Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The LuLac Edition #169, March 6, 2007



The recent flap about the Prothonotary’s Office filing a John Doe name for an IRS tax lien from Attorney Robert Powell brings to light a few issues that are worth looking at from both a political and governmental standpoint. To recap, there is an IRS lien on a property owned by Attorney Powell. The Attorney and his law firm are behind the proposed cargo airport in Hazleton and had fingerprints on the defunct Juvenile Detention Center. County Prothonotary Jill Moran gave Powell the opportunity to be identified as a John Doe on the very public books in her office so that no stigma will be attached to his having a lien. Moran told a reporter that this was a courtesy and that if other people showed up at her office with the same request, she would grant it.
The radio talk shows have been debating this for a few days now with callers and commentators saying that Moran is compromising her office and possibly jeopardizing a promising political career all in the name of doing a good deed. The rub here is whether that good deed is open to all Luzerne County taxpayers or just FOJ’s. (Friends of Jill).
First, let’s take a look at the Prothonotary’s office. Once on the campaign trail, Harry Truman was meeting and greeting the local crème de la crème of politicians. A man approached the then leader of the free world and introduced himself proudly as The Prothonotary. Truman looked him square in the eyes and said, “What the hell is a Pronthonotary?” Well, the office handles all legal matters that the criminal and civil courts don’t. So if you are getting a divorce, a passport or need something adjusted on a property, this is the place to go. The office is kind of regarded as a “lower judiciary”. For many years, Bernard Podcasy, Senior held the office and parlayed his experience there as a successful Luzerne County jurist. His successor, Eugene Duffy from Hazleton held the job for 16 years until he was defeated amidst allegations that his office was “behind the times” and “unprofessional”. Duffy suffered the slings and arrows of then WILK Talk Show host Fred Williams who openly backed Carolee Medico for the post. When Medico took over, her tenure was mercurial due to her personality clashes with the remaining members of Duffy’s staff. Shooting off constant memos to the media and the commissioners, the political powers that be sought relief in a candidate that could wrest the office away from the GOP and return it to Democratic control. Enter Jill Moran, a member of the Powell Law Firm. Attractive, energetic, from Duffy’s political stronghold and armed with enough money (it’s interesting to see where that money came from and how many connections it had to the Powell law firm) to hire Ed Mitchell as her political consultant in her inaugural run, Moran won election easily.
By all accounts, the office has run smoothly even if Ms. Moran is not seen there all the time. Mrs. LuLac and I needed passports for the trips we won’t be taking in the future (but it's always nice to have them just in case) and we were impressed with the service we received at the office. The entire staff was very professional with everyone hunkered down at their desks and notably no “chit chat” that you find in other offices, governmental or otherwise.
Whether Moran did a favor for her law partner is open to discussion. Did she help him because she was “mentored” by his firm and his friendship? Did she cast a blind eye to his predicament and thus suggested the “John Doe” solution? Would she offer that same out to a taxpayer who just walked into her office? Will this damage any possible political aspirations she might have for the Judiciary? Or will this action as well as the trouble in the Recorder of Deeds office stimulate still another campaign to change the county charter and get rid of row officers in favor of department heads appointed by a County CEO? Will there be an investigation and a probe into any possible wrong doing, moral or legal? (Anne Lokuta is being investigated for being “snippy” or does Moran skate on a probe because she’s one of the “cool kids” under the dome?)
All of these questions were non existent just a few weeks ago. And even though there’s no Fred Williams around to hammer this issue into submission, county taxpayers are wary of “deals” and what seems like blatant favoritism among the connected in the County. What might have been considered a blip on the radar screen in the old days of the Democratic machine is now an ongoing story in a news cycle that while diminished in size as far as local media goes, is huge in its concentration of a given topic.
Many questions are being raised about this “caper” but the most important aspect of this is the answer to all of the questions. Has Jill Moran’s integrity been compromised by her past association and her current action on behalf of fellow barrister Powell? Time and the natural flow of political events will tell the final tale and the cost, personal and political, on this one.


Okay, first off, I am not a child of divorce so I can't possibly know how a 21 year old like Andrew Giuliani feels about his father's role in the break up of his family unit. I can't walk in those shoes and thank God every day that I had two parents who stayed in their marriage according to the vow, "till death do us part". All that said, let me say that Andrew Giuliani grew up with extraordinary advantages that not many young people have. Those advantages started when the then 8 year old was given a pass for interrupting his father's swearing in ceremony by acting like an overgrown, spoiled, out of control 8 year old. Cutting up for the cameras while his father addressed the city, the child won national acclaim when someone should have slapped him down, sat him in a corner and explained to him the responsibilities of being the child of a political figure. And don't give me the crap that he was just a kid because Jackie Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy and recently John Edwards and his wife instilled a sense of ceremony in children way younger than Andrew.
Andrew tells the press that he is having trouble coping with his father's new life with his third wife (and I grant you that can be tough trying to balance love and loyalty between two parents) and says he will be working on his golf game instead of helping his father run for the Presidency. Again, a wasted opportunity and advantage that this 21 year old is throwing away. He has a chance to be part of history. The most disfunctional Presidential families, notably the Roosevelts (FDR) and the Reagan's enjoyed the pomp, ceremony, travel and significance of what their father was doing. They realized they had a catbird seat to world events that not many people have the privilege to view from that vantage point.
Now there are two sides to every story, and the The New York Daily News reported that Giuliani rarely spends time with his children and that he had failed to attend many important events in their lives, including Andrew's golf tournaments and Caroline's school plays. Andrew Giuliani is a sophomore at Duke and a member of the school's golf team. Caroline attends a private Catholic school in Manhattan. She will attend Harvard University in the fall. Giuliani has had no comment on his relationship with his children.
Families who are in political life know that sacrifices have to be made. Surely Andrew's mother, a news anchor when Giuliani met her knew that and had to impart that to her family even if the Mayor did not. And perhaps Mr. Giuliani did not attend all the events he could have when those kids were growing up. But all I know is everytime I saw the Mayor (before and after his election) at Yankee Stadium and on TV during crucial playoff and Series games, he had those kids sitting right next to him.
I was an idiot when I was 21, but even I realized then that the window of time was closing on building and keeping a relationship with my father on the level of us being two adults. We shared things more mundane than Giuliani and his son have at their disposal. But they were precious and it is incomprehensible to me that Andrew Giuliani can't grasp the advantage staring him in the face. Perhaps that 8 year old little clown we were introduced to when his father first became Mayor on national TV just never bothered to grow up.


Thomas F. Eagleton, a former United States senator whose legislative accomplishments were overshadowed by whose his removal from the Democratic ticket in 1972 after revelations of mental illness and electroshock therapy overshadowed his Senate legislative efforts on issues from presidential war powers to home rule for the District of Columbia, died Sunday. He was 77.
The death was announced by the office of Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, The Associated Press reported. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Eagleton took a leading role on legislative issues like presidential war powers, the bombing of Cambodia and home rule for the District of Columbia. But history will probably remember him most as a vice-presidential candidate for 18 days.
He was in his first term as a Senator from Missouri when Senator George McGovern asked him to be join his ticket as the Democratic candidate for vice president. Eagleton was a last-minute pick; McGovern had been counting on Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts to change his mind and become his running-mate once McGovern received the presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach. But Kennedy declined.
After other names were considered, the campaign settled on Eagleton, at 42 years old a young, Roman Catholic senator with a liberal voting record and the good opinion of labor. That afternoon, on July 13, 1972, Frank Mankiewicz, a top McGovern aide, asked Eagleton if there was anything in his background that might embarrass the campaign. Eagleton said there was not. He did not tell Mankiewicz that he had been hospitalized three times for depression and that his treatment had twice involved electroshock therapy.
But rumors began circulating among politicians and journalists. Eagleton ultimately held a news conference on July 25 in Custer, South Dakota, where he had just briefed the vacationing McGovern over breakfast. Eagleton told reporters that said he had been treated for "nervous exhaustion." But, in response to questions, he acknowledged that the treatment had included psychiatric counseling and electric shocks.
That day McGovern said, "I think Tom Eagleton is fully qualified in mind, body and spirit to be the vice president of the United States and, if necessary, to take on the Presidency on a moment's notice." A few days later, as objections to Eagleton began to mount, McGovern insisted that he was "1,000 percent for Tom Eagleton."
But the pressure from party leaders, campaign contributors and members of McGovern's own staff was unrelenting. On July 31, the candidates met again, this time in Washington, and McGovern forced him to withdraw. Eagleton stepped down after 18 days as the nominee, saying he had done so for the sake of "party unity."
Eagleton campaigned hard for the ticket of McGovern and his replacement, Sargent Shriver, but they failed to carry Missouri or any other state except Massachusetts as President Richard M. Nixon swept to a resounding re-election victory. (The Democrats also carried the District of Columbia.)
McGovern followers said the vice presidential fiasco was to blame for the magnitude of the loss. Eagleton, however, said he was just "one rock in a landslide."
McGovern said he had come to regret his decision in 1972. "If had it to do over again, I'd have kept him," McGovern said last in April 2006. "I didn't know anything about mental illness. Nobody did."
He said that in recent years that he and Eagleton had been on good terms, and that he regarded Eagleton as one of the 10 or 12 best senators he had served with.
Returning to Congress after he was dropped from the ticket, Eagleton took a leading role in legislation to halt United States bombing of Cambodia in 1973. When, in 1984, he announced that he would not seek a fourth term two years later, he called the Cambodia legislation his proudest achievement in the Senate.
He was also a leading sponsor of the War Powers Act, which was intended to limit the president's ability to make war without Congressional approval. In the end, however, he voted against the bill in 1974, contending it had been watered down too much to achieve its purpose.
A chain smoker, Eagleton fought tobacco subsidies. He was a leading advocate of the 1974 Turkish Arms embargo.


At 8:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just checked the county web site to see the candidates. Not running, huh?

At 11:00 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...


Told you I wouldn't. But there's a lot we can all do to contribute to the dialogue. More on that from me, in the upcoming months.

At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This thing with Jill Moran stinks to high heaven. But I really think this is a case of misplaced loyalty on her part. I hope she doesn't have to pay for that friendship and loyalty in the long run.


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