Sunday, November 15, 2015

The LuLac Edition #3069, Novembrer 15th, 2015


My friend L.A. Tarone and I usually disagree on the size of government. I think government should be bigger if it makes sense and there is accountability. (ie monitoring how many kids of unwed mothers we are paying for, etc) Tarone wants cuts in government waste but feels our State Legislature’s size is just fine the way it is. I disagree. Cut the thing in half.
Here’s why:
1. We are now in a different age where things can be done electronically.
2. Just this week there was a story out of Harrisburg which outlined the waste that is happening even as non profits who are waiting for State money to do business wither on the vine.
According to the Times Tribune Reporter R.B. Swift (miss him on PCN’s Journalist’s Round-table, hell even miss Journalist’s Round-table) most of NEPA’s Legislators expenses were under a thousand bucks. But Scranton Reps Marty Flynn and Frank Farina were over $1300.00, Republicans Tina Pickett from Towanda, John Gordner from Bloomsburg and Jack Rader of Jackson Township were at $1600.00 and change. This is the same GOP party in Harrisburg that hates big government, right? Maybe they should rename their caucus  “If it’s free’s for me!”
Eddie Day Pashinski checked in at $1400.00 but at least he is more compassionate for working families than the aforementioned trio.
Swift also reported that more than $234,000 was spent by the Legislators who make over $65,000 grand a year on hotel bills and meals. If this doesn’t cry out for a cut in half, I have no idea what will!
3. Maybe when there is no budget, no one gets paid. After all in private business, if you don’t work……..or produce you don’t get paid.


This does dovetail with the State Budget stalemate that is going on. If this thing is not resolved this week, counties as well as school districts will have to borrow money. As a matter of fact this week the Luzerne County government will make a presentation to Council to borrow 20 million dollars to get the county through the budget issue. Councilwoman Dobash outlines the information provided to her and what will occur at the meeting on the 17th. One thing that stands out is the stretching of the loan over 10 years at 10 percent interest. Now in any loan a person or entity could pay if off sooner. What bothers Dobash as well as many who read this blog is the refusal anywhere to state the loan should be paid back when the State money comes in. The meeting on Tuesday is going to be interesting. Here’s the letter e mailed to us from Dobash late last week:
This is a public letter to the majority of Luzerne County Council.
On Tuesday, November 17, 2015, Council will discuss the borrowing ordinance presented by Robert Lawton and Brian Swetz.
I ask you to not support this request from County Manager Robert Lawton and Budget and Finance Division Head Brian Swetz.
The proposed borrowing ordinance estimated the county would be charged 10 percent interest on the loan and stretch out payments over a decade, resulting in a total repayment of $32.3 million through 2025 in both principal and interest.
We cannot add such a burden onto Luzerne County property owners.
This should not be a Bob Lawton bailout.
Do you want future generations to pay for the Luzerne County Home Rule debt?
Surely if you have already decided to borrow this money to protect and bail Manager Lawton for his overspending, then at least demand it is paid back as soon as the State money comes in.
This presentation by Mr. Swetz is not acceptable.
There is no wording in the document to pay it back as soon as State money comes in.
This is a $20 Million Dollar Loan for the next ten years at a cost to the Luzerne County taxpayers of an additional 2 percent tax increase each year.
Council, stop creating more Luzerne County Home Rule Debt.

Kathy Dobash
Luzerne County Council Member
Hazleton, PA

The County Council as it exists today. Tim McGinley, Rick Williams, Kathy Dobash, Eileen Sorokas, Linda McClosky Houck (Chair), Harry Haas; Stephen J. Urban, Edward Brominski (Vice-Chair), Rick Morelli, Jim Bobeck. Steve A. Urban was not present. (Photo: Luzerne Cunty website).
Currently Tim McGinley, Rick Williams, Kathy Dobash, Eileen Sorokas, Linda McClosky Houck (Chair), Harry Haas; Stephen A. Urban, Edward Brominski (Vice-Chair), Rick Morelli, Jim Bobeck; Stephen A. Urban make up the Council. With Steve J. Urban, Jim Bobeck and Rick Morelli leaving and being replaced by returnee Gene Kelleher, newcomer Bob Schnee and Jayne Walsh Waitkus it will be interesting to see what will make this council tick. I’m sure there will be disagreement on key issues but I’m wondering how this board will shake out vs. a possible tax increase as well as hiring a new Manager if necessary. I could be totally wrong but look for Haas, Kelleher, McGinley, Houck and Walsh Waitkus to line up on one side. Then look for Urban, Brominski, Dobash, Sorokus, and Williams on the other. Williams though could be a wild card being the Independent on the Board. But the person who may be the one that will be the swing vote could be Mr. Bob Schnee.
Now all of this is speculation but it will be fascinating to see who votes when there will be a decision on modifying Home Rule and to what extent if any this Council might take.
We will offer these notes again but a debt of gratitude needs to be paid to Attotney Bobeck and Rick Morelli for actually being two of the Founding Fathers of this Council. They were always accessible and took a whole lot of unwarranted criticism that just never materialized into truth. Their critics said Bobeck was posturing for higher office and that Morelli wanted to be the Manager and that stuff just never happened. All they wanted to do was launch this new government soundly and without much incident.
A word too about Steve J. Urban who offered a different perspective as well as pretty good insights into running the County, especially lending his IT expertise opinions. LuLac wishes all three well and we thank them for their dedicated service.


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