Thursday, May 31, 2007

Luzerne County Commissioner

While an appointment to the interim post would be an honor, I strongly believe that it must be those same Luzerne County residents who should elect me as their commissioner.”-Controller Maryanne Petrilla

Her commitment to the democratic process is very touching. But outgoing Commissioner Todd Vonderheid sort of put a dent in that process by quiting before his term was over. Now President Judge Mark Ciavarella and the county’s eight other judges get to pick a replacement. I find it curious that the Governor nominates replacements for row officers, which in many ways are functionaries of the courts, but the Judges get to fill the most political office in the county.

The TL is reporting that Clerk of Courts Bob Reilly and Prison Board Chairman Wister Yuhas are applying for the job and former state representative Tom Tigue that he is seriously considering submitting his resume. Some other names being tossed around include 3 former commissioners– Frank Trinisewski, Rose Tucker and Tom Pizano. The most interesting name on the list is Bob Reilly. If he was appointed to the post wouldn't he have to resign as Clerk of Courts while at the same time running for reelection to the office?

But the politicians want a say. After first saying he would stay out of it, Petrilla's running mate Commissioner Greg Skrepenak said Tuesday he expects the “courtesy of a conversation...The individual chosen will have some very difficult decisions to make that will have some long-term impact on the county,” Skrepenak said. “I would think you would need someone who has experience and can take office and hit the ground running. There is not going to be a learning curve.” And Luzerne County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Bufalino said the party should be part of the process.

I don't get it

The news that Fred Thompson will run for President has some of my Republican friends all-a-flutter. What's so special about him? He helped bring down Nixon as counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee then became a big time lobbyist before serving one uneventful term in the Senate. He voted for the campaign finance reform bill that they all hate McCain for. He's best known for his roll in the Law and Order TV series which I've never seen. The only movie I do remember him in was The Hunt for Red October. Not exactly as stirring a performance as Ronald Reagan in Hellcats of the Navy. But after watching the performance of the present field I can understand them wanting something else. Sorry guys, nothing short of digging up Saint Ronny and nominating him is going to save the White House for you in 2008.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Who's running aganst Carney?

Another one one of these stories by Boris. Yeah the the Republicans think they can win this seat back because they lost it because of the Tunkhannock Strangler. We'll see. If there are troops in Iraq in 2008, and there will be, the Dems are going to win big in Congress and take back the White House. The Republicans are trying to tie Chris to Nancy Pelosi like anybody pays attention to that sort of inside baseball. Weak. They even have a website that calls him a liberal!

He's not a liberal. In fact he's been pissing off liberals like me. He voted against the McGovern admendment that mandated an immediate withdrawl from Iraq. He voted for the Iraq funding bill without timelines that Mr. Bush wanted.

The netroots raised a bunch of money for this guy and now some of them feel betrayed. Howie feels betrayed and I can't blame him.

What's the alternative? Another Republican mouthpiece. I have my differences with Chris but do we really want to give this seat back because he is not pure enough?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Rocket launch in Moosic

I may never get a ticket to PNC Field. I was hoping to go Monday but forget it now.
CV: Roger Clemens will pitch for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees on Monday against the Toldeo Mud Hens. Clemens, who will be making his third minor-league start on his way to joining the New York Yankees, will take the mound at 5 p.m. at PNC Field.
I'm actually amused by this whole Roger is going to save us nonsense being mouthed by the Bomber fans. After tonight the Yanks are 4 games under .500 and 10 1/2 games behind the Red Sox. He might get 20 starts when he is back and NY could hope to win half of them. $18 million for 10 wins, what a bargain.
Phillies update: Philadelphia actually won a game comfortably tonight by 8-3. Jamie Moyer won his 5th game with his first win over the Braves in 20 years. Ryan Howard made a nice return with a 2 RBI hit in the 8th and a circus play at first that got an out. And Mike Zagurski made his Major League debut pitching a perfect inning. But the Mets won.

Smoking bans

Allegheny County's smoking ban got shot down in Commonwealth Court so Scranton has decided to stop enforcing it's ordinance. So far the only business that has been cited is Chick's Diner and the owners are suing the city. Either cigarettes are legal or not. But the government collects huge amounts of taxes on a product that everyone agrees is a health hazard so they won't outlaw them. The same with booze and the neo-prohibitionist drunk driving zealots. Many restaurants and bars have already instituted a smoke free policy and that is their choice. If you smoke and can't take an hour off from your habit go somewhere else. Steve Corbett's new show debuted on WILK today and what little I caught of it he was was on his high horse about banning smoking. As I was listening to him I was behind a dump truck that was spewing diesel fumes that wasn't pleasant and there was a bus ahead of it. Auto emissions, pesticides, coal fired power plants, etc are all fouling the air. Alex and the gang also weigh in on the Nanny State aspects of these laws over at
And we had a discussion previously on this with Russ Diamond framing it as a question of property rights.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Countdown to 10,000

I heard a few months ago that the Philadelphia Phillies were headed to losing their 10,000th game this year. Since 1883 the Phils have amassed 9,979 loses and have only won the World Series once in five appearances.
They came close to losing the 9,980th game tonight and may have lost closer Bret Myers for a while. He had a bad inning, giving up 4 runs in the 9th and left the game holding his shoulder. I hope he will be OK but I get suspicious when a player has a bad outing then claims an injury. I really don't think there is anything wrong with Ryan Howard's leg.
Back to history. How many disasters have the Phillies endured? Everything from the 1964 meltdown when they had to win one of the ten games left and lost them all to a road trip to Cincinnati in the early 1900's when a player fell out of the train and drowned in the Ohio River. The near misses of the last few seasons to Joe Carter's Home Run off Mitchy Poo in the 1993 World Series.
But there is way to celebrate all this futility. An Inky story today profiles the creator of a website that is documenting this moment in history. And when the big day happens the author, Charley DeBow, is planning a parade.
DeBow said the "celebration march" will be held after the next home game.
"It's not meant to make fun of the Phillies' losing 10,000 games," he said, "but it's also something that can't be overlooked."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hazleton Cargo Airport

I got a curious piece of mail today. It was from State Represenative Todd Eachus. It's not unusual to get a piece of propaganda from an elected official but they usually come in an election year. But the really strange thing about it is that it came from someone from another district. I hope this not a trend and it's another reason to ban this abuse of taxpayer money. But that's another story.

The letter itself touts the promise of building a cargo airport near Hazleton. Claiming 100,000 jobs could be created and raise the medium income and cites the miracle of Memphis as a reason to build yet another airport in the area. I have my doubts about this project knowing full well how real-estate deals are done around here. Mr. John Doe used eminent domain to get rid of Paragon Adventure Park. More will come. Since there is no "anchor tenant" how far will this fantasy proceed?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Methadone clinic

"All I can tell you is we’re not happy with it,” -Yatesville Mayor Joseph Chiumento

It seems to be the wave of the future. More drug treatment centers as oppossed to locking people up. Jackie-Mo and Dave Lupas want to lock up all the druggies like that has worked over the last 40 years. The people who have to live next to a treatment facility understandably yell NIMBY. But this proposal is for a for a facility is in a location that was carefully selected as it is away from residential areas, schools and child care facilities.

It's a sad thing that there is such a demand for this but the people who are proposing it have done their homework. The last time this came up was over the clinic in Plains Twp. and then Mayor of W-B Tom McGroarty led the charge against it. But low and behold. There has not been one police call to that clinic since it opened.

People make stupid decisions in their lives. Does that mean you just turn your back on them when they want to make it right? I'd rather have someone hooked on methadone than heroin living on my street. And believe me, they live on YOUR street.

Hillary wants my advice

I got this email.

Dear gort,

Hillary needs your help. We've been working on an important issue -- the kind that can make or break a campaign. And your input is absolutely critical to ensuring that we make the right decision. That's right -- we're picking our campaign song.

I can vote for my choice here. None of the choices appeal to me but you can write-in your favorite. Wonkette is suggesting "Bitch” by the Stones or every body's favorite War Pigs by Black Sabbath. Stand by your Man also come to mind.

War Pigs is more of a Republican song and DownWithTyranny has new video mix of it.

Whoever invented the pitch count should be shot

I'm watching the Braves and Red Sox and the rookie Kason Gabbard is throwing a shutout into the sixth inning then gives up 2 hits. Francona pulls him because he's up to 100 pitches. Of course the next guy comes in and the Braves score a run. Earlier today Adam Eaton threw 6+ innings of shutout ball and had a 5-0 lead but he had 109 pitches and was replaced by Geoff Geary who made a blowout into an interesting game by giving up 3 home runs.

I'm just old fashioned. I don't care what the pitch count is, if a guy is throwing a shutout let him out there until he gives up a run or his arm falls off.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

$3 gas

Why I refuse to buy oil stocks, I'll never know. We can expect another record round of quarterly profits from Exxon and the rest to be announced in July. By industrial world standards it's still pretty cheap in the US. Most of Europe is paying $5 to $6 a gallon. The sudden rise in prices is sure to impact the rest of the economy as just about everything is impacted by the price of gasoline. The Bonddad Blog asks some good questions.
1.) We are at the beginning of the summer driving season. Will prices continue to increase throughout the summer?
2.) What will be the impact on consumer spending? We saw a terrible retail month in April. Wal-Mart posted their worst decline in 28 years. I have to think high gas prices were partially responsible. If prices continue to increase, will we continue to see a drop in consumer spending?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

The victims in this particular case are the people of Luzerne County. A long time employee of the Recorder of Deeds office was sentenced to house arrest and restitution for stealing more than $51,000 from a cash register over a number of years. That was sentence for Robert Pritchard by Luzerne County President Judge Mark Ciavarella. The standard sentencing range on the charge called for a minimum sentence of six to 14 months of incarceration. Must be nice to have friends in high places. His attorney is Peter Moses, son the well connected John Moses. The Assistant District Attorney William Finnegan had no problem with Ciavarella’s sentence. Luzerne County detective Dan Beky said Pritchard’s cooperation and extreme remorse also made the house arrest acceptable.

Yeah, he's sorry he got caught.

In other news a Nanticoke man was sentenced to one to two years in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for stealing lobster tails. And three chumps were jailed because they fell behind on child support payments.

But the saga of the Recorder of Deeds embezzlement is not over. Carl Salitis has been charged with stealing almost $400,000 over seven years. Investigators say Salitis shortchanged Wilkes-Barre City and the Wilkes-Barre Area School District on transfer taxes and pocketed the money. Salitis is free on $50,000 bail while he awaits a court date. He'll probably get 40 lashes with a wet noodle.

Monty Python explains how the Luzerne County justice system works. Maybe we'll hear a speech like this from Hugo.

Write-in, right on-but can they spell?

Lou Barletta made an effort to have Democrats in Hazleton cast a write-in ballot for him and it paid off winning both nominations. Bob Cordaro got bounced from the Lakawanna County Commissioners race but won the nomination with a write-in campaign. And there are 1,403 write-in votes for county coroner and 1,261 votes for district attorney in Tuesday’s primary election on the Republican side according to the CV. So one of the losers of Tuesday's races may appear on the ballot in the fall. But the catch is that the candidate's name must be spelled right for the ballot to count and any variations may end up in court as pointed out in the TL.

Does this open up all sorts of possibilities. In future elections a candidate could skip the whole petition process and just urge his/her supporters to type their name in. A write-in campaign will still be a long shot but will be easier than it was in the past when you had to actually write the name on a little strip of paper on the mechanical machine or use a sticker. If some write-in candidates start winning elections I'm sure that you will hear an outcry from powers that be to either raise the threshold for nomination from the present 250 votes or get rid of the electronic machines altogether.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lokuta out?

A Big Fat Slob has some speculation from the Luzerne County Ding Dome grapevine.

The judge's trial on the charges is said to be set for later this month (something I am trying to confirm). Through the gapacious Luzerne County Ding Dome grapevine, we hear that a deal is about to be cut which would permit the Judge to retain her pension interests and open up another space on the bench for yet another white male ass.

We hear that the Judge will be bidding the Courthouse a not so fond adieu sometime this summer, perhaps as early as June 1.

Some potentially competative races

In the Luzerne County Sheriffs race incumbent Republican Barry Stankus will face Michael Savokinas. Stankus was the surprise winner in 1999 after then Sheriff Carl Zawatski's car was wrecked because he said he was swerving to avoid hitting a dog a few blocks from a local watering hole that his daughter was seen that night having a grand ole time. The accusation was the she was actually driving the car and Carl took the wrap to cover up for her. Nothing was ever proved. Stankus has done a good job a should win reelection but the Dems are looking for a sweep of the row offices.

The Recorder of Deeds race will be interesting. Incumbent Republican Mary K. Dysleski has seen 2 long time employees confess to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the office. Dysleski is not being accused of anything but the thefts happened on her watch. Former Avoca Mayor and bar owner James Red O’Brien was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Looking to the fall, the easy ones

Well we know that Dave Lupas will be the new Luzerne County Judge having won both nominations and Jackie-Mo will take his place as District Attorney since no Republican bothered to run. And John Corcoran will take over from Dr. Jack as Coroner. Skrep and Petrilla will be the next majority commissioners as Steve Urban and Bill Jones will spend their time bashing each other instead of the Democrats. Bob Reilly is looking good for a sixth term as Clerk of Courts facing surprise Republican winner Butler Township tax collector Sue Rossi. My favorite guy in the courthouse Treasurer Mike Morreale will face token opposition from Republican Gina Nevenglosky. Lou Barletta won both nominations for Mayor of Hazleton and will avoid any backlash when the federal court rules that the immigration ordinance is unconstitutional.

Local blogger reaction to the results is easy as only me, Mark and David are the only ones writing about it. In the past year I have seen about 20 blogs about local politics come and quickly go. The key seems to be as soon as list them on NEPA Blogs they stop posting. Just call me the kiss of death. Sorry DB.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Some results

Lupas won both nominations for Judge. Jackie-Mo will be the next DA. Skrep and Petrilla are the Democratic nominees for commissioner. Urban and Jones will be the Republican opponents. Savokinas beat Nipper in the Sheriffs race. The Coroners race is to close to call. The biggest surprise of the night is Sue Rossi beating Randy Tomasacci for the Republican nomination for Clerk of Courts.

WNEP has the totals.

Act 1 seems to have gone down all over the place. John Corcoran won the primary for coroner.

W-B council race totals are here :

TIM GRIER . . . . . . . . . . 76
RICK CRONAUER . . . . . . . . .824
JOHN R. MADAY . . . . . . 60

RAY ARELLANO . . . . . . . . . 102 BRUCE J. REILLY . . . . . . . . 396 TONY THOMAS JR. . . . . . . . . 460

JUSTIN MCCARTHY . . . . . . . . 259
SAM TROY. . . . . . . . . . . 123
KATHY KANE . . . . . . . . . . 400

JOE DANIEL . . . . . . . . . . 323
TIMOTHY ANDERSON . . . . . . 98
BILL BARRETT . . . . . . . . . 439 SARAH MCCAFFREY . . . . . . . 60
MICHAEL J. MCGINLEY . . . . . 213
BRUCE SZCZECINSKI. . . . . . 175

VIRGIL ARGENTA. . . . . . . . . 104
FRANK MATELLO SR.. . . . . . . 92
MIKE MERRITT . . . . . . . . . 332
CHARLOTTE RAUP. . . . . . . . .166
RON SILKOSKY . . . . . . . . . 165

So many choices

There is a so called debate of the Republican Presidential candidates on the FOX Noise channel. The Phillies are playing the Brewers on Comcast and WILK's election coverage with Sue Henry and Steve Corbett starts at 8. And Jerry Falwell death will be all over the other cable news channels. WNEP's website will have the results all night.

Update: Ruiz hit a walk off Home Run in the bottom of the 9th. I called into WILK and Sue was familiar with the blog. As I'm listenening to WILK the Yonk is giving the results in the W-B council races. Kane and Thomas won. Rick Cronauer beat Shirley and Mike Merritt won the north end.

I voted

Like LVDem I love to vote. Twice a year we get a say on who is going to make decisions on our behalf. The scene at my polling place was something. Probably 50 yard signs and 20 poll workers, unlike the last election . Local elections in Luzerne County always have a committed following. Many peoples jobs depend on them.

One candidate for Plains Township Commissioner (Robert Sax) was at St. Joe's and I asked him what he wanted to do with the slots money from Mohegan Sun. He said he wanted to use it to reduce property taxes. I suggested to him if he was successful that the town fathers should squirrel some of it away to deal with future emergencies such as the November floods or the Valentines Day snowstorm. He agreed. The present board has already budgeted the $2 million windfall. So I voted for Mr. Sax. The 3 incumbents will probably win. In the School Board race I voted for Frank Sorick and only him. My reasoning was he wasn't an incumbent or endorsed by the local Democratic machine and he's not Frank Pizzella.

There are some other bloggers covering today's events real time. Those Happy Bearded Schmoes John Micek and John Morgan will be with us all night. Chris has an open thread at GrassrootsPA and the Yonk had a voting adventure. Early bird Jane and PSoTD are asking about turnout. Bernie is too.

Below is some of the paraphernalia that was handed to me as I entered my voting place today. Ron Filippini's chit looked like something I could cash in at the local Pub for a drink and Frank Pizzella gave us a nail file. I'm touched that Frank is concerned about my hygiene.

Election day in PA

I usually put up some predictions about the election in the weekend before along with my endorsements for what it's worth but this year I'm just not that excited. But why let that stop me. I'll start with contests I can vote in.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Superior Court

Flip a ten sided coin. I'm still not sure who I'm going to vote for when I wake up tomorrow although Tim McCormick's direct mail piece got my attention.

Act 1

It will probably pass in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District and many others. If your a senior home owner who lives on only Social Security it's a great deal. If your a working stiff that happens to own a home or rents you get screwed. And seniors who have pension, interest and investment income are in for a rude surprise. More than anything else I oppose this is because it will require filing yet another tax return.

Luzerne County Judge

Hold your nose and vote for Marsilio. The only reason he says he should be elected is that he is not Dave Lupas, good enough for me. I'm very surprised there aren't more candidates trying for this seat. The last time there was a judge seat open there was a slew of candidates including a guy named Nanda. I forgot his last name but I ended up voting for him after listening to him on the Sue Henry show. Judge's are supposed to be meticulous in their attention to detail and take responsibility for their decisions. Dave Lupas has had many cases dismissed because his office screwed up the paperwork then he blamed other people in his office for it. Sorry Dave, the fish stinks from the head down.

Luzerne County District Attorney

This one will be decided in the primary as no Republican is running. Jackie-Mo will romp to victory with the help of quasi-incumbency, lots of money from lots of lawyers and the Democratic Party endorsement. She's running on the same platform that Lupas did 8 years ago of locking up all the drug dealers and we all know that's turned out well. Since Dave Lupas was elected DA all the dealers have been locked up and there are no drugs in Luzerne County. Give me a fucking break. Vito DeLuca is easily the best choice for the job. He's been endorsed by the Times-Leader and State Rep John Yudichak is backing him.

Luzerne County Commissioner

Skrep and Petrilla will win the Democratic nominations. With Vondy riding off to head the Chamber of Commerce it leaves just one of the Bond Brothers to defend the record. 3 of the last 4 years the commissioners have had to float a bond just to meet payroll. They floated a bond to pay for a long overdue reassessment of property values and keep putting it off because it's an election year and they could pay for the extension because they had some left over bond money to pay for the delay. Then there is the "Life Transition Plan." They floated another bond to finance this plan that will cost $23 million over 15 years in the hope of saving $2+million if salaries are kept in check. I could go on all night but you get the idea. This is crazy. Now were looking at borrowing another $100 million to build a new prison. After the Pittston Juvenile Detention Center sweetheart deal do you want these people spending more of your money. Remember a bond is not free money but borrowing against future taxes.

I will vote for Steve Flood and Greg Gulick. I don't know much about Greg but his resume is sound. He's a long time local government official. I will vote for Steve Flood, even though he has been felled by a stroke, out of a sense of loyalty. He's a "bomb thrower and rabble rouser" that got results. Every employee of the county that is or will be eligible for a pension owes him a debt of gratitude.

Staeve Urban will win one of the Republican nominations and I predict Bill Jones will get the other.


Barry Stankus is the incumbent Republican officeholder. Isn't that a strange phrase. He'll win in the fall because he's done a good job. Mike Savokinas is the endorsed Democratic candidate running against George "Nipper" Nowakowski who has run for this office a few times before as a Republican. Nipper said he would appoint former Sheriff Carl " look out for that dog" Zawatski as his deputy. I vote for Savokinas.


Another race that will be decided in the primary. Dr. Jack will win but I like both challengers. Plymouth funeral director Jim Desiderio has hit the party cicuit and I like his version of embalming fluid. But Mrs. G is leaning toward John Corcoran.

Other races I'm watching are the Philly Mayors race. Go Nutter. What a great name for a politician. But I met Dwight Evans many years ago and hope he wins. I'm pulling for Corey O'Brien in the Lackawanna County Commissioners race and hope Cordaro goes down. My old friend Errol Flynn is running for judge in Wayne County and Mario Fiorucci should be the next Mayor of Sugar Notch

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ah ahhe ahee


Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes it rains- Crash Davis

I haven't posted about baseball since the start of the season as was pointed out in a recent e-mail by a disgruntled Phiilies fan. The Phillies got off to the usual slow start in April and are now seven games out of 1st place. The bullpen stinks and they leave the bases loaded all the time. The most consitent pitchers have been Jamie Moyer and Cole Hamels but you need more than 2 guys. Pat the Bat had two HRs yesterday with 5 RBIs coming out of a slump. Ryan Howard hit a salami after sitting for a couple of days. Maybe they should use him as a DH but that rule is not allowed in the NL. Barajas can't hit and the best hitter on the team is Rowand .

All the attention is on Bary Bonds breaking the all time home record of Hank Aaron that no one seems to be thrilled about and the the Rocket is going back to New York.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What a bunch of shits

Bush Told War Is Harming The GOP

They finally say the war is a bad idea because they won't be reelected.

Not that the war was bad idea because of the 3000+ dead Americans or the tens of thousands maimed for life or the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's that have been killed.

But it's bad politics.

Charlie Dent led the charge, er, retreat or whatever.

Luzerne County Clerk of Courts

Today the CV had short article on the 3 candidates running for the Clerk of Courts position. The Democratic incumbent seeking his sixth term is Bob Reilly. He was a Wilkes-Barre city councilman before his elevation to the court house and a past 6th District Democratic chairman. Last year he ran for the 120th District House seat of retiring Kevin Blaum. Many say he split the vote with Brian O'Donnell of the old guard Democratic machine enabling Eddy Day Pashinski to win the nomination. Bob has always had ambition, not a bad thing, even threatening to run against Paul Kanjorski for Congress when people were mad at him for something that I can't remember. He is unopposed in the primary and will face either Butler Township Tax Collector Sue Rossi or Northwest Area School Board Member Randy Tomasacci.

It's good to see 2 Republican candidates trying for county office. Rossi says she's very organized and good with paperwork. Tomasacci is another fellow with ambition who also ran for the state house in the last election in the 117th District but lost the nomination to Karen Boback in a crowded field. In that race he was endorsed by PACleanSweep even though there was no incumbent running. Although it has no bearing on his administrative abilities the thing that bugs me about Randy is that he was advocating teaching intelligent design even after the Dover decision. It was a reckless idea that could have ended up with the school district being sued over nonsense. As the Judge in the Dover case said: The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Candidates for Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Superior Court

I know next to nothing about the people who are running for statewide judicial posts but I found a resource that might help, PAVoteSmart. The Pennsylvania Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Commission's ratings of appellate candidates are highlighted on PAVoteSmart as well as links to other critical information about the candidates and the important functions of Pennsylvania's courts.

In the Supreme Court race the only candidate that I've heard of is Seamus McCaffery and that's because he was in charge of the "Eagles Court" that was set up a few years ago at the Vet to deal with rowdy football fans. In the Superior Court contest I've received a few direct mail pieces but this one stood out.

Jane got the same thing in the mail.

I somewhat torn about electing statewide judges. On the one hand I think that the people should have a say in deciding who occupies positions in all branches of government. On the other if a political junkie like me can't get a handle on who to vote for maybe merit selection would be a better way to go. I think the biggest thing that turns me off to electing these offices is that the candidates can't tell you their positions on the issues. So we're subjected to bio adds that tell you how tough on crime and drugs they've been. All financed by the lawyers that will appear before them.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Act 1

There is only one question on the Pennsylvania primary ballot this year and it's asking people to agree to an increase of income taxes in return for a cut in property taxes to fund school districts. This is a bad idea on many levels. It would require filing yet another tax return because not only would your earned income be taxed but interest and investments. The law says that revenue generated by the new tax should be used to offset property taxes but there is no guarantee of that happening.

We were sold a bill of goods saying that the slots money would be used to reduce our property taxes but we haven't seen a dime of that money yet. So why this proposal?

In the Wilkes-Barre Area School District where I live that question is framed like this; Voters in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District will find a referendum on the ballot May 15 asking if they favor increasing the earned income tax by 0.4 percent in exchange for an estimated $244 reduction in property taxes. Those who own eligible homesteads and have applied for the exemption would be eligible for the property tax cut.

Jennifer has the trade offs involved:

For a certain group of people (i.e. seniors on a fixed income who own their own homes), voting for Act 1 makes sense. For another group of people (i.e. people who work but do not own a home), voting against Act 1 makes sense.
For people like me (i.e. people who work and own a home), it's a bit of a toss-up. What you might gain in property tax reductions, you'll probably lose to the increased income tax. I also suspect that the increased income tax may end up being the larger of the two numbers, so if I vote "yes" for Act 1, I'd actually be volunteering to increase my own tax burden.

PACleanSweep objects on constitutional grounds:

Article III, Section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states: "The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth."

And also points out:

If the Act 1 referendum is approved, some taxpayers will win and some taxpayers will lose, but the majority of losers would be working families, renters and small businesses. Property taxes would not be reduced on rental or business properties and any tax rebates for other properties would not be keyed to property or assessment value. On average, a two-income home owning household in Pennsylvania would experience an overall tax increase.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Yonk's council gaggle

I stopped by the Wilkes-Barre City Council forum at Gennetti's on Sunday organized by local blogger David Yonki of the LuLac Political Letter. I don't live in W-B and when I informed one of the candidates of that she just walked away from me. Oh well. From the press accounts I read I missed the highlights since I had to leave early and according to David, Tim Grier and Walter Griffith wowed the people in the audience.

My interest was District E since I grew up in the North End. The only Republican and long time neighbor, John Yencha, didn't show up. Nor did Frank Matello who I've known my whole life but haven't seen in years or Virgil Argenta, the leader in the sign wars. Charlotte Raup started off by saying W-B has to get rid of the drug dealers and crack down on the absentee slum lords. A sentiment repeated by almost every other candidate. Mike Merritt looked down at his speech and read it. And Ron Silkosky recited a long synopsis of the Robert Redford movie The Candidate but said something that caught my ear: "Hazleton's loss of illegal immigrants is Wilkes-Barre's gain." I'm not sure what he meant by that or even if he meant it to come out that way. I'm surprised nobody else picked up on it.

The one incumbent I heard defended the Mayor and council. Tony Thomas said the Governor has faith and gave an inventory of the streets that have paved. He then went on about the renovation of Coal Street Park and the widening of Coal St. We've been hearing about that for a long time.

My favorite of the event was District B candidate Ray Arellano. He told a love story. A long time resident of Arizona who married a local girl that brought him back to NEPA. He said he decided to retire here after numerous visits and fell in love with the place. He challenged people to get past nepotism, cronyism and do what's right.

The press write-ups were positive. I sat behind the CV reporter but didn't have a chance to chat and the TL guy was at the media table that David generously invited me to sit at but I digressed. I'm not a media guy, I'm a blogger.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


After months of planning, the LuLac Political Letter's Wilkes Barre City Council Forum takes place today at Genetti's Hotel in downtown. Sue Henry of WILK News Radio will moderate the debate. More than 20 candidates running for the 5 Council seats are expected to attend. Starting time is at 430PM.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

More Cindy

After the last time I posted this video the big ugly Viacom company deleted it from YouTube. But it's out there again.

Let's party like it's 1992

I found the pic here.

Luzerne County Commissioners race

Are the Wilkes-Barre papers in sync? In the last two days the CV ran editorials endorsing Democratic incumbent Greg Skrepnak and county controller Marianne Petrilla for Luzerne County Commissioner and incumbent Republican Steve Urban and Bill Jones to get the GOP nod.
In the last two editions of the TL it has had profiles of Petrilla, Skrep and Jones. I guess Urban will be tomorrow.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Ron Paul for President

I have a weakness for underdogs and libertarians and this guy fits both bills. He was the only candidate in the so called Republican debate tonight that said Iraq was a mistake and America should have a humble foreign policy and stop trying to police the world. He also brought up a document that seems to be ignored by the present administration, the constitution. He called Libby a liar and defended habeas corpus. Some of his positions like abolishing the IRS are far out but he tells you what he thinks. Check him out at Ron Paul 2008. One conservative blogger covers him better than I could: A Clear Choice for America.
On the atmospherics Mrs. G thought they all had the wrong tie and we had drinking game of taking a slug every time Saint Ronny was mentioned. Needless to say I'm sloshed.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A deal for Hugo?

Hugo Selenski wrote a letter to the Citizens Voice that they decided not to publish but did a story on it. Kinda lame, they should publish it. The most newsworthy thing is the charge that Jackie-Mo offered a deal:
I’ll give you something to ponder by taking you back to early 2005,” Selenski wrote. “Jackie Musto Carroll walked up to attorney Demetrius Fannick in the courthouse and said, ‘Tim, is there any possibility of a plea agreement with Hugo? Dave (Lupas) knows his career is over if he loses this case.’ That sounds like a politically loaded question that only cares about furthering careers rather than being a protector of Luzerne County.”
And Lupas ' opponent, Tom Marsillio, for the Judge seat keeps hammering away at him. The Mary Leo ad is emotional and deceptive as a commentor on the TL website points out:
A Lupas ad claims he was responsible for the capture and conviction of the murderer of Mary Leo. I thought W-B PD caught him when he was linked to a stolen cell phone and then the guy confessed to the Leo murder. There was nothing to go to trial; he confessed. Just curious.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Lou Dobbs in Hazleton

Dobbs is hosting what he calls a town meeting about immigration with his favorite Mayor tonight at the Penn State Hazleton campus that will be broadcast live on CNN at 6PM tonight.

But the real must see TV is Mike Gravel on the Colbert Report on Comedy Central at 11:30PM.

Two years of blogging

In the chaos that has been my life for the last 2 months I just noticed that I've been blogging for 2 years now. My first post was about the Phillies losing again, not much has changed. At first I was going to stick to baseball but the political animal took over. There were plenty of people doing national issues so I decided to toss my two cents in about Luzerne County and Pennsylvania politics. I realized I wasn't going to be the next Atrios or Instapundent so as a teacher once advised me write about what you know. I'm not well connected or important but I want my government at all levels to work better.

The great thing about this adventure is the friends I've made. I visit everybody on my sidebar everyday and I think they reciprocate. Some I've met in person and most I never will. I've been remiss on commenting on my friends blogs but will make an effort to rectify that. I think we should all make an effort to comment on each others blogs or send an email to the blogs that don't allow comments.

To the people who don't have blogs and want to comment anonymously, keep it coming.

I want to live to be a hundred then be shot by a jealous husband

Or something like that.

Joe Hardy heading to Las Vegas to marry third wife

At 84 years old, Joe Hardy is heading to Las Vegas to marry his third wife, a 22-year-old employee at his family's Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa.
With hearsay about the pending nuptials swirling throughout Uniontown and the Fayette County courthouse in the past week, the spunky founder of 84 Lumber Company and first-term commissioner has been accepting congratulations from several county elected officers and employees.

And who said that Anna Nicole Smith wasn't a role model.

h/t to Chris at the new and-ahem-improved GrassrootsPA

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bye, bye Vondy

As expected Luzerne County Commissioner Todd Vonderheid has been named the new president of the Chamber of Commerce. He said he will resign as commissioner on May 31. This should be interesting since Judge Mark Ciavarella or the entire nine-judge panel must name a registered Democrat to replace Vonderheid. Somehow I don't think it will take them long to name a replacement.

Cordaro off the ballot

SCRANTON – Lackawanna County Republican Commissioner Robert C. Cordaro said he will run as a write-in candidate following a state Supreme Court decision Monday that knocked him off the May primary ballot.

He's off the ballot because he filed an incomplete financial disclosure report. I still think he will the nomination since there are only 2 Republicans in the race. I'm still pissed at him for chasing the Phillies out of town and then taking credit for landing the Yankee's AAA team. The ads he and Munchak are running featuring Brian Cashman make me sick.

Kudos to Joe Pilchesky of Doherty Deceit.

Luzerne County Coroners race

Dr. Jack Consalvo was appointed to the job after Dr. Huddock died in 2005 and is being challenged by Plymouth funeral director Jim Desiderio and W-B Area School Director and undertaker John Corcoran. Consalvo has all the endorsements and appears to be the favorite. There are no Republicans running for the office. Desiderio is running hard and has a website up with lots of pictures of him enjoying a cocktail or two at some of the local watering holes. Dr. Jack also has a website with a web-ad that he invites bloggers to embed. Happy to oblige.