Saturday, January 31, 2009

YouTube weekend

Keeping with the weather theme that seems to be popular on the intertubes. Tonight it will dark then it will turn into a glorious morning.

Andre Rieu Morning

There is a football game tomorrow

Who will win?

Pittsburgh Steelers

Arizona Cardinals

Vote in the poll on the sidebar.

No Eagles, again.

Name that scandal

The Judges scandal in Luzerne County deserves a moniker that doesn't end in -gate. Some of the terms that have been suggested so far are:

Black Robes


Judge Sludge

Un-Reel Justice

Caught with the robes down

(Fill in the blanks)

Help me out in the comments then we will put up a poll to pick the appropriate term.

YouTube weekend

Wired for sound?

We have all heard that someone has been singing.

From the comments:

It is rumored that Powell was wearing a wire...well more than a rumor but for now settle on that. The question remains- How long did he wear the wire and in who's company was he wearing it. Was it limited to the judges??

Big Daddy's right. He did wear a wire. No honor amongst thieves! I was disappointed that this all took so long to break - but I'm hoping the Feds did an extensive job and plan to finish this root canal.

Cliff Richard - Wired For Sound (Video)

Friday, January 30, 2009

If the Judges are taking bribes ...

Somebody is paying them.



Justice for the juvies

WILKES-BARRE – The Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia announced it will file a renewed petition with the state Supreme Court that asks the justices to review the cases of every child who was deemed delinquent and placed in detention by Judge Mark Ciavarella from 2003 to 2008.

The PA Supreme Court denied their last request for relief for kids that were denied counsel and railroaded through the system. Civil rights attorney Barry Dyller may file a class action suit on behalf of the kids and Joe Lach, a Kingston attorney, said he is also considering a similar suit.

Some other private firms are soliciting business even setting up a questionnaire on the company website and running TV ads. The top dog in the 'The People's Law Firm' has been a contributer to various local and federal Democratic politicians and has been a delegate to the national conventions. The state website has chronological limits but these 2 contributions are curious;

8/31/2001 $300.00 to LOKUTA, ANN H COM TO KEEP JUDGE and


Other news links in this saga:


Conahan resigns from bank board

Powell may eat words about PA Child Care

Election to be open to public

Activist demands justice for juveniles

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kanjorski votes against Stimulus

Paul Kanjorski (D-PA 11) was only one of 11 Democrats to vote against President Obama's economic stimulus bill. He said "We face the most challenging economic crisis since the Great Depression, yet this bill merely throws money at the problem by expanding existing programs...Had we reached this bill through a more orderly, bipartisan basis, I very well may have cast my vote for it."

Kanjo has been pushing the idea of bringing back the Nixon Revenue Sharing Program that provides local governments with money with no strings attached.

Chris Carney (PA-10) and the rest of the Pennsylvania Democratic delegation voted for it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Skrep and Vondy are shocked and sad

According to the CV. Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak and former Commissioner Todd Vonderheid expressed their regrets on the recent news that Judge Mark Ciavarella and Judge Michael Conahan were on the take for placing kids in the PA Child Care facility in Pittston Twp.

What they need to explain is why did they approve a $58 million, 20-year lease for the facility when all sorts of red flags were being raised by then Controller Steve Flood and the PA Dept of Public Welfare. Who the hell signs a 20 year lease for anything?

Luzerne County Juvenile Detention Center Analysis has a great rundown.

Papers filed in the Luzerne County Courthouse indicate that Pennsylvania Child Care took out a $10 million loan through S&T Bancorp in Indiana, Pa., to finance the detention center project.If you calculate $10,000,000.00 at a 10% mortgage interest rate for 20 years it would cost PCC $23,160,521.88 in total payments including interest. Using the figures presented PCC stands to make more than $35 million on this lease since the prevailing interest rates would be less than 10%. Receiving $58.1 million total compensation is absurd.

Home Rule Kickoff

The NEPA Organizing Center will be working in collaboration with Luzerne Home Rule in order to develop the movement toward Home Rule in Luzerne County.

Together, we are sponsoring a Home Rule Campaign Kick Off Event at the Center on Thurs., January 29th at 7:00 p.m. The event will be open to the public, and we encourage anyone interested in joining the movement to attend. The Center is located at 198 S Main St. Wilkes-Barre.

Home Rule made it onto the May 19 primary election ballot. With all the bad news coming out of the Dingdome I think there is a good chance of it passing. Also on the ballot will be the candidates for the 11 spots on the study commission. It will be interesting to see if any of the 'good old boys' try to win a spot on the commission.

Idiot watch

Acting Luzerne County Controller Anthony Martinelli crashed his car into a wall at 3AM a few days ago and police allege he was shitfaced at the time. He then gave one of the more memorable “Give me a break” DUI performances.

CV: Martinelli exited the vehicle, his pants had fallen to around his knees and he handed over his county badge when asked for identification. Martinelli, 32, of Dupont, then began spouting the names of local politicians he knows and begged for a break. Martinelli told Purcell he’d be fired if he was arrested and said, “Why are you trying to ruin my life?”Arrest papers also note that, at one point, Martinelli tried to exit the police car by continuously pushing on the door. When an officer confronted him, Martinelli allegedly said, “I know I (expletive) up. Just take me home.”

And from the TL: At that point Martinelli “started naming local politicians that he stated he knew, along with the statement, ‘Maryanne will fire me. Why are you trying to ruin my life?’ ”
He also told police, “Just let me out. No one will know,” and asked if knowing township Supervisor Joe Zelonis “could help him.

His BAC was .212

I think everyone will want to know why were his pants falling down.

And yes Dana, Mr. Martinelli is a Democrat.

Ann Lokuta feels vindicated

It looks like Lokuta may have some additional grounds to appeal her removal from the bench alleging that Mike Conahan perjured himself at her hearing before the Court of Judicial Discipline. It is well known that Conahan was behind the charges being filed against her.


“I think it’s a sad day for the citizens of Luzerne County, and yet I find a certain vindication in this, because for years I’ve been asking for the (court) budget,” Lokuta said. “I wasn’t the only judge in Luzerne County who tried to make inquiry. Perhaps I’m the only one that bore the greatest consequence, the sacrifice of my judicial career, because I was outward in that attempt. People knew what was going on...Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella were the legal puppet masters over all of the staff in the Luzerne County court system, and if anyone dared to step up and ask them questions, they stepped on them like little ants,” Lokuta said. “I’m living proof of that, but I’m not done yet.”

Monday, January 26, 2009

More on Luzerne County Judges Ciavarella and Michael Conahan

I don't have any Schadenfreude like some people I have talked to today or heard on the radio. I think it is a very sad day when two of the people we depend on to make fair decisions involving life and death are exposed as being crooks. How many lives have these two judges ruined so they could make a few bucks?

These guys put kids in jail that didn't deserve it. My definition of a juvenile delinquent is a kid that got caught and the rest of us angels were lucky. Sights on Pennsylvania has a detailed analysis of Judge Mark Ciavarella railroading kids though the system and the efforts of the Juvenile Law Center to remedy the situation.

Let's connect some dots after we read the Indictment.

Luzerne County judges Mark A Ciavarella and Michael Conahan cop a plea

Confirming what we all have suspected 2 of our Judges are crooks. They are charged with income tax evasion and corruption for taking payments related to the juvenile detention center in Pittston Township. I'll have more later tonight.

U.S. Attorney: Ciavarella, Conahan agree to serve 87 months in prison

Update: Ciavarella, Conahan plead guilty to fraud, income tax charges; will serve 87 months

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Carney votes against the bailout, again

Washington, D.C.—Congressman Christopher P. Carney issued the following statement after voting for both the TARP Reform and Accountability Act, which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 260 to 166, and TARP Funds Disapproval Resolution, which passed by a vote of 270 to 155:
“I voted for the TARP Funds Disapproval Resolution because I could not, in good conscience, burden taxpayers with $350 billion dollars of further debt. The American people deserve a better explanation from the financial services industry as to where the $350 billion dollars from the first half of the bailout, which I did not support, have gone.
“We were promised accountability when the first portion of bailout funding was released, but still have not received it. I voted against the bailout before because I was concerned about the lack of accountability, and I am voting for the TARP Funds Disapproval Resolution now because Wall Street has yet to provide the public with a clear plan of how they plan to spend an additional $350 billion dollars.
“We do still need oversight of the federal bailout funds. That is why I voted in support of the TARP Reform and Accountability Act of 2009. This legislation would give significantly greater oversight of the federal dollars that have been loaned to financial services institutions since October 3, 2008, when Congress passed the initial bailout package.
“We live in the greatest country in the world, one that was founded on principles of a free and fair market economy. Thus far, the bailout has relied too much on the U.S. Treasury to solve the problems that have been brought on by greed. Yes, we need to see trading and credit markets stabilized, but not by increasing the debt our grandchildren will shoulder.
“We can look to our community banks as an example: they are subject to stricter regulations than Wall Street behemoths and do not have nearly the amount of toxic debt that their larger counterparts incurred over the last few years. Our small banks went about things the right way because they have always been held accountable to a higher standard.
“Congress has a role here, not by taking control, but by mandating and conducting oversight. The federal government should not be giving more money to bail out the financial services industry when it hasn't unfrozen the credit crunch or given our economy the boost it needs.”

YouTube weekend

Another request.

This one is from the Rain Man who sent along this message of comfort; At least your thumb is not broke. My advice to you is to drink heavily.

This song always reminds me of Henry Kissinger and Jill St John. Long story.

Jimmy Castor Bunch -

YouTube weekend

By request.

I usually stay away from this subject but Dr. David Madeira asked me to post it on Tuesday. I'm a few days late.


I know you like to post music videos with powerful messages.

Here is one that gives us all something to think about on such an historic day .

Friday, January 23, 2009

Walter Griffith for Controller

Walter L Griffith responds to my earlier post.

Dear Gort,

I appreciate your Blog today regarding the Luzerne County Blog Page and the comments that were made concerning the candidates that expressed their interest to run for this office in the County. I do however must clarify the comment about me being a " Pain in the Ass" which is referenced to Wilkes Barre Online Web Page.

The Wilkes Barre Online Blogger Mark Cour is a very knowledgeable and interesting writer and blogger whom of which I have the utmost respect and appreciation for, in regard to, his ability to express his opinion.

I consider myself a very knowledgeable and formidable person regarding the County and City Political scene in this County and I attend as many meeting as possible with knowledge and information that would make our elected officials at least think about the way they are treating us as taxpayers that are their employers not the other way around as they would like everyone in the County to believe.

I have been very instrumental in making the City get all the information about the City Council meetings posted online in advance of all the meetings, because of my constant and relentless attending the meetings and asking them to do it with the proper information and concerns for the taxpayers...If that is being a "Pain in the Ass" then I am guilty as charged but the taxpayers deserve this information so they can be informed about what OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS are doing in government.

I was the person that represented the entire Luzerne County Taxpayers in a lawsuit to stop the County from borrowing 16 million dollars because they mismanaged our money and therefore were not being responsible to US THE TAXPAYERS.

There are many things that I have been able to accomplish by just being at the meetings with the proper information and I am very proud of my accomplishments as a taxpayer advocate, however there are some in the County that feel that this is being a "Pain in the Ass" and that is fine and they are entitled to that opinion, however I feel this is the reason why the County and City Governments are in the state and condition that they are in at the present time because of the people not being there to keep them accountable but they rely on the press and the blogger to do the work for them.

I appreciate your Blog, as well as the blogs of so many others like Dave Yonki and Mark Cour, and would also appreciate the recognition of all the things that I do to make the government accountable to US the Taxpayers as well..

Walter L Griffith JR
Luzerne County Taxpayer and Activist

Courthouse rumor

I have heard from 2 sources that Mark Ciavarella has resigned as Luzerne County President Judge and Michael Conahan has stepped down from his post as a senior judge. I'm trying to get confirmation.

Luzerne County Controller

So far we have 2 Democrats say they will run for the post.

Dallas School Board member Russ Bigus said “We need some competency in the courthouse. I think I might be able to bring some order"...“I would like to build up the public trust and get a real grasp of the financial crisis in the county.” Though he stressed that there’s a need for “teambuilding within the dome.” Last year Bigus lost the race for 117th District State Rep to Karen Boback and in 2006 he came in 4th in the 20th Senate District Republican primary.

The other declared candidate is former Pittston Area School Board member and Yatesville councilman Anthony Rostock. He pledges to be a full time Controller and takes a few shots at previous Controller and present Luzerne County Commissioner Maryanne Petrilla "There are certain things that have happened when the previous controller was there, things that should have been seen,” Rostock said, referring to Petrilla. “Even shortcomings in the county budget – that should have been seen years in advance.” Rostock said he’s not criticizing employees in the controller’s office.“I blame the people running the show,” he said.

Pittston litigation specialist Wil Toole has had cards printed up put has not formally declared his candidacy. He made sure that the public was informed about Rostock's $30,000 no-bid contract to provide landscape consulting services at Luzerne County Community College.

Bob Morgan, a financial adviser from Mountain Top said it’s “very likely” that he will run.

On the Republican side Attorney Nanda Palissery has been mentioned. He ran for Judge a few years ago and I voted for him. If we can have a President with a weird name we can put up with a Controller with one.

Two names are not mentioned in the press have been kicked around on this site and I have asked them for a comment.

Wilkes-Barre resident and unsuccessful city council candidate Walter Griffith does a great job of keeping an eye on things. Some people consider him to be a pain in the ass. My opinion is that the Controller should be a person who is willing to ask the tough questions like Steve Flood did.

Bob Sypniewski was the chairman of James May's 117th State Rep primary campaign is a local mortgage broker. Some of the back mountain big money people may be willing to back him.

Lots of would be Judges

We have at least 3 spots open on the Luzerne County County Court of Common Pleas and plenty of applicants.

Those who confirmed they will seek election are:

Richard Hughes, 47, of Mountain Top;

Thomas O’Connor, 57, of Kingston;

Joseph Sklarosky Jr., 39, of Mountain Top

Eugene Sperazza, 54, of Mountain Top.

Attorneys who said they are considering running are:

William Amesbury, 61, of Wilkes-Barre;

C.J. Bufalino III, 48, of Dallas;

Mark Bufalino, 38, of Trucksville;

Conrad Falvello, 59, of Sugarloaf Township;

Lesa Gelb, of Laflin;

Tom Marsilio, 60, of Mountain Top;

Molly Hanlon-Mirabito, 46, of Forty Fort;

Luzerne County Judge Joseph Musto, 64, of Duryea;

Joseph J. Terrana, 46, of Yatesville;

Joseph Saporito, 48, of Jenkins Township,

Ferris Webby, 54 of Slocum Township.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kanjo the Community Organizer

Photo From the Attic: Community Organizer

Now-Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) was a Temple University college student in 1958. Here, Kanjorski (left) receives from Temple President Robert Johnson one of the first donations for a fund to help rebuild Clinton (Tenn.) High School, which had been bombed and destroyed by a group opposing desegregation. John MacDonald (left) and David Dorsett stand behind Johnson.

I spotted this photo in Roll Call and asked Congressman Kanjorski's press secretary Abigail McDonough for some background on it besides what the caption says.
Clinton High School in Clinton, Tennessee was one of the first schools desegregated under court order. On October 5, 1958, the school was bombed by a group opposing integration and the entire building was decimated. During this event, Congressman Kanjorski was a student at Temple University in Pennsylvania. He took the event to heart and wanted to do something to help. He formed the organization Reestablish Education at Clinton High School (REACH) to help raise money at a national collegiate level to rebuild the school, and to show that force and violence are not the means to reach an end. Rather, REACH helped show what can happen when people work together.
As chairman of REACH, Congressman Kanjorski helped raise money at Temple and throughout other college communities by reaching out to students,professors, and administrators at colleges and universities throughout the country. He convinced then Temple University president and one of the founders of Time Inc., Dr. Robert L. Johnson to make one of the first donations to the organization. Johnson; another former Temple president, Harold E. Stassen; Eleanor Roosevelt; former Senator Joseph Clark; and then principal of Clinton High School, W.D. Human, all served as sponsors of REACH. Congressman Kanjorski and REACH helped raise some of the money to rebuild Clinton High School.

I'll believe it when I see it

The Times Leader has another story today citing anonymous sources saying that two county judges and a county court official are expected to face charges. No names or crimes were listed. We've been going through this for a few months and I'm getting to feel like I'm hearing the boy who called wolf.

The speculation centers on the tangled web involving Judges Mike Conahan and Mark Ciavarella with PA Child Care owners Robert Powell and would be Hazleton Airport builder Greg Zapalla. Prothonotary Jill Moran also has ties to a company, W-Cat Inc., that they all have money invested in.

Then there is the Debit Card scandal that the Secret Service is investigating and the no bid contracts at the prison that some secret police outfit is supposed to be looking into.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Idiot watch

So what would you do if you find metal container with engraved words, "Grenade, Hand Riot, CSI ABC-M25A2."

Pull the pin, of course.

That resulted in tear gas being released and the building had to be evacuated.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mr. President

Monday, January 19, 2009

The great toilet paper caper

The puppy got into the bathroom.

Oh what fun.

My thumb is not broken but it still hurts like hell. Give me a day or 2 and we will be back to normal. Guest posts are welcome to fill in the gap.

More Quincy pics on Facebook.

So much for that

The Steelers made it but the Birds came up short. It tops off a great weekend. Our Jeep had a flat tire that I replaced with the spare that has been never been used since we bought it in 1996. It also went flat. I also left the back door open which turned on the dome light resulting in the battery going dead. And I think I broke my thumb. On the bright side I won a dollar in the Cash 5.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Carney 2009

A guest post from our friend KAR

The Congressman Carney apologists have had a busy week, there were at least 3 letters this week by those insisting that Carney was entitled to, and had earned a pay increase. It has been noted that last year the 10th district representative voted against the increase, and when it passed he donated it to charity; very commendable indeed.

Correct if I’m wrong, but the fact that Carney donated the raise to charity doesn’t alter the fact that he accepted the increase. He merely donated it and took a tax write-off for the contribution; while still commendable it doesn’t answer the question of what he is going to do this year.

Does the congressman feel that congress performed in a way that merits an increase? Does he feel that he is entitled to an increase based on his own performance in office? His is salary this year, absent any largesse, will reflect 2 pay increases.

He cannot have it both ways, if he is that opposed to the increase he should try to drum up support from his colleagues to forego the increase. It’s doubtful he will do that, most likely he will feign opposition, maybe even vote against it, but at the end of the day he will most likely accept it.

Many American taxpayers are facing hard times and have had to make tough decisions regarding how they spend their money, congress shouldn’t be immune from the same concerns and fears, heck you could make a case that they are responsible, at least in part, for the plight of the American taxpayer.

The fear among many republicans in the 10th district is that Carney, when he feels secure in his position, will start to show his true nature, maybe we’re beginning to see that change. A quick glance at the recently released campaign expenditures and fundraising shows that Carney raised over 2.3 million dollars, a lot of those dollars, just under 50%, came from special interest PACs. It’s safe to assume that those groups are going to want to see a return on their investment.
Let’s all keep a close watch on our wallets and hope that come 2010 we will be able to return the seat in the 10th to a fiscally responsible republican.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Luzerne County update-quick hits

Home Rule is looking more likely with all 3 Commissioners voting to put it on the May ballot.

The Wyoming Valley Levee maintenance fee has opposition from every town that will have to pay it.

The guy that owns the Huber Breaker wants $7 million for it and the Commissioners said no thanks but they left the door open to buying it later. I don't think the county is in the position to buy a White Elephant and hopefully this idea will die.

The Salary Board will meet!

General Hospital is laying people off.

And Blue Cross will keep spending our premiums on other things than health insurance.

Back to puppy training and snow shoveling.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm working on my resume

A blogger is needed to to live for free in a three-bedroom villa on an island on the Great Barrier Reef for six months.
SYDNEY (AFP) -The job pays 150,000 Australian dollars (105,000 US dollars) and includes free airfares from the winner's home country to Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland's state government announced on Tuesday.
In return, the "island caretaker" will be expected to stroll the white sands, snorkel the reef, take care of "a few minor tasks" -- and report to a global audience via weekly blogs, photo diaries and video updates.
G'day mates.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Skrep backs Home Rule

Luzerne County Minority Commissioner Greg Skrepenak said he will join Steve Urban to put Home Rule on the May primary ballot without the need for a petition drive. Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla opposes this approach and asked for time to clean up the county mess. We've heard that before. The new study commission would not be bound by the plan that was shot down in 2003 although I think it's a pretty good blueprint. While the question will appear on the ballot people who want to be on the study commission still have to gather signatures between Feb. 17 -March 10 and the top 11 vote getter's will write the new charter. Bible Buck is already running for one of the seats.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pennsylvania Super Bowl

The Birds win and the Stillers go on to the next round. One more game for each and we get the Super Bowl of our dreams.

Oh ye of little faith and bandwagon hoppers.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It shouldn't snow on the weekend

I noticed that Dana hasn't done his usual bad weather post blaming Al Gore so I'll pick up the slack. The forecast says this will over before the NFL playoff games in Pittsburgh and New Jersey tomorrow which is disappointing because I love watching football in the snow. But I'm sure we will still see the obligatory shots of idiots without shirts. I blame Al Roker.

YouTube weekend

Heck of a job Bushie.

These numbers are a few days old and get worse with every passing day.

From NBC: What the United States looked like when Bush was entering office and what it looks like now as he's leaving. The "Then" is the best-available figure as Bush was taking office in 2001. The "Now" is the most recent figure


Then: 4.2% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2001)

Now: 6.7% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2008)


Then: 10,587 (close of Friday, Jan. 19, 2001)

Now: 9,015 (close of Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009)


Then: 45% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)

Now: 26% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)


Then: 115.7 (Conference Board, January 2001)

Now: 38.0, which is an all-time low (Conference Board, December 2008)


Then: 6.4 million (Census numbers for 2000)

Now: 7.6 million (Census numbers for 2007 -- most recent numbers available)


Then: 39.8 million (Census numbers for 2000)

Now: 45.7 million (Census numbers for 2007 -- most recent available)


Then: +236.2 billion (2000, Congressional Budget Office)

Now: -$1.2 trillion (projected figure for 2009, Congressional Budget Office)

Metallica - King Nothing

Black Sabbath-War Pigs

We still have 10 days left until the End of Days.

The Day After (Attack Segment)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Luzerne County Home Rule

PJ Best asked the Commissioners to put the Home Rule question on the ballot this May but Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla said they had to earn it by gathering signatures. “I respect what you’re trying to do. I truly do, and should the voters get the required signatures to have this on the ballot I will stand back and allow the people to speak,” Petrilla said.
“There have been a lot of things going on, and I think the people should have an opportunity to speak and let us know how they want things run because, after all, it’s their money.”
Thanks Maryanne, now that you are the top dog it sounds as if you like the way things are being run.

Republican Steve Urban said he had no problem putting the question on the ballot. The last time it was put to a vote both parties opposed the plan with Democrats saying things are fine the way they are because they win most of the elections but the Republicans reason was downright funny. They were afraid they would lose the only office they are guaranteed to win, minority commissioner.

Minority Commissioner Greg Skrepenak said he opposed home rule in the past but is open to the possibility, though he needs a few days to mull the issue before Wednesday’s regular meeting. When the question was on the ballot in 2003 Skrep and his fellow Bond Brother Todd Vonderheid said it wasn't necessary because the problem wasn't the the system but the people in charge. 'Trust us' he said. That worked out well. Skrep has been playing to the gallery over reassessment and even defending the Judges in the budget dispute and every Commissioner's meeting is an exchange of insults with Petrilla. Here is his chance to turn the tables and vote with Urban to put the question on the ballot.

Moran vs. Lokuta?

Mike Sisak has this tidbit in today's CV:

Luzerne County Prothonotary Jill Moran said Thursday she has not made a decision on whether she will run for re-election this fall. Moran, a partner in the Butler Township law firm The Powell Group, could face a challenge from former Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Ann H. Lokuta, who has expressed interest in the position.

If this does happen it will the most entertaining race of the year pitting the old boy network against someone who stepped on their toes and paid the price.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Nepotism in Luzerne County, really?

To paraphrase Captain Renault 'I'm shocked, shocked that there is nepotism in Luzerne County.'

What is even more shocking is that the county commissioners made the accusation in a legal document. We have all long suspected that hiring decisions in all branches of county government has been less than open and fair but to put it writing shows just how bad the financial situation has deteriorated. In the past such an accusation if made in the media would bring a defamation lawsuit and it still might.

Choice quotes


Personnel costs “were arbitrarily inflated to preserve the court-appointed positions that have been created to provide jobs to the President Judge’s relatives, friends or political associates.”

“Year after year in the budget process, the courts have never had to explain anything. They basically walked down and were given carte blanche by previous boards of commissioners,” Commissioner Steve Urban said. “That’s over. That’s not going to happen any more. They’ve got to be treated like any other department.”


Commissioners contend the court’s proposed 2009 budget was laden with unnecessary positions and included “inflated” salaries for court management employees. They specifically target management positions that commissioners say were created by Ciavarella without approval of the county’s salary board, as is required by law.
The suit does not identify the positions, but Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla said one of them belongs to Paul McGarry, director of administrative services for the court system. McGarry previously served as the director of probation services.
Petrilla said his new position was never approved by the salary board.

The discovery phase of the lawsuit is in progress and it will interesting if relatives, friends and associates of the President Judge will be named. Or will Ciavarella cave to avoid that?

I've been very critical of Commissioner Chair Maryanne Petrilla in the past but now I'm becoming a fan. She and Steve Urban are making tough decisions that are not popular with the political class but are necessary to bring some fiscal sanity to the county.

Lokuta appeals

I won’t stop at the (state) Supreme Court. I will take this to the logical conclusion, because I am completely, completely innocent of these allegations. I hate to use the term innocent — because this isn’t criminal, it’s quasi-criminal — but this is nothing more than exaggeration, hyperbole of the witnesses-” Luzerne County Judge Ann Lokuta.

I still think that removing her from the bench was overkill. She was not accused or convicted of any crime. I wonder if the Court of Judicial Discipline is looking into the activities of some of our other esteemed Luzerne County jurists.

Congrats Phyllis Mundy

According to Capitol Ideas Kingston State Rep Phyllis Mundy (D)has been named the Chair of the Aging & Older Adult Services Committee. She recently won the Legislator of the Year award from the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies. She has been a long time leader leader on health care reform.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Healing in Hazleton?

Forum Wednesday will examine diversity issues in Hazleton

In the last two years, Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta and city council backed a law that would have penalized landlords who rented to illegal immigrants and businesses that hired workers with unlawful immigration status. A federal judge struck down the law, although an appeals court is still weighing its provisions.

Meanwhile, Barletta, Sosa and other panelists will talk about what’s next for the city at the forum, sponsored by the Standard-Speaker, to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Room 115 of the Graham Building at Penn State Hazleton.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta

I will be meeting with Mayor Lou on Tuesday. I will ask him some questions about the past but more about the future. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments or send me an email.
Picture by Gort with no copyright bullshit. Please steal it.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Plus ca change, Luzerne County 2009

Luzerne County is a place that never fully recovered from the Great Depression and the collapse of the coal industry. The "best" redevelopment project was the 1972 Agnes flood that destroyed downtown Wilkes-Barre and drove people to the mall. The way people talked for a long time made me feel like I was living in the time of Noah. Before the flood, after the flood. And the political reforms of the 1890's have yet to hit.

The Chamber of Commerce touts our work ethic which usually translates into we will do the same work for less money. Every politician that runs for office promises "good paying jobs" that never show up. Our local taxing authorities give 10 year property tax breaks to warehouses that pay $8 an hour while the rest of us are getting screwed by reassessment.

There are a myriad of investigations into the debits cards, no bid contracts, the Judges business dealings, violation of civil rights, etc. but I think nothing will become of them. I hope I'm wrong.

There will be elections for the row offices this year that the Democrats will probably sweep again. There is a rumor that Ann Lokuta is running for Prothonatary after being removed from the bench. If it is true it will be the most entertaining race of the primary and the fall if she wins the nomination. The question is what party's nomination will she seek? Incumbent Jill Moran has many things to explain like her deputy signing her name to legal documents, falsifying a tax lien for her boss and her involvement in W-Cat Inc.

The Controller's spot is the most important post up for election. Acting Controller A.J. Martinelli will not seek election. W-B activist Walter Griffith has expressed interest and just to give everybody a laugh Pittston's Wil Toole wants the job. Maybe if he get's elected he can sue the county for overtime and health benefits. Bob Sypniewski seems to be the only serious candidate for the job.

We need Home Rule