Saturday, November 21, 2009

This week in Luzerne County corruption

Poor Skrep, many of his friends have been indicted or are under investigation or quit. He must be a lonely guy. It's no wonder that he doesn't show up for work at the Courthouse unless there is a public meeting that he just can't duck.

WILKES-BARRE - Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak said Friday he isn't resigning but is aware he could soon face criminalText Color charges.

When all this first broke I asked a few people who know him if Skrep was corrupt and most of them said no. A few suggested that he had enough money from his football days but was used by the powers that be to line the pockets of the usual suspects just like it has always been done. In other words he was too fucking stupid to know what was going on. I don't buy that.


Update: I have asked longtime Pittston Democratic politico and recent Independent candidate for Controller Wil Toole to occasionally weigh in with his thoughts about county government. He shares his thoughts about Skrep in the first of what I hope will be many guest posts. I have also reached out to other retired politicians inviting them to share their wisdom. There is nothing like experience.



People are waiting for the shoe to fall. It is my firm belief that people who do not have first hand information should not sit in judgment of anyone. I recall my very first meeting of Greg Skrepnak, it was at Kings College and there was a debate for all Commissioner candidates. I knew enough about government to know that there is absolutely no substitute for experience but integrity could come very close.

After the debate, I approached Mr Skrepnak, shook his hand and wished him well because men of integrity are needed on all levels of government. With all of my government experience, I thought that integrity would carry his lack of experience and he would learn on the job. After all, I had watched a young Frank Crossin go from a novice public official to a well oiled management machine. When he left office, there was nothing he didn't know or understand about county government. Therefore, Skrep would do just fine.

Skrep's problem came about through another character trait, loyalty. Skrep was loyal to his friends. He knew them, he trusted them and he covered himself in their consul. The problem was that they too were government novices and just didn't know that there was no such thing as the "old days". They thought they were doing things the way things were always done. Not so. Crossin and his peers understood how government operated and they stayed within the rules. People may not have liked the results or the way things were done but the efforts were legal. Crossin and company knew the value of experience, surrounded themselves with it and knew to not cross the line of right and wrong.

Skrep said he has done nothing wrong, has not cleaned out his office and has no intention of resigning. Speaking for myself, I can accept that. I can accept that he was not aware of the games being played and I can accept that what he did do, he thought was perfectly OK because his inexperience told him that those are the kinds of things that have always been done. Who exactly thought up the debit card use? Who exactly thought up the private contract use that has gone so far astray? Where was the public cop who was supposed to be watching? What happened to the checks and balances of government. The Controller, the army of county attorneys who hold solicitorship's, the experienced managers, the senior employees who should have known enough to blow a whistle or sound an alarm? There are more directions to point a finger than there are fingers.

So here we are and what do we do about it? Each of us have a responsibility and none of us have the luxury of sitting back and waiting for someone else to getter dun. In this past General election 65% of the voters allowed the privilege and responsibility to come and go, and didn't bother to participate in the process of choosing our public officials. So the choice of those who will lead us was determined by approximately 15% of those qualified to vote. Do we dare ask why things are as they are? For how long will we allow slogans to guide our judgement? Allow newspapers to advise us on whom should serve? When will we the people see though the nonsense, question the ability of those who seek public office and base our choice on something other than Party affiliation or recommendations of those who probably know less than the average bear?

This past Thursday, I physically delivered a letter to the Commissioner's office addressed to each of the three Commissioners. Without going into detail, I recounted some very pointed and specific experience I have and which they could make use of. I volunteered my time and made myself available to meet with them and their management team. No, I did not receive a call Thursday or Friday but did I really expect to? That's not a rhetorical question, now you can be the judge!


You can read the letter here.

33 comments:

PresidentMcGoof said...

Why aren't the Feds enacting RICO charges against these racketeers who stole our tax dollars?

Stephen Albert said...

Let's be honest here: 'Skrep Daddy' was elected because there are plenty of rock-heads in this area that are living examples of the Springsteen song "Glory Days" and still worship the football hero.

While I don't believe that Skrep is a moron, I don't think he's exactly executive material either. The debit card fiasco is an example...how could he NOT KNOW it was wrong to use a county provided debit card for PERSONAL expenses? I'd excuse that kind of poor decision making on the part of someone who just graduated from college, but that's about it. Stupid? No. A bright guy? Not a chance. This is a guy who has a reach that far exceeds his grasp.

It pains me to say this, but Steve Corbett was actually right about something: Skrep needs to resign.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that Vonderspend gets a free ride in all of this? It was Mr Spend who brought the Chamber attitude to the Dome when he made public his desire to double the salary of the management team and who else but a Chamber person would think that debit cards are the way to go? You're right that Skrep has to go but he shouldn't make the trip alone. Also, as Skrep leaves, Vonderspend should be brought back to answer many of these fiscal issues. What we need now is public outcry, not single, stand alone whimpers.

Anonymous said...

Wil Toole is a still at it. Wil face it the people of Luzerne County dont want you in the government. The " I am so full of myself attitude" and arrogance of people like you is so much like what we have already, that we should send you away running and screaming. The City of Pittston was used by you and the County is in a bad state, and the last thing we need is another corrupt and self serving person in the courthouse.Just go away ...there is no free ride in the Courthouse for you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:25 You need help, serious help. I'll take 1 of Wil Toole over a 1000 hateful idiots like you. Do everyone a favor and take your attitude and stick it up your ass, just ask your brain to move over.

IrishProtestor said...

Anon 9:55 great advise. Anon 9:25 You don't sound like a very happy person. Try a little meditation and maybe a novena or two and with a little Devine intervention, you will lose that horrible attitude.

Mean Old Man said...

I know of Mr. Toole as a fine upstanding young man, but even I was not prepared for his eloquence displayed in his letter to the Commissioners. How sad that he will not be serving as Controller this January. Not since Mr. Steve Flood have I seen such an example of a true statesman.

Anonymous said...

I will offer my own simple observation. It appears that the number of years Mr Toole was involved in public life, he made friends and enemies. The problem as I know it to be is that it is always the enemies whose voice is heard the loudest. For me, it is always actions that speak louder than words. Mr Toole ran for Controller without help and at his own expense. He said he was running for only one term and had demonstrated he had ideas that would be helpful but the people did not chose him. A lesser man would have taken an attitude of screw the people but Mr Toole didn't. Instead, he saw what he thought was a problem and volunteered his time and expertise to help the county. Anybody can say anything they want but I will stand by my own opinion that actions do speak louder than words. Thank you Mr Toole and shame on those who find fault with an offer to help.

Big Dan said...

If I got pulled over by the police and I was unaware that my inspection had expired, do I get off?

Anonymous said...

BigDan, not likely unless you hang out with them on weekends.

Anonymous said...

Big Dan, are you serious? Do you equate an inspection violation as being as obvious a violation as not knowing that someone you trust is violating both the law and your personal trust? If that's the case, then every supervisor or manager who had an underling break the law is equally as guilty and the offender. I hope you build jails for a living because that kind of thinking is going to fill them up even faster than the current prevailing attitude of, 'hang um high'. Johnny Law

Joe Valenti said...

Hey Gort - Great addition with Wil Toole. Maybe he can write an article entitled "Wil Toole's guide on how to grab a great pension"
Step 1: Claim tons of overtime upon your exit.

Step 2: Claim tons of sick time upon your exit.

Step 3: Volunteer your time at the tomato festival and also put in time while you work your stand.

Step 4: How to get a off down the courthouse.

Step 5: How to grab an annual $30,000 disability pension.

Step 6: Pretend none of that happened and run for controller

Anonymous said...

Toole is not worth the effort of further discussion. He was turned out on his ass in a big way. Republicans and Democrats alike were able to see through his fairy tale rewrite of his days in Pittston. His only place to keep his ego alive is on these blogs. So let him babble on, he thankfully, lost!

Anonymous said...

Joe Valenti has become the talk of the West Side. He is more obsessed with Wil Toole than he is with providing for his family. Thank goodness his wife works. At 9:05 in the morning, real men of Joe's age are at work. The most right on comment I heard was at the Independent WA School Board rally that Joe V should be in therapy on not on a blog, the only thing in Valenti's life is Wil Toole. Talk about wearing out your welcome. I read that Gort invited Toole to comment, who invited Valenti?

Anonymous said...

The best suggestion I can make is for Joe Valenti to grab a six pack, turn on his camera and make another stupid video for his third rate blog. Pathetic!

Anonymous said...

Here is a question, why would Wil Toole accept Gort's invitation to share his thoughts when Mr Toole must realize that Valenti and company will make personal attacks on him? Why bother Wil, is it worth it?

Joe Valenti said...

Oh Wil, don't stop. Pretty please with sugar on top
Joe V

Anonymous said...

I do enjoy Gort42 and LuLac but I want to state my opinion on the local blog's. Joe Valenti's blog is in a league all by itself. I have never in all my 56 years of life ever read such nastiness as put out by Valenti. Bad enough that his third rate blog is little more than literary garbage, but now he is forcing his caustic ranting's on Gort's blog. I have to think that the only reason for the acceptance of Valenti's writings is the open free speech forum offered by Gort. Joe Valenti is abusing that privilege and his eye pollution should be kept for his own publication and not foisted on those of us who prefer not to visit his site. Please Joe, take your own advise and go away. I want to read well thought out postings, not your personal dislike for Wil Toole. Please, stop!

Wil Toole said...

Anon 4:27. Fair question and here is a brief answer. I met Gort at the LuLac debate and right from the get-go, he seemed to be an up front type of guy. What you see is what you get. He has no agenda and certainly no malice intended in his blog. I receive many encouragements to write and I enjoy it. As for Joe Valenti dictating how I lead my life or what I do with my time, well, simply put, Joe Valenti just doesn't matter to me. I'm sure he is important to his family but to me he has no relevance. I seldom give him a thought but it appears that I consume his every thought. I have a life and I enjoy it and Valenti has none. Each night I thank God for the day just ending and each morning I ask God to guide my every step. Valenti just doesn't play a part in my life so I do what makes me feel good with no thought given to his nonsense.

Big Dan said...

Anonymous said: Big Dan, are you serious? Do you equate an inspection violation as being as obvious a violation as not knowing that someone you trust is violating both the law and your personal trust?

Come again???

Big Dan said...

Can I buy a vowel? I have no idea what you're saying there.

Anonymous said...

Hey Joe Valenti, you have your own blog so why not stick to it or is it kinda like talking to yourself? I doubt that even one out of a hundred want to read your personal insults about Wil Toole and there is not another thing on your mind worth writing or reading. I read a while back that one of the contributors suggested therapy and from what I read, I agree that you are totally obsessed with Wil Toole. Give it up, move on and find another hobby. We really have no interest in your ugly remarks. File them under who gives a shit?

Anonymous said...

Joe, do us a favor and list all of the good things you've done in life, and then maybe you qualify to even mention Wil Toole's name. You have no history, you certainly have no present so your future does not look all that good.

Anonymous said...

Doing a little pre Black Friday shopping caused me to miss the beginning of this trash. What's up with Valenti and who is he anyway. He has a lot to say but his only subject is Wil Toole. WTF? I admit I only speak for myself while Joe Valenti apparently thinks he speaks for the world. I enjoy reading Wil Toole's letters to the editor and I enjoyed the piece he wrote in this blog at Gort's request. Wil doesn't write with an angry attitude and does present some very interesting ideas. I've never read any suggestion by Joe Valenti to make for a better world, all he does is write unchristian like comments about Toole, some of which he puts his name on and many others that he posts as anonymous. It's you Joe Valent, your style is your style and your hate flows all over your writings. If you don't have something constructive to write than please don't write anything.

Anonymous said...

Is this for real? Looks to me like Joe Valenti has lit a fire and Wil Toole has finally gotten some ositive feed back. Or, is it negative feed back for Valenti? As they say in downtown Pittston, same-a-thing. It's pretty obvious that people really don't want to have the clutter that Joe Valenti is spreading. I've read it all and it would only take half a brain to see that Valenti has a major problem with Wil Toole but, it really does look like wasted effort on Valenti's part. You can almost see Toole's smile in his reply. The joy isn't in spitting back, it is in the pleasure of knowing. This is great! Toole out smarts Valenti by simply ignoring him. How sweet is that? Wil Toole must be Amish, he wins by not fighting back. Love it!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe Valenti said...

Hold on! The above post by anony 12:23 way over the top.

Anonymous said...

wow, anon 12:23 and joe V, you actually can watch the man talk to himself...how sad little man...lol.. give em hell Wil. and Yes Joe V those comments are over the top you should have known that when you made em. I only wonder how your wife puts up with a drunk playing with dolls and video taping himself for all her friends to see..

Joe Valenti said...

OK - here's a way to put your theory to rest. Wil Toole should file another lawsuit against me for the above post. One would think it clearly falls into the defamation category. At that point he can subpoena the logs of the posts.
Joe V

Gort said...

Yes, that post was over the top.

Anonymous said...

Wil, thanks for writing. Joe V, no thanks.

Anonymous said...

LOL Joe Valenti has so many more things to do on his own site. He loves to censure the people that don't agree with him or his friends Zarra, Alberigi or FBI Iindicted Joe Oliveri. Gort please don't give Joe a forum for turning your web site into a has been. He did this to that other site Stopnepacorruption that they went off air because of his tactics in criticising no other than wil toole. Wil is a sharp cookie with a lot of decent ideas but like all of us he has faults too. Personnally, I can overlook his faults because his ideas do have merit. My problem is I don't think I want to give him the cookie jar back. Valenti needs help and plenty of it, please don't give him a forum to spread his lies and deceit.

Gort said...

Enough already.

The subject of this post was to provide a forum about what is going on today in regards to corruption in the courthouse not went on in Pittston years ago. I don't know Wil Toole or Joe Valenti very well but I consider them both friends. Mr. Toole has world of experience in local politics and government that I value and Mr. Valenti writes a great blog about local politics with an insiders knowledge of the players involved that I enjoy. I know that they have a contentious history but I don't want this blog to continue to be a personal pissing contest.

With that said I'm shutting off comments on this thread.