Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2977, June 30th, 2015

I know the state has decided to put a moratorium on the death penalty. I know that we are told that criminals need to be rehabilitated. But some people are so evil that there is no redemption. Case in point were the two murderers who worked their way out of prison with tools.
When someone puts more than twenty bullets in a police officer, they don’t go into the honors program! Sorry. The good news on is dead, the other was taken alive. The good news is that these "brain trusts" had a yutz who might have been willing to have sex with them but lost her nerve when she needed to be there for them! I guess that's where the love went wrong!
The bad news is this could have been avoided if they were executed in the first place. And yes this comes from a Liberal Democrat. (Photo: Face book).


Our good friend Antoinette Kraus send some information via e mail this week. She shares great news about a grant designed to help reduce healh care costs in the state. Here’s the good news:
The Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) has been awarded a Value Advocacy Project grant of $300,000 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to improve the health care system for people in Pennsylvania.
The grant will support an eighteen month project that will work to reduce health care costs and improve health outcomes for a subset of the Medicaid population with high costs, poor health outcomes and high health needs.
In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Law Project and Project HOME, PHAN will advocate for a statewide approach to patient centered medical homes for Medicaid beneficiaries with chronic conditions; and urge the state to use Medicaid dollars to establish permanent supportive housing services for Pennsylvania’s vulnerable populations.
“As more and more individuals access health care through the Affordable Care Act and Pennsylvania’s newly expanded Medicaid program, it is imperative that we focus on how to reduce costs and improve health outcomes for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable populations. We are excited to be provided this opportunity by the RWJF to engage consumers and advocacy groups in a much-needed dialogue around health systems transformation,” said Antoinette Kraus, Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.
With the expansion of Medicaid eligibility on January 1, 2015, many more Pennsylvanians who have experienced chronic homelessness and who live with chronic health conditions have been able to enroll in Medicaid. Pennsylvania’s health plans and providers have an important opportunity to learn about this population’s needs and improve the quality of care and health outcomes. Many new Medicaid beneficiaries in this population have health needs complicated by substance use disorders and challenges related to mental health, trauma and other issues.
This project will bring together health law, housing and mental health experts and leverage consumer involvement to urge state policymakers to develop and implement new approaches to health care for vulnerable Medicaid beneficiaries, including requesting federal approval for waivers. Strategies include engaging the existing consumer advocacy community, raising public awareness, educating policymakers and state Medicaid official about the need for health systems transformation, and working with housing advocates to lift up the benefits to vulnerable Pennsylvanians of supportive housing services.
The Pennsylvania Health Access Network and other grantees in the Value Advocacy Project will pursue state and local health system changes that increase the value of health care by improving health outcomes and lowering costs, especially for populations that have disproportionately poor health outcomes. The grants will be managed by Community Catalyst in collaboration with the RWJF and are part of a broader effort to spur health system transformation to improve health care quality and make care delivery more affordable, transparent and supportive to consumers.


Monday, June 29, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2976, June 29th, 2015

The late Jay Daniels (Photo: WNEP.com)
D&W at a remote. (Photo: Times Tribune).
D & W welcoming one of thousands of interesting visitors to their daily broadcasts through the years. (Photo: Times Tribune)
If you were alive in the 80s, 90s and into the new century, the radio duo of Daniels and Webster was a major part of your life. Jay Daniels and John Webster were on WEZX FM, 107.9 during the rise of the FM frequency here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Their show, a mix of local satire, rock and roll music as well as ironic commentary was a departure from the happy chatter radio listeners here in NEPA were used to. In many ways Rock 107 and the team of Daniels and Webster broke a few molds.
The team did it without being dirty. But there were many local politicos who were not immune from their sarcasm. Even the Scranton police Department took some shots. Daniels and Webster also stood the test of the unpredictability of radio as a career. The brass at Shamrock Communications, mainly Bill Lynett stood by the two as they maintained a core audience that was the cornerstone of the 107 Classic Rock station. There were many stations that tried to imitate and copy their successful nuances but they failed while D&W just rolled on like old man river.
I first met Jay Daniels on my second interview at Rock 107 for a sales position. He was friendly and wished me well. But I got the impression that it was quite perfunctory on his part because he had seen many sales people come and go (although at that time the 107 staff was pretty stable with a lot of experienced veterans) as well as changes in General Managers.
Working with clients I had the opportunity to do some remotes with Daniels and Webster. Jay played the straight man to Webster but the two played well off of each other. He was a consummate professional and could get very testy if the copy was not correct and if the client was not happy. One time 107 landed a national pasta account and Daniels followed the sales rep (not me thank God) around the building until he could get the correct pronunciation of some item related to the copy.
At 107 on the fifth floor of the Times building there used to be a bench that was up against the wall in the bowels of the building. To the right or if you were sitting on the bench, to the left, there was the doorway to the roof where the Times tower stood. Daniels would sometimes take a break and just sit there with a cold drink. I don’t remember if he was a smoker or not. As I would head down the hall to the Sales office, there would be a booming voice saying, “There’s Dave Yonki!” It was like an introduction in his best radio voice. Talk about a morale booster.
Jay also introduced me to The Liederkranz a Scranton hideaway on Lackawanna Avenue. After every St. Patrick’s Day parade Jay either hosted or held court at the bar and you could not leave unless you had a bite of ham and cabbage. Beer was readily available but if you were a non drinker like me, hey there were no judgments.
Jay also was one of the first voices on WKRZ AM 1340 which was the old WBRE AM frequency sold to the first group that owned KRZ. Through the years Jay was the voice of Fox 56 TV doing voice over works as well as doing many projects for his dear friend Susan Kolesar from The Artemis Media Group. At a staff party he was fun but not over the top. Plus he was the type of person who readily welcomed non broadcast people in his presence. At one Christmas event, my wife asked where the stage names Jeff and John came from Jay explained that it was a derivation of Daniel Webster. He must have been asked that question a million times but told it again as if it was the very first time.
Jay Daniels passed away Sunday at the age of 62 succumbing to cancer. Newswatch 16 opened up its story on his passing by saying it was a sad day for the radio community in our area. That was an understatement. He will be missed but fondly remembered.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2975, June 28th, 2015


If you are on Face book you’ll see many people changing their profile photo to reflect a rainbow. Governor Tom Wolf did it yesterday.
On Friday night the White House also was bathed in the rainbow colors. A few people on Face book commented that it was an “In your face” taunt from The White House.
I’m not sure I would go that far but I can understand how some people might think that.
While I have always been a supporter of gay marriage, primarily for the protection of the financial rights of a deceased partner, I have to say I’m not comfortable with using The White House as a prop. It has always been deemed the people’s house and there are some Americans who need to evolve on this issue. Lighting up the White House is not the right way to sway people who still need time to be supportive and get on board with you. Comments made to me have indicated that there are many religious people who feel this action was an exclusion of their Christian values. Again, I don't agree with that but I understand their point. 
It should be enough for The President that the law was upheld by the Supreme Court. Again, I am for this monumental change but I think better judgment should have prevailed in this case. It looked nice but it is something I personally would not have done. Perhaps the President was overcompensating for his coming late to this party. Let’s not forget it wasn’t until Vice President Joe Biden went on national TV and supported this thing that the President changed his stance. His administration should give the same chance to those not as enthusiastic as he.


Senator John Blake. (Photo: John Blake newsletter).

This past week there was concern that the 66th Armored Brigade Combat Team out of Scranton would be in financial peril and/or transfer of its operations. State Senator John Blake gave information on a resolution in the State Senate to protect the 55th. Here is a statement from Blake’s on line newsletter.
A concurrent state Senate Resolution urging the United States Army to reverse its decision to deactivate the 55th Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) in Scranton unanimously passed the state Senate on June 22.
Senate Resolution 149 also urges the United States Congress to take all necessary action to prohibit any force structure changes; to prohibit any transfer of AH-64 Apache helicopters from the National Guard to active duty; and to maintain the PA Army National Guard at 350,200 soldiers until the National Commission on the Future of the Army (NCFA) has reported its findings to the U.S. Army.
The continued operation of the 55th Armored Brigade is critically important not only to our state and national security, but to the economic strength of Scranton and Northeastern Pennsylvania. There are more than 3,500 Pennsylvanians who capably and selflessly serve our country as members of the 55th Brigade. These fine men and women deserve unwavering support and we cannot stand by while the Army moves to deactivate this proud and decorated unit.
The geographic presence of the 55th ABCT is important not only in response to the Army’s requests for mobilization, but it is absolutely vital in order to remain agile in response to state and federal emergencies in PA and in our surrounding states. Further, the National Guard is a tremendous economic value to the Army. A drilling Guardsman or Woman costs approximately 15% of the cost of Active Duty Soldiers and – even when mobilized by the Army under Title 10 terms and conditions – the National Guard imposes costs at 80 to 95 percent of the cost of Active Duty Soldiers with no loss in quality, reliability or capability.
Several Regiments within the 55th ABCT trace their origin to the Revolutionary War and are among the oldest in Pennsylvania. These Regiments, including the 109th Infantry, the 109th Field Artillery; the 103rd Armored; and the 104th Cavalry have been decorated for meritorious service in every theater of engagement since, including for recent service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I commend the efforts of U.S. Senator Bob Casey as well as Congressman Matt Cartwright on this matter and thank all of my colleagues in the Pennsylvania state Senate, particularly, Senator Lisa Baker, Senator John Wozniak, and Senator John Yudichak, for their support of this resolution and the 55th ABCT.
Here’s the ink to Senator Blake’s site. http://www.senatorblake.com/enews/2015_6_24_55th_Brigade.htm


Saturday, June 27, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2974, June 27th, 2015


(Photo: islotmachines.com)
 Okay now things are getting ridiculous. A State Representative from Western Pennsylvania, Nick Kotik, wants to get slot machines into the six international airports in the state of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia International Airport, Lehigh Valley International Airport, Harrisburg International Airport, Erie International Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport as well as little ole AVP can join up with their local casinos and put one armed bandits in the airport. The thinking is people will gamble there while they wait for their flights.
I was for Casino gambling. I think any gambling, done in a responsible manner can add revenue dollars to the Commonwealth. But when that revenue is diverted to rich business people looking for handouts to “create jobs”, gambling money shouldn’t be used for that. It should be used for letting your friendly State Representative go out and write a check for Community Development. It should be used for what it was intended. PROPERTY TAX RELIEF!!!!!
The proposal would put money back into the airports to improve the infrastructure in those locations. I wish there would be a State Representative that would ask where the hell is the property tax reform and where is the relief?

Congressman Matt Cartwright. (Photo: LuLac archives).
Two years ago this week the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder essentially gutted voting rights protections. On this anniversary, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright has renewed his commitment to ensuring all Americans enjoy access to the ballot box by reintroducing the Time Off to Vote Act with the support of 25 colleagues.
The legislation would require employers to grant their workers at least two hours of paid leave to vote in federal elections. Such a provision already exists in 24 states, and this bill would act to ensure that citizens everywhere have a voice in their government, regardless of where they happen to work.
“At a time when some states are actually going out of their way to attempt to make it more difficult for Americans to vote, we must understand that the right to vote is essential to our democracy,” said Rep. Cartwright. “While the days of poll taxes and literacy tests are behind us, impediments to voting still remain.”
Employers in 26 states are not required to give their workers paid leave to vote. In 19 states, employers are not required to let their employees leave work to vote at all. In this environment, employees can be actively prohibited by their employers from leaving work to vote, and many others choose not to attend the polls because they simply cannot afford the 1-3 hours of unpaid time that voting often requires. For example, an individual working a 40-hour job at minimum wage would forgo 5% of their weekly salary if they take off two hours to vote.
“We can no longer afford laws that push people out of the electorate. For the United States to be a true democracy, every eligible American must be able to cast a ballot without suffering a burdensome economic sacrifice,” said Rep. Cartwright. “Voting should not be a luxury that only the well-off can afford.”
The legislation has received the support of Common Cause, the NAACP, and Project Vote.

The LuLac Edition #2973, June 27th, 2015

(Photo: www.styleweekly).
This week The Citizen’s Voice’s James Halpin did a story on what some of the local folks think about the Confederate Flag. The comments were both varied and stunning. One person stated that it was a symbol of freedom. He also mentioned a “colored” friend of his who he stated wore a Confederate flag bandana. The man’s age was listed as 42.
Another guy said he had his flag on his truck, he too saw it as a symbol of freedom and thought it was cool. He’s 47 and went on to tell about his 16 year old son that has rebel bed sheets, a rebel shower curtain and even a tattoo on his arm that surprise, surprise has gotten him into fights with African American students.
A few things here. When I was growing up there were people of my parent’s generation that used the word “colored” and said other questionable things. But they didn’t have the education nor the knowledge of how offensive their behavior was. But when they were schooled, they stopped.
What is truly depressing is that the under 40 age group equates The Confederate flag with freedom. Freedom is the most bastardized word in the English language these days. If these guys mean they are free to be well you know, unknowingly non tolerant, then fine.
But there is cause and effect here. The Civil War was fought because the South wanted to keep Slavery. The North did not. The South seceded from the Union fighting for the right to maintain slaves under that flag. They were fighting to preserve the practice of keeping human beings in slavery. THAT AIN’T FREEDOM!
Finally this, the flag was pretty much dormant until George Wallace started flying it in Georgia as a “screw you” to Attorney General Robert Kennedy and the AG’s office. Wallace was blocking the doorway of a school preventing a black student from being educated.
It’s about freedom all right but it is about denying freedom to a race, and a segment of this population that helped grow this country. One has to wonder why the guy from Nanticoke said he was the only one around town who had a flag on his truck. Believe what you want but somewhere along the numbers have to have an impact. When you’re the only one and your kid is getting in fights over it, maybe it’s time to rethink this thing. Heyna?

The LuLac Edition #2972, June 27th, 2015


Bill Cosby is combating efforts by The Associated Press to unseal motions from a lawsuit he settled with a former Temple University employee. The 2005 lawsuit was settled and the documents were sealed.
But now the AP wants those records. The confidential settlement was the result of a lawsuit accusing Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at Cosby's home.
Cosby’s lawyers said the release of the information might prejudice him with other future juries. Here’s my question, when is a settlement not a settlement?
More than a dozen women have accused Cosby of defaming them when spokespeople of Cosby said they were liars. The comic icon wants their claims thrown out in the discovery phase. At this point Cosby has never been charged with a crime related to those charges. However this could be the match that lights that fire.

The State Capitol. (Photo: AP).
Governor Tom Wolf has said he will veto the State budget if the GOP controlled Houses pass it without some provisions. In an e mail Wolf stated, Here's my pledge to you: I will veto any budget that reaches my desk that isn't structurally balanced and doesn't require the oil and gas companies to pay their fair share in order to fund our schools. We're faced with a choice in Pennsylvania: we can continue with the status quo that hasn't worked or we can move forward toward a commonwealth that gives everyone a shot at prosperity.
I choose to stand on the side of progress, and I'm excited to fight for that with you.
With large Republican majorities in Harrisburg, I knew change wasn't going to be easy, but they cannot continue to ignore our mounting problems: Pennsylvania ranks near the bottom in job growth; we have the nation's most inequitable schools; and we have some of the highest property taxes in America.
We must do better, but to do so requires a different path, and that's why I simply refuse to allow Harrisburg to do the same thing again and again.
Let's demand they get serious about reform and pass one that's really balanced. Let's demand a historic investment in education. Let's make the oil and gas companies pay their fair share to fund our schools. And let's pass the largest property tax cut in the history of Pennsylvania. Wolf outlined his thoughts simply with these graphics.
Wolf's e mail even sent this chart. 
Wolf is asking interested parties to join his PAC that is designed to change Harrisburg. Here is that link: http://action.WolfForPa.com/Pass-the-Budget

The LuLac Edition #2971, June 27th, 2015

Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Photo: New York Times).
Diana Ross and The Supremes sang “You Can’t Hurry Love, you just have to wait”. Most of America has been saying that for decades to same sex couples. But today the discussion on whether same-sex marriage should be allowed in the United States was put to rest and finally settled. Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled gay and lesbian couples can get married anywhere in the country. Anywhere.
“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in the historic decision. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”Marriage is a “keystone of our social order,” Justice Kennedy said, adding that the plaintiffs in the case were seeking “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”
The 14 states that had banned gay marriage are Georgia, Ohio, Texas, Arkansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, most of Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Tennessee must now comply with the law. . Those states must now lift their bans and allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Marriage licenses were already being processed as early as Friday afternoon in many of those states.
Now religious organizations are exempt from this ruling. They can still make their own decisions about whether clergy will conduct gay marriages in their places of worship. Southern Baptists, Mormons and other conservative churches that believe God intended marriage to be a union only between a man and a woman said the ruling won't change their decisions not to allow same-sex marriages in their churches
AOL reported that there’s an estimated 390,000 married same-sex couples in the United States, according to the Williams Institute, which tracks the demographics of gay and lesbian Americans. Another 70,000 couples living in states that do not currently permit them to wed would get married in the next three years, the institute says. Roughly 1 million same-sex couples, married and unmarried, live together in the United States, the institute reported.
So June 26, 2015, will go down in history books as the moment gay marriage was declared legal across the United States. Supreme Court, 5 to 4.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2970, June 26th, 2015

Mrs. Ted Cruz. (Photo: CNN)
Texas Senator Ted Cruz took to the Senate Floor yesterday saying that in 2016 there must be a Republican President who will repeal Obamacare. Here’s what he said.

But if Cruz and his crazies  do repeal Obamacare as they are fond of calling it, he’ll leave his wife who took the health care plan without insurance. Just saying.


Governor Tom Wolf will be withdrawing his plan to set up a state-based health insurance market after the Thursday Supreme Court ruling on subsidies of the Affordable Care Act.
Wolf said, " As a result of this decision, roughly 382,000 Pennsylvanians will keep their much-needed assistance to help them afford health care. I am pleased to say that we will no longer need to rely on this plan."


Congressman Matt Cartwright, issued a statement calling The Supreme Court decision called “a relief” for an estimated 17,000 people who would have lost their insurance in his district.
“It’s also a relief for the rest of us, as a contrary decision would have initiated a death spiral in insurance markets such as Pennsylvania, where premiums would have risen dramatically,” he said. (AP)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2969, June 25th, 2015


President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at signing of ACA bill. The Vice President said it was a big deal. Still is. (Photo: CNN).
The Affordable Care Act was again upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. A court that has been regarded as a conservative court. The Affordable Care Act is now law. A few things here:
1. It helps Americans get insurance.
2. The Act makes certain people with pre existing conditions get coverage.
3. There are now caps put on Health Care Insurance company surpluses and excesses.
So may of my Republican friends say their costs have gone up. It is because of Insurance companies that have million dollar surpluses, have a policy of hiring family members that would put Chicago ;politicos to shame and giving large buyouts to CEOs who ran a service that most people needed.
The GOP and all the other people will scream socialism and other half truths. But the fact of the matter is YOUR Supreme Court, your court of Scalia voted 6 to 3 to uphold the law.
The 6-3 ruling, which upheld financial aid to millions of low- and middle-income Americans to help pay for insurance premiums regardless of where they live, was the second major victory in three years for The President and the American people.
Here is what the President said today:
Five years ago, after nearly a century of talk, decades of trying, a year of bipartisan debate -- we finally declared that in America, health care is not a privilege for a few, but a right for all.
Over those five years, as we’ve worked to implement the Affordable Care Act, there have been successes and setbacks. The setbacks I remember clearly. (Laughter.) But as the dust has settled, there can be no doubt that this law is working. It has changed, and in some cases saved, American lives. It set this country on a smarter, stronger course.
And today, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law; after a presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law; after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court -- the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.
This morning, the Court upheld a critical part of this law -– the part that’s made it easier for Americans to afford health insurance regardless of where you live. If the partisan challenge to this law had succeeded, millions of Americans would have had thousands of dollars’ worth of tax credits taken from them. For many, insurance would have become unaffordable again. Many would have become uninsured again. Ultimately, everyone’s premiums could have gone up. America would have gone backwards. And that’s not what we do. That’s not what America does. We move forward.
So today is a victory for hardworking Americans all across this country whose lives will continue to become more secure in a changing economy because of this law.
If you’re a parent, you can keep your kids on your plan until they turn 26 -- something that has covered millions of young people so far. That’s because of this law.
If you’re a senior, or an American with a disability, this law gives you discounts on your prescriptions -- something that has saved 9 million Americans an average of $1,600 so far.
If you’re a woman, you can’t be charged more than anybody else -- even if you’ve had cancer, or your husband had heart disease, or just because you’re a woman. Your insurer has to offer free preventive services like mammograms. They can’t place annual or lifetime caps on your care because of this law.
Because of this law, and because of today’s decision, millions of Americans who I hear from every single day will continue to receive the tax credits that have given about eight in ten people who buy insurance on the new marketplaces the choice of a health care plan that costs less than $100 a month.
And when it comes to preexisting conditions -- someday, our grandkids will ask us if there was really a time when America discriminated against people who get sick. Because that is something this law has ended for good. That affects everybody with health insurance -- not just folks who got insurance through the Affordable Care Act. All of America has protections it didn’t have before.
As the law’s provisions have gradually taken effect, more than 16 million uninsured Americans have gained coverage so far. Nearly one in three Americans who was uninsured a few years ago is insured today. The uninsured rate in America is the lowest since we began to keep records. And that is something we can all be proud of.
Meanwhile, the law has helped hold the price of health care to its slowest growth in 50 years. If your family gets insurance through your job -- so you’re not using the Affordable Care Act -- you’re still paying about $1,800 less per year on average than you would be if we hadn’t done anything. By one leading measure, what business owners pay out in wages and salaries is now finally growing faster than what they spend on health insurance. That hasn’t happened in 17 years -- and that’s good for workers and it’s good for the economy.
The point is, this is not an abstract thing anymore. This is not a set of political talking points. This is reality. We can see how it is working. This law is working exactly as it’s supposed to. In many ways, this law is working better than we expected it to. For all the misinformation campaigns, all the doomsday predictions, all the talk of death panels and job destruction, for all the repeal attempts -- this law is now helping tens of millions of Americans.
And they’ve told me that it has changed their lives for the better. I’ve had moms come up and say, my son was able to see a doctor and get diagnosed, and catch a tumor early, and he’s alive today because of this law. This law is working. And it’s going to keep doing just that.
Five years in, this is no longer about a law. This is not about the Affordable Care Act as legislation, or Obamacare as a political football. This is health care in America.
And unlike Social Security or Medicare, a lot of Americans still don’t know what Obamacare is beyond all the political noise in Washington. Across the country, there remain people who are directly benefitting from the law but don’t even know it. And that’s okay. There’s no card that says “Obamacare” when you enroll. But that’s by design, for this has never been a government takeover of health care, despite cries to the contrary. This reform remains what it’s always been: a set of fairer rules and tougher protections that have made health care in America more affordable, more attainable, and more about you -- the consumer, the American people. It’s working.
And with this case behind us, let’s be clear -- we’ve still got work to do to make health care in America even better. We’ll keep working to provide consumers with all the tools you need to make informed choices about your care. We’ll keep working to increase the use of preventive care that avoids bigger problems down the road. We’ll keep working to boost the steadily improving quality of care in hospitals, and bring down costs even lower, make the system work even better. Already we’ve seen reductions, for example, in the number of readmissions at hospitals. That saves our society money, it saves families money, makes people healthier.
We’re making progress. We’re going to keep working to get more people covered. I’m going to work as hard as I can to convince more governors and state legislatures to take advantage of the law, put politics aside, and expand Medicaid and cover their citizens. We’ve still got states out there that, for political reasons, are not covering millions of people that they could be covering, despite the fact that the federal government is picking up the tab.
So we’ve got more work to do. But what we’re not going to do is unravel what has now been woven into the fabric of America. And my greatest hope is that rather than keep refighting battles that have been settled again and again and again, I can work with Republicans and Democrats to move forward. Let’s join together, make health care in America even better.
Three generations ago, we chose to end an era when seniors were left to languish in poverty. We passed Social Security, and slowly it was woven into the fabric of America and made a difference in the lives of millions of people. Two generations ago, we chose to end an age when Americans in their golden years didn’t have the guarantee of health care. Medicare was passed, and it helped millions of people.
This generation of Americans chose to finish the job -- to turn the page on a past when our citizens could be denied coverage just for being sick. To close the books on a history where tens of millions of Americans had no hope of finding decent, affordable health care; had to hang their chances on fate. We chose to write a new chapter, where in a new economy, Americans are free to change their jobs or start a business, chase a new idea, raise a family, free from fear, secure in the knowledge that portable, affordable health care is there for us and always will be. And that if we get sick, we’re not going to lose our home. That if we get sick, that we’re going to be able to still look after our families.
That’s when America soars -– when we look out for one another. When we take care of each other. When we root for one another’s success. When we strive to do better and to be better than the generation that came before us, and try to build something better for generations to come. That’s why we do what we do. That’s the whole point of public service.
So this was a good day for America. Let’s get back to work.


Here’s what Congressman Lou Barletta said about The Supreme Court decision.
“Obamacare has been a deeply flawed and poorly drafted law since its inception. The haphazard way in which it was originally written has allowed the Obama Administration to bend and change the law to match its own whims, regardless of the wishes of the American people. I disagree with this ruling, but we must move forward.
“Obamacare has failed in so many of its promises that it’s been hard to keep track of them all. Premiums have increased, and people have lost their favorite doctors and health insurance policies. Businesses have been burdened with higher costs and workers have lost their jobs. The law has been a drag on the economy, which we see suffering under a lagging recovery even today. Obamacare began with an embarrassment of a website, and continues to cause damage to this day.
“I remain a supporter of the Empowering Patients First Act, which would repeal Obamacare and replace it with a market-based approach that would allow individuals and small businesses to pool together and buy insurance across state lines. We should provide tax credits for people buying health insurance. We should also protect people with pre-existing conditions, and allow young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance, but we can do it in a way that does not create a monstrous federal bureaucracy and drive prices through the roof.”


Finally here’s what I say to the people who have been fighting this thing for years. By the way the people fighting this “have theirs” This is a law for Americans who need care to get it and PAY for it. It is not free.
It is time as K.C. and The Sunshine Band said to” give it up. It is not going away. 

The LuLac Edition #2968, June 25th, 2015


Even though the pension for retired Scranton employees was received under dubious and unclear circumstances, there are debates raging about what to do. Here’s my solution. But first, here’s why I’d never be on Scranton City Council.
a. I have a modicum of a brain
b. A modicum of common sense.
An investigation will tell the tale as to how this whole thing was maneuvered. A criminal investigation. They should look at the Attorney who signed off on it as well as the fiduciary officers of Scranton, elected and non elected.
Even though the pension was received under dubious methods, it still is nonetheless a pension. Might not have been earned but people, even political slugs feeding at the trough of a dying city deserve some lead time to make plans.
When the pension fund dries it, so do the payments. It was extra money they didn’t deserve.
Mayor Court right transferred control of the City pension program over to the state. This should not be part of it.
In the meantime, let’s honor the officer of Auditor General and look into this. The AG’s office put time and energy into trying to explain this breathtakingly stupid move.

Mayor Tom Leighton, Lori Nocito and John Maday. (Photo: Times Leader).
Wilkes Barre Mayor Tom Leighton is going out in style. Tuesday the Mayor was the recipient of the “I Believe” Award from the Wilkes Barre Chamber of Commerce. It is hard to imagine that it has been ten years since the Mayor launched his “I Believe” slogan. Embraced by many, ridiculed by others the slogan and what it stood for never was put on the back burner by the Mayor. He never wavered from asking the citizens of the city to have a vision of better things. The event was held at The FM Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. Leighton joined two other worthy recipients, Lori Nocito from Pittston and John Maday from Wilkes Barre. Nocito has been front and center in efforts to rebuild Pittston and Maday has been the guy who helped make Riverfest every June the major event it has become.
Before a crowd of 400 Leighton said “My speech 10 years ago was not about bricks and mortar, it was about the mindset of the city. The latitudes and the attitudes were going in the wrong direction and changes were needed. I believe that there are many, many more people who chose to believe in our great city than those who have not”.
Leighton has had detractors but you cannot argue this fact. Leighton is leaving this city in better shape leaving then when he arrived. When he took office he walked from City Hall to a downtown hotel to symbolize that change begins with a few steps. That’s why Wilkes Barre has gone from those steps to a big leap in progress. The base is set, now all the successors need do is build on it.

The Hit King. (Photo: Rivercity Rascals.com).
I am the biggest Pete Rose booster you will ever find. But the guy just can’t get out of his own way. Just as he was set to be welcomed back to Cincinnati for the All Star Game in a few weeks, and just when people were beginning to say “yeah, give him a shot”, the revelation came that he did in fact bet on baseball as a player manager. His own team but betting nonetheless.
This provides a perfect out for the Commissioner. He can make Rose eligible for the Hall and let the voters decide. With this new revelation of non total disclosure Pete will lose fair and square.


Anyone want to bet that the top bidder was The University of Scranton?

 Pa. Governor Tom Wolf. (Photo: Philly.com).
Tom Wolf doesn’t need anyone to paint a rose on him. The Governor Realizes that if he a chance of getting any part of his agenda through he needs new Democrats to try and break the GOP juggernaut in the House and Senate. Wolf’s pack is called “Rebuild Pennsylvania” and he has funded part of it.
The GOP in Pennsylvania is saying the Governor is paying more attention to politics during budget time. But you know what, let’s see how much cooperation he gets in this budget. Wolf is not an unreasonable man. Let’s see if the GOP he wants to work with will accept at least some of his ideas. If they do, that’s a plus. If they don’t, then maybe the timing of this new PAC just might be the thing to let the people holding p progress that this guy means business. The GOP majorities are daunting in both Houses but Tom Wolf has had major political challenges before. Those thinking this effort might be impossible should remember that. 
Meanwhile there is late word today from WFMZ in Allentown that Democrats say Wolf may veto the GOP budget. 




Summer events in the Endless Mountains are the subject of discussion on ECTV Live during the week of June 29th. David DeCosmo and co-host Rusty Fender welcome Jean M. Ruhf, Executive Director of the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau to the program which can be seen on Comcast Channel 19 (61 in some areas). ECTV Live is broadcast several times each day throughout the week.


This Week on Sunday Magazine
Brian Hughes speaks with Chuck Tatlebaum, a prominent bankruptcy attorney about the future of shopping malls in America, and he has some advice for the new owners of the troubled Mall at Steamtown in Scranton.
Brian speaks with Sandra Serhan, Event Coordinator for Lake Fest 2015 at Harvey's Lake coming up at the end of July. And Brian speaks with Carol Kennedy about her ongoing battle with heart disease, and a fundraiser for her coming up on July 3rd in Wilkes Barre.
Sunday Magazine, Sunday morning at 5am on NASH-FM, 93.7, 5:30am on 97BHT, 6am on 97.9X & Sports Radio 590, WARM, and 6:25am on Magic93.


Tune in to Sue Henry's "Special Edition" this week as Sue recaps the week's news. Special Edition is heard Saturdays and Sunday on these Entercom stations, WILK FM Saturday at 2pm Sunday at 6 am on Froggy 101 Sunday at 7 am on The Sports Hub 102.3 Sunday at 7 am on K R Z 98.5 Sunday at noon on WILK FM 103.1.


Want to hear some great parodies on the news? Tune in to WILK Radio at 6:40 and 8:40 AM on Mondays. As Ralph Cramden used to say, “It’s a laugh riot!”


Tune in Wednesdays on WILK Radio for Karel on the Street. Hear some of the funniest and heartwarming comments on the issues of the day on Webster and Nancy with Karel Zubris.


Every Wednesday at 5PM, Steve Corbett shines the light on a Public official with his “Somebody’s Watching Me” segment. Corbett picks an alleged public servant to eye ball and observe. Batten down the lawn furniture in the driveway and that e mail machine. There is nowhere to hide when “Somebody’s Watching”. Wednesdays at 5 on WILK’s Corbett program.

Our 1965 logo.

Police in Algiers break up demonstrations by people who have taken to the streets chanting slogans in support of deposed President Ahmed Ben Bella….The Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea is signed in Tokyo…..A U.S. Air Force Boeing C-135 Stratolifter bound for Okinawa crashes just after takeoff at MCAS El Toro in Orange County, California, killing all 85 on board…1st US ground combat forces in Vietnam authorized by President Lyndon B. Johnson...................Princess Beatrice & Claus von Amsberg announce their engagement…US President Lyndon B. Johnson...The NFL grants Atlanta Falcons a franchise…..in Pennsylvania, Joseph Barr seems on his way to a second term with minimal opposition. Barr called for more redevelopment of the city and in Scranton Joseph Eden says he will campaign with incumbent Bill Schmidt who he opposed in the primary. The Mayor beat him 10 to 1 but I’m sure accepted the help and fifty years ago this week the number one song in LuLac land an America was “I Can't Help Myself” by The Four Tops. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2967, June 24th, 2015


Our “Write On Wednesday” logo.


In her Zeroing In column this past weekend, The Times Leader's Betty Rocograndi highlighted the continued nepotism and cronyism of the Wilkes Barre Area School Board. Note carefully the actions of Lou Elmy (running for Council in District B, if anyone in that district DOES NOT vote for Tony Brooks they are really doing their community no good at all, only Mr. Elmy) and Ned Evans. Evans beat out Kathy Grinaway in the general election of 2013 mainly because Grinaway ran alone after being dumped by her so called running mate Christine Katsock,. Katsock pretty much sat like a bump on the log at events where Grinaway had to fend for herself. So instead of getting the fifth vote she needed to control the board, she got Evans whose claim to fame in the ’13 race was to make a fool of himself on The Sue Henry Show. Why that isn’t on You Tube I still can’t imagine. Anyway, here’s Betty’s piece from The Times Leader for this weeks "Write on Wednesday”.
Fresh off their unpopular votes to close Meyers High School, spend about $100 million to build a new one at Coughlin and not allow the public to have a say about the matter in November’s election, two Wilkes-Barre Area School Board members once again demonstrated they will do as they please.
What pleased them Monday night was hiring a few more relatives.
You GOTTA be kidding, you say. Why be surprised when this was simply business as usual for this group?
Remember the nepotism policy the Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center’s joint operating committee discussed back in February? It’s obviously still on the back burner collecting dust. But with good reason.
Board member John Quinn, one of WBA’s representatives on the CTC board, said in March that any such policy this board passes must be done right.
So meanwhile, with no obstacle blocking its path, the CTC board voted to hire the niece of Louis Elmy and the daughter-in-law of Ned Evans. Elmy and Evans both represent WBA on the CTC board.
Business as usual
Both directors are also kind of shameless. And so is the rest of the board’s WBA contingent, Denise Thomas and Quinn, who voted for both hirings, and James Susek, who voted only for Elmy’s niece. Don’t they see or care how the public they just snubbed in their home district perceives this?
Elmy and Evans didn’t vote for their relatives because they can’t. So they abstained. But it’s apparently acceptable for a board member to make the motion to hire his kin because Elmy, the personnel committee chairman, did just that. He wasn’t at the meeting but participated via a conference call, the Times Leader reported.
So after he got the ball rolling, his fellow board members did the rest. And that’s the way it’s done at this school.
Crestwood School District representative Gene Mancini, who in March brought up the preposterous idea of implementing a nepotism policy at a school where nepotism reigns supreme, said he asked for an update at the April meeting. He said Quinn first corrected him that it was a hiring not a nepotism policy that was being considered. Then he informed him a board committee was discussing it.
Now don’t laugh, but Ned Evans, who’s daughter-in-law was hired Monday, is on that committee. So we’re guessing nepotism isn’t a very big concern of his.
Regarding the job Elmy’s niece, Samantha Elmy, got, administrative director Frank Majikes reassured everyone that she was the only candidate who applied for the newly-created $32,000 position of child care group assistant. He also said the job was advertised “all over.” So what’s a board to do? Obviously be thankful that at least a board member’s relative wanted it.
As for Evans’ daughter-in-law Nicole Stella, Majikes said she was the best qualified candidate out of four or five interviewed for the $15.72 per hour custodian job. He didn’t need to tell us that. It’s a given that when there’s competition, more often than not the most qualified candidate just happens to be related to a school director.
$450,000 loan
In addition to expanding its family of CTC staff members, the board also voted Monday to borrow $450,000 for its new day care program. Mancini said when that program was first proposed last year, three of the five member districts’ superintendents were opposed, saying there were better programs to enhance the career center’s curriculum. But what do superintendents know about education?
He also said some on the board expect this program, which includes an on-site day care center, to be a money-maker. Maybe it will be after that $450,000 loan is paid off.
The loan was approved, Mancini said, so the school wouldn’t have to deplete its capital reserve fund. It will be used, among other things, to pay the salaries and benefits for the four people hired Monday for the new program, including school director Elmy’s niece. You can’t make this stuff up.
Also at the meeting, Mancini told the board to “stay tuned” because Crestwood has hired a Pittsburgh law firm to fight for an extra seat on the board.
Just what the CTC needs, two Crestwood representatives hounding the board majority to stop hiring their relatives.
So stay tuned.
Will Crestwood get a second seat at the table?
Will a nepotism, er hiring, policy ever see the light of day?
And whose son, daughter, nephew, niece or grandchild will be the next most qualified candidate hired at the Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center?
EDITOR'S NOTE: Here is the link to this column from The Times Leader as well as the comments the article generated. http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/153006070/

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2966, June 23rd, 2015


On June 23, 1972 after the valiant efforts of thousands sandbagging on the dikes – the water came over and through the protective levees, flooding homes and businesses with water that stretched miles across the Wyoming Valley. What happened was the worst flooding of the Susquehanna River Basin on record.
Tuesday will mark the 37th anniversary of the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Agnes.
In Pennsylvania, an estimated $2.8 billion in damage was incurred – translating to about $14 billion in today’s dollars. Considering the magnitude of the disaster, relatively few lives were lost. However, in Luzerne County, more than 25,000 homes and businesses were either damaged or destroyed, and the devastation was estimated to be $1 billion. (Times Leader).
The Agnes Flood changed the face of the Valley, gave residents an idea of what government could do for them and what they could also for for themselves.
Agnes was called Dan Flood’s finest hour. He used his power but had the help of a Federal government only too willing to help in an Election Year. Plus in Congress there weren’t fools like Ted Cruz who would tell you “We can’t vote for aid until we know how to pay for it”. He stood by that statement until his state was flooded. There were less morons in Washington then.Thank goodness. Here's what it was like before June 23rd, 1972.

Then the waters came.

The LuLac Edition #2965, June 23rd, 2015


It was announced the other day that Nnticoke, a town that was under the distressed city designation has come out from under it. Granted Nanticoke is much smaller than Scranton but everyone pulled together to make this happen.
Plus there has been great efficiency in putting the town finances back together again. An organization that never got any money under the distressed city banner, even though i was mandated is now getting what it needs. Just one anecdote on how Nanticoke did it.
Kudos to the entire team that listened to the Pennsylvania Economy League, took their recommendations and ran with them.
Note to Scranton and the others, when someone offers you way out, don't tell them you want to do it your way. That only worked for Sinatra, Elvis and Paul Anka!!


A report released by the Keystone Research Center examines the economic consequences of the state’s failure under former Gov. Tom Corbett to take a balanced approach towards resolving Pennsylvania’s fiscal challenges, beginning with his first budget in June 2011. This brief is particularly timely as the General Assembly debates another potentially pattern-setting budget under a new governor.
Although deeply scarred by the Great Recession, Pennsylvania weathered the recession better than most states and emerged in 2010 with brisk job and economic growth, the paper’s authors, Dr. Mark Price and Ellis Wazeter, found. “But the wind was knocked out of the Pennsylvania economy in late 2011, as school districts cut staff in the wake of Gov. Corbett’s first budget. Over the next four years, school districts across the state shed 32,000 workers. These job losses also slowed overall employment and economic growth in Pennsylvania,” said Price, KRC labor economist. “It took several years but Pennsylvania has finally shaken off the negative effects of those first deep budget cuts and, so far in 2015, is experiencing its fastest job growth since 2010.”
Still the pain of those early budget cuts has left Pennsylvania lagging the rest of the country in job growth, labor market slack (unemployment and underemployment rates) and tax revenue growth. Among the paper’s findings are that, thanks in part to a cuts-only approach to the state budget:
Overall job growth from January 2011 to January 2015 was just 2.6% compared to 7.6% nationally, leaving Pennsylvania ranked 48th for job growth among the 50 states.
Pennsylvania’s underemployment rate (a broad measure of joblessness that includes the unemployed, people working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job and discouraged workers who have stopped looking for a job) declined from 13.9% in 2011 to 11.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the national underemployment rate fell nearly twice as much – from 15.9% to 12.0%. The commonwealth ranked 40th among states based on the decline in its underemployment rate from January 2011 to January 2015.
The growth of tax revenues from the first quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2014 was just 2.3%, compared to 12.8% nationally. As a result, Pennsylvania fell from sixth highest in tax revenue growth the year before Gov. Corbett took office (first quarter of 2010 to first quarter of 2011) to 43rd place over the next four years.
“The final verdict is in – you can’t cut your way to prosperity,” Price said. “As Pennsylvania faces more difficult budget choices, policymakers need to learn this lesson from recent experience. The failure to take a balanced approach – looking for cost savings but also new revenues – since 2011 operated as a drag on the economy and makes Pennsylvania’s budget choices this June more difficult. What Pennsylvania needs now is a turnaround budget that combines sound fiscal management with investments in education, job creation and communities.”

The LuLac Edition #2964, June 23rd, 2015

Congressman Lou Barletta. (Photo: LuLac archives).
Congressman Lou Barletta introduced the “Visa Overstay Enforcement Act of 2015,” which for the first time makes overstaying a visa a criminal offense rather than a civil offense. Under the legislation, a first instance of staying in the United States beyond a visa’s expiration date would be a misdemeanor, while subsequent infractions would be felonies. The bill brings penalties for visa overstays into line with existing law for unlawfully crossing the U.S. border. Barletta introduced similar legislation in the previous Congress.
“The 9/11 Commission Report taught us that many times, valid travel documents are terrorists’ best weapons. And terrorists want two things most of all: to be able to get into this country, and to be able to stay here,” Barletta said. “More than 40 percent of the illegal immigrants present in this country came here legally only to have their visa expire – and then never left. It’s why I have always said, if your state is home to an international airport, then you effectively live in a border state.”
The Visa Overstay Enforcement Act of 2015:
Criminalizes the overstaying of a visa.
Makes the first offense a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Makes subsequent offenses felonies, punishable by up to two years in jail, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
Places restrictions on future reentry by those convicted of visa overstays.
First-time offenders may not reenter the country for five years, or be granted a new visa for ten years.
Those with multiple visa overstay convictions may not be readmitted into the U.S. for life.
Allows for case-by-case exceptions for individuals who overstay a visa for medical necessity, public safety, or national security.
Provides multiple notices of a visa overstay offense by requiring the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of State to disclose the penalties to visa applicants both upon application and then upon admission.
“We now know that several of the hijackers on September 11, 2001 had overstayed their visas for months before the attack,” Barletta said. “It’s time that we made this serious violation of our immigration laws more than just a civil slap on the wrist.”


Monday, June 22, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2963, June 22nd, 2015

Representative Matt Cartwright. (Photo: LuLac archives).
Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright released the following statement announcing his support for 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:
“America needs a President who will make income inequality and rebuilding the middle class a priority, will be a champion for education, will fight for access to paid family and medical leave, and will fulfill the promises we’ve made to our seniors and our nation’s veterans. I am proud to stand beside Secretary Clinton and strongly support her candidacy to be our next president.”

The LuLac Edition #2962, June 22nd, 2015

On Father's Day, there are a few people who might tell you The Holy Father was a little cranky. Or honest.
Pope Francis Sunday denounced what he calls the "great powers" of the world for failing to act when there was intelligence indicating Jews, Christians, homosexuals and others were being transported to death camps in Europe during World War II. For years his own church, my church has been defending the role of Pope Pius XIIth in the Holocaust so that was intereting.
He also decried the deaths of Christians in gulags in Russia under the Stalin dictatorship, which followed the war.
The pope's harsh assessments came in impromptu remarks during his visit to Turin, northern Italy, when he told young people he understands how they find it hard to trust the world.
"The great powers had photographs of the railway routes that the trains took to Auschwitz to kill Jews, Christians, homosexuals, everybody," Francis said, citing the death camp in Poland, and asked: "Why didn't they bomb" those railroad routes?
Referring to the gulags in Russia, Francis said: "How many Christians suffered, were killed" there.
Lamenting the cynicism of world players in the 1930s and 1940s, Francis said: "the great powers divided up Europe like a cake."
He also cited what he called the "great tragedy of Armenia."
"In the last century, so many, millions, (of Armenians) died. But where were the great powers then? They were looking the other way," the pope said.
In April, the pope angered Turkey when he referred to the slaughter of Armenians by Turkish Ottomans as "genocide."
In today's world, he told the young people: "Everything is done for money." He criticized those advocating peace while manufacturing or selling arms.
Francis reiterated his view that conflicts in the world today are tantamount to "a Third World War in segments."
You might here guys like Michael Savage berate the Pope calling him a Socialist but what he says rings true. When he comes to America, Catholics in this country better get ready for some plain talk. I have a feeling that Francis will take aim on some of the excesses and bad decisions the U.S. made when it comes to the way we handled things. (AOL, LuLac)

You now have the chance to see the movie partially shot in Scranton and partially funded by Lackawanna County taxpayers.
The Lackawanna County commissioners announced Friday that Paul Sorvino’s movie The Trouble with Cali will be shown at the Scranton Cultural Center on July 9, 10, and 11 at 7:30 p.m. free of charge. You now have the chance to see the movie partially shot in Scranton and partially funded by Lackawanna County taxpayers. FOR FREE. Hey that’s your cut of the half million your tax dollars were used for.
As you know the flick has been in the news because it was paid for, in part, with a half million in taxpayers’ dollars, and was never released. Former Lackawanna County Commissioner Bob Cordaro helped engineer that deal.
Tickets are required for the showing on July 9th and the two following showings are first come, first serve.
Ducats are available at the commissioners’ office, the Scranton Times building, the Scranton Cultural Center, or any county library.
The Scranton Times reported that the commissioners will be seeing the film for the first time on July 9. That’s a movie review I want to hear!!! (Scranton Times, LuLac).

The LuLac Edition #2961, June 22nd, 2015


Incoming District Attorney Robert Klein. (Photo: Klein website).
We get so caught up in covering Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties as well as the big issues going on that sometimes we miss these little gems. There was a race worth watching in Susquehanna County and our good friend Bob Harper was involved in it. Harper is known as a Media consultant that has made his reputation on creating and executing funny, effective and memorable ads for candidates. But in this race Harper used no electronic media and had a candidate that was relentless in his face to face meetings with voters.
Bob Klein has been an Assistant District Attorney in Lackawanna County for 14 years
He moved to Susquehanna County back in the 90's and commutes from his home to his job and back. He never ran for political office and his name recognition in that county was virtually non-existent.
His main opponent, Marion O'Malley has been the 1st Asst. DA in Susquehanna County for a similar amount of time and had excellent name recognition. Born and raised there her father was a also very well-liked and respected Judge.
State Representative Sandra Major visibly endorsed her as well as She was also very visibly endorsed by State Rep Sandra Major as well as most members of the local Republican Party.
Turns out that Attorney Klein won the nomination on both sides and come January will be known as District Attorney Robert Klein. What was that ad guru's slogan that put an unknown commuter over the top in Susquehanna County? Take a look.

Proving the point that sometimes less is more.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2960, June 21st, 2015

During the last 9 years since I’ve been doing LuLac, you read stories about my dad, my godfather, my uncles and other dads on Father's Day. This year after much thought (not the slapping of the forehead, holy crap what am I gonna write this week kind of thought) I came up with an idea. The past few weeks I’ve been cleaning up a lot of stuff from the house I grew up at 37 Dewitt Street in Pittston since my sister and her husband sold the house. I don’t know if it was a Yonki or Pribula trait but my sister and I saved everything. Birthday cards, old newspapers and of course there was a box of old 45rpms. (By the way the entire box will be for sale at the Friends of the Library Book Sale for the Osterhout Library this week.) Going through the records (as if I didn’t have every song of that era on my USB ports) I saw an obscure record by an artist named Cami Lawrence. It was a 45 that I bought in a 10 pack from McGrory’s at the Midway Shopping Center. You’d get 10 for a buck, 8 of them were clunkers and two were hits but,  I digress. The record was called “The Kids On My Street”. I’m not sure it even charted. But sitting in church the next morning, I had the idea of profiling the dads who lived in my neighborhood. When I started to make the list I was shocked by how many dads I actually interacted with in my childhood.
This is all the more significant since society has changed so much. Time Magazine reported that the proportion of households in the U.S. made up of married couples with kids has dropped by half since 1970, according to the most recent data from the Census Bureau. They now make up only 20% of households. So only 20% of today’s children have a two parent family. All the more reason to salute the dads of Dewitt Street on this Father’s Day. Not to slight anyone, I’m going in alphabetical order.


Adam was an older gentleman by the time I became aware of things. I went to school with his Daughter Cathy and I’m sure to this day she recalls what an annoyance I was. But what I remember about Adam was how in the summertime he’d relax on his porch (everybody had porch back then) in his green work clothes. He’d sit back, adjust a radio he carried out with him and tuned in WPTS Radio. Patiently waiting for the rock and roll to subside, Adam was a faithful listener to The Pan Josef Polka Show. He’d crank that radio up and if his porch had struts, it would be moving up and down like one of those cars out of a Cheech and Chong movie. There was sheer enjoyment on his face as he just hung out. I learned from Adam Buranich the sheer joy and madness of  polkas and that Pittston had its own radio station. We all know where that led to for me.


I didn’t actually grow up with Owen but he married my sister and was a dad in that house at 37 Dewitt Street. Owen and my sister had a son Troy who they raised in that home. Owen rarely got angry except when the Dallas Cowboys lost. Unlike fans who drank to excess, Owen paced the rooms of the house railing as his ‘Boys went through a dry streak. Having watched every significant football game in that house since 1963 with my father and uncles, I found it amusing that perhaps their spirits were bedeviling him. Who knows maybe they were because Owen’s child became a Bengals fan. What I learned from Owen Barnett was that no matter how passionate you are about a team, you let your own children or friends decide who they will root for. Or get upset over.


Joe Cadden lived on Union Street but I count him as a Dewitt Street Dad. My reasoning is that he worked with my mom at Consolidated Cigar and always was on Dewitt Street looking for his daughters Linda, Joann and Colleen. They’d jump rope and Linda was a wicked hitter when it came to wiffle ball. Herding them back home, we’d see them them Sundays at St. Mary’s Help of Christians Church. By the way, the Cadden girls always cleaned up nice. For whatever reasons on Saturday afternoon our parents sent us to Confession at Father Maloney's church. What I learned from Joe Cadden was even if you were in the next block, you’d keep an eye on your kids. Especially Saturdays when you had to get dressed for Confession. 


Mr. Chedrick lived on Cliff but would give me a ride home from kindergarten once in a while with his son John and Bruce Prandy. He drove a black cherry Dodge but because he was involved with the Ambulance he had this two way radio on his dashboard. It was exciting to see him get a call. Years later he worked as projectionist and gave me tips on how radio towers needed to be logged. Being a budding radio guy myself, I learned from John Chedrick the importance of keeping accurate power stats for radio stations. That helped me pass Element 9 for my Third Class Broadcast license.


John Delaney and Joe Cadden had something in common. Daughters. I’d see Mr. Delaney drive his Powder Blue 4 door car home from work and survey Dewitt and then Cliff Street to keep track of his girls Mary Ellen and Margie. Mr. Delaney worked at the Swanee Paper mill. I remember him always wearing a white tee shirt in the summer months on the drive home from work. The Delaney’s lived on Cliff but the back yard jutted out onto Dewitt. He’d pull that big car onto Dewitt after his shift. He always had a determined look, almost focused look on his face when he was parking that car. But when he got out of the vehicle, he always had a smile on his face. It was like all the worries and cares of that Swanee plant melted away from him like butter on a hot summer day when he reached his home base. Mr. Delaney taught me that whatever the hell happened at work, forget about it. There were more important things in life.


Frank lived at the end of Cliff Street with his wife Tillie. Frank had a little corner grocery store. You could buy milk, candy, smokes. It was the forerunner of the modern convenience store. Frank talked broken English and had quite the Italian accent. It flowed, it wasn’t choppy.
Frank was very kind to little kids like me trying to stretch a nickel into a dime’s worth of candy in the store. He was helped out by his sons Rudy and Danny as well as his daughter Rita and of course Tillie. Once in a while you'd see Leo Moran who was dating Rita and later married her. The store had a big Sealtest Ice Cream sign that you could see from the top of Union Street. One day a lovesick teenage boy who I shall not name (wasn’t me, I was only 9) bought an entire half gallon of Sealtest Butter Pecan. This is when a half gallon was a half gallon! Catty corner from the store there was a big green bench. After selling the kid the Ice Cream, Frank was surprised to see the boy eating it with a spoon. Frank shook his head and said, “Crazy boy, he’ll get very, very very sick. Not my fault though, I no sell it to him if I know he was going to do this. You watch, he get very, very very sick”. I watched and the lad did get very, very sick. What I learned from Frank Forlenza was that no matter how love sick I became (and God knows there were many, many times) I didn’t drown my sorrows in Sealtest or anything else.


For the 1960s on Dewitt Street Andy Gurman had the perfect nickname but our parents told us they’d beat the tar out of us if we called him Andy Griffith. He worked at Atlas Chain, and had two teen age daughters that were sought after by half of the teen boy population in Pittston. His mother in law Mrs. Lucas also lived with the family.
What I primarily remember about Andy Gurman was his car. It was a big four door blue green blend Sedan. Might have been a Pontiac. On the weekends he would clean that behemoth so well you could do surgery on the floor mats. I’d see his daughter Diane put her lipstick on looking down at the trunk. That’s how shiny it was. Andy and his wife moved to Duryea in the late 70s buying a house on Phoenix Street. Andy had that car when he moved to Dewitt Street in 1962 or thereabouts. I was married for at least ten years and in the 90s that car was in his driveway at his home in Duryea. What I learned from Andy Gurman was if you took care of your things, your things would take care of you.


My relationship with Ted Haddock had three stages. We had a driveway that we owned but everyone turned around in it. When I was 5 Ted would turn around in the driveway, whistle and say, “Hey kid, c’mon I’m gonna take you to Kissilyn. I had no idea at the time what it was (it was a home for youth in trouble in Hazelton) but I knew it was bad. When I was 11 and playing ball in the streets (badly I might add) Ted would turn around in the driveway, whistle and say, “Hey kid, the Yankees just called. Get in shape”. I’d respond, “But I’m an Indians fan”. Ted would just shake his head and drive away! When I was in high school and doing things on the old WPTS Radio, he’d turn around in the driveway and say, “Hey radio man” and then drive off. You may wonder why those things were memorable. Here’s why.
When Ted was saying them to me, he was always driving a glorious convertible. The model might change through the years but mostly he was a Cadillac man. One particular stunning car was a lavender bodied car with a white top. The fins on the back stood tall. It was an incredible vehicle. I truly believe that I drive a convertible today because of Efrem Zemblist Junior on “77 Sunset Strip” and Ted Haddock.
Ted was in the service and after returning home won a lottery treasury ticket. The money was enough to buy a coal truck. He went into the Construction business with his in law Joe Zinkavich. They built a business that endured long after Ted’s untimely death.
As a matter of fact when I was a radio rep for Rock 107 in the late 90s his grandson was my client. Ted was a softball player having grown up in Avoca and later managed teams there. I know he loved baseball because he had a game on the TV (The Haddocks had the first color TV on the block) all the time. I saw him in work clothes most of the time but when he went to family and church events he wore a suit. His wife Kate (still alive and on Dewitt) son Mike and daughter Marge enjoyed trips to Florida and other parts of the country. Mike went into the Construction business and Marge was a nurse in in the Harrisburg area. I learned two things from Ted Haddock, if you need a suit, buy a blue one and make sure the white shirt is spotless. I learned that by example watching him at Yonki family gatherings at 83 Cliff. The other was if you had to buy a car, pay for it and drive it, make it a convertible. I did! If there is a heaven and Ted and I are there together, I'm going to turn my convertible around in his driveway! 


What I remember most about Mr. Harmanos is the pipe he smoked as well as the mustache he sported. He never said much but always had a look of bemusement on his face. As a child to me he seemed as if he belonged on Dewitt Street his whole life. But did he have a back story!
He came to America from the Czechoslovakia Military in the early 1900's. Getting passage on a ocean liner, he arrived in New York to join his brother Martin. He settled in Ashley and sent for his first wife to be. She died shortly after arriving from diabetes, He was going to give up his apartment when a friend told him to go to New York and look for a lady that lived in the same town he did in Czechoslovakia. So he went and knocked on the door of her employer where she was a maid. Almost immediately he asked her to marry him. Then and there she packed her bags and went home with him. Just like that. She was the mother of all the kids that grew up on Cliff. 7 all told until she died at childbirth with offspring number eight. Her name was Catherine Merga and he watched her die in the hospital. I was told that my grandmother (on the Yonki side) Mary helped with the younger children left behind. He stayed single until all the kids were in their 20's and then married a lady that we all knew as bobba. When she died, Mr. Harmanos lived with Kate Haddock. Mr. Harmanos survived his son in law Ted. I never knew much about Mr. Harmanos until just now. But what I learned from him and his journey is this, everyone has a story. My thanks to his grand daughter Marge Haddock Michalski for helping me fill in the blanks.


Glen Holschuh and his wife Romaine lived next door to us on the second floor of a big old green house. They had two children, Glen and Donna. Glen worked at a newspaper during the night. He slept during the day. He was a very nice man who drove a two toned black and white two door sedan with fins. What I learned from Glen Holschuh was that there were all kind of jobs. Ones that required the delivery of our newspaper. I used to play with Glen Junior and when his dad was sleeping we were told not to be loud. We learned self control and respect for others. When I did overnights at WVIA FM and was going to college, I too slept in the day. Karma was good to me because the children of a new generation were pretty tame. So being good paid off in that respect. What I remembered about Glen Holschuh was that in order to do a good night’s work, you needed a good day’s sleep.


My first memory of Al Kridlo was as the driver of the Kaier’s Beer truck. In those days you’d have beer delivered to your house. The Kridlo’s lived directly across from my grandfather’s home at 83 Cliff. I went to school with his son Al, and daughters Debbie, Rene and Lynn. What really piqued my interest about Mr. Kridlo was when he was running for Pittston City Council. Having been a political nerd since I saw JFK on North Main in 1960 (my sister missed it because she was baby sitting for the aforementioned Glen Holschuh and his wife) it was just fascinating to have a guy down the street in government. His posters were red, white and blue.
At my graduation party we got into a discussion about campaigns. We actually dissected three Presidential elections and both of us concluded we were smarter than the campaign managers who ran Bill Scranton, Barry Goldwater and Hubert Humphrey’s campaigns into the ground. What I learned from Al Kridlo that day was that politics was not only a game of issues but strategies and moves. I also learned that we should have started a consulting firm.


My first memory of Roy Knowles was the sound of his guitar. He had a band or little combo and they’d practice in the backyard. Many a night as I sat in bed I'd hear the strains of "Sleepwalk" coming from Roy's group. Roy was a tall friendly man who always had a quick smile and hello for everybody. On the day he got married he strode up the street in a tux. I think he might have been going to Arthur Prandy’s house. Through the year’s we’d see each other occasionally and speak about old memories of the Junction. Toward the end of his life Roy built a house directly across from where he grew up. It was on Dewitt. His sons took up music too. One day around 2005 I was visiting my mother. As I was leaving her house I heard the strings of a guitar. It was playing “Sleepwalk”. This time Roy’s son was playing it. What I learned from Roy was that if the song was good and you played it the right way, another generation would latch right on to it.


Bill McCawley lived in a double block on the left side next door to us. His wife Stella and my mom were friends. Stella and the Muroski sisters Bertha and Marie were constants at my house. It would not be uncommon for those four to be doing some kind of canning and cooking project in our kitchen at all hours of the night. Bill moved his family to Lake Carey around 1961. We’d visit and Bill would attempt to teach me how to fish. To this day I don’t see the point of fishing but I think I can bait a hook if I had a gun to my head. Bill’s idea of a snack was a vine ripened fresh tomato from his garden. On Dewitt and at the Lake in August he’d savor it like it was caviar. It wasn’t until later on in life that I grew to acquire that same taste for an August tomato. But what I learned from Bill McCawley was how gracious and welcoming he was to his friends from the old neighborhood. Whether it was a boat ride on the lake, a cold drink on the dock or time to talk to what had to be an annoying 7 year old, Bill always made me feel welcome. You learn volumes from that.


In the neighborhood he was known as “Big Mike”. Some people called him Mike Milko. He first had a house on the corner of Union and Cliff but then he and his wife moved in with his mother who was up in age in a house on Cliff Street. As a matter of fact, it was fifty years ago last month that his mother died. Mike and Bertha’s backyard faced Dewitt Street. Like many in the neighborhood he grew a glorious garden. I was very careful to make certain that my baseballs stayed on the street and not in his garden. I remember Mike telling my father that one thing he’d never do was fly on a plane. Well he did. Many times. Mike and Bertha had two sons, Mike Junior became a prominent bail bondsman in Luzerne County and Jackie wound up working for McDonnel Douglas in Missouri. Mike got on a plane to visit his son for every important family occasion out there. What I learned from Mike was that nothing was ever written in stone, especially when it came to family.


In the 60s people still called him by his childhood nickname “Chubby”. His wife was Dinah and she doted over me. Actually she almost spoiled me. But Chubby was the guy who would talk to me about his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates. He was at the 1960 World Series and brought me back a pin. On hot summer nights in his backyard after watering the lawn, my dad and Chubby would school me on baseball. They were fans and pooh poohed my favorite players. (I’m doing the same thing with some of my younger co workers today!) Chubby loved a good cigar and a pipe. He said both kept the bugs away. After his son relocated to Minnesota with his family, like his brother Mike he made the trip for visits to Sonny (Joe Junior), Joesph III, Mark and Betty his daughter in law. He also was my Confirmation sponsor in 1964. In addition to baseball Chubby and I also had another thing in common. His first grade nun at St. John the Baptist when he was a first grader was my first grade nun in 1960-61. I learned a lot from him but the most interesting was the fact that those nuns at St. John the Baptist were pretty damn durable.


The very first memory I have of Arthur Prandy was when I was a very small child. It was the Fourth of July and Arthur was in the street with his son Barry preparing to light a small fire cracker. It was a pittance compared to the arsenals some people have in their yards these days. Arthur instructed his son on how to place it, light it and then move away. This was very important to kids from the Junction because many parents instilled in many of us the legend of little Tommy (if you were Irish the surname was Flannagan, if you were of European descent it was Badinsky) who put a fire cracker in his brother’s back pocket and blew his ass off. That’s now called an urban legend but in the Junction at least for me it was real.
Arthur was the type of guy who was always teaching, always instructing. A Veteran of World War II he met his wife Joyce shortly after he began his service during the war. Bringing her to Dewitt Street, he worked in the Pittston Post Office and became its Postmaster. He was well regarded and after retirement embarked on a series of projects. Arthur was always doing something. Plus with him, there was always a use for something that had to be the hallmark of all those Depression era children.
The very first Diet Soda was Tab and in order to appeal to the female market Tab was put in a bottle that was shaped like a vase. Where the logo was you saw beveled glass that was rough. Off came the Tab imprint and on came the paint. Arthur made vases out of those bottles.
We always looked forward to the return visits from the Prandy family from England. It was a different perspective for all of us. Then there was the visits from Joyce’s family which were pretty good too. Art’s children Barry and Joyce Ann had a cousin Stephanie who visited. All I remember was her accent, her red hair and my father having to come and drag me away from the Prandy’s when she visited. Like many of the men on Dewitt Street Arthur was a great neighbor. I never realized what an emotional investment he had in his neighbors until the day he sat in our kitchen weeping after my father died. I learned a few things from Arthur Prandy. There is always a use for something others will toss away, never be afraid to show your emotions and always keep moving. I’m happy to report that as of today he still is in transit on Dewitt Street.


John Prandy was Arthur’s brother. He was the father of my kindergarten classmate Bruce Prandy. John was a welder at the tank plant in Berwick when the war broke out. He was exempt from service because of where he was working at that time. Later, he retired from Trane Corporation where he worked as millwright. In that position there were various times he’d work the night shifts. But I’m not sure I ever saw him sleep. This guy was always doing something like lending his talented skills as a carpenter to any task. My father always had a task in mind for John.
Had my father grown up in another era and with more education I’m sure he could have been a Project Manager somewhere. The drill was that Jake would outline what he wanted and John would build it along with the help of my uncle Andy Dziak. John had a hand in the downstairs bathroom remodeling, a revamped basement, plans for a garage, as well as carpeting. If 37 Dewitt was the house that Steve expanded, John Prandy had a huge hand in the execution of those plans.
On another note John Prandy was a very different father than many of us were used to. If you were crossing a line, he’d quietly explain why you were wrong. If you didn’t get it…..you were not yelled at or chased. Nope. You got the look. It was a combination of “Don’t ever”, and “I’m so strong I can squash you like a bug!”. It always worked.
John and his wife Thelma lost their son Jackie to cancer. Jackie was an undercover agent for the Pa. State Police on the drug task force in Western Pa. Jack died on in November of 1988 of asbestos which he was exposed to when he was a Seabee in the Navy back in the 60s. John's middle son Bob is in Maryland and Bruce checks in on his mother on Cliff Street every day. John died in 2003. When Bruce and I get together we marvel at how the hell our fathers did so much. When the family who bought my childhood home decide to add their own touches to their dwelling, they’ll retrace the hammer, nails, craftsmanship and sweat of John Prandy. What John Prandy primarily taught me though was sometimes you get more mileage out of a confrontational situation by not saying anything. Proving the point that less can be more.


During the early 60s hands down the most popular guy in the neighborhood was Charlie Simalchik. The reason was because Charlie drove this red and white Ice Cram truck bearing the name Charlie. Everyone incorrectly assumed it was his ice cream we were eating but in fact it was his brother Al’s concern. You can have your Ben and Jerry, Good Humor and Hagendaz, for many Junction kids to this day the best Ice Cream came from that truck. There were incredible red creamsicles. Then there were the twin ice pops that were bursting with flavors like Grape, Root Beer, Lime, and Blue Raspberry. When Charlie stopped driving that truck you’d swear there was a week of mourning on Dewitt Street. Charlie moved on to work in the flooring industry in Plains and when I was in High School he’d give me a ride to school at St. John the Evangelist. On those rides we would talk about many subject but the ones I remember were about death. When Adam Buranich died, Charlie expounded on the man’s life and how tough it was on the survivors. Just two years earlier in 1967 Charles not only lost his father but his mother within a span of 36 hours. I remember that wake as being surreal for me. When Charlie started his own business on Main Street in the Junction my ride ended but not our chats. Charlie was the Owner/Operator of Towne Craft Upholstery until he retired in 1990. His home was on Cliff Street but like many of those houses, the backyards bled onto Dewitt. He’d drive his car, park it and engage anyone on our front porch in conversation. Charlie married in 1975 and he and Rita had a son named Chuck. Chuck was involved in Republican politics in the city of Pittston when he was younger along with Art Boubouinne. They ran for office a few times sharing their beliefs. I know Charlie was proud because he told my mother that it was a gutsy thing for the young duo to undertake in a Democratic stronghold like Pittston.
Like any Dewitt dad Charlie was always on the lookout for an errant baseball or aberrant behavior. Even though the days of the spry Ice Cream man are long gone, like his neighbor Art Prandy, Charlie is still on the move. Slowed a bit Charlie attends event involving his old neighbors. Unfortunately most of those have been wakes. What I learned from Charlie Simalchik though was the art of conversation. When I hopped in that truck I never knew what subject we’d land on for that 8 minute ride to Kennedy Blvd. Charlie proved that anyone could talk but a select few could only converse.


George Winslow died in 1967. He was the first of the Dewitt Street dads I had interactions with to pass on. He had a beautiful garden which sometimes had its issues from me next door as my baseballs sailed over the fence and in between his plants. Fearing destruction (Mr. Winslow had heard the words to me from my father concerning all things breakable, “Don’t touch that!!”) he showed me where to walk when the ball landed in his plants.
Mr. Winslow had a Kelly green sloped back Chevrolet and then upgraded to a ’58 Belair. I tell you about George’s cars because whenever it rained, morning, noon, night, overnight, he’d leave his house and drive somewhere. Again this is Junction legend but the reason why he did is because at some point a thunderbolt went through the living room of his house. This was way before my time and no one could ever confirm it. But he was a kindly old widower who waited eagerly for the afternoon paper and read it through and through on his front porch. Even at a young age my memories of George are clear. George Winslow taught me how to respect everyone's property and the quirks in others we will encounter in life.


John Yonki was my grandfather and lived at 83 Cliff. In retirement he’d stroll up every day to our house and visit. In the great kitchen remodeling of the fall of 1962 smack dab in the middle of the World Series (I always wondered why the women in my family always did big projects around the World Series) we had a breakfast bar installed along with bistro stools. He’d sit back and talk Slovak to my parents on that stool as if he was having a beer at Nick’s or Dructor’s on Main Street.
The nuns at SJB gave us lessons in the Slovak language and with what they taught me and what I picked up, I could actually have a conversation with him in his native tongue. I used just 9 words but he was thrilled. Pevo was “beer”, “Church”was kostel ,  “money”, peniaze, "hat“ klobúk, "school“ was, Školský, "priest“ was knaz, "lady“ was dama, "sister“ was sestra and “non sense“ was nezmysel. He also had a variation on the last one called "shy kee biki“. No idea what it meant but it was sure fun to hear.
He never called me by my real name, always called me "Joey" because he lost his first son in 1952 whose name was Joseph but nicknamed Zeke. His wife Mary died at the age of 51 and he never remarried. He always centered on his family and Lord knows in his aging they all centered on him. Like many elders at that time in that neighborhood his family made the trip to his house for the holidays. Another son John died in 1976. He survived my father by 6 weeks. I watched him stand at the open coffins of two of his three sons and that taught me that a parent surviving their children is one of the most unfair things any human can go through. There are never enough words, English or Slovak, nine or ninety, to ever explain that.


Our mailman lived on our street. Georgie Zapko would happily walk the streets of the Junction with a quip or a joke. In the summer he was a picture in a U.S. Post Office pith helmet. He’d delighted the kids in the neighborhood with his imitations of Yogi Bear. He had a son Ronnie who was deaf and was an attendee of the Scranton School for the Deaf. Ron did everything other kids did, serving as an altar boy at St. Michael’s Greek Catholic Church as well as working with me at Detato’s Supermarket in Pittston. I also grew with Donna, Denise and Richie Zapko. Later, George moved to another part of the Junction but you’d see his name in the papers for the immense amount of blood that he donated to the American Red Cross. I’m not sure I would ever be happy lugging a sack of mail around in the summertime and I’m sure there were days when Georgie wasn’t too thrilled either. But George Zapko taught me that it is more productive to be happy at your work. It makes you grateful for the job and makes the day go faster.
To the dads of Dewitt Street……………Thank you for everything you taught me. The lessons I learned from all of you........I still carry with me to this very day.