Sunday, November 06, 2016

The LuLac Edition #3342, November 6th, 2016

(Photo: Pittston Politics)
Lost in the big show that is the Presidential election are significant changes to the Home Rule Charter. Although there are 5 questions, the first two must be placed on the ballot twice due the specificity of the questions. One deals with County authorities and the other with boards and commissions.
So in plain English here are the questions and what I see as a prudent vote.
Lifting a ban requiring county board/authority members to wait one year after leaving their seats to run for county office.

Keep the ban. No issue is so daunting to the running of the County that a candidate can’t sit out a year. No individual should go right from a board or authority and then cash in on that notoriety and exposure for political gain.

Allow employees of companies with county contracts to serve on boards and authorities at the council’s discretion.
Absolutely NOT. Talk about insider trading and access to information. With the dubious history of Luzerne County in the rear view mirror this should be a no-brainer. Now I know there are many honest vendors out there but let’s just try to avoid the occasions of sin, shall we?

Require a majority of council votes. instead of four, to amend the county budget in the years following council elections.
For the most part County Council members are sober and committed. But a budget is a budget. The terms begins and ends in January. Plus it will not give Council members who will grandstand for attention to hold up progress when they don’t have the votes.
This ballot question can be confusing. In the spring primary the mandatory retirement age was listed as 70. But then the Legislators changed the wording for the Fall Election. Here it is: “Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and magisterial district judges be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years?”
By the current retirement age of 70 NOT BEING listed on the ballot questions, voters are unaware that they are asking for an increase in the retirement age to 75. So you have to make the decision that if you vote no, you want the current retirement age to stay. If you vote yes, you are voting for an increase in the time the Judges can serve. (And you wonder why people hate Legislators and Lawyers, right?)
There are two sides to this coin for Luzerne County voters. This will affect Judge Tom Burke who will turn 70 in December. You’d want a stand up guy like him to have the opportunity to stay.
But what if you had a Judge (not naming names here but…) who was clearly out of their league and out of step but keeps on getting retained?
The current age of 70 gives candidates running in their mid 60s a window and that might give voters pause to pull the lever. That issue was used against the late Judge Gifford Cappellini who won and the late Attorney Charles Bufalino (who lost by an excruciating 6 votes in a primary). In this age of medical advancements, with people living longer,  do we really want (especially here!!) to put out a brilliant legal mind to pasture?
The other argument is you can give others a chance to run for the Court.

This is a tough one.


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