Sunday, November 29, 2009

Untangling the web

"I just look at the little tab that has my name next to them and I sign them.- Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak

Mike Buffer has great rundown of the latest web of deceit that we call Luzerne County government in the Citizens Voice today.

The crime fighting research trips to New York City by a bunch of county officials who have nothing to do with law enforcement were never approved by the board of commissioners and in many cases were paid for by county debit cards that got them all into hot water. The crime fighting superheros are Skrep, former Chief Clerk Sam Guesto, former Human Resources Director Doug Richards, indicted multi job holder Bill Maguire, exotic dance critic prison Deputy Sam Hyder and the best dressed man in Luzerne County, Bill Brace. No changes in policy resulted from the research although Skrep wanted to buy a $2 million computer system that none of the local police departments could agree on.

Since then we have learned that Doug Richards invented a company to do payroll work for the county drawing up a contract that was never approved by the commissioners but invoices were still approved by the Controller's office. Nobody seems to know anything about Continental Consultants Group Inc. and B&M Investigations Inc. or William Grub and John Luango. Grub and Luango are retired NYC cops that have done well in the security consultant business. They are doing so well that Luzerne County paid B&M $35,000 for a background policy report that no one can find. Reputation is everything.

Some choice Skrep highlights and quotes:

Skrepenak also denies knowledge that two retired New York City police detectives involved with those trips had business ties to county contracts now being investigated by the FBI and the county solicitor....Skrepenak has acknowledged that several former top aides are talking to federal investigators and could implicate him in the ongoing corruption probe...Skrepenak said he didn't know this month Grub and Luongo had ties to contracts between Luzerne County and two companies - Continental Consultants Group Inc. and B&M Investigations Inc..."What we found is guys who have 20 years in the police department, they don't make great money with the NYPD," Skrepenak said...

Skrepenak said he didn't notice that Grub was listed as B&M president when he signed the $35,000 contract. He said he "didn't know specifically who B&M was" and doesn't "look at whose names are on" contracts he signs.

Luzerne County Spokesperson

The job has been vacant since Kathy Bozinski got dumped in a cost cutting move a few years ago but I heard a rumor that the position will be filled in the near future.

The leading candidates are pictured here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pennsylvania Lt. Governor 2010

There seems to be a couple of dozen people running for Lt. Gov of PA in 2010 from both parties. A few of the Republican hopefuls are hitching their bandwagons to GOP front runner Attorney General Tom Corbett including MSNBC talking head Joe Watkins.

Watkins spouts the usual Republican talking points that the world will end because there is a Democrat in the White House and the deficits began on January 20th of this year. He often gets his facts wrong but that doesn't matter. Why let the facts get in the way of a good opinion.


Carolee doesn't like the carpeting

This is like deja vu all over again.

Office too rundown for Medico Olenginski

... the rug had a black stain that appeared to be grease. She also described dirty walls, furniture “marked beyond normal use” and a six-inch section of missing plaster.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We all have our holiday traditions and in the Gort household it includes making the traditional stuffing with the help of our dog and cat. They spend so much time in the kitchen I'm thinking of getting them both a chef's hat. I'll get up early and stuff the bird then pop it into the oven along with cooking a ham and local made Kielbasa. Other family members are in charge of the side dishes and desert which will all be washed down with Beaujolais Nouveau.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because we have a large family gathering that doesn't involve a wedding or a funeral.
Another tradition is to thank Miss Cellania for the pic.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving memories


By Mean Old Man

Here we go again with the stupid "get together with the stupider relatives" holiday of Thanksgiving. As you can tell, I'm not my usual jolly self only for the simple reason that I have to deal with these dumbbells every year at this time. Of course, it doesn't end with Thanksgiving, next we have Christmas and then New Years, too. Damn!!!

In my day we celebrated Thanksgiving too, but we didn't make a big family spectacle out of it. Pops would go out that morning and hunt down a good wild turkey for Mom to throw in the trusty coal stove. He'd be back around 8 and sit in his easy chair chugging down Ballentine while good old Mom slaved around the kitchen for five or six hours. By the time dinner was ready, Pops was plastered to the gills, usually complaining that the potatoes or the stuffing was overcooked or undercooked. Of course, my sissy brothers would always be whining about not getting enough on their plates and Pops usually would wallop them across the face (this was usually followed by Mom walloping Pops with her pie roller). God, those were fun days!!! We didn't have to worry about stupid relatives coming over and ruining things because Pops didn't get along with any of them and they didn't want to be around him anyway, since they were twirpy tea totalers. Once, my Mom's "dainty" brother, Uncle Jools, wanted to take me on a camping trip, "To get you out of this unholy, alcoholic environment." He bought me a pocket knife, a neat flashlight, and a great compass. I actually was looking forward to camping since Pops never took me anywhere but to the woodshed. Anyway, when we were ready to leave the house for the weekend, Pops came home unexpectedly early from the beer garden. Needless to say, he accused Uncle Jools of trying to turn "my boy against me!" He told Jools to clear out of the house immediately or he would mount his head over the fireplace. Poor Uncle Jools ran faster than a squirrel from Thelma Jean's shotgun and that was the end of my camping trip. Afterwards, Pops accused me of not loving him and when I told him all that I wanted to do was experience camping, he immediately set up a makeshift tent in our back yard. "Have fun camping," he shouted at me. "Don't step foot in this house for anything until tomorrow night!" Mind you, it was around 25 degrees at night with snow. I spent the entire time huddled under a thin blanket. The cheap tent could barely keep the wind from freezing me up totally. By the time Pops let me in the next day, I was blue from the cold, starving and had developed severe pneumonia; I almost died. But I learned one thing; Pops loved me a lot or he wouldn't have been so jealous of Uncle Jools. Gee, I miss Pops a lot; to hell with Uncle Jools!!!!!!

God, I hate holidays!! I'd rather be in a dentists chair having a root canal with no Novocain than to deal with all of this!

Of course, if it were only Thanksgiving that would be bad enough; but then I have to deal with all the crazy liberals jamming my stores and more importantly, my traffic on Friday. Why is it that every danged person these days has to have a car?!? In my day you were lucky if you saw three or four cars on the street at one time. Now there's more cars than people!!! Thanks commies!!!

SO, all you bleeding heart liberals have a nice Thanksgiving. Don't forget to drop a buck in the Salvation Army basket on Friday, too (the Kremlin's low on money). As for me, come Friday, I'll be sitting in the Legion with Creep and Gummo (provided I don't get crushed by traffic), slugging a few Stegs, smoking a Lucky and listening to the soothing sounds of Johnny Ray singing "Whiskey and Gin". Happy Thanksgiving and go to Hell!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Malcolm on the move

Republican Snyder County Commissioner Malcolm Derk has expressed an interest in running for the Pennsylvania 10th US House of Representatives seat currently held by Democrat Chris Carney. I talked with Derk over the weekend and he sure sounded like a candidate. He criticized Carney for calling himself a fiscally responsible Blue Dog Democrat who "hasn't walked the walk" based on his votes for the stimulus package and health care bill. He said he would make a decision soon and would need $500K for a primary campaign if he has opposition. Right now it looks like he won't have a primary opponent and will probably get some help from the NRCC and other groups in the general election.
He may be a bit iffy but his pals have been filling my inbox and ringing my phone promoting his candicy Susquehanna University Young Republican Eric Sweeney set up a Facebook page Derk 2010 for Congress and I have been playing telephone tag with Matthew Rousu professor of economics at Susquehanna University who created Draft Derk for Congress.
The Daily Item has a story about the race .
What has Congressman Carney been up to lately? He voted for a long overdue reform of the health insurance industry. He had another town hall in Montrose and had to deal with tea bagger nonsense about health care and questions about gas drilling. He said he wants to study the problem of gas drilling. Sorry Chris study (delay)is just going to make the matter worse. Stop it now and let the EPA and the PA DEP get a handle on it and develop some rules.
Carney has been a champion of Dairy farmers , local fire companies and veterans .
He has a bunch of money and has been a good fit for the district,
I love this from WKOK: Derk says he’s seen the postings and talked with some of the bloggers.
He knows how to get his message out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

One and done

I had a great conversation a few days ago with an old Air Force pal who is now an assistant US Attorney in another part of the country. He couldn't comment on what is going on around here but told me how the Department of Justice deals with public corruption cases. The first goal is to get the crook out of office and by the time someone gets a target letter their goose is cooked. To get the offender out of office and avoid a long expensive trial a deal is offered. Plead guilty to one charge, resign your office and go to jail for a short time or we will take it to trial and hit you with a list of charges that you know that you are guilty of and spend more time behind bars. This works as long as the judge is willing to go along with it.

A case in point. The Juvie Brothers, Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella, agreed to to plead guilty to 2 charges in exchange for a 7 year sentence. Federal Judge Ed Kosik rejected the plea and a 48 count indictment was then filed by the US Attorney. It will take some time to bring this to trial.

On earlier threads some commenter's defended a few of our local crooks saying taking some clothes or travel money was no big deal if that was the only thing they did. What else did they do? The feds know.

Shop til you drop

Another crook gets a slap on the wrist.

CV: A tearful former magisterial district judge Karen Holly was sentenced today to two years probation, including 30 days in a federal halfway house, for stealing $6,300 from her employer...Holly will be allowed to work, attend religious services and shop during her 30 days confinement, which won’t begin until at least Jan. 3.

Allowed to shop? This sentence was handed down by a federal judge but it reminds me of the punishment of long time Luzerne County employees Robert Pritchard and Carl Salitis who stole tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars and were sentenced to house arrest by then Judge Mark Ciavarella.

And what about the top dogs at the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority who became aware of the theft but didn't report it to law enforcement?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

This week in Luzerne County corruption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the letter here.

Could have been a contender

Write-in ballots for jury commissioner showed Robert Kadluboski received 78 votes; David Yonki received 21 votes and Greg Gulick received 21 votes. Another 209 write-in votes were scattered with various people being listed.

Carney on Health Care

Commander Chris Carney has returned from active duty blowing up things in Afghanistan by remote control to vote on the health insurance reform bill. He sent us an explaination of why he voted for the legislation:

As you are all aware, Congress is currently considering historic health reform legislation. Recently, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, and the Senate will begin debating their health care reform legislation in the coming days. I would like to thank all of you who took the time to contact my office with your opinions on this critical issue. My office received an unprecedented amount of correspondence, containing carefully thought-out and passionate views.

While this bill is far from perfect and there is much more work to be done, it accomplished some important steps that I strongly support.

This legislation provides relief for working families.

The House bill takes a critical step toward providing quality, affordable health care while reducing the cost burden on our hardworking families and small businesses. Every day, I hear from people in Northeast and Central Pennsylvania who have lost their insurance, cannot pay their premiums, or are struggling to provide health care for their employees.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act reduces the deficit by $139 billion over the first 10 years, while providing health coverage to 96 percent of eligible Americans. The bill limits out-of-pocket expenses to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family and prevents individuals and families from going bankrupt due to medical costs. In addition, families currently pay an extra $1,107 a year in health insurance premiums to provide care for the uninsured through emergency room visits. This legislation eliminates that hidden health tax.

This legislation ends discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions.

As a cancer survivor, I am especially supportive of provisions that protect individuals with pre-existing conditions. It is wrong for insurance companies to deny coverage to someone because of a pre-existing condition or to take coverage away because someone gets sick.

Beginning in 2010, the limits how far back in a patient's medical history insurer's can look back for pre-existing conditions, from six months to 30 days. In 2013, this bill completely prohibits pre-existing exclusions. It also prohibits health insurance companies from rescinding existing health insurance policies when a person gets sick and eliminates annual or lifetime benefit caps.

This legislation increases coverage for senior citizens.

Seniors should not have to choose between paying for their prescription drugs and putting food on their tables. This legislation reduces the Medicare Part D donut hole by $500 next year, and completely eliminates it by 2019. In the meantime, seniors in the donut hole will have access to 50 percent discounts on brand-name drugs.

Our seniors deserve a Medicare system that provides them with the very best. This bill eliminates cost sharing for preventative services to encourage wider use of preventative care for Medicare beneficiaries.

Finally, the bill prohibits private insurers from charging older adults more than twice as much as younger adults.

This legislation provides greater insurance access for small businesses.

Small businesses face rising health insurance costs, high administrative costs, and pay more for less coverage. Many small business owners would like to provide their employees with coverage but simply can't afford to. Today, because small businesses have small risk pools, insurance companies can punish small businesses if one of their employees gets sick.

In 2013, health reform will give small businesses and their workers access to a Health Insurance Exchange - a new marketplace that allows small businesses to comparison shop for affordable insurance plans with lower rates, lower administrative costs, and greater choice. Some small businesses will also be eligible for a tax credit that will cover up to half the cost of providing coverage for their employees. Additionally, this bill prevents insurance companies from charging more because of an employee's health status, protecting small businesses from unreasonable rate increases.

I am confident that with the passage of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, we have taken a positive step toward strengthening health care, not only for Pennsylvania but for our nation as a whole.

11th CD tidbits

Trying to usurp Federal immigration law is one one thing but messing with the God given constitutional right of the people to have satellite TV is beyond the pale. Last Febuary Hazleton imposed a $10 satellite dish inspection fee that has been challenged in court as violation of Federal law. City solicitor Christopher Slusser sensibly doesn't want to defend the city in yet another lawsuit with the immigration ordinance appeal pending in the 3rd Circuit.
When Emmit Thomas of Penn Star Satellite of Wilkes-Barre told council no other municipality has a satellite dish ordinance, Mayor Lou Barletta said it wouldn't be the first time Hazleton was the first city to initiate legislation. Legislation that tries to overrule federal law is a bad habit to get into.

America's Mayor is still trying to retire the debt from his last unsuccessful campaign for Congress telling potential donors that if he can pay off the $250,000 he still owes mostly to himself he may make another try for the office. What a tease.

His Republican primary opponent Christopher Page calls this bullshit on his campaign blog.

Sadly, I'm the only candidate in this race who can promise that everything you donate will be used for the campaign, and I'm the only candidate who can promise that I won't take a penny from campaign funds. Most politicians wait until they are elected before they start taking your money, but Lou Barletta has sunk to a new low.

Incumbent Congressman Paul Kanjorski has ignored all this posturing and has been busy doing the job of governing which is not an easy thing. His amendment to the Financial Stability Improvement Act that would break up companies that are judged "Too Big to Fail" was voted out of commitee and Wall Street will do everything they can to defeat it on the House Floor.

The Kanjorski amendment would empower federal regulators to rein in and dismantle financial firms that are so large, inter-connected, or risky that their collapse would put at risk the entire American economic system, even if those firms currently appear to be well-capitalized and healthy. Therefore, American taxpayers should no longer be on the hook for bailouts, as financial companies would not be able to become "too big to fail." The Kanjorski amendment outlines clear and objective standards for regulators to examine financial companies and reduce the level of risk their activities pose to our financial stability and our economy.

The Congressman has found one of the rare subjects that is both good policy and smart politics not to mention common sense. He also voted for the Health Care bill that passed in the House.

His Democratic primary opponent Corey O'Brien has been going door to door . I asked O'Brien how he would vote on the health care bill but he didn't get back to me. I have left voice mail messages on his cell phone asking for comment on this and other issues and I'm awaiting his reply.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Challenger for Carney

Dan Hirschorn of is reporting that Synder County Republican Commissioner Malcolm Derk is looking to take on Congressman Chris Carney in the PA 10th Congressional District next year and will make a decision next month.

It's surprising that the GOP is having trouble finding a candidate to run against Carney because the conventional wisdom is it's a Republican district that he won in 2006 because Don ''the Tunkhannock Strangler" Sherwood was caught playing house with a girl that was younger than his daughters then Carney won reelection by 13 points against solid Republican candidate Chris Hackett in a Democratic year. The latest registration figures I've seen from the district is 49% Republican to 40% Democratic with 11% Independent/Other. Some other names that I've heard that may make the race are Republican Pike County Commissioner Richard Caridi who helped organize a tea bagger ambush of one of Carney's staffers and WNEP newsreader Marisa Burke. 2008 GOP primary runner up Dan Meuser still remains a possibility.

Derk said that "The area is hungry for a candidate” and “The largest challenge for any candidate in a tough economic climate is raising funds." He said Carney’s votes for President Obama’s stimulus package and for the recent House health care legislation had troubled him. “It really hurts to see more and more debt piled onto generations to come.”
Derk looks to be a young man in a hurry. He is a graduate of Susquehanna University with a degree in both Political Science and Religion and at 27 is the youngest person ever elected Snyder County Commissioner. He won his first election when he was 20 serving on the Freeburg Borough Council between 2002 and 2007. My pals in the SU College Republicans must be proud. His Wiki page touts his opposition to the bailout of Boscov's Department Store and his campaign site stresses his commitment to fiscal responsibility.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Luzerne County Courthouse happenings

Luzerne County Human Resources Director Doug Richards resigned effective December 4th then was fired because he wouldn't spill the beans to Maryanne Petrilla about a dodgy contract with a New York temp agency that doesn't seem to have an address. The Feds raided his office after he was escorted out of the courthouse but tried to take records with him before he left the building.

Judge Michael Toole has unexpectedly decided to take a vacation for a few weeks. That's a bit odd because President Judge Chester Muroski is screaming for help to clear the backlog of cases because the bench has been short a few judges the last year or so. Maybe he just needs a break and it has nothing to do with all the rumors swirlling around him the last few months. Florida is nice this time of year for a boat ride after you get there on a private jet. It looks like like Chet has help on the way because Ann Lokuta will soon be restored to the Court.

A first. Former superintendent of the Pittston Area School District pleaded guilty to taking a $5,000 bribe for helping a contractor obtain work in the district and was sentenced to 13 months in prison reported to the Fort Dix federal correctional institution in New Jersey. The poor bastard, I wouldn't wish anyone having to spend time in New Jersey no matter what they did.

Idiot Watch

TL: ... Kingston Township police allege Dormio was observed Oct. 18 driving a 1994 Chevrolet Berreta without a right rear wheel on Memorial Highway. Police said a trail of sparks was coming from the rear of the vehicle...Police said they pursued Dormio for more than a mile until he stopped near Carverton Road.

This is his second arrest for DUI in a little over a month.

I've actually owned 2 cars that had a wheel fall off.

It's fixed

My computer underwent a successful hard drive transplant and all systems seem to be working fine. The good folks at Custom Computers in Kingston ordered the parts, installed them , gave it a good cleaning and made sure the thing wasn't haunted by worms or Trojan Horses, etc. Bob Sr., Chris and the crew have been great to work with over the years. Whenever I have had a problem or question I pick up the phone and call across the river instead of the other side of the planet. I highly recommend them.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Computer Problems

I'm not sure that this will even post.

The last few weeks I've had a problem loading IE7. I click on the icon and the widow opens then nothing happens. I do an end task then try it again and it usually opened on the 2nd or 3rd try. Today IE7 won't open at all and Firefox is running very slow plus I can't get into some of my offline apps such as pictures and documents. I re-ran all the protection software that is supposed to be running all the time and I still have the problem. Even disckeeper froze up.

So it looks like I will be offline for a few days while my tower makes a visit to Custom Computer for an exorcism unless someone can email or call me with a fix. My Yahoo email is still accessible but running very slow and I can't get into Facebook at all.

Update: My machine needs a new hard drive and a memory chip. I should be back online Thursday.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Luzerne County Courthouse Crime Watch

Photo by Pete G. Wilcox/The Times Leader

Better late than never.
Gene Stilp of the Pink Pig fame was busy putting up posters around the Luzerne County Courthouse on Friday that asked people to report any wrongdoing to a Post Office Box.
Commissioner Chair Maryanne Petrilla and Solicitor Vito Deluca are not amused.
I predict that that all the posters will be in the trash by Tuesday.


YouTube weekend

By request. Thanks Danny.

I was listening to local talk radio yesterday discussing Bill Brace's $1500 suit and it sounded like queer eye for the corrupt guy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The DCCC called me tonight

They shouldn't hire these kids to call people like me. I got the spiel about healthcare then interrupted the young lady asking if the DCCC will be backing the incumbents that voted against the bill. She said she didn't know then hung up on me. That's a first.

Our guys (Kanjo and Carney)voted for the bill.

Vote for Gort?


My friend David included me in his 13 questions segment this month. I suggested that we write him in for Jury Commssioner so he returns the favor.



First of all I think that the Government Study Commission will eliminate Treasurer as an elected position and hopefully the new charter will be ratified. I don't want that job or Commissioner of the NCAA. The comish of the NCAA is an administrator that is in charge of rule enforcement but doesn't set policy like the commissioners of the NFL or MLB. The real powers in college football are the University Presidents. Their schools are raking millions under the present system so they are not inclined to change it. I would love to see a playoff system but it will not happen for a while.

And just to tie it together Morrreale said in his last campaign that he would retire after Joe Paterno did.

If you want to vote for me go to this place.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Arena has a new name


It started out as the First Union (FU) Arena then FU was bought by Wachovia so they changed the name to the Wachovia Arena. Now Wachovia has been swallowed by Wells Fargo and they decided to get out of the naming rights business after the ten year contract expired.
The slots parlor in Plains Twp. has a 55% tax on gross revenue and I don't know of any other business that could survive with that high of a tax burden so there must be so much money in the gambling business that they could absorb that and the financing costs of building the place plus labor and other operating expenses with money left over for a big marketting budget.
The Arena opened in 1999 and just celebrated it's 10 year anniversary of opening with a show with Neil Diamond and the first puck drop of the Penguins this past weekend with an open house.
The LuLac Political Letter has a recap of the politics involved getting the place built. It turned out to be a good thing that the referendum guaranteeing the bond issue was voted down even though it resulted in a smaller building. The place has been run by a professional management company since it opened and the politicians have not been able to treat it as another patronage plum unlike the the baseball stadium at Montage.
Former State Rep Kevin Blaum was the person who got this thing built despite opposition from talk radio and the host town of Wilkes-Barre Township which now is raking in the property tax revenue. It spurred a building spree that turned a wasteland of abandoned strip mines into the most vibrant retail hub in the Wyoming Valley.
David is more eloquent than I ever could be:
"they should construct a statue of Kevin Blaum with the Representatives’s figure facing the arena so that his back could be facing Wilkes Barre Township”...So everyone in Wilkes Barre Twp. who opposed the arena could kiss his ass”.

A well dressed man

19 and counting

SCRANTON - Former Luzerne County Deputy Clerk William Brace has agreed to plead guilty to accepting a suit valued at $1,500 in exchange for helping a contractor obtain a contract with the county sometime between June 2007 and May 2008....He served as chief clerk for Wilkes-Barre City until 2001, when he retired. He then took a position as chief deputy for Clerk of Courts Bob Reilly. He stayed in that position until December 2005, when he took the position as deputy clerk for the county commissioners. He retired in November 2008 to take a position as registrar of vital statistics for the state.

Like the rest of them his sentence will depend on his level of cooperation. I think Bill Brace has been in a government job since before I was born so he should be able to provide the feds with a wealth of information.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fort Hood

President Obama addressed the nation in a way that that no other President has ever had to on the eve of Veterans day. Listen to names and the backgrounds of those who died and the acts of selfless heroism of their fellow soldiers.

"It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know - no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice - in this world, and the next."

Steve Benen of Political Animal has the transcript and analysis.

A Veterans Day Message by Mean Old Man


Once again, the sacred observance of Veteran’s Day is upon us and I’m mad as hell that most of the puny little juvie thugs will have a day off from school!!!

In my day Veterans Day meant one thing, you counted the days until you were going to be sporting a military uniform yourself. When I was in high school we got the day off too, but we didn’t spend it sleeping until noon and then hanging out dealing drugs at the mini mart. We all banded together to watch the parade (and it was on the actual day back then!). Afterwards, we’d sneak a bottle of Stegmaier Gold Medal from my buddy Creep's old man's fridge (the old guy was such a drunk that he could never keep track of how many bottles he had in the trusty Philco) and then ponder the day that we turned 18 so that we could go down to the recruitment office and be on our way to fight the Nazis and the Japs!!!

Not so with the kids today; when they're not dealing drugs or pan handling, they usually can be seen in every godforsaken place that they should not be, except at the Veterans Day Parade. Damn!!!

What with the commie purge of our esteemed Judge, the Honorable Mark Ciavarella, juvenile delinquency is on the rise again in our area. I guess from now on when a snot nosed punk steals some poor schmucks car, he'll get a pat on the wrist and a counseling session from some dime store psychiatrist all courtesy of my tax dollars. Thanks a lot, lefties!!! And don't give me any of that balderdash about them not having a lawyer in Judge Ciavarella's courtroom. THEY'RE KIDS, AND IF IT'S ONE THING THAT WE SEEM TO HAVE FORGOTTEN AS ADULTS IS THE FACT THAT KIDS DON'T HAVE ANY RIGHTS LIKE ADULTS DO!!! They should pin a medal on Judge Ciavarella for all of the tax dollars he saved the county by not getting bogged down in juvenile cases what with lawyer double talk and continuances and on and on. God Bless You Sir, you were not only a quick and efficient jurist in your judgments, but also one helluva nice guy who had the best interests of the kids in your heart. I remember once when I was a kid and Pops caught me stealing some of his Red Horse chewing tobacco. First off, he grabbed me by the neck and swung me backwards into a chair; he then proceeded to stuff the entire bag of it straight into my mouth and down my throat. I swear I nearly choked to death. It was as if I was drowning above water, gasping and trying to breathe through my nose. My eyes teared up from the stress of not being able to breathe and I could feel the sweat coming down from my forehead. It was horrifying and degrading; and I loved it!!! Because I was taught a lesson and from that day on whenever I chewed tobacco, it was tobacco that I bought with money from my own pocket. Judge Ciavarella reminds me a lot of good ol' Pops; two first class guys. Young kids today don't need coddling and sobby bloggers and talk radio hosts standing up for them; they need a kick in the teeth to straighten out!!! And since we lost a great judge maybe there is another solution to our juvenile delinquent problem.

I call on President Obama to reinstate the military draft!! Our kids have been spoiled for too long and the President can really assert himself as Commander in Chief by doing this. Let every little runt who spends his high school days listening to rock and roll and tripping on drugs (when not mugging helpless old folks) have an early Christmas present--on good ol' Vets Day---a one way ticket to manhood and responsibility!!! I also call on the President to immediately discharge every single woman who is serving in our military. War is for men, cooking is for Women!!! If we can't turn the tide back on this craziness, I fear for my country!!!

SO, all you young juvie thugs, have a nice Veterans Day. I'm sure I'll be running into you at the mini mart this morning when I stop to pick up my Luckys. Maybe someday when I see you, you'll be sporting a crew cut instead of dreadlocks, and a snappy, pressed uniform, courtesy of Uncle Sam. If that happens, maybe I'll even salute you. Until then, go to Hell!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pack the board

The three Luzerne County Commissioners and the county controller sit on the salary board with row officers and the president judge having a fifth vote on the Salary Board for matters concerning their offices.

TL: But county officials have changed the rules in recent months by allowing department heads to cast a fifth vote.

I read the papers every day and didn't notice when that happened. Controller-elect Walter Griffith is being cautious before he blasts this change in procedure wanting to make sure he is on firm legal ground. County Solicitor Vito DeLuca said he recommended that department heads be allowed to vote based on his interpretation of the state County Code. I didn't know that the county solicitor could change the law. The TL story doesn't have any comment from Maryanne Petrilla or Greg Skrepenak. Steve Urban said he does not believe department heads have legal authority to vote.

In other county news Luzerne County government will receive $18.2 million in borrowed funds this week, even though the county was unable to secure bond insurance...Financial Security Assurance Inc., the primary insurer of government bonds, had expressed concerns about insuring the deal. Specifically, FSA wanted a guarantee in writing that the county won’t continue borrowing and refinancing to cover deficit spending.

Isn't this great, Luzerne County is now floating the equivalent of Junk Bonds.

Frack the Susquehanna

What could possibly go wrong?

The Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority is seeking a permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection to treat up to 150,000 gallons per day of Marcellus Shale waste water in its sewage stream. DEP could allow some of the treated water to go into the Susquehanna River.

Frack Fluid Spill in Dimock Contaminates Stream, Killing Fish

Cabot company fined for drilling-site spills

Methane Contamination Linked To Drill Site In PA

Remember that the top brass of the WVSA covered up the theft of funds by one it's employees until the FBI found out about it so I really trust the judgement of these people.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Nice work if you can get it

HARRISBURG -...The appeals court ruling described how the man first approached state police to say he had been solicited for sex at the Shiatsu Spa near Allentown. Troopers then supplied the unnamed man with government money and sent him back four times to engage in what the county judge called "a smorgasbord of sexual activity" during June and July 2006....He was given $360 total to pay for the services ... plus the extra $180 for his time.

I owe GrassrootsPA a back rub for pointing this out.

Kanjo the trust buster

A year ago the whole banking system in the United States and other countries came close to melting down. When Lehman Brothers failed and it looked like other giant investment banks might follow the government went into panic pass mode and the Congress authorized a $1 Trillion bailout that enraged just about about everybody on both the left and right. We were told that the big Wall Street firms were 'too big to fail' and had to be saved or we would revert to a barter system. A few weeks ago I asked for an interview with Congressman Paul Kanjorski and one of the questions I want to ask is Some companies are described as to big to fail, how about breaking them up? The interview is not scheduled yet (C'mon Abbie and Ed) but Kanjo has proposed a mechanism to avoid that trap in the future. President Teddy Roosevelt broke up Standard Oil in the last century and that helped the economy in the long run and the big banks are very much like the Standard Oil of today. The repeal of parts the Glass-Steagal Act also had a lot to do with creating this mess.

Politico: Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Penn.), a senior member of the Financial Services Committee, has proposed the most explosive provision so far in the debate over financial reform, seeking to empower federal regulators to preemptively break up financial firms deemed "too big to fail."
The powers Kanjorski is proposing are sweeping – he wants to hand the federal government a measuring stick to figure out which companies are a threat to the larger financial system, then give the feds the authority to break them up regardless of their financial health.
Kanjorski said during Tuesday’s House Financial Services Committee hearing that his provision would make it “so that nowhere in the world in the future will there be gigantic tsunamis coming out of nowhere and striking the entire world economy.”

There are 15 or 20 firms, Kanjorski said, particularly in the financial industry, that are “so large that every body knows that we can’t allow them to fail.”

Senator Bernie Sanders (VT-I) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

Bloomberg-U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders unveiled legislation requiring Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to name banks whose collapse may shake the economy and break up the firms in a year, fueling efforts to end taxpayers bailouts. “If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist,” said Sanders, a Vermont independent. “We should break them up so they are no longer in a position to bring down the entire economy .” The legislation would give Geithner 90 days to list the commercial and investment banks, hedge funds and insurance companies deemed “too big to fail.” Those firms would be broken up within a year, he said.

Kanjo was on CNBC explaining is proposal. He is on CNBC so much lately I think that they should give him his own show.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Straight party voting

Fewer people voted a straight party ticket than in the past in Luzerne County.

TL: Of all votes cast Tuesday, 15 percent, or 10,422, were straight-party.
County Election Bureau Director Leonard Piazza compared that to the last municipal election two years ago, when 23 percent of the votes, or 15,300, were straight-party...Nearly 6,000 Democrats voted straight party on Tuesday, versus 10,041 in 2007...Around 4,000 Republicans voted straight party on Tuesday, compared to 5,200 two years ago...Renita Fennick, executive director of the county Republican Committee, said she believes the party’s public opposition convinced people to avoid straight-party voting.
“It brought attention to the fact that we don’t think it’s a wise way to vote. People should base their selections on the person.”

I think that straight party voting is an anachronism that should be done away with but that would take an act of the Pennsylvania Legislature. Fat chance of that happening because Democratic legislators in Luzerne County, Philladelphia, Pittsburgh and other Democratic strongholds know it helps their party and Republicans in Lancaster, Wayne County and the T, etc. know it favors the local GOP candidates.

Another reform that should be enacted is a little tougher because it requires amending the state constitution. Gerrymandering has to end. The biggest problem with our legislature and the US House of Representatives is gerrymandering. A couple of states have taken redistricting out of the politicians hands but it will be a cold day in hell when that happens here but we can try. Why should districts be drawn to favor one person or one party over another? Congressional and state house/senate districts should be drawn to make geographic sense and be as competitive as possible. That would ensure term limits in many cases and make our representatives more responsive to the people.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Evil Empire has won the November Classic

Go ahead and gloat Bomber fans.

Baseball is over so we are back to watching DVD's of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Seven months until the next election.

Juvie brother makes the Colbert Report

Via Big Dan

Arizona wants to privatize their prisons. We all know how well that has worked out in Luzerne County.

Steven Colbert rips local NEPA judge Mark Ciavarella on "The Word":

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - The Green Mile
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

No bears were harmed during the filming of this segment.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Will Toole's statement

My election was pretty much what I expected with no surprises. Approx. 10,000 straight party votes and that is something that just can't be overcome. No physical organization + No money = no advertising = a good ass kicking.

I am satisfied with the way things turned out because I had an agenda and I accomplished everything I set out to do ....... except actually win but that was never a reality, just a hope so there is no complaint on my part.

My Independent campaign was exactly that, independent. No organization and very little physical help but that's the road I chose. I do appreciate the people who helped me gather almost 1600 signatures to get on the ballot.

With all that has gone wrong in Luzerne County over the past 8 - 10 years and all of the problems that face us including national disgrace, 35% of the people thought it important enough to vote -- Sad at best but absolutely disgraceful. Voters or I should say non voters cause us all to suffer with the way things are. I just don't understand how 130,000 registered voters out of a total of 191,000 voters stayed home. The most important Row office in this election was the Controller's election, the auditor of the county, the watchdog of the taxpayers and 10,000 voters thought it less important to vote for Controller than the other Row Office elections. The Register of Wills garnered 10,000 more votes than the office of Controller. Apparently, people are more concerned with who will handle their death records than their tax dollars. Things won't change because of general population apathy so the tail will continue to wag the dog and taxpayers will continue to stand around looking puzzled.

I would venture to say that everyone was looking for change and in many ways we did get change. Now all that remains will be the future and what the change will actually bring.

It is a healthy hope that each and every successful candidate will attack their new responsibilities with a fervor that will make a difference. I personally congratulate Walter Griffith and Bob Morgan on the effort they put forth and the interest they have shown in county government.Thanks to all for the good wishes and please celebrate along with me in the accomplishment of my personal agenda. If this is my last night on earth, I will leave truly happy ...... honestly.

Again, thanks ........ Wil

Walter wins big


Walter L. Griffith Jr. (Rep) . . . 28,160 48%
Bob Morgan (Dem) . . . . . . . .21,916 38%
Wil Toole (Ind) . . . . . . . . 8,197 14%

I predicted that Griffith would get 50% of the vote and he came close.

This is good news for bloggers and the taxpayers having Walter and Carolee in the Courthouse kicking ass and taking names

The Row offices

In the Prothonotary race Carolee got 60% as predicted and Dottie Stankovic barely held on for another term as Register of Wills.


Carolee Medico Olenginski (Rep) . . . 33,800 60%
Nancy McGinley Bellas (Dem) . . . . 22,328 40%

Register of Wills

Dottie Stanky Stankovic (Dem). . . . 29,626 52%
Gina Nevenglosky (Rep) . . . . . . 27,073 48%

Judge of the Court of Common Pleas

William H. Amesbury (Dem/Rep). . 37,125 36%

Tina Polachek Gartley (Dem) . . . . 35,482 35%

Richard Hughes (Rep). . . . . . . 30,154 29%


Peter Paul Olszewski Jr is unemployed

With 93% of the precicnts counted it looks like that Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr has been not been retained as a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. No Luzerne County Judge has even lost a retention race before, this is history. Even Conahan and Lokuta won retention.

No. . . . 30,844 56%

Yes . . . . 24,715 44%

Although I advocated a No vote as a reflex to what has been going on and out of habit I really can't say anything bad about PPO-2. He was a good District Attorney and he slapped around his incompetent successor from the bench after he dropped the ball on paperwork and procedure in the Hugo Selenski case. But that picture on the front page of the CV sunk him. Even though he lost this job I'm sure he will land on his feet and will not worry where his next meal is coming from.

Judge Burke hangs on with a Yes vote of 34,261 61% to No 21,697 39%. Normally a Judge wins retention with 70 or 80 percent of the vote.

About half the precincts reporting

Judge of the Court of Common Pleas

William H. Amesbury (Dem/Rep). . . . 18,483 38.57
Tina Polachek Gartley (Dem) . . . . 17,489 36.49
Richard Hughes (Rep). . . . . . . 11,896 24.82

Walter L. Griffith Jr. (Rep) . . . . 12,172 46.63
Bob Morgan (Dem) . . . . . . . . 10,613 40.65
Wil Toole (Ind) . . . . . . . . 3,311 12.68


Carolee Medico Olenginski (Rep) . . . 14,869 57.18
Nancy McGinley Bellas (Dem) . . . . 11,086 42.63

Register of Wills
Dottie Stanky Stankovic (Dem). . . . 14,869 56.88
Gina Nevenglosky (Rep) . . . . . . 11,251 43.04

Burke Retention
Yes . . 16,110 62.58
No. . . 9,634 37.42

Olszewski Retention
No. . . . . . . . . . . . . 14,958 55.29
Yes . . . . . . . . . . . . 12,097 44.71

Exit polls

We voted about 6PM tonight and were voters 373 & 374 out of approximately 1000. Wilkes -Barre School Board candidate was greeting people out front and he was the only School Director hopeful that I voted for. Me and Mrs. G also wrote in David Yonki for Jury Commissioner.

Our side polls are now closed and the result that jumps out is the retention questions.

Peter Paul Olszewski Jr Yes 21 14%-No 136 86%

Tom Burke Yes 83 50%-No 83 50%

Of course this is an unscientific sampling of readers of Gort42 done for our amusement but couple this with what I've been hearing and it looks like PPO-2 is going down and Burke will hold on.

The Controller final has

Walter Griffith (R) 80 54%

Wil Toole (I) 44 30%

Bob Morgan 22 16%

Our next Judge

Dick Hughes (R) 90 49%

Tina Gartley (D) 55 30%

Bill Amesbury (D) 35 21%

Monday, November 02, 2009


The Luzerne County Controllers race has been the hot topic on this blog over the last few months with 2 of the 3 candidates even mixing it up in the comments. I've taken some guff from a radio talk show and others for allowing you to vent your spleens with sometimes unfair comments but as I have said before this a free speech zone but if you think that something is out of bounds send me an email and I will consider deleting it. No one has objected to any comments although I did delete a few that were tasteless.

In the Controller's race I stick by my original analysis. This is the first time in a very long time that having an (R) after your name is an asset in a county race. That is why there was a crowded Republican primary and oddly only one Democrat sought the nomination. I thought that Walter Griffith (R)would win a head to head matchup with Bob Morgan (D) and a long time Democrat from Pittston, Wil Toole, being on the ballot even if he is running as an Independent probably sealed the deal.

If the Republicans don't win this one they may as well shut the doors to their campaign HQ in downtown Wilkes-Barre and go back to all their backstabbing and begging for crumbs that fall off the Dems plate that has gone on for years.

Griffith wins big with 50%+ of the vote with Morgan 2nd and Toole finishing a close 3rd.

On a personal note I like all 3 gentleman. Walter has been a "pain in the ass" for a long time and is tenanacious when he thinks something is wrong. Bob Morgan is very qualified but has the unfortunate luck of running in a Republican year. When I first heard that Wil Toole wanted to be the fiscal watchdog of the county I laughed it off because of his Pittston overtime controversy and numerous lawsuits over health insurance and other things. After seeing Toole in action at the LuLac Debate debate and talking with him afterward I changed my mind. He has a world of knowledge about the way local government works and has many good ideas to improve county government. Despite his past baggage I think he is in this race for the right reasons.

Whoever wins this race I think it would be great if all 3 candidates got together after election day and brainstormed their ideas on how to improve things

Jury Commissioner

A few months ago I was on the WILK Sue Henry Show and the situation of indicted Democratic Jury Commissioner Jerry Bonner came up and off the top of my head I suggested that we should all write-in the Yonk for that office in the November election. The reaction to that idea was tremendous. Unfortunately David wasn't able to mount a campaign for various reasons which disappointed me because I had already appointed myself campaign manager.

The office is useless and should be eliminated either by the Study Commission or a referendum authorized by the legislature that has happened in other counties.

Write-in David Yonki for Democratic Jury Commissioner and skip the other 2. The one good thing about the new electronic voting machines it is easy to write-in a person for an office. No more stickers or golf pencils just hit the letters on a touch screen.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Predictions-The Judges

In the retention races I think that Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. is going down. Tom Burke may survive but I doubt it.
Tina Gartley will be the top vote getter for one of the two open seats and Dick Hughes will win the other spot. Bill Amesbury is also a very well qualified candidate but this is the first time in my memory that having both nominations may not help.

Predictions-The Row offices

I'll save my prediction of the Controller's race for a later post.
I've been saying for months that Republican Carolee Medico Olenginski will romp to victory in the Luzerne County Prothonotary contest even without the news that her opponent's husband is a crook. She has spent the last few months saying "I told you so" and she did.
I've never met Democratic Nancy Bellas and I was surprised that she won the primary. She has skipped the public forums and I can't say that I blame her. She doesn't want to answer for the crimes of her husband.
Carolee wins big 60%+
In the Regisister of Wills race I originally thought that longtime incumbent Dottie Stankovic would win easily. I'm not so sure now. Republican candidate Gina Nevenglosky has been the energizer bunny and has got some traction over the allegation that Stankovic hasn't been in the office as much as she should be.
The showing up for work thing and the fact it's a Republican year just may put Gina over the top but I think that Dottie will hold on.
Stankovic 51%-Nevoglosky 49%.