Friday, September 25, 2009

Vonderheid would do it again

Former Luzerne County Commissioner Todd Vonderheid told the the Luzerne County Government Study Commission on Wednesday that he would vote to lease the PA Child Care juvie prison in Pittston again.

CV: In November 2004, commissioners Vonderheid and Greg Skrepenak signed a $58-million, 20-year lease for a juvenile facility owned by Hazleton-area attorney Robert J. Powell and western-Pennsylvania businessman Gregory Zappala...In January, disgraced former judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan were charged with taking more than $2.8 million in a kickback scheme to send juveniles to Pennsylvania Child Care LLC's facilities. Powell pleaded guilty in July; Zappala has not been charged or accused of wrongdoing..."I'd sign that lease tomorrow, with only two alterations," he said.

I'm not going to rehash all the controversy about that decision because everybody who reads the local papaers and this blog knows the story. I just find that statement to be in-fucking-credible.

Vonderheid is now the head honcho of the local chamber of commerce that always tells us that we have "great work ethic" and promises "good paying jobs." Under his stellar management the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry just avoided having it's headquarters sold at tax sale.

While he was in office he teamed with Greg Skrepenak and an army of consultants to produce county budgets that were works of fiction resulting in ever more borrowing every year just to pay the bills. That's why I call them the Bond Brothers.

Now we have to deal with Skrep and Vondy's lack of basic math skills and Commissioners Maryanne Petrilla and Steve Urban will have to bite the bullet and raise taxes to balance the budget. They are already getting beat up in the newspapers comment sections about the possibility. Last week Urban told me that they are not going to borrow any more money and I don't think that they could even if they wanted to because the county has reached the limit.

Nobody wants to pay more property taxes but I don't see an alternative.


Anonymous said...

If you follow all the moving parts - this is not a surprise. Vondy can't be prosecuted for stupidity - only for doing illegal activities. So of course he is going to say it was a good decision.

I hope the fed's get him somehow. He knew what was going on all along.

Anonymous said...

Vonderheid is “deep throat” on the courthouse investigation. He’s the one who gave Mericle up – which led to Powell (both Mericle and Powell then wore wires to get the judges). He did it real early and that’s why he’s not worried about being prosecuted.

If you listen to what he said in the papers after Mericle pled, he was still his bosom buddy – he’s rightfully afraid of Mericle.

Vonderheid will do anything to save his ass – no honor among thieves.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone asked why Todd sold his hours in Wilkes-Barre (the house his parents lived in and gave him) and is now renting in Kingston? Judge Civ did the same thing before he was charged.

Mean Old Man said...

It was a sad day for local government when this selfless and fine young man left the public service. God Bless Him!!!

Anonymous said...

Vonderspend dind't leave soon enough. Isn't it funny that every time the voters pick fresh new faces with cute "I'm the one" campaign slogans, the taxpayers get it in the ear. The more we search, the worse it gets. Maybe sombody should call Crossin out of retirement to straighten this out. I don't recall all these problems when he held the hammer. Let's get Crossin on the phone and see what he thinks?

Anonymous said...

Warning to Steve Urban - RAISE TAXES AND YOU'RE FINISHED POLITICALLY. The voters wanted these democrats and they caused all this mess. Let Mary Ann and Greg go down in flames with the tax increase

Austin said...

Vonderheid thinks all we need is different people involved. He is wrong.

How much corruption and waste will it take before we admit the system of government the PA legislature thought up over 175 years ago is no longer the best thinking on the subject?

Is there any kind of corruption and waste we have not experienced in Luzerne County?

You can hear him at

Anonymous said...

Vonderheid is wrong is saying all we need is good people in government? That' sounds lime more of the mob mentality that want's to throw the baby out with the bath water. good government is not necessarily different government. People are corruptable and it is as simple as that. We as a people need to be interested in government and what government is doing. Look at the attitude of Urban and Petrilla this week when they fired Wren against the strong urging of the veteran's groups. Arrogance is the devil, not the form of government. WAKE UP PEOPLE.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the answer is much more simple. Years ago, my retired father loved to serve on jury duty. It got him out of the house, he loved to be on the inside and learn first hand what was going on and he got 8 bucks pay and a dollar or two for travel. So hat's the answer. Let's just elect retired people who don't give a damn about kickbacks or trading favors and taking trips to Florida Condos. Let's all meet at the local senior citizen's center and start intervieweing future candidates. Now this is an idea I can live with. The Gray Wolves ride to the rescue! I LOVE IT!

Wil Toole said...

Anon 11:12 I think you have a great idea. In recent years, the value of the life experiences of senior citizens have been heralded as a wasted resource. I fully agree and at age 66, that's why I decided to seek the office of Luzerne County Controller. At the same time, I decided to do it as an Independent. It wasn't easy to give up a life time of Party loyalty but at the end of the day, it became very clear that I did not want to pull a wagon filled with other's philosophies and ideals. I want to represent myself, speak for myself and use my life's professional experiences in a personal effort to help resolve the county's fiscal crisis. At the time I made this decision, I didn't think or feel it was earth shaking in any way. If I win the election, I know I can do the job and those who have first hand knowledge of my abilities know I can do the job. If I lose the election, life will not change for me. I will simply continue to enjoy the time God has set aside for me. Come Swearing-in day, I will either be going to work or going to our Social Club and continue to enjoy a coffee with the guys as we solve the problems of the world. Life is great and I enjoy every day of it. The secret is simple, I don't let little things or little people bother me. Like the late great Manny Gorden, I enjoy, enjoy and I wish the same to all who read this, even the little people.

Wil Toole said...

Gort, Just this weekend I was asked if the county could borrow additional funds or if the maximum had been reached. The amount of credit available to any municipal government is tied directly to the municipality's tax base. Because of the reassessment, the county's tax base has been raised above the moon. If some real financial planning isn't done, the county's debt can grow in leaps and bounds above what it currently is. At this most recent Commissioner's meeting, I asked the Board to consider selling the Valley Crest Parcel by having it appraised and then putting it on the market without a broker. They had a plan in place to pay a 6% commission valued at several hundred thousand dollars. I don't see the need of a broker as the first step in the process. I also urged them to use every penny from the sale to reduce the county's debt and not to cover reoccurring expenses with it. My most recent request was to sell the Hazleton office building, Valley Crest and the Forty Fort Airport. Two is a start but three is what's needed.