Sunday, May 19, 2013

The LuLc Edition #2425, May 19th, 2013

The Lu. (Commons,



Kind of a light ballot. The big race is for Luzerne County Controller. Embattled and recently charged Walter Griffith is facing off in a primary against Karen Ceppa Hirko. Griffith was charged with three counts of wire tapping people without their knowledge. The charges come a few days before the election. Many political observers are saying Griffith is toast in the primary but Ceppa Hirko has run no campaign of notice and don’t be surprised if Griffith still has enough juice to pull this one out. 
On the Democratic side, Michele Bednar is running an aggressive well funded campaign against long time politician Steve Urban. Urban used to be a Republican but now is a Democrat. Bednar was first out of the gate spending money on TV and radio. Urban started shortly thereafter. Democrats are going to have to make a tough decision. 
Do they want a relatively young person who has shown a desire to affect change (she ran for County Council the last time around) or a perennial candidate of both parties that hasn’t yet landed on the office he feels he’s meant for? 
There are questions about all of these candidates. Should Griffith step down?  What exactly is Bednar's job with a Securities firm? Is Steve Urban an opportunist? And where is Karen Ceppa Hirko's campaign effort? 
Walter Griffith will face both the judgement of the law and the voters. I think that even though he was charged, Luzerne County voters will pick Griffith because they feel that his heart was always in the right place. 
Just take a look at these two races for Controller. Griffith's opponent is just not making her case. 
Democrat Michele Bednar at least realizes she is up against a political titan in the person of Steve Urban. In the last 14 years he has won 4 elections! Plus, he dragged his son and almost his wife across the finish line for the County Council race in 2011 to boot! 
Bednar, unlike the GOP candidate is working her ass off to make a case against Urban. Ceppa Hirko is not against Griffith. Just last night  in the mail there was a flyer from Bednar blasting Steve Urban as a political opportunist with a picture of him in red and blue to signify his switch in parties. Walter gets arraigned and there’s nothing from his opponent’s camp except a statement. 
For those looking to underestimate Michele Bednar in this race, I have two words for you: STEPHANIE SALAVANTIS!!! 
Part of the problem with the Luzerne County GOP is the fact that they don't recognize that in order to govern, you need to win elections first! Frank Trinisewski,  Christine Katsock and Steve Urban realized that. That's why they all became Democrats after knocking their heads against the wall of the Luzerne County GOP. 
If Griffith wins the primary and faces off against Bednar or Urban, there better not be any hand ringing about Griffith. Running for office means precisely that...running. I'd rather have a scarred fighter win an election than someone who didn't work for it and lucked out because criminal  charges came right before the election. The Controller’s race on Tuesday night will be interesting. 


Unlike the 2011 race, this year’s County Council race is tame. Six Democrats are running,  Michael Giamber, Renee Ciaruffoli-Taffera and Richard "Kick" Heffronn, were all involved in the planning stages of the Government Charter.  Linda McClosky Houck and Elaine Sorokus are candidates who ran once before. McCloskey Hawk won, Sorokus nearly made it. 
On the GOP side, incumbents Harry Haas and Gene Kelleher are up for reelection. They are going to take heat from the tax crazies for their vote to get more revenue but they were doing the right thing and should be lauded instead of vilified. On my ballot, I wrote them both in since there was no decision to make on the D side.
Paul DeFabo, Sue Rossi,  Alex Milanes and Kathy Dobash are the other candidates running.  There is one seat the prospective nominees are fighting for. DeFabo has been a delegate to national conventions who has been consistently voted in by the party through the years. So the candidates fighting it out will be Rossi, Milanes and Dobash. 
Rossi has run for County office before getting about 25,000 votes against entrenched incumbent Bob Riley. Milanes has been active in the Young Republicans but has had controversial differences with the party and some of its candidates. Dobash has been a dogged anti tax advocate but is seen in some GOP circles as being on the fringe. But so was a man named Walter Griffith four years ago. 
It seems to me that the last seat on the GOP side will come down to Milanes and Dobash. And the determining factor will be how many Republican voters were more antagonized by either of them and if that will sway their vote on Tuesday. In the meantime, Independent Rick Williams will be circulating petitions to run in the fall as an Independent. 


The seat to succeed Luzerne County Judge Fred Pierantoni is one of the most talked about in this election. Here are the candidates: 
Mark A. Singer, has served as an Assistant District Attorney for Luzerne County, First Assistant Liaison to the Lower Lackawanna/Upper Luzerne County Drug Task Force., Juvenile Public Defender for Lehigh County, and a Public Defender for Luzerne County. 
Art Bobbouine, 37, of Pittston, acting Luzerne County prothonotary and former chief deputy sheriff. 
Alexandra Kokura, 30, of Dupont, a Lackawanna County court master, a judicial officer for the court. 
Jeffrey Kulick, 27, of Hughestown, who runs the Kulick Law Firm in Exeter. 
Girard "Jerry" Mecadon, 47, of Jenkins Township, who runs a law office in Pittston and is an assistant public defender.
Qiana Murphy Lehman, 37, of Dupont, a Luzerne County court master and trial attorney for the Brady and Grabowski law firm. 
James "Red" O'Brien, 44, of Pittston, who is the former Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds, former Avoca mayor, and former Pittston Area School Board president. 
Len Sanguedolce, 34, of Pittston, who operates his own law office in Pittston. 
(Source: Citizen’s Voice-Bob Kalinowski) 
To me the race is going to come down to four people. Mark Singer, Alexandra Kokura, Girard Mecadon and Red O’Brian. 
Singer has a long and distinguished career and knows just about everyone. The question is can he translate the votes that got him on the Pittston Area School Board multiple times for enough to win. 
Attorney Kokura has impressed on the trail and like Singer is spending money on TV and radio. 
Girard Mecadon has been advertising, (his Pepper Cookie radio ad is wonderful) working very hard and might pull a good vote from his home areas. There is no one I know who said a bad word about him. 
And then there’s Red O’Brian. He is a wildly popular person who can take a political shot or two. But his grace is that even after a vociferous disagreement, he always extends a friendly hand and moves on. People love that about him. Those are your top four. 
And the others are all very good people too. I went to school with Art Bobbouine’s cousins and lived near one of his political buddies of the 90s Chuck Simalchik.
I knew Murphy Lehman’s dad for years and have heard good things about the other candidates. 
One thing I’m glad about in this race is this: that I no longer live in Pittston and need to choose on this one because it would be tough. I wish all of them luck. And don’t be surprised to see a nomination snared on the GOP side unless there is a stealth effort we aren’t hearing about by one of the front four to get a double. 
There are various other school board races in the county as well as municipal races for Mayor and Council. 
(See this link for the Wilkes Barre Area School Board race we wrote about last week in LuLac. ).
On Tuesday, just vote. And if you aren’t registered and follow this stuff, please register to vote for the next round.
The Lac. (



This is a very historic race this time around. First off, Bob Bolus and Gary DiBileo are not on the ballot. That’s worthy of note. And of course Chris Doherty, the three term Mayor too is not there. It is a changing of the guard. Doherty’s term has been punctuated by a mixed bag of success as well as failures. The successes were the marketing of the City of Scranton as a place to visit and host events. “The Office” in Doherty’s term helped in a huge way but Doherty had the foresight to embrace the recognition from the TV show. Dohertty failed to bring Scranton out of distressed city status and you have to wonder if anyone can at this point. 
Vying to succeed him in the Democratic primary are Liz Randol, who almost became a County Commissioner nominee in 2011, long time Councilman Bill Courtright, now Controller, Lee Morgan who has been around the block a few times politically and the head of Economic Development under the Connors administration Joseph Cardamone. The race is essentially going to come down between Randol and Courtright. 
Is Scranton willing to take a total chance with Randol who has no ties to the past 10 years of Doherty and Council or does it want a person who served on Council? Courtright can’t claim to be all shiny and new like Randol. 
The strength of each person’s organization in a low turnout primary will tell the tale. 
Morgan who has been a frequent speaker at Council meetings through the years can claim a group of like minded voters. 
Cardamone will have a block of voters committed but they are from an administration that governed in the last century. That may not translate into a first place finish. 
Look for Randol in a close race. 
On the GOP side, this race might be one to watch. Not for the GOP candidates that it produced but for what Democratic candidate might garner enough voters to win a GOP nomination. Don’t forget, in 2005,  Democrat Gary DiBileo snared the GOP nomination to face off against Doherty in the fall and in 2009 Doherty himself won the nod on the “R” side. Can Cardamone (recall his boss Jimmy Connors won as a Republican for Mayor in ’89, 93 and 97) get enough votes from the remains of the Connor organization with an aggressive write in effort? Or can Randol and Courtright grab some votes? 
If GOP candidates Marcel Lisi or Garrett Lewis have anything to say about it these Dems should have no chance for a double nomination. But Lisi did nothing but trash the community in the WILK debate (a lot of what he said was true but perhaps he could have been more diplomatic in his presentation) and Garrett never even bothered to show. Plus, the party is still smarting from the incompetent and bungling leadership of Paul Catalano as GOP Chair before the previous regime that is now trying to restore a semblance of an organization. 
Why wouldn’t a Democrat try to take a nomination that has been habitually pissed away by the Lackawanna County GOP party? The party has no one running for City Controller and Council. There, I just proved my case. 
City Council in Scranton has six candidates running. They are Pat Rogan, Tim Perry, Greg Evans, Joe Wechsler, Joseph A. Matyjevich and William Gaughan. Rogan is running for a second term and has acquitted himself well. The voters will pick three candidates. Gaughan had a disastrous radio interview on WILK which showed some pretty blatant political tone deafness. He has also been criticized for allegedly hurling anti gay slurs, being unruly and possibly intoxicated along with harassing media members during a St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Among many Democratic, Irish hard drinking Scrantonians, that might be a plus. 
For Scranton School Board, Mark McAndrew, Doug Miller, Cy Douaihy, Carol Oleski, Todd Hartman, Robert Casey, Kevin J. Manley, Bob Lesh, Robert Sheridan, James J. Timlin (not the Bishop emeritus) Tom Schuster and Tom Borthwick. Borthwick has run before, has a lot to offer and I hope he gets there. Four need to be picked, everyone has cross filed.

From You Tube, here is one of the debates for the Scranton Mayor's race: 


Five candidates are running to succeed Judge Chester Harhut as a Common Pleas Judge in Lackawanna County. The five candidates who cross filed are; Donna Davis Javitz, Patti Grande Reider, Alyce Hailstone Farrell,  P. Timothy Kelly and James A. Gibbons. 
I believe that the three women candidates will split the votes with Hailstone Farrell coming in second due to her name recognition as a District Justice. However, unlike former District Justice John Pieski in past efforts, Farrell’s district is more populous than his was so she might pull it out. 
I don’t think Henry has the name recognition so look for Gibbons to win this with Farrell coming behind and Javitz and the awful and inarticulate Grande Reider finishing dead last. Once more though, since the candidates cross filed, look for a general election match up if one of the campaigns targeted Republicans to snare a nomination. 


Lackawanna County has a Sherriff’s race, the candidates are Rob Mazzoni and Mark P. McAndrew from the Mid Valley The other candidate is Nick DeSando from Dunmore. 
Mazzoni has name recognition, both good and bad, look for him to win. 
On the GOP side, Dominick Minetti and Joseph Albert will be duking it out. 
For Recorder of Deeds, Democrat Evie Refalko McNulty has been drawing her usually huge crowds and is unopposed. Her GOP opponent will be Alice DiLeo of Scranton. 
For Register of Wills, Michael Durkin, Kim Hardiing Kelly, Fran Kovelski and Paul Nardozzi are going after that nomination. On the GOP side, Christopher Arnone is running unopposed. Unlike Luzerne County, Lackawanna County has almost made the District Attorney’s office non partisan. Once more,  Republican Andrew Jarbola like his predecessors Mike Barresse and Ernie Preate have no General Election opposition. 


In an attempt to centralize their power, the Democratic Majority County Commissioners are behind a Government Study Commission which will eliminate the aforementioned row officers of Lackawanna County. Of course the Charter will keep the Commissioner’s office so that they can appoint officials to the row offices rather than have them elected. 
This whole thing to me is pretty ironic since all of the corruption in Lackawanna County has come from that office, not any of the Rows. But we now have two blatantly politically, ambitious men who need the oxygen of a government funded job. Anyway, that’s my take. Here’s the Public Question: Shall a government study commission of seven members be elected to study the existing form of government of Lackawanna County, to consider the advisability of the adoption of an optional form of government, and to recommend whether or not an optional plan of government should be adopted? YES NO 
So, just like in Luzerne County, just in case it is voted in with a yeah and not a nay, there needs to be a seven member study commission. 
The people running are: Mike Stutz Stuchlak, Marie A. Schumacher, Mary Jo Sheridan, Robert P. Weber, Laureen A. Cummings, Maximilian Peters,  Chuck Volpe, Michael A. Dempsey,  Mary Rose McAndrew Spano, Marnie O'Dea Palmer,  Jerry Notarianni,  Diane J. Walsh,  William Shanley,  Alexander J. Chelik,  Marilyn C. Ruane,  Michael A. Giannetta,  David Wenzel,  Paul J. Catalano,  Dorothy Macciocco,  Jason M. Miller,  Frank J. Bolock, Jr,. Joseph M. Walsh,  Sharon L. Gebert,  Mirhia Noldy, Dominick Perini,  Catherine C. Hosie,  Gerrie Carey,  Joseph J. Brazil,  Joseph Albert,  Reginald H. Mariani,  Michael A. Catanzaro,  Harry Kelly,  Gary T. Duncan,  Sarah F. Walsh,  Robert Calpin,  Lorraine Stevens,  Charlie Spano and Mary L. Oleski.
If you take a look at some of the names on this ballot you’ll see some familiar ones like former Scranton Mayor David Wentzel, former Mayoral candidate Jerry Notarianni, former Congressional candidate Laureen Cummings, Insurance magnet Chuck Volpe the face of the TV advertising for this effort, Jessup Memorial Day Parade Chair Dominick Perini, the aforementioned Paul Catelano and Charlie Spano. Plus, if you couldn’t find anyone you liked in this group you could write in a vote. 
Along with this ballot, there are various School Board and Municipal races up for a nod. The ironic thing about local elections is that the turnouts are always low because there is a segment of moronic voters who think the biggest difference they can make is in a Presidential election. I say let them stay home because I don’t want their ignorance infecting the local races. But still it is a shame some people think that way.
We'll see about all of this on Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. 


At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think that even though he was charged, Luzerne County voters will pick Griffith because they feel that his heart was always in the right place."

He still has you duped doesn't he? Walter, has never been about anyone or anything than Walter. He is a megolomaniac, who never admits his own faults. He, has in the past, had a run in with the law, yes I know the charges were reduced to loitering, from soliciting a prostitute. But one time caught doesn't mean one time done.
I genuniley hope he recieves no prison time, but I would like to see him out of office and out of the limelight.
There is nothing well intentioned about recording others without notice or consent. There had been enough in the news in the past to know this was improper. It is his lack of respect, and his need to be more than he is that caused this.

At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Voting for Liz, for several reasons; she is the best, she will move our area foward, and an added bennie is that little stevie corbett is acting like a jilted lover against her. little stevie will blow a gasket if she wins.

At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yonk, Mike Giambre is running again for the Council and I have to soner if he will ever give a true and clear p icture of his fracking contract? If the voter's elect Giambre, the Fracking companies will have thir own man on County Council and how long will it be before the water from Moon Lake will be taken and used for the fracking process? Thde mot dngerous think a bout Giambre is that you have the opportunity to speak with him, you will soon learn that he is his own best supporter. He does seeem to think he knows everything and everyone else is a dummy.

At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, I'm going out on a limb and stating strongly that Alexandra Kukora will be the next DJ in greater Pittston. Voters have a chance to blow off the politicians such as:

O'Brien,,,, remember he didn't pay his taxes even though the building was rented out and he nor his Deputy thought it necessary fo them to go to work in the court house.

Len Sanguedolce has a brother who was jup to his ears in the DA's race and was rewarded by being he choice for #1 AD. First #1 AD to hold that p;osition with such little experience.

Art Bobboine who has had politica jobs since finishing lase school but has not passed the Bar.

Girard Mecadon has been a hanger on all of his adult life. He was born on third base and thinks hehit a triple. If Mecadon should win, the voting process should be eliminated and just sell the seat to thehighest bidder.

Mark Singer is a super guy and well qualified but his lack of effort to campaign up till last week, almost made him an after thought.

At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am proud to say that I was the only candidate for county council in the last election cycle that made fracking in Luzerne county my mainline issue; not a single one of my contemporaries who ran on the Republican side nor anyone on the Democrat side even touched the fracking problem or environmental issues troubling our county as a whole.


I wish all of the candidates who decided to run for County Council red letter days this Tuesday. Be proud of our county and the work you will accomplish.

- Blythe H Evans III

At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, great report. I think you are correct. Waltter will win because people still want to know what CityVest did with the money. Who will they blame when HUD comes a calling?

At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like we found someone to say a bad word about Mecadon. 11:34AM checks in.

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head about the Republican party in both counties. The Lackawanna County GOP might as well sell their nomination to the Democrats. But Connors guy might get some vots.
In Luzerne County, you are correct. Run and fight. There are people in the Luzerne County GOP who just want to be somebody....not do something.

At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I I I I'm, hooked on a Hefferenan, high on believing that he's in love with me............

At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your insight into Urban is amazing. Right, 4 elections in 14 years. And he saw how ineffectual the state GOP was when he ran against Yudichak. At least he wants to win. And Bednar might pull a Salavantis too. As always, you are right on top of this stuff.
In Scranton, I'd go for Randol.

At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(edited on Giamber) Not on Luzerne County Council.
There are two good Democrats in Sorokas and Houck. There are two exceptionally good Republicans in Kelleher and Milanes. There's one great Independent in Rick Williams.
If there is any justice in our political system, they will be the winners in November.

At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How could anyone NOT vote for Bednar. Smokin hot and great legs... She gets my vote.

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent recap, Dave.
In Scranton I would vote for Liz for change and someone different. Courtright is an old name, but I bet he wins.
Regarding the Lacka Commissioners idea to appoint row officers, I submit the following, "You cant expect most voters to know who is good and who is bad. Either they don't vote or they choose their candidates at random. Far better to let us choose for them," A Vietnamese District Chief at the time of the late 1960s elections demanded by Pres Johnson.
That's apparently the thoughts of the current commissioners in the Lac. Corey impresses me as another Bob Cordaro only I believe honest. He thought he'd be a congressman or a senator by now! Too many names, Too many elections and Too much money wasted all around. In the end like the Vietnamese we get the same old thing over and over. Just the names change.


At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Lackawanna County, Gibbons reasoning seems to be I have a large attractive family, vote for me. Todays mailing calls for a vote for my dad! On the other hand the airbrushed doctored pictures of Patti Reider are reminiscent of the Janet Evans Playboy like airbrushed pictures of a few years back. (EDITED)
It wont hurt to look like you really look if we could only forget your disaster on the Steve Corbett program! Are any of these people qualified?

At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Courtright is no Cartwright that's for sure. Deadbeat!

At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Patty Grande Reider's ad. Not so grand. She is not humbly asking for my suppot, she is HUM BAL LEY asking for my support. How do they get in law school without passing English?

At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see the Ceppa Hirko campaign put ads on WILK. She might be a Veteran and have an MBA (and I thank her for her service) but sounds silly. Go Griffth!

At 5:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vote Walter, breaking the law to uphold the law. (edited)


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