Thursday, April 29, 2021

The LuLac Edition #4,508, April 29th, 2021





EDITORS NOTE: LULAC will feature articles on the candidates running for Luzerne County Judge. Prior to this edition we commented on Jim Bobeck’s and Tarah Toohil's campaign. We will highlight the other candidates for Judge and then keep all the links up through the campaign for contrast and comparison.  


Alexandra Kokura Kravitz is hoping to continue the Greater Pittston Area Magisterial line of succession to the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas bench. Retired Judge Joseph Augello and current Judge Fred Pierantoni both served as Greater Pittston District magistrates before ascending to the bench.  Kokura Kravitz is seving her second  term and has consistently  received high marks for the way she handled cases in her jurisdiction. 

Luzerne County is where she lives and was raised, and where her family has resided for generations. Alexandra is a graduate of Lehigh University and Widener University School of Law.  Alexandra’s legal career began as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Thomas Munley in Lackawanna County. As a law clerk, Alexandra was responsible for conducting comprehensive legal research and participating in the judicial process of resolving legal issues before the Court of Common Pleas.

Alexandra was then appointed as a Special Trial Master by the President Judge. As a Special Trial Master, Alexandra issued hundreds of court orders an recommendations to the Court of Common Pleas on child and spousal support matters pending before the Court.

Alexandra volunteered as Chairwoman of the Pittston Area Youth Aid Panel, a program that was comprised of members of the community who volunteered tomonitor first-time juvenile criminal offenders. With community input, the Youth Aid Panel gave successful juvenile candidates a chance to expunge criminal records.

In November 2013 Alexandra was elected as Magisterial District Judge, District Court 11-1-04 and was sworn in on January 3, 2014 and re-elected in 2019. As a Magisterial District Judge, Alexandra has presided over tens of thousands of cases including serious criminal matters, civil disputes, domestic violence issues and traffic court. District Judge Kokura Kravitz helped establish a successful truancy program that aids families and improves school attendance.  Judge Kokura Kravitz was appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to serve as a member of the statewide Minor Court Rules Committee. District Judge Kokura Kravitz serves her community with an emphasis on protecting our children and seniors and putting our community first. Like other candidates running for a seat during this Pandemic, she penned a letter to Luzerne County residents. 


Dear Luzerne County Residents,

In 2013, I was elected to serve as Magisterial District Judge in the Greater Pittston area. It has been the honor of a lifetime.

The Magisterial District Court serving the Greater Pittston area is one of the busiest courts in all of Luzerne County. When I was sworn in on Jan. 3, 2014, I rolled up my sleeves and got right to work. I began hearing cases and addressing the growing needs of our community on day one.

As a Magisterial District Judge, I have presided over all types of matters, including thousands of criminal cases, civil disputes and traffic cases each year. I also have dealt with domestic violence and family issues. Magisterial District Courts handle a significant volume of cases that affect people’s day-to-day lives.

I am particularly proud of a program I participate in to address truancy. Since 2015, our truancy court has successfully helped families and improved school attendance.

I am proud to serve in Luzerne County’s judicial system in my current role and to raise my family here. I apply the law in a fair and impartial manner, and I have experience handling matters as a Magisterial District Judge that affects our community. I am running for Judge in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas because I want to bring my trusted and tested experience to our community at large.


Kokura Kracvitz is focused, engaging and accessible.  She has an innate sense of fairness and her experience as a Magistrate gives her the added insight into the relationship between police and the defendants in her court. Her campaign has focused on that experience along with referencing the recent struggles most people had with this Pandemic. Her optimism that our community, her community can overcome the issues we faced by hard work, honesty and determination is a message that a weary voting public might want to hear. Her challenge, like all the others will be to get her supporters to the polls or the mailbox. Kokura Kravitz sent out a flyer directly marketed to mail in ballot deciders,, ie voters, the message that this election is just as important as the previous one. Perhaps that direct appeal will led her on the paths taken by her two immediate predecessors in District 11 1 04.



I have to admit that when President Biden was introduced to the joint session of Congress, I got a tear in my eye. Call it PTSS (Post Trump Stress Syndrome) or just plain sentimentality, but my reaction even surprised me. Biden talked like a President, had facts on hand and gave a speech that invigorated the Democracy that was nearly ruined by the previous administration. As ABC reported:

Of all the sweeping ideas President Joe Biden laid out Wednesday night -- trillions in new spending, vast new investments in health care, education, the environment, infrastructure, police reform and more -- the most grandiose notion he offered may be the concept that national unity is possible, and maybe even close at hand. Perhaps more notable is how he sees the nation getting closer to his vision of "one people, one nation, one America."

The progress Biden sees coming depends on government -- new spending, new programs and new opportunities powered by dramatic increases in government spending -- even if that means essentially forgoing goals of bipartisanship. "These are the investments we make together, as one country, and that only the government can make," the president said.

Biden has at times seemed conflicted between the deal-making lawmaker he was over decades in the Senate, and the opportunity he sees for making transformative changes as president. His first address to a joint session of Congress had him edging toward the latter persona over the former.

The divisions and anxieties of the moment in the nation were evident enough inside the House chamber. Biden spoke in front of a sparse and masked crowd, just four months removed from an unprecedented assault on the very room Biden was speaking in, aimed at keeping the losing candidate in November's election in power. For all that, Biden brought an optimistic vision: "After 100 days of rescue and renewal, America is ready for takeoff, in my view."

Biden explicitly called on Republicans to join his legislative efforts, and put Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of the push for infrastructure reform. Yet a careful listen reveals an important caveat: His message is not about erasing partisan divisions so much as trying to ignore them. He thanked Democratic leaders and "the overwhelming support of the American people" for helping pass a COVID-19 recovery package -- without noting that the bill got not a single Republican vote.

And while he championed efforts to advance conversations with Republicans, he also signaled limits to his patience  "I welcome those ideas," the president said. "But the rest of the world isn't waiting for us. I just want to be clear: From my perspective, doing nothing is not an option."  (ABC, LuLac)



 Your blog Editor with Rudy before he went nuts. (Photo: LuLac archives) 


 Federal investigators have executed a search warrant at the Manhattan home of former President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The former New York City mayor has been under investigation for several years over his business dealings in Ukraine. Details of the search were not immediately available, but it comes as the Justice Department continues its investigation into the former New York City mayor and staunch Trump ally.

The official could not discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The federal probe into Giuliani's overseas and business dealings stalled last year because of a dispute over investigative tactics as Trump unsuccessfully sought reelection, and amid Giuliani’s prominent role in subsequently disputing the results of the contest on Trump’s behalf.

The full scope of the investigation is unclear, but it at least partly involves the Ukraine dealings, law enforcement officials have told the AP.

This just proves that anyone who defends Donald Trump or comes in close proximity to hi orbit is immediately damaged personally and politically. The Southern District investigation will be worth keeping an eye on their proceedings. 

Guiliani's son Andrew complained about how partisan the Justice Department is going after his daddy.  The fact is there was evidence awaiting a warrant that NEVER came under the Trump Justice Department. Now when true justice is meted out, they squeal like little pggies. With them, ACCUSATION IS CONFESSION. (AP, LuLac) 




 Congressman Matt Cartwright (Photo: LuLac archives)


 On Earth Day (April 22nd)  U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) introduced three bills, two of which also have Republican support, to create jobs by building more sustainable infrastructure and promoting energy efficient manufacturing.

As climate change impacts us more every year, from 2010 to 2020, Pennsylvania experienced 37 extreme weather events costing the state and taxpayers up to $10 billion in damages. The Built to Last Act, Climate Resilience International Development Act, and the Job Creation through Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act represent a forward-looking approach to creating sustainable jobs and infrastructure for a warming climate while saving taxpayer dollars.

“Climate change is going to fundamentally alter our lives in the coming decades, and scientists agree that it is one of the biggest threats this country faces,” said Rep. Cartwright. “It is a real risk, but also an opportunity to create jobs and plan for the future. As we gear up for one of the largest investments in our infrastructure in a generation, we can put people to work by rebuilding infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather events and promoting clean manufacturing. These solutions will also save lives and taxpayer money in the long term, and they should be a part of the conversation as we develop the American Jobs Plan.”

“To have a middle class in America, we need to build stuff in America. And in a competitive world, that means making sure small manufacturing businesses can invest in efficiency,” said Sen. Merkley, who also introduced the Job Creation through Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act today in the U.S. Senate. “Investing in energy efficient retrofits will save manufacturers money and cut the pollution driving climate chaos so Americans can keep building for the world.”

“As we look at common sense ideas to address climate change, we need to look at our building industry and the standards they use for meeting lower energy use,” said Rep. Bacon, the lead Republican co-sponsor of the Built to Last Act. “This legislation will assist standards-developing organizations such as the International Code Council find and incorporate into their standards relevant information about climate change.”

By the end of this century, scientists predict that the United States will see more volatile precipitation patterns, more heat waves and droughts, more wildfires, and stronger hurricanes and tornados due to the effects of climate change. This is not only dangerous for humans, animals, and wildlife, but costs trillions of dollars. In 2020, there were 22 extreme weather events that cost the United States over $1 billion each.

Taking action on this issue is as important at home as it is abroad. According to a 2019 World Resources Institute report, investing in climate resilient infrastructure yields a 5:1 cost-benefit ratio. President Biden issued an Executive Order that will ensure U.S.-funded aid does not go to waste. However, further action from Congress is needed.

At the same time, the manufacturing sector consumes more than 40 percent of all energy used in the United States, and has the largest potential for cost-effective savings. In fact, the manufacturing sector accounts for $480 million in wasted energy that could potentially be saved.

Putting these investments to work is a job multiplier. The energy efficiency sector employs 2.2 million people, including 1.4 million construction jobs, and continues to grow. These well-paid jobs in manufacturing high-efficiency appliances, installing upgrades, and researching innovative technologies save businesses money.  Because these are jobs that can’t be outsourced, energy efficiency investments help grow American jobs and the economy.

Cartwright’s push for sustainable infrastructure and manufacturing includes the following 3 pieces of legislation:

The Built to Last Act, cosponsored by Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE-02), will incorporate climate change data in building standards, making structures more resilient to extreme weather events. 

The Job Creation through Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act, also introduced in the Senate today by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), will create high-paying manufacturing and construction jobs by facilitating energy efficiency upgrades for small- and medium-sized manufacturers.



 Senator Bob Casey (Photo: LuLac archives)

During National Reentry Week and “Second Chance” Month, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) and U.S. House Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA-14) are introducing the bipartisan and bicameral Clean Slate Act to give more than 70 million Americans with low-level and nonviolent criminal records a second chance to fully participate in society.

The legislation would remove major barriers for many Americans in finding employment, securing housing and accessing education by automatically sealing the federal records of individuals convicted of low-level, nonviolent drug offenses after they successfully complete their sentence.

“Automated record sealing is a critical step to help get our economy back on track as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and in the ongoing fight for criminal justice reform. Too many Americans are not given a full and fair second chance because they are burdened by criminal records for nonviolent convictions or arrests that did not result in a conviction,” said Senator Casey. “With nearly half of U.S. children having at least one parent with a criminal record, automatically sealing these records will help us invest in our Nation’s future by ensuring millions of parents with minor criminal histories aren’t prohibited from fully participating in the workforce or finding safe and affordable housing for their families.”

“Even after paying their debt to society, oftentimes those who have been charged with low-level, nonviolent misdemeanors face significant barriers to employment, housing, and other necessities. Giving folks a ‘clean slate’ with this bipartisan and bicameral legislation is a commonsense criminal justice reform to offer a second chance to millions, while keeping our communities safe,” said Senator Joni Ernst.

“In the digital era, even a minor criminal record can be a life sentence to poverty and joblessness that no judge ever handed down. While most states allow at least some records to be cleared, to allow people to move on with their lives and provide for their families, it’s long past time policymakers brought record-clearing to the federal level. This historic legislation would, for the first time, create a path to clearing federal records by petition, while establishing automatic record-clearance starting with low-level federal drug records—an impactful platform to build on. This legislation could not be more timely or urgently needed, as our nation seeks to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Workers with records were already facing double-digit unemployment rates pre-pandemic, when the overall unemployment rate was 3 to 4 percent. We’ll never ‘build back better’ if we leave behind 70 million people with criminal records. Removing barriers to employment for workers with records is critical to ensuring a full and equitable recovery,” said Rebecca Vallas, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress.

“People who have paid their debt to society for low-level, nonviolent offenses deserve to be welcomed back into society. This is precisely the goal of the criminal justice system. We want people to pay their debts and amend their lives. Those who do it, should be rewarded and restored—for their good, their families’ good, and in the best interest of our communities and our states. Sealing the records of low-level, nonviolent ex-offenders after they have successfully completed their sentences will help reduce recidivism, strengthen families and communities, and provide a pathway to redemption for people who want to reform their lives,” said Patrick Purtill, Director of Legislative Affairs, Faith and Freedom Coalition.

“A criminal record, even for a low-level drug offense, can lead to a lifetime of obstacles, making it hard for people to find meaningful employment and stable housing, to provide for their families and contribute to their communities. The Clean Slate Act would provide a second chance for people who have turned their lives around, and it’s a perfect way to mark Second Chance Month. Criminal justice reform is still an issue where both parties can come together, and we are grateful to Senators Ernst and Casey, and Representatives Blunt Rochester and Reschenthaler, for reaching across the aisle on this critical issue,” said Inimai Chettiar, Justice Action Network, Federal Director.

“JPMorgan Chase is committed to giving people with criminal backgrounds a second chance through inclusive hiring and by supporting common sense public policy measures like the Clean Slate Act. Creating a process for clearing low-level nonviolent federal records, and streamlining the process through automation, will help people get their foot in the door, pursue stable career pathways and give back to their communities,” said Heather Higginbottom, President, PolicyCenter, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

More than 1 in 3 adults have some form of a criminal record, keeping them from participating in many facets of everyday life as nearly nine in ten employers, four in five landlords and three in five colleges utilize background checks to screen applicants.

Currently, the federal government lacks any meaningful way to clear federal criminal records, even for records that might not have resulted in a conviction. The Clean Slate Act aims to address this issue by automatically sealing federal arrest records for individuals not convicted and records for individuals convicted of low-level, nonviolent drug offenses after successfully completing their sentence. It would also establish new procedures to allow individuals to petition a federal district judge to review and potentially seal records for other nonviolent offenses that are not automatically sealed.

The Clean Slate Act is endorsed by Americans for Tax Reform, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Business Roundtable, Center for American Progress, Code for America, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Due Process Institute, Faith and Freedom Coalition, JPMorgan Chase, Justice Action Network, R Street Institute, Responsible Business Initiative and Right on Crime.







This week's guest will be Maria MacDonald from the Observe Scranton Festival.

Tune in Sunday morning at 6 on 94.3 The Talker; 6:30 on The Mothership 1340/1400 am, 100.7 and 106.7 fm; and at 7:30 on The River 105 and 103.5.




Our 1987 logo.

The USS Stark is hit by two Iraqi owned Exocet AM39 air-to-surface missiles, killing 37 sailors…. On a plane filled with students returning to Boston from spring break in Miami, Ozzy Osbourne buys three rounds of drinks and sings "Crazy Train" over the PA….. Bernhard Goetz trial is in progress. Goetz’s lawyers argued that the men were trying to rob him and that he was only acting in self-defense, while the prosecution maintained that the four young men were merely panhandling. The case proved particularly divisive in New York City, where racial tensions were high. Bernhard Goetz stated that three years before the incident, he had been attacked in the Canal Street subway station, while transporting electronic equipment, by three youths who attempted to rob him. The attackers smashed Goetz into a plate-glass door and threw him to the ground, injuring his chest and knee. Goetzwas later cleared in the summer of ’87…and this week in 1987 the number o e song in LuLac land and America was "Walking Down Your Street" by the Bangles.



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