Sunday, November 01, 2015

The LuLac Edition #3061, November 1st, 2015

Here are the big races this Tuesday. Let’s start with the body that has had some bad press the last few years given scandals and convictions. The races for the Pa. Supreme Court has reignited the debate about whether there should be Merit Selection for Judges or elections as they stand now.


The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the highest court in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court consists of seven justices, each elected to ten year terms. Supreme Court judicial candidates may run on party tickets. The justice with the longest continuous service on the court automatically becomes Chief Justice.
After the ten-year term expires, a statewide yes or no vote for retention is conducted. If the judge is retained, he/she serves another ten-year term. The State Constitutional Convention of 1968 changed the tenure from 21 years to 10.
This year Democrats Christine Donohue, Kevin M. Dougherty and David N. Wecht and Republicans Anne Covey, Michael A. George and Judith F. Olson will square off. Three seats will be filled. Independent Paul Panepinto,is also in the mix.
Not many people are aware of these candidates. A lot has to do with party strength, name recognition and just plan guessing by the voters. The person who seemed to get the most prolific mail award is David Wecht. All other candidates have been using TV media and a few radio.
As in recent elections for seats like this, the biggest impact will be on the vote totals coming out of Philly and Pittsburgh.


There is only one incumbent left over from the 2011 election and he is not even in the same party. Corey O’Brien left the fold earlier in the year and Jim Wansacz was defeated in the spring primary by Jerry Notarianni. Pat O’Malley who switched parties turned out to be the high man in the race followed by Notarriani. Both are running as a team. At least that’s what they both say.
On the GOP side Laureen Cummings and Bill Jones became the GOP nominees. Charlie Spano has mounted a write in campaign because of a mudslinging ad directed at him by Jones in the primary. Cummings and Jones say they are running as a team. At least that’s what they say.
Spano is running as a Write In.
This race I believe will be a free for all for every person involved. There is a reason why Wansacz lost so handily and it can’t be because he was too sure of himself. Notarriani has his base, so does O’Malley. Let’s see how much of a disparity of votes there will be between those two.
Cumming and Jones are now apart with talk that Jones is asking people to bullet vote for him. Cummings will do the same.
Spano is running as a Write In and will take any help he can get.
But no matter what they said, these candidates are not running as teams. 5 people are running for three seats. They and their supporters might disagree but at least that’s what I say.

There are some posters who are writing to comment that because Steve Corbett has publicly come out for Laureen Cummings, they will be bullet voting for Bill Jones. You can see the comments in the previous edition. I believe that these people were going to vote for Jones anyway and are using Corbett’s embrace of Cummings  as an excuse if they lose or as a reason they might win. That’s up to them, not me.
I believe it is wrong headed to oppose a woman who has served the party with distinction as a Committee person, one of the Founders of the Tea Party in Scranton, a proponent of repealing The Affordable Care Act at every turn, a staunch Republican on the local, state and national level as well as a polished, articulate representative against a heavily favored candidate for Congress in 2012. If you as voters, Republican voters want to toss that resume aside in favor of a political rookie who smeared an opponent, then be my guest. But then in my estimation you are as bad as the 40 right wingers in Congress who would rather tear down government instead of changing it. Remember your last Minority Commissioner became a Democrat! I can say categorically that Cummings would rather be burned at the stake and then eaten by wild animals than turn against her party.
I appreciate you reading but c’mon guys, this is one of the reasons why your party in Lackawanna County can only get retread Democrats (with all due respect to those I’ll list) like Jim Connors, Bob Cordaro, A.J. Munchak and Pat O’Malley to win your elections. Really, in the last 54 years the only three true Republicans who have won anything that mattered in Lackawanna County and Scranton were the late Bill Schmidt (Mayor from ’62 to ’66), Gene Peters (Mayor from ’70 to ’78) and David Wenzel (Mayor from ’86 to 90). Those Mayors of Scranton won as Republicans as Republicans. 
Now in 1971, Charles Lugar and Robert Pettinato won election as Republicans and served three terms but had the help of James B. Mcnulty of Scranton, a noted Democrat who handled an advertising campaign for them. The advertising campaign broke the mold in every aspect in this area and the Democratic team of Mellody and Zipay were finally split up.
Since then, the Minority Commissioners you had never were successful in bringing in the other person because they never truly ran as a team. This year more than any other year you had a shot. You have a split Democratic party in the primary. You think Notarianni and O’Malley like each other?
And what politician in their right mind turns down an endorsement from someone? What is Cummings supposed to say, “Gee Steve, people say you are a meanie so I’m not gonna talk to you no more!”
You want to attack Steve Corbett for being a controversial opinion maker, go ahead. He’ll be back next election doing the very same thing! But you might want to take a lesson from our Congressman Matt Cartwright who took a lot of wrath from Corbett. You know what he did? He talked to the man. They still disagree but he talked to the man.  Do you think Corbett only opines on members of your sainted party? Ask Tom Wolf, Joe Biden, Kathleen Kane and Katie McGinty about that.
This is America and you can do what you want BUT don’t do something counterproductive for your county and party just because you don’t like the Talk Show Host and are pissed that he embraced Ms. Cummings  and not your candidate. If you were true Republicans and citizens who gave a damn, you’d realize that your political enemy is not a Talk Show host but the two Democrats running.
By the way, while I appreciate your input, I have decided to do something I have only done three times on this site. I have only endorsed three people in the 10 years I’ve been doing this. Dr. Joe Leonardi for Congress, Matt Cartwright for Congress and Tom Wolf for Governor. This wasn’t even on my radar but because of your silliness I’m endorsing Laureen Cummings and Charlie Spano for Commissioner in the Lac. 
I can’t vote in the county, I don’t care if you bullet vote or not, I’d urge anyone to vote for anybody but your guy.
One more time, there are five candidates, O’Malley, Notarianni, Cummings, Spano and Jones. I don’t see a Corbett anywhere on the ballot.


One term DA Stefanie Salavantis goes up against Vito DeLuca for DA. Salavants has administered the office and touts a 100 per cent conviction rate. DeLuca has practiced law for twenty years and says that the DA’s office needs to be proactive against crime. DeLuca has called Salavantis an insult to the office and inexperienced. The latter, being inexperienced is hard to make a case for since she has one term already. Salavantis slams DeLuca’s record as a Pubic Defender. Every scum bag is entitled to a trial, someone has to do it. GOP operatives are hoping that hand was not overplayed.
Bottom line: will the Democratic registration carry DeLuca to victory or will the force of Salvantis’ personality and political skills carry her to victory?
Unlike Jackie Musto Carroll in 2011 (who never had enough money to run for ads of the Feds telling the world that she helped with the FBI investigation) and the late Bernard podcasy Junior in 1987 (the DA’s office had not yet made an arrest in the Betty Wolsieffer case) Salavantis is not a big target. This race will be a close one because of the Dems registration but you can bet the Salavntis forces will be out on Election Day getting swing voters to the polls.


Out of 12 Luzerne County Council candidates, half will earn a seat on the body. This is the third election for Council since Home Rule. The goal of Home Rule was to make sure that not many politicos became entrenched in their positions. That seems to be working since there has been some turnover, voluntarily and otherwise.
Three big issues are the continuing county debt, tax increases as well as whether the new Council will have to interview a new County Manager. Here’s who’s up:



Edward Brominski, Democrat, Swoyersville
Brominski is one of the charter members of Council. He has had some setbacks with what he wants to do both governmentally and politically. But he still wants a voice. Although not a fan of the new system (he thinks Home Rule was an overreaction to the Judicial scandals) he wants to find new sources of revenue. He also will be instrumental in trying to find a new Manager. Brominski is very constituent centered and should win easily.
John Gadomski, Democrat, Wyoming
Gadomski is a stealth candidate. Laying low with the media and figuring it will carry him through since he has connections with the unions as well as the party bosses. He is a business representative for a carpenters union and says that will help serving on Council. Met him, nice guy, but not much to say.
Gadomski’s candidacy though might violate Home Rule. Gadomski was a member of the Industrial Development Authority until resigning in April before the primary. He said that rule is unconstitutional. If elected he’ll most likely ask for increased staffing and raises. Also if elected there might be an issue with his seating. The county charter says elected officials must be a year removed from serving on a county authority board or commission.
Tim McGinley, Democrat, Kingston
McGinley is one of four sitting council members running for re-election. McGinley is known as the quiet man on Council taking in the information and processing it before he makes a decision. He was the highest vote getter in the primary and the reason is because he makes all the events, remembers names and does his homework.
McGinley feels that the County has made great progress regarding its finances and feels there isn’t enough positive spin on that fact. McGinley seems intent on getting the Financial house of the County in order. More than any other Council member he recognizes that the legacy of his terms are designed to dig the County out of the hole from previous administrations under the Commissioner form of government.
Anthony Rostock, Democrat, Yatesville
Tony Rostock is a fighter. He is recovering from brain surgery and has some ways for the Council to get non taxable revenue from property owners. Rostock would like to enact a tax on food in the county. He said he’ll ask the local Legislators for help and we’ll see how that will go.
Rostock supports more staff but wants it paid with other revenues. He did say he would have voted to refinance the county debt this year which had the GOP members howling. Rostock has a strong political base in Pittston and that will definitely help him in his race.
Stephen A. Urban, Democrat, Wilkes-Barre
Like Brominski, Steve Urban has been around the political block more than a few times. To call him a policy wonk would be an understatement He wants to see the Charter redefined with a smaller board and wants row officers like Sheriff on the ballot again. He has name recognition and if elected again will be in the fore front asking for Bob Lawton’s resignation.
Jane Walsh Waitkus, Democrat, Dorrance Township:
Back for another go at it, Waitkus wants to try again to be a Council member. She has a good chance garnering the second highest amount of votes in the Dem primary. She has conducted a type of listening tour and people have told her not to raise taxes. However she does recognize the money has to come from somewhere and has said that she would not be opposed to selling advertising on County property.


Marc Dixon, Republican, Wright Township
At the urging of his friends and neighbors, this is the first time Dixon has run for public office. His attitude seems to be one of wait and see regarding issues.
One thing he is very enthusiastic about is the recreational possibilities in the County. He has proposed more walking and bike trails in the County. Dixon is personable and may very well pull a good vote from his home area.
Eugene Kelleher, Republican, Dallas
He has the snappy campaign song and is back on the trail again. Gene Kelleher never liked taxes but realized the only way to get the county out of debt was to raise taxes. He was subject to a great deal of caterwauling by members of his own party but sensible voters seem to like his style.
Kelleher decided to run as a write in when his own party could not fill the primary seats. He got on the fall ballot and has been campaigning nonstop ever since.
Like McGinley, Kelleher touts the financial progress made by the County such as earning a credit rating for the county and refinancing a varied -rate debt.
He was one of the first council members elected under home rule, but lost by a whisker in the 2013 race. He is a former educator and business person who is reasonable and good for the County. Like McGinley he surveys the field before running into battle.
Mark Rabo, Republican, Hazleton
Rabo is a well known regular at county council meetings, will address those meetings and will usually have a stack of documents to back up his opinions. As a Hazletonian he frequently stresses economic issues concerning growth for the southern end of the county.
Rabo wants the County to have more oversight but that might involve changing the Home Rule Charter a bit. Rabo feels that the Council should not be a rubber stamp and that he feels there should be more input to Council to departments under the dome. He has also said he’d like to reconfigure the 911 system geographically.
Like Gadomski, Rabo could have issues because he too was on a County Authority (Redevelopment) in a time frame not conducive with the Home Rule Charter. He said will be able to serve.
Ray Gustave, Republican, West Wyoming:
This is the second time around for Ray Gustave in the County Council race. Gustav has been at many a Council meeting and does see room for improvement. He thinks the County assets were underutilized and feels Valley Crest should have been a record center or a campus for the County. From his time as a citizen attending meetings, Gustav has a working knowledge of the issues and the departments. He is low key, not a grand stander or bomb thrower and can add his perspective from his previous employment as well as a regular attendee at the Council meetings. He was employed by Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the government agency that regulates nuclear energy and oversaw the research portion of the NRC’s budget submission to the U.S. Congress. He said the County should have a Chief Financial Officer to track the spending and the budget.
Robert Schnee, Republican, Sugarloaf Township
Robert Schnee started the campaign running with the Democrats but didn’t make the cut in the primary. He is running as a Republican but you see a lot of his signs in Democratic yards.
He is not a radical and pointed to attrition as a means of changing the size of the county workforce. He thinks local tax collectors are a help and not a hindrance. He’d want to shop for a better health insurance contract and wants to take a slow and steady approach to debt reduction. He served on the Hazleton Area School Board and like all candidates from that area want to see more services in that area.
Stephen J. Urban, Republican, Wilkes-Barre
Urban was elected with his father and both declined to attend the Inaugural swearing in. He is employed as an information technology coordinator and has the smarts to put the County in the 21st century when it comes to that issue.
Urban Junior said that there should be no raise in taxes until the county has their own finances under control. He is for cuts to lower the debt and says the County manager should be more aggressive in combining some positions.
Like his father Urban is not thrilled with the County manager and feels there needs to be more communication between the Council and the Manager. Urban Junior said that a monthly update would keep the Council more in the loop.
6 seats available, I’m picking Bromo, McGinley, the two Urbans and Kelleher. That leaves one seat up for grabs. This morning the Citizen’s Voice endorsed Dixon, McGinley, Kelleher, Steve Urban Senior, Jane Waitkus Watkins and Ray Gustave.


Hazleton has three candidates for Mayor and each one of them is an interesting fellow. Jeff Cusat is a business owner and two year Council member who wrested the nomination away from incumbent Joe Yannuzzi. He has a solid bock of support. Running as an Independent is Jeff Cahalean who really stole the show at the debater. The only one of the three using Social Media, he knocked it out of the park with his straight talk and common sense. But can he get enough votes as an In dependent to offset old line party traditions? Rounding out the trio is Jack Mundie who is in his fourth term on Council and has tremendous name recognition. Here is the debate that the three candidates participated in on WYLN TV 35 earlier last month.


On paper there are two candidates. Tony George the Democrat and Frank Sorick the Republican. But incumbent Mayor Tom Leighton has said he will serve if he got enough write in votes and that puts him in the mix. Leighton’s statement was prompted by this debate between the two challengers.
This will be the most interesting race to consider. If South Wilkes Barre voters, traditionally a solid block write in Leighton (remember George Brown declined to do a write in) and Tony George keeps his coalition behind him, there might be a chance for Frank Sorick. But Sorick needs to get disgruntled Democrats not happy with George or Leighton. It will be tough but not out of the realm of possibility.
But here’s my questions, the newest redevelopment deal in the City announced today highlights the Leighton record of accomplishment and development. Will that be a factor? And if George Brown was running would Leighton have waited until next Saturday?
This is one to watch.


A little bit out of the Lu and Lac, but in Pike County voters have to decide who will prosecute Eric Frein. Ray Tonkin is fighting to keep the seat he's held for seven years after losing the Republican primary to attorney Kelly Gaughan. Thanks to a vigorous write-in campaign, Tonkin will appear on the Democratic ballot.
Gaughan has never worked as a prosecutor, but she is married to a retired state trooper . (I see a Holiday Inn ad in her future). However she is endorsed by the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association and the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 46.
This election adds another level of intrigue to one of the most infamous crimes in Pennsylvania history. Can Tonkin beat his primary opponent by getting the votes from the GOP side in the primary and a few more? Or will the endorsements of the police help? This will be something to watch.


At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Yonk
Pals and I are big fans from up here in, as you like to call it, the Lac.
We have been having a blast with this Cummings/Corbett thing. Actually, the race is finally interesting. As life long Dems, we assume we have the majority wrapped up.
None of us are fans of Tom Corbett, and since we have heard his primary reason for leaning towards Cummings was he thinks she'll drive the majority crazy, so we are gonna try and drive him crazy and do this bullet vote thing for Bob Jones.
Since we were gonna vote Dem anyway, not sure how this will effect Whtiney Cummings votes, but wtf, may as well have some fun.

At 6:08 AM, Blogger David Yonki said...

Hey Yonk
Pals and I are big fans from up here in, as you like to call it, the Lac.
We have been having a blast with this Cummings/Corbett thing. Actually, the race is finally interesting. As life long Dems, we assume we have the majority wrapped up.
None of us are fans of Tom Corbett, and since we have heard his primary reason for leaning towards Cummings was he thinks she'll drive the majority crazy, so we are gonna try and drive him crazy and do this bullet vote thing for Bob Jones.
Since we were gonna vote Dem anyway, not sure how this will effect Whtiney Cummings votes, but wtf, may as well have some fun.


This is either wonderful political satire worthy of John Stewart or you guys terrify me that you can vote!
Have at it and I'm sure Bob Jones will send yiu an honorary degree.


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