
Blogfest coming in March, the 30th, Friday night, 6pm till whenever. Rooney’s Pub, downtown Pittston.
MURPHY SNARES PHILLY NOD
Tomorrow, Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 President John McNesby and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams will announce the FOP’s formal endorsement of Iraq war veteran and former prosecutor Patrick Murphy for Pennsylvania Attorney General. Lodge 5 represents 14,600 active and retired officers of the Philadelphia police and sheriff’s departments. “As the son of a Philadelphia Police officer, Patrick understands law enforcement, and has always fought for us,” McNesby said. “Whether it was fighting to put more cops on the street, or the resources we need to protect our children from sexual predators, Patrick has always done whatever it takes to keep our families safe, and Lodge 5 is proud to endorse him for Attorney General.”
The local media reported toward the end of 2011 layoffs from the Wilkes Barre Chamber of Commerce. I thought about the ramifications of that when the Chamber once more made the news with the report that they are re opening their search for a new Executive Director. Hopefully that search will be fruitful and successful because even though I’ve criticized the Chamber in the past, a lot is riding on the decision. The Chamber was in the midst of a very successful capital campaign that would concentrate solely on Chamber program development. One of the strengths of any organization is the type of programs and services they offer to its members and by extension the surrounding community. That effort was headed up by Wilkes Barre resident Frank Pasquini who until November served as the Director of Capital resources for the chamber and for four years as volunteer President of the downtown Wilkes barre business association. Pasquini has been in fundraising and development for decades with an impressive track record. Let’s hope that the new Leadership in the Chamber will recognize the strides made in the campaign and allow for its completion under Pasquini’s expertise and enthusiasm. As we say all the time here on LuLac, every decision has an infinite number of consequences. Let’s hope that when the time comes, the goals of Pasquini and the capital campaign will be reignited. WHY HIGH GAS PRICES?
Right now every person who has a car is shuddering at the prospect of paying upwards of $4.00 a gallon for gas. By summer it might be $5 or $6 bucks. The question is why? We are getting the usual boiler plate answers like trouble in Iran, uncertainty about the economy in Greece and Europe, and President Obama’s refusal to make a decision on the Keystone pipeline. Those answers are pretty much bogus. The reason why the gas prices are getting higher here is because Sunoco and the other oil companies have shut down 5% of their refineries. The reason for this is because many of them are non functioning and inadequate. The oil companies are pumping out less and our demand has stayed the same. In the meantime, while we don’t realize it, gas here in the United States is cheaper than anywhere else in the world. The oil companies can’t make a huge profit on its own country’s consumers. But the increased demands in places like China and Europe have given the oil companies a cash cow. Because they want the gas and don’t bat an eyelash at a price higher than the demarcation line of $4 a gallon, the oil companies can export gas at a bigger profit. For the first time on our nation’s history, we are more of a gas exporter than we are a producer. The oil companies make more money that way. The question that needs to be asked is this: if these 5% of refineries were so outdated and problematic, why couldn’t the oil companies use part of those huge export profits to retain or repair those refineries they say are in danger? The answer: GREED. There will be a point in this country’s history where people will start to just say no. The reason why Dunkin Donuts won’t charge $33.00 for a Caramel Latte is because no one will pay for it. There will be a point when we’ll stop paying. It might take a depression but it will happen. Or another option is this: at some point there will be a President with enough stones to nationalize the oil companies. Or at the very least put in reforms that will stop the abuses of the oil companies against citizens/consumers. Everyone decries government regulations. But as Paul Kanjorski used to say, “regulations are for that 10% of business people who refuse to do the right thing”. Right now, that’s your oil companies. And if you check out their corporate and personal wealth, they are part of the 1%. Part of the problem. Part of your fellow citizens out to screw you at every turn.
WRKC FM Award nominees: Tom Taraszewski, award nominee; Sue Henry, WRKC station manager; and award nominees Kelly Caloway, WRKC news director; Lukas Tomasacci; Sarah Scinto, WRKC program director; Christopher Wilson, WRKC station manager; and Jennifer Momenzadeh. Also nominated are Michael Deegan, Brandi George, Drake Nestor, Brandon Leon-Gambetta, Cory Zalewski and Mark Zurek. (FRom Times Leader).
MAYBE I'M AMAZED
MAYBE I’M AMAZED………that in the photo above, it looks like WRKC FM has the same albums in the background of the photo that were there when I went to King’s in the 70s. That said, WRKC is among four nominees for best radio station for colleges or universities with an enrollment less than 10,000 students. Well actually I’m not so amazed because WRKC FM has a heritage of attracting people who care about the craft of broadcasting. I was associated with the King’s station in the mid 70s and we too had our share of recognition. I always felt that the radio station always got short shrift from the “academics” at the college who wrongly looked at the radio station as just another club. This is a licensed, honest to God station governed by FCC rules and anything that is put on the air comes from a responsible and trained individual. Best of luck to the nominees. MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….that people think Bill Amesbury should not have spoken up about the closing of Myers High School at a recent public meeting. Amesbury has always been a South Wilkes Barre guy. He built his electoral reputation as a Magistrate and then a Judge by walking the neighborhoods of South Wilkes Barre. He has also been known as an intricate part of athletics in the Wilkes Barre Area. I’m glad Amesbury put to rest any concerns people might have had but as long as I’ve known the Judge, he has always been proud of his education at Myers. Once a Mohawk, always a Mohawk. MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….that it took this long for Rick Santorum’s endorsement of Arlen Specter in 2004 for the U.S. Senate over Pat Toomey in the primary to bite him. Santorum was a national figure at the time. He was directly behind President Bush when “W” was inaugurated for his second term. Specter was putting intense pressure on the White House for the endorsement from the President. Santorum, even though he was more in line philosophically with Toomey was handling many a joint project with Specter. He pretty much had to do it. But now Mitt Romney is citing the endorsement as a lack of political courage on Santorum’s part. It’s a good talking point but will not hurt Santorum’s ultimate bid for the Vice Presidency in the long run. By the way, the 2004 election was the one where I switched to the GOP to vote for Specter in the primary. Switched back to the Dems, but as a result, still get GOP e mails. MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….that American soldiers were killed by an Afghanistan soldier over a religious book. Get offended, yes. Punch them in the nose, go ahead. But the killing was nothing more than an excuse for extreme violence. We’ve been there 10 years. These people are pretty much intellectual savages that do not understand let alone be able to live by the nuances of a free government. Let’s get the hell out of the region and arm Iraq and Israel to the teeth so they can topple and annex those countries. If I were President, I’d get on the air, point to the map, (after getting everyone safely out) and say, “We’re done”. MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that the human brain takes up 2% of body weight but 20% of its energy. MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that the fourth year into his term, President Obama is still getting crap about whether or not he is an American in values. The guy has a family life that we constantly preach about. Normal. Two parents, two kids, home at 6 every night for dinner. I can’t help but think it’s racial. Sorry for all you bigots out there. MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….that we are lucking out in terms of snow storms this winter. Please keep this lucky streak rolling along. MAYBE I’M AMAZED…..that inspectors in Dunmore gave a pass to Anna Maria’s restaurant even after the Food Network found almost inhabitable conditions. Could it be that someone turned a blind eye? The show was very good and I wish the revitalized eatery much success. But there should be some questions asked regarding food and health safety. Another Scranton restaurant that I always thought was overpriced and overrated was “Amici’s”. They are going out of business and couldn’t find a buyer to take it over. The restaurant business is thankless but when some can’t even do the basics like keeping it clean, you really have to wonder. Getting back to Anna Maria’s, you have to wonder if the Food Network program, “Restaurant Impossible” might have helped them in the short run but hurt them in the long view. MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that Rick Santorum turned into a cross between Bob Dole and Phil Graham the other night during the debate in Arizona. Santorum was more of a technocrat explaining the reasons why he did things as a Legislator than what his view of the future could be. The problem with Senators running for President is that there are many votes they take as a matter of public record. Some are out of need, belief, and political expediency. In the 2008 rate, John McCain had more explaining to do since he had a record of distinction and his opponent Barack Obama did not. MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….that when the newscaster says, “There was a meeting of the Wilkes Barre City Council tonight” you just never know what you’re going to see. Thursday night tower Bob Kadluboski was doing his best Geico squealing pig imitation in front of members of Council. The ex tower was asking for public records on LAG towing receipts. The Council of course was doing what it does best, not responding and that apparently drove the Bobster up a wall. City Council Chair let the tower essentially fight with himself. Take a look:
From Mark Cour, Wilkes Barre, The Blog father. MAYBE I’M AMAZED……that there is more and more talk of a brokered convention in Tampa this summer for the GOP. A brokered convention means that not all the candidates have a majority after the first ballot. The last time that happened was in 1952 when Adlai Stevenson won the nomination for the Democrats on the third ballot. A contested convention is when candidates get to the convention with delegates pledged to them but it is so close or the front runner does not have enough for a majority. This happened in 1960 when the JFK people were about 15 votes short of a first ballot majority and 1976 when Gerald Ford led Ronald Reagan by 90 votes. Both Kennedy and Ford won on the first ballot. In this video clip, L.A. Tarone discussed a brokered convention with a caller, Tony Antonello.
MAYBE I’M AMAZED………that a 19 year old inmate (who was arrested for beating up a Chinese Food delivery man) from Pittston was arrested for rape of a 13 year old girl. He had sex with three girls under 16 who he gave the same “Promise Ring” to but that was cool with them because it was “consensual”. I didn’t know teenage tramps know the definition of that word. But I do know that even if the girls consented, this guy should be labeled as a sexual predator. MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….that the mother who had the twins in the Luzerne County jail couldn’t afford pre natal care for her twins (one who died) but certainly could get herself an Attorney to sue the County. Sue the county? For getting her to the hospital? Any judge who lets this go to a jury should be thrown out. MAYBE I’M AMAZED…….that when President Obama seemingly backed down on the Birth Control issue and Health Care for Catholic institutions, the GOP contenders did not let it go. They continued to talk about contraception even during this week’s debate. They should have started on the high price of gas and try to put Obama in the box over it. But they didn’t. President Obama may be blessed in his re-election bid more by his enemies than his own performance.
Dr. Greg House and his catch phrase, "everybody lies". But does "everybody oversight?"
Attorney Angela Stevens.
The late Henry Manarski, WWII vet and former area school board director. (Times Leader photo).
"JUST AN OVERSIGHT???"
In a report that is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, the Times Leader’s Terrie Morgan Besecker reported today that a Kingston Attorney, Angela Stevens has been double billing the County for Legal Services associated with Children and Youth. Essentially Stevens double billed the County busting a budgeted fund with an allotment of $125,000 and actually billing the county significantly more than that. Stevens herself made $144,000 in salary because of this. The Times Leader brought the information to the proper authorities at the Courthouse who were “shocked and dismayed” when told about the discrepancies. In an interview Tuesday with The Times Leader and President Judge Thomas Burke, PolachekGartley said she was distressed to learn of the newspaper’s findings. She said she would not have approved Stevens’ bills had she known about the irregularities. I’ll bet they were distressed. This is big money and to have a reporter tell you they were more diligent in reviewing bills than you were has make one think of Mike Wallace knocking at the door. The President Judge, Tom Burke did some serious back pedaling when he explained the reason why this may have happened. “There was a protocol in place. The court relied primarily on the attorney verification attached to the fee petitions. In hindsight, it’s realized perhaps there could be a system with better controls to review submissions,” Burke told the Times Leader. The Attorney versification Burke referred to was the fact that each attorney signed the billing document as being truthful and reasonable under the penalty of perjury or charges. Burke also said this about Judge Gartley, “You had an extraordinarily busy judge playing an administrative role in this area, coupled with a docket that was relentless in both family court and criminal court area,” Burke said. “Over the past two years, no judge in the history of this county has ever worked harder or taken on more responsibility.” Okay, I understand that. No one has brought more enthusiasm and hard work to the bench than Tina Gartlety but the question then has to be asked of Judge Burke. Why would you allow no one else to at least give a cursory look at these billings? There are more than 300 Court employees, all sworn to confidentiality. Could he not found a handful that could have looked at these things and maybe realized that it was not humanly possible for someone to charge for 46 hours in a 24 hour day? We are told constantly how more staff is needed in the courts and yet this couldn’t be delegated! So if you make the argument that these staff people were too busy or may have needed special training in this billing oversight situation, weren’t there a few senior Judges familiar with Children and Youth (Muroski, Augello, Toole, Mundy) who were getting paid that might have taken a peek? The lack of oversight trail was outlined in the Times Leader story. All invoices submitted by the attorneys were first presented for approval to PolachekGartley, who headed the county’s family court division in 2011. Each attorney was required to sign a document, known as a verification, under penalty of law attesting to the accuracy and reasonableness of their charges. They could be subject to charges of perjury if the information was not correct. Once the court order was signed, the order and invoices went to Chief Public Defender Al Flora Jr., who had agreed to hold the funds in his budget, even though no public defenders represented the parents. Flora also said he did not review the invoices because the money to pay the attorneys, while it was held in his account, was not his department’s money. He was simply the conduit through which the funds, which came from the county’s general fund, were disbursed. “All they were doing was utilizing a line item in my budget simply as a pass through so the invoices could get paid,” Flora said. “The court reviews the invoices for the purpose of determining the reasonableness of the bill.” Flora would sign a payment authorization form that, along with the court order and invoices, next went to Controller Walter Griffith, who issued the checks. In this case, Griffith said he did not review the invoices because he believed that had already been done by the courts. Regardless, he was not in the position to determine the reasonableness of the charges. “When the bills come over, I don’t know what an attorney is doing in court. My position is to make sure there is a payment authorization and court order,” Griffith said. “If there is an affidavit from two people, one who is a judge and one who is an attorney who did the work, who am I to question it?” So there is the trail of “not my job” that allowed this billing to go on. Burke then said he’d want the Interim County Manager to do an investigation on this. Tom Pribula was livid a month ago about the Court’s initial non cooperation about help with the budget, this sent him over the edge. He told the Times Leader, To trust attorneys to say their bills are 100 percent accurate is absurd. I don’t care if they are officers of the court,” Pribula said. “Someone from the court needed to attest to the accuracy of the bills.” Pribula and Griffith have been roundly criticized for not being administrators but just “bean counters”. But in reality, this is all about common sense. 1. You can’t take anyone except people in your immediate family at their word. 2. Given the recent scandals, especially involving Children, you don’t verify bills from Children and Youth to make sure anything resembling a “Cash For Kids” scandal happens? I’m stunned that these people never realized the Feds are still here! 3. Taking Judge Burke at his word, let’s assume that there was a tremendous screw up here given the size and scope of the County government. Government misplaces and misspends money all the time. But a private law firm or individual has to know when they are getting overpaid. If they were truly honest and ethical, would they not come forward? Attorney Stevens of the firm Pyrah and Stevens formed from the old Cordoni law firm (that also got caught up in the uninsured motorist scam in the county) did a little back pedaling herself saying that the billings were oversights. Charging $5 for a dollar coke is an oversight. These totals are in the hundreds of thousands, that’s one big oversight. Plus, in this word of Iphones, Ipads, faxes, and e mail, does an Attorney have to hand carry all these documents to the Courthouse herself? I can see Court appearances but really? A few conclusions here: 1. When the people of Luzerne County got a new Judiciary, we expected that some of this craziness would stop. Obviously it did not. The faces might have changed but not the way business is conducted. 2. A county official once told me this was “a lawyers town”. He meant that if you knew the right people, made the right connections, even if you were the right gender, you could make a lot of money. It wasn’t about qualifications or the old nose to the grindstone either. All you had to do was have the business be steered your way. This is still “a lawyers town” that in this case, have benefited from people with family problems. 3. There will be those who will put this in front of the Judicial Conduct Board but their inaction against former Judges Conahan and Ciavarella proved they are a joke. During the midst of the Judicial scandal, there was talk that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court should come in sand take over the County Judiciary lock stock and barrel. The lawyers have billing oversights, the Judiciary is either overworked or overwhelmed, the Court system is overloaded with people who owe their jobs to the club of the law, not its letter and Judge Burke has proven he is a reactive President Judge rather than a proactive one. I do not know if this was an oversight, a lie, a mistake, a mess up, ignorance or just people so loaded with work they made mistakes. I'm hoping for the best here. But someone bigger than the current President Judge needs to give us the answer. Memo to the State Supreme Court: It’s time, we’re more than ready.
EX WB POLITICO DIES
Henry Manarski of Plains passed away the other night. Manarski was a School Director in Plains and in the Wilkes Barre Area School District for more than twenty years. He was well known, well respected and well liked in political circles throughout Luzerne County. A WWII veteran, he was one of many of that greatest generation passing on. He was 86.
Gus, the second most recognized and newly unemployed groundhog in the Keystone State.
GOP candidate in the 120th Legislative District, Aaron Kaufer. (See Media Matters article)
The Final Four, Paul, Romney, Santorum and Gingrich.
HEY RICK, GET YOUR ASHES?
I was struck by this e mail that I received from the White House today. Never in my adult life have I ever seen or heard of a President making a statement about “Ash Wednesday”. Can you imagine this coming from JFK’s office? To me this is nothing but a direct “shout out” to Rick Santorum and the people on the GOP right who insist that Mr. Obama is not a Christian. Statement by the President on Ash Wednesday Today, Michelle and I honor Ash Wednesday with Christians around the country and across the world. This is at once a solemn and joyous occasion, an opportunity to remember both the depths of sacrifice and the height of redemption. We join millions in entering the Lenten Season with truly thankful hearts, mindful of our faith and our obligations to one another. SANTORUM’S ANGER PROBLEM
Rick Santorum is a sincere, engaging guy. He tells a good story. Much better and more authentic than Mitt Romney. Less professorial than Newt Gingrich. But sometimes Santorum gets too hot when he talks about religious issues. Our good friend, Joe B from the small visage of Palmerton sent this article by Michael Medverd that was in USA Today. Santorum’s anger when he discusses social issues are juxtaposed with historical trends in who we as voters pick to be our President. It’s always those with a sunnier personality. Santorum's problem became obvious at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where I heard him deliver his pitch this month to 10,000 cheering right-wing activists. The moment should have represented a joyous peak in the former Pennsylvania senator's low-budget, underdog campaign. Just three days before, he had won a miraculous triple triumph in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. But instead of conveying confidence and exaltation, Santorum wore an incongruously sour expression, surprising the festive crowd of mostly youthful admirers with a rambling message of gloom — if not doom. As his wife and six of his children stood, squirming, behind him, like uncomfortable props, the candidate scolded the assembled activists (and himself) over failings of the recent past. "As conservatives we lost heart," he sighed. "We listened to the voices who said that we had to abandon our principles and values to get things done." His address, with its overtones of guilt and martyrdom, evoked recollections of his approach to televised debates where, despite mostly lucid and aggressive performances, he alone whined openly that he received less time and attention than his GOP rivals. It doesn't help Santorum's image as a self-assured winner that he lost his 2006 re-election campaign by a devastating margin of more than 17 percentage points. Grouchy doesn't spell victory In the past 80 years, through 20 election cycles over three generations, voters consistently selected sunny, confident presidential contenders and rejected nominees who relied on anger and indignation. The only arguable exception occurred in 1968, when former vice president Richard Nixon won a close race against sitting Vice President Hubert Humphrey, described by admirers as "The Happy Warrior." Special circumstances, however, shaped the outcome. GOP handlers relentlessly promoted a "New Nixon" (who had purportedly mellowed and relaxed after eight years away from Washington) while third-party candidate George Wallace drew 13.5% of the vote with a bitter, racially tinged campaign that made even Tricky Dick look far less enraged and resentful in comparison. In other races, annoyed and grouchy contenders might occasionally win nominations — as did Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Democrat George McGovern in 1972 — but both of these self-righteous, sternly ideological U.S. senators got wiped out in crushing November landslides. Modern-era trend holds The most triumphant and popular presidents of the modern era —Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton— all connected with the public through their genial personalities and kindly, positive presentations. On the other side, most of the conspicuous losers — such as Tom Dewey in '44 and '48, Michael Dukakis in '88, Bob Dole in '96, John Kerry in 2004 — came across as gloomy, dour and negative. On occasion, the same candidate can win as a reassuring nice guy and then lose later as a Gloomy Gus. That fate befell Jimmy Carter, whose smiling "Why Not the Best?" campaign of 1976 beat President Gerald Ford and the Republicans (with their dark connections to the Watergate scandal). Four years later, the president had morphed into "Mr. Malaise" after an infamous speech and a troubled presidency, and lost badly to the incomparably affable Reagan. In the past presidential battle, the fierce, feisty John McCain (with his reputation for an explosive temper) stood little chance against the cool, collected, "No Drama Obama" with his utopian promises of hope and change. In the 1930s, the progress of the news media age (with radio and talkie newsreels) allowed more direct, intimate access to the candidates, vastly increasing the impact of personality. FDR's thrilling, resonant voice, and his jaunty self-confidence in the face of the Great Depression and his own struggles with polio, helped him defeat four less ebullient GOP opponents. The force of personality would almost certainly doom Santorum were he to challenge Obama as the GOP nominee. Though conservatives appropriately admire his dogged, faith-fueled, long-shot pursuit of the nomination, no one could associate the petulant Pennsylvanian with the politics of joy. As Election Day approaches, voters begin to focus on the fact that the candidate they select will be part of their lives, for better or worse, for the next four years. With that long-term relationship in mind, voters feel no more attracted to dour candidates than single people feel drawn to morose mates. In an era when presidential power can provoke devastating, global war, the public naturally prefers to pick a chief executive of calm, predictable disposition. In choosing presidents, the American people instinctively rally to "happy warriors." Unfortunately for Rick Santorum, grumpy warriors stand little chance. AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
Gus, Pennsylvania second most famous groundhog has been grounded. You will no longer see the Gus commercials promoting the Pennsylvania lottery because the Corbett administration “has done in a different direction”. That’s state government speak for “we have to take care of our own”. Every eight years there is a new statewide advertising campaign for Pennsylvania Tourism. The reason is similar to the guys who get picked as Revenue Secretaries. Note the campaign contributions or the connections. Pennsylvania has what is called the Gubernatorial cycle. Since at least 1954, the Pennsylvania’s Governor’s mansion has changed parties every 8 years. We all know that. However, every 8 years since the mid 80s, the state’s advertising campaign changes. The PR Einsteins who helped Dick Thornburgh become Governor in 1978 (the fine folks at Ketchum Advertising in Pittsburgh came with with the historic slogan “You’ve Got A Friend In Pennsylvania”. After Robert Casey became Governor, the state’s advertising campaign “went in a different direction”. An east coast ad agency from Philadelphia coined the term “Pennsylvania….America Starts Here”. After 8 years of a Democratic regime, in comes Erie native Tom Ridge. Ridge and his administration get a western Pennsylvania ad agency and proclaim that “Pennsylvania Memories” become the new slogan. Ridge excitedly proclaims that “Pennsylvania Memories Last A Lifetime”. In 2003 in comes big city ex Mayor Ed Rendell. Rendell took a more focused approach target marketing specific seasons. One of his most successful ventures was “Cabin Fever Month” aimed at winter travelers. Rendell also promoted a visitpa.com web presence. The lottery advertising was a component of the agency efforts. An ad for the Lottery that transcended four administrations (Casey, Ridge, Rendell and Corbett ) was the guy buying lottery tickets and giving them out to friends and neighbors as a soft snow fell. There was a choir singing and he bestows these instant tickets on everyone from the mailman to the newsstand owner. Gus became a creation of an ad agency and played off on Punxsutawny Phil, the state Groundhog. When Rendell was campaigning in 2002, he made a promise that he would journey to the western Pa. hamlet to gaze upon Phil. (He went once but never came back again). Gus was premiered in 2004 (it typically takes ad agencies a year or two to get the projects out of the gate) and was a mainstay promoting lottery tickets for all holidays and statewide events. When Ridge was elected, those in the know realized Gus was on borrowed time. Because in the time honored traditions of both Pennsylvania politics and business, all knew the Corbett people were going to be “looking in another direction”. Bon voyage Gus. You had a hell of a run , not as long as the old guy buying Pa. lottery instants but pretty good nonetheless.
COMPLAINT AGAINST MELLOW
Wilkes Barre native, Gene Stilp, a well known state government watchdog filed a formal complaint against former Sen. Robert Mellow's campaign committee. Stilp criticized the Mellow committee of spending $740,000 in 2011 on lawyers for unspecified purposes. Stilp filed the complaint with the Department of State calling for an investigation into spending by Friends of Bob Mellow, the campaign committee for Mellow who retired from the Senate in November 2010. The Harrisburg watchdog is also a candidate for Congress in the 11th Congressional district on the Democratic side.
ELECTION BOARD MEMBERS
Michael Buffer from the Citizen’s Voice reports that The Luzerne County Board of Elections chose H. Jeremy Packard as the board's fifth member. County council appointed the other four members earlier this year. The board oversees the election process in the county.Packard last fall ran an unsuccessful campaign for county council as an independent. He is still registered as an independent, Director of Elections Leonard Piazza said. Packard is from Kingston. His term on the board is four years. During the campaign, Packard was perceived as running a very lackluster campaign. The other board members are as follows: Thomas Baldino, Fairview Township, Democrat, four years. Barbara Williams, Plymouth, Democrat, two years. John Ruckno, Dallas Township, Republican, four years. John Newman, Nanticoke, Republican, two years. Len Piazza and his staff of ten run the election office.
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum traded accusations about spending, taxes and congressional earmarks in the 20th debate of the topsy turvy race for the Republican presidential nomination. Ron Paul made the statement that Santorum was a fake conservative who had voted for programs that he now says he wants to repeal. At first the odd a out seemed to be Newt Gingrich, former speaker but then he became a type of go between between the warring Romney and Santorum. Gingrich said he supported the earmarks that Romney had sought for the Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002, then accused Romney of observing a double standard by running television ads attacking Santorum for having voted for different earmarks. The former Speaker said it was silly for Romney to take the position that "what you got was right and what he got was wrong." All four candidates talked cultural issues a bit and express concern and dismay over the high illegitimacy rate in the U.S. The Michigan and Arizona primaries are next Tuesday. The debate was on CNN. ANOTHER MURPHY ENDORSEMENT
Later today, the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, one of the Commonwealth’s largest and most influential labor organizations representing nearly 80,000 workers, will formally endorse Iraq war veteran and former prosecutor Patrick Murphy for Pennsylvania Attorney General. SEIU’s endorsement is based on Murphy’s history of fighting for working families and vision for an Attorney General’s office that protects the middle class from economic crime and defends the rights of all Pennsylvanians. The endorsement of SEIU, which is highly organized and politically engaged, gives Murphy a significant electoral advantage in the April primary. MEDIA MATTERS
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Shadoe Steele this week has a guest many people have been waiting for on Saturday Night Live at the Oldies. Tune in when he interviews music great Paul Anka. Saturday Night Live at the Oldies can be heard from 7pm to midnight on WILK AM & FM with ABC News on top of the hour.
ECTV Live hosts Tom Munley and David DeCosmo will welcome Amy Betts from the Junior League of Scranton's Provisional class to their program during the week of February 27th. In an effort to promote family health the Junior League is promoting "Get Fit, Get Healthy", a Community Health and Fitness Fair to be held at Saint Stanislaus Church, at 530 East Elm Street in Scranton on Saturday, March 3rd. Ms Betts will outline plans for the free event on . ECTV Live. The program can be sen on Comcast Ch19 each day at Noon and Midnight with selected showings at 6pm.several days during the week. SUNDAY MAGAZINE
This Week on Sunday Magazine…Brian Hughes speaks with Liz Hersh from the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, who discusses the HEMAP program and its effect on mortgage foreclosures in Pennsylvania. Brian interviews Barb Sciandra from Leadership Wilkes Barre about that group's fundraising efforts to help the Wilkes Barre Free Clinic, and how you can help. And Brian speaks with Dr Jessica White about the decline in children's dental health in the U.S., and what parents can do to change this. Sunday Magazine, Sunday morning at 5:30am on WSJR & 97BHT, 6AM ON 97.9x, & 6:30AM on Magic 93 & WARM 590 AM. L.A. TARONE ON WILK
L.A. Tarone's Sunday Show from noon until 2pm welcomes State Senator John Yudichak this weekend. Yudichak will be on the show from 130pm to 2pm.
This week Tiffany Cloud’s Storm Politics program on WYLN TV is the GOP candidate for State Rep 120th District of PA, Aaron Kaufer. It is Kaufer’s first televised sit down interview and it will be a good one. Storm Politics can be seen on WYLN TV 35 Th 930p, Sat 5p, Sun 11a, Mon 830p, T 930p.
PCN AND SNARLIN’ ARLEN PCN COMPLETES THE INTERVIEW PHASE OF ITS SPECIAL ORAL HISTORY FEATURING U.S. SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER PCN, the Pennsylvania Cable Network, has just wrapped up a year’s worth of one-on-one interviews in preparation for the airing of “Arlen Specter: An Oral History.” The former U.S. Senator will reflect on his personal and professional life during a special five-part oral history series produced by the statewide network. The series is slated to begin on Monday, May 14. In 1980, Specter was first elected to represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate as a Republican in 1980. A 30-year incumbent, Specter changed party affiliation in 2009 where in 2010, he lost his Senate re-nomination. He had successfully served five consecutive terms as U.S. Senator. The Specter oral history series is the second such project for the statewide network. In December of last year, PCN produced a special oral history series with Pittsburgh native, Dick Thornburgh, former Pennsylvania Governor and U.S. Attorney General.
Jimmy Hoffa begins his 8-year sentence for attempting to bribe a jury……. The Red Guards return to schools in China…….The Queen Elizabeth Hall is opened in London……in Pennsylvania the GOP majority along with Governor Shafer propose a new budget highlighting education, expansion of the state parks program and completion of a study that would improve the quality of Pennsylvania roadways especially in rural areas……in Luzerne County, the County Republican organization begins drafting candidates for row offices. Sheriff Joseph Mock signs up for another term as the nominee for that office while Andrew Antolik is slated to run for County Treasurer in the primary…..and 45 years ago this week the number 1 song in America and LuLac land was a group out of Cincinnati called the Casinos. Their only hit reached the top ten all across the country and number 1. It was “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye”.
"Write On Wednesday" logo. WRITE ON WEDNESDAY AUSTERITY & THE COUNTY
Even though Luzerne County Council passed a budget last week, and it appears the Prison union might make some concessions, a letter writer to the Times Leader had it correct when he stated the County should adopt a plan of austerity in the next few years. Here are his thoughts: Time for Luzerne County to turn toward austerity It seems that we are at a “Y” in the road and Luzerne County has a choice to make. Is it going to continue this policy of short fixes for mounting debt, or is it going to have a new day in Luzerne County? People who work for the county already have decent salaries and benefits. Since they work for the residents of Luzerne County, it is time they share more in its financial survival. Union representative Paula Schnelly told council members to come to the courthouse and watch the laid-off workers cry. I suggest to Ms. Schnelly that she have the remaining workers – who won’t take a 2012 wage freeze or give up 12 days of paid work to help save their fellow workers’ jobs – come down and watch them cry. Interim County Manager Tom Pribula feels Chief Public Defender Al Flora will sue the county no matter what because the council is not providing his financial request. It is refreshing to note that the manager can, with council confirmation, put someone in that office who will cooperate. Councilman Rick Williams said it perfectly. We have to adopt a serious austerity concept that brings us out of this quagmire a leaner, stronger, more efficient county. Let’s hope we take that road, because we cannot continue down the one we are on now. Charles Austin Harveys Lake
Like old man river, the Hotel Sterling just keep rolling along. The streets have been blocked because the City administration is convinced someone will get hurt. My prediction is that if and when they decide to tear this thing down, it will be a lot like Rasputin. It'll take a while to kill it. Local architect Carl Handman says that maybe we shouldn't be so hasty. Handman told the Times Leader that maybe they should explore the cost of structurally securing and mothballing the landmark Hotel Sterling for possible future preservation when the economy improves. Handmanisn’t trying to stop the county from proceeding with demolition design. Both options could be bid out to determine the true costs and make an informed decision, he said. Meanwhile, Council member Rick Williams penned a letter giving his views: In September 2011 the City of Wilkes-Barre condemned the Hotel Sterling and closed adjacent vehicle traffic lanes. Not much has happened since then. At 6 PM on Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Luzerne County Council will hold a public work session to discuss the Hotel Sterling, reviewing the current status of the structure and options for its future. The focus of the work session will be on where we are and where we go from here, with an eye to the issues, costs and details of those future options. We can end the inconvenience to motorists and pedestrians, address the blighted property and bring a resolution to the issue without delaying it for months to come. For an understanding of the current condition of the building and to facilitate a healthy discussion, I recommend that all interested citizens read the documents that are available on the Luzerne County Council page of the county website at www.luzernecounty.org. Our new county government is committed to transparency and openness, so we will conduct the discussion in an open work session, but the discussion itself should not distract us from moving to resolution of the matter. My hope is that persons from the City of Wilkes-Barre, our County and City Vest can work together to decide how best to quickly resolve the situation reasonably, considering public safety, liability, and the responsibilities of all parties involved. Rick Williams Member Luzerne County Council This issue is not going away anytime soon. There are people still angry at CityVest and are wondering where that 6 million dollars went. There should be a full blown investigation into that thing. Plus, you have a citizens group wanting to save the landmark. There is no shortage of opinion on this one. The Luzerne County Council will hold a public work session at 5:15 p.m. today in the county’s Emergency Management Agency building on Water Street in Wilkes-Barre to discuss general business. Discussion on the Hotel Sterling project will begin at 6 p.m.
John Glenn's official Astronaut bio photo. (Check out the tie).
John Glenn and his capsule, "Friendship 7".
John Glenn with President Kennedy at a welcoming home hero parade.
John Glenn and Scott Carpenter in 1962 shortly before the flight.
John Glenn and Scott Carpenter at the 50th anniversary event late last week.
There was no shortage of John Glenn triple orbit souvenirs after his epic flight.
IN ORBIT: 50 YEARS ON
It was Tuesday, February 20th 1962 and I was home from school. My birthday was on the 19th and maybe it was too much cake. Maybe it was meant to be. But I found myself on the couch in our TV room early in the morning watching the news coverage of another space adventure. As a young child, I was becoming a veteran of these events. We heard about the exploits of the first American in space, Alan Shepard on May 5th just 10 months earlier. Then we bit our nails in the summer when Gus Grissom veered off course coming back from his flight. In our science class we knew those forays lasted only a quarter of an hour. This was going to be different, this was going to be many orbits around the earth. We simulated those orbits by taking our plastic red, white and blue rockets from the five and dime and walking and/or racing around our houses. Oh to only have the imagination and energy of a 7 year old again. I was constantly reminded by my father that this was not the news reel stuff channel 16 ran after the Stooges. If this was a rocket, it wasn’t a Polaris and the spaceship was not a blimp like object. This thing, like life, was straight up and down. Glenn, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, was among the seven men chosen by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1959 to become America's first astronauts. A decorated pilot, he flew nearly 150 combat missions during World War II and the Korean War. In 1957, he made the first nonstop supersonic flight across the United States, flying from Los Angeles to New York in three hours and 23 minutes. Glenn was also 40 years old. He was the oldest man to go into space. Glenn lifted off from the launch pad at Cape Canaveral at 9:47 a.m. on February 20, 1962. Some 100,000 spectators watched on the ground nearby and millions more saw it on television. After separating from its launching rocket, the bell-shaped Friendship 7 capsule entered into an orbit around Earth at a speed of about 17,500 miles per hour. Smoothing into orbit, Glenn radioed back, "Capsule is turning around. Oh, that view is tremendous." During Friendship 7's first orbit, Glenn noticed what he described as small, glowing fireflies drifting by the capsule's tiny window. It was some time later that NASA mission control determined that the sparks were crystallized water vapor released by the capsule's air-conditioning system. Before the end of the first orbit, a more serious problem occurred when Friendship 7's automatic control system began to malfunction, sending the capsule into erratic movements. At the end of the orbit, Glenn switched to manual control and regained command of the craft. Toward the end of Glenn's third and last orbit, mission control received a mechanical signal from the spacecraft indicating that the heat shield on the base of the capsule was possibly loose. Traveling at its immense speed, the capsule would be incinerated if the shield failed to absorb and dissipate the extremely high reentry temperatures. It was decided that the craft's retrorockets, usually jettisoned before reentry, would be left on in order to better secure the heat shield. Less than a minute later, Friendship 7 slammed into Earth's atmosphere. During Glenn's fiery descent back to Earth, the straps holding the retrorockets gave way and flapped violently by his window as a shroud of ions caused by excessive friction enveloped the spacecraft, causing Glenn to lose radio contact with mission control. As mission control anxiously waited for the resumption of radio transmissions that would indicate Glenn's survival, he watched flaming chunks of retrorocket fly by his window. After four minutes of radio silence, Glenn's voice crackled through loudspeakers at mission control, and Friendship 7 splashed down safely in the Atlantic Ocean. He was picked up by the USS destroyer Noa, and his first words upon stepping out of the capsule and onto the deck of the Noa were, "It was hot in there." He had spent nearly five hours in space. The flight was hailed as a success but in reality, Glenn came very close to burning up in the re-entry to earth. Years later, as stories circulated about the mission, it was evident that any space shot in the early days was anything but “a given”. Meanwhile, Glenn was hailed as a national hero, and on February 23 President John F. Kennedy visited him at Cape Canaveral. He later addressed Congress and was given a ticker-tape parade in New York City. Out of a reluctance to risk the life of an astronaut as popular as Glenn, NASA essentially grounded the "Clean Marine" in the years after his historic flight. Frustrated with this uncharacteristic lack of activity, Glenn turned to politics and in 1964 announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate from his home state of Ohio and formally left NASA. Later that year, however, he withdrew his Senate bid after seriously injuring his inner ear in a fall. In 1970, following a stint as a Royal Crown Cola executive, he ran for the Senate again but lost the Democratic nomination to Howard Metzenbaum. Four years later, he defeated Metzenbaum, won the general election, and went on to win reelection three times. In 1984, he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president. For whatever reason, Glenn could not translate his astronaut charisma to the main political stage. He was regarded as stiff and boring. He went into deep debt for only a handful (and I mean that literally) of delegates. In early 1998, NASA announced it had approved Glenn to serve as a payload specialist on the space shuttle Discovery. On October 29, 1998, nearly four decades after his famous orbital flight, the 77-year-old Glenn became the oldest human ever to travel in space. During the nine-day mission, he served as part of a NASA study on health problems associated with aging. In 1999, he retired from his U.S. Senate seat after four consecutive terms in office, a record for the state of Ohio. Glenn is 90 years old. He is one of two astronauts from the Original 7 who is still with us. (Scott Carpenter, who we saw in the 90s at King’s with Michael Collins is the other one). Glenn has the distinction of being the only astronaut to live to see the 50th anniversary of his mission. “God speed John Glenn” indeed.
Location: Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, United States
Political analyst for WBRE TV's Pa. Live program and post election commentator for WBRE TV's Eyewitness News Daybreak show. 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. Yonki was a weekly panelist on WYLN TV 35's Friday Topic A program. He also appeared on the Hazleton, PA. station on Election Night doing coverage and did special projects and stories for WYLN TV 35's 10PM Newscast "Late Edition".