Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The LuLac Edition #162, Feb. 27, 2007




When I was a young boy growing up, my uncles, hard working railroaders and factory workers would gather around our kitchen table and discuss the issues of the day with my dad. Once in a while they brought up the subject of Sharpies. A Sharpie, by their definition was a person who tried to get a leg up on the system and take advantage of loopholes in the law that average common folk weren’t privy too. My father and uncles had no class envy for those who inherited their money. They celebrated people like the Roosevelts, the Kennedys and the Rockefellers. But if one of their own tried to cut corners and beat the system, it was thumbs down.
I thought about this last night as I was watching WBRE’TV’s I TEAM reporter Amy Bradley do a story about a couple in Clinton County who bought a property in 1995, had paid county taxes on it since then and wanted to sell the land to their children with a two fold purpose, the first being to make a profit, the second to have their immediate family back in the area. (Even if it was a God forsaken land like Clinton County!)
Well, it turned out the couple could not locate the parcel of land on the documents or the deeds because when they bought it at a Sheriff’s sale, the goober working in the Clinton County Courthouse put the information on the wrong card. Now, because there is a discrepancy in the lot numbers, the couple has no claim to the land because even though they paid taxes on it, the accurate documentation does not exist. When Bradley talked to the County Solicitor, he basically in a rude and condescending manner said the couple was shit out of luck. My problem first off was with the guy’s attitude toward the couple and the reporter. He was abrupt (as if he had something to hide or didn’t have an answer) and certainly did not promote the image of a public servant.
Here’s what’s troubling: Clinton County collected taxes on this property from this couple for over a decade. Aren’t there staff in that collection office that do routine checks on properties to make sure the right stuff is being paid for? Or do the Clinton County tax collectors just sit on their asses and wait for someone to make a payment and then after they take the check and deposit it, go back to the football pool and eating Cheetos for the rest of the day? What if the couple missed a payment on the taxes and there was another Sheriff’s sale? I kind of think that the county might find the proper documentation. Bradley then went to a real estate lawyer who basically said it was “buyer beware” and to make certain you, as a land buyer, have everything covered because no one else will do it for you. I think it is outrageous that this couple is being told they have nothing to show for their investment and for the taxes they have paid on a property in Clinton County. I saw the people on TV and these were hard working people who would not fall into my dad’s definition of “a sharpie”. A person who knew the ropes, could manipulate the system, confuse the goobers would have no problems. But because these were hard working people who took it on faith that the Tax people and Property people in Clinton County would be competent enough to do their jobs and protect the investment that was getting its taxes paid on time, they get screwed. The pompous ass of an Attorney told Bradley that the assessment and tax office couldn’t possibly keep track of every purchase that is made and taxed in the County? Why not? It’s like a store with inventory. Properties are like inventory, taxes are like payments on that inventory. They can’t keep track of that? I don’t have a LAW (lying and waffling) degree but I do know this: the story last night again illuminated how government fails the common man trying to better his life. It does not protect him, (even when he’s paying taxes), it does not educate him of potential problems (take the money and get back to the Cheetos!) and it does not make an attempt to help him or show empathy when he or she asks for help. Clinton County officials should be ashamed of themselves. If you want to buy land there or anywhere: only Sharpies need apply.



Up in Lackawanna County, Attorney Corey O’Brien is getting stiff armed by the political forces because he has the audacity to run as an independent Democrat for County Commissioner. The Democrats last week endorsed Mike Washo and a former Penn State place kicker. Published reports say O’Brien was separated from a prominent law firm because of his political stance. O’Brien has also been asking for the current crop of Commissioners to produce their tax returns for the public but so far there has been no response. That’s another issue for another day.
But it seems O’Brien, who could be an attractive Democratic activist and who has worked in the Clinton White House is getting the bite put on him because of his challenge. This is just not right. The Democratic party on a national and state level has always encouraged public participation. (Look at how many national Dems are running for President!) But locally, the Democratic party seems to have been taking their cues out of the Kremlin playbook. No opposition should even be broached or thought of. In Luzerne County, the endorsement process came early and heavy with potential challengers being shooed away in favor of Skrepenak and Petrilla. I might make the case that at least in Luzerne County the party wanted unity and had a strong ticket. But the Lackawanna County Dems can’t make that claim. They endorsed two vanilla candidates that blend into the woodwork and are barely noticed. It’s no wonder why they want stronger, attractive candidates gone.
Again, this story highlights why average citizens don’t get involved in the political process and don’t even vote. Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II might have ended Communism as we know it in the late eighties but the Politburo is alive and well in Lackawanna County!


My man Al Gore won the Oscar for his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”. Gore was greeted with accolades and even though he has denied it, the pundits are all abuzz about a possible late Gore entry into the 2008 race. The Oscar win has given the ex Veep more credibility and separates him from the Democratic pack as a man passionate about issues. Plus his early opposition of the war in Iraq could be a plus among Democratic voters if either Barak Obama or Hillary Clinton falter in the early going.


Al Gore was not the only Vice President out of office to distinguish himself in the entertainment field. Unlike Gore’s tenure, Dawes' Vice Presidency was one of the most disastrous on record. Soon after his election he sent an insulting letter to President Coolidge informing him that he would not be attending cabinet meetings. This is believed to be the beginning of a feud between the two which brought the Vice Presidency to its nadir for the 20th century.
Having insulted the President, he then proceeded to publicly insult the entire US Senate. The inauguration of the Vice President was held in the Senate Chamber in those days, and the VP would give an inaugural address before everyone headed on to the outside platform where the President would take the oath. Dawes made a fiery, half-hour address denouncing the rules of the Senate, the seniority system and many other things that Senators held dear.
Eveyone was so shocked at the speech that President Coolidge's own inaugural address was completely overshadowed, leaving him even angrier at Dawes then ever before.
Both the Senators and Coolidge would have their revenge on Dawes.
On March 10, only days after Dawes started presiding over the Senate, the president's nomination of Charles Warren to be attorney general was being debated. In the wake of the Teapot Dome scandal and other business-related scandals, Democrats and Progressive Republicans objected to the nomination because of Warren's close association with the "Sugar Trust." At midday six speakers were scheduled to address Warren's nomination. Desiring to return to his room at the Willard Hotel for a nap, Dawes consulted the majority and minority leaders, who assured him that no vote would be taken that afternoon. After Dawes left the Senate, however, all but one of the scheduled speakers decided against making formal remarks, and a vote was taken. When it became apparent that the vote would be tied, Republican leaders hastily called Dawes at the Willard. The roused vice president jumped in a taxi and sped toward the Capitol. But enough time intervened to persuade the only Democratic senator who had voted for Warren to switch his vote against him. By the time Dawes arrived there was no longer a tie to break, and the nomination had failed by a single vote—the first such rejection in nearly sixty years.
Dawes convinced the Senate to pass the McNary-Haugen farm relief bill; Coolidge vetoed the bill.
In 1928 the Repubican nomination went to Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover, whose supporters considered putting Dawes on their ticket as vice president. But President Coolidge let it be known that he would consider Dawes' nomination to be a personal affront. Instead the nod went to Senate Majority Leader Charles Curtis of Kansas.
After leaving office, Dawes went back to the banking business. He was not heard from again until a hobby of his brought him back to public awareness.
Dawes was also a self-taught pianist and composer. His 1912 composition "Melody in A Major," became a well-known piano and violin piece, and was played at many official functions as his signature tune. It was transformed into a pop song ("It's All In The Game") in 1951, when Carl Sigman added lyrics. The song was a number one hit in 1958, for Tommy Edwards and has since become a pop standard recorded hundreds of times by artists including The Four Tops, Brook Benton, Barry Manilow, and Keith Jarrett.


At 10:28 AM, Blogger Tom Carten said...

Why I Hate Government, part 1:

I'm not taking sides on this, nor did I see the piece, just wondering about title searches and things like that. Did the couple do the usual title search and the bumbling county idiots make a wrong entry? Or did they not do a title search?

Is there any redress for them? Or did the clerk (named Nephew Beasley, as Mike McGlynn used to term them) just get off free to go back to quietly whining, "I don't know" and eating Cheetos?

At 12:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The history of Charles Dawes was pretty impressive. Is DawEs Avenue in Kingston named after him? And that song is a classic.


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