Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's a go

O'Brien to take on Paul Kanjorski

From a press release:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey D. O’Brien will make his intentions known regarding a run for the United States Congress (PA-11) on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 9:45 a.m. from the steps of his childhood home, 1906 Delaware Street, Dunmore PA 18512.


As an 18-year old Dunmore High School senior, Corey successfully lobbied for a $600,000 federal appropriation to build a community center in Dunmore. Today, residents of Dunmore enjoy a $4.5 million state-of-the-art community center that mirrors Corey’s early vision of providing residents with a multi-generational community center.

Corey O’Brien continued his civic involvement in college. While attending Penn State University, Corey testified before a Pennsylvania House Education Sub-Committee promoting affordability of higher education. After college graduation, Corey interned in the Clinton White House and was later appointed to a position in the United States Agency for International Development.

After serving in the Clinton Administration, O’Brien attended and graduated in the top of his class from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. Corey is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and in the District of Columbia. Corey is also licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court and other federal courts.After 10 years in Washington, D.C., Corey and his family moved home to Northeastern Pennsylvania.

After being back in Pennsylvania for only four months, Corey launched the public affairs television show, The Pulse with Corey O’Brien on FOX56. After only one season, The Pulse with Corey O’Brien was recognized by the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters as an Outstanding TV Public Affairs Program/Series. The Pulse was also recognized by the Electric City newspaper as the region’s top public affairs television talk show. In addition, Corey served as a political analyst on the ABC-affiliate, WNEP-TV 16, and WILK News Radio. Corey also hosted a radio program, Corey O’Brien Now on WILK News Radio.

In 2007, Corey O’Brien was elected to the post of Lackawanna County commissioner in an unprecedented landslide victory, with Corey and his running mate winning in all of Lackawanna County's 163 precincts. Corey O’Brien resides in Moosic, Pennsylvania with his wife, Atty. Michelle R. O’Brien, and their two young children, Kate and Casey.

Gas pains

About 3 years ago a friend who lives near Tunkhannock told me that a company knocked on his door one day and said he had a deposit of natural gas on his land and offered him a nice check upfront if he would agree to let let them drill for it on his land. He discussed it with his wife and they signed a contract that included a promise of royalties that have yet to be paid.

He now regrets that decision because he is dealing with the noise and destruction of his property similar to what has been documented at bob's blog.

When he first told me about it I thought it was great because we need more energy and local people would make a few bucks but it is now obvious that if that the regulators in DEP and EPA don't get a handle this it has the potential of causing as much environmental damage in the 21st century as the coal mines did in the last two.

Headlines like these are scary.


Not really understanding all the issues involved I asked my friend Kayak Dude to explain it for us.

Drill, Baby, Drill?

Should we open our state forests to additional natural gas drilling to (finally) strike a long-overdue budget deal? My fellow Pennsylvanians…not so fast.

The drilling process known as "hydrofracturing" is barely underway in this commonwealth, and we've already had three chemical spills in less than a week, multiple fish kills, and many folks in Dimock, PA ( Susquehanna County ) cannot drink the water coming from their wells. Is this acceptable? I think not.

I've been following the growth of this whole Marcellus Shale natural gas play for almost two years. Those in favor of widespread drilling and those in opposition, with the oil companies offering big upfront checks and the promise of new found riches to the former, are locked in a battle of words and wills being played out in local, regional and national government and the media.

What is the truth? Is the estimated amount of recoverable natural gas locked in the Marcellus Shale Formation (MSF) truly a major step toward our nation's goal of energy independence? Is the state budget really the place to put our natural resources out for bid? Do the oil companies really care about Pennsylvania's environment? Have they truly drilled 10,000 wells "without incident'? Are environmentalists justified in raising concerns about the whole hydrofracturing process and its aftermath, or are they just doing that tree-hugging liberal NIMBY ( don't forget unpatriotic ) thing again?

Let's look at the facts. The oil industry and geologists have known about "gas shales" for decades. In early 2008, some PSU and NYU professors "stunned" the oil industry by estimating that the MSF contained approximately a two year's supply of natural gas based upon current consumption levels. This estimate far exceeded prior yield expectations. But wait. Less than 9 months later, the same professors revised their original estimates based upon information PROVIDED BY AN OIL COMPANY. Yes, Virginia…that's true. Their new yield projection was seven times higher than numbers they offered earlier that same year. It has since doubled again, somewhere near a 30 year (estimated) supply. I wonder if these same two professors grade on a similar curve? I wonder how long I'd have a job if I routinely revised my estimates sevenfold in either direction? "Ooops! Sorry guys, we're only going to see a $30 million profit this year, not the original $210 million I projected..." Waddya mean, I'm fired?

Fact is - the manner in which they drill into the MSF, which is over a mile beneath the surface, is radically different from the "10,000 safely drilled wells" already in production. The drilling technology - developed by Halliburton, repeat, HALLIBURTON - is relatively new.
Once the drill bit approaches/enters the MSF, it is slowly turned from vertical to horizontal, and heads laterally another 3,000 feet or so. And
not just in one direction, but several. Think of a spider web, and you'll get the picture. At this point, water, sand, and a whole slew of chemicals - both known and unknown - are injected into the MSF under great pressure to fracture the rock - a.k.a. hydrofracturing or "fracking" for short - and release the natural gas trapped in the MSF. And for the record, we are talking about a ~million of gallons (or more) of water per well per day. That water is being taken from our streams and rivers as well as municipal sources, i.e. our drinking water supply. Now, once thousands of gallons of chemicals - many of them highly toxic to anything needing water to exist ( like us ) - are mixed with the water and injected underground, about 40-60% of that mixture stays down there. The rest ( flowback ) returns to the surface along with the natural gas that is released. In addition to the toxic brew of chemicals, the flowback/fracking wastewater contains an extremely high levels of salts, metals and…radioactivity. I've read reports that the MSF drilling wastewater is about ten times saltier than sea water. Problem is, right now, our existing wastewater treatment plants cannot handle or adequately treat this flowback water. Not even close. And since the drilling companies will not release a complete list of all chemicals used, the plants that want to treat this water - and release it back into our streams and rivers - still don't know what to they need to treat and/or remove!
That's a brief overview of the fracking process, and there's far, far more to consider. PA's forests and farms are being cleared for access roads and drilling sites. PA's Endless Mountains are being quarried for the stone to pave the access roads and the drill pads. Small trout streams are having their waters siphoned away. And on, and on...and on.

It doesn't take a degree in rocket science, or environmental science, to understand what the long-term impact this will have on PA. Short-term, those people who sign leases will get some up front money to be followed - provided the drilling begins and is successful - by a steady stream of royalty checks for however long the well produces. Once that money stops coming in, they will be left with an empty bank account, probably having their drinking water trucked in like the folks up in Dimock, and when they try to sell their property years down the road, they will be in for a very rude reality check.

For anyone who wants to learn more about both sides of this issue - and it is not going away anytime soon - my advice is to educate yourselves. There's plenty of information out there from both sides of the debate. And while you're at it, please consider dropping our ex-VP Dick Cheney a quick line and ask him why he decided to exempt the hydrofracturing process developed by HALLIBURTON from the Safe Water Drinking Act while behind closed doors in 2005? I'm sure he'll be quick to respond.

Cynic that I am, I do not believe the oil companies "we care about your environment" mantra. I've seen what they've done elsewhere. And whenever someone who stands to make money from MSF drilling opens their mouth, I always envision the following: "I wonder how many times Bernie Madoff said: Don't worry, your money ( replace with property ) will be safe with me..."

Economic revitalization? Jobs? A prosperous new future? Haven't we all heard that before? Remember the inflatable dam?

Don Williams

Don is the author of Susquehanna River Sentinal who has blogging for 10 years. Congratulations Don and Thank You.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where are the local Democrats?

The Luzerne County Republican Party and Row office nominees have had a bunch of high profile get togethers, media events and fund raisers since the the May Primary but I've hardly heard a peep out of the Democratic row officer candidates.

Democratic Judge candidate Bill Amesbury has been on the hustings and Tina Gartley has a slew of events listed on her website. Republican Dick Hughes is also working hard. I have bumped into Judge Thomas Burke (R), who is up for retention, in a few places and I have yet to hear anyone say a bad thing about him. As far as I know he is not even raising money. The other judge up for retention, Peter Paul Olszewski Jr., knows that he is in trouble and has an event this week. Via PPO-2 will host a retention rally this Thursday, Oct 1 at 7PM. It will be held at the Red Mil Tavern in Pittston.

It looks like the Judicial candidates are running their campaigns independently of the county Democratic Party. That is probably a good stratergy.

Back to the row officer races.

Long time Register of Wills Dottie Stankovic is up against Republican Gina Nevenglosky. I always liked Dottie because she wouldn't always play ball with the powers that be. Her best endorsement came from former county Democratic Chairman Joe Mazur who was "gleeful" that Steve Flood lost the Controller nomination to Maryanne Petrilla in 2005. He said that "She and certain other people have been a cancer within the organization."
I haven't been to any Polka festivals lately so I haven't seen Dottie. Gina has scheduled an event at the courthouse on Saturday October 10, 2009 at 1:00PM.

Republican Carolee Medico Olenginski is looking to return to the office of Prothonotary after being defeated twice by the disgraced Jill Moran. Carolee has been everywhere since the primary and I still predict that she will win in a walk. Nurse Nancy Bellas won the Democratic nomination in May and hasn't been heard from since.

In the Controllers race Bob Morgan surfaced today to complain about a math error on Walter Griffith' s campaign finance report. Morgan was the only Democratic candidate for Controller in the primary which I thought was kind of weird for an open seat. Take a look at Morgan's report and you will see some familiar names. This is the first times in months that I have read Morgan's name in the papers or anywhere else. Griffith has been everywhere asking people for their vote.

Regular commenter Will Toole, the Independent candidate, has been pressing the flesh, working the blogs and writing letters to the editor. His latest missive in the CV asks the same question I have been asking the last few years.

Why hasn't casino gambling reduced property taxes?

I'm sure (hope) that our Democratic candidates will be more visible in the next few weeks before the election. If they think that they can rely on the registration edge to carry them to victory they are in for a big surprise. You still have to ask people for their vote and in this toxic atmosphere that may not be enough.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Olszewski answers my question

Luzerne County Judges Thomas Burke and Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. are up for retention to the Court of Common Pleas this year and they are feeling the heat of the fallout of the Juvie Brothers scandal that may result in them losing the yes/no vote. That has never happened to a sitting judge in this county in my memory.

His response is in the CV today:

Not only were the vast majority of Judge Ciavarella's juvenile court proceedings closed to the public, they were conducted at Penn Place, located approximately ½ mile away from my courtroom in the Luzerne County Courthouse. Furthermore, during my 10 years on the bench, not a single parent, prosecutor, police officer, probation official or judge ever complained to me that Judge Ciavarella routinely denied juveniles their right to counsel. Nor did I know that he accepted "finder's fees" or sentenced juveniles illegally.

PPO-2 has been beat up in the local press and talk radio the last few days over that frat boy picture with Conahan and Ron Bellitiere that was anonymously provided to the local papers. Fair or not a picture is worth a thousand words.

Knowing that he is in trouble Olszewski is now in full campaign mode with a website up and filed a finance report with the PA Department of State indicating that he is raising money.

The website is:

The hompage lists 10 reasons to vote yes including a bunch of awards that he won and winning death penalty convictions when he was District Attorney that more than likely will never be carried out. Overall I think that PPO-2 was a pretty good DA especially when you compare his record to his incompetent successor.

There is not much on the campaign finance report yet and it includes a couple of errors such as listing his party as Republican and listing the office he is seeking as being in the 14th Judicial District (Fayette County).

I have always resisted the guilt by association argument. Heaven knows I've had my picture taken with some unsavory characters over the years. How much this hurts his chances remains to be seen. I always vote no on these questions no matter what is going on but I'm just a contrarian bastard.

Don't Panic

So Penn State lost to Iowa. They always lose to Iowa. I thought that the offense was suspect after the first 3 games and it was shut down by Iowa after the first quarter and made some mistakes in the fourth that cost them the game.

Remember that in college football it's better to lose a game in September than in November. Many one loss teams have played in the Rose Bowl and for the national championship. If Penn State can win out through the rest of the schedule they will climb back in the polls. I know it's a tall order with a trip to Ann Arbor and the Buckeye's at home but it is possible.

The Phillies continue the heart attack September and this guy keeps reminding us of the 1964 collapse. The previous 3 years they were hot red hot in September but this year they are playing .500 ball because of late inning bullpen meltdowns and will probably limp into the playoffs.

The Eagles are running that funky high school offense with direct snaps to the running backs and option plays. It worked well this week as they downed the mighty KC Chiefs 34-14. All eyes were on Michael Vick but he was mostly a decoy playing only 11 snaps. Kevin Kolb threw for 327 yards and two touchdowns, LeSean McCoy had 84 yards rushing and one TD, and DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek each had 100-plus yards receiving. The defense was solid limiting Matt Cassell to just 90 yards passing and held Larry Johnson in check.

Back to Michael Vick. He committed unspeakable crimes against animals but I believe in redemption. He paid the price by going to prison and remember that there are 2 players in the NFL that were involved in the murders of human beings that are allowed to play. Mrs. G and Quincy are not so forgiving of Vick.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Walter has some questions

This is guest post from Republican Luzerne County Controller candidate Walter Griffith.
This week I attended the Luzerne County Commissioner meetings which included the County Prison Board Meeting, Work Session and the Commissioner meeting .

The Public comment portion of the meetings I was allowed to address some issues at the Prison Board meeting and I asked about the Deputy Warden Sam Hyder issue regarding his taking vacation and not placing the time in the record for the payroll department and what if anything the County Prison Board was planning to do about this constant ability of our County Employees to take advantage of the taxpayers of this County. I was told they cant discuss it because it was a Personnel issue, but the question still remains as to why the Deputy Warden is still allowed to be on the payroll at all because of his constant and never ending ability to defraud the taxpayers of this County.

The Commissioner Meeting was then held on Wednesday and there was an issue regarding the termination of Veterans Director Richard Wren and 4 people spoke to his ability to be a fantastic Director and the fact that he has made a mistake and should be given a reprimand but not as severe as termination and this was ignored by two of the Commissioners and Mr Wren was terminated without a question or discussion.

My question and confusion here with this situation is a simple one, if the people that have abused the taxpayers by using the debit cards illegally were not terminated, and there was clearly plenty of evidence that they abused their power, then why was Richard Wren terminated without the ability to repay his mistake as well ?

What was different with this incident that was not the case with Mr Sam Hyder and James Blaum and the others ? What was it that made the crime that Richard Wren did to the taxpayers less offensive than that of the "Magnificent Seven" with the debit card debacle.

I think Mr Wren deserves proper reprimand and discipline but is termination of a Director of Veterans Affairs for a $70.00 infraction the proper punishment and what about the thousands of dollars that were taken by the "Magnificent Seven" and they were all allowed to keep their positions, and some were even rewarded with promotions.

The County Commissioners need to rethink their personnel policies and start looking at doing the right thing instead of the politically correct things for themselves.

Walter L Griffith Jr.
Luzerne County Controller Candidate

Friday, September 25, 2009

Spring Break

(L to R) Judge Peter Paul Olszewski, attorney John Kennedy, Ron Bellitiere and and former Judge Michael Conahan

CV: "It's obviously being done to embarrass me before the election," Olszewski said of the photo...In a tense, hour-long interview with The Citizens' Voice editors and reporters Thursday, Olszewski said he believes the June 2005 photo was mailed anonymously to the media by Conahan and/or his codefendant, former county Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., to hurt his bid for a second 10-year term in November.
"If you publish this, you're doing Mark's bidding," Olszewski said. "You're doing what the most corrupt judges in the world want you to do."...Through his attorney, Al Flora Jr., Ciavarella said the accusation that he was the source of the photo was "absolutely not true." Conahan declined comment through his attorney.

I never get invited to any of the good frat parties. It looks like these guys were playing some serious blender games. McGruff wants to know Who took the picture?

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.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What's that Chet?

“I have read some blogs that all people laid off in probation are back to work, and they’re not accurate. That’s absolutely untrue.” -Luzerne County President Judge Chester Muroski

I'm not sure what he is talking about. I can count on one hand the number of blogs that write about Luzerne County politics that I read everyday and none of us has said any such thing as far as I know. Maybe he is confusing blogs with comments made on one of the newspaper sites. If you really do read blogs your honor please contact me because I have a few questions.

Judges look at cutting budget

Lidge blows yet another one

Brad Lidge came on in the 9th inning tonight with a one run lead then gave up 2 and lost the game. AGAIN. In his previous 3 appearances he gave up at least 1 run but got the save anyway. This can't continue if the Phillies hope to repeat. Last year he was great but this year it's been an adventure everytime he takes the mound. A championship team can't have a closer that is setting a record for blown saves and has an ERA over 7. The alternatives are Ryan Madson who has been shaky and Brett Myers has injury issues.

This brings back bad memories of the 1964 Phillies collapse and the 1993 Wild Thing when we all sat around with towels on our heads.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Luzerne County Judges

This was supposed to be a comment over at Lu-Lac.

The question that I have is how does everybody know what was going on in Lokuta's courtroom but nobody knew what was going on in Ciavarella's?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Alice Cooper died tonight

In Scranton, Pennsylvania.

He met his untimely demise 4 different times on the stage of the Scranton Cultural Center. He first was decapitated by a guillotine then bought it by way of a lethal injection. After he committed 3 murders during the show he was then hanged for his crimes. His last death was the result of a magician's trick that went horribly wrong.

Don't worry folks, Vincent Furnier is as healthy as ever and is still playing too much golf but his stage presence has been knocked off yet again and will always be resurrected for the next show.

This is the 5th time I've seen Alice Cooper in concert and there is nothing like it.

This one is for Jacki

Pizella won't go quietly

Indicted Wilkes-Barre Area School Director Frank Pizzella showed up at the Wilkes -Barre Area Vo-Tech board meeting yesterday and handed out a press release that said he is not going anywhere.

“I will continue to serve as the President of the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board and as a member of the Wilkes-Barre Area Vo-Tech Board. I was elected in 2007 to serve the electorate and taxpayers, and I will continue to do just that...I will remain accessible to the public and therefore, I will be more than happy to answer any questions from the members of the press regarding School District and/or Vo-Tech business. In regards to any questions relating to the recent events of the past week, my comment is and will continue to be ‘no comment’ on the advice of my counsel due to the ongoing investigation.”

Anyone who knows Frank will tell you that he has moxy. He has been accused of taking part in conspiracy to pay a $5000 bribe to an unnamed school director in 2004 in return for helping someone get a teaching job. The Indictment lists 3 other unnamed unidicted co-conspirators. Three other school board members that also sit on the Vo-Tech Board have also been charged with corruption and two of them have resigned.

It looks like Pizzella wants a trial on these charges and so do I.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Corey O'Brien for Congress

This story in CQ Politics has been all the buzz the last few days. Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien has filed the required paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for the Pennsylvania 11th Congressional Disctrict seat held by Congressman Paul Kanjorski "out of an abundance of caution at this point, just to ensure that we're following all the appropriate procedures with respect to looking very closely at getting into the race."

The guys at CQ keep an even closer eye on FEC reports than AAJ.

He also put this up on his Facebook page,
I wanted to let you know that I have formed a federal campaign committee to run for the United States Congress. As I continue to evaluate the race, I thought that it would be prudent to form a committee to ensure that I comply with all appropriate federal rules

The FEC disclosure lists Michael Dougherty as the campaign Treasurer. He has a big hill to climb financially as Kanjo's 2nd quarter FEC report shows that he has $614K cash on hand and raised close to $400K in the 2nd quarter. 3/4th's of that came from various Political Action Committees, McGruff has a list of all the PAC's that have contributed to Kanjo just this year. The next FEC filing deadline is October 15th so we will get an inkling if O'Brien can raise the money necessary to take on our long time Congressman.

I talked to Corey yesterday and he had this to say:

I'm very seriously looking at the race and have been humbled by the response of people urging me to run. I think we have to seriously look at both fiscal and ethics reform. It's time to look after the needs of Main Street instead of the needs of Wall Street.

He said he will make a definite decision before the end of the year.

I also asked longtime Kanjorski spokesman Ed Mitchell for his reaction:

The Congressman is not focusing on politics. He's continuing his efforts to reduce unemployment, bring the economy back, re-regulate the financial industry and reform health insurance for all. There'll be enough time for politics next year.

When I first reported that Corey was considering a race against Kanjo in April many people alluded to a deal between them that I can't confirm and seriously doubt. I interviewed O'Brien shortly after that and he sure sounded like a candidate and still does.

For all his human failings, that we all have, Kanjorski, has been a good Congressman. It's tough to follow an act like Dan Flood. I know many of you will bring up the Conerstone thing that was investigated up and down and in and out (probably including cavity searches) by the Navy and the Karl Rove Justice Department but no charges were ever filed. Everytime I drive down River St. in Wilkes-Barre and look at the dikes that protect us I think of him. All the former coal wasteland in Hanover and Naticoke that now have ballfields and houses you can thank Congressman Kanjorski for getting the money to reclaim the land.

Face it, we expect our Representatives to bring home the bacon and he has excelled at it. Just ask any local Fire Department that needed a new pumper truck that costs a couple of hundred grand that they couldn't raise so Kanjo found the money someplace and got them equipment that they needed.

The Scranton Times has the rundown of the race.

Corey O'Brien may not be an official candidate but he sent out this photo to all the local media outlets and they are using it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Walter Griffith for Controller

Luzerne County Republican candidate for Controller Walter Griffith had a gathering last night at the Ramada in Wilkes-Barre with a nice turnout.
Just about every other county Republican candidate came out to show support for Walter and the rank and file in attendance expressed a unity that I have never heard from our local GOP.
There was a microphone set up in the front of the room which always acts as a magnet to any politician but thankfully all of them kept their remarks short.
All quotes are paraphrased.
Gene Kelleher was the emcee of the event and the first to speak was former State Senator Charlie Lemmond. He wasn't planning to speak but the crowd demanded it.
He said a conservative is a liberal who has mugged by reality. We keep exchanging one Democratic administration in the Controllers office for another and nothing ever changes. We need somebody to watch store and Walter is the guy to watch the store. This is going to be a retail election.
Next up was Commissioner Steve Urban. It's no secret that Urban and Griffith have not always seen eye to eye in the past so his ringing endorsement of Walter put all that to rest. He pointed out that the Controller has to keep an eye on a Human Services budget $250 million, a General fund of $120 million plus serve on the Salary Board, Retirement Board and starting in October the Prison Board. That is a lot of responsibility and Walter is up to the job. Urban then blasted the local Democrats saying one party rule has resulted in 15 indictments so far. He claimed not to know the name of his opponent offering that the only name I need to know is Walter. He then made a point about row officers actually showing up for work asking how we can elect a controller who is working at PNC Bank all day then maybe showing up for a few hours.
Court of Common Pleas nominee Dick Hughes said that before he started campaigning for office the only thing he knew about Walter was what I read in the papers. Since then he become a partner seeking to reform county government.
Everybody sung Carolee's praises and she said she looks forward to another term in the Courthouse to continue to clean up the mess.
Wilkes-Barre Area School Board candidate Harry Haas was called on next. We need to take the county back and one party rule doesn't work. He reminded us that the public schools are the foundation of the community and loss of the faith in the system is one of the reasons that people move away from the area.
Walter finished up and decried the arrogant in your face attitude of elected officials with a sense of entitlement. Make them accountable! He was the good soldier and endorsed the rest of the GOP ticket and thanked everyone for their support.
A few things that I have learned about Walter over the last few years. He doesn't get caught up in personalities but digs for the facts. He is tenacious. He is incorruptible.
Walter Griffith is a pain in the ass and that is a good thing.
The other Controller candidates are Democrat Bob Morgan (no website) and Independent Wilfred Toole.
(L to R) W-B Area School Board candidate Harry Haas, Prothontary candidate Carolee Medico Olenginski, Walter, Commissioner Steve Urban, Judge candidate Dick Hughes, retired State Senator Charles Lemmond.
Photo courtesy of Kathy Dobash who regulary posts at NewsTalkPA which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ever growing GrassrootsPA internet empire. You can aslo find more pictures by Kathy on her Facebook page and Fotolog.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chris Doherty for Governor

pa2010 is reporting that Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty is running for Governor of Pennsylvania. He has been mentioned by the great mentioners (including me) for many other offices including Congress and Lt. Governor. He will cruise to reelection to Mayor of Scranton as both the Democratic and Republican nominees and will use this race to raise money for the next campaign.

A few weeks ago Doherty put out a letter saying he was pro-choice which signaled he was looking at a run for another office. The abortion hotheads reacted predictably.

Docs Letter:

I’ve been mayor of Scranton for the past eight years, but outside of northeast Pennsylvania, people are still just getting to know me.
So for the last several weeks I’ve been traveling around the state, talking to people about the challenges we face and how we can work together to help create more jobs, grow our economy, and get Pennsylvania working again.
One question I get a lot is about my position on a woman’s right to choose. People look at me and they see a guy from Scranton who was one of 11 kids, a father of six and an active member of his church. They put those pieces together and they’re surprised when I tell them, I’m pro-choice.
I support a woman’s right to choose because, in my view, this is an extremely private, personal matter and every woman should have the right to decide for herself, with the input of her family, her doctor, and her faith. It is not an issue where government should decide. It is a private, personal choice.
Sometimes I get hypothetical questions about how I’d react to what the Supreme Court may or may not do or to a bill that doesn’t exist. To those questions I can only say that my position won’t change. I won’t support a bill that takes away a woman’s right to make her own decision.
Like any candidate, I’ve had occasion to fill out questionnaires on the subject. Such questionnaires are often worded in ways that fail to accurately reflect my position. The fact is, I support a woman’s right to choose. At the same time, I respect the rights of others to disagree, in some cases very passionately.
The right to passionately and intelligently advocate for your beliefs is one of the principles on which our country was founded and, as mayor, I have issued a proclamation acknowledging those who exercise that right on the other side of this issue. Supporting a woman’s right to choose while respecting the rights of others to disagree are not mutually exclusive positions. In fact, a shared bond of respect on this and most issues would serve us well as we work toward a common future.
And that common future will most likely be defined by the choices we make on Pennsylvania’s economy over the next several years, not by social issues. During the last eight years in Scranton, we’ve helped create thousands of new jobs and generate $500 million in new investment. We’ve enjoyed tremendous success by keeping our government focused on the things it can do best: creating jobs, growing the economy, and keeping our communities safe.
Pennsylvania’s next governor will face significant challenges and he or she would do well to keep the Pennsylvania government focused on the things it can do best—get Pennsylvanians working again and put the state’s economy back on the right track.

This is good news for the Corey O'Brien for Congress campaign. I still expect another Lackawanna County Democrat to get into the 2010 primary to split the anti-Kanjo vote.

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, state Auditor General Jack Wagner and Philadelphia payday loanshark Tom Knox are all expected to seek the Democratic nomination, former Senate candidate Joe Hoeffel is also considering the race.

The "if "went out of the speculation today when I got this email:


Scranton, PA - Today Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty unveiled his campaign team as he prepares to runfor governor in 2010. The Doherty team is comprised of seasoned Pennsylvania and Washington, DCcampaign veterans, each with a proven track record of winning big elections."This is a winning team," declared Doherty. "They've elected presidents, governors, senators, and Members of Congress. They know Pennsylvania and they know what it takes to get the job done here.I want to put Pennsylvanians back to work and this is the campaign team that will help me do it."The Doherty campaign team includes:Corey Platt, Campaign Manager. Corey comes to the Doherty Team after two cycles in Missouri. In2008 he managed Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes's race in MO-06 and in 2006 he was the political director for the Missouri Democratic Party where he helped elect Claire McCaskill to the United States Senate. He has worked for numerous other campaigns and organizations in California, Arizona,and the Midwest.Julian Mulvey and Tad Devine, Media. Devine Mulvey is a strategic communications firm with extensive experience helping clients win campaigns in the U.S. and around the world. Their approach is centered on crafting clear messages, producing compelling media, and executing a disciplinedc ommunications strategy. They have helped elect dozens of statewide candidates and crafted the media strategy that helped elect Chris Carney (PA-10) to Congress in 2006, Bob Casey, Jr auditor general in 1996 and 2000, and Lynne Abraham district attorney in 1997 and 2001. Tad Devine served as a senior advisor and strategist to Senator John Kerry's campaign for president in 2004 and to Vice President Al Gore's campaign for president in 2000.Margie Omero, Polling. Margie Omero is President and founder of Momentum Analysis, a public opinion research firm. Omero's clients include the DNC, the DCCC, labor unions, and campaigns around the country from City Council to US Senate. She worked on both the campaigns of Congressman Chris Carney (PA-10) and Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-3). Omero is a blogger at, and was named one of "50 Politicos To Watch" by The Politico online journal.Steve Stenberg, Mail. A partner at the Strategy Group, Steve combines years of campaign experience with localized direct mail strategies to help Democrats win in both blue and red states. In 2008,Steve produced direct mail for the Obama for America campaign while also serving as a lead consultant to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's independent expenditure efforts.Mark Nevins, Communications. Based in Philadelphia, Mark is a founding partner of the Dover Group,a full-service campaign strategy firm. Mark has extensive experience in Pennsylvania politics having served as communications director for Hillary Clinton's 2008 Pennsylvania primary campaign,as Pennsylvania communications director for Kerry/Edwards 2004, and as an advisor to congressional candidates all over the state. The Dover Group is also assisting the Doherty campaign with its fundraising and finance programs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


From the email:

The Morgan camp is going nuts because it was rumored that he promised the Deputy's job to Pizzella and if he goes, they are afraid that one of the other six might be Katsock who is his campaign manager. I can certainly see where they are concerned. Morgan also served as their campaign chair or treasurer.

Operation HEART kickoff

"All Democrats are not crooks, but all the crooks are Democrats.”-Luzerne County GOP Chairman Terry Casey

To reinforce that point yesterday we saw the Juvie Bothers, Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella, plead not guilty to a 48 count indictment. They previously plead guilty to 2 charges.
Jury Commissioner and Housing Authority Board Chairman Jerry Bonner also entered a plea of not guilty to taking a bribe. To top off a banner day W-B Area School Board President Frank Pizzella was indicted. All of them are elected Democrats.
Our local elephants have a snappy new slogan to get the point across.
Operation HEART: Honesty· Ethics· Accountability· Reform· Transparency
Yesterday, the county Republican Party had a sparsely attended news conference in their shiny new digs in the Mid-town Village in Wilkes-Barre with PA State Supreme Court nominee Joan Orie Melvin as the headliner. Two of the three row officer candidates didn't even bother to show up. You still have to work on this party unity thing folks.
Chairman Terry Casey started off the festivities reminding us that this is "the valley with a heart." A slogan that has been popular since the Agnes flood in 1972. Again I feel like we are living on Noah's Ark, before the flood-after the flood.
That will and determination, that essential goodness, is still here. Unfortunately, it has been overshadowed by a corrupt political machine brought on by the perils of a one-party system. It’s the dirty little secret that we’ve all known about for years: cronyism, nepotism, teachers paying for jobs. One set of rules for those in power, another set of rules for the rest of us. So, what do we do to polish that tarnished image and to reclaim our reputation as the Valley With A Heart?
Nothing short of a heart transplant. And that’s what we plan to do.We are the Republican Party of Luzerne County and I stand here today and pledge that the days of a one-party political system are over.

Zen has the whole speech.

Judge Melvin had this to say:

The most egregious case of judicial corruption and judicial abuse of power in our nation’s history actually occurred here in Pennsylvania, in Luzerne County. The judiciary violated these children. Within 5 minutes of being sworn in, they were escorted out in shackles to these personal profitable lock-ups. This is surreal. It is right out of a Charles Dickens’ novel.

She then recounted how she handled juvenile cases when she was judge in Pittsburgh. Non-violent kids didn't get locked up but were sentenced to community service.
Dick Hughes was the next to speak and he was for positive change then touted that he has been endorsed by the Luzerne County Police Chiefs.
The last speaker was Controller candidate Walter Griffith who stole the show. He was going to read his speech but put it aside and spoke from the heart. He endorsed the goals of operation HEART and added that he has been passionate about local government and the spending of your money. He knocked the local Dems sense of entitlement and pledged to "follow the money" whenever something doesn't pass the smell test. He complimented former Controller Steve Flood for his tenacity and said he will be just as tenacious.
The program ended with Executive Director Renita Fennick singing the praises of Carolee Medico who didn't bother to show up.
If Carolee were here, we’d have to give her the letter “R.”
If anyone knows reform, it’s Carolee Medico Olenginski.
For those of you who remember, Carolee took the courthouse by storm when she was first elected 12 years ago.
She took some steps that were unheard of – she came to work every day, stayed all day and kept track of her staff’s hours and days off.
She used the term “judicial corruption” long before it became a household word in Luzerne County.
It took courage to stand up for the people – especially when you find yourself standing alone – as Carolee often did. Many wished her well but ran for cover when she confronted corruption.
She was way ahead of the investigators and knew there was trouble under the dome. She was such a threat to corrupt officials that her 2001 opponent spent over $265,000 to unseat her.
We need to get Carolee back in office to finish the job that she started.

Register of Wills Candidate Gina Nevenglosky was also a no show.

A few other faces in the crowd were Commissioner Steve Urban and former State Senator Charlie Lemmond.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Frankie "kneecaps" Pizella is indicted

W-B Area School Board president indicted on bribery charge

Prosecutors allege Pizzella passed $5,000 from a person seeking a teaching position in the district and his or her spouse to an "unindicted board of education member," according to the indictment filed today in Scranton U.S. District Court.

From what I hear Frank has spent the last few years cleaning up his act so this is a surprise but not a shock since this happened before he became a School Director. A few years ago he was running for Plains Township Commissioner and was convicted of soliciting some goons to break his opponent's legs. He received probation for that offense. There was also a domestic incident involving his ex-wife and a firearm.

While I believe in redemption, it just goes to show how fucking stupid we have been as voters. Anybody who grew up in the North End of Wilkes-Barre or Plains Township in the late 1970's had to deal with Plains Police Officer Frank Pizzella and he was a power tripper. I have some stories I could tell you and I'm sure many others could chime in.

Frank performed a public service in 2001 when he ran for Luzerne County Controller. The primary was between him, Luzerne Mayor Andy Reilly and Steve Flood. Commissioner Makowski and ex-Commissioner Crossin begged him not to run but he did and split the old guard Democratic vote. Steve Flood won that election and raised Cain about was going on in the county but Maryanne Petrilla took Flood out in the next round in 2005.

Pizzella was fired from his county job shortly after and he sued and won. He was the county honcho about weights and measures. A job that never existed before and hasn't existed since.

The TL has a rundown of his previous legal troubles.

Pizzella’s past includes brushes with law

Monday, September 14, 2009

GOP Kickoff

From the inbox:

Judge Joan Orie Melvin, Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Supreme Court, will join Luzerne County Republican candidates at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, as they unveil the party’s unified campaign.

The press conference will be held at the county GOP’s newly opened permanent headquarters, 41 S. Main St., Suite 14, in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

The Republican candidates will outline their campaign for the remaining seven weeks as they work to bring honesty, ethics, accountability, reform and transparency to the Luzerne County Courthouse.

Republicans on the ballot include Richard Hughes, Court of Common Pleas; Walter L. Griffith Jr., Controller; Carolee Medico Olenginski, Prothonotary; Gina Nevenglosky, Register of Wills/Clerk of the Orphan’s Court; and Frank Semanski, Jury Commissioner. Democrat William Amesbury is the other judicial nominee on the Republican ballot.

The event is open to the public.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sports dilema

The Eagles are playing the opener against Carolina while at the same time the Phillies are in a pennant race and facing the Mets. My 2nd TV crapped out in the living room but I have picture-in-picture down in the Gort42 Command Bunker.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Another day another indictment

SCRANTON – A retired Wilkes-Barre detective was charged Friday by federal authorities with accepting a bribe in connection with his position as a member of the Luzerne County Housing Authority. William Maguire of Mountain Top is the second member of the authority’s board to be charged in the past 10 days.

So now we now know who Jerry Bonner was sharing his ill gotten bounty with but the person with the deep pockets has yet to be named. Maguire is another local politico that has plead guilty to just one charge of corruption.

I know that the US Attorney has a reason for getting a plea agreement from all these crooks but I would like to see a full accounting of their crimes like what just happened with the Juvie Brothers.

What else have they done?

Get well Sam

The CV is reporting that Luzerne County Deputy Warden Sam Hyder has been on sick leave for over a month. It must be serious because he has been a workhorse that has not taken a sick or vacation day in the previous 3 years according to county records.

I'm going to resist rehashing the controversies he has been involved in over the last few years and wish Sam and his family well.

Friday, September 11, 2009

This is nifty

Luzerne County candidate for Judge of the Court of the Common Pleas Dick Hughes is hosting a whitewater rafting trip on the Lehigh River on Saturday, September 19, 2009. The details are on Facebook but not on his website. Get on the stick guys. I think this is one of the most creative fundraising ideas I have ever heard of. I'll be watching college football that day so I can't make it but maybe Kayak Dude and the Blogfather will join in. They are fond of water sports.

Now that we are past Labor Day the other local candidates have some events scheduled.

GOP Controller candidate Walter Griffith has a shindig scheduled for Friday, September 18th in Wilkes-Barre. The details are on his website.

Judicial candidate Tina Gartley has a full slate of events including celebrations of grandparents, beer and polka plus she likes college football. She has an events page on her site.

Double nominee for Judge Bill Amesbury has had some get togethers that nobody bothered to tell me about ahead of time.

The Democratic row officer candidates are out there also but they don't have websites so I'm not sure what they are up to.

I usually don't watch the local newscasts (car hits tree, house burns down) but I will start tuning in for the political commercials. I await the ads that say we should retain Judges Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. and Thomas F. Burke Jr. I have never voted to retain a Judge because I'm a political junkie and I want to see another election and I think that retention elections are BS. Many of my friends have urged me to vote Yes on Burke but nobody has defended PPO-2.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lokuta was right

The big headline today is that the Juvie Brothers have been hit with a 48 count indictment including racketeering, extortion, bribery, money laundering, fraud and tax violations. The details of the indictment haven't yet been reported on the US Attorney's website or in the press. Senior Judge Edwin M. Kosik rejected Michael Conahan's and Mark Ciavarella's plea agreement last month charging them with only 2 crimes and agreed with many of us that 7 years for taking bribes to lock up kids wasn't enough jail time for these 2 crooks. The maximum sentence is 25 years and the judge said the plea called for less jail time than normal sentencing guidelines. Reading his order he was especially miffed at their conduct since the guilty plea.

The Legal Intelligencer detailed many of their other crimes in a story in July and drops this bomb today.

A detailed complaint was filed against former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan with the Judicial Conduct Board in 2006, alleging wide-spread corruption including case-fixing, mob ties and the improper placement of juveniles in a privately owned juvenile detention facility.

When asked who might have filed the complaint, several sources speculated that Lokuta had written it. Lokuta denied authoring the complaint.

Asked who had, Lokuta replied: "One of my staffers."

I think Ann may have had some input in writing the complaint. The JCB that voted to remove her from the bench also allowed Conahan and Ciavarella to testify against her. Conahan's business partner, Pat Judge, was one of the people who sat in judgement of her. Her fate is in the hands of the State Supreme Court.

Ex-judges hammered with 48 counts

Ex-judges hit with 48 counts

Big day for the local GOP

RNC Chairman Michael Steele cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the new Luzerne County Republican HQ in the Midtown Plaza in Wilkes-Barre yesterday.

Coulter Jones in the Citizen Voice had this observation:

Media and the public were not allowed to attend the event, which was held before a three-hour "open house" for the public...Steele, who took over as chairman in January, attended a luncheon prior to his speech with several people who have made large donations to the Republican National Committee.

National GOP chief opens county HQ from the TL

The office is capable of handling a 24-line phone bank, providing campaign space for local, county, state and federal candidates to speak to the public and distributing countless fliers.
The headquarters also includes office space for Luzerne County Republican Party Executive Director Renita Fennick and Northeast Pennsylvania Regional Director Jon Hopcraft of the state Republican Party.
Registered Republicans can became Club GOP members if they donate $50 or more annually to help keep the offices open.

The Luzerne County Republican Party sent me a press release which I would publish but it was a PDF instead of a Word Document and it would take me about 16 steps to put it on the blog.

They also had Karl Rove speak to the faithful a few months ago.

Update: The Luzerne County GOP press release

WILKES-BARRE -- Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele gave a pep talk to party faithful at Wednesday’s grand opening of the Luzerne County Republican Party headquarters on South Main Street.
Steele cut a red, white and blue ribbon and spoke to members of Club GOP, a newly formed grassroots organization designed to support the county GOP.
“This place is more than just four walls, fluorescent lights and a flag,” Steele said. “It’s where the Republican Party of Luzerne County will grow.”The local GOP’s permanent headquarters will house the offices of Executive Director Renita Fennick, and Northeast Pennsylvania Regional Director Jon Hopcraft of the state GOP. It will provide a meeting and campaign area for local, county, state and federal candidates and will feature a 24-line phone bank to assist with campaign efforts.
Steele urged party workers to come out and support the party and the candidates in the Nov. 3 election and said the timing was good for the GOP.
“Don’t believe it when they say the Republican Party is the party of no,” Steele said. “Our record is good. The opportunity is right.”
Steele, who was elected chairman of the national GOP in January, mingled with members of the ClubGOP during a private reception.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Sports weekend

Penn State won it's first game over the Akron Zips 31-7. Most rabid Nittany Lion fans thought it should have been a lot worse.

The defense was solid as expected but the offense misfired all day after getting a lead. The thing that worries me was the inability to run the ball but we may find out that Akron's defensive is better than expected. As all college football fans know the biggest improvement happens between the 1st and 2nd week. Syracuse lost a close one to Minnesota but I expect the Lions to handle them.

Oklahoma lost a close one to BYU 14-13 and their Heisman Trophy QB went down. They will bounce back against Idaho State next week. Navy gave Ohio State a game but came up short. Maybe this is the year that Navy finally beats Notre Dame. We are looking forward to November 7 when the Lions take on the Buckeyes and I hope there are not any surprises before that. This weekend Ohio State plays USC at home. I don't understand why Big Ten and Pac 10 teams play each other in the regular season because if you win your conference you will get to meet in the Rose Bowl.

The other service acadamies won their openers. Army 27, E. Michigan 14 Air Force 72, Nicholls St. 0

Being an Air Force vet I always want to see the Falcons win the Commander in Chief's Trophy.

The Phillies continue to piss me off, like that's news. They get swept by the Astros. You got to score some runs guys. Cliff Lee got clobbered again and Brad Lidge blew his 10th save on Saturday. Even when he actually saves a game it is an adventure. How may teams can put up with a closer that has a 7.15 ERA and 0-7 record.

The State University of New Jersey (birthplace of college football) got shellacked by Cincinnati 47-15. I guess I like Rutgers because they were so bad for so long and it's good to see a program turn it around. Hear that Temple! They have upgraded the stadium and filled the seats for the opener. I would go to see a game in Piscataway but I have made it a policy to never go to New Jersey on purpose. There is a reason why the Statue of Liberty has her back to the place.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Quincy's weekend of destruction

Mrs. G reminds me that it has been 8 months of destruction.

We have so many toys laying around the house you would think that we are running a day care but that's not good enough.

Yesterday he got a hold of the trash can lid (above) and made short work of it. He also got into a laundry basket and now we are are short a pair of Mrs. G's pajamas, 3 pairs of socks, bras, underwear and many other items of clothing. When he gets a hold of something that he knows he shouldn't have he likes to show it to you so it turns into a game of chase.

With all the rain lately the Q likes to dig a hole during a cloudburst. The last time he did it was just after I cleaned the porch so when he got done digging he trashed my nice clean porch.

For the most part the Q has been a good puppy. He knows his commands, is good on a leash and behaves well when supervised. It's just when you are not paying attention that he is a menace.

For example, he just came down to the Gort42 Command Bunker and immediately grabbed an important piece of paper that I was able to get back after a few minutes. After that crises passes I relaxed and he got something else. He just went back upstairs so I locked the door behind him.

After the dirt fell off he hung around with the cat on the mud covered porch.

More Quincy pix on my Facebook page.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

What's your sign

The other day Sue Henry on WILK suggested that I check out a political sign at the end of Madison St in Wilkes-Barre just before North St. This piqued the interest of Facebook pal David Wayne of who took this picture.
Tom Witts is a candidate for city council in Snelville, GA. Why somebody on Madison Street has a yard sign for a local candidate in Georgia is anybody's guess. Maybe some of my North End readers will get on their bikes, ask some questions and report back.
According to his website Tom Witts is a big fan of yard signs. I would appreciate your support by allowing me to come by and place one in your front yard.
Well Tom, you are certainly welcome to put one in my yard and I will even take a picture and urge all voters in Luzerne County, PA to support your election.
You have a friend in Pennsylvania.
Update: I learn things with your help.
Tom is a native of Carbondale who left the area in 1966 to serve in the the US Navy. After his service he built a successful business in Florida then relocated to Geogia.