Saturday, November 02, 2013

The LuLac Edition #2552, November 2nd, 2013


Tuesday is Election Day and here are my thoughts on the big day in LuLac land. First off, since I’ve been accused of not covering enough Lac in the LuLac, let me start there.


Bill Courtright vs. Jim Mulligan. Courtright won the primary fast and pretty convincingly over Liz Randol. Courtright stumbled early on when he was delinquent on a rental fee but made up ground fast. His signs are everywhere in Scranton and if he just holds on to his primary votes, he has a good base to build on. There is no convincing evidence that he has done anything to damage that base. To use a baseball analogy, he’s ahead 7 to 0 in the 6th inning.
Jim Mulligan entered the race late because the Scranton City GOP ran two weak nominees. The guy who won resigned. (I won’t even print his name because it would be a waste of time and a reminder of just how he wasted the time of whatever is left of the GOP in Scranton, a party that by the way won 7 of the 13 Mayoral races in the last fifty years!) made it almost impossible for anyone to fill the void. But presto, just like that a Scranton Attorney with a history of unpaid bills and a sob story enters the race. Mulligan’s first mistake was to go on the Steve Corbett Show woefully unprepared. Then stories surfaced about not paying garbage feels and a few other things. Mulligan cited a near fatal accident as to the reason why he was in arrears.
The race in Scranton comes down to two candidates that have some flaws. It appears though that Bill Courtright has less personal baggage. So he should win a walk right? Maybe. The Scranton Times has endorsed Mulligan and it is being rumored that the Chamber of Commerce business types are pushing Mulligan very hard. My question has to be why? Why would a Chamber of Commerce that has done nothing to bring in livable wage jobs support a deadbeat to run a distressed city? Unless they think a guy who has skated his bills can do the same for the city? Really? That may come as a surprise to some LuLac readers who have seen many press releases from the Mulligan camp on this site. My thought process was everyone knew Courtright and as a nod to a party in Scranton that was pretty much left with a stinking heap of crap in August, well I wanted to give their nominal candidate at least some recognition. Let’s just hope Mulligan paid this poor sucker down in Virginia who is handling his media in advance. Mulligan will make race of it but Courtright wins.


This is a battle of contrasts. Michelle Bednar, Democrat, younger, financial background, tons of party support from the higher-ups, a built in base of voters from the tax collectors, a registration edge in the County and promising stability and no theatrics as Controller.
On the other hand, Carolee Medico Olenginski was tabbed late to run by the Luzerne County GOP because of Walter Griffith’s wiretap problems. Medico Olenginski has a core base of supporters that would walk on nails for her on Election Day. She began her political career as a voice in the wilderness saying the county Judiciary was a connected club and most likely corrupt. She was deemed a nut because she had no proof. But that proof arrived a few years after and her suspicions were vindicated. One still cannot discount the distrust of people even a few years after the Judicial convictions. Plus Medico Olenginski has two terms as Prothonotary under her belt and has proven she can win a County wide election. Despite Bednar’s war chest and endorsements, I believe there are enough disaffected Democrats, die hard Republicans, people who want her tenacity and openness to either preserve the charter or blow it up and former Controller Walter Griffith loyalists forming a coalition to put her over the top.


What started out as an unexciting race has turned into a donnybrook worthy of old time Luzerne County politics. This is the first time a Council has been up for reelection under the new charter. The people who are the incumbents are in a dangerous position. Unlike the old days in the County, all they have to stand on is their record. And with that record was a tax increase and the hiring of a Manager who has not endeared himself to the General Public. Plus there is a 436 million dollar debt. That debt came from previous Commissioners. Yet with that knowledge, there are voters saying we should scrap this form of government. I mean that’s crazy. That’s like after divorcing your first wife for trying to kill you with a knife, saying to your new wife who is rebuilding the wreckage of your life, that your tired of eating with plastic silverware. The second wife is trying to rebuild trust and fix the problem but you want to go back to the old ways!
The incumbents are in a bind because they did raise taxes. Rick Williams, Harry Haas, Gene Kelleher and Linda McCloskey Hauck have to defend that. What most people forget is that there should have been a bigger increase from the get go. The County has no credit rating and can’t even refinance. While the challengers have good points, one must wonder what they would have done in the same position.
The challengers, Mike Giamber, Renee Ciarfrulli Taffera, Richard Hefron, Eileen Sorokas on the Democratic side and Paul DeFabo, Kahty Dobash, and Sue Rossi have been running individually and collectively. Councilman Ed Brominski has staked his political juice on the Accountability team of Giamber, Sorokus, Taffera and Heffron. McCloskey Hauck is backed by her Council incumbents who are not running as well as labor support. The GOP has not been running as a slate with Haas and Kelleher getting flack from their own party, DeFabo calling for no taxes, Dobash calling for more transparency and no taxes and Sue Rossi doing the same.
There is no party structure to guarantee votes for anyone. Whether that will help or hurt depends on who wins on Tuesday. The ironic thing about the Council race is that the stakes are big. If any group gets a majority, the next two years in County government will be explosive. And the sad part is only 25% to 30% of the people will light the match that makes the explosion! 


There is a big race in the Greater Piitston Area for the District Justice race. Two Attorneys, Alexandra Kokura and Gerard Mecadon are running for the seat. Both are attorneys and pouring tons of money into the race. And the stakes are high. Both know that the two previous Attorneys who held the position went on to become Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judges. The District Justice seat has been a launching pad for Judicial candidates. Only one Attorney who ran for Judge from a District Justice race in Luzerne County failed to get a seat on the higher court. (The late Michael Collins of Wilkes Barre). That’s why these two are battling it out. Kokura won the Democratic nomination by a scant eight votes. Mecadon took the GOP nomination. Koukua has a lot going for her. She’s young, talented, sincere, has connected with people, has a smart ad campaign and has been a trial master. She also got the endorsement of the Wilkes Barre Citizen’s Voice citing her positive presentation as well as her qualifications. That District holds a 5 to 1 registration for Democrats. Most see this as a cakewalk.
I don’t. Here’s why.
District Justice nominations garnered by a member of an opposite party can sometimes provide a candidate a  second chance. William Amesbury won the GOP nomination with less than 500 votes in his race with Kathy O’Donnell to succeed the late Michael Collins in 2001. He went on to win in the General Election.
In 1971 Representative James Musto passed away and the Luzerne County Democratic committee named Third District Chair Roscoe Mulcahy to carry the Democratic nod in the general election snubbing Musto’s son Ray. Mulcahy had a lot gong for him. He had powerful friends, he was a popular milkman who knew everyone and seemed to have it in the bag.
But then young Ray Musto got a nomination on the GOP ticket, beating  Mulcahy in a Special Election and went on to the State House, the U.S. Congress and the State Senate. I’m going to be blunt here. The Italian vote in the Greater Pittston Ara will go for Mecadon overwhelmingly. He has the powerful and loyal backing of his own. Power brokers are on his side too. 
For most observers, Kokura has it in the bag. I think this will be closer than people think because in politics in Luzerne County, and especially Pittston, sometimes it is instructive to look at the history before you start predicting the future.


Very simple. Ned Evans former District employee vs Kathy Grinaway a widowed, working mother who has worked in the private sector all her life. Grinaway has presented herself well, Evans I’m told has not. People have told me there is nothing wrong with have former School District employees on a School Board. I agree. But you don’t want all of them to make a majority. Already political insiders are calling it “The Coaches Club”. That is just so wrong for the district. Plus look at how this district was asleep at the wheel when Attorney Anthony Lupus overcharged for professional services. They thought that was okay.
This new crew is telling you school employees have a better understanding of what the district needs. Ned Evans has said he wants to meet face to face with prospective candidates. Why not judge resumes on anonymous merit? Well, then maybe a board wouldn't get to hire a Mayor’s brother for another job on the taxpayer dime or a State Representative’s son in law as a Curriculum Specialist. Or having qualified minority employee candidates teaching in the Lehigh Valley instead of in the Wilkes Barre Araa School District where kids are  getting cut up by machetes outside their school buildings!
I have no trouble with educators being on a school board. As a matter of fact two educators served on the Wilkes Barre Area School Board with great distinction. Dr. Anthony Mussari and Dr. Tom O’Donnell served well. They knew their stuff. I’m sorry, Joe Caffrey, Denise Thomas and Ned Evans are no Mussari or O’Donnell. It’s time to put a new set of eyes on the board.
Caffrey, Thomas and Christine Katsock have double nominations. Gort 42 has made a big deal out of the fact that there are separate Katsock and Grinaway signs in the election. As well there should be. Katsock has a double and should be scared to death she will be cut by the old boys Democratic club. She is not one of them. That’s why her signs are out.
Grinaway signs are out because she has to win on her own with Republican and Democratic support. It is a race between Grinaway and Evans. It’s that simple.
Palm card made by Mondlak Printers (see that union bug??) in my 1970 race for Student Body Vice President at St. John's in Pittston.


How about those palm cards you get on Election Day? Do they help or hurt? My late uncle Timmy Pribula who served on School Boards in the 60s and 80s in Wyoming Area thought they helped. Even convinced me to print some up for a Student Government Election at St. John’s in Pittston. Mrs. LuLac eschews them but I keep them as a gesture of respect to those people wanting to be involved for whatever their motives while 70% of the other lazy idiots that live here sit on their asses drinking Keystone Light and watching “Duck Dynasty”. Watching it twice!
Like chicken soup with cold, “They couldn’t hurt”.
As for my votes on Tuesday, I’m sure of two. This is not a Lulac endorsement, I only endorsed one person in seven years. This is just what I’m thinking. I’ve known Eileen Sorokas and her husband Rich for 33 years. I played in a softball league with Rick and he was always fair with my woeful team in terms of scheduling, organization and rules. Eileen has been involved in this stuff for years and could easily have been one of the naysayers when the Charter replaced the Commissioner form of government. She took binders and studied it to better represent voters if she got elected. Her heart, mind and spirit are in the right place.
For School Director I’m voting for Kathy Grinaway. Just met her in ’11 when she ran the first time. But I’ve seen her for years. Almost every Saturday or Sunday I’d see Kathy, her husband and their two kids in church. At Christmas time I remembered her husband always wore a red sweater that could compete with any Christmas light dangling from the telephone wires on Carey Street In Plains. Years went by and the kids got older and the guy in the red sweater passed away. During her Spring primary campaign, I was in no condition to go anywhere but I did vote for her then. My interest was just on the periphery  until I did a show with L.A. Tarone and he kept on talking about how a School Board Majority can do whatever they want if they had 5 votes. Tarone said they could take a gym teacher and have him or her teach French Literature if they had the votes. After the crap this district has pulled, the Lupus stuff, the Leighton hiring over qualified candidates, Lou Elmy trying to get his wife a job, I realize I wanted Kathy Grinaway as that fifth vote.
As of now, those are the two. This past campaign has been crazy for me as a blog operator. I’m in Brominski’s camp, I’m in Bobeck’s camp. I’m for this one, I’m for that one. All I’m doing is just writing and hopefully giving you something to think about. In the meantime, in the next 48 hours I got something to do. Think. As well readers of this site should do.Then make your choice and go vote.


At 6:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am thrilled that the CV Editorial Board has recognized Kokura as the best choice to replace the Honorable Fred Pierantoni as the Pittston Area District Justice. Kokura stayed focused on the position and what it takes to be a fair and impartial District Justice. It is shameful that Jerry Mecadon allowed his hired gun, Ed Mitchell to go his usual way and begin a mud slinging campaign. I wish that Kokura ignored the mud slinging but understand the need to defend the family name. To blame her or hold her responsible for what a "cousin" is perceived to have done is beyond imagination. Of course, nothing is beyond Ed Mitchell's political imagination, especially when the thought of winning a great job is at stake. Apparently all is fair in love and war within Mecadon's campaign. There was mud available to Kokura to throw but she chose to leave family out of the election and focus on her experience making decisions as a Court Master. She could have very well made Mecadon's job in the county PD's office an issue or his wife's new position working for Congressman Cartwright an issue but she chose not to focus on family greed and how much does one family want from the public trough. I congratulate her for stopping any kind of negative response and staying focused on the position and her ability to do the job. Personally, I thank Kokura for not allowing this campaign to go the Pittston politics way of mud as usual. Good luck Alexandra Kokura.

At 7:26 AM, Anonymous JUNCTION said...

Dave, in regards to those palm cards during the elections. If you as a voter does his/her homework and check out the people on the ballot prior to election day you don't need a palm card.
If you don't know who you are voting for when you are walking into the polls on election day and need that palm card to cast your ballot you shouldn't be voting. We should all take voting seriously regardless if it is only for a couple of local positions. Spend some quality time and check out these people who will be spending your hard earned tax dollar.

At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, thoughtful, insightful, intelligent, logical and fair. This by far is the best political commentary and opinion in the region. Or the state.

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are correct about Pittston. It will be close and thanks for the historical reminder. Well put.

At 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody cares about Alexandra Kokura.

At 7:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw you on WBRE the other day. Outstanding!

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mitt Romney is back and he's got that same smirk on his face. Mitt, we rejected you hands down, remember?
You told us before how worthless and un American the President was and he still crushed you. Mitt dont bother looking at 2016. Did you forget even the Republicans admitted you were a lousy candidate? Mitt you are a footnote to history. Nothing more, nothing less. A small insignificant footnote at that.

At 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yonki, meant to tell you I heard you with Brian Hughes this morning and your analysis was outstanding. I know Brian's program was public service and was on in the early morning times but you guys were great.

At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's my 5, for Council....
Sorokas, Giamber, DeFabo, Haas and Dobash..just for laughs.

At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear 1:56 PM, apparently you care enough about Alexandra Kokura to take the time to make a silly comment. Thanks for bringing up her name again, you know what they say about PR, as long as they spell you name correctly. Thanks again. :)

At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Republican, I can only scold Haas and Kelleher for playing Bobeck's game and not standing on principles. Either of them do not have my vote.

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't apologize, Dave. There is so much more going on in the Lu and lately the Lac has become just plain boring. Maybe they peaked with the commissioners going to prison for long terms. Once again the corruption probably runs under the radar at least for now. The characters are so much more colorful in Luzerne County these days and the crime so much more plentiful and deadly. But wait, the Lac will make a comeback and then you will have plenty of material. The proud tradition of corruption will go on in both I am afraid because it is ingrained!

At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Tuesday, November 5, 2013, I make a simply plea: Please, go entire government is based off informed citizens voting to shape their government and electing quality people. Everything is based on voting, and the reflection of your government (whether state, county, federal) is based upon the votes of its people.
The plug: Vote straight conscience! Some people want you to vote straight R or Straight D, or just vote for a clever ticket name. Instead, vote straight conscience. Vote on people as individuals.
On the county Council level, there has been great effort over the past two years to turn the ship around. County government is like an aircraft carrier. It takes great effort and time to turn it, but once it does, it moves swift, straight, and true.
Four Council members, despite struggles at times, want to continue service: Haas, Kelleher, Houck, and Williams. Prior to council, they were never elected to anything, and their motives are but only for the betterment of the County, We may not always agree with the choices of elected officials, but when examining the big picture, they have provided leadership by not cowering to special interests and voting for things that are best in the "long term" for the County. Furthermore, for any ills faced by the Council, they will not sit there and point fingers at others, which is a terribly unfortunate thing for anyone to do. Instead, they dust themselves off and look forward to the next battle and finds ways to bridge the gaps with other members.
Resolution, Compromise, and Optimism are the components of any solid foundation, and Haas, Houck, Keller, and Williams will continue to build that new foundation with these ingredients.
On the fifth council spot, I have gotten to know many excellent candidates for this position, and regardless of the results on Tuesday, the council will have a new make-up. Whoever it is, I look forward to continuing a spirit of cooperation of them. Thank you for your time, and best wishes to the County going forward.
- Jim Bobeck, Esq.

At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still wish I coulda voted for Lizzie up here in the Lac. She woulda spiced things up a bit if nothin else. Drinkin and drivin and losin her gun. What a candidate she woulda made. What a mayor she mighta been. Instead we gotta chose between tweedle de and tweedle dum.

At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bobeck must think voters are stupid.


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