Monday, February 24, 2014

The LuLac Edition #2608, February 24th, 2014


Since I started LuLac in 2006, I have been publishing pretty much nonstop. The only breaks I took was when I had cancer surgery, hip surgery and the removal of a gland to deal with a neurological disease I am still coping with. (More on that when the time is right). Recently I turned 60. And I had a perfect birthday. Nothing blew up at work, it didn’t snow, I had wonderful birthday meals and got flowers at work from Mrs. LuLac. The only thing that we didn’t get to do was see Congressman Cartwright the night of his re-election announcement bid. My plans for the weekend were pretty simple. I was going to put my inspection sticker (which I got on January 19th!) on my license plate, attend the GOP Luzerne County Lincoln Day Breakfast, try to hook up with political and music buddies (or at least schedule something) and then just hang out.
So on Friday when I left work, all I wanted to do was go home and crash but Mrs. FB and my best friend from Denver, Colorado formerly of Kingston, Pa. Jim Gibson had other plans. Throughout the entire week Mrs. FB seemed to be on a mission....Moving crap, hanging up my ties (we’re down to 97 thank you very much) cleaning up the guest room, telling me to not be such a man in the bathroom, stuff like that. But working, writing and trying to deal with this winter, well to be truthful, I hardly noticed. After telling me we’re going to La Tolteco on Friday night, (I was revved up all day for that) she tells me she feels like Italian. Really? But I think, what the heck. So we go to Bettelli’s and I’m stressed because I’m wearing jeans and a shirt that is older than three quarters of the people I work with. We sit down and I’m looking at the menu. All of sudden, my friend Jim Gibson is calling me a Son of a Gun (well not really) and I think, WTF, why is he here in Wilkes Barre? Turns out that Jim, Mrs. FB and Jim’s wife Bonnie back in Denver have been planning this thing for weeks under my nose. Bettelli's was picked because when I was in college, I took my first dates there to make an impression. And you could do it for under eight bucks back then. Gibson though delighted in telling anyone who would listen at King's that all of my dates were "dutch treat". He was like a one man wrecking crew for my social life at King's. And for this reunion, no data or history was ignored. 

At the moment of surprise. (Photo: Mrs. LuLac)
After the dust settled. (Photo: Mrs. LuLac)

Days later it is still surreal. It was one of the most amazing birthday surprises I ever had. Turning 60 is not too bad after all. And it only happens once if you are lucky. I had a high school graduating class of 90, 12 of them are gone. So when it was clear Gibson was here for the weekend, we closed down LuLac for a few days. I am so touched by what they did for me this week. It is something I can never begin to repay. I wasn’t expecting this…… I guess that debunks any theory that I’m a high maintenance man! So to those of you who did not access Face book, there is no medical issue. I’m sure they’ll come because at my age they always lurk but that explains the short absence. As the Professor might say...the work continues.


Pictured at the Lincoln Day Breakfast Standing:  are District Attorney Stephanie Salavantis, Senator Lisa Baker, Dan Meuser- Secretary of Revenue - Senator John Gordner, State Representatives Tarah Toohill and Karen Boback and Bill Lewis.  Seated- Lack. Co. Chair Lance Stange, Lynette Villano, Bill Urbanski, TARS Chair Brandon Ferrance (teenage R group) and Columbia GOP Chair - Bill Toth. 
Saturday morning at Genetti’s in Wilkes Barre the Luzerne County Republican party had its annual Lincoln Day Breakfast. While tributes were made to old Honest Abe the first Republican President, the talk was firmly on the election year 2014. More than 100 in attendance heard from incumbents Lisa Baker, State Senate in the 20th, Tarah Toohil (116) and Karen Bobeck 117th) Sen. John Gordner ( 27th district) and Dan Meuser representing Governor Tom Corbett.
One of the byproducts of Home Rule has been the strengthening of the Republican party in terms of winning seats on the Council.  Now granted many will tell you it is because of the depth of the personalities of the candidates and not the party. But a win is a win. And no one can deny that many Republicans have helped the candidacy of Independent Rick Williams. Plus the win of current DA Stephanie Salavantis (albeit a close one) sent a message that if a fully funded energetic candidate beat the bushes, the local GOP could prevail despite the registration disadvantage in the County.
Regarding Statewide races, the GOP has had an impressive track record of unity. The party in both Luzerne and Lackawanna County gave Governor Tom Corbett pretty impressive vote totals in 2010 and even though people say Corbett is unpopular do not underestimate him. Despite the controversy over the gas drillers in his administration, Corbett has a large war chest. He also reduced the state budget and essentially did everything he said he was going to do when he was running. There is something to that. And let’s not forget the 8 year cycle of parties that has been in place in the Commonwealth since 1946 where each party was in office for eight years.
I was not at the event but from what I heard the enthusiasm is there for this election year from the local GOP and it will carry over long after the smell of bacon, scrambled eggs and coffee.


When the Luzerne County Transportation Authority Ghost Rider issue hit, I was pretty hard on the Executive Director Stanley Strelish. A few of my political confidants really let me have it telling me that I was unfair, jealous and that he was always on top of things and worked like a dog. Fair enough. But I know a lot of people who are on top of things and work like a dog. They get hit with new issues everyday and need to resolve them quickly. Even people in sales get a bonus based on commission. But they have to produce mightily to get that check. Stanley Strelish got a raise and I don’t begrudge anyone getting a raise. But $18,000 in one clip? When your agency is under fire? Sal Licata tells the newspapers that this was in the works before the Ghost rider thing hit the fan but isn’t this sending a signal that even though things aren’t running smoothly you still get rewarded so handsomely? There are thousands of people on the West Side alone not making a year what Strelish’s raise is.  But my friends tell me he’s a fine fellow so I guess it’s all right. But County Council Chair Rick Morelli is going to be asking for answers on this one.


The Lackawanna County Study Commission voted 7-0 to vote for a change in a new form of government. No surprise there but it seems like this thing is moving way faster to me in the Lac than it did in the Lu a few years ago. The new charter will call for 7 districts and an elected county Executive. Names being mentioned already are Commissioner Jim Wansacz, former Mayor of Scranton Chris Doherty as well as former statewide candidate and current staffer on Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s staff Joe Peters. The Luzerne County Study commission voted for hiring a manager instead of having one elected in fears that a wildly popular person might get to the be the king of the county. This will be interesting to see.


At 9:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I under stand hindsight but for the life of me I don't understand what these people in Lackawanna county are looking at. Don't they see what the fiasco in Luzerne county has turned into? Voting via Districts rather than at large means that of the total make up of county council, voters get to vote for just one and the others are untouchable. TIP O'NEILL ALWAYS SAID THAT ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL and that being true and I believe it is, the person elected in any District might just be a very popular baboon but will serve forever. Kinda like Americans hate Congress but always (most) vote for their Congressman. This is like watching the Titanic approach the iceberg.

On another note, I voted for Volpe when he ran for governor years ago and I thought is was a bright young man and he is very bright but OMG is he the political reincarnation of Haggerty? He could not sit at a meeting and allow anyone to make a point without chiming in. He has done a great job running his late father's business but he really does act like a spoiled little kid.

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Junction said...

Happy belated birthday my friend.
Sounds like you will remember turning the big 60 for a longtime to come. Very nice of the Mrs to make it happen for you.

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a long time resident living in the Lac and considering the county government issue, its impossible not to look south and be concerned. I believe the current three commissioner set up does not work because the odd man out is a wasted salary. Also on the heels of Cordaro, Munchak some changes are clearly called for and have been so far ignored. Hiring practices and vendor selection need clear guidelines and regulations. OBrien and Washo made promises they never intended to keep and that attitude continues. At the same time I think Volpe is a tad power hungry and not beyond buying a position if thats what it takes. Ive certainly had enough of Mr OBrien who initially only intended to use the job as a stepping stone to bigger and better things, but has become stuck in place. Its time for new people with new ideas, but I dont think seven of them could get together on a lunch order. I dont believe the current commissioner form works and I doubt a seven dwarfs arrangement would succeed. I guess I will have to make a decision between bad and worse and that seems to be the usual political choice in the Lac.

Old Timer

At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a one man wrecking crew for my social life" - really! The truth is Gibson was the best thing that ever happened to your sex life. How do you think you got all those women?

1970s King's Observer


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