Monday, April 24, 2017

The return of Blogfest

It was so much fun in the past people have been asking us to do it again. Started as an informal political mixer it became a networking event for bloggers, voters and political candidates.

Past events have drawn crowds of 100 to 150, including political and non-political bloggers, politicians from every party as well as independents, and those curious about politics and blogging.

Since its inception Blogfest has been described as the best political event of the season. The rule is "agree to disagree, but don't be disagreeable." Many local and statewide candidates will be attending. All are welcome, and there is no charge for admission.

 This a joint venture of NEPA Blogs, The Lu Lac Political Letter and Gort42.

Ole Tyme Charley's Restaurant & Pub
31 S River St, Plains, Pennsylvania 18705
Saturday May 6th starting at 5 PM

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Rock the County-Wendy Cominsky for Luzerne County Council

Wendy Cominsky is one of those very special people who decided to run for office. She doesn't have money or powerful friends just a desire to make a difference. I asked her why she would want to do such a thing and she told me she has been an activist about issues she cares about and people suggested she should run for office. So she listened to them and threw her hat into the ring. She is a middle class worker who owns her own business and she said if she is successful it will encourage more people like her.

She organized a great event and invited other candidates to circulate  petitions. The other council candidates gathering signatures were incumbent Linda Houck and newcomers Phil Gianfarcaro, David Popiak and Sheila Saidman.

Michelle Bednar is running for reelection as Controller and said she is proud of the job she has done. She has reorganized the office and has done more with less people because of the county financial problems. The audits are on time and she will be looking at the  books of the local tax collectors next. The audit of the Homestead exemption has netted $100K in back taxes.

A couple of Wilkes-Barre Area School Board candidates also were seeking some ink.Melissa Etzle Patla and Jarvis Wright. More on Jarvis tomorrow.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Another update from Walter

"I never denied that I did something wrong and I paid my fine as well as served my probation, and resigned from the job that I loved doing for the people of this County I think I left my guard down and was very stupid in allowing them the opportunity to get me out of office. I think it was truly an honest mistake that cost me dearly financially and emotionally and I am truly sorry for my mistakes."

Harry Haas, Carolee Medico, Walter Griffith, Stephen J.A. X. Y .Z Urban, The Judge, Charlie Lemmond

Walter is back

A photo from Griffiths campaign in 2009

To the surprise of no one former Luzerne County Controller Walter Griffith has announced he wants his old job back. Walter was elected to the office in 2009 but resigned in 2013  after he was charged with illegal wiretapping and sentenced to probation. “I think it’s a valid concern for people to have about me resigning my position as a controller,” he said. “If I made a mistake, I made a mistake.”

I expect a few other Republicans  will enter the primary to take on incumbent Michelle Bednar.

This race should be one of the most hotly contested in 2017. Many of my Republican friends are telling me they won't support him this time.

From his FB page:

Today I'm officially announcing my candidacy for Luzerne County Controller. I will be circulating Nominating Petitions to have my name placed on the ballot for the Republican party nominee in the May 16th Primary election. If you would like to sign my petition please let me know as soon as possible. Please remember you can only sign 1 petition.
Thank you and please share this with all of your friends.

I'm surprised he didn't send me a press release, he's pretty good at that.  I will have more on this next week.

Former county controller convicted of obstruction wants the job back




Walter Griffith responds:


 Ben I want you to know I respect your post. I also want everyone to know the circumstances that led to my removal. Everyone knows that the entire courthouse wanted me gone because of my uncovering the poor practices of the administration. I did not "Wiretap" anyone I recorded the Chairman of City Vest in my office at 7 PM because I was there alone. I placed him on speakerphone and was not aware that this was a violation of the law. I simply wanted to have a source of reference for myself of what was told to me regarding this very important audit of 10 million dollars of Federal Funds. I never released this recording to anyone and no one ever knew I had the recording. The FBI issued a Warrant for all the information that I had regarding my audit of this money and under the threat of Contempt, it was provided to the FBI ONLY. I was not aware that I was doing anything illegal or wrong. The County Power-brokers wanted me removed from office, plain and simple as was evident by the plea agreement. The taxpayers of this County are all smart enough to see that and will support me in my effort to finish the job I started. Thanks for listening and I appreciate your time.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Luzerne County Council election 2017

The TL has a rundown of the candidates that have so far expressed an interest in becoming Luzerne County Councilors. Democratic incumbent Council chair Linda McClosky Houck is up for another run but Eileen Sorokas will take a pass.

 I backed Eileen last time but her support of Trump as reported in this Newsweek article ( Why Did Donald Trump Win? Just Visit Luzerne County, Pennsylvania) poisoned her potential support among  local Dems. The news of the last few weeks revealed a serious lack of judgement on her part.

Incumbent Republican Harry Haas says the county has made progress on the debt and other issues and will seek a third term. Kathy Dobash is being coy but is probably in.

Independent Rick Williams is non committal about  term.

A bunch of Democrats will be circulating petitions:

Wendy Cominsky, of  Dallas Township

 John Gadomski, of Wyoming

 Philip Gianfarcaro, of Pittston

 David Popiak, of Hazleton

 Sheila Saidman, of Kingston

 The Republicans looking to get on the ballot:

Mark Dixon, of Wright Township,

 Chris Perry, of Fairview Township

 Stephen J. Urban, of Wilkes-Barre

 Gregory S. Wolovich Jr., of Newport Township

This Sunday candidate Wendy Cominsky is holding a petition party open to all Democratic candidates.

Rock the County

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Time for some grownups

So Mike Flynn was fired as National Security Advisor. Expect more staff changes in the Trump Whitehouse. Priebus, Conway, Bannon, Miller, etc. have no experience in government and it has showed in the first 3 weeks.  I expect that some people from the Dubya years will be brought in to restore some order. But who would want the jobs when you have to deal with Twitty.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


A few years ago Atrios nicknamed Chris Matthews of Hardball on MSNBC Tweety. I picked up on it because I thought it was funny.

Now the resident of the White House is a person who  likes to type   things on Twitter who may or may not realize that he may crash markets or start a war with a 5AM Tweet.

God help us all

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Know Hope

I am just overwhelmed by the turnout in Washington, LA, Scranton and other cities around the country and around the world protesting the result of the the recent Presidential election.

 Again, the Republican candidate has been installed by an archaic system. Hilary Clinton and Al Gore both won the popular vote but the Electoral  College went against the popular vote. That  needs to be corrected. The Republicans have won both the popular vote and the Electoral College only once since 1988.

It is easier to organize against something than for something. The Tea Party groups proved that. But the problem is you really can't figure out  what Trump actually want's to do or even believes it himself

The women and men that marched today announced the opposition to Trump and the Republican Congress starts today  .

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

We had an election and nobody got killed. We got through it

For every apocalyptic prediction in the aftermath of the election yesterday I want to remind my friends that we will get through it. Depending on your point of view either Dubya or O'Bummer was the worst thing that has ever happened to this country. Somehow we got through it.

That being said there is some real danger out there.

Trump doesn't seem to be interested in public policy unless it can be reduced to a sound bite so the Republican Congress will set the agenda and he will go along with most of it.

Just on Healthcare. 

They will repeal the Affordable Care Act ( Obamacare) leaving over 20 million people without health insurance.  They have to do this, the base will rebel if they don't.

Speaker Paul Ryan's budget outlined a plan to close the VA Medical Centers and make Medicare into something of a coupon system. They call it premium support. Frank Luntz is a master of language

Changing Medicaid to a block grant to give states "flexibility. "  Most of the money (over 60%)  pays for people in Nursing Homes  like my Mom.

Obamacare is opposed until you tell people that you kids can stay on your policy until they are 26 or preventive procedures are covered with no deductible. If you have an illness (preexisting condition)  you can't be denied coverage.

The headlines tell us that  premiums have increased dramatically this year but how much  would they go up without this law? No one knows.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

120th State Rep forum

I know no one reads this blog anymore but I decided to write up the 120th candidate forum so I can post a link to Facebook.

1st term Republican Aaron Kaufer and Democratic challenger Bob McDonald had the obligatory LWV forum at Wyoming Sem in Kingston. 

About 50 people attended which is about what you get for these things. The TL and CV sent reporters and Service Electric taped it. It can be seen on channel 2 on Monday.

Bob is a first time candidate and Aaron is an experienced politician and it showed. Kaufer was well rehearsed and confident in his answers speaking into the microphone while McDonald sometimes rambled and sat 2 feet away from the table/mic. I hope the TV audio  picked him up. In his opening statement Kaufer said that good policy makes for good politics. That's something  Bill Clinton said. McDonald said we are about to elect our first woman President and talked about dignity.

People in the audience submitted questions and you can tell who planted the most.

On the economy Bob wants a gigabyte revolution and Aaron agreed we need more fiber optics then pitched cutting corporate taxes.

On welfare Kaufer touted he was able to add a check mark to assistance applications so people can't get benefits in more than state and claimed it  saved money. He wants family caps on benefits and work requirements . McDonald reminded him it's illegal to claim benefits in more than one state and that welfare is a floor and most benefits go to children .

They both agreed that anew approach is needed to the opioid crises. Bob stated that addiction is not a moral failure but a medical problem. Aaron said there s no silver bullet to solve this problem and is part of the HOPE caucus .

Neither one seemed to like Charter Schools.

On HB76 Bob said eliminating school property taxes is not going to happen and said people who keep promising that are like Lucy holding the football. Aaron then gave an impassioned defense of eliminating property taxes saying the legislature passed a constitutional amendment that I haven't heard about providing a 100% Homestead exemption. The audience applauded.

They both agreed that discrimination against LBGT people is wrong. Kaufer cited his gay brother Seth.

On term limits Bob got a laugh saying that he thinks that Aaron should be limited to 1 term. Aaron invoked George Washington cautioning against political factions and said he wears an orange tie to show his support for reform.

Kaufer said that Unemployment compensation is too generous and voted to reduce it and regulations should be pared back. That left an opening for McDonald to argue that the frackers are just as bad as the coal companies.

After the event I asked Kaufer what he thinks of his party's Presidential nominee and would he vote for him. He said he had his own race to run and would not say if he would vote for Trump.